Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Donation to Ecumenical Hunger Program

Marilyn Putney, putneym@gmail.com

The Gunn PTSA and the SEC are happy to report that the proceeds from the Turkey Feast totaled a little over $3500 and it is all going to the Ecumenical Hunger Program in East Palo Alto to help brighten the holidays for many families. Thanks again to the Gunn Community!

Meet Your Special Education Director

Wednesday, Jan 20, 2010
9 to 11 am
hospitality begins at 8:45am
Covington Elementary School Multi
205 Covington Rd, Los Altos

Hilarey Davis, MVLA High School District
Steve Gingras, MVW School District
Anne LePage, Los Altos School District
Carol Zepecki, PAUSD
Panel will be moderated by Phil Shemanski, SELPA 1 CAC.

Meet your Special Education Director and hear about existing, new, and planned programs and services in your school district. Find out how to most effectively work with your special ed team. Find out how California budget cuts and Federal stimulus money affected programs in our schools. Ask your questions and voice your suggestions and concerns. Your input will be taken on cards handed to the moderator.

This parent education event is sponsored by the SELPA 1 CAC (www.selpa1cac.org) All of our events are free and open to anyone who feels they might benefit. No registration is necessary.

Gunn Sports Boosters Meeting December 16

Gunn Sports Boosters Monthly General Meeting
December 16th
6pm - 7pm
Gunn Library

Gunn Sports Boosters meet monthly on the third Wednesday of each school month. Come along and learn what you can do to help promote athletic excellence at Gunn.

Contact Steve.Allen@GMX.com for more information

Friday, December 4, 2009

2009 Gunn High School Winter Choral Concert

Marilyn Putney, putneym@gmail.com

Take some time out of your busy schedules and come enjoy this beautiful choir concert which will include:
  • A mass for women’s voices by Canadian Latvian composer Imant Ramnish
  • A Gloria by Emma Lou Diemer
  • Schubert’s Mass in G with Gunn’s amazing orchestra
  • Many solos by Gunn’s choir performers
Featuring the Gunn Concert Choir, Treble Choir, and Chamber Singers,
under the direction of William Liberatore
When: Thursday, December 17, 7:30 pm
Where: Spangenberg Theatre

Tickets available at the door: $7 for adults, $5 for students

¿Tiene su Hijo las Herramientas para Tener Exito?

Magdalena Fittoria, mfittoria@pausd.org

Venga a reunirse con otros padres del Districto Escolar de Palo Alto (PAUSD) quienes participaran en lo que esta o no esta trabajando para sus niños. Use esta sesión informal para aprender buenas estrategias para cultivar niños exitosos.

Martes, Diciembere 8, 2009
De 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Moldaw Zaffaroni Clubhouse Boys and Girls Club
2031 Pulgas Avenue
East Palo Alto, CA 94301 (650) 646-6090

Tendremos Guarderia. Se serbira una cena ligera, pueden traed algo de comer si desean.

Para mas informacion:
Hilda Espinoza (650) 813-9556 (Español)
Kim Bomar (650) 323-7845 (English)

Este evento es co-patrocinado por Parent Network for Students of Color and Hispanic Community (PNSCHC), PAUSD, y Palo Alto Council of PTAs

Does Your Child Have the Building Blocks to Success?

Magdalena Fittoria, mfittoria@pausd.org

Come join other Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) parents prepared to share what is or isn't working for your child. Use this informal session to learn great strategies for raising highly successful children.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009
From 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Moldaw Zaffaroni Clubhouse Boys and Girls Club
2031 Pulgas Avenue
East Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 646-6090

Childcare and light dinner will be provided. You are welcome to bring a dish to share if you like.

For more information:
Hilda Espinoza (650) 813-9556 (Español)
Kim Bomar (650) 323-7845 (English)

Co-sponsored by the Parent Network for Students of Color and Hispanic Community (PNSCHC), the Palo Alto Council of PTAs and PAUSD.

Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra to Perform at Dinkelspiel Auditorium

Kim Nguyen, paco_publicity@yahoo.com

December 19th Concert Features Viola virtuosa Sharon Wei
Benjamin Simon, Conductor

Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra presents their winter performance of a collection of works in the acoustically acclaimed Dinkelspiel Auditorium Saturday, December 19th at 8:00pm at Stanford University. Both the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra and its sister ensemble, the Sinfonia Orchestra will perform under the direction of PACO music director Benjamin Simon. Featured guest artist, the acclaimed virtuosa Sharon Wei will perform Bruch's gorgeous Romanze and Benjamin Britten's haunting Lachrymae, based on an Elizabeth song by John Dowland. Also in the program is Corelli's popular Christmas Concerto. The final piece performed will be the powerful Tchaikovsky's Symphony Number 2 also known as the Little Russian. For more information call 650-856-3848 or visit http://www.pacomusic.org.

Track Watch Update

Diane Downend, Diane@edenbridgehomes.com

Starting on November 23, 2009, the Palo Alto Police Department will retain a private security firm to staff the Meadow rail crossing every day from 7:30am to 11:30pm (this may be adjusted to cover the later hours, allowing the volunteers to staff earlier shifts – pending). The plan is to maintain this until the end of the school year. Community volunteers may also continue to assist at this and other locations. Police officers will also continue to have an increased presence in the area.

The Police Department is accepting donations to support this and other safety efforts. Checks payable to the City of Palo Alto should be sent to:

Barbara Teixeira
c/o Rail Crossing Watch Fund
Palo Alto Police Dept.
275 Forest Ave.
Palo Alto, CA 94301

Officer Kenneth Dueker
Coordinator, Homeland Security & Public Outreach
Palo Alto Police Department / assigned to City Manager's Office
275 Forest Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301
650-617-3100 x1281

Turkey Feast 2009

Diane Downend, Diane@edenbridgehomes.com

The Gunn community united on November 19, 2009 for the PTSA sponsored annual Turkey Feast. While more parents than can be counted invested their time and energy to make the event a success, the PTSA salutes Marilyn Putney and Maryanne Welton for their amazing leadership to make this magical day come together. The spirit of Thanksgiving was everywhere. One after the other of students gushed with thank yous and exclamations of “This is the best day of the school year!” To all of the parents I say a hearty, “thank you!” but I cannot possibly say it as skillfully as this following blog post by a Gunn student to HMGGMH….

“As four-fifths of the students lined up for food today (Turkey Feast), I couldn’t help but think: this is amazing. It was unfathomable that Gunn parents cooked delicious turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pie, etc-all homemade food for 2,000 people. And, probably more, since teenagers tend to eat twice the amount of an adult. It made me smile. Turkey Feast and the parents of HMG students GMH.”

It’s so very true. The students, the teachers, the administration and support staff and the parents of the Gunn community GIVE ME HOPE! Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Youth Mental Health: A Time for Answers, Healing, and Hope

Tue Dec 1, Haymarket Theatre, Paly, 7 to 9 p.m.
50 Embarcadero Rd., Palo Alto

An important community conversation, featuring Dr. Marleen Wong, Professor, University of Southern California (USC), and former Director of Crisis Counseling & Intervention Services, Los Angeles Unified School District. Dr. Wong will present potentially life-saving information on:
Youth Anxiety and Depression;
Suicide Prevention;
Effective Community Interventions;
and Crisis Support for Students & Families.
Q&A to follow. FREE. Open to all community members, including all PAUSD parents. Students in grades 6-12 are also welcome.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Inside the Admissions Office

The Wall Street Journal On Campus announces a special online event for college applicants and their families:

Inside the Admissions Office
Admission Deans from Eight Top Colleges Come Together to Demystify the Process

Free Live Webcast Airing December 2nd, 7PM EST, on http://wsj.unigo.com

As millions of families grapple with the task of filling out college applications and competing for entrance into the nation’s most selective institutions, the deans of admission from a diverse range of colleges and universities will share advice that all college-bound students and their parents need to hear before applications are due. The panel includes participants from Princeton, UPenn, UVM, Wesleyan, Williams, Bryn Mawr, Grinnell, and Marquette.

Panelists will give viewers an inside look at the world of college admissions, revealing how college applications are reviewed, how students can make their applications stand out from the competition, and much more.

Access to e-Chug is back!

Diane Downend, diane@edenbridgehomes.com
This terrific online tool for teens is now available through the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.
Drinking is dangerous and illegal for teens, but many adolescents experiment with alcohol. e-Chug is an interactive Web tool that allows high school students to examine and receive feedback on their beliefs and behaviors related to alcohol use. Teens can enter their responses to questions and statements about alcohol use. E-Chug then generates an informative, personalized report based upon the information submitted.
Encourage your teen to visit pamf.org/teen/risk/alcohol/echug.html today!

Stress Reduction for Teens

Dr. Saltzman, dramy@stillquietplace.com

Workshop at Gunn, Thursday December 3 at 2:30 PM in the SAC

Sometimes being a teenager sucks, and you need a place of your own, where you can kick back, chill, and just be yourself. The Still Quiet Place can be that place; it is a source of power and peace inside you.
This introductory session will provide practical skills that you can use on a daily basis to deal with stress, and to make your life more enjoyable.
During the session you will become familiar with the Still Quiet Place, and the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is simply paying attention to our experience, here and now, with kindness and curiosity.
Over 25 years of research have proven that practicing mindfulness offers relief from the worries, heartbreak, jealousy, self-doubt, and anger we all experience.
Mindfulness has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Teens who practice mindfulness have found that it improves all aspects of life-relationships with friends and family, school work, athletic and artistic activities…. If you are looking for tools to deal with stress, and/or to live a happier life, join us for this introductory session. If you have questions or would like more information prior to the session please feel free to contact Dr. Saltzman, dramy@stillquietplace.com or the website at www.stillquietplace.com.
The secret to true relief is always available inside of you. You don’t have to go anywhere or do anything, or be any different than you are right now.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

K-12 Education and Financial Information

Diane Downend
Gunn PTSA President

Looking for neutral, balanced and reliable information about K-12 public education and finance? Visit EdSource at www.edsource.org

EdSource was originally established in 1977 by three well-known and respected community service organizations: the California State Parent Teacher Association, the League of Women Voters of California, and the CA chapter of the American Association of University Women. EdSource is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to clarify complex education issues and to promote thoughtful policy decisions about public school improvement. EdSource has core competency in reporting on California school finance.

Kara's Annual Light-A-Candle Service

Join Us at Kara's Annual Light-A-Candle Service
A Holiday Gathering of Remembrance
Thursday, December 3, 2009, 7:00 pm
Unity Palo Alto Community Church
3391 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto

Come light a candle in memory of loved ones and significant others who have died. This is a non-denominational, interfaith service open to all. A time of fellowship and refreshments will follow.

Directions to Unity Palo Alto Community Church
From the south on 101
Exit at San Antonio Rd. heading west. Turn right on Middlefield Rd. Unity Church is on the right about one mile north.
From the north on 101
Exit at Oregon Expressway heading west. Turn left on Middlefield Rd. Unity Church is on the left about one mile south.
From 280
Exit at Page Mill Rd. heading east. Go past El Camino Real and turn right on Middlefield Rd. Unity Church is on the left about one mile south.

Questions: 650-321-5272

3rd Annual "Support the Titans" Fundraiser

Steve Allen, steve.allen@gmx.com

December 6th
5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Silent Auction & Tropical Fun

The 3rd Annual "Support the Titans" fundraiser is fast approaching!! On December 6th we'll return to Trader Vics, at 4269 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, for an evening of silent auctions, wine, hors d'oeuvres, buffet, and live entertainment.

Come meet the Athletic Director, coaches, School Board Members and other Gunn parents and friends in support of our athletic programs.

Tickets are $50 per person. Please also consider sponsoring a coach at $50 as a sign of appreciation for the great work they do for our young athletes. You may purchase your tickets online by credit card or PayPal account at www.GunnTitans.com under the Sports Boosters section.

Alternatively, you may send checks to: Nancy Hughes , 27035 Old Trace Lane , Los Altos Hills, CA 94022

We are also still looking for silent auction items, so if you are able to contribute to the auction, please contact: Nancy Hughes (HHughes558@aol.com) or Mary Gorman (marygorman@sbcglobal.net)

Hawaiian dress is encouraged, but optional! Aloha and Mahalo!

11th Annual National Survivors of Suicide Loss Day

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
11th Annual National Survivors of Suicide Loss Day
Saturday, November 21, 2009
9:00 AM – 12:45 PM
Palo Alto High School
50 Embarcadero Road Palo Alto, CA 94301

Thousands of survivors of suicide loss will gather together around the world on this day of healing, support and empowerment.

If you have lost someone to suicide, please join us.

Hundreds of local conference sites will simultaneously watch a 90-minute broadcast produced by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. During this broadcast, a diverse panel of survivors and mental health professionals will address the questions that so many survivors face…
“Why did this happen How can I cope? Where can I find support?”

9:00 – 9:45 AM
Registration, Continental Breakfast, Haymarket Theater

9:45 – 9:55 AM
Welcome And Introductions

10:00 – 11:30 AM
AFSP Broadcast

11:30 – 12:30 PM
Question and Answer Session

12:30 To 12:45 PM

Please pre-register ASAP.

This event is free

To Register, please send your name, address and phone number to:
Holly Diamond at hmdiamond@gmail.com

If you have additional questions, please call: Holly at (650) 515-5819

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Not Enough Turkeys or Pies or Monetary Donations Yet!

Marilyn Putney, putneym@gmail.com

Here is what we still need:
  • 17 cooked and carved turkeys (at least 14 lbs. each) to cover 1400 lunches. You can deliver them, cold or warm to the Teacher’s Lounge by 9:30am on 11/19. We will reheat in warming ovens. Don’t forget to carve them! No time to cook? Consider purchasing a cooked turkey at Draegers, Piazzas, JJF or Safeway and then carve it yourself. Please remember, this is a charity event so all proceeds go toward a local charity.
  • We still need 55 pies donated so everyone gets a piece. There are more pie sign up slots added to the Jooners computer link. Just keep scrolling down.
  • Volunteer your time for November 19th: We still need a person to pick up the 1400 servings of stuffing and gravy from Marie Calendars at 11:00am, Nov. 19th. Contact Maryanne Welton, Mare@robquigley.com.
  • Monetary donations are gladly accepted to help pay for the stuffing, gravy, rolls, cranberry sauce, and salad. Make checks payable to Gunn High School, (write Turkey Feast on memo line). Send to Marilyn Putney, 263 Whitclem Dr. Palo Alto, 94306.

Click this link to get involved:

For families that are new to this event, here is how it all works. 
On the day of the Turkey Feast, each Gunn staff member or student can purchase lunch and a drink by paying $5.00. Or they can bring in 3 cans of food for a local food bank plus $1.00. Advance tickets are currently for sale in the SAC. Lunch for meat eaters will include turkey, dressing and gravy, salad, cranberry sauce, rolls and pie. Vegetarians will feast on a baked potato bar as well as salad, rolls and pie. We hope you and your family can all be a part of this special day!

Please contact Maryanne Welton if you have any questions: mare@robquigley.com

Monday, November 9, 2009

Listen, Learn, and Connect: Understanding Teen Wellness and Mental Health

Thursday, Nov. 19, 7 pm, Haymarket Theatre,
Palo Alto High, 50 Embarcadero Rd.

An expert panel of physicians and mental health professionals who will discuss the mental health and wellness of our teens. The goal for this program is to educate and equip parents across a spectrum of teen wellness and mental health issues. It starts with a review of the fundamentals of good parenting - the things we should all be doing on a regular basis to have a good connection with our teens. It then will proceed to a discussion of stress management, and then to a discussion of how to assess situations and get treatment if you feel your child requires professional assistance. There will be significant time for audience Q&A, and there will be handouts and resources to be used beyond the program.

Speakers include:
  • Gloria Moskowitz-Sweet, LCSW, PPSC, Coordinator of the Community Education Center at Parents Place in Palo Alto and a professor at San Jose University
  • Dr. Amy Saltzman, trained in Internal Medicine, and a founding diplomat of the American Board of Holistic Medicine
  • Dr. Tom Tarshis, M.D. a child psychiatrist and founder of the Bay Area Children's Association
  • Dr. Meg Durbin, M.D., pediatrician and internist at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

See the Flyer.

Paly PTSA Parent Ed Chair Maureen Simons or
Gunn PTSA Parent Ed Chair Homa Yazdani

Helping Our Children Find Their Calling in Life

A Presentation by Professor William Damon
Tuesday, November 17, 7-9 PM
Gunn Library

An examination of why young people struggle to find direction in their lives. Damon describes how people concerned with their futures are able to look past the pervasive culture of short horizons towards the formulation of their purpose in order to find lasting meaning and true happiness. This presentation is based on a compelling study that highlights the common characteristics and experiences in highly motivated individuals and spells out the path they all have followed to gain and evolve a meaningful purpose in their lives.

This talk is intended for parents, educators, community members and adolescents motivated to learn about their path to purpose.

The presenter, William Damon, is one of the world's leading scholars of human development. He is a professor at Stanford University and the director of the Stanford Center on Adolescence. His books include The Moral Child (1988), The Greater Expectations: Overcoming the Culture of Indulgence (1995) and, most recently, The Path to Purpose (2008).

Co-sponsored by Palo Alto High School PTSA

Parent Drivers: Be a Role Model in the Gunn Parking Lot

Keep students safe, reduce traffic back-ups. When driving in the parking lot, please remember to follow the parking lot rules:
  • Bicyclists and pedestrians have the right of way; you must yield to them.
  • Front lot pick-up after school is for carpools only; you must be picking up more than one student.
  • Use the back lot (by the gym) if you are picking up just one student.
  • Stopping and waiting for your student is OK only in the loading zone - next to the curb - make sure you are pulled over completely and are clear of the through lane. Or you may pull into a parking space and wait.
  • There are 2 through lanes in the front lot - these are not for pickup - do not stop and wait in these lanes.
  • Always use your turn signal when you change lanes.
  • Let other drivers merge, especially if someone has illegally blocked the through lane.
  • Do not pick up students in the through lane - it is dangerous and blocks traffic - have the students wait until you pull over next to the curb.
  • Slow down in the lot!
If you need to pick up your student from school, be safe and use one of the following suggestions:
  • Arrive early and get a space in the loading zone.
  • Get to school later, after the parking lot has emptied.
  • Pick your child up in the back lot - it has a bigger loading zone.
  • Pick up your child off-site.
  • If you are having someone else pick up your child, have them do a late pickup, so traffic is lighter.
Let's all work together to show our kids that it's important to follow driving rules. While we're at it, we'll create fewer backups and keep our parking lot much safer for student drivers, bikers, and walkers! Thank you.

Friday, November 6, 2009

On and Off-site Student KARA Support Groups

Kimberly Cowell, kcowell@pausd.org

On and off-site student KARA support groups

Location: GUNN

For Gunn Students: KARA facilitated peer support group(s) ON-SITE:

Beginning Thursday, November 5 at lunchtime, KARA facilitators will be here to facilitate a group(s) for students. Location TBA

Please sign up in the Guidance Office with your guidance counselor, Ms. Cowell, or Mrs. Francesconi. Signing up will help to make sure we have enough facilitators.

Depending on the number of students who sign up, there may be more than one group going, so we'll announce location(s) next week, or come to the Guidance Office for the location.

If you decide to come at the last minute, just check in at the Guidance Office first.

Location: KARA
For Gunn and Paly Students: KARA facilitated peer support group OFF-CAMPUS

KARA will be running an ongoing facilitated peer support group for Gunn and Paly students in the evening.

It begins Thursday, November 12 from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. in the Conference Room at KARA

Please sign up in the Guidance office with your guidance counselor, Ms. Cowell or Mrs. Francesconi. It will help KARA to have enough facilitators for small groups.

You can also drop in if you decide to go at the last minute.

Location: KARA facility
457 Kingsley Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301

Share a Fun Tidbit About Gunn!

There are so many great things happening around Gunn – we want to hear your fun stories about recent events! Our students are involved with clubs, teams, drama, music, robotics – and more. Also, Gunn students and staff are receiving honors and awards off campus as well – please share these accomplishments with us! Stories will be included in upcoming issues of Gunn Connection, Spotlight, and Oracle. Please email your fun tidbit of any length to gunn.funtidbits@yahoo.com. Help spread the word so we can all be proud of our school community!

Volunteer Track Watch

Caroline Camhy Rothstein
Track Watch Volunteer Coordinator

The following is a request for volunteer assistance by a group of community members seeking to deter suicides at the train tracks by posting volunteers at key Palo Alto crossings. This is not a Gunn PTSA sponsored organization or effort, nor is it sponsored by the Palo Alto Council of PTAs. It is an affiliation of concerned community members whose effectiveness will have greater potency with a broad base of volunteer assistance.

Dear parents,

We are writing to ask you to join the Volunteer Track Watch.

This is a volunteer track watch group which has been organized to deter suicides. You can help by signing up for a short shift watching the tracks.

The effectiveness of a presence at a site that is a suicide hot spot has been researched and documented. Prevention by deterrence at a hot spot is likely not only to stop a suicide there, but may also prevent the suicide altogether.

Volunteers through our effort must be over the age of 21. Volunteers monitor the tracks by sitting or standing on the sidewalk with a cell phone to call the police. We do NOT attempt to take anyone from the tracks.

This program will be developing as we get more volunteers and can expand. For current information or to sign up for a shift please write to hopepaloalto@gmail.com or visit paloaltotrackwatch.weebly.com. Please indicate that you are a parent interested in participating.

Caroline Camhy Rothstein
Track Watch Volunteer Coordinator

Student-Developed Resources

Diane Downend, Gunn PTSA President

In the face of crises and uncertainty, Gunn students reveal their creativity and passion to rise above it all with the implementation of remarkable resources:

ROCK-reach out, care, know
peer advisory group/student support group that is completely student-run.
Info: http://rockatgunn.wordpress.com
Facebook group http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=92593786543&ref=ts

HMGGMH (Henry M. Gunn Gives Me Hope)
This site gets a broad range of traffic--not just people from Gunn. Teachers, students, and alums have been submitting their stories.
Info: http://hmggmh.wordpress.com/about-hmggmh/

Talk to Me shirts

Hi, My name is
People post information about themselves with the objective of people getting to know one another better.
Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=310980910423&ref=search&sid=502200587.3649693669..1

Operation Beautiful
Student place post-it notes with positive messages around campus; the concept is from http://operationbeautiful.com/ which was meant to fight body image issues

Gunn High School - Life's a good thing
Students form a pact to never commit suicide. They also discuss suicide/depression.
Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=164025517102

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Turkey Feast Update

Gunn's annual Turkey Feast will be held in less than three weeks on Thursday, Nov. 19th during lunch and WE STILL NEED FOOD DONATIONS AND VOLUNTEERS!!! This is one of Gunn's more popular events where the students and staff feast on a delicious luncheon, (vegetarian bar included), build community spirit, and then donate the proceeds to a local charity.

In the past we have had more than 60 volunteers assisting and another 100 who donate food and money. The volunteers work in conjunction with the Student Executive Council and Lisa Hall, our Student Activities Director. We plan to feed 1400 people in 50 minutes so come and help! Last year we donated more than $1700 to the Ecumenical Hunger Program in East Palo Alto through this charitable event!

For families that are new to this event, here is how it all works.
On the day of the Turkey Feast, each Gunn student and staff can purchase lunch and a drink by paying $5.00 or bringing 3 cans of food plus $1. Lunch for meat eaters will include turkey, dressing and gravy, salad, cranberry sauce, rolls and pie. Vegetarians will feast on a baked potato bar as well as salad, rolls and pie. We hope you and your family can all be a part of this special day!

The sign ups have been revised so there are more volunteer and donation opportunities available.

To volunteer, please click here.

1. We still need 37 Turkeys, at least 14 lbs. each.

Donate cooked and carved turkeys--delivered by 9:30 on 11/19. It can be cooked a day ahead, carved and refrigerated. No time to cook? Consider purchasing a cooked turkey or turkey breasts at Draegers, Piazzas, JJ&F or Safeway and then carve them yourself.

2. Pies, we still need 133 of them!

3. Volunteer your time for November 19th:
  • We still need shoppers ahead of time
  • Food Prep -10:00 to 11:30
  • Set-up and serve - 11:30 to 12:45
  • Ticket Sales - 11:45 to 12:45
  • Clean-up ------------1:00 to 2:30
(Volunteers get to eat 12:45 to 1:00)

4. For the vegetarian baked potato bar we still need:
1 person to bake 25 potatoes each (wrapped in foil) and delivered that morning.
1 large pot of vegetarian chili - 15 servings each (recipe supplied if needed)
2 Costco size containers of sour cream

5. Monetary donations are gladly accepted

They help to purchase salad, rolls, stuffing and gravy. Make checks out to Gunn High School PTSA, write Turkey Feast on memo line and send to Marilyn Putney, 263 Whitclem Dr. Palo Alto, CA. 94306

Click this link to get involved now!

Please contact Maryanne Welton if you have any questions: mare@robquigly.com


Principal's Update

Dear Gunn students, staff, parents, District personnel and Palo Alto Community members,

These have been difficult times for us all at Gunn. Many of you have asked what Gunn is doing to support students, staff and parents following the student suicides. Much has already been done and we will be adding yet more as the semester goes on. We want to share the list (see below) with you so that you are kept informed about our efforts.

Noreen Likins

Gunn's work and interventions post suicides

Efforts to support students
  • District and Gunn staff met during summer months to create materials to help teachers better support students still struggling with spring suicides. Tips for talking with teens distributed to all staff on first day of school.
  • Counselors, ACS personnel, School Administration, School Psychologist, District personnel available every day, all day, for students needing support.
  • Protocol developed so that counselors, psychologists and admin team know what to do in the event of a crisis (suicide or accident).
  • Access to outside therapists/support counselors encouraged by District's support of 3 free sessions with such personnel.
  • PAMF has offered medical services for students dealing with depression and mental illness.
  • Many parent and community volunteers present to support students at times of crisis
  • Counselors go immediately to classes that are impacted by the loss of a classmate to support students and teachers. They stay as long as they are needed.
  • Special support group formed for friends of Terman student. Still meets regularly.
  • Gunn team of students, staff and parents attended Challenge Success conference/workshop at Stanford on September 25 and 26, 2009. This is a continuation of our work with Stanford's SOS program. (Gunn was among the first schools to be linked with Stanford in efforts to reduce student stress levels).
  • Stanford Survey of Adolescent School Experiences will be administered to students early in 2010. Project Cornerstone's survey of Developmental Assets will be administered to students some time TBD during this school year. The results will provides us with baseline data on student social emotional health and well-being that will allow us to evaluate the effectiveness of programs and interventions.
  • Meetings held with various groups that have programs to help students develop resilience (Project Cornerstone, Project Happiness, Social Emotional Learning). Project Cornerstone will conduct student workshops on Nov 24 and do 12 weekly sessions at the start of 2010. Project Happiness's curriculum is being used in Focus on Success classes.
  • Living Skills curriculum adjusted to include more information and suggestions for dealing with pressures and building resilience.
  • Dr. Fred Luskin (a Gunn parent and Stanford professor) addressed all seniors on Oct 14 on the topic of happiness and what makes students happy and resilient in the face of pressure. Students were involved in student-led small group discussions following his presentation.
  • Students have organized peer support groups and taken action to build community spirit. (ROCK, "Talk to Me" T shirts, Anti-suicide Facebook groups). ROCK has presented its ideas to staff and students to publicize its existence and purpose.
  • KARA will run student support groups at lunch, after school and in the evenings starting in November.
  • Special support for the water polo community will be provided through KARA.
  • Dr. Fred Ginsberg will run an assembly in March for students. He will talk about building resilience.
  • In assemblies and one-on-one, students have been encouraged to support each other and to seek help from an adult if they are concerned about a friend. Many reports are being received.
  • Assembly planned for December that will address living and coping with depression and bring in alumni who have offered to help to talk about their own experiences and how they developed coping skills in high school and college.
Efforts to support staff and help them support students
Please note: The first four points also appeared under support for students because they apply to staff as well as students.
  • District and Gunn staff met during summer months to create materials to help teachers better support students still struggling with spring suicides. Tips for talking with teens distributed to all staff on first day of school.
  • Counselors, ACS personnel, School Administrators, School Psychologist, District personnel available every day, all day, for staff needing support.
  • Protocol developed so that counselors, psychologists and admin team know what to do in the event of such a crisis (suicide or accident)
  • Access to outside therapists/support counselors encouraged by District's support of 3 free sessions with such personnel.
  • KARA training on first day of fall semester 2009 for all Gunn staff on helping students and themselves deal with grief and loss.
  • KARA facilitated peer support groups for Gunn staff members on and off campus.
  • Administrators take over the classes of teachers unable to teach because they are struggling with their own feelings of loss and sadness when a student has been lost.
  • Staff support groups led by Center for Living with Dying and KARA in spring and again this fall.
  • Dr. Fred Luskin and Dr. Kenneth Pelletier's book "Stress Free for Good" has been purchased for every teacher and staff member that has regular contact with students.
  • Dr. Luskin will address the staff at the December 10, staff meeting and discuss the book with staff.
  • Dr. Ken Ginsbeg will address staff on the topic of building resilience in students on 25 March, 2010.
Efforts to support parents
  • Parent Ed. Meetings and expert panels set up to address parent fears and concerns regarding suicide at Gunn, District and community level last spring and again this fall.
  • Dr. Ken Ginsberg will be the speaker at a parent ed. Night in March.
  • Parent support groups already underway (as of Oct 29) at Gunn.
  • Grade-level parent networks established to provide a forum for parents to meet and discuss concerns.
  • Crisis resource list and articles posted on Gunn web site.
Community efforts to deal with suicide problem.
  • Meetings between Caltrain, District, PAPD and City to discuss the problem and what might be done.
  • Parents and community members have volunteered to patrol crossings (suicide "hot spots").
  • CDC guidelines are being used to guide our actions and reactions following the latest suicide.

Adolescent Mental Health Resources

A Former Gunn Parent Shares Adolescent Mental Health Resources Available to Teens and Families of Teens
Laurie Stein

As a parent of two Gunn graduates, the news of another suicide shook me terribly. Since the first two suicides of Paly students several years ago, I have had a heightened awareness of this problem. But, the spate of deaths this year is intolerable. I am writing to you to offer information on resources you may not be familiar with in hope that some of this information can help our teens.

I did not know any of the students who have died and can only imagine what brought on such deep pain that they felt death was the only solution. But, having worked with parents of children with mental illness for several years I’ve learn that many adolescents who battle depression and other such illnesses feel ashamed and fearful of how they will be perceived by others. One big factor in this is the stigma that is attached to mental illness. Despite the research that shows that mental illness is a biologically based brain disease, most people still perceive the victim as the root of their own illness.

Although I do know that Palo Alto has increased their counseling and educational outreach on mental illness, I don’t know what effort has been put into fighting the stigma associated with these illnesses. Recently, Glenn Close and her sister Jesse launched a campaign to fight the stigma of mental illness. They have created a website and campaign that not only informs the public but also gives those who are ill resources. As most residents of our community are frequent users of the internet, making these resources available could help all. Please take a moment to look at the website at www.bringchange2mind.org. At the top of the homepage is a link to “Find Help”. Under the high school and college section are two powerful websites, www.activeminds.org and www.jedfoundation.org. Both organizations appear to be college based, the information there is relevant to our high school students. Many of the YouTube clips are powerful and appropriate for this age. Gaining access to this information can be one more tool to give our kids in their fight to stay healthy.

I have been involved for several years in a national organization helping parents of children with mental illness. This organization is the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation at www.bpkids.org. They also sponsor a website for teens at www.depressedteens.com. Through CABF, free brochures on mood disorders are available for the schools. If you would like copies of this brochure or other information please contact Nanci Schiman at nschiman@bpkids.org.

When I spoke online to another parent volunteer with this organization about the crisis in our community, she told me of a similar situation that her community of Barrington, Illinois went through. Their response was to create a website to reach out to the parents and teens of their community. Please look at this website: http://www.hereinbarrington.org/ It is quite comprehensive. And, more importantly, it was extremely effective. With all the talent that is in our community, creating a similar website is another avenue for helping our kids here.

It is my sincere hope that we as adults can begin to break down the stigma of mental illness and create an environment where our kids can talk about their feelings openly and without fear of being judged. Only when they can realize that some of their friends share their fears and feelings will they be able to see other possible avenues of action.

Laurie Stein

Coping With Suicide: Parent Support Group *FREE*

Allison Shotwell, MFT

A 2nd Support Group is Added!
1st group meetings start on Thursdays, Oct. 29, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
A smaller 2nd group meetings start on Tuesdays, starting Nov. 3rd from 7:30-9 pm
With the recent tragedies of several student suicides at Gunn, many parents are feeling overwhelmed, and have a lot of questions. Hearing about, or experiencing tragedies such as these can leave you with a lot of different feelings such as sadness, helplessness, anger and fear. Some of you may have known one of the students who died, and even if you didn't know one of the students, tragedies such as these have a way of bringing up many feelings, even ones unrelated to the current tragedy. You may be coping with your own grief, while simultaneously trying to support your teen through this difficult time. You may have questions, such as how can I talk to my teen? How do I know if my teen is struggling? What can I do to support my teen? And you may also need some support for yourself.
Come share and learn in a safe, confidential, small group setting with other Gunn parents. You'll have an opportunity to:
  • Talk about your experience
  • Learn tools for talking to teens
  • Learn tools for coping with your own feelings
Group Facilitator: Allison Shotwell, MFT.
Support group is free. Please call to register and for location information: (650) 266-8229 or email: allisonshotwell@gmail.com

Pie Pick Up Thursday Nov. 5

Marilyn Putney

If you have ordered a *Gizdich Ranch Pie* please remember to pick them up at Gunn High School on *Thursday, Nov. 5th, 4-6 PM* in front of the office.

Junior Parent Network Meeting

Martha Bowden
Our next meeting, and our first evening meeting, is Tuesday, Nov 10th, 7:30-9:00 pm, in the Staff Lounge at Gunn (building to the right of the main office, the room is labeled and is facing the parking lot).

Freshman Parent Network Meeting

Wendy Kandasamy
The Freshman Parent Network will be hosting their first meeting on Thursday, November 5, from 8:30-9:30. We will be discussing "Academic & Social Transitions" and any other hot topic that you'd like to bring up. This is an informal parent group designed for sharing information and supporting each other.
 Lauren Janov has graciously opened up her home for this meeting. Please rsvp to:
Lauren L. Janov janovLL@yahoo.com (650) 326-4060 (voice) or
Wendy Kandasamy wendyk@gmail.com (650) 380-0220
to get address and directions.

10th Grade Parent Network Meeting

Ruth Shapiro
Please join us for the first meeting of the 10th Grade Parent Network on November 5th, 7:30 PM in the Staff Lounge at Gunn. Experiences and concerns to be shared. See you there!

The Man Who Came to Dinner

Amy Christel

The Gunn Drama Department Presents…

“The Man Who Came to Dinner”

In this classic 1939 comedy by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, the acerbic Sheridan Whiteside, theatre critic, lecturer, and radio personality, arriving to dine at the home of the prominent Stanley family in a small Midwestern town, slips on their doorstep and injures his hip. A tumultuous six weeks of confinement follow, during which Whiteside monopolizes the living room and takes over the Stanley household. Before it's over, the outrageous has become commonplace. This large cast comedy features a wonderful spread of Gunn Theatre performers playing a most extravagant array of eccentric characters.
Come join the fun!

Directed by James Shelby

Tickets now available online at www.gunntheatre.org!

All performances will be in the Gunn Studio Theatre, 780 Arastradero Road

Nov. 12, Thursday, Opening Night Gala starts at 6:45pm, show at 8pm (tickets $20)
Nov. 13, 14, Fri. & Sat., 8pm (students $8/ adults $10)
Nov. 18, Wed. Matinee, 3:30pm (all $5)
Nov. 19, 20, 21, Thurs., Fri., Sat., 8pm (students $8/ adults $10)

Be a part of the Opening Night Gala, November 12th!
Festivities begin at 6:45 pm in the Gunn Staff Lounge. Enjoy dessert, beverages, and the pre-show commentary by Gunn’s own Mr. Tim Farrell, all followed by the show at 8pm in the Studio Theatre! All Gala tickets are $20.
Advance ticket purchase is recommended. Tickets available now at
www.gunntheatre.org, and in the SAC.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Breaking the Stigma: Teenage Substance Abuse

Join Adolescent Counseling Services and the Paly PTSA for a community forum on teenage substance abuse.

Keynote Presenter:
Stephanie Brown, Ph.D.

Panelists from:
Adolescent Counseling Services
The Camp Recovery Center
Community Health Awareness Council (CHAC)
Palo Alto Drug & Alcohol Community Collaborative (PADACC)
Palo Alto Medical Foundation
All members of the community - families, parents, teens, or those interested in the topic - are invited to take part in an evening dedicated to discussing this very important issue.

Date | Time | Location
Thursday, November 12, 2009
7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Cubberley Community Center | Room M2
4000 Middlefield Road
Palo Alto, CA 94303

For questions or more information, please contact Adolescent Counseling Services at (650) 424-0852.

Adolescent Counseling Services | 4000 Middlefield Road, Suite FH | Palo Alto, CA 94303 650-424-0852 | 650-424-9853 fax | www.acs-teens.org

Fighting the Flu

Dear Parents,
Here is information from the Public Health Department regarding ways to Fight the Flu this season.

We Are Fighting the Flu!

Our school is seeing more cases of flu. With both seasonal flu and pandemic H1N1 circulating at our school and in the community, here are a few reminders about what to do.
  • Conduct daily health checks. Before you bring your child to school, check for fever (temperature of 100°F or higher) and any of the following flu symptoms: cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills or fatigue.
  • If your child has a fever, especially with another symptom, keep them home. If your child just doesn’t look or feel well, and has one or more of the flu symptoms, keep them home.
  • Stay home. Children and others with flu-like illness should stay home. Stay home for at least 24 hours after the child is fever-free without using medicines.
  • Get your flu vaccines. If you haven’t gotten your child the seasonal flu vaccine – get it now. Once the H1N1 vaccine is available, get that too! Children under 10 years of age will need booster shots.
  • Keep up the good health habits. Wash your hands, cover your cough and wash your hands often!
Please remember, at this time the symptoms and severity of pandemic H1N1 and seasonal flu are very similar. Most healthy children and adults will recover from the flu without any special medical attention. Just watch for worsening symptoms and/or difficulty breathing. If that happens, call your medical provider right away.

What to Do When You Think Your Child Has the Flu

If your child has a fever, especially with another symptom, keep them home. If your child just doesn’t look or feel well, and has one or more symptoms of the flu, keep them home. Keep them home for at least 24 hours after being fever-free without using medicines.
Flu symptoms include fever (temperature of 100°F or higher), cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills and fatigue.

Call or see a doctor if:
  • A child is younger than a year old.
  • Your child is more ill than you would expect.
  • Fever persists for more than three days.
  • Symptoms include being weary or sluggish, and the child does not improve after taking Tylenol or Ibuprofen.
  • There is an existing chronic illness or some other risk factor.
Go to the emergency department if your child shows any of the following symptoms:
  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish or gray skin color (call 911 immediately)
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Continued vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
Please remember, most healthy children and adults will recover from the flu without any special medical attention. Just watch for worsening symptoms and if they happen, get to medical care right away.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Gunn Crisis Resources

Kimberley Cowell, Assistant Principal

These are difficult times. In response to the recent tragedy, Gunn Guidance Services have revised the Gunn Crisis Resources webpage that contains many resourceful info for students and parents to deal with crisis situations. Copies of the revised list of resources (as of 10/21) are also available on the Main Office and Guidance office counters.

The latest update is a document about teen suicide prepared by KARA, provided below in its entirety.

Please be assured that Counselors and Psychiatrist are available to talk with your students at any time during the school day should they require emotional support for themselves or their friends.

Kimberley Cowell, Assistant Principal
Guidance Services
Gunn High School
(650) 354-8204

For Teachers and Parents
Helping Teens with Grief from Suicide

Be honest with yourself. Recognize that you are grieving too.

Be honest about your feelings. Share what you are feeling with your students, share with them through simple statements and comments about what you do to express and cope.

Be honest with the limits of your knowledge. The death may raise questions about what it feels like to die and what happens after death. You won't be able to answer many of their questions. Ask what they think so you can hear what their actual worries or concerns are.

Provide opportunities for feeling expression. When we grieve it is often a mixture of anger and sadness. Allow time for their tears. Let the students know that crying is a normal reaction to the death of a classmate and of a loved one.

Maintain class and home routine and rules. Students need structure and routine. Even with the interruption of a funeral or memorial service, your return to routine will provide reassurance to the students that life does go on.

Add feeling-related activities to your regular curriculum. The need to express feelings about the loss will continue for all your students. Many people are kinesthetic learners. In particular, the kinesthetic student is particularly comforted by art and writing projects built around feeling themes. Stories about coping with death and loss can be incorporated into the classroom reading activities. It is important to continue to provide opportunities for feeling expression. Talk about the student who died, use their name, remember their life.

Honor and affirm your privileged position. This is a time you have a very healing influence on your students. Showing them how to handle grief in even these small ways will help them in the future.

Words that Do Comfort the Grieving Student
  • I'm sorry.
  • I'm thinking of you.
  • I care.
  • You are so important to me.
  • I'm here for you.
  • I want to help.
  • If I were in your shoes, I think I'd feel that way to.
  • One of my favorite memories of _________ (use the name of the person or pet) is . . .
  • It seems so natural to cry at a time like this.
  • I don't know what to say but I know this must be very difficult for you.
  • Do you feel like talking for a while?
  • How do you feel today?
DRUGS AND ALCOHOL - When an individual is in severe emotional pain, there is often the desire to avoid that pain by "numbing out". Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol are readily available to most teens and the use of these chemicals can become particularly attractive while grieving. A survey in a California drug and rehabilitation hospital for adolescents indicated that 86% to 92% of their patients had experienced the loss of someone significant in their life. The majority of these teens revealed that the abuse of these drugs occurred following the death, as they knew no other way out of their pain. Teens need to understand and process highly charged emotions and have concrete tools to assist them in their healing process. Teens need to learn that the use of drugs and alcohol merely puts their grief "on hold" and ultimately prolongs and complicates their recovery.

VIOLENT BEHAVIOR - When a death occurs, teens may be tempted to "strike out" not knowing what to do with their anger. When there is no understanding of the grief process and no safe place to vent these feelings of pain and confusion, violent or reckless behavior may often occur. Approximately 300 incarcerated teens were surveyed at a California Youth Authority facility. Ninety-six percent of those surveyed indicated that someone significant in their life had died. The average number of losses per teen was SIX. Rarely is an individual raised in an environment where anger is understood to be healthy and normal. We are usually punished for displaying anger or told to "calm down". Teens need to learn that anger is a very human response, but with that response comes the responsibility not to hurt ourselves or others. Teens must respect their feelings of anger and design healthy methods for their expression. Anger turned inward can lead to a lifetime of undefined depression.

SELF ESTEEM - A teen who is given the opportunity to understand and process their feelings of loss will feel empowered with the tools to handle losses that will continue to occur throughout life. Rather than becoming victimized, they frequently become our "wounded healers" reaching out to other troubled teens. While we cannot always change the circumstances that occur in life, we do have a choice as to how we will allow it to impact our lives and consequently the lives of those we love.

Observations about Teen Suicides
* The #1 cause of suicide is untreated depression.
This is the key point. Suicide is caused by depression; Depression is an illness that goes untreated because those who suffer are unaware of the cause and/or fear the stigma of "admitting" they have this medical problem.
Most of the time people who kill themselves are very sick with depression or one of the other types of depressive illnesses, which occur when the chemicals in a person's brain get out of balance or become disrupted in some way. Healthy people do not kill themselves.
Getting depression is involuntary - no one asks for it, just like people don't ask to get cancer or diabetes. But, we do know that depression is a treatable illness. That people can feel good again!
In other words, the stress of school, in itself, does not kill students. Making school "less stressful" does a lot to help students in general, but will probably have minimal impact on depressed or suicidal students.
But, talking about suicide or being aware of a suicide that happened in your family or to a close friend does not put you at risk for attempting it, if you are healthy. The only people who are at risk are those who are vulnerable in the first place - vulnerable because of an illness called depression or one of the other depressive illnesses. The risk increases if the illness is not treated.
Talking about suicide is not "contagious".
Why don't people talk about depression and suicide?
The main reason people don't talk about it is because of the stigma. People who suffer from depression are afraid that others will think they are "crazy", which is so untrue. And society still hasn't accepted depressive illnesses like they've accepted other diseases. Alcoholism is a good example - no one ever wanted to talk openly about that, and now look at how society views it. It's a disease that most people feel pretty comfortable discussing with others if it's in their family. They talk of the effect it has had on their lives and different treatment plans. And everyone is educated on the dangers of alcohol and on alcohol prevention. As for suicide, it's a topic that has a long history of being taboo - something that should just be forgotten, kind of swept under the rug. And that's why people keep dying. Suicide is so misunderstood by most people, so the myths are perpetuated. And the taboo prevents people from getting help, and prevents society from learning more about suicide and depression. If everyone were educated on these subjects, many lives could be saved.
Schools can help students suffering from depression feel more comfortable with seeking help. People who are role models can come forward and talk about their own depression, how they have gotten help for it, and have thrived despite depression. Class time and counselor time should be devoted to ensuring that students learn more about depression as an illness and have the opportunity to talk to a counselor without stigma.
Will "talking things out" cure depression?
The studies that have been done on "talk therapy" vs. using antidepressant medication have shown that in some mild depressions, talking to a counselor may ease some of the symptoms. But it has been proven that in severe depressions, talking things out will not cure the illness. It's like trying to talk a person out of having a heart attack. It just won't work. Most of the time, the person needs medication. Studies have shown that a combination of psychotherapy (talk therapy) and antidepressant medication is the most effective way of treating most people who suffer from depression.
This is a very important point. You can't "cheer somebody up" when they are suffering from clinical depression, let alone suicidal. You can't just give them wisdom and perspective. They need professional psychological and medical help.
What should I tell students?"
A more detailed explanation might be: "Our thoughts and feelings come from our brain, and sometimes a person's brain can get very sick - the sickness can cause a person to feel very badly inside. It also makes a person's thoughts get all jumbled and mixed up, so he can't think clearly. Some people can't think of any other way of stopping the hurt they feel inside. They don't understand that they don't have to feel that way, that they can get help." (It's important to note that there are people who were getting help for their depression and died anyway. Just as in other illnesses, a person can receive the best medical treatment and still not survive.)
Students need to know that the person who died loved them, but that because of the illness, the person may have been unable to convey that to them or think about how the children would feel after the loved one's death. They need to know that the suicide was not their fault, and that nothing they said or did, or didn't say or do, caused the death.
Some helpful hotlines and links:
Teen Suicide Santa Clara County Hotline 888-247-7717 (24/7)
Natl. Assoc. of Suicidology 800-suicide
Crisis Line, Santa Clara County (all ages) 408-279-8367
Suicide Hotline, North Santa Clara County 650-494-8420

www.grievingchild.org (Dougy Center for Grieving Children)
www.save.org (Suicide Awareness/Voices for Education)

Kara is an independent, nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation.
457 Kingsley Avenue. Palo Alto, CA 94301-3299.
(650) 321-5272

Kara is the Gothic root of the word "care." It means to reach out, to grieve with, to care, to lament.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

350 Days of Action! Global Warming Awareness Event

Lisa Altieri, Coordinator for the Barron Park Green Team
Wook Lee, Coordinator for the Gunn High School Green Team

The Gunn High School Green Team and the Barron Park Green Team are partnering together for an event to raise awareness about Global Warming. This event is part of an international day of climate action awareness organized by 350.org. (For more information, visit the 350.org website.) The purpose of the event is to bring awareness to the number 350 - an internationally recognized number representing the highest level of carbon dioxide (ppm) in our atmosphere that we can maintain and still avoid serious climate change. We are currently at 387 so we have some work to do. The events are supposed to be visual, fun and creative! The event details:

When: Saturday, October 24th, 1-2pm
Where: Henry M. Gunn High School Football Field
Event: We will be gathering to spell out a big 350 with people on the field. If possible, wear Gunn High School colors (Red & Black) and Green to make the numbers stand out. We will also provide information flyers on the Global Warming goal of 350 (ppm CO2).

This will be a great fun event for everyone, children, families, etc. The event is open to everyone and free--we encourage all to bike or walk, if possible. Come join in the fun!

To help with the event, contact Lisa Altieri, Coordinator for the Barron Park Green Team at (650) 274-5171 (or laltieri@earthlink.net) or Wook Lee, Coordinator for the Gunn High School Green Team at sillywabbit92@gmail.com

Yes, The Turkey Feast is Coming!

Marilyn Putney

Gunn’s annual Turkey Feast will be held in five weeks on Thursday, Nov. 19th during lunch so we need to start recruiting food donations and volunteers. It is one of Gunn's more popular and fun events where the students and staff feast on a delicious luncheon, (vegetarian bar included), build community spirit, and then donate the proceeds to a local charity. In the past we have had over 60 volunteers assisting and another 100 who donate food and money. The volunteers work in conjunction with the Student Executive Council and Lisa Hall, our Student Activities Director. We plan to feed 1400 people in 50 minutes so come and help! Last year we donated over $1700 to the Ecumenical Hunger Program in East Palo Alto through this charitable event!

For families that are new to this event, here is how it all works. 
On the day of the Turkey Feast, each Gunn student and staff member can purchase lunch and a drink for $5.00. Lunch for meat eaters will include turkey, dressing and gravy, salad, cranberry sauce, rolls and pie. Vegetarians will feast on a baked potato bar as well as salad, rolls and pie. Posters will be put up around school to remind students of the date and to bring their “lunch money”. We hope you and your family can all be a part of this special day!

To sign up to help please click on this link:


Here is what is needed:

50 Turkeys, at least 14 lbs. each.
Donate cooked and carved turkeys--delivered by 9:30 am on 11/19.
They can be cooked a day ahead, carved and refrigerated. 
No time to cook? Consider purchasing a cooked turkey or turkey breasts at Draegers, 
Piazzas, JJ&F or Safeway and then carve them yourself.

Pies. We need 175 of them.

Please donate your time for November 19th:
Food Prep -- 10:00 to 11:30
Set-up and serve -- 11:30 to 12:45
(12:45 to 1:00 -- Volunteers get to eat)
Clean-up -- 1:00 to 2:30


2 people to bake 25 potatoes each (wrapped in foil) and delivered that morning.
2 large pots of vegetarian chili – 15 servings each (recipe supplied if needed)
2 Costco sized containers of sour cream
2 Costco sized bags of grated cheddar cheese

Monetary donations are also gladly accepted. We will be purchasing salad, rolls, stuffing and gravy. The cost of food has skyrocketed.


Please contact Marilyn Putney if you have any questions, PutneyM@gmail.com

Saturday, October 17, 2009

PTSA's Homecoming Barbecue

Diane Downend, Gunn PTSA President

Last night’s homecoming barbecue was a grand success thanks to our seasoned team of PTSA volunteers! The Gunn community thanks Alison Simonetti, Sara Jackson, Suzanne McKenna, Jennifer von Clemm, Clare Quinn and their small army of parent volunteers who set up, served Old Pro chicken and pulled pork sandwiches, and cleaned up! Also thanks to the many families that contributed desserts, salads and drinks. It was a night to remember for the over 300 students served, many who had been hard at work stuffing floats, in football practice and in airband rehearsals. The Homecoming Barbecue fueled enormous energy that filled the gym throughout the Night Rally. Kudos to all the airbands for their well choreographed and spirit-filled entertainment. The results…
First Place to the Class of 2010
Second Place to the Class of 2012
Third Place to the Class of 2011
Fourth Place to the Class of 2013

Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra's Sinfonia Ensemble

First Concert of the Season
A Program of Renowned Composers from Around the World

November 15th Concert Features PACO Concerto Competition Winner
and Peninsula Local Violinist, Kyoko Inagawa

PACO’s Sinfonia will perform their first concert of the 2009-2010 season on Sunday, November 15 under the direction of PACO music director Benjamin Simon. This challenging program includes movements of four primary pieces and a variety of masterpieces of the chamber music repertoire performed by small ensembles comprised of Sinfonia members. From England comes Concerto Grosso Op. 6 No. 11 in A Major by Baroque master George Frederic Handel. The Sinfonia Orchestra will also perform the Marcia movement from Ernst Dohnanyi's virtuosic Serenade. From Italy comes Vitali's famous Chaconne. This powerful, emotion evoking movement performed by PACO concerto competition winner and local, twelve year old Kyoko Inagawa, is sure to make an impression with both the classical music novice as well as seasoned listeners alike. From Russia , The Sinfonia Orchestra will also performAnton Arensky's well-loved Variations on a Theme by Tchaikovsky. The concert will begin at 3:00 pm. at the Cubberley Theater, 4000 Middlefield Rd. in Palo Alto . Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for seniors and students. For more information, visit http://www.pacomusic.org/ or call (650) 856-3848.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

PAUSD Budget Overview

Lauren Janov
PTA Council Advocacy Chair

Calendar for Community Input/Additional Information

  • PAUSD meetings with stakeholders (i.e., PTAC Council) to generate ideas for budget savings and spending priorities - November
  • Site Council meetings to generate budget savings ideas -- by late November
  • PAUSD budget update - November 24 School Board Meeting
January and February
  • Board public study sessions - by mid-January
  • PAUSD School Board budget discussions and vote - January 26 and February 9th
Budget Information (as of October 2009)

2009-2010 School Year

PAUSD's "fair share" reduction of state funding is $2.6 million ($250/student) . This funding cut was covered by spending reserves and federal stimulus dollars and taking advantage of recent state categorical fund spending flexibility. 

The most current property tax projections suggest that this year’s local property tax revenues will come in 0.47% less than budgeted ($501,000 less); final property tax numbers will be available July 2010. 

That said, there was a positive balance of about $6 million for this fiscal year.
For 2009-10, PAUSD's total estimated ending reserves (General Fund and Basic Aid Reserve) are $20 million (13% of the budget). 

2010-2011 School Year

PAUSD's estimated state funding cut of $4.4 million (~$406 per student) and a recently announced zero estimated property tax growth (compared to the 3% increase incorporated into the budget) will create a $5.7 million structural deficit for the 2010-2011 school year.

This deficit does not reflect increased costs for enrollment growth (3.06% budgeted for 2010-11, 2.18% actual for 2009-10), contractual step and column salaries, pensions, health insurance premiums and utilities. 

2011-12 School Year and Beyond

The annual $5.7 million structural deficit will continue until state tax revenues pick up and will become significantly worse if California voters do not renew $10 billion of education funding set to expire this year.
Locally, PAUSD's parcel tax ($9.3 million generated annually) will expire unless renewed by local voters.

General Information

One proposal to soften the budget impact of these cuts and costs is to spend 2009-2010's ~$6 million ending fund balance over the next 3 years ($2 million/year) .
PAUSD staff plans to engage the principals, unions, PiE, PTA and community in addressing these fiscal issues, guided by these values:
Maintain academic excellence
  • Transparency and openness about our challenge

  • Continued support and fidelity to the district’s Strategic Plan

  • Participation by all stakeholder groups

  • Understanding of and dedication to what works educationally

  • Optimism about ability to solve problem

  • Long term fiscal health – no gimmicks

  • Staffing levels that sustain program quality as we grow
  • Avoiding layoffs is a high priority

See http://pausd. org/community/ board/downloads/ brd_packet/ item_013. pdf for more details.

Recent Major PAUSD Board Fiscal Actions
provided by PAUSD Business Department:

  • Sunsetting retiree medical benefits for employees hired after June 1, 2009. While it is difficult to quantify the amount of savings, retiree health benefit costs should decrease over time. (March 2009)
  • $1.475 million in 2009-2010 from increased class sizes/lower enrollment growth (May 2009)
  • ~$150,000 from a soft hiring freeze to date (re-hiring to replace 2 classified positions and 1 management position has been put on hold)
  • ~$4.7 million for 2008-09 for staff and teacher bonuses and raises 
(5% salary increase effective July 1, 2008 -- 2.5% base, 2.5% one-time payment) (March 2009)

4-Pathways to College

Kimberly Cowell
Assistant Principal

Parent Night on Wednesday, October 21 in the Gunn Library, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.

Representatives from Community College, California State University and a private institution will be on hand to present and answer questions. Linda Kirsch will give parents the latest University of California news. There are changes!

Guidance Department Appointments

Kimberly Cowell
Assistant Principal

Students can make appointments in the Guidance Department at any time. Each counselor has blank pink appointment slips on his/her door, and students fill these out and put them in the mailbox on the office door. Counselors are still doing drop-in at lunch for students only.

Please review with your child that a closed guidance counselor door means that the counselor is in a meeting, is working on a deadline, such as a recommendation letter, or is answering e-mail or returning a phone call that needs immediate attention. The student can fill out a pink appointment slip, indicating the best time to be seen, and put it in the door pocket.

A Review of the Counseling Calendar

Kimberly Cowell
Assistant Principal

  • 12th graders meet with their guidance counselor from September through mid-November. Parents can join in on these appointments with prior notice.
  • 9th graders will have a group advising session on either December 8 or 9 during the school day. This is not an event for parents.
  • 10th graders meet with guidance counselors starting in mid- November through mid-February. Guidance counselors prefer to meet with sophomores 1:1 for their initial conference.
  • 11th graders are seen for their appointment to review the transcript, courses for next school year, etc. from mid-February through the beginning of May. Parents can join in on these 30 – 45 minute appointments. Please let the guidance counselor know you would like this opportunity.

Guidance Department Happenings

Kimberly Cowell
Assistant Principal

The entire Guidance Department is hopping! There is much to be done, and not much time to do it. Every year fall is particularly busy as we assist seniors with college packets and support students who have had a rough start to the school year. These are our two biggest priorities at present, and this year we're being greatly impacted by almost double the number of early decision packets (over 150), which means guidance counselors are writing twice the number of recommendation letters, averaging 25 per counselor. Writing a thoughtful, well-conceived letter takes time, and so does the hour appointment with each senior on the counselor's caseload. Doing a thorough follow-up with struggling students, who need an attentive listener and the requisite parent contact, sometimes multiple contacts, is work that also takes care and time. All guidance counselors are reviewing the Warning Notice list and calling in students who are failing or have a "D" in multiple classes. Moreover, we’re still doing significant follow-up with students with mental health concerns. Finally, the e-mail traffic has been flying! All of us are receiving far more e-mails than can be answered in a day (3 times as many) - and they just keep coming.

We need your help!
We're asking parents to understand that it may take 72 hours to reply to your e-mail. Also, please do not drop in to see your child's counselor without an appointment. While it may "only take a minute," in truth, it usually doesn't and these kinds of drop-ins are occurring many times a day for EACH counselor. Please hold off on making appointments that are basically informational in nature until after Thanksgiving. The load will then be lifted (for the most part), and the meeting you have with your child's guidance counselor will then be more productive. The guidance counselor will be able to be fully attentive during the meeting with you and your student, and engage in meaningful planning and problem-solving.

If your child has a "D" or "F" in one class, please contact the teacher of that course directly. You don't need to contact the guidance counselor unless the problem persists.

Here's the exception: If your child is experiencing significant emotional and/or academic difficulties, then your student's guidance counselor does want to hear your concerns. Please be sure to contact the teachers of the courses that are problematic as well.

To provide the best service to those most in need or who may be on a deadline, we ask that parents support the Guidance Department by refraining from dropping in or making appointments at this time about matters that can wait until the fall madness is over!

Buy Pies TODAY!

Last Chance to Buy Pies! The sale ends Oct. 15th!

Purchase an extra pie and then donate it to the Turkey Feast on Nov. 19th!
DATE: Oct. 12
GOAL: 500

Click here for more information.

The Turkey Feast is Coming

Student Activities Center

Gunn’s annual Turkey Feast will be held in five weeks on Thursday, Nov. 19th during lunch. It is one of Gunn's more popular events where the students and staff feast on a delicious luncheon, (vegetarian bar included), build community spirit, and then donate the proceeds to a local charity. In the past we have had over 60 volunteers assisting and another 100 who donate food and money. The volunteers work in conjunction with the Student Executive Council and Lisa Hall, our Student Activities Director. We plan to feed 1400 people in 50 minutes so look for future postings about volunteering. Last year we donated $1700 to the EHP in East Palo Alto through this charitable event!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

ArtSpeak! 2009/2010 Schedule

We're excited to announce the schedule of events for the 2009/2010 school year.
ArtSpeak! is dedicated to promoting the value of a visual arts education. Through a series of public presentations by practicing art professionals, we hope to foster dialog about, and awareness of the valuable role visual arts can play as a career path, as a creative source and outlet, and as a means to enhance visual literacy and creative problem solving.

All evening sessions start at 7:30pm in the School Board room at the back of the District Office at 25 Churchill.

October 8, 2009
Google and the Power of Doodles

Dennis Hwang
International Webmaster and Logo Designer, Google

Dennis Hwang is known for his creative reinventions of the Google logo, developed for all kinds of special and offbeat occasions. He’ll tell us how he got started doing his designs, show us some examples, and talk about the challenges juggling this creative pursuit with his full-time job (he’s the international webmaster at Google, overseeing all content development). He’s also a driving force behind Doodle 4 Google—a nationwide competition for K-12 students to reinvent the Google logo. He’ll talk about this exciting program and why Google believes so strongly in it.

November 5, 2009
Visual Arts Experience

Karen Kienzle
Executive Director, Palo Alto Art Center (along with a panel of program directors)

So what is the value of visual arts in a classroom environment? What are the benefits? The Palo Alto Art Center has a lot of experience with this very thing. For over thirty years, they have been bringing art to our schools, and bringing classrooms to art. We’ll learn about the Center’s wide range of programs for students and families, the philosophies behind them, what the Center has learned over the years, and why they feel the arts are so important for our community.

December 10, 2009
Developing Confidence in Your Creative Ability Through Design Thinking
The Stanford d.school

Back by popular demand, Stanford’s d.school has offered to lead another hands-on session for ArtSpeak! We’ll learn about the basic design process used at the d.school and then we’ll all get the chance to put that process into action and make some prototypes. The wildly creative solutions that came out of last year’s session—from the students and their parents— were really inspiring and a lot of fun to take part in.

February 4, 2010
The Big Picture
Ann Badillo
Business Strategist and Vice President, Crawford Communications Group

Some challenges are so complicated the best way to see the big picture is to actually draw a big picture. Many corporations and global organizations use graphic facilitation to help them visualize and understand the nuances of complex issues, whether it’s developing a business strategy or finding solutions for global warming. Ann Badillo (business strategist, corporate coach, and Paly mom) has led many graphic facilitation sessions. She’ll tell us how they work, who uses them, show us some examples, and then, with the help of a graphic facilitator and artist, lead a session with the audience to create our own big picture.

March 4, 2010
The Importance of Design: Now
Cara McCarty
Curatorial Director, Cooper-Hewitt Museum (New York)

As Curatorial Director of America’s leading design museum, Cara McCarty understands the importance of design, how it affects every facet of our lives, and how crucial it is to meeting the challenges of 21st century. She’s also very familiar with the PAUSD, being a graduate of Escondido, Terman and Gunn. She’ll tell us about the latest thinking and trends in design, the Cooper-Hewitt’s commitment to arts education in our schools, and give us a sneak peek at some of the new shows in the works at the museum.

April 1, 2010
Art in Our Own Backyard
A Conversation with Paly and Gunn Art Teachers

Since ArtSpeak! is dedicated to promoting the value of a visual arts education, we thought it would be a good idea to feature some people who do exactly that every day: the art teachers at Paly and Gunn. We’ll talk about their philosophy of teaching art, learn how they manage to juggle being both teachers and artists, and see some samples of their work.

May 15, 2010
You Made It! Jamboree

Do you make robots? Invent new toys? Design computer games? Direct movies? Re-fashion bikes or create new fashions? We want to hear about it. The You Made It! Jamboree will be a celebration of student innovation and creativity. Show off what you made at this all day event at the Palo Alto Art Center. More information and entry forms will be available after the first of the year. (Keep an eye on the ArtSpeak! website or join our email list to keep up to date.)

ArtSpeak! is sponsored by the Palo Alto Council of PTAs. For more information, see artspeak.paloaltopta.org

Less Than Two Weeks Left to Order Delicious Pies

DATE: Oct. 2
GOAL: 500


Pies are $16 each ($15 each when you buy more than two). Buy an extra or donate one to a special teacher or staff member--we can arrange to deliver the pie on your behalf. Tell your friends, co-workers and neighbors, too! Proceeds from the sales of GIZDICH RANCH PIES help keep Gunn's Graduation Night ticket prices down for grad night. Watsonville's Gizdich Ranch pies come frozen and flavors available for order include Ollalieberry, Apple, Pumpkin, and Raspberry. You can also order Sugarless Apple.

Place orders by Thursday, Oct. 15
Pick up is Thursday, Nov. 5, 4-6PM.

Order forms are available in the SAC and Gunn Office, or print one from here: gunn.pausd.org/~activities/sac/index.htm.

You can also order directly from Ronda Breier: Ronda@breiers.com
Questions? contact Marilyn Putney at PutneyM@gmail.com

October and November Site Council Meeting Time Change

René Hart, Site Council Coordinator

The October 12 site council Meeting has been moved from 7pm to 3:30pm due to the college fair at PALY.

The November 9 site council meeting has been moved from 3:30pm to 7pm to accomodate parents and others who cannot make it to afternoon meetings.

Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra 44th Season First Concert

Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra

The Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra will perform their first concert of the 2009-2010 season on Saturday, October 24. PACO's first program of the season features the founder and first violinist of Quartet San Francisco, Jeremy Cohen. Classically trained, Jeremy's electrifying jazz performances have earned him nationwide accolades. PACO is proud to present the world premiere of Jeremy’s new jazz violin concerto, with Respighi’s lovely Ancient Airs and Dances and the dark, powerful Chamber Symphony based on Shostakovich’s famous String Quartet No. 8. Also on the program will be chamber music featuring the talented young musicians of the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra. The concert, to be conducted by PACO Music Director Benjamin Simon, will take place at 8:00 p.m. at the new Albert and Janet Schultz Cultural Hall on the Taube Koret Campus for Jewish Life, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. Tickets are $15 adults, $10 seniors, $5 students. For more information call 650-856-3848 or visit http://www.pacomusic.org/

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pie Sales: We Need Your Help to Reach Our Goal

Goal: 500
Pies sold: 41

Need to sell: 459


Pies are $16 each ($15 each when you buy more than two). Buy an extra or donate one to a special teacher or staff member--we can arrange to deliver the pie on your behalf. Tell your friends, co-workers and neighbors, too! Proceeds from the sales of GIZDICH RANCH PIES help keep Gunn's Graduation Night ticket prices down. Watsonville's Gizdich Ranch pies come frozen. The flavors available for order include Ollalieberry, Apple, Pumpkin, and Raspberry. You can also order Sugarless Apple.

Place orders by Thursday, Oct. 15

Pick up is Thursday, Nov. 5, 4-6PM.

Order forms are available in the SAC and Gunn Office, or print one from here: gunn.pausd.org/~activities/sac/index.htm.

You can also order directly from Ronda Breier: Ronda@breiers.com

Questions? Contact Marilyn Putney at PutneyM@gmail.com

A little testing. A little college and career info. A little chat about the big picture.

Gunn Guidance Department

On Wednesday, October 14, we’re going to do something we’ve never done before: we’re devoting an entire morning to college admittance test preparation and career exploration. For seniors, there will also be some work on stress reduction and pondering some bigger questions, such as, “What does it mean to be truly happy?”

What are we doing?
  • 9th graders – EXPLORE
  • 10th graders – PLAN
  • 11th graders – PSAT
  • 12th graders – Guest speaker; College and career activities;

8:15 - approximately Noon
  • PLAN
  • PSAT

Senior activities
8:45 – 12:15
  • Speaker: Fred Luskin
  • Breakout Session 1 – ROCK/student led discussions in a debrief regarding Dr. Luskin’s talk
  • Breakout Session 2 – College and career topics
  • Breakout Session 3 – College and career topics
  • Each session is 45 minutes long
No afternoon classes
Homecoming class game and (possibly) float stuffing


  • First 2 assessments of ACT’s Educational Planning and Assessment System (EPAS)
  • Consists of 4 academic achievement tests: English, Math, Reading, and Science
  • Plus, contains an interest inventory and needs assessment
  • Content of both tests closely mirrors ACT
  • Scores correlate with established college/post- secondary readiness benchmarks
Why not just rely on STAR results?
  • Results are more specific than STAR and allows for more focused interventions, course planning, school profile with more detail
  • Provides career interest information
  • Needs assessment based on student’s perceived needs
  • Links students with relevant college and scholarship information
  • Score is an indicator of success on ACT
What is the PSAT?
  • Prep Test for the SAT
  • Test designed for 11th graders
  • Results can lead to scholarships