Monday, August 31, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not.
— Dr. Seuss, from The Lorax
Exciting new positions are now open in the Gunn Green Team including chair and co chair for the sophomores and freshman classes. Gunn Green Team’s Agenda for the year include the following:
- Data is now available on the Gunn’s usage of power, water and gas for the last couple of years. Here is an opportunity to find ways of reducing this usage and making Gunn more energy efficient
- Junior members are interested in surveying students on the means of transportation used to come to Gunn, and plan to use The Oracle to promote alternate ways of commuting to reduce their carbon footprint
- Acterra would like to help Gunn have an ecologically friendly landscape that reduces the use of water, fertilizer and pesticides
- Some Green Team members plan to investigate the implementation of composting at Gunn
- The Gunn Green Team will continue its on going projects of educating the students on sustainable living by a) avoiding plastics, b) use of sturdy water bottles, c) posters and videos to convince teens that it is cool to go green and, d) increase usage of biodegradable flatware and utensils at all Gunn functions.
- Encourage your students to join and take part in the Gunn Green Team projects.
- Give back to the school and community by mentoring in the Green Team and making Gunn families maintain a sustainable lifestyle.
Green Friendly Back to School Tips:
Check out the following websites on products and general tips on how to make schools eco-friendly. http://www.newleafproducts.net/
Back to School with Less Plastic
PVC-Free Products (downloadable .pdf)
Email your suggestions or interest in joining to the Green Team. firstname.lastname@example.org
Experts say this global warming is serious, and they are predicting now that by the year 2050, we will be out of party ice.
— David Letterman
August 26 – 28: Carpoolers able to purchase permits
August 31 – September 4: Single-occupant drivers who live past El Camino, Foothill, Page Mill, or Adobe Creek are able to purchase permits
September 8 – 11: Any remaining permits are available to any juniors and seniors
Sports Rally on Quad, Back to School Night at 7 p.m
Freshman officer applications due today!, Minimum Day
Labor Day Holiday
Freshman elections – don’t forget to vote!
Returning club applications due today!
New club applications due today!
Staff Development Day
Yom Kippur School Holiday
Fall Club Day
The regular VTA 88 bus runs hourly from 6:30am to about 6pm. The special 88L and 88M buses run once each day to Gunn in time for the start of school and once after school ends. Monthly bus passes are $15, available for purchase at the SAC (a subsidized amount from VTA's price). One-way fares are currently 50 cents for students. A bus schedule can be downloaded from the Gunn PTSA website, http://gunn.paloaltopta.org/docs/88BusFlyerSept2009.pdf. For more information about the VTA 88 bus, see http://www.88bus.org. Sign up for the VTA 88 bus update list here: lists.sonic.net/mailman/listinfo/88bus.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Momfulness, presented by Denise Roy, meditator and family therapist. She has authored two books: Momfulness and My Monastery is my Minivan
Parenting can be stressful, especially if your child has an IEP. Come hear Denise Roy talk about how to use mindfulness to discover peace, joy, and wholeness while parenting, even while your child may present special challenges. Denise has the gift of being able to help you change how you look at your life in order to make it better. Of course, her advice is not just for moms!
Wednesday, Sep 23, 2009 - meeting is 9 to 11 am. Hospitality begins at 8:45am.
Covington Elementary School Multi, 205 Covington Rd, Los Altos.
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.
Given the current economic times, when each family must make every dollar count, our schools must make every dollar count as well. If it is within your means, please consider making a donation to the Gunn PTSA Direct Appeal Campaign. This is the only way the PTSA raises the funds that are granted to Gunn to supplement their budget. Last year, through the generous support of 24% of Gunn families, the Direct Appeal Campaign raised enough money to fund $100,000 in 2008/09 grants to Gunn High School. These grants were used to invest in technology that enhanced the classroom and library resources available to Gunn students, teachers and families. This year our goal is to increase the number of families participating in the Direct Appeal Campaign. The suggested donation is $250 per student (reduced $100 from last year) but any donation is appreciated and will make a difference this year for all students at Gunn. To make a contribution, fill out and return the “Gunn PTSA Membership and Donation Form” that was included in your back-to-school mailing. Can’t find the form? You can print out another one and return it to the address on the form or donate paperless through Paypal. For another copy of the form or to donate online follow this link to the Gunn PTSA website: http://gunn.paloaltopta.org/directappeal.htm
Employer matching grant contributions add significantly to the bottom line on our fundraising. Last year corporate matching gifts added over $6,000. If your employer has a matching gift program please include a grant form with your check.
Questions? Please contact our Direct Appeal co-chairs Amy Smiley, email@example.com, or Kathy Lindholm, firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your support!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
We hope you received the summer mailing form Gunn and have all the forms returned and contributions made. I really encourage you to join the PTSA and attend the monthly PTSA meetings. And we hope you will support the PTSA’s Direct Appeal and the PiE fundraising campaigns to the best of your ability. Gunn students benefit so much from both of these funds. Access all the things that were mailed as well as those that are only posted on line here. You will find the following:
- Booster Club information (Sports, Theatre, Choir, Music etc)
- A back to school night form for your student to fill out for you so that you know where to go that night,
- A campus map,
- Information about transportation to Gunn,
- How to get a Palo Alto Library card that allows your student to access many data bases
- Student Activities purchase information (Yearbook, Oracle, Student Directory, ID cards etc)
- Information about Adolescent Counseling Services
- How to order student pictures
The Gunn Course Catalog and the Student Handbook are also posted on line.
Back to School Night on Thursday, September 3, will give you the opportunity to meet your child’s teachers and hear about the classes he/she is taking. It starts at 7:00 pm in the amphitheatre behind Spangenberg Theatre. Bring a flashlight!
I had several teachers come to me at the end of last school year concerned that they had received monetary gifts from students/parents that were, they felt, too large for them to accept. Of course they were delighted that people had taken the time to recognize their work and efforts and they were most appreciative of the thoughtfulness of the donors, but they felt awkward at the amounts given. In each case they gave the money to their departments but we decided it would be helpful to give students and parents some guidelines on what is appropriate regarding gifts to teachers.
In general, gifts such as candy, flowers, cookies, Starbucks/Jamba Juicde gift cards for amounts of $20 or so are most acceptable. If, however, a student or parent wishes to recognize a teacher with a check or gift worth in the region of $50 or more, we’d like to suggest one of the following ways to do this.
- Make a donation to the department in which the teacher works! In these days of shrinking budgets the departments could really use the help.
- Make a donation to the Gunn Foundation in the name of the teacher. The Gunn Foundation provides college scholarships to needy students. A book is kept in which the names of staff honored in this way are listed.
- Make a donation to Gunn High School in the name of the teacher. It will be used to benefit the school in some way.
- Make a donation to the Gunn PTSA’s Direct Appeal in the name of the teacher.
- Make a donation to PiE during its “Honor a Teacher” fund raising campaign that takes place each spring. PiE assists all schools in the District.
Before school opens I would like to give you a quick reminder about student drop-off on Miranda. The VTA bus stop on Miranda should not be used to drop off students. VTA is painting the curb red again so it will stand out and hopefully deter people from stopping there. I need to remind parents and students that it is illegal to stop in a bus zone. California Vehicle Code CVC. Section 22500 shows a $255 fee for stopping in a bus zone and PAPD will enforce this!
We are about to start the first year of the new six-year plan that evolved from our WASC self-study this past spring. We developed an ambitious work plan and the first task of the new school year will be to decide on which parts of it we tackle first. Our entire WASC report and the associated plan called the Single Plan for Student Achievement can be viewed on the Gunn web page at http://gunn.pausd.org/home/web/ Of course, some parts of our plan are continuations of things that have always been, and will continue to be, very important to us. We will continue to use data from a variety of sources to measure student progress and achievement and to offer a rich and engaging curriculum to our students. We will maintain and increase our focus on the well-being of the whole child. We will continue our efforts to reduce stress in our school community, to help our students achieve balance in their lives and to create a school climate that allows all students and parents to feel welcome and included in the school community.
Instructional Supervisors, Gunn and District staff have spent many hours interviewing candidates for the teaching and classified staff positions we had open for the start of this school year and we are confident that we have hired the very best replacements for staff who have left us or who are on leave, and to fill the new slots created by our growing student population. We will open August 25 with about 1970 students and roughly 200 staff members, almost 140 of whom are teaching staff! Our new teachers will join an experienced staff that will help, mentor and support them as they find their feet at Gunn. We have selected the cream of the crop am looking forward to working with them all. They are:
- Daniel Hahn
- Amelia Lombard
- Chris Bell (who was formerly Academic Center Coordinator)
- Monica Espinoza
- Warren Collier
- Emily Dermon
- Martha Elderon (not new to Gunn but taking over the role of Principal Admin Assistant following Norma Street’s retirement)
- Lynn Glover
- Alex Lira
Some teachers with whom you are familiar have changed their names because of marriage or for other reasons. If you see these names on your students schedules they are not new to Gunn.
- English and Journalism Kristy Garcia will now be Kristy Blackburn.
- Math teacher Stephanie Ciralli will be Stephanie Werbe
- Math teacher Rachel Haslanger will be Rachel Grunsky
In addition to new staff we have others in new roles for the coming year. As I indicated above, Chris Bell and Marth Elderon will be in new roles and will also have a new Instructional Supervisor, Eric Ledgerwood, on the Instructional Council. He is replacing Lettie Weinmann as IS of the Science Department. The Instructional Council, made up of the Admin team and Instructional Supervisors, is the body that meets twice a month to determine school policies and procedures, to make decisions regarding curriculum and instruction and to prepare and implement the School Plan that is developed each year in line with our WASC Goals. Instructional Supervisors guide and evaluate the teachers in their departments and represent Gunn on Departmental Steering Committees that meet at District level. They play a vital role in helping to run the school.
For more information see Who Does What at Gunn.
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the 2009-2010 school year. I hope you all enjoyed a relaxing and rejuvenating summer break and are ready for an exciting year ahead. I would like to extend a very special welcome to our freshmen and to all the students and families who are new to Gunn. This is a wonderful community and we are so glad that you will be part of it.
As usual, this has been a busy summer! No sooner is school out in June than we begin preparing for the return of our students the following school year. We have been working on the master schedule, campus cleaning, summer mailing, planning, hiring, installing new computer labs, planting more flowers and many other things that seem to require attention and cannot be done while school is in session. Thanks to community support via the bond Measure A and the District, our athletic facilities renovation continued during the summer and everything, including the lovely new swimming pool is now almost finished. We are so grateful and invite you to come to campus to see the transformation if you have not already done so. It is really remarkable.
I look forward to seeing you at Back-To-School Night on September 3 and at the many exciting music, drama, sports and other activities that happen all year long. We have wonderful, dedicated teachers and amazingly talented young people at Gunn. We invite you to come and share our world! Come see a play, attend a concert or watch a football game, tennis, volleyball or water polo match this fall, and celebrate the efforts and many successes of our students. We have an exciting year ahead of us!
Monday, August 24, 2009
TUESDAY, AUG. 25
Period A (8:15-9:00)
Period B (9:05-9:50)
Period C (10:15-11:00)
Period D (11:05-11:50)
Period E (12:45-1:30)
Period F (1:35-2:20)
Period G (2:25-3:10)
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 26
Period A (7:55-8:45)
Period B (8:50-9:40)
Period C (9:55-10:45)
Period D (10:50-11:40)
Period E (12:30-1:20)
Period F (1:25-2:15)
Period G (2:20-3:10)
Over the past few months we have had a lot of news on the construction front. While the school year has recently started, our construction is in full swing as the work of Measure A can clearly be seen.
The new Career Tech Ed building, formerly known as the Industrial Art building, is still on schedule for an end of November finish. The sorely outdated building was completely gutted and will be a state of the art facility for our Auto, Engineering Tech, Video Production, Bio Tech and our new Project Lead the Way Class (PLTW). PLTW is a new course offering for 2009-2010 that introduces students to engineering. The course, taught by Bakari Holmes, is open to students of all grade levels and it will help serve as a bridge to give 9th and 10th graders an engineering option where they previously had none.
On the athletic front our swimming pool was opened at the beginning of the summer and has been steadily used by our aquatics program. In the next couple of months the shade structures will be installed which mark the official completion of the pool as Gunn will have one of the finest aquatic facilities in the area.
Last month our all weather track was redone. After nearly 10 years, the old one was showing wear and tear and the new one is a welcome addition and represents the final part of the entire renovation of the main athletic field. Over the last three years the area has seen the installation of lights, a new stadium, a synthetic playing turf field and now a new synthetic track.
Finally, many of you have noticed the improved striping of the entrance of the parking lot. The entire front area has been repaved and the fresh striping has made it much easier to navigate our parking lot. As many of you know, our entrance was changed last year at the request of the city of Palo Alto to see if it could help get people into the Gunn parking lot more efficiently. The city has approved the reduction of lanes of Arastradero for the summer of 2010 and it was vital that Gunn parking lot traffic wasn’t backed up to Arastradero. The new parking lot design last year was successful in preventing cars from queuing back to Arastradero and the hope is that this will allow the city to go ahead with its plan to create traffic calming measures on Arastradero.
Events for seniors will be held throughout the fall to assist them with the college admissions process. These include a Senior Assembly on September 4th, Brown Bag sessions (TBA), financial aid information, and senior activities on October 14. We’re also working to put essay writing sessions on our calendar. Leighton Lang, our College and Career Center Specialist will be organizing these latter events. In addition, we will resubscribe to Naviance. Please see Mr. Lang if you don’t have a password for this online tool. His number is 354-8219 or you can contact him by e-mail: email@example.com.
The Guidance Department will be posting information on our website and our goal this year is to revamp the site and add more content. As our parent night events come together, we’ll post a schedule. These will also be listed on the Gunn Master Calendar. Additionally, there is information about the college admissions process, the student/counselor list, and contact information for our staff.
Once again this year, the Guidance Department is making an effort to cut down on student tardiness to class and so, we are going to continue with assigning Saturday School for five tardies or more. Students can be dropped from the class at the eighth tardy. We will continue to help students understand the importance of being in class on time so they don’t miss valuable instruction time.
A reminder to all: Unexcused absences will be recorded for each class on semester transcripts. The correlation between attendance and academic success is so strong that we feel we need to underline the importance of being in class on time by making the attendance record part of the student’s permanent record.
At this point, I should emphasize some basic points about the district’s attendance policy so that no one has any doubt about expectations or procedures.
- Attendance is taken and recorded each period. Absences will accrue in a period, even if the class a student attends in that period changes. It is VITAL that students attend the classes they are scheduled for, even if they plan to make changes, until those changes are officially entered. Absences will not start from zero in a period when a class change has been made. “I was changing my schedule” will not erase absences. An absence is an absence regardless of whether it was an absence from English or History.
- Parents must call in to excuse absences within 48 hours of a student’s return to class. Call 354- 8210. The message should include your name (please speak slowly and spell your last name) and relationship to the student, the time and date you are calling, the student’s name, grade level, date of absence and the reason for the absence. Please be as concise as possible.
- An automatic dialer calls home when a student is recorded as absent for a given period or periods. The purpose of the call is to give students and parents a “heads-up” that absences have been entered so that, if there are errors, these can be corrected the following day. Do not ignore the dialer’s message.
- Students may be dropped from any class in which they have accrued five absences or eight tardies.
ACS is an on-campus counseling program that offers counseling and support to students on personal matters. Services are free. Ms. Roni Gillenson, MFT, is the Site Director. She and her staff are available by appointment and on a drop-in basis. Contact your student’s guidance counselor for a referral, or Roni Gillenson directly (650) 849-7919. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: www.acs-teens.org (see on-campus counseling program)
The Guidance Department will continue the regular weekly Tutorial period on Tuesdays from 2:10 to 3:10 pm. Tutorial period provides an hour-long opportunity for students to meet with teachers should they need help in specific subjects. (Most teachers will also be available in their rooms/offices to meet with students who drop in for help). Teachers may direct students who need help to attend Tutorial, and they expect those students to show up! No sports practices, rehearsals or other activities are scheduled to start on Tuesdays until after the Tutorial period, so there are no obstacles to attending Tutorial. For our freshmen, Tutorial time is a great way to introduce yourself to your teachers and help them get to know you better. And parents! If you hear your student say s/he needs help or does not understand something or that s/he needs assistance in preparing for tests or quizzes, please remind him or her about Tutorial. Some Tuesday Tutorial periods during the year will be used for assemblies, attendance at which is mandatory for all students. Any assemblies will be scheduled to take place on the first Tuesday of each month. It is very important that students do not get jobs, schedule dental or doctor appointments or commit themselves to outside activities until after 3:10 pm on Tuesdays. Tuesdays should be considered full school days for ALL students.
Tutoring is also available, free of charge, through the Academic Center for students who would like help in any subject. Alex Lira, our AC Supervisor, will help you find a tutor. Stop by and let him know how he can assist you.
Counselors are available to help with academic, social or personal problems and decisions. Students can get appointments with their counselors by filling out a pink appointment slip located on the counter in the Guidance Office or on the counselor’s office door. Students can also talk with the Guidance Secretary, Ms. Robin Francesconi, who will assist with the process. Students can also come to the Guidance Office on a drop-in basis before school, when they have a prep period, during brunch, lunch or after school. During the first weeks of school, things may seem hectic in the Guidance Office, but ask a secretary, administrator or the College and Career Center Coordinator to steer you in the right direction if you feel lost.
The remaining student class schedules for first semester were distributed on the first day of school. Students wishing to request schedule changes once the semester has started must follow the procedures outlined on the Petition for Schedule Change form that can be picked up in the Guidance Office. All changes require the approval and signature of the Instructional Supervisor(s) of the department(s) concerned AND of the students’ parents. No changes will be made unless a properly completed petition is handed to the student’s counselor. After the first few weeks of school, it is very difficult to change classes. Teachers have launched into the curriculum and to change into a new class may mean make-up work must be completed. If the student is considering a change, please have him/her see their counselor ASAP, or you can e-mail your student’s guidance counselor with questions about a possible change.
The Guidance Department has added two parent nights to the Guidance schedule from last year. We’re offering a short presentation the Gunn Guidance system and some information specific to particular grade levels with time for Q & A. We’ll do two grade levels per evening
- Wednesday, September 16 in the Gunn Library 9th grade parents: 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. 12th grade parents: 7:45 – 8:45 p.m.
- Wednesday, September 30 in the Gunn Library 10th grade parents: 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. 11th grade parents: 7:45 – 8:45 p.m.
Once again, the Guidance Department decided to ease the chaos of the first few days of school and provide an opportunity for students to pick up class schedules and make changes before school began. In addition to our fabulous guidance counselors, we had wonderful volunteers as part of the team to hand out nearly 1,400 schedules and assist students with changes. We want to thank all those who helped with this daunting task. We also want to thank Norma Hesterman, our Volunteer Coordinator, for of her efforts. Norma reports that our intrepid Gunn volunteers will contribute nearly 500 hours before the first two weeks of school are over toward getting everything up and running. She has filled 178 volunteer slots for such jobs as before school and first day of school schedule distribution, collecting obligations, helping with Photo Day, textbook distribution, selling gym clothing, and chaperoning at the first dance. Gunn volunteers will also help in the Student Activities Center. and with covering lunch hours in the Academic Center. We thank each of you, and especially Norma!
We have three new Guidance Department members this year. Alex Lira will take over in Academic Center. Chris Bell is now a Gunn math teacher. Alex previously worked at tutorial centers at Homestead and Los Altos High schools. For the past three years, he has run an afterschool tutoring program at a Sunnyvale elementary school and has district office experience.
Monica Espinoza has been added to our guidance counseling staff. She come to us with 8 years of experience. She has worked at San Jose High Academy, SJUSD Learning Options, and most recently, at Westmont High School. Monica will be working with our College Pathways program student and families, overseeing the College for Every Student program and supporting our parent education efforts. In addition, she will be working with 150 9th graders.
Kristina Stopnik will be coming in a few weeks to take Rose McGinnis’ place as our Nurse Technician. Rose retired at the end of last school year (and is enjoying her retirement thoroughly). Kristina has experience working in a school setting. She is coming to us from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.
Alex and Monica have already begun, and Kristina will start soon. Please join me in welcoming them to the Gunn Community.
Counselors Have Moved Offices
The good news is that we were able to add a new guidance counselor this year. The bad news is that we could not accommodate all of our counselors in one building any longer. So, Pat Conway, who works Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (60%), has moved to the Attendance Office building. Linda Kirsch relocated to Pat’s former office and is now on the Admin side, next to Tom Jacoubowsky. Lisa Kaye has moved to the middle of counselor row, occupying Linda’s old office. Our newest counselor, Monica Espinoza, is in the first office on the right as you come in the Guidance Office. Pat, Linda and Lisa will retain the same phone numbers they had last year. Monica will have a new number.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
- The bi-annual International Fair scheduled in February 2010 needs a chairperson and volunteers to bring it to life.
- The Class of 2012 has yet to organize a Parent Network. If you are a parent of a sophomore and are interested in kicking off a group, your services are welcome!
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Spangenberg Theatre, Gunn High School, Thursday September 24, 2009, 7 – 9 pm
Rachel Simmons, founder of the Girl’s Leadership Institute, will visit Gunn to speak about her new book, Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence. Rachel is known for connecting easily with her audience and for inspiring and often funny presentations. In this event she will touch on reasons why girls often believe that it is more important to be liked than to be an individual. She points out, however, that in order to become successful and well-adjusted, girls need to know how to say no to peers, ask for what they need, and express what they think. Parents will find concrete strategies and tools—confidence-building exercises that emphasize emotional intelligence, self-evaluations, and lots of first-person stories—to help guide a girl's growth into a young woman who can respect and listen to her inner voice, say what she feels and thinks, embrace her limits and present an authentic self to the world. Learn more about Rachel Simmons at her website, www.rachelsimmons.com.
Download a flier about this event here: http://gunn.paloaltopta.org/docs/RachelSimmonsFlyer.pdf
Sponsored by: The Palo Alto Council of PTAs and The Los Altos-Mountain View Council of PTAs