Monday, October 24, 2011

Parent Ed: Miss Representation

Submitted by Karen Johnston
Weds, Nov 16,6:30--9 pm, Castilleja School Chapel: Miss Representation. The Gunn community, parents and teens, is cordially invited to a screening of Miss Representation, a searing documentary directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, actress, activist, and film-maker. Recently featured at the San Francisco International Film Festival, the film is an examination of Hollywood's exploitation of women, and the media's role in setting a physical/sexual standard for girls, as opposed to an intellectual standard. The film includes candid interviews with such people as Jane Fonda, Geena Davis, Condaleeza Rice, Margaret Cho and Nancy Pelosi, and also critically examines recent episodes of public prejudice against women (Hilary Clinton, Sarah Palin). The film is suitable for men and women, boys and girls, as the film is a powerful advocacy for a more balanced portrayal of women in the media. The film is not suitable for children under 14 years.

Refreshments will be served from 6:30-7 pm. The film will be shown at 7 pm in the Chapel in the main building at Castilleja School, 1310 Bryant St, Palo Alto. The event is free. The screeening will be followed by a panel discussion with local media and body image experts.

How to Manage School Refusal Behaviors

How to Manage School Refusal Behaviors (aka when ‘playing hooky’ becomes a serious situation)
by Christina Walker, Psy.D., Site Director at Menlo-Atherton High School

Wednesday, December 7, 2011 | 8:00-9:30am | ACS Corporate Office, 1717 Embarcadero Road, Suite 4000, Palo Alto, CA 94303

Wednesday, May 2, 2012 | 8:00-9:30am | ACS Corporate Office, 1717 Embarcadero Road, Suite 4000, Palo Alto, CA 94303

“I don’t want to go to school today.” Is there a parent who hasn’t heard this plaintive cry from a child or adolescent? Children and teenagers can and will miss school because of illness, or because of family issues. However, there are times when saying, “I don’t want to go to school today. I think I’m coming down with a Math test,” may be a more accurate reflection of a child or adolescent’s motivation for staying out of school. Children and adolescents can produce highly convincing, Oscar worthy performances replete with a hand to the forehead, holding one’s stomach, all while in a raspy voice describing a list of aches and pains that would prevent school attendance. Can you recall Shel Silverstein’s poem Sick? The intervention for the child’s long list of maladies keeping her from school was the prescription of ‘Saturday’, which can have amazingly miraculous effects on a plethora of aches and pains for children…as well as adults. Some researchers (Evans, 2000) have actually noted that it is part of typical development to refuse school at least once during the school career. However, the seemingly innocuous wish to stay home can quickly transform into a serious situation when a child refuses to go to school for extended periods of time. This pattern of behavior is termed School Refusal.
School Refusal behavior is seen as a continuum that includes youths who always miss school as well as those who rarely miss school but attend under duress. Hence, school refusal behavior is identified in youths aged 5-17 years who:
1. are entirely absent from school, and/or
2. attend school initially but leave during the course of the school day, and/or
3. go to school following crying, clinging, tantrums or other intense behavior problems, and/or
4. exhibit unusual distress during school days that leads to pleas for future absenteeism.
(Taken from
Children with school refusal may complain of physical symptoms shortly before it is time to leave for school or repeatedly ask to visit the school nurse. Common physical symptoms include headaches, stomachaches, nausea, or diarrhea. Mornings can be rushed for families, and it can be difficult for parents to intervene.
Children and teenagers can begin to manifest symptoms of school refusal at points of transition. We will often see school refusal when a child is starting a new school. It commonly takes place between the ages of five and six and between ten and eleven while entering middle and high school (Taken from September 28, 2011). The onset of school refusal symptoms usually is gradual. Symptoms may begin after a holiday or illness. Some children have trouble going back to school after weekends or vacations.

As a parent, when you realize that your child is refusing school they are communicating something highly important to you. They truly do not want to go to school and the distress is genuine. The motivations or reasons for refusing school can be difficult to determine. It may start out as difficulty with assignments, it may be peer problems, it may be anxiety; the reasons for school refusal behavior are as unique and varied as children and adolescents. School Refusal can be one of the most frustrating things to deal with as a parent. It is at those times that a parent experiences the tenacity of their child. The longer a child stays out of school, the more difficult it becomes to begin attending school. This is why prompt action on the part of the parent, and working with the school is important.
What can you do?
• Recognize the difference between playing hooky and school refusal; this can be a good time for a physical or a check-up to rule out any underlying medical issues
• Connect your child with a mental health counselor to begin to address the underlying reasons for refusing school; understanding the reasons behind the School Refusal can help with treatment, interventions and planning
• Seek support for yourself whether from a partner, a friend, family member or a mental health counselor because parental motivation is a key to success in situations of School Refusal
• Maintain your child and adolescent in school, even simply stepping foot on the campus is a good start
• Communicate with the appropriate school personnel, whether that is your child’s guidance counselor or administration
• Help your child to identify ‘safe’ people on the campus whom they can talk to and seek support
Adolescent Counseling Services is a community non-profit, which provides vital counseling services on eight secondary campuses at no charge to students and their families. To learn more about our services please visit the ACS website at or call Robyn Alagona, Site Director at Gunn (650) 849-7919. ACS relies on the generosity of com-munity members to continue offering individual, family, and group counseling to over 1,500 individuals annually. ACS provides critical interventions and mental health services, building a better future for tomorrow. If you are interested in helping to support our efforts, do not hesitate to call to make a donation. It goes a long way in helping teenagers find their way!

Breakfast with ACS!
Join us for breakfast and learn more about ACS programs, trends in child and teen mental and emotional health, and hear from our licensed clinical staff about how you can better communicate and interact with any teen in your life. These events are free, but space is limited. Please RSVP to with your name, address, phone number and the date you would like to attend.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011 | 8:00-9:30am | ACS Corporate Office, 1717 Embarcadero Road, Suite 4000, Palo Alto, CA 94303

Wednesday, May 2, 2012 | 8:00-9:30am | ACS Corporate Office, 1717 Embarcadero Road, Suite 4000, Palo Alto, CA 94303

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What are the 41 Developmental Assets?/ Positive Family Communication

In 2009, the City of Palo Alto, PAUSD and many community partners established Project Safety Net (PSN) in response to the tragic teen suicide cluster. PSN works to develop and implement short and long-term plans in support of suicide prevention and the social and emotional health of youth and teens in Palo Alto. One of the first recommendations from PSN to the schools and the City, was to adopt the 41 Developmental Assets Framework. Developmental Assets are the positive values, relationships, skills and experiences that help young people thrive, such as Positive Family Communication, Caring School Climate and Community Values Youth. The more assets a child has the more likely that child will thrive. The fewer assets a child has, the more likely they are to get involved with risky behavior like violence and drug and alcohol use. Last October, 2010, our schools, with the support of Project Cornerstone, administered the Developmental Assets survey to over 4000 students in 5th, 7th, and 9th – 12th grades. The survey measures developmental assets levels as well as thriving indicators and risk behaviors. Our youth told us:
• almost half of elementary students don’t have adult role models
• more than half of middle school students don’t feel safe at home, at school or in their neighborhoods
• most high school students don’t feel valued or appreciated by adults in the community
56% of our middle and high school students report enough developmental assets to help them thrive. However, 44% don’t. As a community, we have work to do! Over the next several months, you will be seeing articles in your newsletters that highlight the “Asset of the Month”. The asset will be described and suggestions of how to build those assets in all our youth provided.

For more information, please go the following web pages:, If you would like to get involved, please contact us at

For full survey results of each school, go to:

Developmental Asset of the Month – October
Positive Family Communication

A conversation starts. Your child is upset. You’re tired. Pretty soon, the conversation heats into an argument. It ends with a door slam and silence.

Arguments. We’ve all had them with our children. Sometimes, particularly with our teen children, it may feel like most conversations end with slammed doors.

Though it can be challenging to develop the skills for being available for frequent, in depth conversations it is an important role we play in our children’s lives – from the time they learn to talk all the way into adulthood. What we have to do is create an atmosphere of communication – an open door.

The trick with open door communication is that we often don’t realize we create invisible closed doors around us. We get preoccupied and don’t pay enough attention. We’re exhausted and we nod off as our child is in mid-sentence. We jump to conclusions before our child finishes saying things. We assume the worst. We criticize our kids for what they tell us so they close the door the next time out of fear or resentment.

Sometimes there is no communication to begin with, and it’s hard to get your child to say what’s going on in her or his life.

Having an open door means having an open mind, an open attitude. It means listening to understand, not to advocate our position. It means being available when our children need us - and when they don’t. It means taking good care of ourselves so that when our children want to talk, we have open ears and an open heart.

Young people who experience positive family communication experience higher self-esteem, decreased substance use, less anxiety and depression, and greater school engagement. However, in Palo Alto, only 64% of 5th grade students, 52% of 7th grade students and 32% of 9th -12th grade students reported in the Developmental Assets 2010 survey that they have positive communication with their parents and are willing to seek advice from them.. To help promote this valuable asset, October is Positive Family Communication month in Palo Alto.

Establishing positive communication when children are young may help keep the channel open in adolescence. But no matter how old your children are, it’s never too late to start! The following questions can help your family. Encourage your child to answer these questions honestly:

• Ask caring questions such as: How did band practice go? How was the math test? Was the assembly fun?
• Ask your child’s advice or opinion about an important matter.
• If there is a problem at work and you come home upset, let your child know you are not angry with her or him.

The communication skills that young people develop in their families help set the pattern of how they’ll communicate for the rest their lives. Teaching your children to communicate effectively with friends, teachers, co-workers, parents, peers, and others is a lasting legacy that you can give to your children.

For positive family communication to occur, all family members must be comfortable sharing their needs, wishes, and concerns in an honest and trusting environment without fear of rejection.

This article was adapted from Project Cornerstone’s Asset-a-Month and Search Institute Newsletter.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pedal4Prizes update

Many of Gunn's freshmen bikers were pleasantly surprised to receive Rice
Krispy Treats on Friday morning (Oct 7) at our first monthly Pedal4Prizes
event of the school year. For those uninitiated, Pedal4Prizes, sponsored by
the PTSA, rewards all students who elect to bike to school that day. Of
course, the real rewards for choosing a biking commute are the positive
physical and mental effects from the exercise, and the reduction of car
exhaust in our environment. Our volunteers, Jeff Dean, Ruth Harris,
Christine Fawcett, Penny Ellson, Kathryn Latour, and Steve Hubbell counted
595 bikes, which means that even with the rain this week, around 1/3 of the
studentbody biked!

Speaking of bikes, we noticed that a shocking number of bikes were left
unlocked. Bikes can - and do - get stolen even at Gunn. Most bike thefts are
opportunistic, meaning that if a bike is unlocked, someone who hadn't
intended on stealing a bike will spontaneously decide to take it for a joy
ride then dump it somewhere. With the new bike racks, it is easier to use a
U-lock to secure the bike's frame to the rack, which is the safest way to
lock a bike. But, even a simple lock will deter most bike thefts. One of our
new P4P mottos is: "Your Bike: If you like it, lock it."

Plan on biking during the week of homecoming (Oct 24-28). We will be
raffling off homecoming game tickets at our next P4P event!

The P4P Team
Kathryn Latour & Steve Hubbell

Gizdich Ranch Pie Sale

Submitted by Susan Voll

**Sale extended until Oct. 14**

The Senior Grad Night Committee is kicking off one of its key fundraisers for Gunn’s Graduation Night Celebration! We are sellingGizdich Ranch Pies and we need your help. Most of your children will be attending Grad Night, and in order to keep ticket prices down, yet still have an incredible Grad Night for our students, we need to raise funds to augment ticket prices.

Please place your orders for Gizdich Ranch locally grown fruit pies from Watsonville: 
Ollalieberry, Apple, Pumpkin, Raspberry (Also Sugarless Apple available). Pies arrive frozen – you bake at home

Place orders by Friday, Oct. 14
PIES: $18 each, or buy 3 pies for $50, 4 or more pies are $16 each

Please ask your friends, co-workers, family, and neighbors to buy PIES. They are delicious!!
Buy an extra one and bake it for Gunn's Turkey Feast
Buy a pie and donate it to a special teacher or staff member
Bring one home and bake it for your own Thanksgiving dessert

For order forms and more information please go to:

All proceeds benefit Senior Class Graduation Activities.
Pie pick-up: Thurs. Nov. 3, 3:30 to 5:30 in front of the main office
Questions? contact Lisa Blanchette


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

SELPA 1 CAC October Parent Education Event

Submitted by Karen Mueller

Biochemical Treatments for Autistic Spectrum Disorders
Please join Dr. David Traver for a presentation on current biochemical treatments. There are many alternative approaches for ameliorating the symptoms of ASD. Come hear about different ways to think about how the mind-body functions and supplements and treatments that can help.
Saturday, Oct 22, 2011 - meeting is 2 to 4 pm. Hospitality begins at 1:45pm. Covington Elementary School Multi, 205 Covington, Los Altos 94024. (please note special day and time)
This parent education event is sponsored by the SELPA 1 CAC
All of our events are free and open to anyone who feels they might benefit. No registration is necessary.


Submitted by Kim Nguyen, Publicity Chair


The Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra will perform their first concert of the 2011-2012 season on Saturday, October 29. PACO’s season begins with tubist extraordinaire Forrest Byram performing an unconventional arrangement of Mozart’s delightful Horn Concerto #1. PACO proudly welcomes Mr. Byram, the principal tubist of the Monterey Symphony Orchestra, California Symphony Orchestra, Santa Cruz Symphony Orchestra and Modesto Symphony Orchestras. The program also presents Dvorak’s musical valentine to his beloved Bohemia, the famous Serenade for Strings, and the first of Handel’s twelve wonderful Opus 6 concerti grossi. Additional highlights of our concert feature the talented young musicians of the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra performing masterpieces from the chamber music repertory. The concert, to be conducted by PACO Music Director Benjamin Simon, will take place at 8:00 p.m. at Cubberley Theatre, 4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, CA. Admission is free. For information contact Hans Hoffer at 650-856-3848 or .

Sports Update

Submitted by Miriam Rotman
These past few days have been very busy on the sports front -

X-Country - the entire Gunn XC team traveled to Central Park (Santa Clara)
to compete against all their local rivals on a short and fast 2.3 mile
course. The Gunn girls ran very well and placed 3rd overall out of 14 teams.
Sarah Robinson once again ran to a strong victory winning the race in a time
of 13:41. The boys ran well as a group and placed 5th out of 14 teams with
Andrew Prior taking 2nd overall in a time of 11:35. Over 60 Gunn titans
participated in the event and the team atmosphere was great.

Last weekend the Gunn cross country team traveled to Angel's Camp,
California to compete in the Bret Harte Invitational. Catherine Kim and
Tanvi Dharap earned medals in the Frosh girl's race placing 13th and 15th
respectively. David Lee-Heidenreich also earned a medal by placing 7th in
the Frosh boys race. Andrew Bent, Thomas Rasmussen and Antonio Puglisi ran
well in the boy's sophomore race with Bent placing 2nd. In a surprisingly
similar fashion upstart Eliana Ribbe took 2nd place in the girl's sophomore
race. The Varsity boys and girls ran extremely well. Sarah Robinson ran to
an easy win in a time of 19:24. Christine Prior followed with a 9th place
finish in 21:35. The boys as a group were team champions. Andrew Prior
nearly won the boys race and was runner-up by only 2 seconds in 16:46. Peter
Chen, Michael Underwood, Shaun Yee, and Rishi Agarwal, rounded up the
varsity top five by placing 14th, 16th, 22nd, and 37th respectively.
Finally, Tommy Kidder, and Gabe Crane completed the varsity seven by placing
61st and 81st.

Football - Gunn rolled past The Harker School-San Jose 47-6 in the SCVAL El
Camino Division opener for both teams Friday night. Visiting Harker made its
first appearance in the SCVAL. The rude introduction came via superb
offensive line play from the Titans, a punishing ground game, speed at the
edges and a dominant defense.

JJ Strnad was unstoppable, racking up 169 yards and four touchdowns in just
eight carries. Marcus Moreno-Ramos added 79 yards and a TD on eight carries.
"We needed the win and we gained some confidence," Gunn coach Dan Navarro said. "The line did well. JJ is a big, strong kid who runs fast."

"Coach Navarro is turning it around," Harker coach Karriem Stinson said.
"Gunn is aggressive. They played McClymonds, Burlingame and Palo Alto, so
they're battle-tested."
Skyler Larson illustrated a dimension of the Titan ground game by taking an
end-around 35 yards on the first play from scrimmage. Strnad roared around
left end for 32 yards, then went over left guard from eight yards out for
the first score. Larson returned at punt 25 yards down to the Eagles'
11-yard line. After Gunn backed up five yards with a motion penalty, Strnad
scored the second TD on just one play, bolting over right guard from
16-yards away after just 2:17 of play. The Eagles could not bring down the
muscular 6-foot, 210-pound running back Strnad, nor contain his speed around the end or up the middle.

"The line did an unbelievable job blocking," Strnad said. "And our running
back, Marcus Moreno-Ramos, did an amazing job blocking, too. I had a lot of
big holes to run through."

The big men up front for Gunn included Keenan Venuti (6.6), Jeff Suri, Aryeh
Furman, Robert Kato, Malik Gil and Nabil Hamade.

On the first play of the 2nd period, Gunn quarterback Andre Guzman connected with Hamade. The Titan tight end overpowered one would-be tackler, picked up a beautiful downfield block from Scott Ziebelman, to run away for a 49-yard score.

Defensive back Sean Lydster was next to find the end zone for Gunn. "The
pass was tipped by JJ Strnad," Lydster said. "I went for the ball and I
caught it just above the ground. There were several good blocks and I ran
down the sideline and scored."

Lydster's 62-yard return put Gunn on top 27-0. Strnad salted the game away
with two more touchdowns later in the period, one from 35 yards and another
from 64 yards. At halftime, the scoreboard read 41-0 and the only question
was whether students at these two strong academic-oriented schools would
leave early to get in some last-minute studying for today's SAT testing.

Way to go Titans!!

Waterpolo - Paced by Michael Znidarsic's 4 goals, the Titans visited Monta
Vista this week and came away with their 3rd league win. Good team defense
as well as 2 goals each from Tyler Wilson and Coby Wayne contributed to the
win. Unfortunately the team also lost to Paly 12-10 this week but we wish
them success in their upcoming matches.

Volleyball - The lady Titans def. Monta Vista-Cupertino 25-22, 25-21, 18-25,
25-22. Julia Maggioncalda led the host Titans with 13 kills in the SCVAL De
Anza Division match. Earlier this week the Gunn team lost to los Altos in 3

Essay Contest for Juniors

"No society . . . can fail, in time, to explode if it is deprived of the arts of compromise, if it knows no way of muddling through. No good society can be unprincipled, and no viable society can be principle-ridden." Alexander M. Bickel (U.S. legal scholar, 1924 -1974)
What is the proper balance between conviction and compromise? Using examples from American history and current events, discuss the benefits, limits and dangers of compromise.
Essays will be judged on development of topic, supporting information, reasoning and writing skills, and originality. Source material and direct quotes should be acknowledged. Winning essays will be printed in League publications and on our website.
• Length: 600-800 words.
Due: October 26, 2011.
• Send essays to the League of Women Voters of Palo Alto:
• Submit your entry, double spaced, as a pdf or doc attachment
or text within the email. • Include your name and school.
First $500 Second $300 Third $200