Paly sophomores play games to break the ice

Monday's team-building activities meant to boost camaraderie in 'advisory groups'

Sophomores at Palo Alto High School -- more than 500 of them -- spent the morning of Monday, Aug. 27, playing team-building games as part of the school's guidance-counseling program.

Students teamed up with other members of their "advisories" -- groups of about 25 who share a "teacher adviser." Advisory groups meet at least monthly through the sophomore, junior and senior years for purposes of guidance counseling and college planning.

As part of Monday's events, sophomores also took the interest-inventory survey "Do What You Are," offered by Naviance, college- and career-planning software used by the district to manage the college-application process.

Since the 1990s, Paly each year has used up to 46 volunteer "teacher advisers" to augment a much smaller professional counseling staff. Teacher-advisers, who receive extra compensation, are expected to meet regularly with students and help with their college applications by writing the counselor's recommendation section.

Gunn High School employs a more traditional counseling system, using a team of professional counselors to handle guidance and college counseling.

After Labor Day a group of students, school staff and parents will convene to review and recommend improvements to Gunn's counseling system, Assistant Principal Tom Jacoubowsky said.

Recommendations are expected by next spring.

Amid calls by some for Gunn to adopt a Paly-style teacher-advisory system, the school recently increased its staff of counselors from six to seven and also expanded counseling office hours.

Chris Kenrick


Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 27, 2012 at 10:06 pm

It should be pointed out that the other three grades spent the morning home in bed!

Or playing video games, or maybe doing homework!

Posted by Mom, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 28, 2012 at 6:32 am

I wonder what most sophomores would have preferred to do with their time.

Posted by Paly parent, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 28, 2012 at 8:20 am

The other 3 grades had a ridiculous afternoon of 7 classes of 20 minutes each with no breaks -- it was exhausting and not productive for the rest of the school.

Posted by Tired of the complaining, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 28, 2012 at 11:14 am

Please, parents- don't complain because your child had a morning off. If they couldn't find a productive way to use the extra time that's on you- have them read a book, take a hike, or catch up on needed sleep! And since when should curriculum be decided by what the students "would rather do"? With a class size of 500, which works out to a school size of 2000, we should be applauding efforts by the school to create community and team building. And remember, sophomores have fewer advisory classes during the school year to allow the other 3 grades time to meet with the advisors, well more than the 4 hours given up yesterday.

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