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.