Learning empathy through Everytown | December 5, 2014 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - December 5, 2014

Learning empathy through Everytown

High schoolers learn about each other, themselves in retreats

by Elena Kadvany

Gunn High School sophomore Xander Burch has one word to describe Camp Everytown: emotional.

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Staff Writer Elena Kadvany can be emailed at [email protected]


Posted by parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 5, 2014 at 8:16 am

"Another student panelist, 2011 graduate Jennie Robinson, spoke that Friday night about self-love and learning and growing through all experiences — both good and bad.

"I was so happy to learn that this was an event," she told the Weekly. "I think Gunn needs to make drastic changes in the way they address how massive academic pressure affects students' mental health, and this was a step in the right direction."

What has to happen for PAUSD to finally get off the dime and address student stress at Gunn High School in an honest manner? Our students such as Martha Cabot, this 2011 grad (who lived through the last suicide epidemic), even former teachers such as Marc Vincente -- they are all saying very clearly that we have too much stress at Gunn. It has reached the stage where it is just immoral to continue to pretend that it's all the parents or it's all just fine. The district has to stop demonizing parents, students, and teachers who speak out about high stress levels and finally get down to brass tacks.

Any parent at Gunn knows that the kids have too much homework, the environment is too competitive. Paly is better, but that's something you are also not allowed to say. Recently there was a post on the parent network that actually instructed parents NOT to say that Paly is better because it has block scheduling because even though it is true, the teachers will refuse to do anything that is based on what they do at Paly. What kind of upside-down, backwards world has the teacher's union created over at Gunn where they can veto using best practices from another school in our own district?

Posted by Jeanie Smith
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 5, 2014 at 10:55 am

Paly also does Camp Everytown/Anytown-- my daughter did it when she was a Junior, and was immensely affected by it, in a positive way. It's sad that the event is only scheduled when high schools have the funding from somewhere-- it's a significant cost, and schools have to find the funding in order to run it-- but every time they do, students benefit greatly from it, and there's a trickle-down effect to the whole campus.

I love the single evening idea, but that shouldn't replace or eliminate the retreat-- both are valuable. FACES is an awesome organization-- remember them in your holiday giving and maybe they'll be able to benefit more schools in our community...

Posted by Jim Phillips
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Dec 6, 2014 at 9:54 am

It's wonderful to see the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund supporting Camp Everytown and the Weekly bringing the event and program to the attention of the whole community. It's also great to see the positive comments above - they are right on.

The Kiwanis Club of Palo Alto has provided significant support for "Camps" at both Paly and Gunn for 13 years now. It has been an outstanding experience to be involved with Camp Anytown and Camp Everytown and have the privilege of hearing and sharing the testimonials about Camp from students, parents, teachers, administrators, and SVFACES staff through the years.

I'd like to join in recommending participation of community members in the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund.

The Kiwanis Club anticipates having our Camp Everytown luncheon program in March - all are welcome to join us. More information about the Kiwanis Club is at Web Link

Posted by parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 6, 2014 at 7:44 pm

My son attended Camp Everytown last year and absolutely loved it. The program is a wonderful way to build bridges across the student body and helps students develop empathy and support for their peers in a safe environment. My son made so many new friends in different social circles that he wouldn't have done without this opportunity. I hope the schools continue to support this great program. Thanks!

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