News: December 18, 2008

REMINDER:  MINIMUM DAY – Friday, December 19, 2008

This is a reminder that this Friday, December 19, 2008 is a MINIMUM DAY, with dismissal at 1:25 p.m. for ALL students, K – 5th grade.

The Minimum Day schedule is the same as our Wednesday schedule: ALL students start at 8:15 and ALL students end the day at the same time: 1:25 p.m.

Please make sure to pick up your child/ren at 1:25 p.m., right after dismissal.  The Main Office will close at 1:45 this Friday, as it is a Minimum Day.  If you have any questions, please call our office at 856-1672.

Winter Break (vacation) will be from December 22 – January 2.  We will resume school on Monday, January 5, 2009.

Spanish Immersion Information Meeting

Thurs. Jan. 15, 7:00-8:15 pm, Escondido School, 890 Stanford Ave., Palo Alto.
The information meeting for PAUSD’s Spanish Immersion Program is for new families interested in enrolling children in the program in the fall of 2009.  The meeting will be held in English in the Library and in Spanish in Room 4.  The program is open to all students eligible for enrollment in PAUSD. Participation in the program is decided by lottery.  Families will receive information about the two-way immersion model, how the program is implemented in the district, and the registration and lottery processes.  All new families must attend (or watch a video of the meeting) before enrolling.  The program is in its 14th year–Escondido Elementary houses grades K-5, while classes for grades 6-8 are at Jordan Middle School.  Students in the program follow the same curriculum as monolingual PAUSD classes, and learn both Spanish and English through regular PAUSD schoolwork. Students develop bilingualism and biliteracy, and cultivate an appreciation for other cultures.
Info: Escondido School, 856-1337 or visit

News: December 12, 2008


Tuesday, December 16:  Fundraiser at Books, Inc., 6:00 – 9:00 PM
Friday, December 19:  Minimum Day for All Students
December 20 – January 4:  No School – Winter Break
January 5, 2009:  School Resumes

From the Desk of Lupe Garcia….

Dear Palo Verde Parents, Students, and Community,

During this time of year family and friends typically get together and celebrate in the spirit of the season.  Most of us have much for which to be thankful and take the time and opportunity to embrace “our family” in the spirit of appreciation.  There are also some in our midst and many around the world who are struggling.  I want to encourage all of us to “reach out” and extend a helping hand wherever and whenever possible, either directly or through organizations that provide support to those in need.  In either case, please take the time to embrace and express that joy with those close to you and with others, as possible.

I want to express my personal gratitude for your thoughtful, kind and ongoing support.  That support has come in various ways, but all has directly benefited our children.  As such, the PiE Fundraising drive that will benefit our school next year is currently taking place and many have already contributed to the cause.  I thank you in advance for any and all donations that will make it possible to maintain the level of support we currently offer at Palo Verde.

It has been fulfilling for me to observe the children mature, both academically and emotionally, and although the year is quickly passing, I look forward to returning from the winter break in January to see the “burst” of learning that usually takes place this time of the year.

The Palo Verde staff and I wish you and yours a warm, safe, and fun-filled holiday season.  We look forward to an exciting rest of the year— when we return in January 2009.

Happy Holidays!
Lupe García

Kepler’s Book Fair at Palo Verde a Real Page Turner!

After a busy week, the second Kepler’s Book Fair at Palo Verde closed up the registers and packed up the boxes of books… and aside from celebrating reading, offering a peek at the newest and hottest titles from over 40 separate publishers, and helping check off many holiday lists, the Book Fair grossed over $11,000. Kepler’s Books will donate 15% of that amount back to Palo Verde in a combination of cash and books… so that the Palo Verde staff can continue fostering a love of reading and books all year long.

Our warmest thanks go to the following people for their help with setting up, cashiering, tearing down, organizing, reading out loud, recommending, and providing logistical, physical, and emotional support of all kinds: Tori Bers, Alison Cormack, Lidija Davis, Lynn Drake, Gail and Maia Foelsch (who rocked  at labeling boxes), Lupe Garcia, Chris McGranahan, Joan Jennings, Lori Harrenstein, Pat Hanley, Jeanette Brosnan,  Julie Schwardt, Louise Valente, Joanna Schloss, Fidelia Wang, Joan Kusek, Charlene Temple, Rita Wiseman, Teddie Stewart, Julie Sternfield, and Noah and Mara Smith.  Thanks are also due to Moises and Allan for their help in setting up and dealing patiently with opening and closing MP Room doors multiple times every day. And thank you to the 4th grade families who set up and ran a fantastic pizza dinner on opening night.

Tracy and I also wanted to let everyone know that after this year, we will be hanging up our Book Fair Fairy capes and wands. Having wielded them for more years than we care to remember, we would love to pass them along to a new generation of Palo Verde volunteers. Organizing and running the book fair is a wonderful opportunity to bring the joy of reading to Palo Verde, to connect with the greater school and community population, and to show the students at Palo Verde that reading matters. Tracy and I will both be around next year, and we will be more than happy to share our expertise with whoever takes on this enormously rewarding project.

Last but certainly not least, we’d like to thank the entire Palo Verde community for their support for the Book Fair. Everyone who walked out of the MP room with a purchase – anything from the Wookie Cookie Cookbook to the latest adventures of Percy Jackson– has also given their children, and our community, a gift of reading that will last a

Even though the book fair is over, Palo Verde is still a Kepler’s CPE (Community Partners in Education) school. That means every time you shop at Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park and mention Palo Verde at the register, Kepler’s will donate 10% of your purchase – including gift cards, toys, games, puzzles, and yes, of course, books — back to Palo Verde. So please don’t forget to support both a wonderful independent local bookstore and your school at the same time!

Thanks again,
Irena Smith and Tracy Stewart, Book Fair Co-Chairs

Buy Scrip Gift Cards for Your Holiday Shopping

Take care of your holiday shopping and support Palo Verde at the same time.  The sale of Gift Cards is back at our school until Winter Break.  Every morning and after school, a table will be set up next to the principal’s office so look for us there.

How is this scrip program different from escrip?  One important difference at this time of year is that you receive a gift card that is just like the one you get from the stores.  You pay retail value for the card ($5-25), but a portion (4-25%) of your purchase goes to Palo Verde PTA.

Many popular retailers participate: Starbucks, Peet’s, and Jamba Juice, for example.  So make it easy on yourself, give a gift that will be appreciated, and support Palo Verde.  We hope to see you at the scrip sales table.

Diane Jakubowski, Gift Card Coordinator, 855-9047

Palo Verde Giving Tree

Want to make this holiday season a little brighter for a child in need?  Please consider the Palo Verde Giving Tree Holiday Drive. The Family Giving Tree is an organization that provides gifts to people, of all ages, who would otherwise not be getting presents this year.

Please stop by the office and pick up a card to find a person’s gift request. Once you get the present, put it under the tree in the office by Monday, December 15. Don’t forget to attach the card to the unwrapped present.

Books Inc. Fundraiser

Books Inc, located at Town and Country Village on El Camino and Embarcadero, is hosting a Palo Verde fundraiser on Tuesday, Dec. 16th, from 6-9 pm. During this time, Books Inc. will donate 20 percent of sales to Palo Verde School. We hope to see you there!

Donate Now to PiE for a 2008 Tax Deduction!

It is not too late to receive a Charitable Tax Deduction for 2008!  Funds raised by PiE support essential staff and programs that directly benefit our students.   $650 per student will bridge the gap in funding; however, any amount is greatly appreciated and every dollar counts!   All mail-in check and credit card donations should be sent by 12/20 to allow processing time. Online donations can be made until 12/31.  Donate now at

“Personal Emergency Preparedness Training”

How to plan and prepare you and your family for a disaster.

When:  Thursday, January 15, 2009, 6:00 – 7:00 PM (Childcare provided)
Where:  Palo Verde Kids’ Club

Dinner & refreshments served 5:30 to 6:00 PM

Open to all Palo Verde School parents and staff

Training provided by the American Red Cross, Silicon Valley Chapter

To RSVP call Palo Verde Kids Club at (650) 852-9475

Save The Date:  Palo Verde’s Ice Skating Party

Friday, Feburary 6, 2009
5:30-7:30 pm, Winter Lodge Ice Rink.

Details will come closer to event date

To volunteer at the front ticket desk, pizza & drink table or bake sale
tables please contact Lori Harrenstien at 856-3237  or iceturtles [at} gmail dot com

Like to Sing?

The Ragazzi Boys Chorus, a nationally-recognized performing arts organization based on the Peninsula, invites boys age 7-11 to join them for a free singing and music workshop and optional auditions on Saturday, January 10, 2008, in Redwood City.   For more information or to reserve a spot, please contact Ragazzi at 650.342.8785, or

Community Kiosk

For Community information, please click here.

News: December 5, 2008

Principal Lupe Garcia’s State of the School Address

Wednesday, December 10th, 7 pm, MP Room
Child care provided by Palo Verde Kids Club free of charge

Please join us for a State of the School Address with Principal Lupe Garcia. Come hear Principal Garcia speak about his observations of the school since arriving this year and his plans for Palo Verde in the coming months and years.

Coffee and sweets will be served.

This event is sponsored by the Palo Verde PTA

Community News

Soccer Uniforms for Oaxaca

Now – Fri. Dec. 12

Each year, Neighbors Abroad (Palo Alto’s Sister City organization) and Girl Scouts of PA collect soccer uniforms for the children of Oaxaca, PA’s sister city in Mexico.  Please place CLEAN soccer shirts, shorts, and socks (but no shoes or shinguards) in the box in your school’s office.
Questions: Marion Mandell, 493-3798.

Musical at JLS

Tues. Dec. 9 and Thurs. Dec. 11, 7pm
The JLS 8th Grade Showtime class presents the Broadway hit musical, “Damn Yankees” in collaboration with JLS Drama 1A, Drama Club, Musical Theater, and featuring JLS’s own Mr. Dave Tomatis. Doors open at 6:45 pm each night.  Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School Cafetorium, 480 E. Meadow Dr., Palo Alto.  Admission is free.

Paly Glass Holiday Sale

Wed. Dec. 10, 10am-4pm
One day only holiday sale of Palo Alto High School student and professional glass work, in from of the Tower Building, on the El Camino side of campus.

Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra 43rd Season Second Concert

Saturday, December 13, 8pm, Dinkelspiel Auditorium, Stanford
The Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra will perform their second concert of the 2008-09 season, conducted by Music Director Benjamin Simon.  World renowned pianist Robert Schwartz will join PACO for Mozart’s Piano Concerto #17 in G major, and the ensemble will also perform Mozart’s Adagio and Fugue.  Beethoven’s titanic Symphony No. 5  forms the centerpiece of this concert, and will be performed by the combined forces of PACO and the Sinfonia Ensemble.  Also featured will be PDQ Bach’s delightful “sportscast” of the first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth, narrated by Art Barnes and Cary Chin.  Chamber music performed by members of the PACO orchestra will also be included. The Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra is composed of the Bay Area’s most talented and promising high school musicians chosen by competitive audition.  Tickets are $15 adults, $10 seniors, $6 students.
Info: 856-3848 or

Palo Alto Historical Association Presents “Palo Alto Vignettes”

Sun. Dec. 7, 2pm, Lucie Stern Community Center, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto
A program of personal memories will be presented by the Palo Alto Historical Association at a free public meeting.  Karen Holman, executive director for the Palo Alto History Museum Project, will serve again as the emcee for the annual holiday meeting,”Palo Alto Vignettes,” which brings forth fond reminiscences from volunteer speakers.  Past programs have featured a wide range of anecdotes, ranging from elephants setting up the circus at dawn, a former airfield at College Terrace, Elizabeth Gamble’s generosity, wartime troop entertainment, door-do-door vendors and more.  This is the seventh year for the popular program, which is videotaped for PAHA’s history archives.

News: December 4, 2008

A Message from PAUSD Superintendent, Kevin Skelly

An Update on The PAUSD Strong Schools Bond Program

Dear Community Members

As you may know, voters passed Measure A, the Strong Schools Bond, this past June.  This bond authorized the district to extend the current tax levy of $44.50 per $100,000 in assessed value up to $378 million to pay for improvements to the district’s facilities.  Since that election, staff has been hard at work assembling the planning, management, and building team to do this work.  We are entering an important phase of our planning work that requires community input, so it seems like an appropriate time to update you about some of the plans that are in the pipeline and about the construction underway.

Our most pressing need in the district is more classroom space at the elementary level.  Last year kindergarten through fifth grade enrollment grew by 200 students.  Such growth was anticipated in the bond, and a portion of funds will address this priority.  Virtually every elementary school classroom is being used, and we need to get ahead of the “medium” projected need for another 460 students in the next five years.

To do this, plans are underway to modernize and build capacity at the Garland elementary site.  This space is currently being leased to a private school, so it will not be available until before June 2010.  When we do regain possession, we plan to be ready with an ambitious construction program that will give us increased capacity in the heart of the district.  This will allow us to relieve pressure on enrollment in the north and east sections of the district.  Yes, we will have to undertake the difficult work of adjusting elementary school boundaries.  We will work hard with families to ease the transitions associated with boundary changes.  But the end result is that more students will have a shorter walk to their neighborhood schools and more families will be able to register at a school very close to their homes.

Later this month the Board of Education will be hearing the results of an elementary school capacity study by an architecture planning firm.  This work is being done in concert with an update of our enrollment projections.  The next few years are going to be extremely tight at our elementary sites.  However, we are confident we can move ahead of this curve and soon have enough capacity to meet elementary enrollment needs with an appropriate supply of classrooms.  Besides Garland, we are also going to add some enrollment capacity soon at Ohlone Elementary, one of our largest campuses in terms of acreage.

But it is not just growth at the elementary level that poses a challenge.  Our middle and high schools are also anticipating steady enrollment increases in the next decade.  Architects have started working with middle school administrators to see where classrooms and other facilities can be placed or existing space can be used more effectively.  We believe we can make important changes and additions to our middle schools that will add to the experiences and opportunities of our middle school students and staffs.

Perhaps the biggest building buzz is happening at the high schools.  Under the leadership of the principals, both Gunn and Paly are in the throes of master planning their sites.  Both of these schools have fallen far behind neighboring high schools in terms of having facilities worthy of the promise and talents of their students.  Almost half of the building program funds are dedicated to improving the facilities at our high schools, in part because the majority of a prior bond were spent on K-8 facilities.  This master planning work is crucial because the decisions made in this process over the next few months will set in motion construction timelines, the overall layout of these campuses, and how facility improvements will enable the schools to meet the changing needs of students.  Our high schools can also anticipate large increases in enrollment in the coming decade.  Throughout the process, our work to address enrollment growth will be guided by the recently approved changes to Board Policy on School Size that captures the values of parity in terms of educational opportunity and program as well as the importance of personalized learning environments.

It should be mentioned that some construction work is already underway.  The building of the new aquatic center at Gunn began the day after the bond was passed and is on budget and on schedule.  Bids will be received for the Gunn industrial arts building on December 16, and we anticipate work beginning on this facility in January 2009.

Throughout the next three months, the Board of Education is going to be receiving reports and recommendations from staff on the direction of the program.  They will also be analyzing the information received from school administrators and members of their communities who are meeting with architects and other planners to create a roadmap for our education facility improvements.  As our elected officials, they weigh these recommendations in public and make the final decisions regarding this important work.

The best place to see the district wide efforts is to follow the board meetings and study sessions.  Materials for these meetings are available at  Meetings are currently scheduled for December 9 at 9:00 a.m. (Special Meeting) and later that day at 6:30 p.m. (Regular Meeting).  An additional Special Meeting is scheduled for December 15 at 12:00 p.m.  Our high schools are also disseminating information through their websites.  We invite your interest and voice into the process at whatever level you wish.

Making facility improvements will be our collective legacy to the students and community.  We are planning and building for the education of our students and for what they will need in the next fifty years.  We will work hard to prove worthy of the investment our community is making in this work. Thank you again for enabling progress and supporting the bond measure and our growing school district.

Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.