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S E C T I O N 2 Community S TO R I E S A B O U T P E O P L E A N D E V E N T S I N T H E C O M M U N I T Y ■ J U LY 2 5 , 2 0 1 2 Helping advanced students connect with high school By Elena Kadvany classes but drop out, even in their first year, said administrative vice principal Karl Losekince 1999, a program called oot, who is among those who Compass has served as a created the Honors Institute. summer-bridge program “So how do we better prepare for some students entering the them to make it through at least Sequoia Union High School a full year, if not more?” By District. It focuses on “at-risk” beginning early. freshmen performing below Before the school year begins, grade level. A 24-day summer M-A courts these high-potential program of English, math and students at feeder schools in skills classes is intended to pre- the area and invites them to be pare them for high school. In a part of the institute in order addition, they get acquainted to make an early connection with teachers, the school campus with the high school they will and each other so they feel more attend. comfortable when they start in Mr. Losekoot explained the the fall. process: “We sent them fancy Compass serves students work- letters, we made nice fliers, ing below grade we called them level. What up, we made about incom- ‘I learned to speak up them T-shirts, ing students did everymore and to interact we who should be thing we could in advanced with others, I made a to make it a classes? very boutique-y lot of friends.’ The answer: program where the Honors students in the CECELIA ESTRADA Institute. program would Created by a feel, ‘I’m spegroup of M-A faculty and staff cial, this is just for me.’” three years ago, the institute is One goal is to give them a a five-week summer program sense of what an honors class at geared toward incoming stu- M-A is like. “What’s the workdents from lower-income areas load, what’s the rigor, what’s the who are scoring at or above level of critical thought that’s grade level. The program is required,” he said. funded by the Foundation for A second goal is to help the the Future, an M-A High fund- students form a community raising group. with their peers. Many of these M-A students “One of the problems is that begin high school in honors a lot of these students — not Special to the Almanac S Almanac photo by Daniella Sanchez Students in the Honors Institute program at M-A battle it out during a carnival that rewards the students for working hard throughout the summer. all, but many — are students of color. They would be in some of our honors classes and feel kind of isolated and alone,” Mr. Losekoot explained. “So, if we could bring a lot of these students together, they would come to form connections and at least know each other, if not become friends.” This year, 48 students are participating in the Honors Institute, the largest class yet. Students are grouped in advanced English, math and science classes so that they go through the program together and become resources for each other. Students also take an elective class, where they learn skills necessary to succeed as State Senate candidates in 30 minutes or less By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer C alifornia State Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, seems like a man who really could give you his life story in three minutes. He demonstrated his mastery of the elevator pitch before a crowd of about 35 people at a forum July 17 hosted by the Menlo Democrats club. Also in the spotlight was former Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, who represented District 22 in the California Legislature from 2002 to 2008. The two candidates face off in November for a seat in the newly formed state Senate District 13, which includes most of San Mateo County and portions of Santa Clara County such Palo Alto and Mountain View. The pair took turns answering four questions fielded by club president John Woodell over the course of 30 minutes in a back room at the Menlo Hub restaurant (formerly Oak City Bar & Grill). First up, high-speed rail. Mr. Hill said he refused to support the newly passed high-speed rail bill until it incorporated electrification of Caltrain, provided stand-alone value to the Central Valley where the first segment will be constructed, and guaranteed a two-track design. He voted in favor of the bill, although rail watchdogs question whether the guarantee really exists. Ms. Lieber had a different an honors student, such as communication and assertiveness. Cecelia Estrada, 16, an East Palo Alto resident, was one of the institute’s first students three years ago. The elective class was her favorite. “I learned to speak up more and to interact with others,” she said. “I made a lot of friends.” Cecelia, now a junior, is not only enrolled in AP courses, but has returned to the Honors program this summer to serve as a peer mentor. The mentors give presentations on good study habits and things to look out for during freshman year. They are available throughout classes to answer questions and help students with their work. Although she may be the ideal example of the institute’s potential impact, many institute students don’t remain in advanced classes for even a year. But there’s another goal that’s harder to measure and it happens over time, said Mr. Losekoot. “Do these kids continue to feel like they’re connected to the school, that the school cares about them?” he said. “Do they continue to feel special? I think if we’ve achieved that on some level, if they have higher selfesteem because of that, they’re going to be more successful students no matter what classes they take.” A perspective. “It’s a bad bill,” Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemshe said. “It’s a bad deal for ite National Park. San Francisco the Peninsula.” She suggested draws heavily upon the reservoir that given the state’s economic and supplies its water to other struggles, there parts of the Penare higher priinsula. orities like edu“I understand Jerry Hill and Sally why cation and the they want Lieber give their environment. to, but the Bay The discussion relies on ‘elevator pitches.’ Area then turned to water from the restoration of the Hetch Het- Hetch Hetchy,” Ms. Lieber said. chy reservoir. An offshoot of She suggested a focus on levees the Sierra Club wants to put instead, commenting that levy an initiative on the November failure could lead to salt water ballot that would create a plan intrusion that could wreak havoc eventually leading to drainSee CANDIDATES, page 18 ing the reservoir to restore the July 25, 2012 ■ ■ The Almanac ■ 17

Almanac 07.25.2012 - Section 2

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