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T H E H O M E TOW N N E W S PA P E R F O R M E N L O PA R K , AT H E RTO N , P O RTO L A VA L L E Y A N D WO O D S I D E
JUNE 1, 2011
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.aZZe 4aS Rileyâ€™s Place offers play therapy to special kids one hug at a time | Section 2
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AT H E R TO N Extensively remodeled in 20092010. Definitely a must see. All new landscaping on 1.15+/- acres by Tod Cole completed in 2010 which includes a pool house, outdoor fireplace and extensive patio areas.
M E N LO PA R K Freestanding luxurious and private townhome with unobstructed views of the hills. Marble entryway with soaring ceilings. Remodeled gourmet eat-in kitchen with granite counter tops and custom cabinetry. Formal dining room and living room with fireplace and built-in shelves. Terraces off living room for indoor/outdoor entertaining. Floor to ceiling walls of windows. Numerous decks and balconies.
WO O D S I D E Light, bright and beautiful 3bd/1ba home on a peaceful creek setting on a 12,560+/-sf lot. All new inside with open living and dining areas bringing the outdoors in. New kitchen with abundant cabinet space and hi-end appliances including double ovens. Outstanding Woodside Elementary School.
MENLO PARK OFFICE 1550 EL CAMINO REAL, SUITE 10 0 650.462.1111 WOODSIDE OFFICE 2930 WOODSIDE ROAD 650.529.1111 APR COUNTIES | Santa Clara | San Mateo | San Francisco | Marin | Sonoma | Alameda | Contra Costa | Monterey | Santa Cruz 2 N The Almanac N June 1, 2011
UP F RONT
Bridging gender gap in science By Kate Daly Special to the Almanac
enlo School has launched a pilot program to boost the number of girls who study science, technology, engineering and math â€” referred to as STEM. The program grew out of the work of the Girls Committee, formed at the Atherton school last year, and made up of teachers, administrators, board members, alumni, parents and students. The committeeâ€™s mission was to answer such questions as these, posed by committee member Grace Limaye: Why is the student speaker at graduation almost always a boy? Why do more boys win elections in the upper school? Why do we not have more gender balance in robotics, applied science research, and computer science â€” classes dominated by males? Ms. Lamaye, an enrichment specialist in the middle school who teaches science, now finds herself as co-leader of the pilot program called M-BEST (for Menloâ€™s Bridge to Engineering, Science and Technology), which is restricted to girls. Upper school engineering teacher Joanie Banks-Hunt is the other coleader. This school year, Menlo has been working with about 75 female students, in grades 7 through 12, to give them more exposure to the STEM fields by showing them role models, introducing them to mentors, and creating opportunities to collaborate. As the academic year winds down, some students are already involved in internships that are a direct result of the M-BEST program. Menlo School decided to design its own program. While there are nonprofit programs and extracurricular options, the researchers couldnâ€™t find an existing schoolbased program to follow, Ms. Limaye said. The M-BEST co-leaders recruited about 15 upper schoolers to act as an advisory board, and help brainstorm. Board members set up 10 workshops on Saturdays. For example, one student organized a workshop on electric cars and lined up a speaker from Tesla Motors. Some 56 younger female stu-
Photo by Pete Zivkov
Elaine Wong, an eighth-grader at Menlo School, works on building a structure to elevate as many ping pong balls as possible, using a limited number of toothpicks and marshmallows. This activity was one of many at a kick-off event for the schoolâ€™s M-BEST program, which aims to encourage girls to pursue science and technology studies.
dents, known as â€œscholars,â€? have been meeting periodically with the co-leaders during the school day. Why so few?
In designing the M-BEST program, the co-leaders looked to a research report recently released by the American Association of University Women and entitled, â€œWhy So Few?â€? The paper states: â€œAlthough women are the majority of college students, they are far less likely than their male peers to plan to major in a STEM field.â€? Two reasons for this are stereotyping and bias. The paper studies the difference in boysâ€™ and girlsâ€™ math performances, pointing out they are about the same, with boys doing a little better in spatial skills. The report adds that with some training, that gap can be closed. Whatâ€™s missing for girls, the paper concludes, is â€œan environment of encouragement.â€? At Menlo, Ms. Limaye said, â€œthere is a lot of cultural stereotyping and peer pressure going on. ... some classes may be perceived as too nerdy or too â€˜boy.â€™â€? Senior Annie Cook, who serves on the M-BEST advisory board and is â€œmath and science focused,â€? noted that few girls take AP chemistry and physics at Menlo. She said the recent M-BEST workshop on medical professions
has inspired her to think about becoming a doctor or vet. She hopes to study molecular biology at Yale. In April, a total of 11 doctors spoke to female students about their jobs. Dr. Yvonne Cagle, a family physician who grew up in the Bay Area and went on to become a NASA astronaut, told the students why the medical profession is â€œvery differentâ€? from other careers. â€œItâ€™s very personal,â€? she said. â€œYou never give up, and you never let up. Itâ€™s not 9 to 5. Youâ€™re in it for the duration until the job is done.â€? Another speaker, Dr. Jill Helms, is a craniofacial surgeon and stem cell researcher at Stanford. She chose to go into medicine after her mother developed lung cancer. â€œThat was a real turning point,â€? she said. â€œI wanted to make a difference. I was smart enough. I knew how to work harder than anyone else. I donâ€™t give up, am curious about how things work, and care about people.â€? Dr. Kathryn Hodge, a flight surgeon with the Air National Guard at Moffett Field, had her own story. â€œI wanted a little more excitement than a clinic setting offered,â€? she said, â€œso I went into rescue medicine.â€? She described the duties as ranging from combat search and rescue, including in Afghanistan, to airlifting critically ill passengers off cruise ships, and assisting after Hurricane Katrina. â€œThereâ€™s nothing more rewarding than rescue,â€? she said. â€œYou canâ€™t tangibly measure it because itâ€™s in your heart.â€? When Dr. Hodge showed off the contents of her 40-pound backpack filled with emergency supplies, she had the rapt attention of Liz Simonovich, an eighth-grader who is interested in pediatrics and orthopedic surgery, and Alex Welch, an 11th-grader whose father is an electrical engineer and mother was a pediatric oncologist. Dr. Susan Adler, an anesthesiologist, and fellow Menlo parent and speaker Dr. Chris Threatt, a urologist, compared notes on their experience working with females in the medical field. They agreed that women tend to practice obstetrics, pediatrics, family medicine, dermatology and anesthesia, and that surSee M-BEST, page 6
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Private school feels squeezed by lease delay ■ Woodland School poised to spend $8 million on Ladera campus renovation. By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor
hen Ladera Elementary School closed in the late 1970s, there was “a lot of angst in the Ladera community,” says Lennie Roberts, who served as PTA president of both Ladera and La Entrada public schools, and experienced the turmoil first hand. “There was quite a battle.” Over the years, the Las Lomitas School District has leased the campus — located in the small Ladera community near Portola Valley — to private schools, including the preschool-through-eighth-grade Woodland School that has occupied the site since 1981. The relationship between Woodland and the community has not always been smooth — for many years there had been “longstanding differences,” according to Ladera resident Rob Decker, a former longtime president of the community association. But about five years ago, a new administration stepped in, and “wanted to work the community, to improve traffic, parking and communication,” he said.
“Since then, there’s been excellent communication between the school and the community ... and follow-through on the part of the school.” As Woodland’s lease of the campus nears an end, some Ladera residents have become concerned over the delay of the bidding process that would allow Woodland to compete for another long-term lease so that it might remain in the community and renovate the deteriorating facilities on the site. Ms. Roberts and other residents joined Woodland School officials at a May 3 school board meeting at which the school site was discussed. “The concern (expressed at the meeting) was over the pulling back from their original schedule” Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac of opening the bidding process for Preschool children line up before heading to the multipurpose room for gymnastics at Woodland School. the campus, Ms. Roberts said. The district had informed Woodland school last October, in key reason the Woodland board educational program and more Woodland School, whose board a letter, that the bidding process — signed a one-year lease extension, review of facilities needs to be done and supporters have pledged to known as an RFP process — would to July 2013, as expiration of its before signing a long-term lease for spend over $8 million on renovabegin in January 2011, according to long-term lease approached. the Ladera campus. Consequently, tion and upgrade of the campus. a May 9 letter to the Las Lomitas But since giving Woodland the date to begin the RFP process “Respectfully, we no longer have district board written by David that assurance, the Las Lomitas shifted, first to June 2011, then to faith in projected timelines regardSpreng, chair of the Woodland board and Superintendent Eric June 2012 “at the earliest,” accord- ing this lease and we must protect School board of directors. That Hartwig determined that more ing to Mr. Spreng’s letter. See WOODLAND, page 8 assurance from the district was a strategic planning of the district’s That presents a problem for
Menlo Park freezes pay for its police sergeants By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer
enlo Park’s eight police sergeants won’t see a pay raise for two years under the terms of a new contract unanimously approved by the City Council that also implemented a two-tier pension system. The previous contract provided an average 3 percent pay raise every six months since January 2009. Under the new contract, four patrol sergeants will get their annual hours cut by 104, which city staff estimated would save $36,000. Automatic health benefit increases, where the city would pay 85 percent of any increase, also got the ax. Finally, employee pension contributions increased from 9 to 12 percent, with an estimated annual savings to the city of $39,000.
The council praised the police sergeants union for its cooperation. “This required a lot of help,” Mayor Rich Cline said at the May 24 council meeting. “We can’t do this alone, it’s a different economy, and we are well aware of the sacrifices being made by people in different areas of the city.” Vice Mayor Kirsten Keith questioned why the police department, which has 36 line officers, needs eight supervising sergeants along with two commanders. Police Chief Bryan Roberts answered that many factors dictate appropriate staffing levels, such as the number of service calls and types of crime in a community. He said a community like Menlo Park with 32,000 people would generally have about 48 See SERGEANTS, page 8
Outsourced: Building, public works staffs ■ Thirteen employees to lose their jobs. By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor
he town of Atherton is preparing to outsource its entire building and public works departments, handing 13 of 16 nonmanagement staff members their pink slips by the end of the month. Peter Finn of Teamsters Local 856 told the Almanac that on May 26 town representatives informed him and two employees who are union stewards of the plans. Employees were officially notified by the town the next day, according to Mayor Jim Dobbie. “I am very, very sad that this was necessary to help bring the town into financial viability,” Mr. Dobbie told the Almanac. “We take no pleasure in laying off these employees whatsoever, but if we