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Upfront

GRADUATION 2013 Thinking back and looking ahead A few 2013 graduates ponder their schools and the world

BY CHRIS KENRICK

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few days before their high school graduation Wednesday, a handful of prospective grads from Gunn and Palo Alto high

schools spoke with the Weekly about their high school recollections and plans for the future.

Chandler Gardiner: ‘Do your best, but don’t stress out’

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he peer pressure prevalent at Gunn High School is “not your typical peer pressure” to go out and get drunk or break curfew, said Chandler Gardiner, who graduated Wednesday. Instead, it’s a pressure to get good grades — a feeling Gardiner believes emanates not primarily from parents or teachers, but from students themselves. On one hand, she has appreciated it, saying, “At another high school I might not have pushed myself as hard.” On the other hand, “The pressure can be overwhelming sometimes, which you don’t really need, especially in high school.” As she heads to Spain and France this summer to perform with the Gunn choir and, this fall, to the University of Minnesota, Gardiner said what she’ll most miss about Gunn is its sense of community. “It’s very welcoming,” she said.

“It’s a pretty big school, so basically anybody can find a place here — it doesn’t matter who you are, what your interests are.” Besides four years of singing in Gunn’s choir program, Gardiner’s interests have included school and club volleyball as well as leadership in Gunn’s ROCK (Reach Out, Care and Know), a peer support network initiated by students after a series of suicides in 2009 and 2010. ROCK has “moved past just suicide prevention and on to community building, making sure we can reach our arms out to any freshman in a random social group,” Gardiner said. ROCK members have joined forces with a national program, Sources of Strength, with a strategy of using high school social groups to boost teen mental health. Gardiner said she appreciates “so many good teachers at Gunn” as well as her parents, who “never put pressure on me and just asked me

to do the best I can.” She’s particularly grateful that her mother, who works at a school, was able to be at home with her and her siblings after school and during summers. “I’ve had my ups and downs, but my parents have done so well for us.” She hopes — at least in family matters — that her life will be much like that of the family she grew up with. But “I don’t know if I want to raise my kids in Palo Alto,” she said. “Part of me does because I want them to do the best they can, but part of me doesn’t want them to have to deal with the stress.” Her advice to future Gunn students is: “Do your best, but don’t stress out. “Your best is all you can do. You don’t need to go crazy if something goes wrong because in a few days it will pass and it’s going to be all right.” N

Veronica Weber

Josh Stabinsky, Palo Alto High School

Josh Stabinsky: Putting more in to get more out

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I was able to succeed and found school a lot more interesting my junior year than I had previously.” Committing to school activities — he was Paly’s sports commissioner his junior year and senior class vice-president — also allowed him to get to know teachers and fellow students better. In the fall Stabinsky plans to study business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which combines the factors he was seeking in a college: big school, sports program and strong business program. A huge sports fan, he’s interested in pursuing a career in sports marketing. What he’ll miss most about Paly are the teachers, friends and the hard-earned sense of familiarity. What he’ll miss least, he said, is “having only 35 minutes for lunch. “I really like the block scheduling but do wish we had a little longer for lunch.” Stabinsky will spend the summer working at the Gap, his first official employer. After just a few days on the job he said he’s seen many familiar faces at the Stanford Shopping Center store and has “become a lot better at folding than I was before.” N

Veronica Weber

major lesson of high school for Josh Stabinsky can be boiled down to the adage, “What you give is what you get.” After feeling hesitant and uncomfortable in his first two years at Paly, Stabinsky made a fuller commitment to classes and activities his junior year and found he enjoyed school much more. “The harder I worked, the more I put in, the more I got out of it,” he said. “I wish I’d learned that a little earlier, but I’m glad I eventually did. “Not everybody’s going to be up for a challenge in high school — that’s totally understandable — but the more you challenge yourself, the more you’re going to get out of Paly.” Stabinksky also found Paly more engaging when he realized that the college-prep curriculum is not as fixed as some might think. For example, he said, you can take biology and chemistry — and then marine biology instead of physics — while still fulfilling entrance requirements for the University of California. “Marine biology was fascinating,” he said. “By taking the classes I really wanted to be in as opposed to what everybody else was taking

Chandler Gardiner, Gunn High School

Boot Bullwinkle: Multitasking and the 24-hour day

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taying home for the summer to serve Pinkberry yogurt will give new Gunn graduate Richard (Boot) Bullwinkle a chance to earn college money and spend a little more time with what he’ll miss most about high school — his friends. This fall he heads to American University, where he’ll work in a Washington, D.C.-area internship

and take classes at the same time. Bullwinkle played varsity soccer all four years at Gunn and also fell in love with journalism, ending up senior year as managing editor of the student newspaper The Oracle. “Journalism is kind of a dying art, at least in print, but we had 50 kids on staff, and they’re all really interested in it,” he said. “It was fun to work with that many kids

interested in the exact same thing — to create a quality publication.” The experience resulted in a close bond with Oracle adviser and English teacher Kristy Blackburn, one of three or four Gunn teachers he considers mentors and friends. “They’ve really been there to teach me things that (continued on page 6)

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