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Should There Be A New Secondary School in Palo Alto?

Submitted By: Stephanie Zhang

In 1979, Ellwood P. Cubberley High School was shut down due to a downward slope in enrollment and revenue, leaving Palo Alto High School and Gunn High School. Decades later, a school district committee is suggesting a new secondary school (middle and high school) be opened in the same place.

The main issue driving this radical suggestion is enrollment and size; the current high schools and middle schools hold too many students to be extremely effective in their teaching and connectedness with the students. According to the subcommittee, PAUSD middle schools enroll 879 students on average, compared to the national average of 576, and its high schools enroll 1870, compared to the national average of 847. This huge discrepancy reveals where PAUSD falls flat, so the subcommittee hopes to accommodate 500 students in the potential middle school and 600 in the high school.

However, the primary plan for the new secondary school is extremely different from the existing two high schools. The subcommittee strives to create a new, innovative school that is structured under a “choice-program model,” which involves project-based learning and the like.

In fact, outside parties like the Stanford Institute of Design are already pledging to aid the development of a new school–but not everyone is so keen about the idea. Would it be better to simply pour more funds into Gunn and Paly rather than start from scratch? Should Palo Alto continue to persistently hold onto the reins of driving innovation internationally, or should the community step back and reassess?

About Timothy Lee

Timothy Lee is a senior at Monta Vista High School. He moved back to the States in 2012 after living in Beijing, China for two years, and currently lives in Cupertino, California. This cross-culture experience has enabled him to encounter a vast variety of environments in which part of his writings are based on. He is also currently an officer in HEARTS, a nonprofit organization, and a VP at Silicon Valley DECA. He also has a passion in web design, computer science, badminton, and writing.

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