Almanac

Cover Story - October 25, 2006

Special report on private schools

Schools offer students more choices, innovative programs plus strong academics

by Marjorie Mader

Private schools didn't miss a beat as they quickly moved into the 2006-07 school year on campuses in Atherton, Menlo Park and Portola Valley.

Most private schools are fully enrolled again this year even as tuition continues to climb. More emphasis is being placed on giving students more choices and meeting their individual needs and interests.

Some innovative programs have surfaced to stretch students to think globally and look to the future. Menlo School, as an example, hosts a lunchtime speakers series, called "The Year 2025," for students, teachers and parents.

The series brings authors, scientists, business people and Stanford professors to campus to discuss some of the most pressing issues that the current generation of high school students will face in their adult lives, said Bridgett Longust, teacher and coordinator.

"California's Impending Water Crisis" will be the topic for the Friday, Nov. 3, meeting in Martin Family Hall.

Another new venture at Menlo is "Knight School." For one week in March, students and teachers from all grades will shift gears, set aside the regular schedule, and discover the joy of learning. They will work collaboratively, delve into areas of their interests, and have more time for creativity.

Another first is Menlo's offering Mandarin as part of its foreign language program with plans to provide additional levels in upcoming years.

Woodside Priory School has switched to a flexible, "bell-free" schedule this fall to "reduce student and faculty stress" by restructuring the flow of the day. Research indicates that a no-bells environment encourages students to think of their academic time as a single unit, not interrupted with fast dashes to lockers or to find friends, said Brian Schlaak, the Priory's academic dean.

Students at most schools will be involved in community service and service learning projects, linking their classroom studies to a real world experience.

While school construction projects have slowed down in recent years, green construction fences encircle Phillips Brooks School, located on the Las Lomitas School District site in Menlo Park. The preschool-to-grade-5 school plans to spend $10 million to improve the leased facility by demolishing 7,125 square feet of temporary building and adding seven permanent classrooms, a library, a multi-use room, administration building and faculty lounge, totaling 10,000 square feet.

Below and on the following pages is the Almanac's special report on private schools in our circulation area: Atherton, Menlo Park, Portola Valley and Woodside.

Menlo School

50 Valparaiso Ave.

Atherton

Phone: 330-2000

Norman Colb, head of school

Barbara J. Brown, director of the middle school

Grades: 6-12

Tuition: $27,500 for both high school and middle school. Menlo has awarded $2.5 million in financial aid this year to16 percent of the student body to attract talented students of varied socio-economic backgrounds. Families receiving financial aid for tuition also received additional support for books, supplies and certain activities.

Enrollment: With 750 new and returning students, Menlo School is at capacity: 532, high school; 218, middle school, grades 6-8.

Class size: Averages 18 students in the middle school for academic and fine arts classes and 16 students in the high school.

Middle School director: Barbara J. Brown brings her experience in a variety of teaching and administrative positions to Menlo as the new director of the middle school. She received a master's degree from Stanford University and a doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Former director Nancy McPhaul has returned to teaching history in Menlo's high school.

Focus: Established in 1915, Menlo School offers a challenging academic curriculum, complemented by fine arts and athletic programs. The school's stated mission is to empower students to develop the skills necessary for success in college and become ethical, responsible and engaged members of ever wider communities.

Curriculum: Menlo School offers a curriculum designed to prepare students for the rigors of college study. The middle school offers an integrated interdisciplinary program, taught by teams of grade-level teachers. In the high school, 20 advanced placement courses are offered in various areas of English, literature, economics, history, mathematics, calculus, physics, biology, chemistry, art, music, computer science and foreign languages, including French and Spanish. This year Mandarin is being offered.

New faculty: Joining the upper school are the following teachers: Mingjung Chen, Mandarin; James Dann, physics; Tim James, history; John Jordan, Creative Arts Department; David Simon, math; Clay Thomas, English and frosh/soph football coach; Peter Zivkov, photography; Marsha Blair, academic support coordinator; Anu Alyer, intern working in math and science. French teacher Martine Gullung-Miller joins the faculty at the middle school.

New staff members: Nazario Ayala and Eric DeStefano are new members of the Technology Department. Mr. Ayala has more than six years' experience as a support technician in private schools. Mr. DeStefano's experience includes 10 years in information technology as a network manager, specializing in operating systems and networking. Alison Hale, parent and volunteer at Menlo who previously worked in high-tech companies, is the new assistant to the academic dean. Joan Barada, school nurse, comes to Menlo after working, most recently, at La Entrada School.

Knight School: Menlo says the goal of its new Knight School is to help students discover the joy of learning, sometimes constrained by a focus on assessments and outcomes. For one week, March 12-16, external goals are set aside and risk-taking and the creative process of learning are encouraged. Students from all grades and teachers from all disciplines work together in new combinations and collaborate in the process of learning. The array of course offerings combined with an intensive allotment of time encourages students and teachers to discover potential passions and delve deeply into unexplored areas of inquiry.

Outside of class: About 76 percent of the high school students participate in the athletic programs and 57 percent are involved in the fine arts program. The high school offers 11 boys' sports and 11 girls' sports programs, including cross country, football, water polo, golf, tennis, volleyball, soccer, basketball, baseball, swimming, lacrosse, softball and track. Middle school sports have teams in three divisions, ranging from coed cross-county, swimming, track and water polo to girls soccer and volleyball and boys flag football, basketball and baseball.

Community service: Students participate in class-wide community service days. The high school has a 20-hour per year community service requirement for graduation.

Child Development Center: This on-campus center offers fee-based, child-care for newborns to preschool-age children of Menlo employees.

Open houses: Prospective students and their parents are invited to the following open houses: high school, Thursday, Oct. 26, at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 19, at 1 p.m.; middle school, Wednesday, Nov. 8 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 3, at 1 p.m. Call the admissions office at 330-2001, ext. 2600, for information.

Applications: Deadline to submit applications for the 2007-08 year is Tuesday, Jan. 9, at 4 p.m.

Menlo benefit: This year's annual benefit will be held March 30.

Web site: www.menloschool.org

Sacred Heart Schools-Atherton

150 Valparaiso Ave.

Atherton

Phone: 322-1866

Dr. Joseph Ciancaglini, director of schools

Stated mission: The Roman Catholic, independent schools strive "to educate the whole child to be a leader who loves God and serves others." Each of the three schools — Sacred Heart Preparatory High School, St. Joseph's School of the Sacred Heart (grades 1-8), and the Montessori preschool and kindergarten — has its own principal. Dr. Joseph Ciancaglini, director of schools, oversees all three schools. The schools offer extra curricular activities and a faith-based curriculum. Sacred Heart says it's committed to keeping its schools and classes small while attracting and serving students, faculty and staff of diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds.

Diversification: The Office of Equity, Justice, and Multicultural Education is now in its third year. Goals include sufficient financial aid to support each applicant on a "need blind acceptance basis" and sufficient support programs to help students achieve "a level playing field" in academics, social and extra-curricular activities.

Campus Ministry: Sister Christine Wilcox has joined SHS Campus Ministry to serve the spiritual and pastoral needs of the school community: students, families, faculty and staff as well as alumni. Dr. Sally Vance-Trembath is the new ethics program coordinator.

Learning Support Program: This program has been expanded at all three schools this year. SHS strives to create an atmosphere of support to help students thrive and succeed in a rigorous academic setting. This goal is supported by the Center for Student Success at Sacred Heart Prep and by the full-time learning specialist at St. Joseph School. All faculty members in the Montessori program and grades 1-8 have been trained in Mel Levine's "Schools Attuned" program.

Annual auction: Plans are under way for the annual auction and dinner party on Saturday, March 31. The theme will be "Under the Tuscan Sun."

Web site: www.shschools.org

Sacred Heart Preparatory

Richard Dioli, principal

Grades: 9-12

Tuition: $25,265

Enrollment: Sacred Heart Prep has enrolled 499 students, the highest since the college preparatory school opened its doors to boys in 1984. The student body is divided almost equally between girls and boys.

Class size: averages 15 students.

New faculty: Joining the faculty are: Stephanie Bowe, English and journalism; John Escalera, instrumental music; Kelli Griffis, English; Ben Hunter, history; Will Skaff, choral music; Alan Simpson-Vlach, math. Jeremy Smart returns to teach math after a year's absence doing graduate work.

New staff: Kristen Alexander, college counselor; Louise Paustenbach, personal counselor.

New programs: This year Sacred Heart Prep is offering a new fine arts program, Freshman Art Explorations, that enables freshmen to take one-semester courses in the areas of dance, drama, visual arts, instrumental music and chorus. A new religious studies course, "Theology of the Creative Spirit," is being offered.

Center for Student Success: Now in its second year, this program provides academic support for students. On-site tutors and learning resource specialists assist students through tutoring, study skills, time management and test-taking strategies. The center also coordinates accommodations for students with verified learning differences.

Outside the classroom: SHP offers 14 varsity and junior varsity sports: cross country, football, soccer, water polo, tennis, volleyball, basketball, soccer, baseball, softball, golf, lacrosse, swimming, track and field. The Sept. 23 senior fashion show, "Reality Runaway," raised money for the Senior Legacy Scholarship Fund and the seniors' "Grad Night" and prom.

Open house: The open house is Nov.19 at 1 p.m. For details, visit the Web site: www.shschools.org. Admission process for 2007-08 began the month.

Application deadline: The application deadline for the 2007-08 year is Jan. 3.

St. Joseph's School of the Sacred Heart

50 Emilie Ave.

Atherton

Phone: 322-9931

Karen Eshoo, principal

Grades: 1-8

Tuition: $18,740 for grades 1-5; $23,285 for grades 6-8

Enrollment: 400, in grades 1-8. Rolling admission for grades 1-5. Admission process for the middle school began this month. Application for grades 1-5 admission are being accepted through Feb. 5.

Class size: Student-teacher ratio is 12 to 1.

New faculty: Joining the faculty are: Jennifer Houlton, third grade; Derek Waarich, fifth grade; Victoria Burns, math, sixth grade; Jessica Sperle, pre-algebra, seventh grade; Keith Peterson, algebra, eighth grade; Alison Epstein, Spanish in grades 1-3, 6-8; Isolina Martinez, Spanish, grades 4-8; Chris Kanelopoulos, service learning, grades 1-8, religion, sixth grade; Jennifer Lettieri, U.S. history; Joanne Takagi, music, grades 1-5 and chorus, grades 6-8.

New staff: Joining the staff in new positions are : Kari Couling, learning specialist; Chris Scott, dean of the lower school; Kyle Kalmbach, academic dean.

Life skills: All middle school students participate in a "Life Skills" program, which focuses on emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills, good decision-making and identity.

Choral, band choices: All students in grades 4-8 choose to take band (woodwinds, brass or percussion) or chorus, which are taught during the school day as an integral part of the school program.

Enrichment: The after-school enrichment program offers students from kindergarten through fourth grade a range of classes and activities. They may choose from a long list of offerings, such as chess, science adventures, tennis and swimming, cooking and baking, drama and clowning. Students in grades 4-8 may choose to participate in the athletic program, which includes six options per year for both boys and girls. All students in grades K-12 are invited to audition for the all-school musical, "Children of Eden." Middle school students will produce their own play. A science adventure class is available to middle school students before school.

"No cuts" policy: The school has a "no cuts" policy so that everyone trying out for sports or drama gets on the team or a part in a play. There will be more aquatic opportunities this year for students to participate in competitive swimming and water polo.

Open house: Sunday, Nov. 19, at 2 p.m. is the date for the middle school open house. RSVP is required. For information, email admission@shschools.org.

Washington trip: Again this year, the eighth-graders' big field trip will be to Washington, D.C. Rep. Anna Eshoo, a former parent at St. Joseph's, welcomes and guides the students on a tour of the Capitol. Scholarships are available.

St. Joseph's School of the Sacred Heart

Preschool and kindergarten

50 Emilie Ave.

Atherton

Phone: 322-0176

Cee Salberg, principal

Grades: preschool and kindergarten

Tuition: $15,750 for half-day preschool; $17,190 for full day preschool and kindergarten.

Enrollment: 72 preschool students; 48 kindergartners. Admission process for the 2007-08 year has begun. For more information, contact jwildey@shschools.org.

Montessori method: Both the preschool and kindergarten use the Montessori method.

New preschool teacher: Lisa Galviz joins the faculty.

Admission: Admission process for the 2007-08 school year is under way. For information, contact jwildey@shschools.org.

Woodside Priory School

302 Portola Road

Portola Valley

Phone: 851-8221

Tim Molak, headmaster

Al Zappelli, director of admissions and financial aid

Grades: 6-12

Tuition: $26,700 for day students, and $34,932 for boarders, which includes lunch for day students and all meals for boarders. An additional fee of $400 per student covers purchases of school supplies and clothes at school store, retreats and most academic field trips and activities. Boarding students also pay a $600 fee for weekend activities.

Financial aid: About 20 percent of the students receive need-based financial aid from a pool of $1.28 million. Special scholarships are made to promote diversity. A new scholarship fund assists graduates of Catholic schools.

Enrollment: 352, the Priory's maximum enrollment, with 256 in high school, 96 in grades 6-8. The student body is 52 percent male and 48 percent female. Forty-nine of the high school students — 22 girls and 27 boys — board at the school. Of the 24 Americans, most live within 50 miles of the Priory; 26 are international students from China, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

Classes: 14-18 students in the majority of classes. The full-time-equivalent teacher to student ratio is 1 to 9. The ratio of teachers and student support staff to students is 1 to 6.

Philosophy: An independent, Catholic college preparatory school in the Benedictine tradition, the Priory's mission is to assist students of promise in becoming lifelong learners who will productively serve the world. The school seeks to balance an academically challenging program with opportunity for individual exploration and discovery.

New courses: The Priory's course offerings include 19 advanced placement electives as well as 28 additional elective courses for students in grades 10-12. New courses include marine biology, oceanography, history of rock 'n roll, history of Islam, "Visions of Excess" (English literature), "Theology through Literature and Film," beginning computer programming, acting lab and "Writing for Performance."

Bell-free schedule: After a year of intense study, the campus now is working on a flexibly timed, bell-free schedule. The goal is to reduce student and faculty stress by restructuring the flow of the day to accommodate classes that need extra time for set-up and clean-up and a rotating sixth-period early dismissal for athletic events and student activities. Eliminating "break times" between classes "earns" enough minutes for students to sleep later on Wednesday, when classes begin at 9:40 a.m. instead of 8:30. Faculty and staff use that time for meetings.

Community service: Student volunteer experiences are being integrated into their course work, particularly social studies and theology curricula. This framework enables better preparation and reflection, giving service experiences more meaning and bringing to life some of the theoretical topics in course work. "Meaningful service" is a graduation requirement.

Activity period: During the last part of the school day, high school students have more than 35 choices for their activity period. New choices this year include Christian and Jewish study clubs and others that focus on gender issues, speech and debate, and rock climbing.

Athletics: Priory monks brought high school soccer to the mid-Peninsula when the school opened in 1957 and the boys' varsity soccer teams thrive. High school teams include baseball, softball, track and field, basketball, cross country, golf, sailing, tennis volleyball and equestrian. The middle school fields teams in basketball, cross-country, flag football, soccer, swimming, volleyball, and tennis.

Facilities: Groundbreaking for a new 400-seat performing arts auditorium and three classrooms took place last summer with completion expected next fall. The architectural firm MK Think of San Francisco has designed the facility with many "green" features, including a roof of living grass, creating a meadow instead of a hard surface.

Open houses: Prospective students and their families have three opportunities to visit the campus at open house programs: Saturday, Nov. 18, 10 a.m.; Wednesday, Nov. 29, 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 10, 1 p.m. At the weekend events, guests will tour the campus, sit in on a few classes and mingle informally with teachers, parents and students at a reception in the gym, where departments will set up exhibits. RSVP by calling the admissions office at 851-8221.

Applications: Due Jan. 9 for the 2007-08 year.

Web site: www.woodsidepriory.com

Mid-Peninsula High School

1340 Willow Road

Menlo Park

Phone: 321-1991

Douglas C. Thompson, head of school

Molly McAuliffe, director of admission

Grades: 9-12

Tuition: $22,218; financial aid is available

Enrollment: 150

Class size: 12 students

Focus: Mid-Peninsula High School is designed for students with academic potential who can benefit from a smaller environment and a flexible, individually focused academic program.

Facilities: The high school, housed in a recently remodeled commercial building, has a technology-based learning center, wireless technology in classrooms, science labs, art studio and photography lab, student center, a full-size gymnasium, and a music practice room.

Program: The cornerstone of the education at this independent, coeducational school is the "CORE program." Students meet daily in small groups with their teachers to set and meet realistic goals and work toward academic growth. The goal is to personalize education for students and help them find individual paths to do their personal best. Students pursue a traditional sequence of college-prep classes and participate in community service and team sports. The school has a six-period day and offers a summer school.

Sports: Team sports are played at the varsity level, which means all students are eligible to participate. There's a "no-cut" policy, but playing time is determined by practice and game attendance, attitude, and performance. Mid-Pen is a Division V school within the Central Coast Section and also has participated in the Christian Private Schools Athletic League (CPSAL) for the past 15 years. Current and past team sports include soccer, volleyball, cross country, basketball, baseball, softball, and track and field.

Community service: Students are required to participate in two annual school-wide community service projects.

College planning: Mid-Peninsula offers comprehensive and individualized college planning services for all students. Over 90 percent of Mid-Pen graduates attend a two- or four-year college.

Shadow Day: Prospective students can spend a day with a current Mid-Pen student attending classes and getting to know, teachers, administrators and students.

School tours: Contact the admissions office to arrange a school tour, offered daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Open houses: Prospective students and their parents are invited to attend one of the open houses: Saturday, Nov. 4, at 10:30 a.m.; Tuesday, Dec. 5, at 7:30 p.m.; Tuesday, Jan. 9, at 7:30 p.m.

Applications: Priority filing date for applications for the 2007-08 year is Jan. 9. Late applications will be accepted.

Annual auction: The Parents Association's annual fundraiser is Saturday, March 3.

Web site: www.mid-pen.com

Beechwood School

50 Terminal Avenue

Menlo Park

Phone: 327-5052

Priscilla Taylor, principal

Grades: Kinderprep-8

Tuition: $150 per month for all grades, including the year-round K-3 program and the nine-month schedule for grades 4-8. Scholarships are available.

Enrollment: 163. Beechwood is open to students who live within the boundaries of the Ravenswood City School District in East Palo Alto and in eastern Menlo Park.

Class size: averages 16-18.

Focus: Founded and funded by the California Family Foundation in 1985, Beechwood has an extended 215-day school for students in grades K-3.

New teachers: Joining the teaching staff are Joannetta Ho, special needs instructor, and Karla Gurley, intern for first and second grades.

Parent participation: Parents are required to participate in parent education classes and take part in school activities.

Web site: www.beechwoodschool.org

German American International School

275 Elliott Drive

Menlo Park

Phone: 324-8617

Peter Metzger, head of school

Grades: Preschool-8

Tuition: $4,800 for a two-day, weekly preschool program; $6,420 for three days; $9,375 for five-days; $10,500 for kindergarten-grade 5; $12,500 for grades 6-8. Tuition is for a 10-month academic year. Discounts are offered for siblings.

Enrollment: 220

Class size: Averages 10 students. In addition to classroom teachers, there are specialists in art, music, physical education, and arts and crafts.

Focus: The school has an international and academic focus with an individualized approach to instruction. It strives to offer a learning environment that fosters the development of a creative and critical mind. About 70 percent of the classes in this coeducational school are in German. The German immersion program begins in preschool. Students should speak German by second grade. Established in 1988, the school is located on the O'Connor School site, leased from the Menlo Park City School District.

International Baccalaureate: The school is working toward full accreditation of the primary year program of the International Baccalaureate Organization, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. Beyond intellectual rigor and high academic standards, IB schools place strong emphasis on international literature, history and culture. The school also covers the California state standards.

Third language option: Spanish and French are options for students in grades 6-8.

Extra curricular program: An extensive extra curricular program that covers sports, creative activities and languages is offered on a fee basis.

Open house: The first open house is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 20, at the school. For information, call the school office at 324-8617 or e-mail info@germanamericanschool.org.

Web site: www.germanamericanschool.org

Nativity School

1250 Laurel St.

Menlo Park

Phone: 325-7304

Carol Trelut, principal

Grades: K-8

Tuition: $4,600

Enrollment: 280

Class size: Ranges from 27 students to 32.

Focus: Nativity's stated goal is to educate and prepare the whole child within a nurturing environment, based on Catholic values and beliefs.

Teachers: All teachers have returned for another year.

Outreach program: Students are involved in a range of service projects throughout the year. They volunteer for the Special Olympics in Redwood City, help staff the soup kitchens at St. Vincent de Paul's centers, and join in the fall cleanup at Huddart Park.

Extended care: For an additional fee, Nativity's extended care is available for its students from 7 to 8 a.m. and from school dismissal until 5:45 p.m.

Golden Anniversary: Some 880 alumni, parents, children and faculty celebrated Nativity School's 50th anniversary on Oct. 1 with a Mass, celebrated by Archbishop George H. Niederauer, speeches, an open house and a dinner, hosted by the pastor, Monsignor Steven D. Otellini. A new multi-purpose room and gym to be built in the summer is the anniversary gift to the school.

Fundraiser: The Christmas tree lot on the school grounds will be open for tree sales Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 24. Proceeds will fund enrichment programs, including Spanish and music.

Save the date: The school's Lapathon, open to students and community members to run/walk laps and raise funds for the school, is April 27 from 9 a.m. to noon. Check Lapathon_org for more information.

To apply: Applications: for kindergarten enrollment for the 2007-08 year are available at the school office. For more information, check www.nativityschool.com

Peninsula School

Peninsula Way

Menlo Park

Phone: 325-1584

Katy Dalgleish, director

Grades: Nursery-8

Tuition: $11,950, full-day kindergarten through grade 8; $9,140, nursery, ages 3 to 4, and half-day kindergarten. Scholarships are available.

Enrollment: 250

Class size: range from 16 to 21 students.

Focus: Founded in 1925 as a nonprofit, parent-staff-owned school, Peninsula focuses on providing an environment where learning is exciting, children are challenged to learn by doing, and independence and group cooperation are valued and fostered. There is an emphasis on responsibility as well as freedom and choice. Children are offered a wide variety of experiences in art, science, math, creative writing, dramatics, ceramics, weaving, music, dance, physical education and camping.

Extended care: Before- and after-school child care is available for students enrolled at Peninsula. Hours are from 7:45 a.m. until school starts at 9 a.m. and from dismissal time to 5:30 p.m.

Open house: Saturday, Nov. 5, is the open house for parents and their prospective nursery school, kindergarten and first-grade children interested in attending Peninsula in the 2007-2008 school year. Hours are 10 to 11:30 a.m.

School tours: Parents may tour the school on five Thursdays, Nov. 9 and 16; Dec. 7; Jan 4 and 11. Meet at 10 a.m. at the "Big Building." No reservations needed.

Holiday Craft Fair: An annual tradition, the school's craft fair will be held Sunday, Dec. 4, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the school. Jewelry, handmade toys, ceramics and clothing will be on sale. There will be story telling, live music, a cafe and children's crafts and play area.

Application deadline: Feb. 1 for all new students. Parents interested in observing classes should contact Mary Lou Lacina, admissions director, at 325-1584, ext. 5, for an appointment to visit classes and learn more about the program.

Phillips Brooks School

2245 Avy Ave.

Menlo Park

Phone: 854-4545

Kristi Kerins, head of school

Grades: Preschool-grade 5

Tuition: $18,900, grades 1-5; $18,000, kindergarten; $13,800, preschool for 4-year-olds; $11,000 for 3-year-olds.

Goals: The faculty is committed to child-centered learning through the use of "constructivist" principles in its teaching. Key goals include developing a community of learners that promotes equity and justice locally and globally, and building and strengthening school-family partnerships to better meet the needs of the students and community. This year the school has embarked on a Global Initiative, which ties already established program pieces such as communication, chapel, service-learning and world language, and frames this learning through a global lens.

Administration: New to the school's administration are Erin Dunn, school nurse; Nancy Errichetti, director of development; Sue Reyneri, director of finance; Alicia Falsetto, admission associate.

Teachers: Phillips Brooks welcomes one new teacher, Cristiana Freed, first grade.

Assistant teachers: Every two years, the school welcomes a new group of assistant teachers. They are: Annette Wise, second grade; Carrie Wai, preschool; Sara Smith, fifth grade; Paula Mitchell, fourth grade; Jadine Wong, third grade; Alison Hidalgo, first grade.

Familiar faces: Meeta Gaitonde returns to fourth grade after a year's maternity leave. Abby Guinn, director of global education and communications, also comes back after a year's professional sabbatical, as does Kim DeMartini, art teacher.

Extended day program: Phillips Brooks is continuing its extended day program. Hours are from 7:30 a.m. until school starts and from dismissal to 6 p.m. The program also is available on conference and teacher workshop days. Students also have the opportunity to participate in after-school enrichment activities. Options this year include art and chess.

Annual family gathering: The Parents' Association will hold its fundraiser "Shanghai Moon" on Saturday, March 10, at the Menlo Circus Club in Atherton.

School tours: To schedule a school tour on Monday and Tuesday mornings from now through Jan. 9, call Catherine Lee, director of admissions at 854-4545, ext. 110.

Applications: Deadline is Jan. 5

Web site. www.phillipsbrooks.org

St. Raymond School

1211 Arbor Road

Menlo Park

Phone: 322-2312

Sister Ann Bernard, principal

Grades: K-8

Tuition: About $6,210 for one child if families participate by volunteering 20 hours and make a commitment to buy $5,000 in scrip.

Enrollment: 247

Class size: averages 30 students; maximum is 32.

Focus: St. Raymond's stated goal is to provide a quality Catholic education with a strong emphasis on the academic basics — reading, writing, math and technology. There are opportunities for enrichment in art, computer classes, science labs, music and physical education. After-school sports include volleyball, baseball, basketball and track.

Community service: Students take part in extracurricular activities, such as projects that support the St. Francis Center, a small elementary school in Redwood City, where Spanish-speaking students learn English and gain academic skills needed to thrive in high school. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, they collect food for St. Anthony's Padua Dining Hall on Middlefield Road near Menlo Park and the St. Francis Center.

Annual auction and dinner: St. Raymond Mothers' Club will stage its major fundraiser, the auction and dinner, on Saturday, Nov. 4, at the school's Kennedy Center. Chairperson is Karen Greenlow. Funds raised will support the school's enrichment program and activities.

Open house: Families may tour the school during the open house, this year on Sunday, Jan. 22, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Applications for the 2007-08 year will be available at that time. For details, call the school office.

Trinity School

2650 Sand Hill Road

Menlo Park

Phone: 854-0288

Mary Menacho, head of school

Grades: Early childhood program, starting at age 3, through grade 5

Tuition: $18,300 for grades K-5; $16, 050, junior kindergarten; $12,730 for early childhood programs for 3- and 4-year-olds

Enrollment: 145

Classes: average 18-20 students in grades K-5, with each of these classes having a lead teacher and "para-educator." Early childhood classes average 16 students with two teachers in each class.

New teachers: Joining the faculty this year are Kate Benson, fourth grade, and Kathleen Quinlan, kindergarten.

Focus: Trinity School fosters rigorous academics grounded in child-centered content and the values and traditions of the Episcopal Church.

Curriculum: The school emphasizes a strong, balanced academic program. The rigorous curriculum emphasizes critical thinking rather than rote instruction and assessment. The program features specialist teachers for science, garden, library, advanced math, Spanish, music, art, physical education and religious studies.

Facilities: Trinity is one school with two campuses. The upper campus at 2650 Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park for grades K-5 includes seven class rooms, chapel, a Great Hall, and a state-of-the art library. Technology is integrated into the library and all classrooms with 80 computers and campus-wide Internet access. There's a series of learning and display spaces, including a greenhouse and garden, an outdoor stage, grass athletic field, and two ball courts. The early childhood program moved into a new building in 2005 at 330 Ravenswood Ave., Menlo Park. The new facility has two separate classrooms, designed for 3- and 4-year-olds, an art studio and an enclosed playground adjacent to the building.

Outreach: Students each year participate in several service learning projects. Last year they donated hygiene bags to victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, helped Habitat for Humanity throw a party for residents and volunteers, donated more than 2,500 cans of food to the Ecumenical Hunger Program. A major accomplishment for the students was creating a quilt, now featured on the UNICEF Web site as a fundraising idea. Funds from the quilt raffle were donated to UNICEF to aid children affected by the East Asia earthquake.

School tours: Call the admission office at 854-0288, ext. 100, to schedule a school tour.

Applications: Deadline for students to apply for the 2007-08 year is Jan. 26.

Web site: www.trinity-mp.org

Woodland School

360 La Cuesta Drive

Portola Valley

Phone: 854-9065

Scott Bell, head of school

Grades: Preschool-8

Tuition: $14,200 grades K-4; $15,200 grades 5-8. Monthly preschool tuition: half-day, $1,000; full day, $1,050; extended day, $1,100.

Enrollment: 240

Class size: averages 15 students.

Focus: Woodland School's stated goal is to focus on academics with a strong enrichment program of art, music, drama, computers, gymnastics and physical education. Science and technology are the cornerstone for the 5-8 program. Field trips expand classroom learning.

New teachers: Four new teachers have joined the faculty at Woodland. They are Olga Eidelman, computers; Molly Smith, first grade; Michelle Libersat, upper-grade math; Kristal Miles, lower-grade science.

Computer lab upgrade: The school has upgraded the computer lab and all teacher/staff computers with brand new Macs and I books.

Day care: For an additional fee, extended day care for students enrolled in the school is offered year-round from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

School tours: Dates for school tours are: Thursday, Oct. 26; Tuesday, Nov. 14; Thursday, Jan. 11; Wednesday, Jan. 24; Monday, Feb. 6. All begin at 9 a.m. Call the school office to sign up. Preschool tours are Jan. 8, Jan. 17, Feb. 14, March 7, and April 18. A kindergarten focus tour is Friday, Jan. 19.

Open house: Prospective and current students and their families are invited to an open house Wednesday, Feb. 7, at 6:30 p.m.

Application deadline: Feb.15.

Web site: www.woodland-school.org

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