News

New principal, construction at M-A High

 

As fall classes resume at Menlo-Atherton High School, a new principal is at the helm: Simone Rick-Kennel. Since November 2014, she was co-principal with Matthew Zito as he made a transition to chief facilities officer for the Sequoia Union High School District.

Also new this year at M-A is a large hole in the ground where the G wing used to be. A two-story Building G is going in there, set to open in the spring of 2017, with 21 classrooms, including some interconnected with spaces for shared projects, and a courtyard. A temporary G wing of portable buildings is located on the athletics field behind the I wing.

Multi-story classroom buildings are unprecedented at M-A, but the campus is built out and the district is increasing capacity at all four major high schools. Projections show a surge in enrollment, coming mainly from schools in Menlo Park, Belmont and San Carlos, and enrollment growth of 22 percent -- to about 2,600 students -- at M-A by the 2020-21 school year.

Staff changes

Although she's the new principal, Ms. Rick-Kennel, 46, has been at M-A for 13 years. Coming from South San Francisco, she taught special education at M-A for five years, including several as department head. She was dean of students, and administrative vice principal for eight years. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of California at Berkeley and a master's degree in special education from San Francisco State University.

Replacing Ms. Rick-Kennel as administrative vice principal is J.C Farr, most recently an assistant principal at Castro Valley High School. His specialties include coordinating professional development, interventions, after-school programs, and overseeing parent-education and advisory groups. Mr. Farr has a bachelor's degree in political science, a master's in educational leadership, both from UC Berkeley, and teaching credentials in social science and physical education.

With the retirement of Alice Kleeman after 20 years as college adviser at M-A, Mai Lien Nguyen, who most recently held that position at Mountain View High School, is taking over. Ms. Nguyen has a bachelor's degree in history and East Asian studies from Brown University, a master's in education from Stanford University, and a certificate in college admissions and career planning from the UC Berkeley Extension.

M-A has hired two guidance counselors, bringing the counselor-to-student ratio to about 1:280, according to Ms. Rick-Kennel's data.

There are 13 new teachers this year, one each in drama, English, Spanish, math, special education, and yearbook preparation; three in social studies; and four in science. Some are replacing retired teachers and others reflect enrollment growth, Ms. Rick-Kennel said.

New course

Students interested in sports will have an opportunity to deepen that interest by studying the running of an athletic program.

The course in sports leadership will include material on game setup and cleanup, statistics, running the clocks, first aid, working with trainers and coaches, handling social media, video production, broadcasting and preparing game summaries for media outlets, said co-athletic director and course designer Paul Snow.

Ravenswood district

This is also M-A's first year as the home high school for the Ravenswood City Elementary School District, which serves Belle Haven and East Palo Alto. This change is not expected to increase enrollment, officials say, because M-A households north of 8th Avenue in North Fair Oaks have been reassigned to Sequoia High.

"If anything, there's been a very positive impact," Ms. Rick-Kennel said of the inclusion of Ravenswood students. "I see it as a very positive relationship moving forward."

About 80 Ravenswood eighth-graders attended a retreat in November to improve study skills, and this summer's M-A's Honors Institute included 60 students, most from Ravenswood, to prepare for geometry, biology and honors English classes in the fall, she said.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 27, 2015 at 2:41 pm

It's great to see we are finally building two-story school buildings in Menlo Park with M-A and the new upper Laurel building in the Willows. It's odd that it seems to be controversial!

Two-story homes are commonplace now because of the high price of buildable land, so why not two-story school buildings? There's only so many decades of talking about overcrowding you can do before you have to take steps to address the problem.


2 people like this
Posted by Gus Wiig
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 27, 2015 at 3:35 pm

To Parent's point, what a huge waste of space the atrocious performing arts center is. Invest in buildings that actually address real educational needs vs multi-million dollar buildings that benefit but a few students.


7 people like this
Posted by Stats
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Aug 27, 2015 at 9:02 pm

@Gus,
I don't know where you grew up, but in many other parts of the the US, a large auditorium with raked seating is standard issue for high schools and middle schools. The auditoriums are used for instructional purposes well beyond just performances and rehersals, like whole school or at least partial school assemblies, parent education, etc. I was appalled when I moved to Menlo Park and starting attending events in the poorly designed, hard to use multi's that each school used for large events. The PACs at Hillview and MA have been a godsend vs. previous large group spaces. I guess you don't remember how painful it was to use the J Building, and how dilapidated the Burgess Theater, that the PAC replaced, were.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 27, 2015 at 9:03 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Stats - what are the stats on usage of this facility?

How often and by whom?


Like this comment
Posted by anti-ants
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 28, 2015 at 9:45 am

Mr. Carpenter: were you one of the "anti's"?


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 28, 2015 at 10:02 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Mr. Carpenter: were you one of the "anti's"?"

No. I prefer facts before I take a personal position.


Like this comment
Posted by Stats
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Aug 28, 2015 at 2:32 pm

@Peter,
Are you just looking for info on the theater or also on the classroom/cafe, bandroom, and practice rooms which are in continuous use throughout the school year. I know the theater handles at least 50 school events per year, of which 10 or so are multi-day due to rehearsals, with some running as long as 1 1/2 weeks (drama productions). The city of Menlo Park also has rights to 55 days per years, for their 2.4M$ to the construction costs in replacement for the city-owned Burgess Theater, but I know the city is till challenged to fill their full allotment.


Like this comment
Posted by anti-ants
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 28, 2015 at 3:04 pm

Mr. Carpenter: were you one of the "anti's"?

Were you for or against the PAC before it was built, when the Lindenwood crowd were howling about traffic, gangs and teenage miscreants, etc..?


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 28, 2015 at 5:02 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Were you for or against the PAC before it was built, when the Lindenwood crowd were howling about traffic, gangs and teenage miscreants, etc..?"

I questioned the promised levels of use - which have not been met- and I questioned the the traffic arrangements - which have proven inadequate.

I do not believe that asking such questions qualifies me as an anti anything but rather as a responsible taxpayer. And yes my tax dollars support this facility.


72 people like this
Posted by anti-ants
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 28, 2015 at 5:56 pm

[Post removed. Please stay on topic.]


Like this comment
Posted by Gus Wiig
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 28, 2015 at 11:17 pm

The attacks on Mr Carpenter are so disappointing. This is a forum for discussion. Can't we have differing views on a subject without vilifying one another? I happen to believe that the SUHSD and the city of Menlo Park wasted a tremendous amount of taxpayer money on an over-the-top facility that could have been built for millions less. I also hold the opinion that it's butt ugly, and we paid extra to get it that way. So please agree or disagree. Speak your piece on the issue. But don't attack others because you don't happen to agree with them.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 29, 2015 at 8:10 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

anti- ants first ask me about my position oh the PAC; I responded.
Anti-ants then goes back 5 years to a different issues and extracts words to create a false impression of my position.

As Gus suggests let's stick to the issue here. If ant-ants wants to discuss with me let's have lunch - but no ants please.


46 people like this
Posted by anti-ants
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 29, 2015 at 8:40 am

The thread is about MA, it's new leader and new classroom construction. I think it's great stuff!

[Portion deleted; stick to the topic.]


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 29, 2015 at 8:51 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

[Portion removed; stick to the topic.]

I stand firmly behind all of my comments in their entirety.
****************

Now back on topic.
How is M-A going to deal with the additional traffic created by the enlarged campus footprint?
Will they reimpose no-car restrictions on students living nearby?
Will they pay for a four way traffic signal at Middlefield and the East end of Ravenswood to allow use of the constructed but always kept closed entrance onto Ravenswood and Middlefield.?


48 people like this
Posted by anti-ants
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 29, 2015 at 9:40 am

[Potion removed; stick to the topic.]

MAHS will deal with it the same way every local high school is dealing with the current boom. The NIMBYs and haters will go on NIMBYing and hating.

If you don't like living in a dense area, move somewhere else.

The school was here first.

"I write very clearly and say what I mean to say, period."


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 29, 2015 at 12:53 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Just had a couple of M-A Junior football players stop by with a game schedule. My wife and I took the time to query them about how the school is doing. They were both from Belle Haven. I am pleased to report that their school experience was great and the school is much more completely integrated than when our son attended in the 90's. They were articulate, proud gentleman with sound career plans and they prioritized school work over their sports.

Well done gentlemen and M-A !!


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 29, 2015 at 1:04 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

"If you don't like living in a dense area, move somewhere else.

The school was here first."

One wonders if you're one of those bitching about Surfair.


56 people like this
Posted by anti-ants
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 29, 2015 at 5:08 pm

Not I, good sir.

Folks all over the Peninsula have it worse. MUCH worse.

But we should get back on topic, lest we offend others.

Awww... what the... I also know some MA Juniors. A great school. Also a revamped football program, with much emphasis on life lessons.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 29, 2015 at 7:50 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

"But we should get back on topic, lest we offend others."

Then why dredge up stuff from years ago?


56 people like this
Posted by Menlo Boater
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Aug 29, 2015 at 10:47 pm

It's good that not many M-A students will read this thread. The logic of moving from M-A buildings to Surf Air is an example of convoluted thought process at best.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 30, 2015 at 1:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Dear Moderators - I have asked use directly without a reply so now I will ask you here: Why is another poster allowed to inaccurately quote me and my response is removed but her inaccurate quotes are allowed to remain?

Exactly what is "thoughtful" about that dichotomy?


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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