Menlo Park: New high school will focus on technology, engineering, design


The letters T, E and D commonly stand in for Technology, Entertainment and Design, a series of short talks in which speakers present new ideas in the fields of science, technology, business, culture, art or design.

TED has a slightly different meaning for the new 400-student magnet high school set to open in the fall of 2018 at 150 Jefferson Drive east of U.S. 101 in Menlo Park's industrial zone: Technology, Engineering and Design, the school's focus once it gets going.

The acronym, or its three component terms, may become part of the school's name, said Matthew Zito, chief facilities officer of the Sequoia Union High School District.

The school will be unique in its combination of technical focus, a staff that includes college teachers working part time (from Canada College in Woodside), and mentors from nearby high-tech corporations and startups, both existing companies and those yet to be, said Sequoia district Superintendent Jim Lianides.

This confluence of talent and opportunity gives students the potential to graduate from high school with the freshman year of college complete. Another benefit: early exposure to Silicon Valley corporate culture, including mentor relationships that could extend into college, Mr. Lianides said.

The Sequoia district is building the school to address a projected enrollment surge, based on the growth in the numbers of students attending the elementary and middle schools that send students to Menlo-Atherton High School. The new school will meet all the high school graduation requirements for admission to college, including foreign language credits, Mr. Zito said, but will offer a smaller choice of electives.

Five labs

For now, the two buildings that will make up the three-story, 43,000-square-foot school exist only as an unfinished set of construction drawings. Final drawings are expected in late fall or early winter, Mr. Zito said.

The current estimate is about $40 million to build the school, a figure that could rise but is not likely to drop, Mr. Zito said. The cost of electrical work has been running a "huge premium" recently, he said.

The design is the product of a "mild competition" among three architectural firms. The winner, LPA Inc., with offices in San Jose, was the most innovative, Mr. Zito said. He said he liked the design's use of space and clear glass, with walls that open for collaboration and close for classes or small-group work. The building will take advantage of afternoon breezes and afternoon light, he said.

The plans include 15 classrooms and five labs: a maker-space lab, a design lab and traditional academic labs for biology, chemistry and physics, Mr. Zito said. The maker-space and design labs will have the equipment and flexibility for students to build robots and other prototypes or create dioramas and posters. The traditional labs will be key to providing students the foundations in science they'll need as they work out their career plans, he said.

The focus on technology, engineering and design will mean tradeoffs in visual and performing arts programs, including orchestra and jazz. Some of that deficit may find expression in drama and music clubs, Mr. Zito said. Canada College will be handling the physical education part of the curriculum, he said.


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6 people like this
Posted by bruceadornato
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Aug 23, 2016 at 4:47 pm

this is an excellent opportunity to include some teacher housing in the new high school
The school district should add another floor with housing for new teachers
this would be an excellent use of the space and create affordable housing for new teachers

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