Menlo Park school changes name and focus


Menlo Park's German American International School is no more.

In name, that is.

The private school has changed its name to Alto International School, it announced Sept. 28.

Founded in 1988, the school offers immersive German language instruction for preschool, and bilingual German and English courses in kindergarten through grade 5.

The middle school and high school are in English but offer German, Spanish and French language courses. The school just launched its high school program, which has an inaugural class of seven ninth-graders.

The new name, "Alto," is Latin for high or tall. The name change, according to Head of School Sally Thorogood, is intended to emphasize the school's international and multilingual focus, and that it's not just for families who want their kids to speak German. The school has students of 40 nationalities, and offers Spanish and French instruction in upper grades, she said.

Ms. Thorogood said the school will be the only one in Silicon Valley to offer the comprehensive International Baccalaureate (IB) program, from preschool through high school, when it launches its IB diploma program for 11th- and 12th-grade students. That program will begin when the current ninth-grade cohort reaches those grades.

The IB program offers a standardized curriculum so that international families who move to another country can send their kids to an IB program there and won't have their learning disrupted.

"In the world we live in, it's not just about what you know or what you've memorized," Ms. Thorogood said. The IB program, she said, creates tough academic expectations and promotes skills such as applied knowledge, social/emotional understanding, problem-solving and collaboration.

Enrollment, which had been at 300, dropped after the school moved in May 2015 from the site now occupied by the Laurel School Upper Campus to its new location is 475 Pope St. in Menlo Park. About 250 students attend the school and about 10 more are planning to enroll in coming months, the school says.

The school has adjusted to its new home and the facilities better match high school students' needs, including a full-size gym, science lab and larger classrooms, Ms. Thorogood said. The school is also working on developing a sports program.

An open house will be held at 2 p.m. on Nov. 12.

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Like this comment
Posted by Franz
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Sep 30, 2016 at 8:55 pm

Alto International School is a poor choice for a school name here in the mid-peninsula. There is already an International School located in Palo Alto. Alto International will just lead to confusion between the two schools and everyone else.

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