This is one of a series of back to school stories by local students. Claire Auslander, Emily Olson and Devin Leslie, eighth-graders at Hillview Middle School in Menlo Park and members of the Student Council, interviewed Brian Darmanin, director of student activities, including a Hillview TV news program that students produce.
Question: What is one thing you want everybody to know about you?
Answer: Most people don't know that I worked as a production assistant at CNN's Crossfire while I was in college. My then professor and boss, Sam Feist, is now the Washington bureau chief and senior vice president of CNN. It's wonderful to be able to share that insight into news features and broadcasting with Hillview students. My experience at CNN has been invaluable in connecting the dots for our students to understand the importance of news and reminding them that every person has a story to tell.
Q: What do you love about Hillview?
A: Hillview is a special place because it dares to be curious and creative in an ever-changing world. If you have an idea that you think will impact students and make a difference, Hillview supports it in so many ways.
Q: What has changed at Hillview under your tenure that impacts Hillview students?
A: When I arrived at Hillview, we were a smaller school in a smaller campus in the midst of major construction. It was quite chaotic at times with little room to plan lunchtime games or activities due to the new campus being built. I guess it would be important for everyone to remember that Hillview is no longer a small school, but we certainly strive to make our campus inclusive and connected in every way.
Q: What's something the community might not know about the programs you run?
A: As the director of student activities and the broadcast director, the community might not know that we have grown tremendously in the last decade. Our Associated Student Body (ASB) leadership class has 35-plus students, whereas early on, it was a small group of six to eight students who met before school. Plus, our broadcast space has gone from a converted custodial closet to a fully equipped broadcast studio. Our bi-weekly news show, HVTV, has been recognized nationally by the Student Television Network as a top middle school broadcast with news features that are created by and for students. These programs continue to thrive thanks to the support of the Menlo Park community, our board, administrators, and of course, the students who work tirelessly to improve their show.
What's new in the Menlo Park City School District
• Enrollment: 2,980, up 77 from 2013-14 school year and down 19 from 2016-17.
• New programs and courses: Benchmark Adelante, supporting California common core state standards in Spanish; project based learning aligned with Next Generation Science Standards; Kimochis, social/emotional learning to help lower-grade students recognize and manage emotions.
• New staff: 18 new teachers; Superintendent Erik Burmeister; Assistant Superintendent Jammie Behrendt; Associate principal, Encinal School, Jennifer Kollmann; associate principal, Hillview Middle School, Joan VonderLinden.
• New facilities: None.
Related story: Camp Hillview welcomes incoming sixth-graders.