This is one in a series of back to school stories by local students. This story is by Nathalie Camens, a senior at Menlo-Atherton High School and co-editor-in-chief of the student news website, M-A Chronicle.
For the new school year, students at Menlo-Atherton High School are getting a chance to use the new facilities and have classes in the recently finished G wing, the second building on campus to have two stories, after the I wing.
The 27,000-square-foot G wing adds to the campus a new quad, 21 classrooms with shared learning spaces, a learning center, new technology, and lunch tables. There is also a large bear mural on the side of the building, and students will have access to more bathrooms.
Although construction is still taking place on campus – with the renovation of the smaller playing field and the construction of a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) building in progress by the tennis courts – M-A students are excited to finally use the new G wing.
Students were asked what they think of the new G wing in a Google Forms survey shared on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and email, and posted in M-A classrooms.
Of the 134 M-A students who responded, 95 percent said that they liked the new G wing.
"It is pretty and the classrooms are up to date," senior Alexandria Feeley said. "Air conditioning is always great! The bathrooms are also nice and new. Well, they are for now."
Rafi Fernandez, another senior, said: "It's a little much but very beautiful. Love the design."
Miranda Mueller, a junior, noted that "it's not dirty yet, and has a vending machine that sells LaCroix" sparkling water.
Vice Principal Stephen Emmi explained that the new learning center is "where students who need some extra academic support can go and receive that support."
He says his favorite feature of the new G wing is "all the technology in the classrooms," including Smart Boards, the interactive white boards.
"I like the shared learning spaces, too," he said. Those spaces are rooms that straddle two classrooms, are used for smaller, instructional groups, and allow for one-on-one teaching opportunities.
Construction at M-A – at the playing field, the kitchen and the STEM building – will go on for one more year, Mr. Emmi said.
Artificial turf is replacing grass at the new playing field, which will be used for physical education, lacrosse and soccer.
If things go according to plan, this phase of the construction could end in August 2018, but might run into the fall.
What's new at Menlo-Atherton High School
• Enrollment: 2,430, up 357 from school year 2013-14 and up 65 from 2016-17
• New programs: Switching to Canvas management software for homework, grades and course information. It's the same software used in the community college, UC and CSU systems, as well as Stanford University.
• New courses: Speech-and-debate elective taught by John McBlair.
• New staff: 25 teachers, a counselor and a vice principal.
• New facilities: The G wing building adds 21 air-conditioned classrooms, a shaded lunch area and shared work spaces for small groups.