Community briefs | June 4, 2021 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - June 4, 2021

Community briefs

Menlo Park plans for reopening services

The city of Menlo Park released on May 22 a list of the types of venues and services it will allow to reopen in four phases through December.

The city noted in a statement that the rate of vaccinations against COVID-19 is rising. As of May 20, 85.1% of Menlo Park residents are either fully or partially vaccinated, according to the county health department's website.

In Phase 1 of reopening in Menlo Park, the city plans to allow picnic area reservations to resume (July 1); it will reopen the police department lobby, main library and Belle Haven branch library (July 6); and services at the main library and Arrillaga Family Recreation Center, including meals for seniors, will restart (July 12).

Phase 2, in August and September, will include indoor classes and programs for young people and those with special needs; permits for small-scale events; and then indoor classes and programs for the general population and indoor public meetings of city agencies.

Phase 3, later in September and in October and November, will include indoor gyms, general public access to City Hall, and indoor gymnastics.

And, finally, in December, the city plans to resume allowing large-scale events, indoor facility rentals, and "all other indoor access."

This schedule and additional information about when various activities will be permitted can be found online at

The city called the schedule "partial" and "tentative" and said it is subject to change. More details will be announced later, according to the city's statement.

Essential city services like public safety, emergency maintenance and child care continued in-person during the pandemic, but many public services became virtual or were limited to curbside pickup, the city noted.

Light rail to stay closed after shooting

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority on June 1 refocused resources on regular bus service and wouldn't provide buses along light-rail routes following a shooting that killed nine VTA employees at a maintenance yard last week.

The changes are due to limited staffing as the VTA family grieves, attends funerals and supports each other. Regular bus service will be affected, too, with less frequent service also because of the May 26 mass shooting at the Guadalupe Light Rail Yard.

Light-rail service is suspended indefinitely, according to VTA officials, who said they have no estimate for when that service will resume.

VTA riders can get service information by calling customer service at 408-321-2300 or by using TransitApp for real-time bus information.

—Bay City News Service

New assistant principal for Oak Knoll

Menlo Park City School District (MPCSD) Superintendent Erik Burmeister and incoming Oak Knoll Principal Alicia Payton-Miyazaki intend to recommend Chana Stewart as the next assistant principal of Oak Knoll School for approval by the district's governing board on June 10, according to a June 1 press release.

Stewart is currently assistant principal of Aspire East Palo Alto Charter School and has over 10 years experience as a kindergarten/first grade classroom teacher, mentor teacher and wellness team lead.

"Chana's experience, commitment to teaching the whole child, and alignment with our mission and learner profile is a great fit for Oak Knoll," said Payton-Miyazaki in a statement. "She has all the things we were looking for and we are incredibly lucky to have this opportunity to hire her."

Stewart will bring her "wealth of experience" from a neighboring community, in which many district students reside, to the team as MPCSD "strives to serve every student equitably," officials said.

Stewart has authored publications and presentations, and engaged in research and volunteerism in various aspects of education, from implementing next-generation science standards to social-emotional learning to creating culturally responsive school communities, according to the press release.

The role became open when Payton-Miyazaki was tapped to lead the school as its new principal starting this fall (current principal Kristen Gracia is leaving for a district role). The hiring team was impressed with Stewart's administrative background, her broad range of previous leadership activities, and her deep and well-articulated vision of how schools should serve each child, according to school officials.

Stewart holds a bilingual credential in Spanish, which she pursued along with her master's degree in elementary education, at Stanford University.

Stewart's first day will be July 1 if her contract is approved by the board.

—Angela Swartz

PHS rescues three little stinkers from construction site

Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA staff rescued a family of skunks that fell into a deep hole at a construction site in Menlo Park.

Three skunks fell into the 14-foot-deep hole and were spotted by a worker on the construction site on May 25, according to PHS/SPCA spokeswoman Buffy Martin Tarbox.

Veterinary staffers weren't able to reach the skunks by hand, so they extended a 12-foot catchpole to get the mother skunk and her two babies and pull them up to safety.

It took about an hour to get all three back up, and "one baby skunk was being stubborn," Tarbox said.

All three were put in crates and examined at the scene for possible injuries, then were released on the back side of the property after staff determined they were in good health.

Tarbox said, "Without human assistance to help them out of the hole, it is likely they would have perished. Despite being scared, none of the skunks sprayed our staff, and seemed grateful to have been safely rescued."

—Bay City News Service

Menlo Park Rotary scholarship winners announced

More than 100 students from three local high schools received scholarships and academic achievement awards at a virtual ceremony presented by the Rotary Club of Menlo Park on May 24.

The annual event, usually held at the Menlo-Atherton Performing Arts Center, awarded $208,000 in scholarships this year.

The two featured speakers were Joel Valencia, who graduated from Eastside and Princeton University, and Alicia Mergenthaler, who graduated from Menlo School and Harvard and Oxford universities with a master's in science.

The following people are winners of the named scholarships:

John D. Russell, Luis Mendoza Ramirez, Claremont McKenna College; Crittenden Family Scholarship, Stephanie Vargas, California State University at Chico; Robert G. Paroli Family Scholarship, Jonathan Martinez, University of San Diego; Orm and Doris Rector Scholarship, Ann Segura, University of California at Merced; Tom and Barbara Borden Scholarship, Moises Bravo, UC Davis; Mary Ann Somerville Scholarship, Lizeth Suarez, Azusa Pacific University; Wilcox and Sandra Patterson Scholarship, Ava Peyton, Oberlin College; Business and Professional Scholarship, Deisi Nava-Pulido, UC Berkeley.

The following are winners of the Rotary Club of Menlo Park Foundation scholarships:

Sheyla Aguilar, University of San Diego; Karina Carlos, CSU San Diego; Alexa Gomez, Loyola Marymount University; Warimu Kimani, University of San Diego; Dulee Pacheco, Brown University; Jada Velazquez Medina, UC Berkeley.

The following are winners of the Tarlton Foundation Scholarship: Bridget Cruz, UC Merced; Francisco Lopez Espinoza Jr., Swarthmore College; Addy Palacios, UC Riverside; Naomi Perez, University of Redlands.

Ashley and Kari Trail won the Drue Kataoka Arts Grant.

Tiffany Valencia won the Tsui/Tsiang Family Math and Science Scholarship and will attend Lehigh University.

Five Menlo-Atherton High School seniors were awarded the Alice Kleeman Community College awards.

Idaly Garcia won the Peninsula College Fund/Rotary Club of Menlo Park Foundation Scholarship.


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