Now in its third year, TIDE Academy's campus is finally complete | November 12, 2021 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - November 12, 2021

Now in its third year, TIDE Academy's campus is finally complete

by By Angela Swartz

Eight months into its first year, TIDE Academy shut down in-person learning due to the pandemic. Now in its third year, students are back in class full time, the first school year at a completed campus.

The school, located at 150 Jefferson Drive in Menlo Park, is focused on a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) curriculum. The Almanac toured it to get a look at the campus, which had been a work in progress, with ongoing construction caused by project setbacks.

Students use 3D printers in the makerspace and are in the process of starting a robotics club. Students and teachers work in collaboration spaces named "High TIDE" and "Low TIDE."

TIDE started with a freshman class in August 2019 and has added a grade each year since.

It now has 196 students enrolled over three grade levels, said Principal Simone Rick-Kennel, who left Menlo-Atherton High School as principal in June after nearly 20 years working for the Atherton school. There are 61 freshmen, 49 sophomores and 84 juniors. Of the current junior class, all but three students who transferred to TIDE (two this year, and one last year) started at the school as freshmen, she said.

Rick-Kennel was named head of the Sequoia Union High School District's small school innovation and alternative education, overseeing TIDE, Redwood High School and East Palo Alto Academy. She said 90% of her time is focused on TIDE this year. She replaces Allison Silvestri, who headed the school for about two years before resigning last spring, according to district governing board meeting minutes.

Smaller school setting

One of the biggest differences between TIDE and traditional high schools in the district is its small size, with classes ranging between 15 and around 29 students, Rick-Kennel said. The campus has room for 400 students total, she said.

Menlo-Atherton High School has around 2,200 students this school year, while Woodside has about 1,700 students enrolled, according to the district.

Since it's a smaller school, Spanish is the only language offered at TIDE right now, Rick-Kennel said. The students run on the nearby Bayfront Trail twice a week since the school doesn't have a track. Outside the school's third-floor library, there's a small community garden, which is funded through a $500 grant from San Mateo County.

TIDE doesn't offer Advanced Placement courses, but students can enroll in classes concurrently at Foothill College. Students can opt to earn a full year of college course credit, or more, while in high school.

TIDE teachers with master's degrees can double as instructors of the Foothill-credited classes. Other Foothill instructors teach remotely or come to campus. Students may be able to take classes on Foothill's campus during their senior years, Rick-Kennel said. Students are also paired with mentors in the technology industry.

Starting this school year, each high school in the district has enough Chromebooks for ninth graders to be able to borrow a school device. Students at TIDE each have an HP laptop.

For more on the school, go to

Email Staff Writer Angela Swartz at [email protected]


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