LearnBoost welcomes Palo Alto High
Palo Alto Senior High School, known locally as "Paly," was founded in 1898 and is one of the oldest high schools in the region. Located in Palo Alto, California, United States, Paly is nestled in the heart of Silicon Valley, and is adjacent to Stanford University. Paly is known for its academically rigorous environment. Paly carries on a distinguished athletic tradition, marked by a rivalry with crosstown foe Gunn. Titles won by teams from Paly range from California State Championships in Boys Varsity Basketball in 1993 (during which the team went undefeated) and 2006, to CCS Championships in Football in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In 2010, both Boy's and Girls Lacrosse teams won the inaugural Santa Clara Valley Athletic League Championships.
Paly is situated on the older, northern side of Palo Alto, a location it has occupied since 1919. The western boundary of campus is El Camino Real, opposite which stands Stanford Stadium and the campus of Stanford University. The northern end of Paly runs along Embarcadero Road (from which the main parking lot is accessible).
The school can be reached by the VTA bus line 22 along El Camino Real, the Dumbarton Express bus, the SamTrans bus line KX, Stanford's free Marguerite shuttle, Caltrain's Palo Alto station, as well as by the Palo Alto city shuttle, which runs along Embarcadero Road.
Paly ASB leadership includes the ASB President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Spirit Commissioners, Class Presidents and VP's, and Web Design/Communications Officer. The purpose of the ASB, as defined by its constitution, is the representation on behalf of the student body, the conduct of activities on behalf of the students of Palo Alto High School as approved by the principal and the governing board of the Palo Alto Unified School District. Activities include school dances, Spirit Week, and other ceremonies usually during lunch so the kids can have more fun.
Palo Alto's mock trial team competes in the Santa Clara County division of the Constitutional Rights Foundation's mock trial competition. Palo Alto competed in the 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 county finals, beating Lincoln High School in 1995 and 1996 and Lynbrook High School in 2005 and 2007 to represent Santa Clara County in the California Mock Trial Competition. In 2008, Palo Alto placed 9th in the state..
Palo Alto's Debate Team boasts over 40 students fairly evenly divided between two squads: Lincoln-Douglas and Policy (Team) Debate. Founded in the early 1990s by Victor Jih, the team has gone through various iterations over the years since winning the [Tournament of Champions] in LD debate in 1994. It is currently directed by Jennie Savage, a former competitive policy debater from the Montgomery Academy, AL, as well as a published author, Congressional staffer, community organizer, and executive speech coach.
Paly’s Policy Debate squad is headed by coach Ben Picozzi, captain of the Stanford University debate team and former high school debate champion at Mercer Island High School, WA. Assistant coaches include former Bellarmine College Prep debater Anton Blewett, a real estate agent, and former College Preparatory School debate star Sandy Yuan, a Stanford sophomore. The second-year Policy squad has competed in the varsity divisions of numerous national tournaments, including Greenhill, the Big Bronx, the Glenbrooks, Alta, Long Beach, Berkeley, and Stanford. One Palo Alto team of first-year debaters was featured in the finals of the National Qualifying tournament in 2008. In 2008-2009, the CX team has made it to elimination rounds at the Logan Invitational, Alta Silver and Black, and CSU Long Beach Invitational.
Palo Alto also has a very competitive Lincoln-Douglas Debate team headed by former Paly debate champion Daniel Sheehan, a Stanford senior, with Katherine Brainard, a former Niskayuna High School debate champ assisting. The LD team attended the Tournament of Champions in 2005, 2007, and 2008. In the 2007-2008 year, the Palo Alto team won the Dempsey-Cronin Invitational at Santa Clara University, the Stanford Invitational, the College Preparatory School invitational, and the Harker Invitational in Novice/JV. Varsity debaters were in late elimination rounds at the College Preparatory School, Stanford University, Harker, and Berkeley. In 2008-2009, the team has won the varsity division of the Santa Clara University tournament, been in elimination rounds at SCU, CPS, Berkeley, and Harker, and won the California State LD Championships. First-year debaters have won a CFL tournament, and been in quarterfinals at Stanford University. Paly debaters are regular attendees at the Vassar Round Robin in Poughkeepsie, NY, as well as the Victory Briefs and Archer Round Robins in Los Angeles.
In August, the Paly debate team hosts a popular debate and speech institute at Palo Alto High School for Bay Area middle schoolers. This program fills up quickly and is taught in small classes by the debate team members. All proceeds from the camp go towards the debate team. State Senator Joe Simitian was the 2008 keynote speaker for the institute.
Past productions include: Big Love, The Fantasticks, A Chorus Line, Flaming Guns of the Purple Sage, Metamorphoses, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Learned Ladies, Romeo and Juliet, Anything Goes, The Laramie Project and 43 Plays For 43 Presidents. Every other year, Paly holds a Spring showcase of student-written and directed one-act plays called "Speed Limit 25".
The Thespian Society is the oldest club on campus, and facilitates field trips to see plays throughout the Bay Area, as well as to attend acting and improv workshops. Since 2004, the annual Play in a Day festival has been held the first weekend of Winter Break, when theater alumni join current students in the Haymarket to write, rehearse and perform one-act plays within a period of just over 24 hours.
In 2008, Kristen Lo left the theatre department and was replaced by Kathleen Woods.
The Palo Alto High School (Paly) Robotics Team, established in 1996 by Doug Bertain and his engineering technology students, is one of the many active academic programs at Paly. They are funded mainly by corporate sponsors. The team competes annually in competitions such as the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Competition, the Electric Vehicle Rally, Botball, and The Tech Challenge. In 2006, the team won first place at the FIRST Las Vegas Regional Competition and recently got 4th place in the FIRST Portland Regional Competition in March 2010. In 2007, the team was selected to participate in, and given a $10,000 grant from, MIT's InvenTeams program.
Palo Alto High offers a variety of music programs encompassing both vocal and instrumental groups:
Palo Alto High School's SAT scores for 2008 were among the highest in California. Only two schools (with graduating classes of 200+ students) had higher composite scores. These were Henry M. Gunn High School and Saratoga High (both with scores of 1920). Paly's Critical Reading scores were the highest in the state.
2009 School Average score: 26.5 | National Average score: 21.1
2008 School Average score: 26.8 | National Average score: 21.1
2007 School Average score: 25.7 | National Average score: 21.2
2010 Palo Alto High School's graduating class had an unprecedented 46 National Merit Scholar Semifinalists and 52 Commended Scholars.
2009 Palo Alto High School's graduating class had 27 National Merit Scholar Semifinalists and 55 Commended Scholars.
2008 Palo Alto High School's graduating class had 34 National Merit Scholar Semifinalists and 47 Commended Scholars.
Palo Alto High School is also one of the approved testing centers in the area and numerous students from Palo Alto as well as other local schools can select the campus as the location for their standardized tests through the College Board website.
Since Palo Alto High school was built at its current location in 1919, it has acquired a host of campus traditions.
Spirit Week occurs in the fall each year during homecoming week, with the week culminating in an after-school rally, homecoming football game, and homecoming dance. Each day has its own costume theme, which is broken down into sub-themes by class. Each class is assigned a color for Spirit Week, which they wear on Wednesday. The freshman class wears orange, sophomores wear red, juniors wear yellow, and the senior class wears green. Rallies and competitions are held on the quad at lunch each day and points are awarded to each class based on their performance. Points can also be taken away for poor sportsmanship or the wearing of unauthorized class apparel.
The senior class has almost always won Spirit Week. One exception was of the class of 2006. The class theme was voted to be "Herbology: We're higher than you," but the school decided it would not be appropriate and students found wearing the shirts were asked to remove the shirt, turn it inside out, or add language making the statement political. During Spirit Week, the class was penalized for wearing the shirts and was the first senior class to fail to win while earning a negative score. The class of 1987 won Spirit Week three years in a row, and the class of 2002 won three out of four years (1998, 1999, and 2001) with the class of 2001 winning its only Spirit Week as seniors in 2000.
Every year, the second-to-last week of school is designated "Streak Week", and it is a tradition for seniors to streak across the quad during brunch and lunch. The class of 2010 had a record 52 streakers, male and female. Although punishment for streaking has sometimes been deemed appropriate in past years on a varying level, most streakers are not caught, which enables the tradition to continue.
Sources: The Paly Voice at http://voice.paly.net
- Addison Elementary
- Barron Park Elementary
- Lucille M. Nixon Elementary
- David Starr Jordan Middle
- Palo Verde Elementary
- Packard Children'S Hospital/Stanford
- Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle
- Walter Hays Elementary
- Terman Middle
- Ohlone Elementary
- Juana Briones Elementary
- Herbert Hoover Elementary
- Fairmeadow Elementary
- Escondido Elementary
- El Carmelo Elementary
- Duveneck Elementary
- Henry M. Gunn High