Students petition for academic and wellness reform following Mountain View High death

STORY AND PHOTO BY TOMOKI CHIEN

Note: Resources for persons feeling depressed, troubled or suicidal can be found at the bottom of this story.

Students in the Mountain View–Los Altos Union High School District are petitioning for reform that they say will better ensure the district supports students’ mental health needs, initially prompted by the passing of a Mountain View High School junior earlier this month.

Broadly, students have called for decreased homework loads and other measures meant to alleviate academic stress, as well as a range of solutions to bolster the district’s mental health support.

The circumstances of the death that prompted the petition are not yet public, and students have since disassociated the petition with the passing itself. An original foreword to the petition assumed the cause of death to be suicide, and criticized the school for not properly addressing this most recent death as well as two others over the course of the past three years which were publicly confirmed to be suicides. 

In an interview, Superintendent Dr. Nellie Meyer stressed the importance of avoiding spreading rumors about the passing out of respect for the family’s privacy and grieving process.

“We certainly do know, though, that that we have lost students to suicide on the Mountain View High campus in the last few years,” Meyer said. “And it is certainly a reminder of how significant that loss is to young people.”

Mountain View senior Marina Reynaud, who created the collaborative document with over 250 signatures, backtracked from that a day after she started circulating the petition. She said that after receiving feedback from another Mountain View student, she decided to change the premise of the petition because it was not her intention to use the deaths to her “benefit” and amplify her own message.

A new foreword to the petition explicitly notes that it “is not intended to be attached to the recent deaths of our MVHS peers.”

“What we are trying to do however, is spread awareness to the administration on the amount of students who do or have dealt with mental health problems during their time in high school,” the foreword continues. “Mental health is a huge issue at Mountain View (and many other schools) that should be addressed.”

HOMEWORK AND COURSE LOAD

One of the most detailed action items on the petition — and a seemingly recurring talking point in the student mental health discussion — is a call for decreased homework loads.

“Teachers should give less homework: It would be beneficial to students’ stress levels if teachers were forced to only assign 30-45 minutes of homework per day,” the petition reads. “Then, the rest of the students’ time can be allotted for studying and extracurriculars.”

According to the 2019–2020 Mountain View student handbook, students in college preparatory and non–UC recognized honors classes can expect up to 2–3 hours of “focused, undistracted homework per week” in each class, which averages out to 36 minutes a night at the top end.

AP and UC-approved honors courses should generally assign 4–5 hours of homework weekly — an average of an hour a night at the top end — the handbook also states.

In an interview, Raynaud reaffirmed her assertion that homework needs to be further limited, but said that there’s more nuance than what’s written in the petition.

“I think sometimes there is homework that’s just kind of busy work that I do agree should [be limited],” Raynaud said. “But homework that is like reading a textbook or actually learning things, I think there’s really no way to shorten that. Especially for AP classes, there’s a certain amount of work you have to do.”

Mountain View junior Abbie Reese, who wrote about overwhelming amounts of homework and the pressure to take AP and honors courses on a widely circulated Instagram post with 700 likes, agreed that AP course loads are inevitably going to be difficult.

“In terms of homework, of course AP teachers have content they need to teach and … it is a harder course,” Reese said. “I think it does get a little iffy when it falls into the category of none of your students can get this done on time and most of them are reaching out to you and saying, ‘We don’t have enough time for this.’”

When asked why students would choose to take AP and honors classes if the college prep homework load is in line with what they see as reasonable, both Raynaud and Reese contended that students are pressured to take AP and honors courses that they can’t handle.

Students, Raynaud claimed, are primarily pressured by their parents and other students, but she also asserted that pressure from some teachers pushes students toward unbalanced course loads.

When asked, Raynaud couldn’t think of any specific school policies or recurring actions the school takes that explicitly encourage students to take courses they can’t handle, but said that it’s “small things” from teachers.

“Today, and I don’t think this was intentional to hurt someone, but my teacher was like, ‘Oh, fill out this form and tell me which AP tests you’re taking.’ And that was under the assumption that everyone in that class was taking an AP test,” Raynaud said.

Raynaud said that the question was posed in an AP class — but that she still thought the implication was harmful.

Reese said that she feels that some of her teachers, though certainly not all, encourage her to take AP and honors courses that she can handle academically, but not in the broader context of the other courses she takes and her own wellness.

She said that her academic counselor has generally done a good job of guiding her toward balanced course loads, and Raynaud suggested that the district hire more academic counselors so that each counselor has fewer students to work with, allowing them to make more individualized and better-informed recommendations to students when choosing courses.

Superintendent Meyer said that while she’s not aware of any policies at the district level specifically about encouraging moderation in course load, there has been conversation on the subject and academic counselors generally guide students toward balanced schedules.

“I do believe that all of our counseling departments do emphasize the importance of balance,” Meyer said. “And counsel students towards making sure that they have a variety of experiences that may include courses that aren’t AP and extracurriculars, and to make sure that they have time within their day.”

The petition also calls for teachers to “plan their schedules so that tests and projects don’t overlap”; implement a “growth mindset” grading system; and allow for more lenient late work policy, although the specifics of those items are unclear, and Raynaud wasn’t entirely certain what she’d want them to look like — some of those points weren’t written by her, as it’s a collaborative document.

“The conversation of balance has been constant,” Wellness Coordinator William Blair said. “Part of our course selection process includes a time management worksheet … that we give students [and] we encourage our teachers to have the conversations with the students about balance, and what’s an appropriate load. … The philosophy of having a balanced workload, I think, is something that we’ve been promoting.”

Meyer said that there has been discussion about limiting AP courses — a suggestion that Reese made — but no specific policy at the moment.

She noted that the district needs to both ensure that students don’t feel compelled to take AP courses but also support “perhaps the smaller number” of students who benefit from and excel in AP courses. She also said that it’s important that the district “open access” for students who aren’t in advanced AP courses at the moment.

Raynaud, for her part, said that she’s undecided on the idea of capping AP courses, because she suspects students might look to pile on other activities like clubs and volunteer organizations to make up for having fewer AP courses.

“I think it just kind of takes away the school part of the stress,” Raynaud said. “But I think … in the end, you’re just going to still be doing a bunch of things for college applications.”

Despite no concrete district-wide policy, the Mountain View student handbook “encourages students to consider the number of AP classes they enroll in, keeping in mind that real college courses frequently require self-directed study that can, at a student’s option, far exceed time specified here.”

The handbook suggests that students who find themselves spending significantly more time than the expected 4–5 hours a week on homework in an AP or honors course speak with their teachers “for help examining their study habits and strategies and for other resources.”

On the topic of homework, Meyer said that there’s research to do moving forward, specifically pertaining to whether homework is contributing to actual mastery of the subject, as opposed to being extra work that’s reinforcing content that’s already solidified.

“So there’s that question around, at what point are you having diminishing returns for homework, and is there a way to assess perhaps differently so students don’t feel compelled to … complete a task as opposed to master the subject?” Meyer said.

“I think we need to look at the stress that comes with feeling compelled to take a very full load of very challenging courses,” she added. “But at the same time, we also need to look within those courses to make sure that we’re doing what we need to do.”

MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES

Alongside the discussion surrounding homework and course loads, the mental health services that the school provides are also a dominant part of the petition and broader conversation.

The petition specifically calls for hiring more therapeutic counselors so that students “don’t have to be on a waiting list” and can “find a counselor that is a good fit for them instead of placing them with the counselor … available at the moment.”

Raynaud, who said she wasn’t completely familiar with the district’s existing infrastructure, also suggested hiring licensed psychotherapists to work in conjunction with the district’s existing support. 

Blair, the district’s wellness coordinator, said that in general, there aren’t any waitlists for the support services that the district offers.

In broad terms, the first step to accessing the district’s services is to fill out the district’s referral form, which can be done by the student in need, a friend, teacher or any other community member. 

“[The intake coordinator] meets with the student to kind of determine what the best support looks like,” Blair said. “Sometimes it’s academic counseling support, sometimes it’s support with social services or therapeutic mental health support. Sometimes it’s more at the administrative level, sometimes it’s about helping to foster communication with teachers and with family. So there’s a wide range of what the need may be.”

The district partners with CHAC, Uplift Family Services and Stanford Psychiatry to provide one-to-one counseling and therapeutic support with a general policy of providing short-term care for students, and later helping with the transition into more long-term care as needed.

Blair acknowledged that the district’s services might not always best serve students, and that the district is “happy to help” students find support elsewhere as needed.

“Almost across the board with all of our providers, we have increased services in the 2021 school year, and we’re expanding services as we hit [next year] as well,” Blair said, speaking of the district’s increased caseload capacity with its partners. “We’re building the infrastructure.”

“We have strong academic counseling, strong college and career counseling and strong therapeutic services,” Meyer said. “But there are the day-to-day stressors and the things that may not qualify you for clinical therapy, where you might need to go talk to someone and think it through and have someone objectively share support.”

Meyer said that the current model in some ways supports those “day-to-day” stressors, but that the district is still talking about the best way to support those needs.

Reese, who said she wasn’t entirely familiar with the support that the district provides in partnership with organizations like CHAC, suggested that the district offer therapeutic counseling services similar to the way it offers academic counselors, although she acknowledged it would take a significant amount of time and money.

Students would be paired with a wellness counselor for their four years in high school just as they are with academic counselors, which Reese contended could help remove some of the barriers like reluctance or lack of information that might prevent students from accessing support.

“I don’t know how well this would coincide with some of the other systems being proposed … But just as a baseline, every student would know exactly … who [to] you reach out to if you’re having a hard time,” Reese said.

Meyer said that the district this year shifted its academic counseling services to include more social emotional learning components, which in fact aligns partially with what Reese suggested.

“Our academic counselors have infused more social emotional support opportunities within their counseling yearly schedule,” Meyer said. “So that involves having time to talk to the students about their goals and and how it’s going with them — more of a check in and shifting away from only talking about what courses you need to graduate and be UC-ready, to really exploring what they’re interested in, what their strengths are and adding in that social emotional component.”

Blair said that many students do reach out to their academic counselors for mental health support, and Meyer added that many teachers, assistant principals and principals fill that role as well.

“I want to say … prior to needing that [clinical] support, our teachers do an excellent job of creating a welcoming environment within their classroom … recognizing that that relationship has to be built to optimize the environment and to optimize learning,” Meyer said.

Blair also cited student leadership classes, freshman orientation programs, academic counseling, tutorial centers and college and career centers all as being a part of broader “preventative” services that foster well being in the student body.

“My message is, if you have a need for support, please reach out, and we’ll do our best to get you connected with the appropriate support,” Blair said.

MOVING ON TOO QUICKLY

Although not included in Raynaud’s petition, a number of students have criticized what they say was a failure on the part of the district to properly address the death.

Reese, who was notified of the death the night prior by a mutual friend and said she was close to the student in middle school, felt that her teachers moved on from the death — as well as the two others in recent memory — far too quickly, and didn’t give students enough room to process it.

“I went through swinging back and forth between feeling numb and sad,” she said. “And then obviously, I had school the next day, and I was just kind of thrown back into a normal schedule. … And it was like, ‘I don’t really know how to process right now, because I feel like I need time to talk about what’s going on.’”

She said that while she thought one or two of her teachers addressed it well — including her first period teacher — the “vast majority” of the staff she interacted with “mentioned it in passing,” then carried on. She added that friends told her that some of their teachers had misgendered the student, which she found particularly frustrating.

As for what specifically she wanted from her teachers, Reese said that she would’ve liked more space to discuss and share feelings.

“This is kind of a weird comparison, but in my AP U.S. history class when [the Capitol insurrection happened], we were given time at the beginning of class to kind of discuss how that made us feel because a lot of us were getting really bad anxiety over it,” she said. “I think I’d like to see some of that — you know, a lot of us need some time to process, maybe share our thoughts to our teacher, get some more personal words.”

Meyer said that since being notified of the student’s death, the district has engaged in daily consultation with experts at Stanford University, the HEARD alliance, Kara and CHAC through Blair’s office to inform best policy.

“We rely very heavily on their guidance,” Blair said. “We’re following best practices set out by the professionals.”

After receiving news of the death, the district sent a message to the community notifying of the loss, and prepared a statement for first period teachers to read in their classes the next day. Blair said that teachers were encouraged to allow space for processing, and added that several support sessions were held for teachers who felt they needed additional guidance navigating the issue.

“Everybody grieves differently, and I think that’s really important,” Blair said. “Some students need the space to process and to talk, [and for] others, part of the grieving process is to not be in that space of processing.”

The school staffed the library with CHAC support staff to provide a space for students who needed additional processing, and also made available a Zoom link for similar support for remote students to “honor all responses to grief.”

Blair said that staff support meetings were also held for Los Altos High School teachers to prepare them should the topic come up in conversation, but Los Altos teachers were not instructed to read Meyer’s statement notifying of the death — which was in line with the expert consultation.

“I do have to say this feedback [about moving on too quickly] is really appreciated,” Meyer said. “Because we’re speaking to our advisors, but we want to make sure that the students have a voice in this as well. And if they’re telling us they need more, they need more.”

NEXT STEPS

Moving forward, Meyer and Blair pledged to have continued conversations about the district’s role in supporting student mental health.

“It has been devastating to see our students mourning, our families mourning and our staff mourning,” Meyer said. “And to that end, we want to make sure that we’re doing everything in our power to not only work to prevent any tragedies, but to support the students who are here and mourning with us.”

“It’s just heartbreaking,” Blair said. “We become educators because we love young people, and we love students, and we want them to thrive. … And it’s difficult watching our young people when they’re struggling. … We want to be there to help them through those struggles and through those challenges.”

Both Blair and Meyer expressed gratitude for the students who have reached out to them with suggestions moving forward, and encouraged students to continue to speak out.

“One of the things that we continue to plan with a more heightened urgency is to have a systemic way to reach out to students and to use their perspective and voice for district-wide improvement,” Meyer said. “One of the reasons that we recently reorganized the district office for the community outreach specialist was to have a systemic way to do that, and to honor the voices of those who are in the classroom all day and have a better vantage point than we do.”

The district recently appointed Los Altos English teacher Michelle Bissonnette to the new role of community outreach specialist, which will be responsible for communicating with and gathering feedback from the community to inform policy across the district.

Meyer said that, in the short term, she plans to share the feedback from students about where their stress comes from and what they think the district can do moving forward with teachers and the board — and to assess in those conversations how, or whether, the district should implement change.

“We knew before, but there certainly is an outcry,” Meyer said. “Students definitely have shared with us that the stress that they’re feeling within the day is very difficult. And so we have to honor and respect that voice and do what we can to support them.”

“It’s an ongoing collaboration,” Blair said. “It takes time, it takes thoughtfulness, it takes a concerted effort — and I think we are all committed to that. It’s the ongoing collaboration that I think will get us to where we want to be.”

Any person feeling depressed, troubled or suicidal can call 1-800-273-8255 to speak with a crisis counselor, or text “HELLO” to 741741. The Mountain View–Los Altos Union High School District’s student referral form can be found here in English, and here in Spanish.

New Los Altos High School social studies building set to open in the fall

STORY BY TOMOKI CHIEN, PHOTO BY EMILY MCNALLY

Construction of Los Altos High School’s new two-story classroom building and auxiliary gym is set for completion this summer, and both spaces will open for students in the fall.

The social studies department, which is currently housed in portables, will occupy the two-story building upon completion. Associate Superintendent of Business Services Mike Mathiesen said that construction ideally will be completed by June, but may slip into July.

The project’s original timeline had set completion at around now — the spring of 2021 — but Mathiesen said that “some wet weather” in 2018 slowed construction.

He also said that the pandemic had no adverse impact on the project.

“It created some temporary challenges — once we got to interior work, there were limits on how many workers could be in an enclosed space [and] if there was a COVID-positive case, then any close contacts had to quarantine,” he said in an email. “COVID has created some shipping and supply chain challenges, but we are still on track for completion this summer.”

Administrative, counseling and office staff will occupy the portables left vacant by the social studies department to make way for the student services project — a two story building that will house administrative, counseling and wellness staff, as well as spaces for student leadership, a staff workroom and a student union space — which will require the demolition of the current administrative building and 100 wing.

Mathiesen said that demolition for the student services building will begin in late June or early July, meaning it’s possible that that could begin before the social studies building is completed; it’s all part of a “giant jigsaw puzzle,” he said.

Current plans set the timeline for construction of the student services building at about 20 months, spanning June 15, 2021, to Feb. 15, 2023.

Pasallo, Bissonnette elegidos para nuevos puestos del distrito de MVLA

ARTÍCULO ESCRITO POR TOMOKI CHIEN, FOTO DE EMILY MCNALLY, TRADUCCIÓN HECHA POR RODRIGO SEPÚLVEDA SAGASETA

Esta historia fue escrita y reportada originalmente en inglés. Todas las citas son traducciones.

Click here to view the original article in English.

La maestra de inglés de la preparatoria de Los Altos, Michelle Bissonnette, y la subdirectora Perla Pasallo, han sido nombradas para nuevos roles en la oficina del distrito: Pasallo se desempeñará como directora de servicios estudiantiles y equidad, mientras que Bissonnette asumirá el papel de especialista en alcance comunitario. 

Ambos son puestos nuevos que caen bajo una gran reorganización del distrito aprobada por los fideicomisarios anoche. 

Bissonnette, una educadora veterana que ha enseñado inglés en Los Altos desde 1998 con la excepción de dos años trabajando en el Departamento de Educación, será ampliamente responsable de comunicarse y recopilar comentarios de la comunidad para compartir las políticas en todo el distrito. 

“Ser maestra es realmente algo que he hecho durante tanto tiempo que siempre sentiré que es parte de mi identidad,” dijo Bissonnette en una entrevista por correo electrónico. “La razón por la que estoy dispuesta a alejarme del salón de clases es porque creo que esta función será simplemente una extensión de mi capacidad para ayudar a los estudiantes y las familias; ayudará al distrito a desarrollar su capacidad para responder mejor a las necesidades de nuestros estudiantes, y por eso estamos todos aquí.”

Una descripción del distrito de la nueva posición de Bissonnette también enfatiza su papel en el apoyo a la superintendente en el “énfasis de las voces de los estudiantes, para el mejoramiento del distrito.” 

“Creo que si al final de mi tiempo en este puesto pudiera decir que ayudé a que algunas familias sintieran que sus voces y experiencias fueron valoradas y honradas, y que ayudé a desarrollar la capacidad del distrito para mejorar la vida de todos nuestros estudiantes, me sentiría muy satisfecha,” dijo Bissonnette. “Sé que es ambicioso, pero es lo que espero.”

Pasallo será responsable de apoyar y guiar los programas de asistencia en inglés del distrito, el departamento de educación especial y las iniciativas de equidad; un papel particularmente importante a manera de que el distrito implemente su plan de servicios de intervención temprana para abordar el número desproporcionado de estudiantes latinos identificados para la educación especial, como fue señalado por la superintendente Dra. Nellie Meyer.

Ella reportará directamente a Teri Faught, la superintendente adjunta de servicios educativos, que también fue recientemente nombrada.

“Quiero ayudar a crear e implementar programas que apoyarán a todos los estudiantes [en poder lograr] sus metas académicas,” dijo Pasallo en una entrevista por correo electrónico. “Especialmente los estudiantes que han tenido que luchar muchos desafíos para alcanzar sus logros. Dado que mi enfoque se centra en el asesoramiento académico, los estudiantes de segundo idioma y los estudiantes críticos, todos mis objetivos se centraran en identificar formas para apoyar a estos grupos y promover la equidad para nuestros estudiantes de color.”

Pasallo comenzó su relación con el distrito como terapeuta y administradora de casos especiales en Alta Vista High School en 1997, convirtiéndose en consejera y luego coordinadora del departamento en Los Altos cinco años después.

Comenzó su función actual como directora asistente en 2010.

“La ventaja [de asumir este nuevo rol] fue tener la oportunidad de promover un cambio que promoverá el rendimiento académico de los estudiantes y reducirá la brecha de oportunidades”, dijo Pasallo. “La verdadera dificultad fue la idea de dejar a mi familia y al increíble equipo administrativo de Los Altos High.”

Una semana después, esto es lo que los estudiantes tienen que decir sobre el regreso híbrido de MVLA

ARTICULO DE TOMOKI CHIEN, FOTO DE ALLISON HUANG, TRADUCCIÓN DE RODRIGO SEPÚLVEDA SAGASETA 

Esta historia fue escrita y reportada originalmente en inglés. Todas las citas son traducciones.

Los estudiantes del Distrito de Escuelas Preparatorias de MVLA regresaron al campus esta semana para recibir instrucción híbrida, el resultado de meses de planificación, negociación y, frecuente debate. 

Para Katie Skaggs, una estudiante de primer año de Los Altos, no fue tanto un “regreso,” sino un primer día de clases; ya que nunca antes había estado en el campus para recibir instrucción en persona. 

“Fue un poco extraño,” dijo. “Estaba nervioso al comenzar, como creo que la mayoría de la gente está en su primer día de clases. Pero me gustan los períodos de transición de 20 minutos porque no tengo que estresarme por pasar de una clase a otra, y creo que he aprendido a entender dónde están mis clases, lo cual es útil.”

El horario híbrido del distrito establece nuevos períodos de transición de 20 minutos, a diferencia de los cinco típicos, en parte para permitir la limpieza de los salones, ya que los más de 2,000 estudiantes que participan en la instrucción en persona en todo el distrito (aproximadamente la mitad del cuerpo estudiantil) se estáran moviendo alrededor de la escuela todo el día. 

Los estudiantes presenciales y remotos participaron en las mismas clases a través de Zoom, lo que significa que, en teoría, las conferencias para toda la clase serán similares al aprendizaje a distancia, la única diferencia es que la mitad de la clase está sentada en un salon mientras que la otra mitad se sienta en casa. 

Una semana después, Skaggs dijo que aunque la calidad de la instrucción híbrida no es significativamente mejor que en el aprendizaje a distancia, tiene sus ventajas.

“Los profesores están realmente frente a ti … es más difícil distraerse,” dijo. “Tienes que mantenerte concentrado, lo cual es útil.” 

Skaggs también dijo que estar en el salón marca una gran diferencia especialmente cuando se trabaja en grupos. 

“Con discusiones en grupos pequeños en Zoom, ninguna de las personas te habla y simplemente te ignoran,” dijo. “Pero ahora podemos tener conversaciones de verdad y algo que creo que es muy útil. Aprendo mejor con una persona frente a mí, no solo con una pantalla de computadora.”

La interacción social, algo que los miembros de la comunidad han citado durante mucho tiempo como un argumento para oportunidades más amplias en persona, es también una de las ventajas mencionadas por Skaggs sobre la escuela en persona.

Aunque una vez a la semana ve a algunos amigos cercanos fuera de la escuela, Skaggs afirmó que es “diferente” ver a la gente en la escuela. 

“Veo gente que no he visto desde marzo del año pasado,” dijo Skaggs. “O las personas que eran un año mayores que yo cuando estaba en séptimo grado en Egan, las veo por primera vez en dos años. También, las personas con las que fui a la escuela de primaria con las que no he visto en cuatro años.”

Con respecto a las precauciones de seguridad sanitarias de COVID-19, qué consisten principalmente en enmascaramiento y distanciamiento social de 3 pies, Skaggs dijo que, aunque finalmente se siente cómoda, cree que el distanciamiento social durante los descansos puede ser mejor cuidado. 

“No creo que hayan hecho lo mejor en el distanciamiento social, pero yo y [mi amigo] … cada vez que vemos un grupo grande de personas tratamos de encontrar nuestra propia área,” dijo. “Durante el brunch hay muy poco distanciamiento social.”

Skaggs agregó que el distanciamiento social en los salones siempre se impone y que el enmascaramiento no es un problema, y ​​nuevamente enfatizó que se siente cómoda porque tiene la libertad de alejarse en situaciones en las que no se siente cómoda, un sentimiento que indicó que la mayoría de sus compañeros comparten. 

Con respecto a las principales desventajas de estar en persona, Skaggs tenía quejas relativamente menores (aunque “menor” puede depender a quién le preguntes).

 “No poder dejar el Zoom antes de tiempo es realmente lo único,” dijo. “Y tener que hablar en la clase de español.”

Ella Blatnik, junior de Mountain View, dijo que aunque su experiencia ha sido positiva hasta ahora, su regreso no fue necesariamente fácil. “Fue un poco abrumador,” dijo Blatnik. “Antes [de irme] estaba abrumada por tener que ver gente y tener dificultades técnicas. Pero cuando llegué allí fue como: ‘Oh, me siento incómoda simplemente sentada aquí, siento que tengo que tener una conversación’. No sé … diferentes circunstancias incómodas surgieron.” 

Pero al igual que Skaggs, dijo que disfrutaba no solo poder ver a sus amigos y compañeros de clase, sino también poder platicar con conocidos y personas con las que “no está tan cerca” por primera vez en más de un año. 

Blatnik, que inicialmente había participado y luego abandonó los “grupos estables” del distrito, dijo que encuentra el modelo híbrido mucho más atractivo porque más de sus compañeros regresaron al campus y ella puede moverse por las salones como lo haría normalmente. Además, es mucho más fácil mantenerse comprometido con sus maestros en el salón.

Dijo que sintió un poco de incomodidad al principio cuando los maestros lucharon en balancear la lección entre los estudiantes en el salón y en casa, pero sintió que todo salió bien.

“Creo que debido a que es más una tendencia natural querer prestar atención a las personas en persona, muchos maestros se enfocan intencionalmente en el Zoom para luchar contra ese instinto natural,” dijo Blatnik. “Pero al final todo eso se equilibró.” 

Blatnik también mencionó los problemas de Internet de la escuela, citando la interrupción durante el tercer período el jueves. 

Bob Fishtrom, director de información de servicios de tecnología, dijo que la interrupción en todo el distrito no fue un problema con las redes del distrito, sino una interrupción de Comcast, una ocurrencia “muy, muy rara.”

“Estuve en Los Altos esta mañana y estaba en un salón de clases, había alrededor de 10 niños,” dijo. “Pregunté cómo estaba el WiFi y me dijeron que nunca había sido mejor. Esperemos que este patrón continúe.”

Blatnik, por su parte, se mostró afable al respecto. 

“Fue difícil, pero tampoco tan malo porque … todos estamos sufriendo al mismo tiempo,” dijo. “Entonces, si nos echan de la reunión de Zoom al mismo tiempo, al menos nos echan a todos.”

Trinity Bang, estudiante de tercer año de Los Altos, quien eligió permanecer en instrucción a distancia para pasar más tiempo con su familia, dijo que la interrupción de Internet en la escuela la afectó incluso en casa.

“Mi tercer período fue básicamente yo tratando de averiguar qué estaba pasando,” dijo. “Tenía matemáticas y me juntaron con un compañero en una sala para grupos pequeños, pero ninguno de nosotros sabía que estaba pasando … Esa fue una experiencia realmente confusa para la gente en casa.”

Aparte de ese breve problema, Bang dijo que en términos de experiencia educativa, la semana pasada ha sido más o menos igual para ella que el aprendizaje a distancia durante todo el año. 

Pero sí destacó que sentía una cierta “desconexión” con los estudiantes en el salón, en parte por razones sociales pero también meras logísticas. 

“En un par de mis clases, los estudiantes [en persona] no se unen a la sesión en Zoom, por lo que cuando hablan en clase o hacen una contribución a la conversación, realmente no puedo escucharlos ni comprenderlos,” dijo. “No sé si diría que mi experiencia de aprendizaje ha sido peor la semana pasada, pero definitivamente siento más desconexión con mis compañeros que el año pasado porque no puedo escucharlos realmente ni avanzar sus ideas.” 

Skaggs, que estaba en persona, dijo que en la mayoría de sus clases se le pidió que iniciara sesión en Zoom con sus compañeros remotos, pero algunos maestros tenían micrófonos en el salón y les dijeron a los estudiantes en persona que hablaran para que sus compañeros remotos pudieran escuchar.

 El estudiante de último año de Los Altos, Jimmy Gao, dijo que interactuar con los estudiantes en persona no ha sido un problema en ninguna de sus clases y que, aparte del fallo de Internet de la escuela, nada ha cambiado para él esta semana.

“La única diferencia es que el maestro está enseñando a una audiencia en vivo,” dijo. “Lo que ella le dice a la clase es normalmente lo que hubiera dicho en Zoom.”

También dijo que con las pruebas AP acercándose, muchos de sus maestros han hecho la transición a más lecciones de repaso en lugar de enseñar contenido nuevo, lo que puede contribuir en parte a la relativa similitud.

Gao, que aparentemente ha sufrido un caso particularmente grave de senioritis, dijo que eligió quedarse en casa porque “simplemente no creía que valiera la pena.”

“Va a hacer que perder el tiempo sea mucho más difícil,” dijo, probablemente hablando en nombre de muchas otras víctimas de la senioritis.” “Tienes que mantenerte despierto porque el profesor siempre te está mirando.”

Gao dijo que otra consideración era que ya ve a amigos fuera de la escuela, por lo que la interacción social no fue un gran factor de atracción para él. 

Por otro lado, Skaggs, tal vez porque todavía le quedan otros tres años antes del inicio esperado de la senioritis, espera con ansias la próxima semana cuando los estudiantes en persona permanezcan en el campus durante todo el día en lugar de los medios días de la semana pasada (dijo que sería extraño tener que empezar a preparar el almuerzo para la escuela de nuevo). 

También expresó su optimismo de que cualquier problema de la primera semana se solucionará con el tiempo, a medida que los estudiantes y los maestros se adapten al modelo híbrido. 

“Creo que fue bueno para mí ir y obtener algún tipo de primer año,” dijo. “No era lo que esperaba, pero es algo.”

Carly Heltzel contribuyó al reportaje de esta historia.

Pasallo, Bissonnette tapped for new MVLA district office roles

STORY BY TOMOKI CHIEN, PHOTO BY EMILY MCNALLY

Haz click aqui para ver el articulo en Español.

Los Altos High School English teacher Michelle Bissonnette and Assistant Principal Perla Pasallo have been appointed to new roles in the district office: Pasallo will serve as the director of student services and equity, while Bissonnette will take on the role of community outreach specialist.

Both are new positions that fall under a larger district reorganization approved by the board of trustees last night.

Bissonnette — a vetern educator who, with the exception of two years working in the Department of Education, has taught English at Los Altos since 1998 — will broadly be responsible for communicating with and gathering feedback from the community to inform policy across the district.

“Being a teacher is truly something that I’ve done for so long that I will always feel it is part of my identity,” Bissonnette said in an email interview. “The reason I am willing to step away from the classroom is because I believe this role will simply be an extension of my ability to help students and families — it will help the district to build its capacity to be more responsive to the needs of our students, and that is why we are all here!”

A district description of Bissonnette’s new position also emphasizes her role in supporting the superintendent in the “emphasis on student voice toward district improvement.”

“I think that if at the end of my time in this role I could say that I helped families feel like their voices and experiences were valued and honored, and that I helped build the capacity of the district to improve life outcomes for all of our students, I’d feel like I had spent my time well,” Bissonnette said. “I know that’s not super specific, it’s more aspirational. But it’s what I do hope for.”

Pasallo will be responsible for supporting and guiding the district’s English learner programs, special education department and equity initiatives; a particularly important role as the district implements its early intervening services plan to address the disproportionate identification of Latino students for special education, as noted by Superintendent Dr. Nellie Meyer.

She’ll report directly to Teri Faught, the similarly recently appointed associate superintendent of educational services.

“I want to help create and implement programs that will support all students [in achieving] their academic goals,” Pasallo said in an email interview. “Especially students who have struggled and experience challenges in achievement. Since my focus is around academic counseling, second language learners and critical learners, all of my goals revolve around identifying ways to support those groups and promoting equity for our students of color.”

Pasallo started her relationship with the district as a therapist and case manager at Alta Vista High School in 1997, becoming a counselor and later department coordinator at Los Altos five years later.

She began her current role as assistant principal in 2010.

“The pro [of taking this new role] was having the opportunity to promote change that will promote academic achievement for students and narrow the opportunity gap,” Pasallo said. “The true difficulty was the thought of leaving my Los Altos family and amazing administrative team.”

A week in, here’s what students have to say about MVLA’s hybrid return

STORY BY TOMOKI CHIEN, PHOTO BY ALLISON HUANG

Haz click aqui para ver el articulo en Español.

Students in the Mountain View–Los Altos Union High School District returned to campus this week for hybrid instruction, the culmination of months of planning, negotiation and often contentious debate.

For Los Altos freshman Katie Skaggs, it wasn’t so much a “return,” but instead a first day of school — she’s never been on campus for in-person instruction before.

“It was a bit weird,” she said. “I was nervous going into it, like I think most people are on their first day of school. But the 20 minute passing periods are nice because I don’t have to stress about getting from one class to another, and I think I’ve kind of gotten the hang of where my classes are, which is helpful.”

The district’s hybrid schedule sets passing periods at 20 minutes — as opposed to the typical five — in part to allow for cleaning in rooms as the over 2,000 students participating in in-person instruction district-wide (about half the student body) shuffle through the day.

In-person and remote students attend the same classes over Zoom, meaning that in theory, whole-class lectures would be similar to distance learning, the only difference being that half the class is sitting in the classroom while the other half sits at home.

A week in, Skaggs said that while the quality of the hybrid instruction might not be remarkably better than it is in distance learning, it does have its merits.

“The teachers are actually in front of you … it’s harder to get distracted,” she said. “You kind of have to stay focused, which is helpful in a way.”

Skaggs also said that being in the classroom especially makes a difference when doing work in groups.

“With small group discussions in breakout rooms, none of the people talk to you and they just ignore you,” she said. “But now we’re able to have face-to-face conversations and I think that’s very helpful. I learn better with a face in front of me, not just some computer screen.”

Social interaction — something that community members have long cited as an argument for broader in-person opportunities — is also one of Skaggs’ pros of attending school in-person.

While she said that she sees some close friends outside of school about once a week, she contended that it’s “different” seeing people at school. 

“I see people that I haven’t seen since March of last year,” Skaggs said. “Or the people that were a year older than me when I was in seventh grade at Egan, I see them for the first time in like two years. Then the people that I went to elementary school with who I haven’t seen in four years.”

As for COVID-19 safety precautions — which primarily consist of 3-foot social distancing and masking — Skaggs said that although she ultimately felt comfortable, she thinks that social distancing during breaks could have been stressed more.

“I don’t think they’ve done the best at social distancing, but me and [my friend] … whenever we see a big group of people we kind of try to find our own area,” she said. “During brunch there’s very little social distancing.”

She added that social distancing in classrooms is always enforced and that masking is a non-issue — and again stressed that she ultimately felt comfortable because she had the freedom to remove herself from situations where she didn’t, a sentiment which she guessed that most of her peers shared.

As for major downsides to being in-person, Skaggs had relatively minor gripes (although “minor” may depend on who you ask).

“Not being able to leave the Zoom early is really the only thing,” she said. “And actually having to speak in Spanish class.”

Mountain View junior Ella Blatnik said that although her experience has ultimately been positive so far, her return wasn’t necessarily smooth-sailing. 

“It was a little overwhelming,” Blatnik said. “Before [I went] I was overwhelmed about having to see people and having all the technical difficulties. But when I got there it was like ‘Oh I feel awkward just sitting there, I feel like I have to have a conversation.’ I don’t know … different things came up that were just awkward.”

But like Skaggs, she said that she enjoyed seeing not only her friends and classmates, but being able to catch up with acquaintances and people that she’s “not that close to” for the first time in over a year walking through the hallways.

Blatnik, who had initially participated in then dropped out of the district’s “stable groups,” said she finds the hybrid model far more engaging because more of her classmates returned to campus and she’s able to shuffle through classrooms as she normally would. Plus, it’s far easier to stay engaged with her teachers in the classroom with her.

She said she sensed a bit of initial awkwardness as teachers struggled to present to both students in the classroom and at home, but felt it turned out fine.

“I think because it’s more of a natural tendency to want to pay attention to the people in-person, a lot of teachers intentionally focused on the Zoom to kind of fight that natural instinct,” she said. “But in the end that kind of all balanced out.”

Blatnik did note the school’s internet problems, citing the third period outage on Thursday. 

Bob Fishtrom, director of information technology services, said that the district-wide outage stemmed not from the district’s networks but from a Comcast outage — a “very, very rare” occurrence. 

“I was at Los Altos this morning and was in a classroom, about 10 kids were there,” he said. “I asked how the WiFi was and they said it has never been better. Let’s hope this pattern continues.”

Blatnik, for her part, was good-natured about it.

“It was difficult, but also not too bad because … we’re all suffering at the same time,” she said. “So if we get kicked out of the Zoom meeting at the same time, at least we’re all kicked out.”

Los Altos junior Trinity Bang, who elected to remain in distance learning in order to spend more time with her family, said that the school’s internet outage affected her even at home.

“My third period was basically me trying to figure out what was going on,” she said. “I had math at that time and I was paired with a partner and sent to a breakout room, but neither of us knew what was going on … That was a really confusing experience for the people at home.”

Other than that brief blip, Bang said that in terms of educational experience, this past week has been about the same for her as distance learning has been all year.

But she did make a point of noting that she felt a certain “disconnect” with the students in the classroom, in part for social reasons but also bare logistics. 

“In a couple of my classes, [in-person] students haven’t been logging onto Zoom, so when they talk in class or they make a contribution to the conversation I can’t really hear or understand them,” she said. “I don’t know if I would say my learning … experience has been worse this past week, but I definitely feel more disconnection with my peers than I have this past year because I can’t hear them really or build off their ideas.”

Skaggs, who was in-person, said that in the majority of her classes she was required to log onto Zoom with her remote peers, but some teachers had microphones in the classroom and told in-person students to speak up so remote classmates could hear.

Los Altos senior Jimmy Gao said that interacting with in-person students hasn’t been a problem in any of his classes, and that other than the school’s internet outage, nothing’s changed for him this week. 

“I mean the only difference is that the teacher is presenting to a live audience,” he said. “What she says to the class is just normally what would have been.”

He also said that with AP tests on the horizon, many of his teachers have transitioned into more review-type lessons instead of teaching new content, which may contribute in part to the relative sameness. 

Gao, who’s apparently been afflicted with a particularly bad case of senioritis, said that he opted to remain at home because he “just didn’t think it was worth it.”

“It’s going to make slacking off a lot harder,” he said, likely speaking for many fellow senioritis victims. “You have to stay awake because the teacher’s always eyeballing you.”

Gao said that another consideration was that he already sees friends outside of school, so social interaction wasn’t a huge pull factor for him.

On the other hand, Skaggs, perhaps because she still has another three years before the expected onset of senioritis, is looking forward to next week when in-person students stay on campus for the whole day rather than the half-day rotations of the past week (she said that it’ll be weird to have to start packing lunch for school again).

She also expressed optimism that any first-week kinks will be ironed out given time, as students and teachers adjust to the hybrid model.

“I think it was good for me to go and get some type of freshman year,” she said. “It wasn’t what I expected, but it’s something.”

Carly Heltzel contributed to the reporting on this story.

PAUSD to allow secondary students on campus four days a week

STORY BY MELODY XU, PHOTO BY TOMOKI CHIEN

Palo Alto Unified School District secondary students will have the option to attend school on campus for four days a week starting Tuesday, April 27.

The district’s in-person learning model — dubbed “Zoom in a Room” — puts students in the same classroom as teachers and peers, while still tuning into class through the same Zoom meetings as those who opt to learn remotely.

Since the optional return for grades 7–12 began, students have been split up into two groups alphabetically by last name, with each group having the choice of going to campus on two designated school days: either Tuesday and Wednesday, or Thursday and Friday.

This latest update, sent out in Friday’s Paly Community Update, follows district families indicating interest in having the option to go to campus Tuesday–Friday, in a recent survey. 

Aproximadamente la mitad del cuerpo estudiantil de MVLA participará en el regreso híbrido de abril

ARTICULO DE TOMOKI CHIEN, FOTO DE EMILY MCNALLY, TRADUCCIÓN DE RODRIGO SEPÚLVEDA SAGASETA 

Esta historia fue escrita y reportada originalmente en inglés. Todas las citas son traducciones.

Más de la mitad de los estudiantes de las escuelas del distrito MVLA han optado por el regreso híbrido del distrito, lo que indica un interés común por el aprendizaje en persona, durante un año en que la pandemia obligó a cerrar los campus por primera vez. 

El 19 de abril, el 52.1% de los estudiantes del distrito que regresarán al campus participarán en cuatro medios días de instrucción en persona, y a partir del 26 de abril cambiarán a cuatro días completos a la semana.

La Dra. Nellie Meyer, la superintendente del distrito escolar señaló que aunque el número exacto de estudiantes que participan en el regreso híbrido será sujeto a cambios a medida de que algunos estudiantes cambiaran sus opiniones, los campuses del distrito podrán fácilmente acomodar a los estudiantes en persona de acuerdo con las Restricciones de seguridad de salud del coronavirus, incluyendo el nuevo estándar de distanciamiento social de 3 pies propuesto por el Centro para el Control y Prevención de Enfermedades.

Para la posible desilusión de muchos de los que se levantan tarde, el día escolar comenzará 15 minutos más temprano que el horario actual para acomodar para la nueva logística de la instrucción en persona, incluyendo períodos de transición de 20 minutos entre clases para desinfectar los salones.

El nuevo horario del distrito escolar, comenzando el 19 de Abril (Vía Mountain View–Los Altos Unified School District)

La Superintendente de Servicios Educativos, Teri Faught, hoy destacó en la junta de consejo el compromiso del distrito de proveer una experiencia de aprendizaje equitativa tanto para los estudiantes en persona como para los estudiantes remotos, a los que cariñosamente se les llama “roomies” y “Zoomies”.

“No queremos crear un ambiente exclusivo donde estos estudiantes estarán separados y ya no tendrán la oportunidad de aprender juntos” dijo Faught.

En conclusión, los estudiantes en persona seguirán en Zoom en el salón para poder interactuar con los estudiantes en casa, aunque los detalles logísticos se mantendrán en las manos de los maestros. 

Faught también expuso vagos directivos para la hora del almuerzo, diciendo que a los estudiantes generalmente se les prohibirá salir del campus a diferencia de un año normal.

“Lo que hemos observado en la hora del almuerzo es que varios de nuestros estudiantes que pueden manejar, salen del campus con sus amigos, lo que rompe nuestra directiva de distanciamiento social”, dijo Faught.

Pero en los planes actuales, los estudiantes serán permitidos salir del campus para ir a sus casas o para comer con sus papás — algo que fue recibido con mucha confusión de parte de los fideicomisarios. 

“Me encantaría salir del campus, pero conociendo a mis compañeros, deberíamos de hacerlo más claro”, dijo Riley Capuano, la representante estudiantil del consejo de Los Altos High School. “Varios niños simplemente ignorarán esto y se irán del campus con sus amigos.”

“Quisiera ver directivas y reglas más estrictas,” dijo el Fideicomisario Phil Fallaice.

La Superintendente Meyer dijo que ella y Faught revisarán las restricciones que pondrán para la hora del almuerzo. 

Los grupos estables del distrito— los estudiantes que se presentan a clases remotas desde los salones en la escuela están programados para reunirse por última vez mañana, después de lo cual los maestros comenzarán a regresar al campus para prepararse para el regreso híbrido a finales de este mes.

Cuatro días presenciales a la semana, distanciamiento de 3 pies y mejoramientos tecnológicos: esto es lo que puedes esperar del regreso híbrido del distrito escolar MVLA

ARTICULO DE TOMOKI CHIEN, FOTO DE EMILY MCNALLY, TRADUCCIÓN DE RODRIGO SEPÚLVEDA SAGASETA

Esta historia fue escrita y reportada originalmente en inglés. Todas las citas son traducciones.

A partir del 26 de abril, los estudiantes del Distrito Escolar MVLA pueden regresar  cuatro días completos de instrucción en persona a la semana, lo que representa un gran cambio a la propuesta previamente anunciada por el distrito.

La última propuesta presentada por el distrito en su reunión de consejo del 22 de marzo, establece que los estudiantes regresarán al colegio durante dos medios días en la semana del 19 de abril, donde rotarán a través de sus clases como en  un año escolar normal. Luego, el 26 de abril realizarán la transición a cuatro días completos en el campus. Los miércoles permanecerán asincrónicos.

Las familias aún podrán optar por permanecer en el aprendizaje a distancia bajo el plan de la Opción A del distrito, en el que la gran mayoría de los estudiantes están inscritos actualmente, o en el plan autoguiado ofrecido en la Opción B.

Los estudiantes que regresen al campus para el regreso híbrido mantendrán sus clases y maestros actuales, participando en las mismas clases que los estudiantes remotos de la Opción A —  con la diferencia que estarán en un salón físico con sus maestros.

También se menciona en los planes del distrito el hecho de que el regreso a salones físicos se basará en los nuevos estándares de distanciamiento social de 3 pies, publicados por la CDC la semana pasada. Este punto aún debe ser resuelto en las negociaciones con el sindicato de maestros.

Recientemente, un grupo de estudiantes regresó al campus para los “grupos estables” del distrito, participando en clases remotas en un salón de estudio, supervisados ​​por maestros y voluntarios.

Bob Fishtrom, director de servicios de tecnología, confía en que las redes de internet  del distrito podrán soportar el regreso híbrido. 

El 14 de marzo, The Talon, el noticiero de la preparatoria de Los Altos informó que los estudiantes en los salones tendrán que apagar sus cámaras para garantizar una conexión de red estable en la escuela, lo que los maestros en ese mismo informe expresaron su frustración.

En una entrevista, Fishtrom dijo que este ya no es el caso.

 “Hicimos una prueba el lunes en Mountain View: teníamos 18 Chromebooks en un punto de acceso inalámbrico con cámaras encendidas y transmisión de video y estuvimos bien”, dijo Fishtrom. “Creo que el desafío que tendremos que resolver es cómo soportar el audio. Ya no me preocupa la parte del video .”

Añadió que su equipo planea intentar una prueba parecida en Los Altos la próxima semana. 

Fishtrom dijo que anticipa que los estudiantes y maestros tendrán problemas con el audio y que podría causar ecos o comentarios durante la clase, lo cual, dijo, es inevitable cuando usas una plataforma como Zoom.

Para combatir esto, los estudiantes generalmente deben mantener sus micrófonos silenciados cuando no hablan, un comportamiento que ya se requiere con el uso de Zoom. Al final del mes, el departamento de tecnología enviará una lista completa de las mejores prácticas una vez que realicen pruebas para conocer los detalles.

 “Queremos publicar todo a la vez y hacerlo simple… para que los maestros puedan seguir una serie de pasos en caso de que tengan problemas comunes”, dijo Fishtrom.

Advirtió que los primeros días del regreso híbrido podrían ser “un poco difíciles” mientras que los maestros y los estudiantes se acostumbran al nuevo entorno, pero dijo que había hablado con el personal del Distrito Escolar Unificado de Palo Alto— que ya tiene estudiantes de preparatoria en instrucción híbrida—  con la esperanza de aprender lecciones que pueda aplicar al regreso de abril. 

“Esperamos que el WiFi sea mejor que nunca, pero también necesitamos que todos los maestros y  estudiantes sigan las mejores prácticas”, escribió en un correo electrónico. “El WiFi es una ciencia; sabemos que hemos realizado mejoramientos impresionantes y, a veces, cuando hay problemas con las conexiones, no siempre es el WiFi.”

Fishtrom también comentó que la experiencia de un estudiante en Zoom usando un Chromebook es “muy diferente” a la de un estudiante que usa una computadora Macbook o Windows, dado a el procesador y la memoria más débiles en los Chromebook; dijo que está buscando comprar Chromebooks con procesadores y memoria más robustos para distribuir en el futuro.

 A través de la pandemia, el equipo de Fishtrom ha aprovechado de los colegios vacíos para completar una ronda de actualizaciones a la infraestructura de red de internet del distrito, incluyendo actualizaciones a equipo de “última generación” capaz de soportar un número creciente de dispositivos inteligentes, software instalado en todos los dispositivos para proteger contra otro ataque de ransomware y reconfiguración de conmutadores y puntos de acceso WiFi para una conexión a Internet más confiable. 

“Estamos aquí para apoyar, entendemos nuestro trabajo—  estamos todos juntos en esto”, dijo Fishtrom. “Vamos a hacer todo lo posible para que el plan funcione para todos, y entendemos la importancia de nuestro trabajo y hacer el mejor trabajo que podamos.”

Hundreds gather for youth-led Mountain View AAPI rally

STORY BY CARLY HELTZEL, PHOTOS BY TOMOKI CHIEN

Hundreds of protesters marched through downtown Mountain View today in support of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in a local show of solidarity amidst rising anti-Asian hate crimes nationwide.

The effort was largely organized by three youth chairs: Castilleja School senior Amanda Khu, Mountain View High School senior Daisy Kemp and Lynbrook High School sophomore Jason Shan.

“Our focus is to spread cultural awareness of the presence and long-standing racism against AAPI people in this area and also to combat, to spread activism and to protest the recent events that have been happening,” Kemp said in an interview prior to the rally. “Really trying to get the point across that AAPI racism has been here since Mountain View was formed.”

Less than a hundred years ago, in the very spot where protesters gathered today to rally against Asian American hate, Japanese Americans were processed at what is now the Mountain View Caltrain station and shipped off to internment camps in an effort to forcibly remove them from the Bay Area during WWII. 

In 1862, supporters of the Anti-Coolie Act, which aimed to “protect” white people from job competition with Chinese immigrants by becoming the first immigration legislation in the U.S. to target a specific ethnic group, marched down the same streets as the protesters did today.

During the march through downtown Mountain View, one of the protesters, Ping L., who requested her last name not be used, shouted out chants such as “Stop Asian hate, stop all hate” and “no more violence, no more silence” as she and her family marched down Castro street in the stream of protesters. The crowd around her echoed her cheers and outdoor diners clapped and whistled as the protesters marched by. 

“Initially we were just here to join the rally, but it was too quiet,” she said. “We need to let people know what we stand for, so I wanted to make our voices heard.”

As she caught her breath from shouting slogans, she added that to her, the rally was a place to let out all of the anger and frustration that many Asians feel, unite as one community and be a role model to her son.

“I have my boy standing behind me, I have to set the example of fighting justice and fairness,” Ping said. “I feel like it is ridiculous that this is happening in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, that we have to request our basic right to safety.”

Like many other speakers, she shared the fear that she or someone she knows could be the next victim of AAPI violence. In fact, all of the youngest speakers, who were eight to 10 year olds, expressed their constant fear of going outside.

“I am scared and sad about the cycle of hatred,” 10-year-old Ray H. said. “No one wants to be the next victim.”

“I was always told I was a happy sunshine kid, but not anymore,” 8-year-old Michael P. said. “Children should not be afraid to go outside.”

The rally had a large emphasis on youth leadership and participation, with both Ray and Michael among several students from ages eight to 18 standing in front of the crowd and sharing their perspectives.

The rally began at 2:30 p.m. when protesters gathered at the Mountain View Transit Center to make signs before beginning the march to the city hall at 3 p.m. Many signs read “#StopAAPIHate,” “Racism is a virus, unity is the cure,” “I am home” and “Not your model minority.” 

Once protesters arrived at city hall and were greeted by Taiko drummers, a host of elected officials including Mountain View Mayor Ellen Kamei, Police Chief Chris Hsuing, U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, state senators and assembly members along with many members of several local city councils and school boards gave short speeches in support of the AAPI community.

Despite its impressive lineup, Kemp said that the planning process only began about a week prior to holding the rally and that the committee pulled it off by immersing themselves in the planning. 

Working with Kamei, among many others, the youth chairs signed up all of the speakers, the musical performance from San Jose’s youth singing group Able to Shine and a few informational tables that were aimed at increasing the interactivity of the rally.

Kamei — whose father was born in the Heart Mountain Japanese internment camp and whose mother is Chinese-Puerto Rican — said that as someone who always had to check the “other” box when it came to identifying her race, to her, today’s rally was about coming together, sharing experiences, and showing solidarity as a community.

“There isn’t just one Asian American experience,” Kamei said in an interview prior to the rally. “So I think today will really be key in trying to understand the wide ranging perspectives that people have on this topic and how it affects them and I hope people can hear about how we can all be better allies for each other.”

As the youngest of the youth chairs and someone who has not experienced overt acts of racism, Shan said that he was at first unsure what he could contribute to the rally, but soon realized that not everyone in the crowd would have had these experiences either. 

“We are here because our community was attacked,” Shan said. “You as youth have a voice and there are people who will stand behind you.”