Principal’s Advisory Committee integrates student feedback on campus

Tony Liao and Kira Sterling

Throughout this year, the Principal’s Advisory Committee, a coalition of students from all grades, will meet regularly to share their perspectives with new principal Brent Kline. “I’ll be using the PAC at the next point to talk more about their [students’] experiences instructionally, and what they see in classrooms,” Kline said. “Are teachers consistent? Is there a consistent approach to the teaching and learning in different classes?” Graphic: Kabir Advani

Students on the newly minted Principal’s Advisory Committee at Palo Alto High School will have the chance to provide recommendations through monthly meetings about instructional and school-wide issues on campus.

In the 17-member committee’s one meeting so far, Kline said the group discussed student concerns and ideas around the school’s preparation to bring students back to campus through a hybrid learning model starting Jan. 7. In particular, Kline said, the group focused on the “infamous question” of how to enforce mask-wearing on campus.

Kline said he believes the perception of school will be different for students who choose to opt in to hybrid learning.

“It’s going to be more that you’re going to want to be here, instead of being forced to be here,” Kline said. “Along with that choice is going to be a huge level of responsibility for every student to self-monitor themselves.”

The group also tackled other issues regarding how to keep students safe on campus, from potentially limiting campus entrances and exits to better keep track of everyone who steps foot on campus, to staggering lunch breaks.

“[There were] just a lot of questions and not a huge amount of answers,” Kline said. “Just the understanding that there need to be things in place that are going to be different for a while.”

Junior and PAC member Micaiah Acosta said she sees joining the PAC as a way to address frustrations about Paly that she’s seen from peers on social media. 

“People are complaining about Paly, especially about the coronavirus and distance learning schedule,” Acosta said.  “I wanted to ensure it [Paly] is the best version of the community it can be.”

Senior Noelle Burwell, another member of the committee, said that she sees the PAC as a “useful tool for the student body moving forward” as a “direct pathway from the students to the school administration.”  

“[With] everything that’s going on right now with the pandemic, I think that it’s really important for students to really feel like they’re being supported,” Burwell said. “And so I think [the] PAC is a really great group that can help build that community, that communication between students and administration.”