On strength of media arts program, Paly places in top 10 for ‘innovation’ in global contest

Celina Lee and Maxwell Zhang

Palo Alto High School is one of the top 10 schools for innovation on the planet, according to an announcement Wednesday by the World’s Best School Prizes awards by T4 Education. According to Principal Brent Kline, this is a great opportunity for Paly to display its stellar journalism program, which was the focus of the T4 analysis. “[We get to] showcase what goes on great at our school, and one of those is the media arts program,” Kline said. “So I was excited to be able to share such great things to the world.” (Photo: T4 Education)

Additional reporting by Isabella Bian. 

If you’re looking for an innovative school, you could do a lot worse than Palo Alto High School, according to the World’s Best School Prizes by T4 Education. With a focus on the school’s media arts program, the organization on Wednesday named Palo Alto High School as one of the top 10 most innovative schools in the world.

The announcement premiered on Youtube at 11 p.m. Wednesday and recognized 10 schools in each of the following categories: Community Collaboration, Environmental Action, Innovation, Overcoming Adversity and Supporting Healthy Lives. Paly is the only high school in the United States that placed top 10 in the Innovation category.

According to T4 Education, a global platform for schools and teachers, the prize acknowledges innovation in schools that help improve access, quality and relevance. The organization looks for implementations in schools that break from tradition, and impact teaching and learning through systems, collaboration, infrastructure, approaches and other methods. According to Principal Brent Kline, in September, the T4 Education committee will select the top three schools in each category, and the winners will be announced in October.

The T4 Education website said that Paly has taken many steps to foster an equitable learning environment, which has helped nurture a robust journalism program.

“The [Paly’s] journalism programme provides a level playing field for students from various backgrounds, offering them an equal chance to explore and develop their journalistic skills while fostering a sense of belonging and empowerment,” the T4 Education website said.

According to the T4 Education website, Paly’s comprehensive journalism program has contributed to its numerous achievements.

“Paly’s commitment to equity extends beyond the student body and encompasses the community as well, and its programme has achieved remarkable recognition at both the local and national levels,” the T4 Education website stated. “In the 2023 Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s contest, an unprecedented number of EIGHT Paly publications were recognised as Gold Crown finalists.”

According to Kline, if Paly wins one of T4’s five $50,000 grand prizes, it will allocate the funds to further increase diversity in its journalism program.

“I believe the focus for [winning] the prize money is to increase opportunity for all kids, especially kids who might not have the access or opportunity to be in the [journalism] program,” Kline said. “We want to be able to reach out and to provide more support for students that might not necessarily get into this program.”

Kline said the award demonstrates the breadth and depth of Paly’s journalism program.

“I learned it [the Paly journalism program] is probably the biggest school publication program in the entire country,” Kline said. “I knew it was big, but I didn’t realize the magnitude of this beautiful building that we have and also what’s inside of it and the supporting programs that not only echo the great achievements of our school but our communities.”