Board approves design, funding for new deck

    The design for the new deck to be built in the heart of the Palo Alto High School campus features a flower-inspired theme of concentric, layered pentagons. Design by Gracie Chen.

    The design for the new deck to be built in the heart of the Palo Alto High School campus features a flower-inspired theme of concentric, layered pentagons. Design by Gracie Cain.

    After several years of delays, a new deck on the Palo Alto High School Quad is significantly closer to becoming a reality today after the Board of Education last night accepted a donation and design to replace the existing platform this winter. 

    A new version of the deck — a popular brunch, lunch and prep area for the senior class — will be constructed in memory of Emily Benatar, Class of 2011, according to Assistant Principal Jerry Berkson. Benatar passed away in 2012 from a rare strain of bacterial meningitis during her freshman year at Washington University in Saint Louis.

    Several years ago, the Benatar family proposed the idea of donating a new deck for future classes, but nothing was confirmed until this summer when the Benatar family signed an official commitment letter, according to Berkson.

    On Tuesday night, the Board approved the Emily Benatar Foundation’s donation of $74,114.00 for construction of the deck. The date and time of the deck has not been approved, but Berkson believes it will occur during winter break.

    “There were rumors about it and people from 2017 [said] that they were going to rebuild it and we wouldn’t have it,” senior Adee Newman said. “I don’t know how they knew about it, but we’ve been hearing ‘oh they’re going to rebuild it, oh they’re going to rebuild it’ for a while.”

    A design was created by Emily’s close friend, Gracie Cain, who also graduated from Paly in 2011.

    The duration of the construction is unpredictable, but Berkson estimates that it will take about three months.

    Although student tradition is that the platform called the “senior deck” is a place where only seniors can set foot, it is technically school property and is accessible to everyone, according to Berkson.

    Despite the timing of the construction, seniors are optimistic of the deck and appreciate the new design. Many students are hoping that the new deck will bring unity among the seniors and bring excitement for future classes when it’s their turn to take over the deck. 

    “I think that the design is actually kinda cool and it’s nice that they’re doing it in memoriam of someone else,” senior Chris Jawetz said.

    Senior Jonathan Stoschek, thinks that the new design will unify the community. “It will be in a place where a lot of students will spend time on it and I think it will have a big impact on this community,” Stoschek said.

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