Sophomore bonding attempts to foster connections with each other, Teacher Advisors

Christina Chen, Author

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The Palo Alto High School administration will sponsor the first Sophomore Community Building Event on Monday on the quad to give sophomores a chance to get to know their Teacher Advisors.

“We want TAs and 10th grade students to get to know each other quickly, not only individually, but as a group in their advisories,” Assistant Principal Kathie Laurence said. “We thought this would be a fun way to do it.”

There will be two parts to the event: team-building activities hosted by APEX Adventures, a company devoted to improving cooperation in communities, and an introduction to Paly’s online resources.

“APEX Adventures specialize in corporations and educational events,” said Ann Deggelman, co-coordinator of the TA program. “They can tailor a ropes course or field activities to anyone’s needs. They did the team-building activities for the last staff development day, and we all really enjoyed it.”

Students will compete as an advisory group in problem-solving activities. Out of consideration for differences in physical fitness, not all the activities will be athletic. For example, one of the activities will require students to get balls from one end to another using different building materials. The first advisory group to achieve the objective wins.

“We want students to be able to solve things as a group,” Deggelman said.

The second part of the event will take place in the various computer labs around campus. Students will learn about the functions of Schoology and Naviance and also confirm their Infinite Campus accounts.

The majority of the time will be devoted to Naviance: sophomores will spend 15 to 20 minutes taking the “Do What You Are” survey on Naviance and start on college and career exploration.

“Most students use Naviance for the college search portion,” Deggelman said. “We want to try to get students to use the other portions.”

Teachers will also introduce Method Test Prep, an online SAT and ACT preparation program that allows students to study over the course of 20 weeks.

“Many students spend lots of money on outside SAT prep,” Deggelman said. “What they don’t know is that they don’t need to pay for it. The Site Council pays for Method Test Prep so that students can prepare for free.”

On Monday, all sophomores are required to gather in the quad and find their TAs from 8 a.m. to 8:15 a.m.. Breakfast will be provided. The advisory groups will then be split into two sections. One group will stay on the football field to engage in team-building activities, while the other group will go to the computer labs. At the end, ribbons will be awarded to the top three advisory groups. A shortened seven-period school day will start at 12:35 p.m. for all grade levels.

The administration has been considering the idea of a sophomore community building event for some time to bond students and teachers.

“We started talking about this last spring,” Laurence said. “Sophomores don’t get to see much of their TAs in the fall, because the TAs are all busy with the seniors. Some of them don’t get to see them in their classes, either. We feel that it is important for them to feel a connection right away, and to create a relationship so that students would feel comfortable talking to their teachers.”

Deggelman expressed hope that this event would continue in the future.

“I would love to see it become an annual event,” Deggelman said. “We might also develop different events for different grade levels. We chose to start with sophomores because they had just met their permanent TAs. Hopefully, we can foster a sense of community by letting students get to know each other and their TAs outside of the classroom context.”