WASC gives students a chance to have voice heard

Maddy Jones, Author

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Have you ever wanted to make a difference in the Palo Alto High School community? To have your voice heard? To express your opinions? If you feel like any of these characteristics apply to you then you should take a look at becoming a part of Western Association of Schools and Colleges this year at Paly, according to WASC coordinator Emily Garrison.

Headed by Garrison at Paly, WASC is process that renews itself every six years and will start this year at Paly and go until 2015. WASC is looking to form a student group to participate in the WASC process, Garrison said.

“What we’re looking for are students who have a lot to say, students who would really be interested in having their voices heard,” Garrison said. “But also students who are really committed to making Paly even more amazing than it already is, students who are committed to building a better future for Paly in constructive ways.”

According to Garrison, WASC is looking to form student groups with“experts” who will be masters of a range of fields, from webmasters to communicators to students who are good with media. The students will get a hands on experience with the WASC process and be able to work with the community, Garrison said.

“What’s so important and so powerful about WASC is that it’s a community effort,” Garrison said.

These student groups will help Paly get ready for the WASC visiting committee coming in 2015 by discussing and evaluating problems at Paly. Student groups will be formed by the end of October 2013. According to Garrison, the most important part of being in a student group is being invested in making Paly better.

Student groups will meet twice a month for one hour each — once during lunch and after tutorial with teachers. The total process will take around two years, but the work is mostly concentrated this year and the first semester of the next year. Students from all grade levels are welcome, even seniors who will not be able to participate for the whole process.

“It’s a really cool opportunity for students to see what it is that teachers do behind the scenes and how this school functions as an organization,” Garrison said.

The last WASC process took place in the 2008-09 school year and brought about changes to the bell schedule (Paly’s later start time and the addition of block days), which have impacted students since then. Becoming a part of WASC can make a real difference in the Paly community, according to Garrison.

Hard copies of applications for students are available in the main office and in the WASC office in the library. Forms are to either be turned in to the main office, emailed to egarrison@pausd.org or dropped off in Garrison’s box. Forms are due by the end of October.

Parents can also get involved and go through a similar application process. Info can be found online at paly.net/wasc or questions can be sent to Garrion’s email, according to Garrison.