Upcoming summer school brings changes to offerings


This year, Palo Alto High School will host the Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) summer high school sessions, featuring an array of changes from last year’s summer school, including an updated mask-optional policy and a return to primarily credit recovery courses.

Since Governor Gavin Newsom lifted the mandate requiring masks in California schools on March 12, local schools have removed mask requirements. High School Summer Program Assistant Principal Myesha Dickson emphasized that summer schooling will operate in the same manner. “We’ll fall in line with whatever the most current [COVID-19] practices are,” she said.

In 2021, a hybrid summer school was held at Gunn, with some students on campus and others on Zoom. A surplus of state funds allowed for an increased number of “kick-start” classes for students, which condense a semester of learning into a three-week course and allow students to use their freed-up semester in the school year for a prep period.

This year’s summer school marks a return to the typical offerings prior to the global pandemic. While no kick-start classes will be offered, there will be three similar “advancement” classes. However, there will be an overall greater emphasis on credit recovery.

I was glad to be part of the team that helped hundreds of students who either failed or got a D in their class find a way to pass [those] classes [over the summer].

— Math teacher Marcus Jamison

Math teacher Marcus Jamison, who is returning to the high school summer program assistant principal position, offered his perspective on the benefits summer school has in regards to credit recovery. “It’s cool to be working with other staff members, family members and students to try to find a way for students to be confident and find success in a course where they didn’t find success before,” he said. “Last year it was heartwarming and left a positive taste in my mouth. I was glad to be part of the team that helped hundreds of students who either failed or got a D in their class find a way to pass [those] classes [over the summer].”

This year’s advancement courses include Living Skills and Economics, only available to rising seniors, and Bridge to Geometry A, a class for rising sophomores who have completed Algebra I and would like to take Algebra II/Trigonometry A their sophomore year. This enables these students to take Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus AB in senior year before they graduate.

Additionally, courses such as Living Skills and the third-party Economics class, offered through UCScout, are meant to lighten the loads of rising seniors and to provide them the opportunity to complete their graduation requirements while taking other classes during the school year.

Notably, the current advancement courses are primarily senior-only opportunities. Junior Jack Poon, who took the kick-start U.S. History course last summer, would like to have opportunities for summer advancement available for current underclassmen. “I got a prep period first semester and that was really helpful,” he said. “I used that period to be a teaching assistant for one of my teachers, and overall it loosened up a lot of the stress of first semester junior year. I think there should be extra steps to help students, considering how we as a district are talking about relieving student stress but aren’t taking these actionable steps to do so.”