SIL's 9th Annual Food and Fund Drive!

For an ninth consecutive year, SIL Student Government is organizing a Food and Fund Drive with Second Harvest Food Bank.  The Second Harvest Food Bank provides food to roughly 250,000 people per month, primarily the elderly and families with children. However, anyone who reaches out for help is offered assistance. The Second Harvest Food Bank is an amazing organization and ranks among the highest, according to Charity Navigator, a non-profit agency, which details the transparency of a non-profit organization's ability to convert donations into aid. 

The Food and Fund drive represents an excellent opportunity to give back and I encourage you all to give what you can, and to inspire your students to do the same. Our goal is to raise 450 pounds of food and $500 in online contributions. Barrels will be collected on Friday, December 16, 2016 and tOnline contributions will be available through the end of the year.

If you would like to view or contribute towards our online contributions, please visit: https://www.shfb.org/page.aspx?pid=1024&FFDDrive=16%20FD%20Holiday&FFDOrg=277557

For more information about the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo County, please visit: https://www.shfb.org/mission.

On a per capita basis, School for Independent Learners has raised as much food as our neighboring High Schools, and in 2014, we were held in the same regard, as corporations, such as LinkedIn and Apple. In 2016, we received a Gold Award, ranking with companies such as, Visa and UPS. Below is a link to the award recipients for food and funds raised in 2015, where you can find the School for Independent Learners in the Gold category.

https://www.shfb.org/docs/drives/2016/awardprogram.pdf

SIL Toy Drive 2015

SIL's community is teaming up with the InnVision Shelter Network and the Opportunity Center of Palo Alto for our Annual Toy Drive.  Each year, InnVision qualifies families who are on the free and reduced lunch program in the Palo Alto Unified School District; such qualification allows hundreds of families to have access to toys, board games, books and stuffed animals to give to their children at no cost during the Holidays. 

If you are interested in contributing, we have barrels at SIL where new and unwrapped toys can be donated to low-income families here on the Peninsula. A list of preferred items can be found by clicking here.

The toy drive represents a great opportunity for all of us to give back to those in need this Holiday season. Our goal will be to raise 150 toys this year! The drive will end on Thursday, December 17, 2015 but SIL will conclude our efforts by participating in the distribution of toys to the community on Saturday, December 19, 2015 at the Opportunity Center in Palo Alto. Please feel free to contact Nick Rocha (SIL's Community Advisor) with any questions, or if you would like to participate in the distribution of toys. 

 

What's a Typical Day, Chris?

In many ways, a typical day at SIL is a misnomer from the very start.  Students set parameters for their class schedules to allow for participation in extracurriculars, accommodate travel schedules, and to suit their work habits.  Nor are schedules set in stone for the year with student commitments changing and the recurring schedule changing with them.  To get a better idea of the student experience, we asked a few students to share their take on SIL scheduling and the "typical day".

First up: Chris, Class of 2016

"I am not a morning person, so my first class is generally at 11am.  Lately, I have been coming in at 10am in order to fit in more classes, but I still take the mornings slow and only get up 20 minutes before class.  After two classes in the morning I will have an hour break when I can take a lunch.  If I have a lot of work I spend the time studying, otherwise I might get in a few games of ping pong with other students hanging around or teachers with an hour free.

In the afternoon, I will have a third and sometimes fourth class depending on the day.  When I am done for the day, I spend some time in the study hall doing homework and studying for tests or else working on a Rubik's cube.  After classes in the afternoon is also an excellent time to take tests, especially as I can spend whatever time I need beforehand on review so that I feel prepared.

Last year, in addition to my SIL courses, I was taking classes at Foothill Community College, dancing ballet, and teaching an introductory coding class for kids in Santa Clara (www.teendevcamp.com).  I took three classes at Foothill during the school year, CS 1A - 1C.  They are all Java courses.  Two were in the evenings so I could head over after a day at SIL, but one was right in the middle of the day.  It was easy to adjust my SIL class schedule for that term so that I would leave in the middle of the day for a longer period and then come back to finish up with another class time.  I didn't love going back and forth, but the Foothill class times were set and it allowed me to fit in everything I wanted to do while still not having to get up before 10am.

On the days when I was teaching, I would leave earlier than usual and organized things so that I wouldn't take tests on those days.  Over the summer, I taught a more intensive coding class, but I still continued with some of my SIL courses.  I would have one day for my classes each week and still be able to come in for exams so that I could keep up progress in my courses.

Even though I chose to continue with classes through the summer rather than taking a long break, it was easy to rearrange my schedule as needed.  When I went to Tahoe for a ballet competition or when I had a performance, I just cancelled classes for those days and then picked right back up.

The flexibility to start classes at anytime is useful overall.  Last year, I finished my math course when the calendar was about 70% through what would be the traditional school year.  I simply began my AP Calculus BC class right then.  Being able to continue on to the next course and work on my classes through the summer helps take some of the pressure off my senior year schedule, especially with college applications in the fall.

The class schedule like course instruction and content is oriented to the student.  If you want to get work done quickly, you can do it, but you have to take initiative.  There isn't someone who is going to show up and force you to do something right now.  But, everything assigned is interesting and truly develops your understanding; you'll never have busy work.  You go at your pace.  If you want you can do what Cooper did when he completed his full year of Bio in something like three months, but it is really up to you.  Finishing classes comes down to the work you put into it.

 

From the Principal's Desk: Washington or Polk?

Today is Presidents' Day, so let’s celebrate. But, wait a moment...is that actually the case?  The official name of the public holiday is Washington's Birthday, not Presidents' Day.  The latter is merely the popular usage, meant to focus attention on the office of the Presidency, rather than a single person. Yet, when the day was established as a legal holiday (in 1879), it was the first to specifically honor an American citizen - George Washington - and the day has never been officially changed.  It is Washington's Birthday, not Presidents' Day. But why should we stand on ceremony?  At SIL, we encourage independent thinking, so let's honor whichever President we want!

To that end, I'll be spending my President's Day remembering our 11th President:  James K. Polk (1845-1849).

Why?  Not because I am mad about North Carolina (his home state), or his policy positions, but rather because History - at heart - is the study of the consequences of actions.  Historians need change to be kept in a job and nobody can accuse Polk of not doing enough. He accomplished the second-largest expansion of US territory through the annexation of Texas in 1845 and the establishment of the Forty-ninth parallel as the border between British Canada and Oregon Territory in 1846.  That expansion was further inflated by the successful prosecution of the Mexican War in 1848 - a war that was instigated by marching an American cavalry patrol into Mexican territory and then declaring war on Mexico for the unprovoked attack that resulted.  The new territories acquired by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1849, which ended the Mexican War, included the contemporary states of California, Nevada, and Utah, and parts of Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico. Add those states to Texas, Oregon, Idaho, and Washington and it is clear that America's continental ambition had met its great champion: James K. Polk.

If that is not enough to provoke some further examination of Mr. Polk on Presidents' Day, bear in mind that 1848 witnessed not only James Marshall's discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill but also the Seneca Falls Convention where Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton launched the Women’s Rights Movement. Moreover, the acquisition of new territory after the Mexican War crushed the sectional compromises over slavery that had previously held the fragile nation together, thus precipitating the Civil War.  Polk also established an Independent Treasury providing order to the nation's financial system and passed a tariff that appeased Northerners and Southerners.  And, he did it all in one term!  He died of cholera three months after his term ended, having chosen not to run for re-election.  1845-1849: now that was a period of action and consequence.

In a nice piece of symmetry, it was during Polk's Presidency that construction began on the Washington Monument and the first American postage stamps went on sale, featuring a ten-cent stamp of...George Washington!  So, perhaps Washington was Polk’s favorite predecessor.  It is worth noting that in Polk’s day the holiday was celebrated on February 22nd, Washington’s actual birthday by the Gregorian calendar.  Washington was born when the Julian calendar was in use, but lost a year and 11 days when the new calendar was adopted in 1752.  With the 1968 Monday Holiday Law, we will never celebrate Washington’s birthday on the actual day as the third Monday of February can never fall later than the 21st.  So, Presidents' Day!  Or, Polk's Day!  You can visit his White House page for more information.