The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

In-Depth: A New Era

Work on the 400 and 500 wings continue with construction of poolside rooms and repairs
on classroom wings.
Matilda Haney Foulds
Work on the 400 and 500 wings continue with construction of poolside rooms and repairs on classroom wings.

New year, new me… new school? This year, the age-old saying is more applicable to campus life at Los Altos High School than ever be- fore. A series of changes including construction projects, new administration staff and modifications to the bell schedule have changed day-to-day operations and life at LAHS.

The new face of Los Altos High School

Former LAHS Principal Wynne Satterwhite announced her retirement last April after nearly 30 years at the school. Her replacement was announced a month later: Tracey Runeare, former principal at Harbor High School in Santa Cruz.

New Principal Tracey Runeare starts first year at Los Altos High School (MVLA press release)

“My first few weeks could not have been more positive,” Runeare said. “I think this is an amazing school, and I feel lucky to be here.”

Since joining campus, Runeare has been curious to learn more about how she can better serve the student body. She is often found walking around the quad during brunch and lunch, saying hi to students who haven’t already met her. 

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In changes to Administration, Runeare is accompanied by a more recognizable face: Derek Miyahara, LAHS’s newly-appointed Assistant Principal. Miyahara previously taught AP Microeconomics and Psychology for 19 years before stepping into his new role. Miyahara has filled former Assistant Principal Galen Rosenberg’s job overseeing construction on campus. The Talon conducted a Q&A with Miyahara on his new work and what it means to be an Assistant Principal.

Q&A with Derek Miyahara, Head of Facilities

Q: What’s it like being the new Assistant Principal?

A: “It’s a lot more work than I originally thought. I’m responsible for lots of things that I never would have thought of as a teacher. It keeps me busy.”

Q: Do you miss teaching?

A: “I miss teaching greatly. One of the difficulties is that I really enjoyed the classes I taught. It was one of the hardest things about becoming Assistant Principal, knowing that I would have to give up the teaching piece of my job.”

Q: What’s your role in the construction on campus?

A: “I’m the Vice Principal in charge of facilities, and facilities include construction. It includes all kinds of other things, like custodial work, keeping the campus clean and facilitating parking.”

Q: This year, students have had to walk all the way around the gym to get to the 600s wing. What is the problem?

Assistant Principal Derek Miyahara is the facility advisor for the new building where admin is located. (Courtesy Derek Miyahara)

A: “I certainly don’t prefer it this way, and the teachers aren’t happy about it either. I don’t think anyone is happy having to walk around the gym. The problem was that in order to do the construction, they had to close the hallway between the 400s and 500s, and the pool.”

Q: Is there anything else you would like to say to the student body?

A: “Thank you for your patience in dealing with the construction, because it is frustrating. It’s frustrating that the construction prevents people from going where they want to go quickly. I think that the students and the faculty have been incredibly patient as we get through this. So I just want to say thank you to everyone.”


Bell Schedule Changes

This year, there were some changes to the bell schedule — notably, school starts earlier and classes are slightly longer.

According to Runeare, the bell schedule modifications are because last year, the MVLA bell schedule did not meet the required instructional minutes set by the state. As a result, classes now start 10 minutes earlier than last year and break periods have been shortened. With the earlier start, people have been caught off guard when the bell rings.

“Sometimes a teacher isn’t as ready as they want to be when the bell rings, and same with students,” Runeare said.

Kathleen Zhu

Academic Collaboration Time (ACT) has also been increased by three minutes. This, along with a new seven-minute passing period, increases the total ACT time to an hour.

Another change was the removal of morning announcements. Last year, an extra 5 minutes was added to the first class of the day to accommodate for broadcast announcements that would inform students of events happening in school.

New and ongoing campus construction updates

Ongoing roof renovations and window repairments in the 400 and 500 wings have blocked a major part of the school, making campus navigation a little harder. Narrow paths behind the 600s building and faraway portables have some students struggling to get to classes on time. As a result of construction in the 400 and 500 wings, some classrooms have been displaced to portables at the sides and back of the school.

The 400 wing on the flooring and roofing stage of construction. This wing is expected to be done by the beginning of next school year. (Courtesy Adam Randall)

Contractors, such as the general contractor and project managers, are always covering large construction projects like the Student Services Building. In just one building, lots of people are involved in various jobs regarding the layout, concrete, painting, carpet, and furniture. Each of these jobs is a specific step in the timeline delayed by constant setbacks.

“You’re managing all these different people and when one of them doesn’t either follow the timeline or has a problem with delivery, it delays everything,” Runeare said. “It’s really common in construction to have things like that slow down the overall progress.”

Assistant Principal Derek Miyahara is the facility advisor for the new Student Services Building, where administrative offices and student leadership classrooms are located. (Matilda Haney Foulds)

The Student Services Building became open to students and staff a week after school started and is due to be fully revealed in a couple of weeks, according to Runeare.

“Some of the ceilings are unfinished. I have a little caution tape hanging in my office since there are still wires hanging down,” Runeare said. “So, as soon as it looks photo-ready, we’ll do the ribbon cutting.”

The 400 and 500 wings will be closed for the rest of the year, so students and staff will have to keep around the gym to get to the 600s wing of the school. Next year, the 200 and 300 wings are set to be under construction, with the 400 and 500 wings back open.


Longer walks and shorter breaks: Campus opinions

Interestingly, the poll found respondents were split between two schedule choices. 51% of students would have preferred a schedule that starts and ends ten minutes later than our current schedule, while 42% prefer the current timing. (Milan Grbovic)
With ongoing construction displacing classes to the outskirts of school and blocking off routes to the 600 wing, nearly two-thirds of survey respondents felt that passing periods were not long enough to get to classes on time. (Milan Grbovic)
An overwhelming majority of returning student respondents preferred having morning announcements broadcast over the loudspeaker system — which were removed this year in favor of relying on email announcements sent to students every morning. (Milan Grbovic)

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About the Contributors
Milan Grbovic
Milan Grbovic, Staff Writer
Matilda Haney Foulds
Matilda Haney Foulds, Staff Writer
Ivan Sandoval-Navarro
Ivan Sandoval-Navarro, Staff Writer
Kathleen Zhu
Kathleen Zhu, Staff Writer

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