With so many international students, especially from asia... indeed grit is practiced. Sometimes there is an abundance of pressure academically. One or more students have hurt themselves... due to - presumably - stress. The counseling dept has specifically been working on this with $$ from the PEN (private foundation to help PAUSD).
We moved from overseas and have always gone to private Independent schools. Gunn High School in Palo Alto is a private school education in a public school setting. Academically rigorous, socially tolerant and accepting with a fair amount of elective choices. Counseling programs are vast and diverse. Most students go to the University of THEIR choice. Many teachers are really stars... some kindly and more traditional... Our daughter is a freshman there and really loves it.
Counseling here may be a little lacking, but overall, Gunn is a great school to be in. It has a rigorous academic program, and a great performing arts program. Gunn has not dominated in most sports, but they are for the most part, good. I am a currently a rising sophomore here at Gunn, and I am proud to say I learned a lot this year, and all of my teachers were highly educated, and had a lot of knowledge on the subject. I really look forward to my next three years at Gunn. GO TITANS!
Gunn is a very large school, and has more of the atmosphere of a community college in terms of the numbers of courses, the rigor of the coursework, and the amount of initiative and self-reliance required of the students. Students who have trouble are taken care of, the high-flyers have the coursework they and their parents require, but the middle-of-the-roaders are mostly ignored. The guidance department and the teachers are fairly overwhelmed with the number of special snowflakes they must accommodate. As a whole, the Math, Science, and Fine Arts departments are the best in terms of teacher quality, and the English, Social Studies, and Foreign Language departments are the weakest. The English and Social Studies departments, except for a few standouts, have some weak/borderline incompetent teachers. I would suggest that this is a good school for the aspiring doctor, rather than the aspiring novelist.
Moving in PA with extra $1M loan burden plus $25K property tax, realized most students entering Stanford are faculty children. If house price doesn't go up with at least 3% per year for next 15 years, It's much more worth to put kids in Harker or Bellarmine being focused on more leadship.
Gunn is recognized as a top high school by colleges (including Ivy League schools), which helps considerably in college admissions. My son graduated recently - ranking at about the 30th percentile in GPA - and went on to Columbia; his Gunn education prepared him extremely well. In his four years at Gunn, all his teachers were stars except two! Extracurriculars are also plentiful and fabulous; the huge choir (no tryouts required) consistently wins top honors in national and international competitions, and gives concerts both locally and abroad. The theater program is open to performers at all levels, and the "crew" is well-taught and well-regarded. My son made many of his closest friends through extracurriculars. The academics are definitely challenging; AP math, science, computer science, English and US history classes are especially wonderful. Kids learn to think at Gunn, not just to regurgitate facts. Before we moved to Palo Alto, I heard lots of scare stories about competition, but in 7 years here, we experienced the opposite. Kids readily help each other, and root for one another. Teachers encourage teamwork. All in all, Gunn is one of the best schools in the USA.