Academically competitive, accepting community but sometimes cliquey, nice course variety and mostly caring teachers. There is a lot of peer pressure to get into a "good" college, and teachers are most accessible when students personally email them and set up an appointment. It can sometimes be difficult to reach teachers during tutorial sessions because there are so many other students trying to do the same. The school could improve on having a school board/administration that's much more connected with the student body. Although clubs aren't extremely popular at Paly, there is a strong effort to get kids involved. Choir program and athletics at Paly are renowned. Lots of ongoing construction, but it will be worth it because the newer facilities are really really nice (ie. math building, media arts building, lacrosse field, pool). Limited parking space. Sucky school dances. Library is too loud and I wish the Silent Study Room was bigger and made with cubicles and actually silent. Overall, friendly people, very diverse (you can find any kind of person you want) and excellent academics (particularly in the math and social studies department. sciences and English are OK)
Blatantly put, Palo Alto High School is academically challenging. All the students in the top lanes are extremely driven, and a "B+" is not considered an acceptable grade by many. Stanford University is right across the street, and it is a constant reminder of the importance of academic success. Moreover, if you do not find your classes academically stimulating, PALY offers opportunities to skip lanes. Also, if you finish all your math classes before you graduate, you get the opportunity to take theoretical calculus at Stanford University, which is right across the street.
As a 1961 Paly grad reading the comments below, not much has changed through the years. The postings of July 12, 2012 by a student, July 14, 2011, Oct. 27, 2010 could have been taken out of the anals of 1961. When we attended our 50th Class Reunion in Sept. 2011 one thing seemed to be uniform: we looked back on Paly as having been an exceptional school (a premiere public school competitive with private College Prep schools of the day) and the fact that we'd received an excellent education. We learned at Paly what others are learning at college level. Current students may not see it now, but you'll look back in years to come and appreciate the quality of education provided at Paly as exceptional. We were told, "you can go to college wherever you choose, but we're preparing you to qualify to get into Stanford or Cal." Very high standards! An amusing fact is that several classmates were told by their counselor to not waste their time going to college inferring they weren't going to amount to much. A number of them not only have multiple college / postgrad degrees but also became multimillionaires. Don't let anyone count you out just because they lack vision for you!!!
Some teachers are great, some not so much. The student community here is grouped up into exclusive groups (cool here nerds there etc.) Some are nice some are not. Because of this, its hard to make new friends if u are new. School campus is great and the school has lots of money so the resources are plentiful. Sports are also good we won several state championships.
When you see the school, meet the teachers, and interact with the highly motivated students you would never guess this is a public school. The teachers are Palo Alto High school (Paly) work hard to ensure a wonderful education for the students as well as a friendly atmosphere. Over Paly offers a well rounded educations that both parents and students love!
We have a number one football team! All of my siblings and my children have gone to PALY and graduated. They have a great monthly flea market to support the music program. Please vote for PALY so they can build a new theatre and keep the sports programs going
Palo Alto High School recruits and retains excellent teachers who light the fires of the intellect rather than just trying to stuff information into the students' heads. The kids at Paly learn material and explore ideas I never heard of until I was at University. Also, cliquishness is minimal and individual character and expression are encouraged. Extensive free peer tutoring is available, teachers welcome students during office hours, and the counselors and Academic Resource Center are tops. Additionally, fine extracurricular on-campus groups such as the Robotics Club provide both an outlet for talent and enthusiasm, and opportunities for real public service: the Robotics Club recently won an award for the various useful equipment they have invented to help a local quadriplegic man live more independently. Paly is wonderful!
In alot of ways Paly is more like college. The course offers are diverse and the teaching staff are enthusiastic and highly qualified. There are extensive foreign language offerings and exchange student programs are done every year. If you put out the effort you can avoid all the sports/school competativeness/clique bull. The Gay Straight Alliance there has been going strong for over 10 years and the campus is one of the most lgbtq friendly around. The arts programs have their own building, with enough space for 4 choirs, a band, and visual arts space including a full sculpture area with kiln. To top it all off Lavar Burton does every commencement speech because his sister is on the faculty.