Menlo Dictionary

Terms to help you get to know Menlo School

​​Academic Advisor: Each freshman, along with having a dedicated Advocate, has also been assigned an Academic Advisor to support them on their four-year journey through high school. The Academic Advisor will work in partnership with the Advocate to ensure each student feels known and supported as they discover what motivates and inspires them both in and out of the classroom.

Advocacy: Advocacy provides the opportunity for a small group of students to build a close relationship with each other and a caring adult. Advocacy time is also used to develop social-emotional skills, foster personal growth, discuss important topics relating to school values, share challenges and celebrate successes.

Advocate: Teacher or staff member who leads an advocacy group. Advocates get to know their students very well and are good points of contact for parent questions and concerns. In general, Upper School advocates stay with their students for all four years. Middle School students get a new advocate each year as Middle School advocates are members of the grade-level team.

Affinity Groups: Menlo has created Affinity groups for both parents and students to meet and discuss their experiences. You can find them listed here.

Annual Fund: The School’s annual community fundraising effort that generally runs from September into November. All families are asked to participate at a level that feels comfortable for them. Money raised funds 10% of the operating budget each year so every student benefits. Every gift matters!


  • Upper School: absences can be reported by calling the Student Life Office at 650.330.2001 ext. 2300 or emailing For planned absences of two or more days, students should pick up an absence request form from the Student Life Office, request signatures from their teachers and a parent and then submit the form to the Student Life Office at least one day in advance of planned absence.
  • Middle School: absences can be reported by calling the Middle School Office at 650.330.2001 ext. 2400 or emailing For planned absences of one or more days, students should pick up an absence request form from the Middle School Office, request signatures from their teachers and a parent and then submit the form back to the office at least one day in advance of a planned absence.

Auction Dinner Dance: Annual evening of live auction, dinner, and dancing held in the Athletic Center. The event is usually held on a Saturday evening in March and 100% of the proceeds support Menlo’s financial aid program. An online auction is held in conjunction with the live auction.

Away athletic games: Typically half the games per season are played “away.” Sometimes this requires students to leave campus before the end of the day. Departure times are posted on the website. Students are responsible for emailing their teachers ahead of time to tell them when they are leaving. Transportation is usually provided for players to the game and back to Menlo.

Back-to-School Night: A don’t miss event, this is parents’ annual chance to spend an evening to hear from each of your child’s teachers.

Calendar: No need to manually enter school events, holidays, or sports games. On the Menlo website calendar link, you can subscribe to a wide variety of calendars to import to your phone.

Campus Store: On-campus store that sells books, Menlo clothing, accessories, athletic items, and tickets to campus events. Tickets can be purchased online. There is currently no specific vendor for textbooks. You can purchase books from any vendor you prefer as long as the ISBN numbers of the publication match. For Middle School supplies, visit Keokit.

Class Meeting: Throughout the year, grades 9-12 meet as a class to learn, plan and discuss issues pertinent to that specific grade.

Coat of Arms: Upper School student newspaper, written and produced by students. Available online, from the reception desk, and by subscription.

College Counselors: Menlo Upper School students will be assigned a college counselor by the end of their Sophomore year when the student and parents will also be given access to the SCOIR college counseling platform. The counselor will provide supportive, individual attention for the student throughout the entire college admissions process. The Upper School College Counseling office will also hold numerous events during the year, targeted to specific grade levels, to review the process, give perspective and analysis, and help parents be good partners with their students in the process. Please see the College Counseling Office website for more detailed information. 

Community Circle (“Chat and Chew”): An Upper School forum for teachers and students to discuss and learn about a wide variety of issues that affect our community. “Community” is defined in the following ways: our immediate community (Menlo School), the local community (local neighborhoods like Menlo Park and Atherton and neighboring schools), the nation, and the world. All voices and opinions are welcome and encouraged.

Community Engagement Graduation Requirement: All Upper School Students are required to complete annual community engagement as part of their graduation requirements. See this webpage for details.

Community Cooks: A community engagement opportunity program where students cook dinner with a group of their peers and serve the meal at Life Moves’ Maple Street Shelter or First Steps for Families. There are roughly 10 Community Cooks events throughout the school year. 

Creative Arts Week: An annual week-long event celebrating the Creative Arts in the Upper School. Showcases and events occur at lunchtime throughout the week. The celebration culminates with an assembly for students and an evening performance for the entire community held in the Athletic Center.

Dance Concert: Annual concert held during a weekend in March with all dance class sections and dance groups from both the Middle and Upper School performing. 

Development Office: The Development Office manages all fundraising efforts for the school. The office works closely with MSPA and is supported by a large team of parent volunteers, which include: the annual fund efforts, capital campaigns, annual auctions, and endowment giving.

Doug Peck: Prior to August 2021, Doug was the photographer who contracts with Menlo to take all class and team photos. You can still email him to purchase Knightbook and athletic photos taken prior to August 1, 2021. For photos taken after that date, contact Still Light Studios.

eMail Newsletters: eNotes (Upper School)/zipNotes (Middle School): Weekly emails providing in-depth information on-campus events and grade level information. These emails are wonderful and thorough sources of information.

Go Menlo: An integral part of our sustainability efforts. Menlo School buses service many communities from north and south of the school, both morning and afternoon.  Finding carpools is made easy with the Menlo Carpool Map. Taking the train? We have shuttle service to the Menlo Park Caltrain station in the morning and back in the afternoon. And, of course, there is always plenty of parking for our bikers.  

Grade Level Parent Coffees: Informal social gatherings for parents in the same grade, typically held twice a year.  A nice chance to visit with fellow parents.

Grade Level Parent Information Night: Evening parent meetings for specific grades where senior administrators share grade-relevant information.  Be sure to attend to hear about what is happening in your student’s classes.

Habits of the Heart & Mind: A character-development program that touches every facet of the Middle School experience from teaching and curriculum to student life activities. The Habits are centered around six traits the School hopes to develop in all Menlo students; Self-Awareness, Ethical Behavior, Empathy, Curiosity, Collaboration, and Resilience.

Holiday Assembly: All-school event where the students and staff come together to celebrate the holiday season through song, orchestral music, and dance. The entire community sings the much anticipated 12 Days of Christmas with senior class dominating as “Five Golden Rings.” Many students wear spirited holiday attire. Unfortunately, the event is not open to parents due to gym capacity issues.

Homecoming: This mid-October varsity football game includes an all-school tailgate throughout the game, and half-time features a parade of floats created by students in grades 9-12. Families are encouraged to attend! It’s a fun afternoon to cheer our team and visit with friends. Sign-ups to volunteer and bring food will be in eNotes and zipNotes.

Homecoming Float Building: Each class grades 9-12 builds a float to be shown at halftime during the Homecoming football game. Floats are built on campus typically during the weekend before Homecoming; the senior class assigns the theme to the younger grades. Float building is a fun bonding time for the class; students can drop by for 30 minutes or a few hours to help.

Knight Club: A Middle School student-run talent show showcasing dancers, musicians, skits, specialty acts, and other talents. This is a free event for the Menlo community occurring on a Friday evening in the spring.

Knightbook: An online, password-protected student picture directory, where you can create class lists and find student and parent contact information.  This information should never be shared outside of the Menlo community.

M-BEST: A Middle and Upper School club that seeks to foster enthusiasm and passion for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields and to create confident leaders in the STEM fields and the world, with a particular emphasis on female-identifying students. Activities include workshops, speakers, hands-on activities, and tours of local labs.

MTerm: In May, after the conclusion of APs and finals, students in grades 9-11 engage in immersive mini-courses designed to get them learning out in our local and global communities. Hands-on and experiential, the MTerm curriculum aligns with Menlo’s mission. 

Menlo Abroad: A series of experiential and immersive courses involving travel in a foreign country. Offered as an MTerm option for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, these three-week holistic trips begin in May and offer students the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with people and places, to practice global competencies such as foreign language acquisition, and to simultaneously cultivate global citizenship, leadership, and self-awareness. 

The Menlo Booklist is a web app where you can enter your classes and get a customized list that includes required books, what PDFs will be used, and any additional course notes the teacher has chosen to share. (The Menlo Booklist replaced MBS Direct.) The Booklist will specify the correct ISBN # of the edition you’ll need for class. Books can be purchased from any retailer that stocks the correct ISBN. 

Menlo IP (Individualized Program): An Upper School program, Menlo IP provides students with meaningful opportunities to demonstrate initiative and be knowledge creators and autonomous learners who can forge new ways to distinguish themselves in their studies during their high school years. Students can take on a thoughtful, distinctive academic capstone experience in one of four broad areas: Civic Leadership, Community Engagement and Impact, Arts & Letters, and Global Scholars.

Menlo Parent Group (MPG): Program designed to bring sixth and ninth grade parents together in a more intimate and informal setting to talk and ask questions. Participation is optional; parents sign up in the early fall. Each group is typically comprised of parents with a mix of old and new families, and led by one or two experienced Menlo parents. Groups meet several times during the year. Highly recommended for families new to Menlo.

Menlo School Parent Association (MSPA): Parent-run organization focused on developing community amongst families, students, and Menlo faculty & administration; funded primarily by parent donations during the annual enrollment process.

MSPA Meetings: Meetings organized by MSPA leadership for the Menlo parent community with the goal of informing parents about current activities and relevant issues on campus.  There will be three Middle School specific meetings, three Upper School specific meetings, and two joint meetings.  

Parent Directory: Click on link on “Parents” section of Menlo website for easy access to a full student and parent directory. The directory is part of the secure section of the website and this information should never be shared outside the Menlo community. 

Parent Education Conference: An half-day conference held every other year in February devoted to a specific parenting theme, open to all Menlo parents.

Parent Social: Each grade has two socials a year for parents only. A casual opportunity for parents to get together for drinks, dinner or dessert with no agenda. Fun evenings to meet new friends and catch up with old friends.

Peninsula Bridge Fun Run: Annual 5k Fun Run (or stroll) hosted by the Menlo community in early fall. Proceeds go to Peninsula Bridge Program.

Plays: The Upper School Drama department puts on three performances during the year.  Middle School Drama presents three productions each year.

Prom (Upper School Formal): A formal dance for juniors and seniors held off campus. Underclass students may attend as the date of a junior or senior, although freshmen are discouraged from attending.

Sea of Gold (SOG) and Sea of Blue: Upper School student and parent fan groups created to support Menlo Athletic teams.

Semi: Upper School semi-formal dance held in Jan/Feb on campus, students dress up; some students go with a date, others in groups. Students often gather first for dinner and photos in small groups. Parents typically attend these gatherings to take photos so plan to keep this evening open.

Special Olympics: Menlo hosts a track and field competition with an Olympics Village for the athletes of Special Olympics of Northern California. This is this largest Community Engagement event of the school year and students in all grades are welcome to volunteer.

Spirit Week: Five days of spirited activities and themed dress-up days culminating in the Homecoming football game, fun for every grade. Both the Middle and Upper School participate but themes can vary by division.

State of the School: Annual address by Head of School Than Healy and Chair of Board of Trustees reviewing the state of the School and what is in store for the future. The State of the School is usually held on an evening in late April.

Still Light Studios: Beginning in August 2021, Still Light Studios is the photography partner Menlo is working with to take Knightbook photos as well as class and sports photos. They will provide access to an online gallery where families can view and order images. Details will be emailed to families and shared in eNotes and zipNotes. 

Student Life:  The Student Life program at Menlo supports students in becoming their best selves and cultivates a kind, compassionate, inclusive, and joyful community. The student life team plans the programming for Advocacy, Assemblies, student activities, and student well-being. Upper School students can reach out to Student Life staff if they have a question (of any type), want to discuss an idea for an activity or program, or just want to hang out and talk.  Middle School students can visit the Middle School office.

Translation: Menlo provides Spanish translation services for all parent events.

Tutorial: Time built into the weekly schedule for students to meet with teachers, catch up on homework or just take a few minutes to relax and enjoy reading a book. 

Valpo Bowl: Annual football game, Menlo vs Sacred Heart Prep, held at night, tickets must be purchased to attend. Proceeds go to Peninsula Bridge Program. The Valpo Bowl is usually held in early November. Fun for the whole family.

Welcome Back Dance: In the Upper School, the first Friday of school features a casual dance in the Gym.

Writers’ Week: In the Upper School, this week in early Spring features a series of lunchtime speakers, open to students and parents.