Menlo Dictionary

Terms to help you get to know Menlo School

Advocacy: Groups of 8-10 students who meet regularly throughout all four years of high school. The groups are balanced in terms of both gender and students who came from the Menlo Middle School and other middle schools. Food is an important ingredient to the advocacy culture. Students rotate bringing snacks so be prepared for last minute requests! Learn more about the advocacy program.

Advocate: Teacher or staff member who leads an advocacy group for four years. Advocates get to know their students very well and are good points of contact for parent questions and concerns.

Annual Fund: The School’s annual community fundraising effort. All families are asked to participate at a level that feels comfortable for them. Money raised fund 10% of the operating budget each year so every student benefits. 99% of our families and 99.9% of our generous faculty/staff participated in the Annual Fund in 2016-17. Every gift matters!

Attendance: In the Middle School, if your child will be tardy or miss class, please contact Laurie Burmeister 650.330.2001 ext. 2400. In the Upper School, absences can be reported by calling the Student Life Office at 330.2001 ext. 2300 or email at 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. Students must check in with Student Life when they arrive late to school. Additionally, students must check out with Student Life.

Auction Dinner Dance: The Annual evening that includes a live auction, seated dinner, and dancing held in the gym. This year the fundraising event will take place on March 24, 2018. 100% of proceeds support the financial aid program at Menlo.

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 respective sports team’s website. Students are responsible for emailing their teachers ahead of time to tell them when they are leaving. 

Back-to-School Night: An annual chance to spend an evening as your child, moving from class to class hearing from each of your child’s teachers—a don’t miss night!

Calendar: No need to manually enter school events, holidays or sports games. On the Menlo website calendar, you can subscribe to a wide variety of calendars as a Google calendar or iCal feed.

Campus Store: On-campus and online store that sells books, Menlo clothing, accessories, athletic items, and tickets to campus events. Ticket can be accessed online. Textbooks are sold through MBS Direct.

Capital Campaign: The Menlo 100 Campaign is currently in its “leadership phase.” The priorities of the campaign include 1) growing our endowment to support academic programs, financial aid & faculty excellence and 2) capital projects which include the Commons Project (recently opened). Support from our entire community will be vital to the success of the campaign.

Class Meeting: Throughout the year, each Upper School grade meets as a class to learn, plan, and discuss issues pertinent to that specific grade.

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

College Counselors: Menlo students will be assigned a college counselor by the end of their Freshman year in the Upper School, when the student and parents will also be given access to the Naviance 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: 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 & Civic Engagement Requirement (Class of 2020 and Beyond): Students will engage in meaningful community service that addresses a social or environmental injustice and earn 10 community engagement credits each school year. Students may choose to delve into one issue by partnering with a single agency or participate in a variety of experiences. See the Community Service page for more details. 

Community Cooks: A community engagement opportunity a 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 Upper School Creative Arts. 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 that features performances by all dance class sections and dance groups from both the Middle and Upper School. The event sells out quickly and is fun for the whole family.

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: annual fund efforts, capital campaigns, annual auctions, and endowment giving. 

Doug Peck: Photographer who contracts with Menlo to take all class and team photos. You will receive order forms in the mail regularly.

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. You can find the archived eNotes and zipNotes online.

Float Building: Each class builds a float to be shown at halftime during the Homecoming football game. Floats are built on campus typically one or two weekends 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.

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. Sign your child up for the bus even if they plan to ride even once in the school year. 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 off campus 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. Very helpful.

Holiday Assembly: School-wide event where the students and staff come together to celebrate the holiday season through song, orchestral music, and dance. Entire community sings the infamous “12 days of Christmas” with senior class dominating as “5 golden rings.” Students wear “ugly holiday sweaters” so be on the lookout for one! Parents not invited due to gym capacity issues.

Homecoming: A fun afternoon to cheer our team and visit with friends, this year homecoming is on October 20th versus Woodside High School. There is an all-school tailgate throughout the game and each class presents a float at halftime. Families are encouraged to attend! Sign-ups to volunteer and bring food will be in Enotes and Zipnotes.

Knightbook: The Knightbook is the online directory of Menlo students, part of the secure section of the Menlo website. 

Knight Club: A Middle School talent show event.

M Term: A new program that had its inaugural last year. From May 21-June 3, students will take a week-long class that is more experiential than typical classes. Freshmen will learn about the many economies, demographics, and ecosystems in California, which we view as a first step in becoming “ethical, responsible, and engaged members of ever-wider communities” as our Mission Statement says. Sophomores will have courses with a community engagement focus; juniors will take team-taught interdisciplinary courses, and seniors will be finishing up their senior projects during this period. Freshmen, sophomores, and juniors will have the option to apply for Menlo Abroad (see below).

M-Best: A Middle and Upper School club which 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 getting girls involved in STEM. Activities include speakers, hands-on activities, and tours of local labs.

Menlo Abroad: A series of experiential and immersive courses involving travel in a foreign country. Offered as a M Term option for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, these three-week holistic trips begin May 29, return June 20, 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. 

Menlo IP: Menlo’s Interdisciplinary and Personalized Scholars Program is a new program that offers an alternative route through the academic program. Interested students take courses off a curated list of interdisciplinary courses and complete a significant capstone project of their own design in their senior year.

Menlo Parent Group (MPG): Program in the Upper School designed to bring freshman parents together in a more intimate and informal setting to talk and ask questions. Participation is optional; freshman parents sign up in the early fall. Each group is typically comprised of 10 to 15 freshman parents with a mix of old and new families, and led by one or two experienced Menlo parents. Groups meet four times during freshman 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 entirely by parent donations during the annual enrollment process.

MSPA Meetings: Meetings organized by MSPA leadership for the entire Menlo parent community with the goal of informing parents about current activities and relevant issues on campus. Held 4 times a year. 

Online Auction: Held during the two weeks leading up to the Live Auction Dinner Dance, the online auction offers hundreds of items, classes and parties offered. All proceeds support financial aid.

PACT (Personalized Action Community Time) Project: Students who are passionate about service and want to examine the root causes of a social and/or an environmental injustice are encouraged to develop their own project that matches their interests. This is a graduation requirement for students in the class of 2018 and 2019.

Parent Directory: Click on the link on the Parent page of Menlo Website for easy access to a full parent directory. The directory is part of the secure section of the website.

Parent & Faculty Education Conference: An annual half-day conference, February 3, 2018, devoted to a specific parenting theme, open to all Menlo parents. 

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

Plays: The Middle School Drama department puts on three plays during the year, and the Upper School Drama department also puts on three plays during the year. Fall and Winter plays are in Florence Moore Auditorium (Flo Mo) on the Menlo College Campus, however, the Upper School spring musical is typically held outside. Good for the whole family. Visit the online campus store to purchase tickets. 

Prom: A formal dance for juniors and seniors held off-campus. Underclass students may attend as the date of a junior or senior, although the Spring Freshman Overnight is scheduled on the same weekend as the Prom.  Freshman are encouraged to attend the overnight and not attend the Prom (if they are invited). 

Q&A with Than/John/La Vina: Morning coffees held on campus, a casual chance to hear from senior administrators and ask questions, often focused on a specific academic or developmental area of middle school and/or high school.

Sea of Gold and Sea of Blue: Student (gold) and parent (blue) fan groups created to support Menlo Athletic teams.

Semi: Semi-formal dance held in late January 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 pre-Semi gatherings to take photos, so plan to keep this evening open.

Senior Appreciation Event: Each spring, the Senior class celebrates their Menlo experience with a 70-minute, student-scripted show held in the Athletic Center. Day performance for students, evening show for parents.

Special Olympics: Wach Spring Menlo hosts a track and field competition with an Olympics Village for the athletes of Special Olympics of Northern California. This is a 6-12 grade event and this largest Community Engagement Event of the school year. 

Spirit Days: Occasionally, in both the Middle and Upper School, there will be spirit dress-up days so be prepared to help your student with costumes!

Spirit Week: Five days of school activities culminating in the Homecoming football game Oct 20th, fun for every grade. Activities include theme days so be prepared to help your student with costumes!

State of the School: Annual address by Head of School Than Healy and the Chair of the Board of Trustees reviewing the State of School and what is in store for the future. You can find archived video and other information on the past State of the School address. 

Student Life: In the Upper School, the Student Life Office is the place to go when you have a question (of any type), want to discuss an idea for an activity or program, or just want to hang out and talk. Who can you find there:

  • Tony Lapolla - Dean of Students
  • Victoria Cruikshank - Assistant to the Dean of Students
  • Joan Barada - School Nurse
  • Tracy Bianchi - School Counselor
  • Cathy Chen - Dean of Student Life Programs
  • Tom Hitchcock - Director of Security

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. Upper School tutorial occurs each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:45 am-10:30 am. There are also tutorial times noted in the Middle School schedule.

Valpo Bowl: Fun for the whole family, an annual football game, Menlo vs Sacred Heart Prep, held at night, tickets must be purchased to attend. Proceeds go to Peninsula Bridge Program. 

Valpo Fun Run: Annual 5k planned for both the Menlo and Sacred Heart Prep communities. Proceeds go to Peninsula Bridge Program. 

Welcome Back Dance: The first Upper School dance of the year. Doors close at 9”00 pm and open at 10:30 pm. Students are allowed to bring one guest to school dances. Please pick up a guest pass in the Student Life Office. 

Writers’ Week: In this Upper School, this week that consists of a series of lunchtime speakers, open to students and parents.