Menlo Dictionary

Terms to help you get to know Menlo School

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 for four years. Advocates get to know their students very well and are good points of contact for parent questions and concerns.

Affinity Groups: Menlo has created Affinity groups for both parents and students to meet and discuss their experiences. The Upper School campus has the Black Student Union (BSU), Latinos Unidos and Asian Pacific Islander (API) affinity groups.

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. Every gift matters!

Attendance: Absences can be reported by calling the Student Life Office at 330-2001 x 2300. 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.

Auction Dinner Dance: Annual evening of live auction, dinner, and dancing held in the athletic center 100% of proceeds support the financial aid program at Menlo and the event is usually held on a Saturday evening in March.

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: 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 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. Ticket can be accessed online. Textbooks are sold through MBSdirect MBS Direct

Capital Campaign: The Menlo 100 Campaign is currently in its quiet 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 (currently under construction). Support from our entire community will be vital to the success of the campaign.

Class Meeting: Throughout the year, each 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: A 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 Requirement: All upper school students are required to complete annual community engagement as part of their graduation requirements. There is a 10 credit per year requirement for all grade levels which is met through a combination of school events and community efforts. See for 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 with all dance class sections and dance groups performing. 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: the annual fund efforts, capital campaigns, annual auctions, 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.

Float Building: Each class 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.

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 even easier with Zimride, a web-based ridesharing network, and 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 this one! Parents not invited due to gym capacity issues.

Homecoming: Mid-October football game. There is an all-school tailgate throughout the game and each class presents a float at halftime. Families encouraged to attend! A fun afternoon to cheer our team and visit with friends. Sign-ups to volunteer and bring food will be in eNotes and zipNotes.

IP (Individualized 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 opt to shape interesting, thoughtful, distinctive academic explorations in four broad areas: Civic Leadership, Community Engagement and Impact, Arts & Letters and Global Scholars.

Knightbook: An online student picture directory, where you can create class lists and find student and parent contact information.

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 girls. Activities include speakers, hands-on activities, and tours of local labs.

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

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 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. 

Menlo Parent Group (MPG): Program 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 General Meeting: Meetings organized by MSPA leadership for entire Menlo parent community with 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, online auction offers hundreds of items, classes and parties offered. All proceeds support financial aid.

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

Parent Education Conference: An annual half-day conference 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. These evenings are held on campus and are 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.

Plays: The Upper School Drama department puts on three plays during the year. Fall and winter plays are held in Flo Mo (Menlo College’s Auditorium); the spring musical is typically held outside.

Prom: 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.

Q&A with Than/John/LaVina: 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 (SOG) and Sea of Blue: Student and parent fan groups created to support Menlo Athletic teams.

Semi: 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: 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 Week: Five days of lunchtime and after-school activities culminating in the Homecoming football game, 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 Chair of Board of Trustees reviewing state of school and what is in store for the future. The State of the School is usually held on an evening in late April.

Student Life: 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
Frances Ferrell - Student Activities Coordinator
Cathy Chen - Dean of Student Life Programs and Senior Class Dean
Cindy Lapolla - Dean of Freshman Transition
Eve Kulbieda - Freshman Class Advisor
Wilson Taylor - Sophomore Class Advisor
Andy Kitt - Junior Class Advisor
Chris Young - Director of Community Engagement
Tom Hitchcock - Director of Security
Tracy Bianchi & Jake Fauver - School Counselors
Joan Barada - School Nurse

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. Tutorial occurs each Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 9:45 am-10:30 am.

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

US Blackout: Subject-specific blackout periods are held throughout the year, no major assignments or tests may be given during a blackout.

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 the first Friday in November. Fun for the whole family.

Valpo Fun and Color Run: Annual 5k run (or stroll) hosted by the Menlo community. Proceeds go to Peninsula Bridge Program. This year’s run is Sunday, October 7 at 9am. Register or donate at (search for Valpo Fun Run).

Welcome Back Dance: The first Friday of School, dance is casual and held in the Gym.

Writers’ Week: A week in March that host a series of lunchtime speakers, open to students and parents.