Superintendents for the Day Help Run MPCSD
Menlo Park City School District hosted guest superintendents for two days, Laurel School Third Grader Jacob Atkins on Wednesday, and Sixth Grader Arhaan Gupta-Rastogi on Thursday. The students won the “Superintendent for the Day” item at the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation’s annual auction. Actual MPCSD Superintendent Erik Burmeister volunteers to have the students shadow him, planning activities that are sure to interest the young superintendents. Throughout each day, the students conduct radio drills, tour other campuses and visit classrooms, sign important papers, and meet district staff and learn what their roles are. They even met with Laurel and Hillview “Principals of the Day” who were scheduled the same day.
Mr. Atkins, a Laurel student, enjoyed the opportunity to visit other sites. He said coming to Encinal was like “being in Texas! It’s so big compared to Laurel’s Upper Campus.” Mr. Atkins is in Spanish Immersion and loves being bilingual, a skill he feels will help him get a good job someday. As he finishes up his third grade year, he looks forward to having a “really fun teacher” next year in fourth grade. As part of his day, Mr. Atkins met with the Atherton Police Department School Resource Officer (SRO) KC MacDonald. Officer MacDonald gave Mr. Atkins a tour of his police vehicle, let him try on his 45 pound vest, and explained what the police do to help schools. MPCSD has a SRO from both Atherton PD and Menlo Park PD who check in regularly with our school sites. SROs make sure our campuses and traffic around them are safe, respond to alarms, and visit campus to make connections with students that lead to positive relationships between our youth and the police.
Mr. Atkins also took a tour of the Menlo Park Fire Station. He learned the difference between an engine (holds water and hoses) and a truck (carries ladders and tools), and even got to ride in a fire engine. The fire fighters explained how they help schools, from being the first responders to an allergy attack to teaching about fire safety in classroom visits. Mr. Atkins was able to tour the lounge and kitchen, see the tools that each fire vehicle carries, ring the engine bell, use the headset for communicating with the engine operator, try on the air pack, and hold the axe and fire hose.
When he’s not running a school district, Mr. Atkins enjoys basketball, baseball, and video games. He loves his new puppies, twelve week old Cocker Spaniel sisters Roxy and Rosie, who he says “are the cutest things in the world.” He looks forward to sleepaway camp this summer where he will share a bunk with all his friends.
Hillview sixth-grader, Mr. Gupta-Rastogi, found his position of Superintendent for the Day to be something special as he was able to “see how the job is done from behind the scenes.” His favorite part of this experience was reading the announcements on Hillview’s HVTV, a duty usually reserved for eighth graders. As he spent the day with Mr. Burmeister, he was able to learn the ins and outs of a very busy job that requires a lot of hard work and dedication.
An exciting part of Mr. Gupta-Rastogi’s day was meeting with Menlo Park Mayor Ray Mueller to learn about the city and the Mayor himself. When asked if he had any potential ideas to improve Menlo Park, Mr. Gupta-Rastogi had two very impressive ones: improving public safety by adding traffic guards to busy intersections in downtown Menlo Park; and increasing community inclusion by encouraging downtown shop employees to engage in friendly communication with students, a concept that was complimented by Mayor Mueller. As Mr. Gupta-Rastogi expressed these ideas, his enthusiasm for politics and community change became apparent. He is extremely interested in studying environmental law and policy, citing climate change as an issue he is particularly passionate about. Looking towards the future, Mr. Gupta-Rastogi dreams of a political career possibly as a political analyst for a major media outlet. He explains that much of his love for politics comes from watching the news every morning while he eats breakfast.
When Mr. Gupta-Rastogi is not focusing on his academics - or acting as superintendent - he is playing the violin, battling his friends in video games such as NBA 2K, and on the field with his soccer team the Alpine Strikers. He looks forward to seeing his friends this summer and travelling abroad with his family.