Introduction to Hillview
To help new families get started at our school, we provide key information on this page explaining the basics of Hillview as a school and as a community of learners, educators and families.
Newcomers should also explore the Hillview FAQs page and the Hillview PTO web site to learn more. Questions you may have about expectations are probably covered in the Student and Parent Handbook.
Hillview Middle School is the only grade 6-8 school of the Menlo Park City School District. There are 975 students and 84 staff. Mr. Willy Haug is the Principal as of July, 2015, and works with Associate Principal Ms. Danielle O'Brien and Assistant Principal Mr. Danny Chui. Hillview is located at 1100 Elder Avenue in Menlo Park, and the phone number is 650-326-4341 for the main office, where you will reach Office Manager Cathy Garagazzo, Attendance Clerk Monica Bosch and Administrative Assistant Marcos Lopez. Should there be an emergency and our VOIP phone systems go down, the analog line is our fax number: 650-325-3861.
Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays are direct instruction days, with 45-minute classes suited to lecture and direct instruction. Wednesdays & Thursdays are extended learning days with 84-minute classes suited to project work, assessments and collaboration. There is an early dismissal time of 2:30pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays that permits the teachers and leadership to work on course structure, instructional approach and assignments through a collaborative process within grade levels and also within subject areas.
Notable Information About Instruction
Hillview uses an organizational structure called the Academy Model that groups students and teachers into smaller learning communities in order to provide greater attention to individual student needs and to develop a sense of community within a smaller group of students who share the same academic teachers.
The three Academy teachers for sixth grade students are a Humanities Teacher who instructs English Language Arts and Social Studies, a Math Teacher and a Science Teacher. Sixth graders share classes outside their Academies for their Electives.
The three Academy teachers for seventh and eighth grade students are an English Language Arts teacher, a Social Studies Teacher and a Science teacher. Seventh and eighth grade students share classes outside their Academies in Math, Physical Education and Electives.
The curriculum at Hillview includes elective courses outside the Academies and core curriculum. Students can study subjects that deepen cultural, artistic, linguistic or practical proficiency. Students select their elective subjects in the spring for the upcoming school year, and spots are held for newly enrolled students.
All students take two Electives. Almost all students choose Qu3ST and another Elective. A few examples of trimester-long Electives are Drama, Intro to Wood, Speech and Debate, Intro to Technology, Leadership, Intro to Coding, Guitar and Peer Mentoring. Examples of year-long Electives are French, Advanced Industrial Tech, Orchestra, Band, Advanced Drama, Choir, Photography and Claymation, Advanced Art, Spanish and Advanced Video Production.
Most 6th Graders do not choose electives, but are part of a wheel, spending approximately 6 weeks, or half a trimester, in each elective. Electives include: drama, music, coding, art, woodshop and leadership. The six electives give 6th graders a taste of the more intensive elective offerings in 7th and 8th grades.
Qu3ST is an acronym standing for Quiet Sustained and Supported Study Time, and it is a class open to all students during the Open Session (last period of the day). This important time provides students with essential academic support before the school day ends, allows them to get a jump start on homework, use extra time to complete a task or to ask questions about difficult concepts. This quiet, friendly and supportive environment is also a great place to catch up on outside reading or to study for an upcoming assignment. Some students may choose to take a second elective during Open Session instead of participating in Qu3ST. This option is only recommended for independent, organized and motivated students with few conceptual struggles.
Hillview Librarians Tracy Piombo and Aimee Mathenia lead programs to increase reading and to teach research and library use for students to develop their capabilities for sustained academic projects requiring information gathering. The Hillview Library is almost entirely parent-supported. The Menlo Park Atherton Education Foundation funds the Librarians and most of the library materials, while the Hillview PTO and Friends of the Library provide additional funding along with valuable volunteer hours.
The Physical Education teacher team offers a curriculum with options for students to enjoy while exploring athletics, physical activity and health. Every grade includes the California standards-based PE curriculum, while seventh and eighth grade students may choose options beyond 7/8th grade PE such as Hillview on the Move (dance and fitness) or Advanced Dance. Sixth grade students may select for one trimester to take “Yogalates” yoga/pilates instead of PE.
1:1 iPad Program
The school lends its students individual iPads to support learning and teaching. Teachers select the apps for Hillview 1:1 iPads for uses such as direct instruction, demonstrating mastery of a subject, research support or personal organization. In order for iPads to be issued to a student, parent and child must read through an agreement document then each family must return a signed agreement along with the decision on whether or not to buy iPad insurance. Click here for more.
How Hillview Starts the Year
MPCSD requires families to re-enroll students in the spring for the coming school year. Families moving into the District and enrolling a student at Hillview for the first time can get started by visiting the Hillview office.
Pre-Luau Online "Registration"
Before students may pick up their schedules and start class, families must complete a few steps online, which involves completing several necessities for the year such as completing registration for the 1:1 iPad program.
E Komo Mai Luau
The E Komo Mai Luau takes place in the Hillview Courtyard before classes begin and replaces what Hillview alumni remember as ACI (Arena Check-In). It is a celebratory event for families and students to meet up, participate in fun activities, enjoy food together and take a look at the opportunities for student after-school activities and for parent volunteering.
Students whose families have completed Online Pre-Luau Registration and hand in their paperwork will receive their schedules at the Luau – and those in grades 7 and 8 will also receive their iPads.
Camp Hillview is a program for incoming 6th grade students designed to help them make new friends and get to know the Hillview campus better. This event takes place during the first week of school when three or four days are devoted to playing games, character education and team building exercises. Teachers and 8th grade student volunteers run Camp Hillview.
Associated Student Body
California law specifies every public school have an Associated Student Body that resembles the idea of a student council. Here at Hillview we call it the ASB. The ASB organizes spirit events, tracks Block H points, hosts contests of all sorts during the year and many other fun things. The ASB Online Store is where families buy Hillview Physical Education uniforms at the beginning of the school year. And the ASB Card costs $60 per student to support student activities. Holding an ASB card entitles students to discounted entry to dances, one yearbook at year’s end and other benefits. Click here for more.
Block H Points
Named for the block letter style “H” such as would appear on the front of a high school athlete’s varsity jacket, the Block H program recognizes Hillview students for their contributions to the school. Students can earn points toward their Block H, and reaching 150 points earns students the coveted award. The true benefit of participating in the program is the development of skills that create a well-rounded, civic-minded and accomplished student. Click here for more.
Bill Hairston leads the Hillview Drama Program, which offers several Electives. Auditions and rehearsals for performances such as plays and musicals take place outside school hours. Student auditions are announced in the PTO Newsletter as they are scheduled.
Hillview Music Program
Teacher Richard Vaughan leads the Hillview Music Program, which includes Jazz Band, Orchestra and Chorus. Performances happen throughout the school year, and the Jazz Band has performed at competitions throughout the region.
The PTO supports teachers in leading Lunchtime Clubs, which are activities for students to enjoy as an alternative to independent recreation during lunch period. Some examples of Lunchtime Clubs are intramural sports, Art Club, Dance & Cheer team Science Club, Book Club and Science Club
There is an active PTO at Hillview providing funding support and volunteer support for a large number of programs that make the Hillview experience better than it could otherwise be. The PTO and the Hillview staff team up on school events like dances, the Back to School Luau, PTO committees operate the hot lunch program, after school classes & sports, the Parent Education Speaker series, field trips and 8th grade graduation. And PTO volunteers support teachers in music and drama performances, library and PE classes, Mini Course Week, Homework Club, College Bound and camp Hillview. Click for more.
Another important parent organization at Hillview and throughout the MPCSD is the Menlo Park Atherton Education Foundation. The MPAEF is a nonprofit organization that partners with parents, businesses and community members to raise money that funds the District’s teachers and curriculum. At Hillview, MPAEF support directly benefits our students by funding additional high quality teachers to make classes smaller and more personalized, enabling deep professional development for the staff and faculty to improve teaching and ensuring that trained professionals are leading library, the performing and visual arts and science. Click here for more.
All the Rest of It
There are many topics not included in this brief overview of life at Hillview Middle School. Here is a selection of links:
- After school homework and support programs – Hillview offers several after-school programs to assist students with homework completion, mastery of mathematics and development of social & emotional skills. Some of these programs are open for students to drop in when they want services, and others require a student to be referred by our counselors or administrative team. The District provides a late bus for students attending these programs (click here for bus information).
- After school sports – Hillview has sports teams for boys and girls in all grades, with registration organized by the PTO.
- After school classes – the PTO arranges with outside vendors to run fun and enriching classes on campus after school dismissal.
- Parent Education Series – the PTO organizes a speaker series open to the community. The events are public and intended to address common topics of parenting school age children, such as technology use, adolescent development or gender issues.