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Education

A large majority of students who enter Mountain View Los Altos High School District (MVLA) leaves with higher education on the brain.

At least 94 percent of graduates have college plans, according to district officials. But academics are not where education ends here. The staff takes great care to create an inclusive culture that promotes a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

“We believe that high school students thrive when they make time in their busy schedule to reflect on their learning,” Superintendent Jeff Harding said in a statement. “We want our students to develop healthy habits and form lasting friendships.”

Bottom line: district officials want students to pursue their passions, no matter if they are found in academics, athletics, the fine arts, or other sources.

District: by the numbers

MVLA serves residents of Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills – an area that’s been a technology hotbed since the early 1950s. Intel, Fairchild, Adobe, SGI and Sun were all founded here. Today it serves as home to global companies like Google, Microsoft, Linkedin, Intuit and Facebook’s Whatsapp among others.

The district has an annual operating budget of $77.6 million. It has tackled some larger construction projects lately, including the renovation of the locker rooms at both high schools. The Mountain View High library was also remodeled.

The district has 3,700 students among two comprehensive high schools. More than 70 percent of its teaching staff holds advanced degrees, according to administrators. Facilities consist of two comprehensive high schools, one alternative school and one adult school.

Hundreds of MVLA students receive honors every year. Recently, more than a hundred received impressive honors for their performance on national language exams, which the district funds via paying for test and processing fees plus printing costs. Teachers in the World Language Department say the opportunity to test their students this way is an excellent way to promote biliteracy – or the ability to read and write proficiently in two languages.

Of the more than 300 students tested at Mountain View High School, 145 of them received high recognition.

“I was overwhelmed by the results of the French National Contest this year,” said French teacher Clotilde Gres. “For the first time, my students took the test online. They did better than ever with more than 50 percent of my students receiving medals.”

At sister school Los Altos High School, 366 students received high recognition in Spanish, Latin and French. Mandarin is also offered.

“Attaining a medal or honorable mention for any student on the National Spanish Examinations is very prestigious because the exams are the largest of their kind in the United States, with over 160,000 students participating in 2016,” Kevin Cessna-Buscemi, national director of the exams, said.

District mission

This kind of success is what MVLA strives for in the following mission statement:

“We are committed to creating a community of learners with the knowledge, skills and values necessary to combine personal success with meaningful contributions to our multicultural and global society.”

To back that up, the district prides itself on having some of the highest student Advanced Placement and SAT exam scores in California. Superintendent Harding points to accolades from U.S. News and World Report that gave both Los Altos and Mountain View high schools a Gold Award for ranking in the top 2 percent of high schools nationally.

As for the arts, one particularly memorable moment from the past school year was when Mountain View High School’s chamber orchestra took the stage at Carnegie Hall in New York in April. The orchestra was one of eight featured in the New York International Music Festival.

“It was a truly wonderful experience. Not only was it amazing to get the opportunity to play in such a renowned hall, but the looks on the students’ faces when they saw the audiences reaction was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything,” music director Dana McDonnell said at the time. “I hope this is an experience that will stay with our students for the rest of their lives.”

Student Elvin Hsieh said it undoubtedly will.

“The 10 seconds I stood up to play my solo at Carnegie Hall were probably the best ten seconds of my life,” the violinist said. “I’m very appreciative of the fact that I was able to share this moment with some of my best friends.”

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