October 5, 2023

Dear Kehillah Community,

Years ago, when my wife and I began researching and evaluating high school options for our son, we were not very happy with the choices. Having lived in Palo Alto for many years, we were well aware of the ever-increasing levels of pressure to perform among high school students. We did not want our son’s adolescent years to be full of school-related stress; adolescence is hard enough without adding the expectation of academic perfection.

We attended numerous open houses and heard presentations by heads of school and admission directors from practically every independent high school within 20 miles. Each presentation featured student discussion panels. In general, the students talked about the vast number and depth of their academic and extracurricular activities. They spoke about themselves as if they were in a college admission interview, rather than in front of a group of parents trying to figure out the best paths for their children. One parent from an open house audience asked what the students liked to do in their free time, and a student responded, “Free time will come later.”

Then we discovered Kehillah.

Our neighbors had two kids at Kehillah during this time. We had never heard of Kehillah, so we talked with them about their kids’ experiences. Kehillah, they said, had an academic curriculum that was just as robust as any of the other independent schools in the area and provided this high level of academics in a much lower stress environment.

Intrigued, my wife and I went to an open house at Kehillah, and we were amazed. The head of school emphasized the fact that despite what many might think, high school students are children. They are in a phase of rapid physical, emotional, and intellectual development, and Kehillah wants to support them in all of these areas. He said, “All Kehllah students matter and they are known. We help them develop the tools and passions to take them wherever they want to go.”

It became clear to us that Kehillah was doing high school the right way for our son, and soon after, for our daughter.

I strongly believe that Kehillah is unique among schools on the peninsula. It provides a top-notch academic program in a nurturing and low-stress environment and provides the mental and emotional space to learn more deeply about the world and themselves, something that is sorely needed and desired by many students and parents.

The previous panoRAMa by Shani Zelenko is a case in point for what makes Kehillah so special. Shani’s description of her post-high school path beautifully illustrates how Kehillah supports its students by giving them the space, encouragement, knowledge, and skills to find and successfully pursue their paths in the world.

The importance of Kehillah’s continued success is what drew me to serve on Kehillah’s Board of Directors and drives me to do my best to help Kehillah in any way I can.


Jonathan Manson, Board Chair

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