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Teacher with students in the classroom

Mid-Pen Kicks Off 40th Anniversary Year

The first day of school always brings a mix of excitement and anticipation of the school year ahead, and Wednesday, August 21, was no exception.
Mid-Pen began the school year welcoming 46 new students, including, with 33 students, the largest opening day freshman class in its 40-year history. Boasting a total of 131 students, this year’s enrollment is a far cry from the three students who gathered in the fall of 1979 with founders Phil Bliss and Herman Ohme in the living room of Herman’s Palo Alto home.

Before classes began in the morning, students and teachers gathered in the gym for the first all-school assembly of the year, led by Head of School Phil Gutierrez. 

Phil asked students if they remembered the school’s core values and was impressed that a new student, Mika L. ’21, instantly recited the four values that drive all that we do: respect, kindness, acceptance, and responsibility. 

On acceptance, Phil said, “One of the things that I hear so often, and I love to hear, from Mid-Pen students is that no matter who you are or how you identify, you are all accepted here. Mid-Pen is your home.”

Contrasting the welcoming values of Mid-Pen with the atmosphere of divisiveness prevalent in so much of the world, he emphasized that everyone is welcome at Mid-Pen. “At Mid-Pen, this is a safe place for all students, no matter who you are, where you are coming from, or what you believe.”

Before sending them off to their first class of the year with their Core teachers, Phil encouraged students to take risks and stretch themselves this year. “High school is a really special time, and we want you to take advantage of everything Mid-Pen has to offer,” he said. “We encourage you to be comfortable in you who are, but also get out of your comfort zone now and them. Play a sport, take up an instrument, be in a play, meet someone new. That’s the way you will learn and grow, and you can do it all at Mid-Pen.”