OverviewTop of Page

Menlo-Atherton offers a broad range of alternative academic opportunities. Our supportive guidance department and staff is always available if you are looking for ways to broaden your academic experience or would like to explore some of Menlo-Atherton's diverse alternative opportunities.

CompassTop of Page

M-A offers a four-week summer school to 120 incoming 9th grade students. Enrollment is on a first come, first serve basis with recruitment in the spring at all area middle schools. The program is designed to assist students who have an academic, economic, personal or environmental issue that may impede success in high school. The summer experience helps students prepare for the challenges ahead. Once in high school, Compass students continue to receive general support and guidance from Compass coordinators, including newsletters, leadership training, counseling and someone to watch over their progress and help with problems at school or home.

M-A Honors InstituteTop of Page

Honor's Institute is a four week summer program designed for incoming freshman who are college bound and plan to take one or more of M-A's high level 9th grade classes (AS English I, Geometry or Biology.) Students will participate in study skills, youth development, and team-building activities. The program includes four weeks of Honors English, two weeks of geometry preparation and two weeks of biology preparation.

The main focus of the institute is to enrich student's academic preparation for honors level classes at M-A. This will be a great opportunity to meet other students taking similar courses, become more familiar with the M-A campus, participate in youth development activities, and have some fun while preparing for high school.

Incoming Freshmen Summer ProgramsTop of Page

English Language DevelopmentTop of Page

Courses in all academic areas are available for English Learners, sheltered classes for those beginning to speak English and mainstream classes for orally proficient students who are refining skills in reading and writing. Our bilingual resource teacher is Gregg Patner, ext. 50143.

SAT PreparationTop of Page

There are several opportunities at M-A to prepare for Scholastic Aptitude Tests. Qualified SAT-prep teachers teach a variety of classes. M-A offers a College Entrance Test Prep Class that is open to juniors in the spring semester. There is room for up to 70 students and the class meets during zero period. The course stresses English reading and writing skills, mathematical reasoning, test-taking skills and has a college admission component. Students are expected to have completed Geometry before signing up for the course. Afternoon SAT prep classes are also offered in the fall and spring. Students should listen to the Bear News for details on signing up and the cost of these afternoon classes. In May, the school offers 2-week prep courses for the SAT Subject tests in Math (level2), Biology, Chemistry, and Literature.

SAT Subject TestsTop of Page

In addition to the SAT, some private colleges (generally the most selective ones) require that students take SAT subject tests as part of the admission process. While SAT subject tests are no longer required by the UC, some campuses recommend that students seeking spots in competitive majors take the tests to demonstrate subject proficiency. These are recommendations by the UC, not mandates. A few UC campuses recommend that students take certain SAT subject tests for specific colleges/schools and majors. Even if subject tests are not recommended, they can add merit to a student’s application (but students cannot be penalized for failing to take them).


Subject tests differ from the SAT in that the SAT examines aptitude over a limited amount of material while the subject tests are generally course-specific and more comprehensive. Some colleges may ask for a distribution of subject tests over different content areas. The subject tests commonly taken by M-A students are math II (through precalculus), literature, biology, chemistry, U.S. history, Spanish, and French. The tests directly measure what students have learned in school, so ideally students take them in June at the conclusion of a particular course. Because the foreign language and math tests include content from many years of study, they may also be taken in the fall if a student has completed the appropriate course. Students should only consider a language test if they are finishing the fourth level of the language.


We seek donations from students and their families to pay the teachers. The Foundation for the Future will supplement the cost, but we hope the program can be self-supporting. We recommend a $50 donation per student per class, but all students are welcome.


Schedule for 2014
The SAT-prep class is ending on May 2, and many students will then begin preparing for the SAT subject tests that will be given on June 7, two days after the last day of school. This year, as in the past nine years, we plan to open our subject-test prep classes to all juniors and sophomores at M-A in the following subjects:


Math (Mr. Whitnah)
Biology (Mr. Roisen)
Literature (Ms. Strub)
Chemistry (Ms. Maloy)


Most preparatory classes will run two weeks (alternating weeks) on every weekday morning or afternoon except Wednesday mornings. During these two-week sessions, students will review the content, take practice tests (actual tests from the past), and review these tests. In addition to preparing for their subject tests, many students will enjoy the additional benefit of reviewing content for finals. Chemistry and math classes will be offered from 7:50 to 8:40 am or after school from 3:20 to 4:10 pm; biology will meet only in the afternoon, and literature will meet only in the morning.


Students wishing to enroll in one or two sessions should bring the completed application form to D-20 during lunch on Wednesday, April 9. Please ensure that the completed application includes a parent’s signature.


Note: Students who plan to take a subject test should sign up now at collegeboard.com. They will be asked to select their test subjects when registering, but generally they can change the test topic(s) on the June 7 testing date. Usually, they can also sign up for additional tests on the test date, to be billed later for an extra fee.

Spring SAT Prep Class (CEEP)Top of Page

College Entrance Exam Preparation (CEEP) is a course that helps students improve their SAT math, critical reading, and writing scores. Students also learn about admission requirements and scholarship opportunities for the UC system, CSU, and private colleges.

The class will be offered in the Spring Semester during 0° period to 70 junior students. The students are divided into two groups, with each group alternating weekly between reading/writing and math instruction. The course is structured to prepare students for the SAT I given the first week of May. Classes are organized so that students will take practice exams weekly. Teachers will offer specific materials and techniques to build test-taking strategies. The prerequisites for the course are completion of algebra and geometry, the main content of the SAT math exam.

The lead teacher, Gregg Whitnah, has extensive experience in college entrance exam math preparation. He has taught SAT courses for a variety of institutions and tutored individual students for 30 years. Liane Strub and Valerie Caveney will be teaching the critical reading and writing class. The curriculum is based on personally developed test preparation materials, as well as test booklets (Real SAT tests) published by the College Board. The SAT I book is consumable. Students will be encouraged to purchase the book for $21. Money is turned in with the class contract. Free books will be offered to students who cannot afford the purchase.

One of the primary benefits of this class is improved SAT test scores (for most students), thereby strengthening students’ college eligibility. In addition, students will acquire general test-taking techniques and refine math, writing, and critical-reading skills. Most students will also be in a better position to make informed decisions about their respective college choices.

A note to parents: As a parent, you are probably thinking this class will be great. It certainly will be beneficial for some students, especially those who plan to apply to the UC system or to competitive private colleges. For others, it could be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back.” Once the fall semester is underway, your child may have discovered that the junior year is extremely difficult and that adding a seventh class to an already challenging day will create more stress than he/she can sanely handle. Given these conditions we recommend that students think carefully before signing-up for CEEP. During the past eleven years, CEEP teachers have observed that seven classes are not for every student. The class meets on Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 7:50 – 8:40 and Thursday from 7:50 – 9:25 beginning the first week of January.

Jane King’s (323-4066) afternoon classes are another option for students interested in SAT prep. One difference is her program offers 15 hours of instruction while CEEP offers 90 hours of instruction.

Enrollment will take place around the second week of November prior to 7:45 A.M. in Room D20. Some years we have more students interested than we can handle. Since we can only take 70 students we have devised a method of enrollment based on a lottery of the students who arrive prior to 7:45 a.m. Students who arrive after 7:45 A.M. or who do not meet the math prerequisites will not be eligible to participate in the lottery. Winners of the lottery will be posted outside of Room D20 by 3:15 that same day. Eligible students will then have to return a signed contract by Friday, of the following week at lunch. Students who fail to meet this deadline will lose their spot to students on the waiting list. At the sign-up meeting, instructors will present an overview of the class. Students should anticipate being there for a minimum of 45 minutes. The enrollment will run smoothly if students begin arriving by 7:30 a.m. (Specific date will be announced at the beginning of November.)

We are very grateful to the Foundation for the Future for underwriting this course. This year, the parents of CEEP students will again be encouraged to supplement the Foundation funding by making donations in February, based on a self-determined ability to pay. While donations are not required, they are critical in ensuring that this class will be offered each and every spring at M-A. Last year’s donors were generous, and we hope this year’s donors will be as well.