Sunday, October 28, 2007

Lost Cell Phone Results in "Airport Security" at Paly

In light of the recent "punknastying" segment on InFocus, it seems that students are not the only ones who feel free to literally turn others' backpacks inside out.

According to a 7th per. art student, Paly's vice principal arrived in the classroom to conduct a backpack search of everyone in the room after one student mentioned that he "lost his cell phone." The alarm was uttered half-way through the period. That, and the fact that the cell phone did not ring when called seemed to convince the teacher that the cell phone was stolen and not merely misplaced.

Again, in the words of this student, the teacher forbade anyone from leaving the room and called the vice principal. When the vice principal arrived on a golf cart, he and the driver of the cart searched the backpacks of every single student in the room.

Although the search of student possessions is legal according to the Constitution and Supreme Court, rules regarding reasonableness, excessive intrusion, and relativity to the specific suspected offense apply. Far more troubling were the reported parting words of the vice principal: "I didn't catch you this time, but you can be sure that I'll catch you doing something wrong sometime" [or equivalent: exact quote unavailable].

The student questioned the judgment of the teacher for so quickly calling the administration and the administration for dropping whatever it was doing at the time for the purpose of finding one student's lost cell phone. One would hope that a lost cell phone would be the greatest of the school's worries, but, of course, this is not the case. For instance, the high school task force has concluded that building another high school for the purpose of accommodating the steady increase of student enrollment is not realistic. Therefore, the task force says, schools should work on enhancing and enlarging their existing facilities and programs. This, surely, is one of Paly's concerns that deserves far more attention.

The author does not seek to criticize the administration, merely to comment on and encourage slightly better use of the administration's time. From the administration's point of view, it is understandable that in Palo Alto, the number of parents prepared to sue for circumstances just as trivial as a lost cell phone is quite high. Consequently, the actions of the school taken to recover lost property might be understandable. Also, our new principal may feel the need to come down hard on theft (real or alleged) and to make it clear that no stealing will be tolerated.

As a student, I hope there will be no veritable violations of student rights with regard to search and seizure. However, if you want to contribute to the prevention of these violations (and ensure that your classmates won't hunt you down after class for sinister purposes), hold onto your cell phones!

UPDATE: The student found his phone behind some paintings. He does believe that it was stolen, but that perhaps the culprit tossed the phone away to avoid incrimination. "Somebody probably just threw it back there," he shrugged.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Paly Profile: Accomplished Music Artist

While some Paly students still cherish dreams of musical stardom, Molly Tuttle has been there, done that. Well, partly.

Molly's first album, "The Old Apple Tree," was released onto iTunes last April. It features country songs with vocals and guitar by Molly and her dad.

"I never really wanted to be a rock star or anything," Molly said. "I just started playing guitar when I was eight."

Since then, Molly has played and sang at talent shows, music festivals, and her eighth grade graduation. Just last week she performed at the Tennessee International Bluegrass Music Association festival.

A shy person by nature, Molly says she doesn't get stage fright - anymore. "When I was first starting, I did," she admitted. "But now, not so much."

Molly's father, Jack Tuttle, the main force behind her musical career, teaches bluegrass violin and is also featured on the album on violin and vocals. "We recorded "The Old Apple Tree" in our backyard studio," said Molly. "It used to be a shed, then it was my dad's office, but now it's got microphones and stuff in it."

So, can anyone put an album on iTunes? "Yeah, basically," said Molly. "You record the album and you call them and tell them you want it on iTunes." The company that does this is called TuneCore (

When asked, "Is another album on the way?" Molly laughed. "Probably not, at least for awhile," she said. "It was a big project!"