Patch Clips: Kennedy Students Shave Principal's Head

Principal Dave Paliughi delivered on his end of the bargain Thursday after the school raised its API scores by over 80 points.

It almost sounds like something out of a police blotter - a group of eight Kennedy Middle School students shaving their principal's head.

But, in this case, it was all part of a celebration.

Kennedy Principal Dave Paliughi told his students at the end of last year that if they could raise the school's Academic Performance Index (API) score by at least 40 points, he would let them shave his head.

Well, they doubled that, and raised Kennedy's score an unprecedented 81 points.

"This is so exciting," said Redwood City School District Superintendent Jan Christensen, as the school prepared for the head-shaving event Thursday. "We are just so proud of Kennedy - and not just of [Principal Paliughi], but of the work of all the students, and everything."

When the scores came out roughly two weeks ago, the school's staff got together and planned a day of celebration, including a large party area on the campus complete with five bouncy houses and two-story inflatable slides, and, of course, getting to watch Principal Paliughi's head being shaved by his students in front of the whole school at 12:30 p.m.

"Kennedy's academic gains are very significant, and the result of a lot of hard work on the part of staff and students," said Director of Communications Naomi Hunter.

When asked where the idea of bargaining with the students to have his head shaved came from, Paliughi told Patch, "We just wanted to do something fun, but also to stimulate the adolescent mind. We wanted them to take a different look at taking these tests."

"When it comes to the average sixth-, seventh- or eighth-grader, improving in the area of Language Arts is not always the first thing on their mind," he continued. "But this could make it fun for them, and inspire them."

Eight students were picked to hold the coveted razor and shave a part of Paliughi's head for the festivities on Thursday. The students were picked for either having the highest overall score on last year's Caifornia Standards Test (CST), or for having the highest improvement in their score.

The eight students were: Clara (7th grade), Laurel (7th grade), Luis (7th grade), Jesus (8th grade), Ricky (8th grade), Sofia (8th grade), Owen (7th grade), and Jared (8th grade).

When asked what his family thought of the fact that he would be letting his students shave his head, Paliughi said, with a laugh, "My daughter is so embarassed."

See our short Patch Clips video of Kennedy Middle School Principal Dave Paliughi getting his head shaved by his students, as well as a photo slideshow, above.


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Jeni October 26, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Great story, but I'd like to be the first (and probably only) to point something out. The students who were selected to get to shave the principal's head were either the ones who scored the highest or those who improved their scores the most. It should have been ONLY students who greatly improved! Students who scored the highest are obviously the most motivated, driven, and capable students at Kennedy, which is consistently considered to be a low-achieving school. So the students who score the highest will almost certainly come from more privileged homes where education is valued and their parents can afford private tutoring. For these students to do very well on the standardized tests year after year, they're not doing anything different from what they are normally doing. Most students who get straight As and/or are in gifted classes will almost always do exceptionally well on tests. Their high scores will help the school's overall score and help reach that API score of 800 or above (and Kennedy knows darn well that without this small percentage of students, the school would do even worse). Those students don't need any motivation or incentives because they will continue to work hard. The students who should be rewarded are those who get Cs and Ds, don't do their homework, and don't care about school but actually worked hard to do well on the STAR testing. Kennedy's majority are low-achieving students, and those are the ones who need the most attention and focus.
Judi Mahoney October 31, 2012 at 05:10 AM
I would suggest the state question such an "increase." Also noted the superintendent did not give any praise to the grunts (teachers.). The students who get c's and D's are already rewarded by using all the "special programs"(affirmative action) to get spots that should have been given to the qualified. I doubt the validity of these scores.
Jeni October 31, 2012 at 06:09 AM
Judi, it would be interesting if there were something naughty going on to fix the STAR scores. Additionally, I think that you and I are the only ones here on Patch who have a low opinion of Kennedy because we see the school as it really is....bravo to the principal for being a strong, supportive leader and wonderful role model, but it cannot overshadow the fact that the overwhelming majority of students at this "ghetto," low-achieving school don't care about their education and neither do their parents. The school has a high suspension rate and most of those kids are bound to drop out in high school. I'm not being negative--everyone knows it about Kennedy but no one says it. Without this principal and the hard work of some dedicated teachers, this school would be in program improvement as mandated by the state dep't of education (my roommate is a 5th grade teacher). I always feel so bad for those students who are zoned for Kennedy based on where they live, but they are hard-working, motivated, and good kids lost in the shuffle of this violent and awful school. These nice, good kids come to class on time, do their work, and excel but rarely are given attention or accolades because their teachers are too busy dealing with hooligans at Kennedy and waste too much of their academic time on discipline.
Morgan Richardson November 07, 2012 at 05:48 AM
You are very correct about Kennedy as is Judi. Your roommate needs to be very careful as some people at the district office trained under Crates---past super--will stop at nothing to destroy her/him for daring to state reality. The classroom behavior is poor and most don't give a darn about learning or homework. Interesting past principal is AGAIN in hot water at Selby as vp.......if he were a teacher like your roommate, he would have been hunted down by now.
Jeni November 07, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Just to clarify, my roommate isn't a 5th grade teacher at Kennedy, but she is a teacher so I get a lot of the dirt about local education! That's right....I forgot that the current vice principal at Selby was the former principal at Kennedy. From one low-performing, high-suspension, low-morale school to another in the RCSD. Kennedy's lack of achievement makes me sad. If it weren't for this fantastic principal who tries to engage his students and for a few dedicated teachers, this school would be absolute awful. I really hope that they can pull it together and improve!


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