When Doris Diaz started her freshman year at TIDE Academy in Menlo Park, a brand-new school at the time, she wasn’t sure what to expect.
Now, Diaz, 17, is one of the 82 members of the senior class of 2023, TIDE’s inaugural graduating class. The 240-student high school, located at in a 45,000-square-foot, three-story building at 150 Jefferson Drive in Menlo Park, is focused on a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) curriculum. The school’s proximity to companies like Meta which is just blocks away, could help students develop mentorships, school officials have said.
“It’s cool to see how far we’ve gotten with the school’s development,” Diaz said on Aug. 24. Her older sister attended Menlo-Atherton High School, but she said she sought out TIDE because she wanted to go to a school with a tighter community and nontraditional focus.
The school offers dual credit courses with Foothill College. The college credits come as a huge relief to students like Diaz who say earning the credits now is going to make attending college more affordable.
TIDE teachers who have master’s degrees can double as instructors of the Foothill-credited classes. Other Foothill instructors teach remotely or come to campus.
Students can choose from computer science and interactive design pathways. The school also added a graphic design pathway based on student interest, according to Principal Simone Rick-Kennel, who came to TIDE last year after nearly two decades working at M-A in Atherton. Students will learn about virtual reality and game design.
This year the school added a fourth level of Spanish, astronomy, Advanced Placement physics and calculus, she said.
Although the school only offers Spanish instruction, students can concurrently enroll in another language through Foothill, she said. Other dual enrollment courses include Android and iOS app development, software design in Python and user experience design.
Students are also presented with unique opportunities, such as when East Palo Alto Council member and poet Antonio Lopez recently visited the school. He gave a talk to students on his poetry anthology “Gentrification.” The English and social studies departments collaborated to choose it as their 2022 summer read for students.
Graduation ceremonies for TIDE’s class of 2023 is planned for Thursday evening, June 8, in Foothill College’s theater in the Los Altos Hills.
TIDE started with a freshman class of 106 in August 2019 and has added a grade each year since. Rick-Kennel said she’s not sure why the class of 2023 is smaller today than it was when the school opened, but says enrollment is still ongoing for this year. Since she has been at TIDE, the size of the senior class has remained consistent, ranging between 80 to 82 students, she said. A few students moved out of the area and a few transferred to TIDE.
Last school year, there were 170 students. Since Aug. 1, there have been 12 new enrollments, Rick-Kennel said. The school has the capacity to hold 400 students, the district told The Almanac when it first opened in 2019.
The current junior class which started during the 2020-21 distance learning school year was at 43 or 44 and has remained consistent, she said.
The current sophomore class had 61 students in 2021-22 and now has 62, according to Rick-Kennel.
The current freshman cohort is at 51 students, however there are some pending enrollments in process, she said.
“It is smaller than we would have liked, however, we are also drawing from a smaller pool (enrollment is lower than last year, and the last several years, in all of our district schools, except Carlmont) and we are competing with an area that has charter and private school options,” she said in an email. “2021-22 was a reset for TIDE’s vision and as such we defined our two career technical education pathways: computer science and graphic and interactive design (with a virtual reality and game design) focus as well as the progression of dual credit classes with Foothill College. One of our school goals this year is recruitment and getting the word out about TIDE’s pathways and dual credit program.”
The school is currently hiring for a bilingual site parent liaison and a technology support assistant. Apply on Edjoin.
For more on the school, go here.