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Buchser Middle School to Honor Beloved Teacher Michael Olenak

The Santa Clara Unified School District community is counting down the weeks till summer vacation but before everyone can break out the sunblock and inflatable floaties, the Board of Trustees wrapped up some business at their meeting on Thursday, May 11.


Honoring Mr. Olenak

The Buchser Middle School community has been looking for a way to honor Michael Anthony Olenak, also known as Mr. O, in a meaningful way since the teacher passed away in 2020.

The original idea was to rename the school’s “B-Wing,” which includes the quad and classrooms, to the “O-Wing.” However, this presented some obstacles and significant work for staff, explained Deputy Superintendent of Operations and Chief Business Official Mark Schiel. An alternative idea was presented to the Buchser community and approved.


The “B Quad” will be renamed to the “O Quad” for Mr. Olenak and a plaque will be placed in his honor – but the B classrooms will retain their name. Board Members were relieved to finally have a plan to honor Olenak after many delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic and naming policy changes. Olenak’s colleagues and former students were also grateful to finally honor the beloved educator and spoke highly of him.

“We would like to rename the B Quad at Buchser Middle School to the O Quad,” said Ina Forzetting. “As a former student, I would like to make this change, as I have seen the importance and impact that Mr. Olenak has contributed to his students and to the Buchser community.

“Mr. Olenak was the type of educator who not only prioritized his students’ education but also cared about instilling a passion for learning in his students,” continued Forzetting. “His love and kindness are still passed on and present on the school campus. By renaming the quad in which he made that impact for many years, each student will be able to gain a sense of belonging and comfort when they walk there. And that’s more than any student can ask for.”


Superintendent’s Student Council

Student Trustee Anika Bose, a Wilcox High School student, updated the Board on the Superintendent’s Student Council’s first year of work.

The Superintendent’s Student Council meets three times a year with representatives from all the District’s secondary schools. The Student Senate meets about every two weeks to discuss events, issues, and more, but mainly topics that should have more student input. Members of the Student Senate have been attending Board of Trustee meetings on a rotating basis to share presentations. At the next Board meeting, all the Student Senators are expected to come and be honored. The Senate also picks one student amongst them to be the Student Trustee, this year it is Bose. The Student Trustee sits on the Board of Trustees and votes on some agenda items.

At the next Superintendent’s Student Council meeting, they are starting to organize for next year. They will be nominating new representatives and a new Student Trustee.


New Hires

The Board approved hiring Lauren Kelly as the new Principal of Cabrillo Middle School. They also welcomed Miakje Kamstra as the new Coordinator of the Expanded Learning Opportunities Program (ELOP).


Other Business

During public comment on unagendized items, several parents expressed their displeasure with the District’s open enrollment system, especially as they are trying to get their children into Wilcox High School. The parents felt that students should be able to go where they want, especially with declining enrollment across schools. The Board was not allowed to comment since the items were not on the agenda, but the parents were instructed to give their contact information to staff.

The Santa Clara Unified Board meets next on Thursday, May 25. Meetings are live-streamed on the District’s YouTube page and agendas are posted on their website.


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