The reputation of Galileo among middle school students can range from negative stereotypes to exceptional athletics and academia. Galileo’s shadow program is helping to paint a more accurate picture for perspective middle school students. These middle school students then share their experience with peers and parents, helping to spread Galileo’s appeal across the city.
Until 4 years ago, the shadow program was limited to being organized by the secretary and involved phone calls to match kids. When counselor, Mr. Bai Zhen, took over the program, he helped evolve it to something much bigger. Students from middle schools all over San Francisco can now apply online through a form on the Galileo website, where they answer questions regarding their academic and extracurricular interests. Students are then paired, either by 9th grade counselor, Ms. Schkoll, or Bai Zhen, with students at Galileo based on their interests. Through publicizing the shadow program, there are now about 200-250 kids who apply and with almost 30 kids show up per week visiting Galileo over 7 different weeks.
The highlight of the program is to give shadows a perspective through the eyes of a Galileo student. The Galileo student who is paired with a shadow is referred to as a “Shadow Leader”. Since each Shadow Leader is different, there are many different focuses a student can show a shadow. “Mostly I talk about outside of school things, what there is to do and the community and extracurriculars, what me and my friends do at lunch maybe,” said sophomore Marina Belfiour. Another leader, freshman Layla Chang said “I show them the structure of the school, how it is laid out, and the electives, classes they can take, and workload.”
Many of the students who have visited Galileo have had a positive impression of the school, “It’s good, it’s a nice big school,” said 8th grader Adrian Henry, who currently attends Horace Mann. He added, “It’s making me reconsider my other choices now because I’m getting a closer look into this school. It would make it more difficult to narrow down if I liked the other schools.”