Menlo Atherton High School

Post image for M-A grad Adrienne McDonnell is author of novel, The Doctor and the Diva

After one of her family’s frequent moves, Adrienne McDonnell, whose novel The Doctor and the Diva was published in 2011, arrived at Menlo-Atherton High School as a freshman. She already knew one thing: She wanted to be a writer, an aspiration she’d had since first putting pencil to paper in early grade school.

“My father worked for Time Life,” she explained, “and we moved around a lot. I was one of eight children, and my parents would pack us on a plane and off we’d go. We landed on Selby Lane in Atherton just before I was to start high school.”

She recalls driving down the tree-lined street for the first time, thinking that there were stories behind the hedges and long driveways [fewer gates in those days]. “And there were,” she said. “One neighbor was one of the founders of American Motors, another one of the partners of Shipstads and Johnson Ice Follies.”

“There’s a novel inside me that’s definitely going to be set in Atherton!” she added with a smile.

Her first novel, The Doctor and the Diva, took a long time to “marinate,” as she explained. “I wrote the first draft and it stayed in the drawer for 20 years. But I finally took it out and recast the characters, beginning the book through the doctor’s eyes rather than the opera singer’s.”

The book is inspired by real life people, which Adrienne recounts on her website. The married couple in the novel, Erika von Kessler and her husband Peter, were inspired by her son’s paternal ancestors — his great-great grandparents. The novel also casts its eye on fertility treatments available long before most people realize.

In Menlo Park to visit for the day, the Berkeley-based author talked about some of the key takeaways from her four years at M-A. “I had a wonderful English teacher, Mr. Dempsey, who taught us more like we were college students. We read a new novel every week written by authors from all over the globe.

“And Frau Parker [who taught language arts for two decades] was the greatest teacher I ever had in my life. Her standards were high; she believed in learning and learning it well. That kind of discipline really stuck with me.

“Plus, she had a great sense of theatrics. When you came into her room, it was like she was on stage!

“And here’s a confession. I used to make lists of her clothes. I don’t think she repeated an outfit over a three month period. It was my way of learning to impersonate the gender of the person I was learning to be.”

Photo by Irene Searles

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Co-prinicpal Simone Kennel appointed sole principal at Menlo-Atherton High School

Thumbnail image for Co-prinicpal Simone Kennel appointed sole principal at Menlo-Atherton High School

Simone Kennel, Kennel, who has been working at M-A since 2002, will be taking over as the sole principal at the high school on July 1st. Karl Losekoot, M-A’s Administrative Vice Principal, comments that “she is very well deserving. M-A will be very lucky and fortunate to have her”. Furthermore, he recognizes that the selection […]

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Classic Color and Cars at the M-A Classic Car Show

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M-A hosts car show fundraiser for baseball team on April 18

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Thumbnail image for M-A freshman Jerry Liu’s composition recognized in Reflections themed art competition

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As M-A Dance Team show nears, four seniors look back on their four years

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One of the spring entertainment treats is the annual Menlo-Atherton High School Dance Team Show and Fundraiser, which will happen this year on April 4 and take place in the M-A Performing Arts Center at 6:00 pm (doors open at 5:30 pm). Coached by Nona Ybarra and Kate Lynn Roberts, the Team will display its abilities in […]

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Origami crane dresses are one highlight of successful M-A fashion show

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Menlo=Atherton High School seniors Katrina Wijaya and Misato Muraoka (profiled earlier this month) not only took part in this year’s fashion show but they modeled the dresses they designed using origami cranes. The fashion show, chaired this year by Karen Fryling, Michelle Culhane, Nancy Kessler and Mary Fischer, is the PTA’s biggest fundraiser of the year. […]

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M-A fashion show spotlights student talent on stage and behind the scenes

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When Mary Fischer took the job as creative co-chair for Menlo-Atherton High School’s annual fashion show, she was told by her fellow co-chairs Michele Culhane, Karen Fryling and Nancy Kessler that everything creative in the show would be up to her. She recalls thinking, “‘Well, this is a fashion show to raise money for the school, so […]

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Seniors on the M-A Girls’ Basketball team reflect on the terrific season just ended

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By making it to the CCS Championship game, the Menlo-Atherton Bears Girls’ basketball team was one of 32 teams selected for the State Championship Tournament. M-A drew the 11th seed in the Northern Division and traveled to 6th seed, James Logan, last week, ending their great season with a loss, 51-48. The team bids farewell to […]

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Girl Scout Fun Run made its debut today at Fleet Feet in Menlo Park

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The first Girl Scout Fun Run took off from Fleet Feet in Menlo Park this morning with many participants sporting green. Fleet Feet co-owner Lisa Taggart gave us a heads up: “It’s a 2-mile run for Girl Scouts, their families, and supporters in the community, all followed by Girl Scout cookies and other treats at the […]

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M-A students design original origami crane dresses for this year’s fashion show

Thumbnail image for M-A students design original origami crane dresses for this year’s fashion show

When nearly 200 seniors take the stage March 21 in Menlo-Atherton High School’s annual fashion show, they will be outnumbered by thousands of cranes. Thousands of colorful multi-size origami cranes, to be precise, artfully designed into two show-stopping black floor-length gowns. “On the M-A announcements this year, they said the fashion show was offering a […]

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