Unsung Heroes of Organization: Ava Petrash and Pam McKenny

Unsung Heroes of Organization: Ava Petrash and Pam McKenny

Beyond the bustling hallways and classrooms, a dedicated group of individuals with roles ranging from organizing students’ schedules to dispersing sports-related information make up the backbone of Menlo’s daily operations. Without their behind-the-scenes planning, our school would struggle to run smoothly. 

Registrar and Community Engagement Coordinator Ava Petrash

Elaina Huang

350 emails regarding course change requests flooded Registrar and Director of Community Engagement Ava Petrash’s inbox last year. It’s fortunate that Petrash enjoys being busy, as she is in charge of tasks ranging from creating each student’s course schedule to organizing the Freshman Seminar course. Before coming to Menlo, Petrash taught high school English and later worked as an assistant principal for 10 years. 

The most time consuming task for Petrash is programming and organizing freshman and sophomore MTerm; in fact, the planning process for MTerm 2024 began in August of 2023. Petrash also teaches the Freshman Seminar Community Engagement rotation, is the faculty advisor for Knight Vision and manages community service at Menlo. “I hope I can help students see community engagement not as an assignment, but something that they really enjoy and find meaningful,” Petrash said. 

Petrash has always been passionate about community engagement. “Service has always been part of my identity, moral code,” she said. She and her husband volunteer monthly at a food pantry. Petrash also serves as a court-appointed special advocate for a young individual in the foster care system. “It’s important to walk the walk,” she said. 

Petrash took on the registrar position in 2022 after Julie Hammack, the previous registrar, retired. As a registrar, Petrash manages the introduction of new classes to the course catalog, which includes figuring out eligibility requirements. While course registration sign ups begin in January, this process doesn’t end until the first week of September. 

Although it’s impossible to give every student their first choice in classes, Petrash does her best to ensure students are satisfied with their schedules. In addition, as a registrar, she is responsible for providing student transcripts each quarter. Petrash is efficient in responding to emails and loves spreadsheets, traits which align with her role. Not only does Petrash possess many organizational skills, but she encourages students to see community engagement as a way of life instead of a requirement.

Sports Information Director Pam McKenney

Elaina Huang

Sports Information Director Pam McKenney has loved sports for as long as she can remember. From a young age, McKenney competed in gymnastics, volleyball and basketball, and was an avid fan of professional and collegiate teams. “I grew up watching the San Francisco 49ers with my dad, the Atlanta Hawks and Stanford sports with friends,” McKenney said.

After 19 years of working as a sports reporter and copy editor for The San Jose Mercury News, McKenney came to Menlo as a part-time sports information director. Her job is a unique cross between Menlo’s sports and communication departments, as she works for both. McKenney is responsible for writing daily game stories and taking photos for the Menlo website and social media. She also works closely with the athletics staff and coaches to gain information about upcoming sports events. 

“I feel so grateful to continue working at a school that focuses on and develops all the best in sport: teamwork, pride, sportsmanship and realizing and reaching for personal bests,” McKenney said. 

In addition, she updates the Menlo community about the current lives of alumni in sports, which she learns of from the former student themself, their coach, her own research or their social media. “Connecting with alumni is one of the most fun and gratifying parts of my job,” McKenney said. 

Despite the various tasks she must fulfill on a daily basis, McKenney strives to attend even more sports events. She finds it rewarding to see students grow as human beings and as athletes. “Equally rewarding is seeing them work together as a team,” McKenney said. 

Because of McKenney, Menlo’s sports culture is as strong as ever. The next time you see a blurb online featuring the latest athletic event or a photo of last night’s game, know that McKenney is the one to thank.

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Elaina Huang
Elaina Huang, Assistant Opinions Editor

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