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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Guidance department chair Alinna Satake to depart for another school


Guidance department chair Alinna Satake, a Saratoga High alumni, looks back on her high school memories fondly: From playing sports to participating in theater with her friends, she remembers spending some of her happiest moments at the school.

After graduating in 1997, her ties to SHS drew her back. She became a guidance counselor here in 2007.

“I’m the first generation child of Chinese immigrants, with all the challenges of straddling cultures, just like my students,” Satake said. “It was important for me to come back and not only give back to the community that formed me, but also show students — hey, I was you. You’re going to be OK.”

However, after 15 years working at the school as a guidance counselor and spending the last 10 as the department chair, Satake is leaving the school after this year to assume a counseling position in another district. Other sources said she has taken a position in the Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District

“I’ve shed a lot of tears about my choice,” she said. “It’s the right one for me and my family, but it’s bittersweet because I’ve been here a long time and put my whole heart into making this community better.”

Satake attributes her departure to a renewed focus on her priorities. Although her first responsibility is caring for the wellbeing of students, she also manages other time commitments such as organizing meetings and running committees. Because her attention is split in many directions, she feels as though she sometimes cannot do her best to support students.

Satake said she can sometimes feel frustrated from spending more time interacting with adults than kids which was not her intention going into education.

“The pandemic really distilled what the most important things are to me,” Satake said. “At the end of the day, what I care about the most is being with kids, and pursuing equity for all students, especially vulnerable populations. I needed to make a change for myself where I can focus on those things and only those things.”

Since her new district is more socioeconomically diverse and has a larger English Language Development (ELD) population, Satake said she plans to pick up on her Spanish skills to better communicate with students.

Her departure to Mountain View-Los Altos follows in the footsteps of former head football coach and P.E. teacher Tim Lugo, who took a job there earlier this year; MVLA has annual teacher salaries that are sometimes $40,000 higher than LGSUHSD.

The school is currently in search of a counselor to replace Satake.

“The position has been posted and [principal Greg Louie] and the other counselors are actively invested in finding the right person to bring new energy to the team, and who will care for the T-Z students,” she said.

Satake leaves behind a large legacy at Saratoga, according to colleagues. Though her job description as an academic counselor is primarily to help students stay on track for graduation and post-secondary goals, her role has since expanded to being a general support hub for students. 

In addition, as department chair, Satake has served as a liaison between her team of counselors and the rest of the school’s teachers, admin and community outreach. Her long list of contributions include doing a large portion of master scheduling, providing support to special education students and Assist program, managing online materials like Canvas course registration and college application information, preparing presentation materials for parents and students, updating guidance information on the school website, proctoring exams, running credit recovery, teaching workshops and participating on district committees — including both bell schedule committees.

Through her many years here, Satake has also fostered close friendships with colleagues. 

Fellow guidance counselor Frances Saiki describes Satake as someone who is not afraid to speak her mind when she feels it is the right thing to do, no matter what the response may be.

Saiki recalls that she and Satake were both hired in the fall of 2007. Since they were coordinating Link Crew, the office staff would often see the two of them making Costco runs and hauling packs of water together for the freshmen.

“We often joke together that, in working here, I see her more than my own husband,” Saiki said. “And so that is why I call her my ‘work wife!’ There are many memories, but I will miss her companionship, her honesty and loving spirit the most.”

Ultimately, Satake wants to remind students to take care of themselves when they’re not feeling their best, to know that their voices are valuable and to never apologize for speaking their minds. She hopes to keep learning and growing as a counselor in order to continue doing her best for students. 

Thank you for letting me be a part of this community,” Satake said. “It’s been my privilege to be a Falcon for this stretch of the journey with you.”

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