Dear Families,
Your well being remains very much on the minds of our faculty and staff and we want you to know we are here to support you in any way we can. This update includes details about our various efforts to improve the distance learning experience for our students and their families. We know it's a lot to digest, but we wanted you to have this information in one place for your convenience. At our recent grade-level parent meetings we covered many of these topics, so if you weren't able to make the meeting, you can find that info here.
We are grateful to our students and families who have brought positivity, resilience and patience to our classes and community events. We have held grade-level meetings with students to discuss both the academic and social experience for our students and have worked to continuously find ways to improve the distance learning experience as much as possible.
Thank you to the class of 2020 for helping us brainstorm ideas so we may continue celebrating our Seniors during this challenging time. For the rest of us, don't forget to show a Senior your love and support! 
It's been a number of weeks since we implemented our modified schedule. Hopefully, you notice some benefits at home. In addition to reducing the number of synchronous class hours, we have created extra time for office hours and independent work, especially on Wednesdays, when added time in the middle of the week is particularly helpful. 
Wednesdays have become an important time for coming together as a community. 
  • Our Morning Meeting student committee is now hosting mindfulness practice and other presentations on Wednesday mornings. 
  • We've also been able to enjoy Senior Talking Leaves presentations on Wednesdays at 11:40AM. 
Advisories have continued to meet throughout the week, providing an opportunity for social connection and support. Advisory time is also used for individual meetings between Advisors and Advisees. 
The modified Mod 6 schedule provides extra time for students to focus on learning in their ABC blocks, as Z blocks wrap-up on April 28th. Mod 6 will continue until May 8th, though students will have an additional 10 days to submit assignments and projects, as well as opportunities to attend office hours and get help. The deadline for Mod 6 course work is May 18th. 
Mod 7 will focus primarily on two programs: SIP and Talking Leaves. 
  • SIP groups have continued to meet and are considering ways in which their topics have been impacted by COVID-19. Many groups are finding new dimensions to the issue, and in some cases, an increased urgency to make positive change. 
  • Talking Leaves is an important opportunity for students to find deeper personal meaning in their academic experiences and use writing and public speaking formats to sharpen their thinking and improve their communication skills. 
Below are a series of deadlines to help students make progress with their essay:
  • Thesis: was due April 24th 
  • Outline, including textual evidence: May 14th
  • First Draft: May 21st
  • Self-Assessment: May 22nd
  • Final Draft: May 28th
  • Presentations: June 1st-June 4th
These deadlines, with the exception of a draft thesis statement, are all due during Mod 7. There will be at least one hour three days a week (10:50-12:00PM) for students to work on their Talking Leaf, and opportunities to meet with their teacher or Advisor.  Information about Talking Leaves will always be on the Family Portal under Groups --> Talking Leaves. 
Talking Leaves presentations will be held via Zoom during the week of June 1st. We will publish schedules for presentations in the coming weeks. Parents, we hope that you can attend your child's presentation and invite family and friends. 
Here is the latest modified schedule for Mod 7:

The annual year-end Exhibition will be held online this year. The faculty is currently working on creative ways to showcase student learning, so stay tuned for an update. It is very likely the Exhibition date will be moved to late May, probably Thursday, May 28th.
At our recent meetings with Seniors and parents of Seniors, we discussed Senior events and alternatives. 
  • We will hold a virtual Baccalaureate ceremony to celebrate graduates. There will be more information about this soon. 
  • Unfortunately, Prom will be cancelled. We are working with Seniors and other student committees to find additional social opportunities for our students. 
  • On June 7th, our previous graduation date, staff members will conduct a caravan graduation day celebration to deliver diplomas, caps and gowns and other treats to acknowledge this important milestone for each Senior!
  • Finally, there is a consensus that an in-person graduation ceremony would be preferred. Graduation will be postponed until mid-summer, and we'll send an update about the dates as soon as possible.   
At Sequoyah, rich, inspiring learning opportunities, individual choice and a balanced load of activities has always been a priority. Our High School program was designed to include experiences for students to apply learning rather than rely on high-stakes tests. Students complete projects rather than do midterms and final exams. Students also have opportunities to revise work that needs to be improved. 
Our faculty and administrative leadership at Sequoyah, like those at many other schools around the world, have researched and had ongoing discussions about the difficult trade-offs of modifying assessment and grading systems during distance learning. We have considered equity, student support and college admissions factors and we have concluded that given Sequoyah's approach to learning, our ability to provide support for individual students, and overall benefits to Sequoyah students, we will maintain our current system of assessment. 
That being said, we understand that your child may be struggling to learn during this difficult time. If this is true for your child, if they are not able to engage with the learning happening in their classes, please contact their Advisor and/or our Dean of Students, Viviana Palacio We will work with your child to develop a support plan. 
In the coming days, we will ask students to complete a distance learning survey to better understand how each student is doing, what is working or not working for them, and to determine what support they may need. This will hopefully make it easier for any student who feels uncomfortable communicating to the School that they need additional help.
Interim Athletic Director, Kito Paul, is hosting virtual workouts on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:00-3:45PM. Students who were on Spring sports teams will get credit for PE/Sports for the season if they participated. All students are welcomed to join. Log-in information will be sent directly to all HS students.
Finally, we are in the process of getting set up for next year. Thanks to our amazing faculty we have an impressive collection of courses. 

Your child has submitted an initial interest for course electives and sports, but only started a formal course request form today. You will need to initial this form after you've discussed it as a family. If you have questions about how course selection may impact college admissions, we recommend that you contact our Director of College Counseling, Elsa von Heydenreich, 
We are so proud of the resilience, creativity and kindness demonstrated daily by our students, parents, faculty and staff. We look forward to connecting with you soon.
Marc Alongi
High School Director

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