March 9, 2020  
Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message
Growth Through Common Core a Positive For All Our Students 
Some funny things happened when we decided to leave no child behind.  First, we had to decide exactly where they were being left. We settled on a set of tests that told us how quickly students could recall facts, procedures, and simple concepts.  These tests were wildly successful in their intended, systemic goals. To almost nobody's surprise, students with learning disabilities and students of poverty were those predominantly "left behind".

One of the great successes of this shift in education policy is that schools were mandated to prioritize students in these categories and shift resources (in some cases, they even became eligible for MORE resources) to either remediate or accelerate the students' achievement, quantified in the results of state tests, so they would catch up with that of their peers.

Around the time teachers, schools, and districts started getting more and more proficient in identifying and implementing supports for the students being "left behind", things changed again.  Instead of focusing on the ability to recall facts, procedures, and simple concepts, educators were asked to assess students on their ability to think critically, problem-solve creatively, and defend their reasoning with evidence and an acknowledgment of counterclaim.  Behold the Common Core .

To many educators, me included, this came as a great triumph.  These are the skills I think of when I look at Sequoia's Mission Statement and envision confident, engaged citizens carrying Sequoia diplomas.  Moreover, these are skills I value in my own life.  I hope to be a critical thinker, a more creative problem-solver, and present my reasoning coherently when asked to defend my claims.  

But here's the thing: I'm pretty sure I'm better at those things now than I was five years ago.  I'm certain I'm better than I was 25 years ago.  Which brings me to the paradox of our model in education.  When we joined hands and promised to leave no child behind, we defined what behind meant.  It was a deficit.  Although our goals have changed, we still frame learning goals around areas where our students are "weak".  We categorize students based on these "deficiencies".  Guess what?  Those categories predominantly include students with disabilities and students of poverty.  

I'm inspired when I see so many teachers using a grading system which factors in growth.  I visit classrooms where it's clear within a few seconds that mistakes are valued and that critical thinking, problem-solving, and defending-of-reasoning are priorities.  A new era in education seems within our grasp.  With more emphasis on assets and less on deficits, I envision more students having fun at school -- because they're having success in their learning.  I see their confidence increasing.  I see grit.  

Less talk of weakness and more talk of opportunity, large and small -- this is something to work towards.  I'm grateful to be part of a community where so many share this vision with me.

Have a great week!

Mark Your Calendars
Sequoia Music Festival on Friday March 13, 2020

This year, the Sequoia Music Festival will be held on Friday, March 13, from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. in Carrington Hall.  The Music Festival is for instrumental groups (bands and orchestras) that feed into Sequoia High School; the Sequoia High Orchestra and Bands will be performing at the following times:

SHS Band - 8:30 a.m.
SHS Orchestra - 9:15 a.m.
SHS Advanced Band - 10:00 a.m.

Two judges will give recorded comments and ratings designed for positive and constructive feedback to help students grow as musicians while evaluating their performance.  After each performance, one of the judges will give a short clinic onstage.  This is a great event for Sequoia musicians to showcase their skills for aspiring high school musicians.  Parents are welcome to attend.

Support Sequoia Athletics with a Ticket for the Annual Crab Feed on Saturday, March 21, 2020
You don't want to miss out on getting your tickets to the 11th Annual Sequoia Boosters Crab Feed!  This event sells out every year so make sure to purchase your tickets early.

Click here to purchase tickets to the Crab Feed hosted on Saturday, March 21, 2020 at Hiller Aviation Museum, San Carlos.

The Sequoia Crab Feed is one of the main fundraisers of the year for Sequoia Boosters, which helps fund equipment and uniforms for Sequoia Athletics.

We know that not everyone can attend, but if you still want to help us in our biggest fundraiser of the year, consider volunteering with the team, or donating something.

In order to make our silent and live auctions successful, we are seeking donations (it's tax deductible!).   Click on this link to donateWe are especially looking for restaurant gift certificates and bottles of wine valued at $20 or more for the "Wine Pull" game.  Here are some other donation ideas:

* Gift cards (restaurants, services, or Costco/Smart & Final to offset our food costs)
* Memorabilia, sporting event tickets
* Hosted parties (dinners, Moms & Margaritas night, bowling night)
* Getaway vacation homes.
* Have airline miles to spare?  Let's bundle them with some of our live items!

We are still looking for volunteers, including check-in/check-out helpers, item fulfillment, clean-up supervision, someone to make pasta sauce, someone to help with dessert, and a roving drink ticket seller.   Click on this link to volunteer and let your friends know about it.

Annual IB Art Show

The annual IB Art Show is the culminating exhibition of work from two years of IB Art class.  Each student curates their own display within the larger exhibition and this display shows their journey in the class and their self-guided exploration of themes, ideas and art styles.  In addition to their artwork, students will exhibit their art journals with the documentation of their processes, intentions and research.  The show will open on Thursday, March 12 to the school community from 12:15 - 12:50 p.m. every lunch period until  Thursday, March 26

On the evening of March 26, there will be a closing reception that coincides with Sequoia's Open House and the show will be open to the public from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.  A special family and staff only preview will begin at 6:00 p.m.  Students will be at the closing reception to discuss their work with visitors and refreshments will be provided.  Hope to see you there!  
Note: The Powell Art Gallery is open during the school day lunch periods.  All visitors to the campus during the school day (including the Powell Gallery) will first need to check-in with the AVP office for a visitor's pass.   
Juniors: Apply for PTSA Scholarships!
Applications for our annual PTSA Junior Scholarships are now being accepted until Sunday, April 19, 2020 at 10:00 p.m.   There are three categories of scholarships to recognize students: academic success, community service, or achievement in the face of socio-economic challenges.  We have 20 scholarships to offer, each worth $250.

This is a great way for juniors to get a head start on college applications, to be recognized for all they've done to make Sequoia a better place, and to earn some extra money to continue their education!   Click here for more information on applying for PTSA Junior Scholarships.

Junior Families: Parent Help Needed for Class of 2021 Graduation Activities 
Nope..not a typo! Planning is underway for the Class of 2021 senior and graduation activities, and we are asking for your help!  We need parent volunteers to organize fundraisers and events that benefit the Class of 2021.
A Wine & Cheese Night will be hosted at the Pedrotti home on March 11 at 7:00 p.m. (1956 White Oak Way, San Carlos).  Please stop by to learn more about the help needed to make this graduation celebration a success. 
Small jobs and big jobs... there is something for everyone!
Questions? Contact Jeniffer Pedrotti.

Alumni Association Seeks Nominations for Annual Purple Patriot Award

The Sequoia High School Alumni Association is looking to honor a Purple Patriot and is soliciting nominations for its annual Purple Patriot Award, purple and white being Redwood City's Sequoia High School's official colors.  Recipients will receive a framed certificate as well as have their name inscribed on a perpetual trophy on permanent display at the high school.
The Purple Patriot Award is an annual award instituted to honor both individuals and organizations who have demonstrated outstanding service or provided a significant benefit directly to Sequoia High School.  Nominees may be from Sequoia High School or the community at large.
Please indicate the nominee's individual name or organization name, stating why the nominee should receive this award. Indicate specifically what role the nominee played in directly providing the service or benefit to Sequoia High School and explain in detail what the service or benefit was.
Nominations must be submitted in writing to the Sequoia High School Alumni Association, P. O. Box 2534, Redwood City, CA 94064, emailed to, or placed in the Sequoia High School Alumni Association mailbox near the Principal's office no later than Friday, March 20.
Ken Rolandelli,
President, Sequoia High School Alumni Association
Phone: (650) 368-0805

Princess Project and Prom Gallery...Coming Soon!
Excited about Prom on Friday, April 25th?  We are too!  SHSEF and the Family Center want to make sure that all Sequoia students can participate without worrying about the cost or stress of buying or renting formal clothing.
Parents, here are four ways you can help:
The Princess Project of Silicon Valley  has thousands of beautiful, free dresses in all sizes at their Cupertino "store".  Their dress giveaways are on March 7, 8, 11, 14, 15 and 20.  Please visit their website  to schedule an appointment.  All teens are welcome.  Please note that you will need to provide your student ID, an address (can be home or school address), and a signed waiver (with a parent signature if you are under 18).  For more info, please email Sarah Sorensen: .

Sequoia's Prom Gallery will be open on campus the week before spring break, on March 24 & 25.  Please mark your calendar!  We'll have free dresses, free and reduced-price Men's Wearhouse tux rentals, and loads of accessories for students to choose from.  Dresses, accessories, make up and more will be in Room 128.  Tux rentals will be set up in the Family Center (Room 129).  Details (gallery hours and optional appointment times) coming soon.  Please stay tuned!
The Prom Gallery depends on generous donations from our local community.  Clearing out your closet, or know someone who is?  Please donate your formal wear to help our young men and women!  We need dresses, jewelry, shawls, wraps, dress shoes, clutches, etc.  All items must be stylish and formal enough for prom, in great condition , and completely clean.   Torn or stained items will not be accepted.  We welcome all sizes and styles!   Please deliver your donation by March 20 to one of our three convenient locations :
  • The Family Center (Sequoia Room 129), weekdays only, 7:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
  • Redwood City Home (355 King St., RWC), weekdays or weekends, 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.  Questions about this drop off site?  Please email:
  • San Carlos Home (144 Belvedere Ave, SC): weekdays or weekends, 8:00 a.m.- 9:00 p.m.  Questions about this drop off site?  Please email:

As hard as we try to stock all sizes, some of our students-in-need won't be able to find an outfit at the Prom Gallery.  You can help by donating a gift card to Ross or Men's Wearhouse* ! (While many of our students have found nice dresses at Ross for around $50, tux rentals can cost students over $100!)  Please visit this online signup  to donate any size gift card, delivering it to the Family Center by March 20.   Every dollar helps!
* A big shout out to Men's Wearhouse in Redwood City  for donating free and reduced-cost tux rentals to our Prom Gallery this year.
Please visit this online signup  to volunteer to help with our Prom Gallery preparations!
For more info about donating or volunteering , please contact Sarah Sorensen: .

For more info about free or reduced-price prom tickets , please visit the Family Center (Room 129), email Elvira Macias , or call (650) 367-9780 ext. 63110 between 7:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Sequoia is committed to making sure all our kids can enjoy a fun and safe prom! Your generous, thoughtful support will light up a grateful student's face this spring! Thank you! ¡Gracias!

Apply Now for a PTSA Mini-Grant
Through the support of the Sequoia High School Education Foundation (SHSEF), the PTSA is able to offer financial  grants to enhance the excellent education offered at Sequoia High School. 

These  grants are valued up to $750 and are designed to encourage creative approaches to learning.  Students, teachers, and staff may apply.  Currently, there is $7,000 remaining to be awarded!
Applications will be accepted online until Friday, April 10, 2020.

Click here for a direct link to the program.

Please contact our Mini-Grant Committee Chairs DeeDee Clarke and Karen Latina with any questions.
Sequoia HIghlights
A Well-Attended 15th Annual Health Fair/Conference

Last Monday, Sequoia students were given the opportunity to attend lectures and workshops on a variety of health topics pertinent to teens.  This year's Keynote lectures were delivered by Former Special Agent for the DEA Mike Robinson on Vaping to almost 600 students.

Fifteen breakout sessions over two periods with topics ranging from consent to digital well-being was also well-attended by about 775 students.  Student evaluations from the breakout sessions had 95% of students ranking their session at a 3/4/5 out of 5.
The traditional Health Fair portion involved 35 community organizations such as Boys and Girls Club and CORA (Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse) and Sequoia organizations (BSU, HCA, and Dream Club).  Over 800 students took advantage of this opportunity to meet with vendors and organizations in Gym 2.

Sequoia Girls Lacrosse Team Travels South!

Girls Lacrosse team at the Rose Bowl Jamboree.

Coach Alex "Sarge" Grauke led sixteen girls on the varsity team south to Pasadena to compete in the 18th Annual Rose Bowl Jamboree this past weekend.  Girls Lacrosse hopes to make this travel tournament a bi-annual tradition for future Sequoia team members as the sport grows.  Competition against a mainly Southern California field was stiff and points were few, but the girls experienced an away tournament for the first time and had a blast.  Go Ravens! 

In This Issue

Thursday, Mar. 12  
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Juniors: Meeting on Private College and Out-of-State Common Apps, Carrington Hall

Friday, Mar. 13
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Sequoia Music Festival, Carrington Hall
Tuesday, Mar. 17
7:00 - 8:00 p.m. 
Boosters Meeting, Staff Lounge
Tuesday, Mar. 17
7:00 - 8:30 p.m. 
Parent Ed.: LIKE, Carlmont HS PAC, Belmont

Friday, Mar. 20
7:00 - 10:00 p.m.
Ritmo Latino Dance

Saturday, Mar. 21
7:00 - 10:00 p.m.
Crab Feed, Hiller Aviation, SC
Monday, Mar. 23
B Block Schedule 
Tuesday and Wednesday,
Mar. 24 and 25,
Time TBD
Prom Gallery and Tux Rental, Rms. 128 and 129
Thursday, Mar. 26
Open House Night

Friday, Mar. 27
Minimum Schedule Day
Period 6 ends 12:10 p.m.
Period 7 ends 12:45 p.m.
Monday - Friday
Mar. 30 - Apr. 3
Spring Break
No School
Quick Links
Get Your Year Books Before Prices Go Up After Spring Break


Reserve your 2020 yearbook today.  The current $90 price will go up to $100 after spring break.   See Mrs. Gordon in the treasurer's office or go to to purchase .

Be An SUHSD Career Fair Volunteer Interviewer
If you have ever been on an interview or a hiring committee, this is the perfect volunteer opportunity for you!

Mock Interviewers Needed

Tuesday, April 7 and Wednesday, April 8 (Sequoia students will attend on Wednesday)

Skyline College, 3300 College Drive, San Bruno, CA.

10:40 - 11:25 a.m.
11:35 a.m. - 12:20 p.m.
12:30 - 1:15 p.m.

Support Sequoia All Year

Copy and paste SHSEF's AmazonSmile link below onto your browser bar for quick access to future contributions while shopping!

It's Always the Right Time... be a part of the Sequoia community!

The Sentinel 
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 Parent Education

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Your Permanent Record:
Defining Healthy Boundaries in the Digital Age
Devorah Heitner, PhD,  founder of Raising Digital Natives
Wednesday March 11, 2020, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. - CANCELLED - to be rescheduled later this spring. 
Sequoia High School, Carrington Hall
1201 Brewster Avenue, Redwood City
Your Permanent Record: Defining Healthy Boundaries in the Digital Age  is about the ways we as parents are teaching kids about reputation and privacy. Today's parents are charged with a new role as the guardians of their children's and teen's online privacy, but many are unprepared for the job.
Dr. Devorah Heitner, an expert of kids' media and technology, is the author of  Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive!) in their Digital World  
Parents, students, educators, and community members welcome!  Free admission and light refreshments. Spanish interpretation will be available.
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LIKE: The Impact of Social Media On Our Lives
Documentary Film Screening & Panel Discussion
Tuesday, March 17, 2020, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Carlmont High School, Performing Arts Center (PAC)
1400 Alameda de las Pulgas, Belmont
Join us for an exclusive showing of LIKE, the new IndieFlix Original documentary that explores the impact of social media on our lives. By understanding the impact of technology on the brain, we can learn how to navigate it more safely with our teens.
Parents, students, educators, and community members welcome!   Free admission and light refreshments.  Spanish interpretation (film subtitles) will be available.  Film showing to be followed by a panel discussion.
Carlmont Parent Education Series events are sponsored by Carlmont PTSA, Sequoia Healthcare District, and Sequoia Union High School District.
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Questions?  Contact Charlene Margot , M.A., Founder and Director, The Parent Education Series.

Community Events

Post It-Note Mural Project Open House on March 24

As a way to say "thank you" for Sequoia High School participating, the Redwood City Parks and Arts Foundation would like to invite you to come see the finished "Community" Post-It Note Mural Project!  The foundation is hosting an Open House on Tuesday evening, March 24, 2020, from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. at the new Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Community Space located at 801 Jefferson St. Redwood City.  Beverages and snacks will be served.  All attendees must register by Sunday, March 22, 2020. 
The project revealed three main takeaways: people want to be better connected to their neighbors; we need to solve bigger issues such as affordable housing and homelessness; and they want to feel safe, respected, and understood. In order to make these goals a reality, people are willing to reach out to others more regularly, advocate for and work with local government to solve housing issues and take better care of each other.