March 16, 2020  
Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message
Together, We Will Get Through This  
Last Friday I delivered the following remarks to our students over the intercom:

Hello Sequoia Students,

This is Mr. Priest, your principal.  I remember when I was young, it used to frustrate me when adults were talking about something important and I wasn't included in the conversation.  So I'm speaking with you directly about COVID-19 or Novel Coronavirus and its impact on our community because YOU, the students, are the reason this community exists.

As you probably know by now, the decision has been made to close Sequoia starting Monday through the end of Spring Break on April 4.

First, we know of no students or staff who are confirmed as COVID-19 cases.  Nor do we know of any of their family or household members that are confirmed as COVID-19 cases.  The school is not closing because you are unsafe here.

The school is closing because we are all part of a larger effort to protect the health and well-being of our friends, families, and neighbors.  Here's what else you can do to help in that effort: limit your direct contact with other people, especially people you don't know.  Wash your hands, with soap, scrub between your fingers and up to your forearm.  Limit your travel.  I understand these efforts will disrupt your routine.  I understand this is stressful and a little bit scary.  It's okay to be scared.  It's also okay to laugh.  Try and be intentional about finding something that makes you laugh every day.  I'm grateful for my friends, family, and co-workers who have made me laugh a lot over the last week.

Let me also say that I understand how disappointed many of our 12th graders are right now with activities, sports, and events either cancelled or up in the air.  It breaks my heart.  When we return to normal, we will make sure graduation and senior activities are extra-special this year.

In the meantime, we all have a job to do.  Your education remains our number one priority, and hopefully yours, too.  This is not the last crisis we will face.  Being knowledgeable, adaptable, and compassionate are skills we are building through this experience in a 100% authentic way.  And you know what?  You got this!

To keep moving forward with your education, it will be vital over the next two weeks to be active on CANVAS and your gmail.  Check both regularly as that's how your teachers and I will communicate with you.  If you do not have access to a functioning computer at home with high speed internet capability, you can go to room 246 starting at lunch and check one out to take home.  You're still a student and this is still a school.

A community reveals its strength in challenging times.  Look around you today, at your teachers and classmates.  Sequoia is a strong community.  Stay calm, be kind, walk with your heads high.  This shall pass.  Thank you for listening!

We have two priorities: (1) helping lead in widespread public efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 infections and (2) honoring our mission to provide high-quality learning for all students in an equitable way.  We must acknowledge that these two priorities both compete with and complement one another in this unique moment.  We can't operate the school the way we're used to.  On the other hand, we hope the lessons we learn about shared responsibility and collective consciousness can dramatically alter the extent to which our students understand their roles as citizens -- perhaps the most meaningful lessons of all.

More information will continue to be communicated to students and families by both the school and the district.  I do not expect to keep up the academic pace of normal school, although I am confident our staff will grow more adept at remote learning the longer the closures last.  Most importantly, I want to keep everyone safe and healthy.  We invite you to take whatever opportunity you can to engage in meaningful conversations with your students about what they will take away from this experience.  Our values don't have to change, but they'll perhaps take on a new dimension in our day-to-day lives.  Unaliyi.

Special Message from PTSA President
Unaliyi - NOT Cancelled!

We are living in unprecedented times.  

In an effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, our kids are attending classes at home.  Although many of us are now working from home, some do not have that option, and there are even some parents in our community who are on the front lines in hospital and clinics helping address this urgent health situation.  Unfortunately, some in our community are faced with temporary or even permanent lay-offs.  Daily, we hear about postponements and cancellations of activities that impact our lives greatly.

Our community is experiencing a level of stress related to alienation, lack of information, and concern for the future but there are things we can do and must do to get through these trying times.  We are social creatures - members of a community - used to daily interactions with friends and family members and having to change this normal way of being by practicing social distancing, for instance, can cause stress.  For our students who are attending school at home, heed the suggestions of your teachers communicating via Canvas about creating a daily school schedule to complete lessons and assignments.  Consider practicing the in-school strategy of group learning by using Skype, FaceTime, or Google HangOuts to help facilitate learning.  Inspire and encourage each other, especially those who may be finding it hard to focus.  For parents, take the extra time you may have at home (not commuting!) with your kids to initiate or deepen conversations about work, school, or any other topic. 

At a time like this, accurate information is crucial.  Go directly to legitimate sources.  Here are some good sites to start at:

And trusted medical centers such as:

Do yourself a favor and DO NOT get caught down a rabbit hole of social media!  Time spent on many sites like Nextdoor, Twitter, and Facebook can cause anxiety and often create more questions than answers!  Look to reliable experts for clarification, not hear-say.

So what can we do now and in the future?
  • Monitor your health and that of your family members.  Don't soldier through work if you feel unwell.  
  • Contact your doctor if you have any of the identified symptoms and take necessary action to protect yourself and those around you. 
  • If you are working from home and have friends or family who can't be at home because of work, ask them how you can help support their students.  
  • If you have an elderly neighbor, offer to prepare a meal for them or run an errand.
  • Practice and model self-care.  Take a walk,  get enough sleep if you can, and try to maintain as much normalcy as possible. 
  • Take this time to check in with friends and family that you are often too busy to catch up with.
  • Reach out to Sequoia's PTSA at  We are here for the whole community and if you need something, we will do our best to help you in any way we can.  Or why not send us some ideas to share about how things are going in your family!
Let's turn up the UNALIYI spirit!  We are a place of friends, whether virtually or on campus.  We can get through this, together.
Have a safe week,
Lisa Hane, Sequoia PTSA President

Mark Your Calendars
Annual Crab Feed Event Cancelled But Auction Will Now Be Online - Support Athletic Boosters! 
Regretfully, with the recently updated recommendations from the San Mateo County Public Health Departments, the Crab Dinner Auction that was to take place on Saturday, March 21, 2020 has been cancelled.

The Auction team is quickly adjusting plans to hold a successful online fundraiser instead.  We appreciate your patience and support with our team of parent volunteers as we make these necessary adjustments.  Details will be released mid-week via email to ticket holders and the wider Sequoia community.  Please support our wonderful athletic programs by checking out the available auction items when it goes live!

Prom and Prom Gallery Rescheduled
Sequoia Prom, originally scheduled for Saturday, April 25, has been rescheduled for Friday, May 15 at the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.  Please stay tuned for more details and updates as they become available.

Sequoia Prom Gallery, originally scheduled for March 24 and 25 at Sequoia, has been postponed till late April, exact date TBD.  Please stay tuned for more details and updates as they become available. 

The Princess Project has been cancelled until further notice. 
May 2020 IB Exams Update 
With all the news surrounding COVID-19 and updates about school activities cancelled and school closure, I am sure many of you have questions about the status of the upcoming IB exams.  The IB organization is not cancelling the May 2020 exam session and has no plans to because they feel it is unreasonable to cancel exams for students who are not impacted and whose schools will remain open. IB cannot create a new exam session either because, as they have mentioned on their public website, the timing of how schools will be impacted around the world will vary.  Thus, even if they cancelled the May session and planned for an additional session, that new date may not work for some schools either, based on the changing status of the virus throughout the world.  So they are committing to the May exam session that will run from May 1 - 22, 2020.  IB is working closely with countries, governments, health organizations and individual schools to deal with the impacts of COVID-19 as they arise. 
IB and Sequoia High School understand these are uncertain times and we realize things are changing daily.  So for now, since we know for sure the exam sessions will happen on IB's end, we will go ahead and plan for exams here at Sequoia.  Here's what you can do to help:
1) Support your students' continued learning and exam prep from home: IB students should be encouraged to complete their online distance learning assignments for their IB classes that teachers will be organizing during the school closure.
2) Mark your calendar with a few SAVE THE DATES to volunteer as a proctor: Part of our exam planning involves recruiting parent/guardian volunteers for proctoring.  We will begin this recruitment when we return from Spring Break in early April and will need to fill our volunteer signup sheet FAST. Please be on the lookout for messages about volunteering at that time.  If you like to plan ahead, you can find the times and dates of our exams here.  Please mark your calendar with the exams that you would like to sign up for once signups are open in early April.  The red number is the number of volunteer proctors we will need for that exam session.  As you can see, we will need over 100 volunteers, over the course of a month, to proctor all of our exams.  It's a pretty easy volunteer gig!  N o need to prepare or learn anything in advance, no need to make a long term commitment.  Our staff will give you all the instructions you need to feel helpful, comfortable, safe and successful.  All we need is for you to show up on-time, wearing comfortable clothing and shoes, and for you to be supportive, quiet and present (no phones, laptops or distractions) during the exam.   (Parents of test-takers: IB rules do allow you to proctor the exams of your own children.  Please just double check that your kiddos are ok with you being there. If this would make them nervous, pick a different exam.  If they don't care or might even like having you around, join us!)
We recognize that things may change and we will work closely with our administration and District Office regarding IB exams.  Thanks for your support and please know that we will be following all health guidelines and recommendations.
~ Lisa McCahon, IB Coordinator
Submit Annual Purple Patriot Award Nominations by This Friday

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

Juniors: Apply for PTSA Scholarships!
moneybag_graphic.jpg 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.

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
DREAMers Unite! & Conference para Immigrantes y Aliados/Conference for Immigrants and Allies
Hosted by the Sequoia Dream Club, the 8th Annual High School DREAMers Unite! Conference for students took place on February 29 at Sequoia.  Over 100 students from as far away as Watsonville attended with teachers from high schools throughout and beyond the District.  In addition to seeing presentations in English and Spanish and special performances by Dream Club members, students attended three rounds of a wide variety of workshops such as "Activism Through Theater," "Taking Care of Your Emotional Well-Being," and "Choosing and Paying for College," in addition to other topics geared toward concerns of immigrant students.

Educators participated in workshops designed for them to further develop ways to support their immigrant students.  Also that day, in collaboration with the Dream Club, community organizations Redwood City 2020 and Redwood City Together, held their 3rd annual Conference para Immigrantes y Aliados/Conference for Immigrants and Allies alongside the Dream Club event.  This year's conference offered workshops in Spanish for adult immigrants and allies including presentations by community associations and programs such as Canada College's Dream Center, Immigration Institute of the Bay Area, and CLESPA (Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto) as well as a Resource Fair.   Many thanks to the Sequoia teachers and staff and all of the students and partners who made the day full of useful information, enthusiasm, and inspiration.

After the Winter Show: Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap

The cast and crew of The Mousetrap capture a moment together on stage.

Bravo to all of the student actors and technicians guided by Mr. Broome, who together, carried off three engaging performances of Agatha Christie's  The Mousetrap last weekend.  Thank you to all of the  Sequoia staff members and parent volunteers who offered their time and talents to make sure the shows ran smoothly.  Audience members delighted in the twists and turns of the murder mystery story, all of which took place in a twenty-four hour period during a snowstorm that was convincingly simulated on the set in Carrington Hall.  The actors' characters and predicaments were as convincing throughout the show as the snowy landscape outside of the cozy rooming house the stagehands created.  

If you were lucky enough to see one of the performances, please uphold the following request that was in the program notes originally from the London production: "Now that you have seen  The Mousetrap, you are our partners in crime, and we ask you to preserve the tradition by keeping the secret of the whodunit locked in your hearts."  If you missed this show, check out the Drama department's next production, the Spring Play, "She Kills Monsters."

In This Issue
Monday - Friday
Mar. 16 - Mar. 27 
Covid-19 School Closure 
Distance Learning in Effect
Monday - Friday
Mar. 30 - Apr. 3
Spring Break
No School
Tuesday, Apr. 7
7:00 - 9:00 p.m. 
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 .

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!

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 Parent Education

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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. - CANCELLED due to COVID-19 
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.