April 22, 2019  

Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message
Ravens Go Forth, Cherokees Become a Part of Sequoia History  
Agenda item 15.3 from last Wednesday's meeting of the SUHSD Board of Trustees addressed an exemption to its Board Policy 6145.2 which, among other things, "prohibits the use of any racially derogatory or discriminatory school or athletic team name, mascot, or nickname."  The exemption, based on the set of recommendations made by a 2001 Task Force, defined the use of the term "Cherokees" in reference to Sequoia High School's athletic teams.  

The unanimous decision to rescind the exemption, per the recommendation from Superintendent Streshly, in effect, ends the era of the Sequoia High School Cherokees.  It doesn't erase over 90 years of history, but moving forward, when you cheer on Sequoia athletes in competition, you will be cheering for the Sequoia Ravens.

Team Name Change Committee tri-chairs after the board meeting: (L-R) Miles Webb ('20), Andrew Mancini ('21), and Leigh Alley ('19)
The action of the board complies with the California Education Code and recommendations made by the US Civil Rights Commission.  It was spurred last spring by a Sequoia student group called Ready for Ravens and ultimately garnered a high level of support from students and near consensus from school staff.  In the last year, Ready for Ravens met with members of the Alumni Association, surveyed staff, students, created an informational video, and presented to the school board.

They understood the divisiveness of this issue within our community and approached it with respectfulness and an assumption of positive intent from everyone with whom they interacted.  If one of the historical legacies of Sequoia is our motto, Unaliyi (A Place of Friends) , the Ready for Ravens students are keeping that torch burning brightly.

The notable lack of current students self-identifying as "Cherokees" was perhaps best articulated by two Sequoia teachers at Wednesday's meeting.  Melissa Schmidt, Athletic Director and Girls Varsity Soccer Coach, talked about the confusion and embarrassment she's observed among athletes over the last several years.  Edith Salvatore, who was teaching at Sequoia when the issue was last confronted in 2001, contrasted today with the prevailing sentiment on campus 18-years ago (when students still displayed images of feathered headdresses on letter jackets, were vocal, and organized in their opposition to abandoning the "Cherokee").  Times really have changed.

The extent to which this issue represents a divide between alumni and other prominent stakeholders needs to be acknowledged.  I have deep admiration for Ken Rolandelli, President of the Alumni Association.  Ken is a person of high integrity and deeply dedicated to this school and community.  My conversations with him over the years have profoundly informed how I appreciate and champion the history and legacy of our special school.   When he says Sequoia and the "Cherokees" name are inexorably linked, I take him at his word.  Indeed, the history of Sequoia and "Cherokees" does not end with Wednesday's decision by the trustees.  A new chapter has been written.  Like any great book, we can only appreciate and embrace the present by understanding the past and how we got to this point.

From 1926 to 2019, Sequoia High School athletic teams were called the "Cherokees".  The actions and events that led to this change, stretching back as far as the 1970s, reveal much about who we are, what we value, and how we treat one another.  Memories from previous incarnations of this disagreement are strong for many of those who lived through them.  Members of our community, many of whom expressed their feelings about the change at Wednesday's board meeting, are disappointed at the outcome.  

But looking back on the past year, the respect and civility that characterized this transition stand out.  This community should never forget the ways in which our various stakeholders grew in their understanding of one another as a result of this process.  I anticipate not only healing our wounds but also strengthening the bonds between past, present, and future on our campus. I am heartened most by the assurance that Sequoia will remain A Place of Friends.     
Have a great week!


If you'd like to read coverage regarding the Raven decision as reported in our local newspapers, the articles can be found in the San Mateo Daily Journal and Palo Alto Daily Post. ~ Editor 
Opportunities: Volunteer Positions
URGENT: Last call for IB and AP Exam Volunteers
Parents and Grandparents: we need your help to make sure that this spring's testing season is a success for all of our hard working students!
Help us cover our 107 volunteer needs:

 The IB Program requires that schools recruit 1 proctor volunteer for every 20 students taking an exam!   With an impressive 375 Sequoia students taking 1007 IB exams, we need to assemble a huge team of volunteer proctors.  All schools depend on parent and community volunteers to proctor exams as they just don't have enough staff to cover all the shifts.   Prefer to do this with a friend?  Great!  Recruit a friend or relative.  This volunteer gig is good for adults of all ages and interests.
No 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 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!)

Tests can be stressful!  Your calm, positive, supportive smile and voice can make a huge difference for a nervous student.  Getting through these exams will be a huge confidence boost for our kids! 
What's the value of an IB education?  Click here  to hear one parent's response.
"I have found that the IB tests themselves emulate much of what is demanded of college students. Preparing for a two hour exam is something I have experienced and I find that many students in my classes had not yet been exposed to that experience."  
~ Mariah Driver, Sequoia '13, Georgetown University '17.
"As a low-income student from an immigrant background, the idea of going to college was rather daunting to me... However, it was through the IB diploma program that I was able to build confidence in my skills and become better prepared for college."  
~ Roberto Pablo Pimienta, Sequoia '12, Stanford University '16

Can we count on you for one afternoon or morning this May?
After signing up, you will be contacted via email by Elisa Nino-Sears, Sequoia's Volunteer Coordinator. There is a quick and simple clearance process for all volunteers placed in academic settings with students.
If we do not fill all the volunteer spots for an exam, we cannot offer that exam due to IB regulations.  Please help us avoid canceling any tests. 

AP Contact: IVP Office: Kristin Stout 
IB Contact: IB Coordinator: Lisa McCahon 
Media Center Needs A Few Helping Hands

Sequoia's new Media Center is up and running!  If you haven't already seen the new space, please check it out.  It looks wonderful and there is an exciting vibe as students are now using it daily not only to browse the books but also to use the supply of computers available.  We are seeking volunteers on Mondays to help out with text book check outs, scanning, and sorting. 

Additionally, we have spots throughout the week for assisting with managing inventory and additional support tasks, including greeting and orienting students, shelving books, etc.  Please sign up for whatever shifts fit your schedule.  Looking forward to seeing you at the Media Center!

Mark Your Calendars
Double Your Donation to SHSEF

Gifts to SHSEF makes a difference in the lives of our 2,100 students.  This year, we have a $525,000 goal to expand enrichment activities and support in the 2019-20 school year.  

As part of the  Stand  Up for Public Schools Campaign, if you donate between now and May 8, 2019, your gift will be matched through a $50K challenge grant.

Thank you and click here or below to donate today and provide an Education that Empowers.

Last Few Days to Get Your Tickets Before They Sell Out!
Dance show tickets are now on sale!   Every year, each show has been a sell-out event so make sure you get your tickets early.  Advanced purchases online are $14 each and ticket prices at the door are $20.  In celebration of 50 years of dance at Sequoia, we will have three shows this year:
  • Thursday, April 25
  • Friday, April 26
  • Saturday, April 27
All shows start at 7:30 p.m. in Carrington Hall.
IB/AP Exams in May

May 2019 IB exams are fast approaching.  IB exams will run May 3 - 24 this year.  Students will receive an exam packet in their IB classes next week.  The packet will include an exam calendar (with dates, start times, and location), exam tips, Answer Booklet instructions, and the IB Code of Conduct.  You can also find IB exam information online.  Here, you will find the calendar, exam tips, a list of the timed length for each exam, instructions on how to check your IB scores, and instructions on sending IB scores to colleges.  I encourage families to review this information thoroughly.  Please be aware that students are required to stay for the entire exam even if they finish before the end of the session.  Students are NOT allowed to leave early.  If you have any questions about IB exams, please direct them to Lisa McCahon, the IB Coordinator.
Please note, AP Exams are also held in May.  Dates will be posted on the IB calendar at the bottom. If you have any questions regarding AP testing, please direct them to Kristin Stout who oversees AP exams.

Last Week at Sequoia
Media Center is Officially Open!
Media Center
Smiles abound at the ribbon cutting ceremony (L-R: AVP Gary Gooch, Principal Sean Priest, Architect Usha Narayan from Spencer & Associates, Media Center Director Betsy Snow, Superintendent Mary Streshly, and Trustee Alan Sarver)
Thank you to all of our parent volunteers, Board Trustees, administrators, teachers, friends, and alumni who attended the long-awaited ribbon cutting ceremony for the new SHSMC.
We could not have done this without the help of our PTSA and we are incredibly grateful for everyone's efforts - it truly takes a village.  The crown jewel of the Media Center is our library and we take great pride that books are at the center of the space.  With our first author/illustrator visit having taken place last week, I look forward to what is yet to come in celebration of storytelling and the human spirit.
~ Media Center Director Betsy Snow
Signing Day for Six Sequoia Athletes

Sequoia recognized six student athletes who will be continuing on their athletic pursuits at four year colleges next year.  

They were:
Joseph Adams - Soccer - DePauw University 
Edward Aguayo - Soccer - Oberlin College 
Isabelle Azadi - Rowing - University of Washington  
Julia Banfield - Lacrosse - Maryville University
Bridget Carbonneau - Soccer - Cal Poly Pomona
Stephanie Rodriguez Estacuy - Soccer - Notre Dame de Namur

We are very excited to see them embark on this next phase of their athletics careers!

Sequoia Varsity Girls and Boys Win Dual Meet League Championship Again 
2019 Sequoia Track and Field Team

On Wednesday, the Sequoia track and field team competed against Mills in the final dual meet of the season.  Every athlete competed strongly and a total of 80 new personal records were set during the meet - an outstanding result.  These strong individual performances also resulted in both the Varsity Girls and Varsity Boys winning the meet.  And with this victory, both these squads won the dual meet league championship for the second consecutive season.
Congratulations to all our athletes on an outstanding dual meet season.  Please come out and cheer on our team at 4:00 p.m. on April 26 at the PAL Varsity Trials, Menlo Atherton High School and at 9:00 a.m. on April 27 for the Frosh/Soph Championships at Terra Nova High School, Pacifica.

In This Issue


Tuesday, April 23
6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
Incoming Student Welcome,
Gym 1

Thursday, April 25
Friday, April 26
Saturday, April 27
7:30 p.m.
Dance Show,
Carrington Hall

Tuesday, April 30
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Cheer Tryout,
Gym 3

Tuesday, April 30
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
NUWHE Tour College Host Program (Emory, Notre Dame, Johns Hopkins, UVA, & WashU),
Carrington Hall

May 3 - 24
IB/AP Exams

Saturday, May 4
8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Cheer Tryout,
Gym 3

Tuesday, May 7
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
PTSA / ELAC Meeting,

Friday, May 10
Saturday, May 11
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Spring Play - Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You
and The Actors Nightmare,
Carrington Hall
Quick Links
Read the Latest Raven Report
Buy Your Grad Tickets Now 
Visit the PTSA store
  to purchase your Grad Night Cruise tickets today!   
Find out all about grad activities here
IB Ceremony Needs Your Help!

Annual Sequoia IB Ceremony

May 30 at
5:30 p.m. in
Carrington Hall.
Parent volunteers of non-senior students are needed that evening to help make it all sparkle.  If you can help, please contact Glenn Bugos.  More information about the ceremony will be sent closer to the date.  
Join the PTSA  Anytime!  
Visit the
  to purchase your 2018-19 PTSA membership today, and contribute to Sequoia's Unaliyi spirit and programs!
Interested in Being a Co-Editor for the Sequoia Sentinel?
Do you like making sure parents are in the know about events and activities at Sequoia?  We are looking for a co-editor to share in the weekly publication duties for this upcoming year.  Please contact Jocelyn Kelemen to find out more.
Our readers enjoy hearing about activities, events, and accomplishments of our Sequoia students, staff and community.  If you have articles to submit to the Sentinel (including photos and links), please email the article/blurb by the Thursday before publication.  See the following Guidelines for news submissions.  
Find past issues of the Sentinel at   
En Español
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 Parent Education

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Denise Pope, PhD, Challenge Success, Stanford Graduate School of Education  
A Well-Balanced Perspective on Co llege "Fit"
Thursday, April 25, 2019, 7:00pm - 8:30pm 
Menlo-Atherton High School, Performing Arts Center (PAC)
The college admissions process can be a source of stress and anxiety  for students and parents alike.  In this interactive presentation, Dr. Denise Pope will explore strategies to help reduce unnecessary pressure around the college admission process.

Dr. Denise Pope  is a senior lecturer at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education and the co-founder of  ChallengeSuccess , a non-profit organization affiliated with the Stanford GSE.  
M-A Parent Education Series events are sponsored by M-A PTA, Sequoia Healthcare District, and Sequoia Union High School District. 
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Lily's Wings: An Anti-Trafficking Community Project and Play
Wednesday, May 15, 2019, 7:00pm - 8:30pm
Menlo-Atherton High School, M-A Performing Arts Center (PAC)
Lily's Wings is an original project and play produced by Fuse Theatre to raise awareness about human trafficking.  The program will include the play, a short introductory piece on human trafficking, and a panel discussion about HT awareness, advocacy, and finding support.
Open to parents, youth 13+,educators, and community members!  Free admission and light refreshments . Lily's Wings is a bilingual play in Spanish and English.
Special thanks to Dignity Health Sequoia Hospital, Fuse Theatre, and The Parent Education Series for their support of this premier event. 
M-A Parent Education Series events are sponsored by the M-A PTA, Sequoia Healthcare District, and Sequoia Union High School District.
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Parents, students, educators, and community members welcome!  Free admission and light refreshments.  Spanish interpretation will be available.
Questions?  Contact Charlene Margot, M.A., Director of The Parent Education Series .
 Community News

Safespace Rally to Kickoff Mental Health Awareness Month

SafeSpace, a teen-led organization that empowers young people to engage in mental health advocacy and awareness, is hosting a rally at Fremont Park in downtown Menlo Park on Sunday, May 5 from 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.   This event will kickoff Mental Health Awareness Month and feature youth speakers, music, performances, activities and resources and more!!  All are invited!

Executive Function Bootcamp: Complimentary Assessment for SHS Families (All Ages) 

Worried about your kiddo going off into the deep ABYSS called college?
Summer workshops to help them navigate the process at THE TALKING PLAYHOUSE:
  • 100 DAYS TILL COLLEGE: EF Preparedness for Planning, Studying, Staying Schedule Connected & More.
  • SKYPE EF COACH: Learn how to help your kiddo stay on track while at College. (by Certified EF Therapist)
  • TRAINING THE BRAIN: Organize the brain for life! 
Exclusively for Sequoia Families: Please email for a COMPLIMENTARY assessment and game plan for your kiddo!  Jenn Bulka, Memory Specialist, SLP, CCC-Sp (Cal State Lic#14600), 155 Birch St. (Across from SHS)