April 29, 2019  

Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message
Sequoia Celebrates the Traditional High School Experience 
The confetti cannon blasted a shimmering end to Prom 2019.
It's been a while since I made a full-throated holler in defense of the traditional high school experience, but I'll be darned if the last few weeks haven't fueled my enthusiasm for what makes a place like Sequoia great.
Most of our 11th and 12th graders (nearly 700) were able to attend and enjoy this year's prom in downtown San Francisco at the elegant Bently Reserve on April 12, 2019.  There was copious dancing, instagramming, karaoke singing, and "casino" gaming to go along with the night's theme.  The coup de grâce at the end of the night, a confetti cannon - nay, a confetti howitzer.  Ka-BOOM!  The sweaty, good time enjoyed by the students made me happy, but the way in which the community came together to ensure the event was as inclusive as possible is what filled my heart.  Collaborative and individual efforts by ASB students, the Family Center, the PTSA, local businesses, and Sequoia Staff ensured reduced-price or complimentary tickets and stylish formal attire were available to students in need.  

The following Friday was our final rally of the year.  Organizers took a slightly different approach this time.  The expected elements were there, of course: Sequoia's lively pep band, crowd-pleasing dance performances, flying t-shirts.  In lieu of the usual class yelling competitions, however, Mr. Uhalde borrowed one of the traditional elements from the Sequoia Principal's graduation remarks and exhorted all students to give a shout if they've taken an IB or ICAP class, been a part of a theater, music, or dance performance, played a sport, or worn purple in the spirit of Unaliyi this year.  The resultant increase in volume and energy spoke volumes about what Sequoia pride looks like in 2019.

The grand finale to an evening of exceptional entertainment.
Finally, this weekend marked the 50th annual Sequoia High School Dance Show.  The Dance Show is music, energy, emotion, and pride.   Students prepare all year (each of the 29 individual numbers was choreographed by students in the Advanced Dance Class) and buckle down for late evening rehearsals in Carrington Hall during the weeks leading up to the performances.  Whether your bag is jazz, modern, ballet, or hip hop, the show never disappoints.  An extra night was added this year to accommodate the hullabaloo surrounding the anniversary (it's always a great place to catch up with alumni young and old, this year especially so).  The performances showcased not only the skill of the dancers, but also their perspectives.  Whether addressing issues of self-perception or celebrating this history of Bay Area hip-hop, the Dance show was about students telling their stories through movement.  It was powerful and sophisticated.

Each of these events is large in scale and broad in appeal - a lot of things to a lot of people.  They would only be possible, in the unifying way we experienced them, in a setting like ours.  In the best ways, they harken back to a bygone era while simultaneously spotlighting what is inspiring about today's youth.  As we shift more and more energy these last months toward preparing for next year's 9th grade class, I hear often about the multitude of choices families have to make when it comes to high schools.   In additional to the open enrollment options within the district, charters, private schools, and now TIDE, it can be daunting.  Drawing on the work of people like Toffler , one might even question whether so much choice is, ultimately, healthy.  

Nothing is perfect, but traditional high schools (especially, in my highly biased opinion, Sequoia) get a lot right for a lot of kids and families.  Because of our size, scale, diversity, mission, and trust among stakeholders, it's amazing what we can do together.  Hats-off to each of you for being a part of this community -- let's keep celebrating our kids' awesomeness for a little while longer.  Graduation is only six weeks away.
Have a great week!

Opportunities: Volunteer Positions
URGENT: Last Call for Proctor Volunteers This May 
Thank you to the many parents and relatives who have already volunteered to serve as a proctor during one or more tests this spring; many of our exam days are all set.  
Unfortunately, six exams are at risk of being cancelled due to low volunteer proctor numbers.
Here's how you can help:
Please visit this site .  Look for exam dates that are not "FULL" and please sign up.
Frequently asked questions:

What's the process for becoming a proctor? Is the clearance process a pain? 
No. The process is easy! We just need you to sign up.  Most proctors will not need to complete district clearance -- no documentation needed, no fingerprinting.

I can't help during those times. Can my elderly parent/neighbor/college-kid/ friend volunteer? 
Yes!   All reliable, calm, helpful adults who can stay on their feet for a few hours wearing comfy shoes are great additions to our team.  Please ask them to sign up today to proctor .

Why is this proctoring need such a big deal? 
The international IB leadership is very strict about requirements and proctor-to-student ratios, with reason.  In order to carry out scandal-free examinations around the globe, they must be super meticulous about rules, regulations and procedures in order to maintain the highly respected reputation of this program.  All IB schools -- including Sequoia -- can be audited with a surprise inspection during an exam, with no warning.  The numbers and details are serious and high stakes.

Can't the school just pay to hire proctors? 
We do have a testing budget that allows us to hire some important help (eg. substitute teachers who receive extensive training as lead proctors).  However, the IB Program requires that schools provide one proctor volunteer for every 20 students taking an exam, as well as special accommodations for certain students.  With an impressive 375 Sequoia students taking 1007 IB exams, we need to assemble a huge team of volunteer proctors.  IB schools depend on parent and community volunteers to proctor exams as they just don't have enough staff to cover all the shifts.  

Do I need to prep or learn something before the test? 
No need to prepare or learn anything in advance. As long as you show up on time or early, 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 and quiet clothing and shoes, and for you to be supportive and totally present (no phones, laptops or distractions) during the exam.
Can I proctor an exam my own child is taking?
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!  AP rules are different.  You CANNOT proctor an AP exam if your child is taking that AP exam.

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 Seeking End of Year Help

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 whichever shifts fit your schedule.  No experience necessary.  Ms. Betsy Snow will show you the ropes.

Mark Your Calendars
Double Your Donation to SHSEF Ends in Two Weeks

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.

Laugh Along with Three One-Act Comedies in the Spring Play

The sequoia spring theater production ( May 10 & 11 at 7:00 p.m. in Carrington Hall) is three one-act comedies - " Mrs. Sorken", " Fourteen", and " An Actor's Nightmare."  Tickets ( $10 students and seniors, $15 adults) are on sale online at, the school treasurer, and at the door. 

In Mrs. Sorken, a slightly scattered Connecticut housewife has lost her notes to her speech and gives us a slightly rambling lecture on drama and the theater.

Our second selection, Fourteen, takes us to the home of a society hostess, who has assembled the cream of society to sit down at a table for fourteen for a sparkling soiree.  But the weather dooms her plans when one guest after another can't make it and she must find last minute replacements. 
In Actor's Nightmare,  George dreams that while h aving casually wandered onstage, he is informed that one of the actors, Eddie, has been in an auto accident and has to be replaced immediately.  As he fumbles through one missed cue after another, the other actors shift from Private Lives to Hamlet, then a play by Samuel Beckett, and then a climactic scene from what might well be A Man for All Seasons.

Last Week at Sequoia
Sequoia Welcomes Incoming Families
New families listened closely to Principal Sean Priest and the panel of student speakers highlighting Sequoia's Unaliyi spirit.
Over 230 people attended our incoming student welcome night in the gym last week; most attendees came from San Carlos and Redwood City.  SHSEF, PTSA, VPA, and Athletic Boosters all presented information on the different offerings available to students next year.  Principal Sean Priest presented and highlighted the benefits of a Sequoia education including, "A Sequoia education develops responsibility, communication skills, self-esteem and self-direction, and promotes educational success and lifelong learning for all students."  A panel of eight student speakers described daily life and their experiences at Sequoia. 
We are excited to have the new class of students and parents join our school.  We encourage incoming families to get involved and help support the spirit of Unaliyi at Sequoia.  We welcome any businesses interested in supporting SHSEF's Business Sponsorship Program to contact us

It Takes a Village to Build a Garden - An Eagle Scout, Troop Members, Community Partners, Friends and Family, and A PTSA Mini-grant

The finished outdoor classroom awaits seating and students in the eastern corner of Sequoia's campus.

It all started last October when Vice Principal Gooch mentioned that the "Sequoia School Garden" could benefit from some clean-up.  It so happened I needed a focus for my Eagle Scout Project.  Upon inspection of the area on the corner of El Camino and James, the garden (although in complete disrepair) held much potential; with a lot of work and some money, the idea of an outdoor classroom was born.  In order to transform the space, piles of dumped dirt, trash, and rocks had to be removed, new raised beds built and filled with garden soil and plants, irrigation added, and the existing greenhouse repaired.  The addition of an outdoor whiteboard would make it a classroom.
As part of the project, I am grateful to the many local businesses and organizations who helped make the garden transformation possible through their financial and material support:
  • Recology (donated debris bins and the disposal of approximately 14 tons of trash and previously dumped construction debris
  • Rethink Waste (donated compost)
  • Lyngso Garden Supply (donated compost and soil amendments for the raised beds)
  • Davey Trees (donated tanbark for the walk way and classroom area)
  • Jesse Running (donated sequoia and redwood logs, then milled them into the lumber used in the raised beds and the whiteboard case)
  • Wegman's Nursery (donated cash and advice on perennial plants for the area)
  • AAA Rental (discounted rental fees for equipment)
  • Sheila Bailey Landscaping (operated the skid steer to contour the ground)
  • Boy Scout Troop 149 and their families (donated over 400 volunteer hours of labor, as well as cash donations for supplies)
  • Friends and family (donated money for supplies, wisdom, and sweat equity)
  • The Sequoia PTSA Mini-Grant Program (awarded money toward the outdoor whiteboard). 
As with every garden, there will always be more to do, but the area is ready to be used and enjoyed.  Eventually, the school plans to add tables and benches to the classroom area, and school clubs/classes will finish planting the raised beds with vegetables and native plants.

~ Cameron Martin, Sequoia '20

In This Issue


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 - Mrs. Sorken, Fourteen, and The Actor's Nightmare,
Carrington Hall

Thursday, May 16
4:00 - 5:30 p.m.
Choir Vocal Showcase,
Student Activities Room

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?  Thoughts on improving the Sentinel?  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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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)