May 18, 2020  
Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message
Students' Perspectives on Distance Learning 
I invited students to participate in a survey about their experiences with at-home learning recently.  Based on conversations with students individually and with small groups over the past two months, it's my belief that their voices are vital as we plan for the different return-to-school scenarios.  As much as our students' individual situations are unique and, sometimes, dichotomous with regards to internet access, quiet space for study, emotional stability, and economic security, it has been evident that there are more common experiences than not.

Here are some highlights from the responses we've collected thus far.  While by no means comprehensive, these comments represent some of the general themes that are emerging:

What do you like best about At-Home Learning?
  • "I get to work on my own time and sleep more."
  • "I can focus more time on a specific topic."
  • "I like that I can sleep in, and finally get enough sleep."
  • "I have time to better myself.  By spending time alone I have been able to realize who I am and who I want to be in the future.  Also having this time has allowed me to learn new skills that I haven't had time to do."
  • "Eat when I'm hungry"
  • "I like that I have more time in the day to get everything done, and I'm not nearly as exhausted at the end of the day."
  • "I can go at my own pace."
  • "Nothing. It's wack."

What do you miss most about school?
  • "My friends." (this, 100x)
  • "Interacting with teachers and friends"
  • "I have no structure."
  • "The in-person instruction, as it allows me to ask questions as soon as I have them."
  • "The projects we did that we can't do anymore because we don't have the resources (science experiments, for example)."
  • "I miss having a day to day schedule that forced me to be more motivated in my school work and also going to the school library every afternoon to do work."
  • "Sports."
  • "The homies."

What kinds of online activities/tools work best for you?
  • "Watching a video, then taking notes + answering questions"
  • "Zoom calls and group work, or individual assignments such as worksheets."
  • "Edpuzzles, slides, essay/writing questions"
  • "Online activities through Canvas and Google sites work best because a lot of other sites have tech issues or are difficult to use at first."
  • "Zoom calls, where I'm held accountable to showing up."
  • "Discussions that happen on Canvas -- our teacher gives us a question and we then share our answer with the rest of the class.  It's a good way to still somewhat interact with our class while not being able to see them daily."
  • "Zoom meetings and slideshows.  Zoom works best because the teacher can explain it in-person, as well as other ways for them to do video instruction."
  • "Flipgrid is good but there is a time limit on videos.  I've also recently been using Google Hangouts to talk to people outside of school/for other programs."

Other findings:
  • Approximately 90% of students agree or strongly agree that their teachers are "reachable" either via email or other means of "distance learning."
  • 64.1% of students responded favorably when asked if they feel they're getting better at distance learning.
  • Just under a third of students report their general level of anxiety has worsened since shelter-in-place began.
  • About two-thirds of students report feeling confident in being able to reach out to an adult to report concerns about their mental health or that of a friend.

This was by no means a scientific survey.  It was a self-selecting sample and fewer than a third of all students have responded.  Submissions were evenly distributed across grade levels.  The input is nonetheless of high value in capturing the experience of our students and being informed about how we move ahead.  It will only be by listening to teachers, students, and families that we will build on any success we've had and better address the challenges we've faced this spring.  Our core values as a school have not changed.  Equity still means doing our best to maintain high expectations and support students in understanding those expectations and how to meet them.  I am grateful that we can count on the trust amongst our stakeholders as we continue to share and listen.

Have a great week!


Double Your SHSEF Donation Today!

Gifts to SHSEF make a difference in the lives of our 2,100 students.  This year, we have a $630,000 goal to expand enrichment activities and support in the 2020-21 school year.

If you donate between now and May 31, your gift will be matched through a $70,000 challenge grant sponsored by a group of Sequoia families.

Donate today and provide an Education that Empowers.


Special Membership Gift for Seniors from Alumni Association

graphic The Sequoia H. S. Alumni Assn. is inviting all 2020 graduating seniors to join the Alumni Association for FREE. There is usually a grad year membership special (this year it would have been $20.20), but given the rare circumstances this year, the association wanted to offer the option to join for free!

Please see attached flyer for details.  This offer is also included with your senior packet.

A Special Message from the Sequoia Family Center: Sequoia Students and Families Need Your Help!

Many of you have asked, "How can I help students and families during this COVID-19 crisis?" or "How can I help the Family Center right now?" 
Thank you!  We are deeply grateful for your concern and support.  Here are the top three ways you can help the Family Center at this time:
1) Donate to SHSEFEvery dollar helps.  SHSEF  is funding emergency support for students and families through the Sequoia Family Center.  As parents and families experience the chaotic effects of COVID-19, this emergency support is more critical than ever.  Thanks to SHSEF funding, the Family Center is providing customized help to our most vulnerable students and families through emergency gift cards to local stores, emergency supplies delivered to homes, and more -- emergency assistance that students need to stay safe, complete their studies, and cross that graduation finish line.  You can  donate online here .
2) Join our "Sequoia 500 Masks Challenge."  The Family Center has partnered with Peninsula Mask Makers (PMM)  and Sequoia's newly formed, student-run club "Sequoia C.A.R.E.S." (COVID-19 Action, Relief, Education & Support) to provide hand-sewn masks for 500 of Sequoia's students in need.  These will be rectangular masks with elastic ear loops, three layers of fabric, made to the highest standards for cloth masks as established by the CDC and university hospitals.  PMM's army of volunteer sewists will sew 250 masks for Sequoia's Family Center to distribute.  PMM has challenged Sequoia to sew the other 250 masks. Here's how to join the challenge: 
  • Have a sewing machine and some time?  PMM and Sequoia C.A.R.E.S. will provide you with a FREE brown bag filled with EVERYTHING you need to create TEN masks (material and notions, plus step by-step instructions with a link to an online video).  Please send us an email telling us how many sets of ten masks you would like to sew and by when. (We will be accepting masks June 1 through August 1).
  •  Not a "sewist" but want to help?  Sponsor a set of masks by donating supplies or money to PMM.  Please send an email telling us what you'd like to donate to this mask challenge.  We'll then send you to the appropriate supplies collector or GoFundMe page. 
3) Encourage your student to join Sequoia C.A.R.E.S. today to do volunteer work for the Family Center this summer.   Sequoia's newly formed, student-run club "Sequoia C.A.R.E.S." (COVID-19 Action, Relief, Education, & Support) is working hard to support Sequoia's students in need with masks, hand sanitizer, public health education, supplies, and more.  Students will be working on various projects throughout the summer and into the school year -- lots of volunteer opportunities that are fun, rewarding, and can be safely carried out at home.  You don't have to sew to join!  For more information, please email Sequoia student Veyna Karanth.
Questions?  For more information about SHSEF Family Support and the Sequoia Family Center, please contact SHSEF Family Support Chair Elisa Nino-Sears.
Sequoia Highlights
Wrapping Up the 2019-20 Sequoia Mini-Grant Program 
Our 2019-2020 Mini-grant program is closed for the year.  Thank you to everyone who applied!  If you were a grant recipient, please turn in your Impact Statement when you have finished your project or implemented your program.  We will put your article in the Sentinel next year.  Plus, Impact Statements are necessary before applying for future grants. 
Here are the most recent grants.  You can see that some of the grants are  related to our shelter-in-place situation, and some teachers are already planning for next year. 
  • Ms. Yeager is giving out college pennants to her college bound AVID students
  • Melissa Perez requested a new tablet for the Guidance Department
  • Phoebe Henige secured a new picnic table for more seating at lunchtime 
  • Analisa Manolache organized a coffee station for the substitutes to encourage retention
  • Martine Demailly has a new tablet for specific distance learning activities for his Math classes
  • The Drumline Club is purchasing some new instruments
  • Laura Luttrell was able to purchase some distance learning materials
  • Karina Chin purchased a subscription to a website to create digital books for her World Languages/ELD classes
  • Four World Language teachers requested a subscription to a website called This is Language that produces authentic language videos
  • The Debate team was given money for entry into competitions next year
  • Veyna Karanth and Elisa Nino-Sears will be producing masks and hand sanitizer through the Family Center
Thank you to our committee members this year who have met, emailed, zoomed, reviewed grants and written articles for the Sentinel: Jessica Rosenburg, Lisa Wagner, Betsy Parkhurst, Angie Jones, Laura Downs, Carolyn Arbuckle, and Kristin Henige.  We really appreciate all of you!
Joining the Mini-Grant committee is a great way to get a behind the scenes peek at what the teachers and students are up to.  If you think you are interested in joining our committee next year email us at
See you next year!
~ DeeDee Clarke and Karen Latina, Mini-Grant Chairs 

More VPA Highlights: Dance During Distance Learning,  Advanced Dance Show, and A Virtual Play 
Dancers performing in sync at the 2020 Dance Show  Zoom Extravaganza. 
During Distance Learning, Sequoia Dance students have been receiving videos from Ms. White to learn dances and then attending a Zoom class each week during which she reviews the material.  COVID-19 could not stop Ms. White from providing her Advanced Dance class with an opportunity to put on their annual show and she hosted it on Zoom.  Called "Sequoia Dance Show Zoom Extravaganza," the 27 performances were streamed live over a couple of past Friday evenings.  Fifty dancers performed in various spots in or near their homes including bedrooms, kitchens, living rooms, garages, and yards.
Although only the family members of the dancers were permitted to attend due to Zoom participant limitations, the dancers were recorded and the virtual show may be shared with
the broader Sequoia community at a later date.  Special recognition was given to the 30 graduating seniors for their contributions to the Advanced Dance program among big smiles and some bittersweet tears.  Congratulations to all of the dancers and to Ms. White for their creativity and perseverance!
In addition to dance, we hope many of you had the chance to tune into the Sequoia Players' "10 Ways to Survive Life in Quarantine" by Don Zolidis on Zoom this past Friday evening.  The monologues included tales of squirrel watching, high-stakes solitaire, and surviving with multiple remote controls to avoid ever having to leave one's bed during quarantine.  The best part was how much fun the actors seemed to have as they shared the ways one finds amusement and meaning in times of solitude.  Thanks to Mr. Broome for working with the students to make this happen. 

Parent Resources
Links to Explore During Shelter-in-Place 
As all of us are getting used to the new routines and distance learning, here are a few curated resources to tap into:
  • Media Center May Newsletter
  • The Raven Report is filled with new stories reported by our Sequoia writers -- from hobbies to fill the time to thoughts on grades, distance learning, etc.
  • Create At Home offers opportunities to explore all manners of creativity through art education.
  • The Media Center at Sequoia has the Distance Learning Center site up.  This site is updated periodically, so please bookmark the Distance Learning Page and visit it occasionally.
  • Audible has launched Audible Stories, a free service that offers educational and entertaining audiobook content for kids, teens, and families.
  • Without a doubt, many of us are feeling anxious as we navigate the uncertainty of COVID-19. We're feeling it too, and we wanted to share some of the tools we're using to take care of our minds and stay grounded. 
  • Because of coronavirus, teenagers are missing out on major rites of passage. Offering compassion paves their way toward feeling better. Read: Quaranteenagers: Strategies for Parenting in Close Quarters (NYT Subscription required to read)
  • These 12 famous museums offer Virtual Tours you can take on your couch.
In This Issue

May 18 - Jun. 4  
Distance Learning in Effect
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
2:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Thursday, May 21, 2020
12:00 - 1:00 p.m.
Parent Ed. Webinar: Diversity and Bias in Schools
Monday, May 25, 2020
No School 
Memorial Day
Wednesday, Jun 3, 2020
6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
Virtual Senior Awards Night  
Quick Links

Breakfast and Lunch Meals

The SUHSD Food Services department will be offering FREE breakfast and lunch meals to all SUHSD students for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year.  Please see the attached flyer for times and location.
For the most up to date information, please visit our website.

Still Time to Order Yearbooks

2019-20 Yearbooks are still available to order through Josten's Yearbooks.

Yearbooks will be arriving in June and distribution information is yet to be determined.  We will let you know when we know.
Questions can be sent to Eileen Bray.

Support Sequoia All Year

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

The Sentinel 
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. 
For those who wish to subscribe or resubscribe, we cannot add you back if you initiated the unsubscribe authorization at any point so use the link below to receive our weekly newsletter.  Please check all appropriate boxes for grade level or special interest communications.
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 Parent Education

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Welcome to the NEW Parent Education Webinar Series
In response to COVID-19, we are offering free virtual events to support "Safe and Healthy Teens." Click here to register for The Parent Education Newsletter.  

FCD prevention works
Healthy Adults for Healthy Kids: Modeling in the Time of COVID-19 (Spanish Version)
Eduardo Torres, MS, Senior Prevention Specialist, FCD Prevention Works    
Tuesday, May 19, 2020, 2:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Online Event (Webinar)  
(Zoom link provided upon registration) 
How can we help our kids feel a sense of control, even during COVID-19? And how can we help them take the "long view," even in the midst of a pandemic?
Join us for a free webinar with Eduardo Torres, Supervising Field Officer and Senior Prevention Specialist at  FCD Prevention Works , to discuss how healthy adult behavior can be a protective factor against risky teen choices.
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Circle Up Education - Tiffany Hong      
Diversity & Bias in Schools 
Tiffany Hoang, Co-Founder of CircleUp Education
Thursday, May 21, 2020, 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.
Online Event (Webinar)
(Zoom link provided upon registration)
In this online webinar, Tiffany Hoang, co-founder of CircleUp Education , will discuss how bias and diversity impact student learning, and what parents can do to identify conscious vs. unconscious bias.

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Parents, students, educators, and community members welcome! Free admission. The Parent Education Webinar Series is sponsored by Sequoia Healthcare District and Sequoia Union High School District.
For videos of popular events, visit our YouTube and Vimeo channels, and connect with us on Instagram and Facebook for the latest parenting news.

Questions?  Contact Charlene Margot, M.A., Founder and Director, The Parent Education Series .