August 17, 2020  
Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message  
Our 2020-21 Virtual Challenge -- Accepted!   
This morning we are kicking off the 2020-21 school year.  We're using an entirely different educational model than we've used before.  Online learning is not new, but typically students have self-selected into schools that operate this way.  Compulsory online learning at the scale we're doing it has no precedent.  So, in a very real sense, today is historical.

The challenges are well-documented: equitable access to technology across the community and sufficient professional learning opportunities for our teachers are the big categories.  We've focused our effort on them this summer.   We've so far distributed over 500 Chromebooks and hotspots to students and families in addition to the support we provided last spring.  Our staff has been coming together in small and large groups since June to reflect, design, and refine their professional practice.

There are also the nuts-and-bolts of making sure students and families are where they need to be on day one.  Emails, phone calls (both general audience and targeted personal outreach to individual families), text messages, CANVAS notifications, updates to the school website, Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter have been helpful to disseminate information and direct students and families to the information they need to be successful in learning.  

This outreach will continue.  Students have received notification about who they can contact to help troubleshoot on this opening day.  Our team's priority is direct service to students and families.  I know first hand how stressful it can be to see your student unable to log on to their class.  The clenched fists and watery eyes of my first-grader last spring haunt me to this day.  Stay calm.  Everybody anticipates a few bumps given the magnitude of what we're pulling off.  If in doubt, the Sequoia Distance Learning page on our website is built to get you out of a jam.

I am so grateful to work with so many strong, talented, positive and smart professionals, students, and families.  What we are going to pull off this year will reflect this.  When a heat wave, thunderstorms, and possible power outages were added to our list of unknowns this weekend, it was just another reminder that the certainty of our circumstances remains elusive.  Great certainty, on the other hand, can be found in our values, our intent, and our determination.  Look right, look left...

...and away we go!


PTSA President's Message  
"The Two Most Powerful Warriors are Patience and Time"
~ Leo Tolstoy

graphic It has never been easy to be patient, but it's probably even harder now than at any time in history for a lot of us, and more so for our kids.  Our kids are learning to be "warriors."  These are different times and it will be a unique school year that will be etched in our collective memories and in history for years to come.  Feelings of uncertainty, fear, nervousness, anxiety are all real.  It's true that some of these emotions have taken over the feelings of joy, excitement, adventure, fun, new beginnings -- the feelings that have traditionally come with the start of every new school year.   
I relate to how it feels.  I have an incoming Sophomore at Sequoia and our dinner conversations are all about how different this school year is going to be -- we discuss not having to do Back-to-School shopping, the friends we will see or not see in our virtual classes, what sports will be like, and the big issue of Zoom fatigue.  I can only imagine how Freshman, Junior, and Senior families must be feeling. 
Even with the uncertainty of the times, I can assure you that the staff and the PTSA are working to ensure that we keep our community safe, to enrich learning for our students, and continue spreading Sequoia's Unaliyi spirit.
Through the summer, several PTSA parents have stepped up to help with planning for the school year -- Freshman activities, new teacher gift bags, planning for events and volunteer opportunities, and offering support to school staff.  Every year, the PTSA, with the financial support of the Sequoia High School Education Foundation (SHSEF), offers Mini-Grants for teachers, scholarships for Juniors, and hosts several teacher appreciation events and many more.  We will continue these activities throughout this school year in accordance with district and county guidelines.  I'd like to encourage all of you to get involved with the Sequoia Community, in any fashion, be it a little or lot, whatever your schedule allows.  We will need all the help this year!
As the incoming president of the PTSA this school year, I welcome you!  I encourage you to ask your students to enjoy each day and know that you parents are surrounded by a great community.  I look forward to getting to know our wonderful and talented community even better in the coming months.
Stay positive, smile, and reach out for support!
Isha Bhatt

New Student Orientation

The new student virtual orientation will take place on Wednesday, August 26 from 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. via Zoom.  Save the date!  This will be an opportunity to meet Sequoia leadership students and have your questions answered.  Open to students and families.  Learn about different academic, athletic, and extracurricular opportunities -- see you there!  
For more information, visit the Incoming Students Page on the school website.

PTSA Membership Drive is Up & Running - Join Now, Here's How:
Our fall membership drive is off to a great start with parents, teachers, and students alike standing up to support our Sequoia High School PTSA.  
As this will be a Fall start-of-school like none of us has experienced before, it's more important than ever to join the PTSA, become active in any way you can, and MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD as we navigate these challenging times.
Our PTSA at Sequoia is part of a national organization that has been around for more than 100 years advocating for stronger schools, teacher support, and legislation that ensures all kids get a chance at a quality education.  The greater our numbers, the greater our opportunities to hold our national, state, and local elected leaders responsible for creating the best possible learning environment for our kids!
Even if you choose not to join, everyone in our parent community is welcome to come to our meetings, volunteer for activities, and be a part of this wonderful school!  But we'd love your membership, too!
Questions or concerns about membership? Contact Lisa Hane, PTSA membership Chair 2020-2021 at
Recording of Virtual Chat with Sean Priest from August 6th

Sean Priest and some staff members of Sequoia High School shared his updates and reflections in this YouTube recording. Parents brought questions, ideas, and feedback. Mr. Priest also shared updates on club activities, performing arts, and sports, as well as information about technology distribution and student schedules. Please click here for the Spanish version.
Sequoia Sentinel Team Looking for Additional Volunteer 
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Would you like to be on the PTSA's communications team? We are looking for another member to help with our weekly newsletter, the Sentinel. Responsibilities would include accessing Google Drive and using Constant Contact to assemble the newsletter once or twice a month on the weekend. Training and an enthusiastic and supportive team are provided! Contact Cynthia Wiggin with your interest.

Reflections 2020-2021: I Matter Because... (Yo Importo Porque...

With shelter-in-place remaining, we are announcing this year's PTSA Reflections theme,  "I Matter Because...; tema, "Yo Importo Porque..." this summer.  Students can create artwork and reflect about its meaning in one of six categories:  
  • Dance Choreography
  • Film Production
  • Literature
  • Music Composition
  • Photography
  • Visual Arts
See official rules here in English and Spanish. All entries will be recognized for their artistic achievement--participation itself is a meaningful contribution to the Sequoia community!  First-place finishers in each category enter the district competition.  District winners move on to the state level, and winners there ultimately compete at the national level.  Click here to watch the Call for Entries video.  

More information will be forthcoming in September.  Questions?  Contact

Media Center Guide

Ms. Betsy Snow, Sequoia's Media Specialist, distributes this guide to teachers and staff monthly.  The newsletter includes links to many helpful resources, including book recommendations and information to support students with academics and their overall well-being. 
In This Issue

Monday, August 17
First Day of School
(Distance Learning) 
Wednesday, August 26
1:00 - 2:30 p.m.
New Student Virtual Orientation
Wednesday, September 2
6:00 - 7:30 p.m.
IB/ College 12th Grade Level Virtual Meeting 
Quick Links

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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), please use the link below to receive our weekly newsletter.  Check all appropriate boxes for grade level or special interest communications.
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En Español
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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.  

The Anti-Racist Parent: Engaging Youth Through an Equity and Justice Framework
Victor Rios, PhD, University of California, Santa Barbara
Tuesday, September 15, 2020, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m., Online Event (Webinar)
What does it mean to be an "Anti-Racist Parent"?  Join Victor Rios, PhD, tenured professor at UC Santa Barbara, TED Talk  
speaker, author, sociologist, and national thought leader on at-opportunity youth.
Dr. Rios will provide parents with practical strategies for being reflexive about anti-racism, and for having courageous conversations with their children, friends, and family.
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Parent Forum #3 (English) - Virtual Discussion Group  
Strengthening Communication with Your Child or Teen 
Eran Magen, PhD, The Center for Supportive Relationships 
Friday, September 25, 2020, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m., Online Event (Webinar)
Join us for an all-new Parent Forum 2020-21 (English) with Eran Magen, PhD, founder of The Center for Supportive Relationships.  This series of (virtual) parent discussion groups will focus on parent-child communication and managing relationships with your child or teen.
Parent Forum #3 (English): Friday, September 25, 12:00 p.m.
Parent Forum #4 (English): Friday, October 30, 12:00 p.m.
Parent Forum #5 (English): Friday, December 11, 12:00 p.m.
Space is limited!  Register today to secure your spot in The Parent Forum.  
Parents and caregivers welcome!  Free admission.  The Parent Forum is an initiative of Sequoia Healthcare District, in partnership with The Parent Education Series / The Parent Venture.
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The Future of College Admission: More Questions, A Range of Answers?
Alice Kleeman, retired M-A College Advisor & Dr. Angel B. Pérez, CEO, NACAC
Thursday, October 29, 2020, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m., Online Event (Webinar)
In their 2019 Parent Education session "20 Years in College Admission - What Has Changed? What Hasn't?" Dr. Angel B. Pérez and Alice Kleeman provided perspective from both sides of the desk on college-admission-related issues. 
In this webinar, Angel and Alice come together again to offer a sequel, "The Future of College Admission: More Questions, A Range of Answers?" addressing these issues and more, in light of the uncertainty introduced by COVID-19.
Angel Pérez, CEO of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), will be interviewed by Alice Kleeman, retired M-A College Advisor. 
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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 Facebook for the latest parenting news.

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

How to Start Your College Essays workshop, August 19 or 26

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Learn what college essays need and explore what to write about in this practical workshop for a small group of new seniors. Heather Woods of Heartwood Editing creates a comfortable environment to ask questions and reflect.  
Time: 7:00 -8:45 p.m.; via Zoom; workshop packet included.
Cost: $35 

Heather Rock Woods  |  Heartwood Editing
(650) 814-7511