August 24, 2020  
Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message  
We're Off and Running

It is official as of this morning. We are in a school routine. Another Monday means periods 1-3-5-7 meet. Students and teachers are logging-on to ZOOM (don't forget to authenticate!), finding the best place to work and block out the distractions of home, hopefully there was time for a healthy breakfast. This is what we do now.

Routine, generally, is healthy. It fosters stability, predictability, and safety. If we don't feel safe, we can't take risks and unlock our potential. Trust, the ability to to be vulnerable about your weaknesses, and transparency about your goals, all arise from a safe environment.

But routine is not enough. If we settle in too much, we stop growing. The propulsive illusion of being busy overshadows our ability to ask difficult questions, challenge assumptions, and provide concrete feedback. Static is not an option. We just started this, we know we need to grow.

In the first two days of our school we had an "attendance" rate of 87% and 91%, respectively. We have already identified a significant number of students who no longer attend Sequoia but were still enrolled, meaning that "absence" numbers appear higher than they actually are. This data is consistent with daily attendance rates over the past 5 years. It appears we had some success in our push to make sure students and families knew when and how to sign-on for the first day of school.

It is also evident that our teachers strengthened their practice in remarkable ways over the past few months. They mastered new tools and strategies. They are more confident in a live online format, building community and facilitating learning.

Now is the time to start thinking about where we go next. What other data points (including qualitative ones) do we need to analyze to measure the effectiveness of our distance learning program? Which students and families are not being served by the system we have set up and what can we do to meet their needs? How do we best provide feedback in a way that encourages hard work without punishing circumstances beyond students' control?

All this to say that we are not standing still. We will continue to seek out input from a diverse sample of our community. We will continue to ask ourselves hard questions. We will hold true to the values that have gotten us to this point. Most importantly, we will never forget that our greatest triumphs come when we work together in common purpose. I hope everyone was able to take a deep breath this last weekend and find some gratitude for the things that holds our community together. Thank you for your strength and partnership.

9th Grade and New Student Orientation - Wednesday August 26, 1-2:30 p.m.

The student virtual orientation will take place on  Wednesday, August 26 from 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. via Zoom.   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.

Back to School Night - Thursday, August 27

On Thursday, August 27 Sequoia will host Back to School Night starting at 6:30 with zero period - the flyer is here. Please feel free to encourage your students to have them log into their CANVAS accounts and walk their parents through the Zoom link/homepage for Back to School Night.

Principal's Welcome Virtual Meeting - Tuesday September 1, 6:30pm

Join Principal Sean Priest for a Welcome to Sequoia Zoom on Tuesday, September 1st at 6:30pm.

Sean will be welcoming new and returning families to Sequoia, talk about how the beginning of the year is going and how to get involved. Leadership will also be there from Sports Boosters, our education foundation SHSEF, Visual and Performing Arts Boosters and PTSA.

Check 8/31/20's Sentinel for Zoom link.
New Student Photo Day - Wednesday September 2

9th Graders and New Students will be scheduled for an on-campus photo day on Wednesday, September 2nd. A staggered schedule of assigned times will be distributed this week (please be sure to keep an eye on your email accounts for this information). Photo dates for 10th-12th graders have not yet been scheduled at this time.
Subscribe to Sequoia's Daily Student and Staff Bulletin

In the past, Sequoia has distributed a daily student and staff bulletin. We are amending this to a weekly practice and will be resuming this week. If you were already receiving the bulletin last year, you do not need to make any changes. If you are new to the school and would like to opt in to receiving this bulletin, you can join the following Google group:!forum/shs.daily.bulletin

Alumni Picnic

The annual Sequoia High School Alumni Picnic, originally scheduled for August 15, has been postponed this year.
Join the PTSA Now: Communication is Key!
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.  If you were able to attend one of the "Ask Sean" sessions this summer, you got a glimpse of the Sequoia PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Association) in action. In spite of the unprecedented changes impacting school this year, the PTSA committed ourselves to keep the communication channels open, hosting Zoom calls which allowed hundreds of parents - new and returning - to hear directly from our Principal, administrators, and teachers and get some of their many questions answered. We are maintaining the production of our weekly online newsletter, The Sentinel, which delivers school news, calendar updates, and keeps the community informed.

Communication is only one way your Sequoia PTSA is helping to build a strong and unified school despite our currant distance learning schedule.
Here are some others:
  • We advocate for our parents, providing answers to their questions where we can, and directing them to those who can help
  • We support our teachers with appreciation initiatives.
  • We are joining with our student leadership to develop united activities.
  • We work with our Parent Center offering support to families with limited resources or who are new to our area.
  • We are creating a volunteer network to assist virtual learning as well as in-school support as we eventually transition to on-campus learning.
We would like your ideas, your energy, and your presence in our PTSA - Please join us and be a part of this historic school year!
Our PTSA is open to all parents and caregivers, students, and teachers and we'd like you in our ranks! 6 million PTSA members nationwide can't be wrong - join now and make the Sequoia PTSA strong with your involvement and ideas!

Having trouble buying your membership through the PTSA store? Please let our Membership Chair Lisa Hane know at

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

Good News!  Sequoia Masks Challenge...We're at 300 Masks and Counting!

Since May, over forty volunteer sewists-- novice through expert-- have been hard at work sewing high quality masks for our students, staff and family members in need. Members of our school community from across the country-- tweens, teens, Sequoia alumni, parents, teachers, grandparents, and neighbors-- all collaborated to create over 700 rectangular masks with elastic ear loops and three layers of fabric, made to the highest standards for cloth masks as established by the CDC and university hospitals. These masks have been a critical support for our summer programs, summer school classes, and now for our back to school efforts supporting students, staff and families.
And we are not done! Many of our students and families still need help as masks become an everyday essential, and disposable masks increase in price and environmental impact. If you would like to sponsor a set of cotton three-layer masks by donating supplies or money, please send an email to
We would like to thank Carmen Mahood and the whole team at Peninsula Mask Makersfor sewing over 250 masks and providing critical logistical, educational and moral support for this challenging project. We'd also like to thank Sequoia students in the Sequoia C.A.R.E.S. Club who sewed over 40 masks, as well as the following volunteer sewists who contributed hours and hours of their summer to make another 400 masks: Linda Burt, Janice Cavallini, Julia Challos, Lee Ann Feeney, Gretchen Fox, Jennifer and Hope Gregg, Lisa and Bea Hane, Sarah Hansen, Joanna Jeffs, Karen Kaufman, Rachel Krueger, Laura Larkin, Wanda and Freda Lew, Whitney and Ava Liu, Holly Matsuo, Susan Milotich, Michele and Alana Moyer, Tanya O'Malley, Elisa and Lucia Niño-Sears, Jean Oxton, Martha Sigala, Emi Tan and Samantha Chuang, Jessica Welkome, Wendy Chavez, Sabrina and Chiara Carroll, Kristin Hoeft, Pat Ivester, and all of the volunteer sewists from PMM.
High quality mask materials can get expensive and are often hard to source. We would like to thank the many financial and in-kind supporters of this enormous undertaking: SHSEF and its generous supporters, State Farm Insurance Agents John McAfeeand Darren Normoyle, The Hernacki Family and Planet, Mercedes Niño-Murcia, Chris Panero, Margaret Brockman, and Angie Lax.

Video Exchange Among Midpeninsula School Superintendents

Whether and when schools reopen has been on every family's radar throughout the summer.  Midpen Media gathered four local district superintendents to discuss what it's been like to contend with changing guidelines, changing guidelines and interest groups whose needs and goals are sometimes at odds.
Watch the hour-long edited version on the Midpen Media YouTube Channel here to view the discussion.
The district leaders share what it's like to make decisions in these unprecedented times as well as their fears about a worsening achievement gap and the welfare of some students during an extended period of sheltering in place. They describe some silver linings to distance learning and share some details about reopening. All four of the represented midpeninsula school districts are beginning Fall terms with a continuation of distance learning. The district leaders reflect on how they've changed as a result of the pandemic and the national focus on racial and social inequities that have come to
the forefront since the killing of George Floyd.
The superintendents include Mary Streshly of the Sequoia Union High School District, Gina Sudaria of the Ravenswood City School District, Don Austin of Palo Alto Unified School District, and Erik Burmeister of the Menlo Park City School District.
About Midpen Media
Midpen Media is a local community access television service and center that encourages community engagement, facilitates free speech, inspires creative expression, and reflects our local cultural diversity by providing high-quality media resources and training to members of our community. The organization has provided important local free speech maccess to video production and television programming opportunities for the people in the Silicon Valley communities of Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, East Palo Alto, Stanford, and other areas of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties since 1990. Midpen
Media is a 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation.

In This Issue

Wednesday, August 26
1:00 - 2:30 p.m.
New Student Virtual Orientation

Thursday, August 27th
6:30 p.m.
Back to School Night

Tuesday, September 1
6:30 p.m.
Principal's Welcome. Check 8/31/20 Sentinel for Zoom link.
Wednesday, September 2
6:00 - 7:30 p.m.
IB/ College 12th Grade Level Virtual Meeting 

Wednesday, September 2
New Student Photo Day

Quick Links

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The Sentinel 
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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 26

Heartwood Editing Logo
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