August 26, 2019  
Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message
Reflections on the New Device Policy  

"I want to register a complaint!" said Sequoia Instructional Associate Tim Brand with a smile after storming into my office in mock indignation.  "This new cell phone policy is making it harder for me to strike up a conversation with students!"

Mr. Brand, in addition to supporting high quality learning for students with disabilities in general education classrooms, is also an integral part of our campus safety team during brunch and lunch.  He holds down the fort where the main hallway and the social studies wing intersect. Known as the "Hot Corner" ("Hell's Corner" to anyone who graduated in the 90s or earlier), it's one of the main throughways for student foot traffic at Sequoia.  Tim's is a friendly adult face on campus. He supports a safe, positive climate.

The new policy to which Mr. Brand referred came about through reflection about how our students' relationship to their personal devices has evolved over time.  It is also the result of reflection about how we want to relate to our students. Sequoia's policy since 2014 has been to allow students to use personal devices at the discretion of their teachers to support learning in the classroom.  Outside of the classroom, the use of devices was strictly prohibited. This prohibition was enforced by confiscating devices (usually smartphones), with progressive consequences for multiple infractions. Parents of students who had their phones confiscated more than once know what that progressive model looked like.

For an educator like Mr. Brand, such incidents were viewed as opportunities to learn more about a student.  It takes a significant degree of interpersonal finesse to establish a rapport with a student built on trust and unconditional positive regard while simultaneously confiscating one of their most cherished possessions.  Mr. Brand has that ability. It also speaks to the culture of our school community that nearly every instance of a student having to hand over their phone (either to Mr. Brand or to one of our administrators) occurred without escalation.

Kids, we found, understood the rationale behind our cell phone policy.  It wasn't about control or as a way to stifle personal choice. It was about encouraging balance, interaction, and a positive social climate.  Our experience over the past few years has shown students beginning to understand with growing sophistication the dangers of over-indulging in "screen time".  I give a lot of credit to families. Kids arrive at Sequoia each year with a better understanding of the pitfalls of lives lived exclusively on Snap or Insta. Students have increasingly shown they understand their responsibility to manage their own use of personal devices.  We want to respond positively to that.  

When we communicate our earned trust in young people, they respond favorably.  

So our new policy around the use of devices is a reflection of our values as a school community.  Teachers in the classrooms have autonomy to maintain policy as best suits the needs of their environment.  Violations of these classroom behavior expectations may still result in the confiscation of a phone and progressive discipline.  

Outside of class, students are discouraged from using devices for non-academic purposes between 8:15 and 3:45.  Healthy, positive choices will be promoted consistently by the same staff (administrators, campus aides, etc.) who enforced the previous policy.  Rather than demanding students hand over their phones, however, we now get to start a conversation about what could possibly be more interesting on a palm-size screen that the people, buildings, birds, and trees on our amazing campus.  Mr. Brand, in other words, can still interact with students in a positive, productive, and caring way. He's much relieved.

Happy to report that after a week and a half under the new policy, Sequoia looks about the same as it did a year ago.  Kids are talking way more than they're texting, looking at each other instead of "liking" each other. We hope to continue to promote balance and responsibility with digital citizenship and leverage the trust we're building to empower students to participate in an even more enlightened dialogue about the role of technology in identity.  I encourage you to talk with your students about the policy changes. I know what they're saying to me, but I'd be curious to hear what they're saying to you.

Have a great week!


Mark Your Calendars
Mandatory Guidance Counseling for Seniors
Please have your seniors check their Sequoia email for instructions on how to book their MANDATORY appointment with their counselor.  Students will review their graduation and post-secondary status at this meeting.

Upcoming School Photo Sessions
If your child did not make it to Photo Day on August 13, 2019, he/she will have the chance to sit for their individual portraits during school this week and also in October on the following dates:
  • Thursday, August 29
  • Friday, August 30
  • Wednesday, October 2 (re-takes)
Please note that days have been corrected to correspond with the dates.
~ Editor 

You're Invited to the Principal's Welcome!

We hope to see you on  Tuesday, September 3 at  7:00 p.m.  in the  MPR  where Principal Sean Priest will provide his official welcome to the 2019-2020 school year at Sequoia High School.
After his introduction, the floor will be open so come with your questions and comments! 

This informative session is open to Sequoia families both new and returning.
There will also be opportunities to catch up with friends and find out how you can get involved in our community.

Everyone is welcome!
French Club September Fundraisers

French ClubEvery other year, Sequoia's French Club makes a trip to France at the beginning of summer break for a two week immersive experience.  In order to make this trip affordable and accessible to all of our members, we fundraise throughout the year.  Please support our efforts by joining us at any or all these events.  Merci!

September 2nd, 4:00 -  8:00 p.m.
Chipotle Fundraiser
861 Middlefield Rd., Redwood City, CA 94063

A percentage of all purchases made by customers who mention Sequoia French Club will go to French Club.

September 5th, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Back to School Night Food Sales at Sequoia
The French Club booth will be selling food and accepting donations.

September 7th, 9:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Car Wash and Garage Sale in Sequoia's Brewster St. parking lot.  Washes are free but cash donations are welcome.

Inaugural Fall Harvest Fundraiser
Thanks to our incredible community, the Sequoia High School Education Foundation raised over $650K last year!  Thank you for your support and generosity.
We are so excited to announce our inaugural fundraiser next month on Saturday, September 21, 2019 from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m at the Harvest Furniture Store in Redwood City.  We hope you can join us. Purchase your tickets here

PTSA Membership Drive is Up & Running!
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.  
Haven't joined yet?  Sign up on-line  HERE   or stop by the PTSA table in the main hall at Back-to-School Night next Thursday.
By having a PTSA at Sequoia, we are 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 voice and as legislators make decisions on school funding, we need to be heard! 
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!
Having trouble buying your membership through the PTSA store?  Please let our Membership Chair Brett Gardner know .

Love Helping Families and Students-in-Need?

Family Center
The Sequoia Family Center is looking for volunteers over the next few weeks to help our families and students-in-need to enroll in the Free and Reduced Priced Lunch Program.  This is a very rewarding experience as you will be helping parents and students to take advantage of this important state support program.  We want to ensure that Sequoia students are correctly identified and get the resources they need.  These sign-ups are important not only for the free meals and academic support for low-income students, but also for schools to qualify for federal poverty programs such as Title 1, which brings in critical money for instructional assistance. 
  • Make a huge difference in our community and school by supporting our migrant, homeless and low-income students and families. Let's get their school year off to a good start! 
  • No experience necessary to volunteer! Elvira Macias, our Family Center Coordinator, will show you everything you need to know to be helpful with this sign up process. 
  • Spanish skills are a huge plus, but fluency is not required; any kind, caring, helpful parent can be of help!
  • Shifts are a short two hours, lots of days to choose from to work in easily with your busy fall schedule.
  • Spread the word! Know a friend, neighbor, or relative interested in community service? in supporting our school and kids?  Please forward this email to them!

Thank you for continuing to support our school and all our students and families!
Questions?: Please contact 
Elisa Niño-Sears, SHSEF Family Support Chair
(650) 387-8390,
Elvira Macias, Family Center Coordinator
Room 129,
School Photo Helpers

Please sign up below if interested in helping during the upcoming Photo Sessions on: 
  • Thursday & Friday, August 29 & 30: Shifts are between 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, October 2 (re-takes): Shifts are between 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.  
Class of 2020: Can You Believe You Have a Senior?
Join the Class of 2020 Football Concession Team ... Support a Safe and Sober Grad Night*

Come join Senior parents and students sell concessions during home football games.  Be a barista for a night making iced or hot mochas, serving drinks, and selling freshly popped popcorn.  Sign up for a shift at one of the Sequoia home games and have a blast.

Friday, August 30 vs. Woodside
Friday, September 6th vs. Skyline (8th graders with the band) 
Friday, October 11 vs. San Mateo (Homecoming)
Friday, November 1 vs. Menlo

*All proceeds go toward a Safe & Sober Grad Week.  Grad Week activities in June 2020 include Senior Brunch and Senior BBQ, as well as Grad Night itself, when our graduates cruise around the SF Bay on board a Hornblower Yacht.  
Come join the fun on one (or more!) of the Friday night football games.  Contact Rebecca Taylor with questions. 


Thanks from the Media Center and Explore Our Resources
Thank you to the Media Center Support team of volunteers whose work over the past three weeks allowed us to open the Media Center during textbook checkout!  What a team!

We are grateful for the muscle and magic you brought to the textbook checkout process.  Thanks to Judy Adams, Denise Brown, Michelle Chang, Dee Dee Clarke, Roxana Dommer, Pamela Ehrlich, Jane McFarlane Glasow, Isabel Hartmann, Adrienne Heist, Marianne Jett, Karen Latina, Nani Kadrichu, Susan Leathers, Grace Mizutani, Jillian Reynolds, Caitlin Schneider, and Christina Strathdee.

Check out the Media Center guidea resource for all Sequoia faculty and staff to support teaching and learning activities and visit the Media Center website to discover all that the Media Center has to offer!
Sequoia Highlights
Community Rallies to Provide Over 125 New Backpacks and School Supplies for Our Students-in-Need
A volunteer with the assembled backpacks.
Each year, Sequoia welcomes and supports newcomer migrant students, homeless students, students in foster care, and students from families with severe financial need.  Thanks to your financial support of SHSEF, our Family Center was able to provide students-in-need with forty brand new backpacks filled with school supplies.  These backpacks were assembled over the summer by volunteers and our Stanford Education and Youth Development Interns.
In addition, a wonderful team of volunteers from St. Peter's Episcopal in Redwood City, Church of the Epiphany in San Carlos, and Fellowship Bible Church in Belmont donated eighty-five new backpacks filled with school supplies along with fifty 16 GB USB memory sticks for student use.  These will be distributed throughout the year to Sequoia students-in-need.  Thank you, Sequoia community!
Have a new backpack or new school supplies that you won't need this year?  Please bring your donation of new items by the Family Center (Room 129) between 7:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. and we'll make sure it gets to one of our awesome teens.  (Sorry, we do not have sufficient storage space to receive used  items.)  Let's get all our students off to a great start this fall!

Congratulations to Elvira Macias and Our 2019 Parent Leadership Academy Participants!
Participants of Sequoia's 1st Annual Parent Leadership Academy listening intently at one of the workshops. 
Attendees who committed to all five days of the week-long academy were awarded with certificates and leadership t-shirts. 
Over the summer, Sequoia's Family Center Coordinator Elvira Macias designed, organized, and hosted Sequoia's first annual Parent Leadership Academy!  The academy included eight interactive workshops in Spanish over five days for over 75 parents interested in becoming more involved in leadership roles at the school.  Twenty parents received certificate awards and "Parent Leader" T-shirts for attending all five days.  Workshops included collaborative art projects, in-depth information about how high school and higher education systems work in the United States (very differently than in other countries), technology training in the various programs, and apps used at Sequoia, a panel Q&A session with Latino and Black Stanford students who were first in their families to attend college, and community-building activities.
A big shout out to our freshmen parents who attended in record numbers!  Participants in the academy will visit classrooms this fall with Principal Sean Priest to get a close-up view of Sequoia's academics and Unaliyi spirit inside the classroom.

In This Issue
Monday, August 26
7:00 - 9:00 p.m. 
Fall Sportsmanship Night
Thursday & Friday,
August 29 & 30
School Photos
Friday, August 30
3:30 - 9:00 p.m. 
1st Home Football Game vs. Woodside, Terremere Field 
Friday, August 30
10:00 - 11:30 p.m. 
Welcome Back Dance 
Monday, September 2 
Labor Day  
Tuesday, September 3
Traditional Bell Schedule
Tuesday, September 3
7:00 p.m. 
Principal's Welcome followed by ELAC and PTSA Meetings,
Wednesday, September 4
6:00 - 7:30 p.m. 
Senior IB/ 4-Yr. College Meeting, Carrington Hall (Spanish - Rm. 115) 
Thursday, September 5
7:00 - 9:00 p.m. 
Back to School Night
Friday, September 6
Minimum Day Schedule

Friday, September 6
3:30 - 10:00 p.m. 
Home Football Game vs. Skyline, Terremere Field 

Monday, September 9
Staff Development Day  
Wednesday, September 11
6:00 - 7:30 p.m. 
Junior IB/ 4-Yr. College Meeting, Carrington Hall (Spanish - Rm. 115) 
Want to Host a German Exchange Student? 
If you would like to become a host family ( for the week of September 30th to October 7th), please contact teacher Thorsten Weitzel, who has been organizing this international exchange project for the past ten years. 
Quick Links
Sequoia Sentinel
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 Parent Education

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Terri Givens, PhD, CEO, The Center for Higher Education Leadership
Making the Transition to College: An Insider's Guide to the Higher Education Experience
Thursday, September 19, 2019, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Menlo-Atherton High School, M-A Performing Arts Center (PAC)
555 Middlefield Road, Atherton
What should you and your student know about making the transition to college?  How can high school prepare your child for a successful career in higher education?  Join author, educator, and higher education expert Terri Givens, PhD, for an insider's look at the college experience. 
Parents, students, educators, and community members welcome!  Free admission and light refreshments.  Spanish interpretation will be available.
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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LIKE: The Impact of Social Media On Our Lives - An IndieFlix Original Production
Documentary Film Screening & Panel Discussion
Thursday, September 26, 2019, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Woodside High School, Performing Arts Center (PAC)
199 Churchill Avenue, Woodside
Join us for an exclusive showing of LIKE , the new documentary that explores the impact of social media on our lives.  By understanding the impact of technology on the brain, we can learn how to navigate it more safely with our teens.
Parents, students, educators, and community members welcome! Free admission and light refreshments.  Spanish interpretation (subtitles) will be available.
Woodside Parent Education Series events are sponsored by Woodside PTSA, Sequoia Healthcare District, and Sequoia Union High School District.
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Maria Furtado, Executive Director, Colleges That Change Lives (CTCL)
The Good, The Bad, and The OMG of College Admission
Thursday, October 17, 2019, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Sequoia High School, Carrington Hall
1201 Brewster Avenue, Redwood City
Parents and students have been conditioned to fear the college admission process, and in so doing we often fail to see the good moments and the positive outcomes. Join Maria Furtado, ED, Colleges That Change Lives (CTCL), for an insightful discussion about the college admission process.
Parents, students, educators, and community members welcome!  Free admission and light refreshments.  Spanish interpretation will be available.
Sequoia Parent Education Series events are sponsored by SHSEF, Sequoia Healthcare District, and Sequoia Union High School District.
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Questions?  Contact Charlene Margot, M.A., Director of The Parent Education Series .