September 9, 2019  
Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message
Another Step Toward Equitable Access in Education 
Thank you to everyone who came out last week for Back to School Night.  This was my sixth such event as Sequoia principal and, once again, from the moment I hear the orchestra warming-up in front of Carrington, a sense of joy and pride filled my heart.  

It is, of course, always fun to meet new families and reconnect with returning ones.  Matching names I know from emails or phone calls to faces or recognizing a smile or mannerism in its adult form deepens my connection between the work we do and the community we serve.  Moreso, however, I look forward to Back to School Night as a showcase for our amazing staff of teachers.  

Whether it's their first Back to School Night or their 30th, Sequoia staff always makes an effort to subvert expectations during the ten minutes they spend with parents.  Less emphasis on the details of class policy and more emphasis on the day-to-day classroom experience, big-picture learning objectives for the year, and opportunities for families to share unique information about their students.

Most of you heard from at least one teacher about the implementation of a standards-based approach to grading .  This is a part of our school-wide instructional vision to ensure equitable access and outcomes for every student.  It begins, as with all meaningful advances, with questions we answer affirmatively as a way of signaling what we value.  For example:
  • Do we believe every kid wants to learn?
  • Do we believe that failure is an essential part of the learning process?
  • Do we believe cultural and institutional barriers exist which hold kids back based on factors beyond their control?
Finally, and key to the discussion of grading methods:
  • Do you believe a student's grade in a class should purely reflect the extent to which they have mastered the skills and standards for that class?
A standards-based approach to grading encourages a growth mindset and grit.  It de-emphasizes the importance of doing things quickly, getting things right the first time, and the subjectivity attached to categories such as "effort" and "participation".  The traditional 100-point scale, which gives a "0" significantly more weight than multiple "90"s, gives way to a 4 or 5 point scale.  Many Sequoia teachers, using the new grading software called Jumprope, employ the concept of decaying average to reward improvement over time when assessments cover the same standards and skills throughout the year.  This gives students multiple opportunities not only to demonstrate mastery, but to extend or apply their mastery in new and personalized ways.

Sequoia is among a small but growing number of schools who have embraced equitable grading as a social justice issue.  This type of change is labor-intensive and requires thoughtful, intelligent professionals willing to collaborate, reflect, and refine.  Patience, growth mindset, and grit are essential.  In other words, modeling what we expect from our students.  The success we've seen using standards-based grading in curricular teams across subject areas has been some 5 years in the making.  We do not take for granted the leadership of Sequoia's exceptional teachers, curricular leads, and department chairs in embracing this mission and vision to give every Sequoia student what they need to be successful in reaching their potential.  

I hope you are as excited as we are about the work we're doing school-wide.  If Back to School Night was any indication, you are indeed.  Have a great week!

Mark Your Calendars
Club Day is This Friday, September 13

A typical scene on Club Day.
This Friday, all of Sequoia's clubs will be hosting an informational event on the front lawn of the school during lunch. 

This is a fantastic opportunity for your children (especially freshmen) to find out about or sign up with a club so please encourage them to check out the many booths.
Inaugural Fall Harvest Fundraiser
We are so excited to announce SHSEF's inaugural Harvest fundraiser on September 21, 2019 from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.  Gather your friends to kick off another year of FUNdraising at the Harvest Furniture Store in Redwood City.  We hope you can join us!

Get Your IB and 4-Year College Questions Answered

How can you get information about the ICAP and IB Programs?  What are you and your student suppose to be doing each year to prepare for the college application process?  Get these questions answered and many more at the IB College Grade Level Meetings presented by College Advisor Teresa Ignaitis, and th IB Coordinator Lisa McCahon.  All students wanting to attend a four year university and/or interested in taking an IB course should attend with their parents/guardians.  All grade-level meetings are held at 6:00 p.m. in Carrington Hall.
A separate meeting in Spanish will be held for Spanish-speaking parents in the College Career Center at the same time.  All students should attend the English meeting in Carrington Hall.
  • September 11 - Junior meeting
  • September 18 - Sophomore meeting
  • September 19 - Senior Financial Aid Night in MPR 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
  • October 2 - Freshman meeting
You Know You've Been Meaning To...     
...So click the purple button on the right and JOIN NOW!
With your membership, you can:

  • Be a part of Sequoia's community of parents, teachers and students who make our school welcoming, united, and engaged!
  • Empower the California State PTA to speak up on behalf of our families.  Our State PTA has a long history of protecting and supporting California's most valued assets, our children.  The greater our number, the stronger our voice.
Having trouble buying your membership through the PTSA store?  Please let our Membership Chair Brett Gardner know.  
Get Involved 

Last Week to Help in Family Center

Family Center
Do you have a couple of hours on Tuesday, September 10 or Wednesday, September 11 of this week?  The Family Center still needs a few volunteers to help sign up Families and Students-in-Need for Sequoia's Free and Reduced Lunch Program.

No experience is necessary although some Spanish skills would be helpful.  Shifts are 2 hours long and any community member may help out.

Thank you for continuing to support our school and all our students and families!  If you have questions, please contact :
Elisa Niño-Sears, SHSEF Family Support Chair
(650) 387-8390,
Elvira Macias, Family Center Coordinator
Room 129,
Sequoia 8th Grade Shadow Program
volunteers We have designed a great Shadow Day experience for incoming 8th graders and in order to make it a success, we need a little parent involvement.  Shadow Days are Mondays only, September 23 through the end of January.  Can you spare 90 minutes to help with a shadow session?  You will work directly with Corey Uhalde, the director of Student Activities.  Corey runs the program, but he needs two adults each session to help out from 7:45 - 9:15 a.m.   
From time to time, Corey may ask you to chime in with your personal experience, but the majority of the role is to be a Sequoia Ambassador -- warm, welcoming and helpful to the nervous 8th graders (and their parents!).  Please consider participating; it's a fun opportunity to make someone's first impression of Sequoia overwhelmingly positive.  Please sign up below.  Feel free to contact Sara Mancini if you have any questions.  Thanks for your help!

Paraprofessional I Openings at Sequoia HS

graphic Do you, or someone you know, have an interest in working on a high school campus in classes such as English, Biology, Math, or History?  Sequoia is looking for a few more instructional aides to support students with IEPs in core classes as well as study skills classes.  The workday is six hours plus an unpaid 45 minute lunch.  Salary range is $21.97 to $26.63.  

Recent college grads, parents who want to work in a school setting, or others interested in education are encouraged to apply.  Questions?  Contact Kristin Stout.

Want to Mentor a Sequoia Academy Student?

For only two hours a month for six months SHS Academy Mentors can make a huge impact on the life of a Sequoia student. Working one-on-one with a student from the Digital Arts Academy or Health Careers Academy, mentors help students develop career-related skills and create a plan for success. 
Who makes a good mentor?  Adults in our community who can listen to and support a student while sharing the steps taken to become a working adult.  Whatever stage you are in, our students can learn from your experiences and the journey towards achieving your career success.

Want to learn more, or hear from previous mentors?  Come to our inaugural Mentor Mixer at Portobello Grill from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 25RSVP here.
Click here to learn more about this opportunity and the 2019-20 Academy Mentor Program.  If you have questions, please contact Victoria Mitchell or Greg Schmid. 
Sequoia HIghlights
Principal's Welcome

PTSA President Lisa Hane presenting the volunteer check for 2018-19 to Principal Sean Priest.
Over eighty energetic and enthusiastic new and continuing parents and guardians filled the MPR last Tuesday, September 3rd to hear Principal Sean Priest's welcome address and to catch up with friends as the new school year unfolds.  As usual, the event began with the presentation of a "giant" check tallying the number of volunteer hours (over 4,200 and representing a relative value of $108,191.94) contributed by PTSA members in 2018-19.

Following that presentation, Sean Priest iterated Sequoia's values and encouraged the Sequoia community to take part in creating an equitable learning environment.  He then stressed ways in which we could help each other live those values while guiding our children through their high school years.

The welcome ended with a question and answer session that was followed by a raffle drawing where two lucky parents received $25 Peets gift cards.  The PTSA also gained many new volunteers for all the activities that take place throughout the year.  If you would like to volunteer in any capacity, please contact Brett Gardner.

Our next PTSA/ELAC meeting will be on Tuesday, October 1, 2019 so if you didn't get a chance to come to last week's meeting, you are welcome to join us and please bring a friend!
Sequoia Debate Team Enjoys Winning Season... Join Us!

debate 2019
(L-R) Greg Parmer-Lohan, Javier Niño-Sears, Isabelle Simon, and Marta Olson confer before a debate event.
The Sequoia Debate Team ended the 2018-19 school year on a high note at the Santa Clara University Invitational, with two teams advancing to elimination rounds in a highly competitive three-day tournament.  After nearly doubling its membership, Sequoia's team had one of its best seasons in recent history, racking up a total of seven high-placing individual finishes -- with four teams advancing to elimination rounds -- at two of the largest tournaments in the nation.
Does your child love to argue?  Want to become a better speaker?  Need CAS hours?  Want to learn more about the world's current events and controversies while having fun?  Send them our way!  For more info, please visit the Debate Team website or come talk with the team at our table in front of the school on Club Day this Friday, September 13 during lunch.

In This Issue
Monday, September 9
Staff Development Day  
Wednesday, September 11
6:00 - 7:30 p.m. 
Junior IB/4-Yr. College Meeting, Carrington Hall (Spanish - Career Ctr.) 
Friday, September 13
Lunch Time 
Club Day  
Friday, September 13
4:00 p.m. - JV Football
7:00 p.m. - V Football 
Sequoia vs. Mission,
Terremere Field 
Wednesday, September 18
6:00 - 7:30 p.m. 
Sophomore IB/4-Yr. College Meeting, Carrington Hall (Spanish - Career Ctr.)  
Thursday, September 19
7:00 - 8:30 p.m. 
Sr. Financial Aid Night, MPR 
Saturday, September 21
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. 
Fall Harvest Fundraiser, Harvest Furniture Store, RWC 
Senior Portraits

Seniors should make an appointment with Prestige Portraits in San Carlos to get their senior portraits ASAP. Make the appointment now to get a sitting before Halloween. The time will fly by before you know it, so now is the time.
If you have questions, contact Ms. Bray.

Prestige Portraits
(877) 825-7922

Senior Students: Meet With Your Conselors

Please check your Sequoia email for instructions on how to book your mandatory appointment with your counselor to review your graduation & post-secondary status.

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 Parent Education

Parent Ed Logo Horizontal

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 .

Community Events

The Edge of Success: A Film About Student Mental Health & Suicide Prevention at the Fox Theater in Redwood City on September 12, 2019 at 7:00 p.m.

Along with the screening, BraveMaker will be hosting a panel of leaders, counselors, and advocates in mental health to aid and equip families and their teens with resources on how to handle the challenges and pressures of their high school experiences.

Cost: FREE for students 13 - 21, adults: $15 + online fee.
Event: Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and free refreshments and appetizers will be served.

A little background about the screening event:
  1. This NEW DOCUMENTARY, Edge of Success, (watch trailer here), tells the stories of SILICON VALLEY high school students and the pressures/anxieties they face living in an anxiety induced, fast paced Bay Area culture navigating mental health challenges and depression. 
  2. The film was made by two women filmmakers who live right here on the Peninsula (Palo Alto + Redwood City) and they will be on hand to discuss why the clusters of suicides at Palo Alto's Gunn high school prompted them to research the topic. 
  3. Students and faculty featured in the film have been invited to participate in a panel discussion and are doing a county-wide campaign to support students and their families.
  4. This event will feature live music by local teen singer BECKY ALEX and will showcase an art exhibit in the lobby during the reception.