Sequoia Sentinel
September 14, 2020
Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message
The new 3 Rs: relationships, routines and resilience
Social distancing, minimizing contacts outside my “bubble,” wearing a mask -- doing the right thing as a parent during this pandemic can be cold comfort when the tension of the day-to-day life we’re leading in 2020 reaches a pitch. It’s stressful. Being a parent of a high school student was fraught with peril before. You were your child's manager (probably a pretty good one) and now you’re their consultant. The milestones (some arbitrary, some legal, some ludicrous) associated with “becoming an adult” are within view and fast approaching. This hasn’t changed other than it now approaches us through the proverbial haze of COVID-19 (and literal haze of wildfire season, as it were).

Last week's anniversary of 9/11 fixes our gaze on a large-scale collective trauma -- a “where were you?” moment. 2020 has given us a different kind of collective trauma. It’s happening over a period of months instead of hours. We don’t have a single image we can all look at and remember when the cortisol flooded our prefrontal cortexes. What may have been a great day for you was a day when your neighbor was completely overwhelmed with grief, stress, feelings of inadequacy, etc. 

Dr. Pamela Cantor’s work on the neuroscience of trauma is informative here. She identifies a double-edged sword unique to this moment. In doing what we need to do to keep ourselves and others healthy (and alive), we simultaneously turn away from that which nourishes our feelings of safety and self-actualization. She calls it the “COVID-19 Paradox.” How do you and your child successfully navigate adolescence when the tools that have traditionally helped us are not available?   

Discouragingly, our most reliable and consistent sources of oxytocin (the brain’s antidote to stress and trauma) are often the loving and trusting relationships we develop at school or in our professional setting. Teens rely increasingly on relationships outside of the home. It’s developmentally appropriate and healthy. When I walk around Sequoia’s campus during lunch, I see students comforting their friends every day. Bad days happen. Good friends make those days pass less painfully. The absence of a good friend on a bad day is felt by our students. Every time we seek this kind of comfort only to find them missing, it’s a small trauma. It compounds the already heavy burden being carried by families. As a parent, it can feel like it’s all on you.   

Dr. Cantor provides a number of practical, proactive suggestions for families on how to mitigate the impact of this trauma and support healthy coping during this time of uncertainty and stress. They include:

  • Prepare meals together regularly. Let your students choose the menu and assign tasks.
  • Agree on a list of friends and extended relatives for your student to be responsible for maintaining communication. A weekly phone call or daily text, especially if the friend or relative is isolated, is sufficient but powerful.
  • Maintain daily schedules. Build around the school schedule, work in group physical activity (daily dance parties - yes!). Include time for fun/leisure.
  • Set realistic and measurable goals for wellness and learning. Use post-it notes and display them.
  • Find and plan regular safe interactions that maintain relationships such as weekly outdoor walks, video chat, a cup of coffee. The conversation that makes the difference will be the one that happens the fifth week in the routine.
  • Eat vegetables.
  • Make time to articulate things you’re thankful for as a family as well as things you’re worried about. Gratitude and humility will allow you to express confidence as a family that this crisis will end.

These suggestions assume a reasonable degree of stability with regards to finances and health. I know this can not be taken for granted for all families in our community. We have compiled these resources for those in need of more intensive support. We encourage families to reach out if you or someone you know is in need. School staff (counselors, The Family Center, administration, the Teen Resource Center, e.g.) want to help or connect you with someone who can.

Please know how grateful I am to be a part of this community during this difficult time. No challenge we’ve faced during my years at Sequoia has been met with anything other than grace, courage, and resilience from teachers, families, and, most importantly, students. It’s inspiring.

Have a great week!

From the Editors
We have a new look!

We hope you enjoy this new, more mobile-friendly version of the Sentinel. Our viewership on mobile has increased substantially, and to cater to that, we are testing templates so there will be much less "scrolling" in the future! 

Also, to encourage sharing of information in the Sentinel, we have created a Google Form for your news; please view these Guidelines and submit items by the Thursday before publication. 

This will be a very different year and the PTSA will rely heavily on communications through our website and the Sentinel. Over the coming weeks, our leadership is looking at more optimizations in our communications strategy. Your feedback is always welcome at
Booster meeting this Tuesday 9/15!
Sequoia Athletes, Families and Fans...

A HUGE Welcome to the New School Year of 2020-2021!!

On behalf of the Sequoia High School Booster Organization, I'd like to welcome you all to a new, and very different, school year. In our wildest dreams we couldn't have imagined starting a school year without Sequoia football games, cheerleading, concessions, clothing sales and all the other fall sports events. This is how the school year has begun for decades, if not a century! Unfortunately, 2020 is just not having it! But are we going to let this dampen our Sequoia SPIRIT?!? No way! 

It is our mission that the SHS community with the help of Sports and Spirit Boosters, will adapt and thrive! Our Athletic Director, Melissa Schmidt, has been working tirelessly throughout the summer to the present moment in efforts to get our players out on the field/court/pool, etc. Announcements will be made soon about our adapted seasons, in person events and other sports/athletics related items. 

For those who are new to Sequoia, The Sequoia HS Sports and Spirit Boosters Organization has been created and run by Sequoia parents and our sole purpose is to raise money and spend money on our athletes, athletic programs and to increase school spirit. 

We need your support! Although we don't have our usual fall sporting events, we do have some ways to volunteer. We are in need of a website and communications manager, a promotions manager (AmazonSmile, eScrip, events, etc.), and a volunteer manager. Also, we always welcome and appreciate new and returning parents and student leaders at our monthly meetings. Once we have your email address you will receive Booster announcements, volunteer opportunities, and of course we gladly welcome donations to help keep our programs running! 

Please join us for our first general meeting via zoom: *this* Tuesday, September 15 at 7:00 p.m.

Join Zoom Meeting Meeting ID: 947 6988 2240 Passcode: 235754

In the meantime, if you have any questions, comments or ideas to share, please feel free to contact or email me directly at or via cell/text 650.766.0962. 

We look forward to seeing you soon!!

Ann Berljafa, President 
Sequoia Sports and Spirit Booster Organization 
Sequoia spirit wear still on sale!
Need a new sweatshirt? Want to sport your Sequoia pride with a t-shirt? Sequoia ASB and the Sequoia Boosters Club have partnered with Goetz Brothers Sporting Goods to bring you an online apparel store. Our core items will remain available throughout the fall. Please visit the Sequoia Online Store! 
Senior portraits
Seniors, please schedule a senior portrait appointment as soon as possible. Try to get your picture taken by Halloween; Thanksgiving at the latest. Questions? Contact Sequoia Yearbook Adviser Eileen Bray.
PTA education funding advocacy update
Have you filled out your 2020 census?
  • Only 63% of U.S. households have responded, as of early August.
  • Census deadline is ending a month earlier than planned (!) on 9/30.
  • Why is being counted important? So many reasons, including school funding for the next decade!!

Are you ready for Election Day on 11/3?

Vote Yes on Prop. 15 “Schools & Communities First” this November
PTSA volunteer survey
Thank you to all those who have taken our survey -- we are grateful for the response and our team is working through the details with the staff. 

If you haven't taken it yet, you still can at this link. It will help us understand and plan how we can leverage our community's skills to help the staff and students during this unprecedented school year. It will take less than 5 minutes of your time. Thank you!
You know you've been meaning to...
...So now's the time to Join the PTSA! Click HERE

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!

  • Lend your voice to the national PTA's fight against school funding cuts and for quality education for every student!

For questions about Sequoia's PTSA, contact membership chair Lisa Hane at
Support Sequoia all year long
Copy and paste SHSEF's AmazonSmile link below onto your browser bar for quick access to future contributions while shopping!

Need funding to jumpstart your inspiration? PTSA Mini-Grants may be the way to go
Students and staff: Mini-Grants are coming in October! Through the support of the Sequoia High School Education Foundation (SHSEF), the PTSA is able to offer financial grants to enhance the education at Sequoia. The grants of up to $750 are designed to inspire creative initiatives to learning and/or to address a compelling need which might otherwise go unfinished. Applications will open in October. Watch for further announcements in the Sentinel or Daily Bulletin.

Students involved in clubs or other activities who have an idea for a project that will benefit the school but need funding are encouraged to apply. Additional information can be found on the PTSA page of the SHS website.

Parents: Would you like to be a part of Sequoia's innovative educational efforts? Consider joining our team to help with the grant selection process. If you have a few hours to review applications and meet with the other committee members (one to two evenings this year), we would love to recruit you. No experience is necessary. This is a great opportunity for returning and new Sequoia parents to learn about the constructive, beneficial projects happening at the school.

Contact Mini-Grants committee chairs Shannon Chi or Adrienne Heist at to join the selection committee.
Become a tutor: orientation and training this Tuesday! Great for earning CAS hours 
healthy cities tutoring
Join our community of volunteers who range in age from 14-96 and provide one-on-one tutoring and mentoring to students for 30-45 minutes per week to improve their academic performance, engagement in learning, and self-esteem. 

This year with distance learning we are seeking volunteers willing to be trained in tutoring a student remotely once a week. We expect the need to grow this year and hope you or someone you know will get involved in this rewarding volunteer experience. 

If you are interested in learning more, please mark your calendar for our annual new tutor orientation and training, which will be held via Zoom *this Tuesday*, September 15. There are two identical sessions, 10-11:00 a.m. OR 7-8:00 p.m. Please RSVP via the links to attend whichever time is most convenient for you. 

For more information to become a Healthy Cities tutor, visit and click VOLUNTEER to complete the online application or email Healthy Cities Tutoring is recruiting volunteers - Reach a child. Touch a Family. Build a community. 
Sequoia Highlights
"That's So Raven" episode 3
Last week Sequoia ASB released Episode 3 of its Sequoia News Network (SNN) program, "That's So Raven."

In their own words, "We are the ASB class of Sequoia High School located in Redwood City, California. We upload videos of what is happening at Sequoia High School! Subscribe and turn on post notifications to keep updated!"
Sequoia debate finishes 2019-20
season with historic performances
Coached by two nationally-recognized Stanford debaters, Sequoia's debate team continued their forward momentum last school year, finishing the season with historic performances from both its JV and varsity teams. On the JV side, two Sequoia freshman teams advanced to the quarter-finals at the prestigious Santa Clara and Stanford Invitationals. On the varsity side, three teams finished within a single point of advancing to the state championships in Santa Monica. The team is excited to build on their successes this upcoming season, which will be 100% online.

The team welcomes students at all levels—beginner through expert! If your child enjoys arguing, wants to become a better public speaker, needs CAS hours, wants to learn more about the world, or just wants to have fun meeting new people, encourage them to join the team for its New Debater Welcome on Friday, September 25 at 4 p.m.!

For more info and for the practice Zoom link, please ask your student to email, or to visit their Instagram at @sequoiadebate. Practices will be held via Zoom on Fridays from 4-5:30 p.m.
Perks for substitute teachers
For the past several years it has been difficult for Sequoia to fill all the teacher absences with substitutes. This was identified as a problem last year, and Mr. Priest challenged the community to get creative in encouraging more subs to commit to our school. 

Given this mission, Anilisa Manolache (IVP Secretary), submitted a mini-grant request to purchase a coffee maker and supplies. She was given the money, and she set up a "coffee corner" in the IVP office to make our substitutes feel welcome. 

"Small perks such as coffee go a long way with substitutes, who are rarely offered anything when they go to a school,” said Ms. Manolache. “We hope this will help motivate the best substitutes to select our site so we have consistent and high quality coverage." 

Here is a picture of the new "Coffee Corner." Thank you, Ms. Manolache, for your creativity!
Voting 101: An intro for first-time voters!
Do you want to vote, but don't know how? Read our introduction for first-time voters! Learn how to register to vote online, with simple, understandable instructions, written by youth for youth! The slideshow is available in English and Spanish. Please contact Sabrina Solon if you have questions.
Mental health, social and emotional resources
Judy Romero, MFT, Elvira Macias and guidance counselors Emilia Flores and Hoxi Castaneda recently held online parent meetings to discuss support offered through the Guidance Department. Recordings of these meetings are available in both English and Spanish on the Sequoia Family Center YouTube Channel and also in the Sequoia Counseling webpage for anyone who was not able to attend. 
A helpful list of school and community resources was also provided to students by Sequoia teacher Dy Nguyen in the English I course syllabus. Links and explanations of each are excerpted below.

The Sequoia community is very fortunate to have all these wonderful mental health, social and emotional resources available to us, particularly during this challenging time:

The Guidance Office has compiled a list of resources to provide students and parents support during Distance Learning. Resources are available in English and Spanish for Canvas, digital support, technical support, & more!

A resource to parents and helps them navigate the school system, answers questions, and makes referrals to school and community programs. The Family Center can be found in room 129.

The TRC provides free confidential counseling, and youth development services to help students increase their academic performance, improve behavior and personal relationships, make positive decisions and set future goals. 

This is a list of resources for General Student Needs, Tech and School Needs, Housing and Food Support, and Mental Health & Wellness Resources.

SUHSD website for technical support and tutorials for Canvas, Zoom, and other digital supports.
The New Parent Education Series
Parent Ed Logo Horizontal
Welcome to the NEW Parent Education 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, 12:00pm – 1:00pm, 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.
Parents, students, educators, clinicians, and community members welcome! Free admission. This presentation is sponsored by SHSEF, Sequoia Healthcare District and Sequoia Union High School District.
The Pushouts – Livestream Documentary Film Screening

Featuring Victor Rios, PhD, University of California, Santa Barbara
Sunday, September 6, 2020 – Saturday, September 19, 2020
"I was in prison before I was even born.” So begins the story of Victor Rios - high school dropout, Oakland gang member, and three-time felon by 15. THE PUSHOUTS examines Rios’ own troubled adolescence, along with questions of race, class, and power. Parents, students, educators, clinicians, and community members welcome! Free admission. This presentation is sponsored by SHSEF, Sequoia Healthcare District and Sequoia Union High School District.
Parent Forum #3 (English) – Virtual Discussion Group
Eran Magen, PhD, Strengthening Communication with Your Child or Teen
Friday, September 25, 2020, 12:00pm – 1:00pm, Online Event (Meeting)
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. Parents and caregivers welcome! Free admission. The Parent Forum is an initiative of Sequoia Healthcare District, in partnership with The Parent Venture.
Family Nutrition: Optimizing Our Children’s Relationship with Food
Maya Adam, MD, Department of Pediatrics, Stanford School of Medicine
Wednesday, October 14, 2020, 12:00pm – 1:00pm, Online Event (Webinar)
How can you optimize your family's relationship with food? Join Maya Adam, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Director of Health Media Innovation, Stanford School of Medicine. Parents, students, educators, clinicians, and community members welcome! Free admission. This Parent Education Mini-Series presentation is sponsored by Sequoia Healthcare District, Sequoia Union High School District, and The Parent Venture.
The Future of College Admission: More Questions, A Range of Answers?
Dr. Angel B. Pérez, CEO, NACAC & Alice Kleeman, retired M-A College Advisor
Thursday, October 29, 2020, 12:00pm – 1:00pm, Online Event (Webinar)

Dr. Angel B. Pérez, new CEO of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), joins Alice Kleeman, retired M-A College Advisor, for a wide-ranging interview on a variety of college admission issues and trends, in light of the uncertainty introduced by COVID-19. Parents, students, educators, clinicians, and community members welcome! Free admission. This presentation is sponsored by M-A PTA, Sequoia Healthcare District, and Sequoia Union High School District.
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
College Experience Panel
Wondering what a top college experience is like? The Seattle Advocates for Education is hosting a free, online College Experience Panel, bringing in speakers from Stanford, Harvard, Brown, Penn, Cornell, and Berkeley to talk to you! Gain insight on the college experience to learn about specific colleges, social life, internships, research, studying, and more. Ask your questions during the Q&A!

The event will be on Sunday, September 27 at 1 p.m. via Zoom. Learn more & sign up at Limited spots available!
Sentinel Newsletter:

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 use this *new* Google Form by the Thursday before publication. See 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 button below.
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