January 21, 2019  

Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
TopPrincipal's Message - What a Week!  
Last Tuesday night, the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula held their annual Youth of the Year competition.  Four of the six finalists were Sequoia students and guest judges included SUHSD Superintendent Dr. Mary Streshly and former campaign manager for President Obama David Plouffe. Twelfth-grader Ximena Sánchez Martínez, whose inspiring story and speech enthralled us, was awarded the top prize.

Across town, students, staff, parents and other family members of gathered in Sequoia's Multi-Purpose Room for our annual Community Dialogue.  We ate delicious food, laughed, and found much in common despite differences in language, age, and socio-economic status.  In particular, what hopes we have for our children and what we appreciate about the Sequoia High School community; it was inspiring to hear how much overlap exists among our families whose backgrounds and experiences are so diverse.

Did I mention last week was spirit week?  Walking the halls meant encountering aliens, cowboys, Disney characters, and purple tutus galore.  Great stuff!

Thursday morning, the school held a 30-minute lock-down drill.  After a brief signal over the loudspeaker, classroom doors were locked, primary and secondary barricades were erected, and the school went silent.  Members of the administration and campus security team teamed up with officers from the Redwood City Police Department to check every classroom to make sure proper protocol was followed.  The police were impressed with the extent to which the staff and students knew what to do and how seriously everyone took the simulation.

Vernon Davis of the Washington Redskins giving a pep talk at Friday's Rally
I never forget the infuriating tragedy underlying our need to practice for this kind of scenario.  As proud as I am of the students for taking the event as seriously as they do, we are mindful as a school how stressful and dispiriting sitting silently in the dark for 25 minutes contemplating such a dreadful event must be.  I hope my acknowledgment of this tension over the PA at the end of the drill (punctuated by a Hee-Haw-level corny joke) helped put some of our students' minds at ease.  I know I speak for many in our community that we hope these hypothetical violent intruder preparations will never be normalized.

Friday's schedule provided time for a different kind of all-school activity: our first rally of 2019.  Friday's rally had everything: dancing, singing, Twister, Vernon Davis, T-shirts, human Hungry-Hungry Hippos, and the rockin'est pep band on the Peninsula.  Ask your kids.  The Unaliyi was strong.

Students dancing the night away at the Fox Theater
On Saturday night, the fun continued at the Fox Theater in downtown Redwood City.  725 students (yet another record crowd) got dressed in their Winter Formal finery and danced the night away.  


If it sounds like a bit of a roller coaster, it was.  At the heart of a week like this, however, are the students whose strength and spirit bring us together and inspire us each day.  I hope you're as proud of them as I am. On that note...

Here's to another great (although hopefully not as wild) week at Sequoia!
Lend a Hand in the Library This Week  
Finally, the moment we've been waiting for all year - Sequoia's beautifully remodeled Media Center/Library is almost ready to re-open!  The only thing that's missing is - THE BOOKS!  Come be part of Sequoia history by scanning and re-shelving books this week.  We'll have 2 shifts a day starting Tuesday, January 22.
Click the link to sign up: 
Questions?  Please contact Erika Pretell (
New IB Math Curriculum Next School Year   
Sequoia will begin teaching the new IB Math courses next school year (2019-2020) to rising 9th -11th graders.  (Rising 12th graders will remain with the current old IB Math courses).  Information can be found on the IB webpage of the Sequoia High School website under IB Programme, New IB Math Courses tab.  
Parents & Guardians, after reviewing the information and documents online, if you still have questions, please join us for:

Event: New IB Math Courses Coffee Chat - Informal Q&A w/ IB Coordinator & Math Department Chair
Date: Thursday, January 31  
Time: Stop by anytime between 8:30 - 10:00 a.m.   
Location: MPR 
Who Attends: This is for parents & guardians.  Students are not allowed to miss class to attend.
concessions Junior Class Families : We Still Need Your Help at Basketball Concessions
We will be doing two more fund-raising concessions on Friday, January 25 and Friday, February 8.  Please sign up to donate concession items or help staff the concession booth for a shift -- it is a lot of fun and will help fund graduation activities for your child next year!  If you have any questions, contact  Brett Gardner.
Thank You for Your Generosity, Sequoia Community!
SHSEF Happy New Year!  Thank you to our incredible community; we have already raised $325k.  As we embark on 2019, we hope you will continue to support innovative programs, exceptional faculty, and deserving students at Sequoia.
Spring 2019 Mini-Grant Applications are OPEN!  
Applications are due by Friday, February 1, 2019
It's Mini-Grants time again!  Twice each year, the PTSA, through the support of the SHSEF, offers Mini-Grants to enhance the excellent education offered at Sequoia High School.  These grants are designed to encourage creative approaches to learning and/or to address compelling need which would otherwise go unfunded.  Students, teachers and staff may apply.
Parents, is your student a member of a club or activity that is ready to take on a new endeavor?  Please encourage him or her to apply.  Additional information and the application are available on the  PTSA website.
Would you like to be on the front row to some of Sequoia's innovative educational efforts? Consider joining our team to help with the selection process. If you have a few hours to review applications and meet with the committee, we would love to have you on board. No experience is necessary, and there will be seasoned committee members assisting along the way. This is a great opportunity for new as well as returning Sequoia parents to learn about the great projects percolating in our school!  Our spring meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 6 at 7:00 p.m.
Contact our Mini-Grants committee chairs Marlena Griffin and DeeDee Clark at 
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Here's an example of a successful mini-grant project from Fall 2018:
Mini-Grant Math-oriented Board Games for Algebra Readiness Classes
Mini-Grant: $196
"I used the grant to buy nine copies of Qwirkle, a board-game that encourages simple counting AND complex strategizing.  I use various board games to teach students the skills of negotiating, communicating, planning, using math strategically, and simply having fun while still doing math.  My students are constantly asking for board-game time and I hope to introduce it as a permanent rotation in my class.  It gives them a way to move around and be rambunctious, while still engaging their brains."
~ Subathra Ramanathan
BAGCSequoia Student Wins Boys and Girls Club Award
Congratulations to Ximena Sánchez Martínez for winning The Forest High School Center (Boys and Girls Club) Youth of the Year Award!
Four out of six students nominated for this award were from Sequoia.  The awards event took place Tuesday night, January 16th at the Boys and Girls Club, with many Sequoia teachers and staff attending to salute them all.  
We wish to also congratulate runners-up Andres Alas, Ashley Valdovinos, and Alan Guido!  
Youth of the Year nominees on stage during the award ceremony.  
Get Help from Stanford Volunteer Tutors and Assistants 
Does your student need support in math?  Is your junior starting his/her college and test prep journey?  Does your senior still have to complete some important college application/financial aid steps?
In addition to our SAFE teachers and staff (thank you, SHSEF, for funding these critical after-school positions!), we have nearly 60 undergraduate and graduate students from Stanford University volunteering in a variety of academic support roles this winter at Sequoia.  In particular, we'd like to alert you to the availability of eight enthusiastic Stanford volunteers who are eager to help your students and are currently available to tutor this winter:
  • Kaitlyn and Ocheze ("oh-che-zeh") = SAFE Math Tutorial, TUESDAYS 3:50 - 5:10 p.m. in Ms. Sharp's Classroom, Room 222. (Pre-Algebra through Algebra 2)
  • Maivboon ("mai-boon"), George, and Isabel (bilingual English/Spanish) = SAFE Math Tutorial, WEDNESDAYS 3:45 - 5:45 p.m. in Mr. Moaveni's Classroom, Room 216 (Pre-Algebra through PreCalc)
  • ConnorEstefania (bilingual English/Spanish), and Kaila = College Club, THURSDAYS 3:45 - 5:00 p.m. in The College and Career Center, Room 115
A kind nudge from you to attend these drop-in sessions can make all the difference!  Please encourage your student to seek out these FREE, WEEKLY opportunities for: 
  • support in math in the Tuesday and Wednesday SAFE tutorials, 
  • support for seniors with the second half of the college process (applications may be in but it's not over till they've dealt with financial aid, scholarship applications and essays, important follow-up application steps, and forms),
  • support for juniors with the beginning of their college and test prep journey in the College Center.
Questions? Please contact: Elisa Niño-Sears, ATLAS Director,
For the Spanish version, please click the link below. 
DialogueCommunity Dialogue: Thoughtful Conversation + Laughter + Good Food = SUCCESS!
Attendees at the 2019 Sequoia Community Dialogue pose in front of the Wordle created to represent the hopes and dreams for our Sequoia students.

Despite dark skies and rainy weather on Tuesday, January 15th, the MPR was filled with about 60 parents, students, and teachers attending the 2019 Sequoia Community Dialogue.  Participants enjoyed delicious food, and engaged in deep conversations about what works and what doesn't at Sequoia.  They connected with other parents from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences, and together as a group, created a Wordle (word cloud) representing the hopes and dreams for our children at Sequoia - Happiness, Fulfillment, Health, Success, and Community, were the biggest and boldest. 
Small group discussion and activities
Thank you to Elvira Macias, Parent Center Coordinator, who organized this event which was hosted by ELAC and the PTSA, with help from Erika Pretell, Lisa Hane, Jane Slater, Allison Hyde, Elisa Niño-Sears, Sean Priest, Maria Martha, Tatiana Baquero, and Nicole Prieto.   
Mark your calendars for next January, and join us!
In This Issue


Monday, January 21
No School

Thursday, January 24
6:30 p.m.
Middle College Info Meeting,
Birch Room, SUHSD Office

Saturday, January 26
10:00 - 11:00 a.m.
8th Grade Campus Tours,
Front of Main Building

Thursday, January 31
8:30 - 10:00 a.m.
New IB Math Informal Q&A, MPR

Thursday, January 31

6:30 p.m.
Middle College Info Meeting,
Birch Room, SUHSD Office

Friday, February 1 
Mini-Grant Applications Due

Tuesday, February 5
7:00 p.m.
PTSA/ELAC Meeting,

February 17 - 23
Mid-Winter Break
No School
Quick Links
Spring Sports Reminder
All Spring sports will start on January 28, 2019.  If you have not already done so, please make sure your child's physical is signed-off by their doctor and get cleared via SportsNet by January 21.   
You can print the form for the doctor off SportsNet and upload the completed copy back into your account.  See for information
Register for Sequoia Dream Club's 7th Annual Conference   
Dream Club's annual student conference for undocumented students and their peers will be on March 2, 2019.  Check out this flier for more information.  Please share with anyone who might be interested, especially those who work with youth and might be willing to bring a group to the conference.
A light breakfast and lunch will be provided at the event.  A free t-shirt will be given to those who register by February 14!
Class of 2019:
Buy Your Grad Party Tickets Now 
Celebrate graduation aboard the HORNBLOWER YACHT! 
Cruise starts at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, June 7 until 3:00 a.m. on Saturday.  You and your fellow graduates will enjoy a 3-hour party cruising around the San Francisco Bay.  The evening will include food, music, dancing, photos and other fun activities.  Transportation to and from the event is included. The bus will return to school around 4 a.m.  Click here to purchase.
Where Did you Find That Purple Cushion?  
At the
 Soften bleacher seats with this comfy portable cushion, and show off your Unaliyi spirit!
Join the PTSA  Anytime!  
Visit the
  to purchase your 2018-19 PTSA membership today, and contribute to Sequoia's Unaliyi spirit and programs!
Sequoia 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.  
Find past issues of the Sentinel at   
En Español
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Parent Education

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Parent Ed
Lynn O'Shaughnessy
Lynn O'Shaughnessy, College Financial Expert, author of The College Solution
Winning Strategies for Finding the Right School at the Right Price
Wednesday, February 27, 2019, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Sequoia High School, Carrington Hall

Lynn O'Shaughnessy is a nationally recognized college expert, higher-education journalist, speaker and educator.  Her No. 1 goal is to help parents with teenagers become smart college shoppers as they search for schools.   

Sequoia Parent Education Series events are sponsored by SHSEF, Sequoia Healthcare District, and Sequoia Union High School District.
Alternate date of the same lecture sponsored by WHS PTSA, Sequoia Healthcare District, and Sequoia Union High School District as part of the Woodside Parent Education Series:
Tuesday, February 26, 2019, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Woodside High School, Multi-Use Room (MUR)
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Ana Homayoun 
Ana Homayoun, founder of Green Ivy Consulting, and author of The Myth of the Perfect Girl
Understanding the Culture of Perfectionism: Helping Teens Overcome a Fear of Failure and of Never Being Good Enough
Tuesday, March 5, 2019, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Carlmont Performing Arts Center (PAC)
With compassion and humor, author Ana Homayoun describes why so many teens - particularly in high-achievement areas like Silicon Valley - struggle with a fear of never being good enough.  She will discuss practical strategies to help teens find their own personal fulfillment, purpose, and wellness. 
Carlmont Parent Education Series events are sponsored by Carlmont PTSA, Sequoia Healthcare District, and Sequoia Union High School District.
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Parents, students, educators, and community members welcome!  Free admission and light refreshments.  Spanish interpretation will be available.
Questions?  Contact Charlene Margot, M.A., Director, The Parent Education Series, at .
Community News

logo SafeSpace Winter Events

Child, Disrupted,  a Documentary Screening
Thursday,, February 7, 2019, 7:00 - 8:15 p.m. 
Menlo-Atherton High School Performing Arts Center (PAC)   
The award-winning short documentary Child, Disrupted features interviews with experts in the fields of neuroscience, occupational therapy, addiction, psychology, and sociology, in order to uncover the reality behind fears about the effects of screen time on children.  This event is FREE
One Hour of Meditation For Young People
Thursdays, 5:00 - 6:00 p.m.
January 31, February 7, 21, or 28
SafeSpace Community Engagement Center
708 Oak Grove Ave. Menlo Park, CA  

These FREE classes introduce young people, ages 12-26, to the basic skills of a mindfulness practice.  Each lesson will help guide to a more peaceful life by showing and engaging in the practices that help teens deal with everyday stress and anxiety.  The lessons are simple and fun, yet effective.  Taught by Julie Brody, BSN, MA in Women's Spirituality, Mindfulness Educator and Certified Yoga Instructor.   
Register for One Hour of Meditation