January 22, 2018

Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message
"I don't know what you've been told, we're in a golden age."

So goes the opening refrain to the theme song from my first-grade daughter's favorite podcast, Wow in the World.  The show uses a kid-friendly format (vomit jokes and sound-effects from the Acme Corporation catalog) to introduce big ideas in science ranging from CRISPR to the canine olfactory.  My daughter and her friends can listen (and re-listen) to episode after episode.

A golden age.  Discovery, understanding, transformation.  2018 is an exciting moment to be alive.

At the same time, stress and anxiety amongst teens -- those who stand on the precipice of taking their places in this golden age -- has never confronted us with more urgency.  It appears that the excitement that energizes most first-graders loses its power for too many of our teens, dimmed by pressure to succeed, trauma, instability, or other factors arising during the sensitive passage from childhood to adulthood.  The stress of adolescence is real and overwhelming.  Its causes are manifold, and it finds its perch in kids from all backgrounds.

Of course, stress per se is not the enemy.  When young people learn to manage stress they set themselves up for success in discovering their priorities and reaching their goals.  We shouldn't be trying to create a stress-free environment for high school students.  Nor should we be lowering expectations: college, a fulfilling career, a chance to make a difference in the world are outcomes worth encouraging students to endeavor upon.

One factor that flummoxes many of our students is time.  Swirling, whirling time.  I heard from a Sequoia 10th grader at a recent community forum who felt as though she was falling hopelessly behind because she hadn't yet decided to which colleges she wanted to apply.  Things move fast in 2018 and for a 15-year old, it can be hard to discern how much time two years really is.  The uploads, likes, and snaps accumulate faster and faster every day -- why wouldn't a decision I have to make by 2020 feel like it's coming at me like a freight train?  

Breathe.  Breathe again.  Breathe slowly until the noise quiets.

We have also made it a priority to increase the proactive steps we're taking to help students manage their stress.  Over 50 Sequoia teachers have been trained in mindfulness practices and regularly implement mindfulness exercises as part of their learning.  This year, a group of students meets weekly at lunch to talk about ways in which mindfulness can help them and their peers.  More students are in the room every time I walk by.

The ways in which anxiety reveals itself in the classroom and beyond concern all of us greatly.  In many cases when we're talking about issues of truancy and low academic achievement, stress anxiety is a factor.  Fortunately, we are a community with tremendous resources.  Last year, staff were presented with our SUHSD Green Folder.  The initiative provides easy access to tools which empower the adults on campus to identify indicators of distress, connect students with campus and community resources, and effectively demonstrate compassion.  Our Teen Resource Center, Guidance Office, AVP Office, Psychologist, and Therapist are running at capacity serving kids every day.  

Having a staff that is highly attuned to needs of kids, regards them with unconditional positivity, and understands which signs need to be addressed and where the resources are to address them is key.  Knowing how far we have to go and remaining hungry for new information doubly so.

As with CRISPR and the canine olfactory, our understanding of teens, the teen brain, and mental health continues to grow in this golden age.  I don't expect the difficult transition from the curious first grader to the stressed-out teenager will disappear, but I'm very proud to be part of the important work of changing things for the better.

Have a great week!
Junior Class Basketball Concessions Needs Your Help - This Friday!
Attention Class of 2019 families! Plans are underway for the 2019 Grad Night. Our fundraisers for this winter are concession sales at the quad basketball games, and we need your help to make this as successful as possible! 

We will be doing concessions on Friday, January 26, Friday, February 2 and Wednesday, February 7 Please sign up to donate items or volunteer  to help staff the concession booth for a shift -- it is a lot of fun!  If you have any questions, contact Mark Sato.
It's That Time: Class Scheduling
It is time once again for counselors to start meeting with ALL of their students, 9th-11th grades, to update their academic and future plans and select their classes for next school year.  As in past years we will begin with the Rising Seniors!  We will start pulling them out from their elective classes and only when necessary we will pull them from their academic classes.  We will have back-to-back appointments of 30 minutes each.
At the meeting we plan to discuss their future plans and how they can prepare now to achieve them.  We will emphasize the importance of course rigor, high grades, and taking the SAT and/or ACT this spring; all of which four-year colleges and universities use to determine eligibility.  Additionally, we will discuss their current and past extracurricular activities such as community service, sports, clubs, internships and summer programs; which are important to note on college and scholarship applications.  Colleges and universities believe it is critical for students to work on developing their passions and to take advantage of the resources available to them in their community.
We look forward to working with you!  Please feel free to share with me any concerns you may have.  The following is the schedule for Course Selection Individual Appointments for all the grade levels:
  • Jan. 30-Feb. 16:  Rising Seniors 
  • Feb. 27-March 16:  Rising Juniors
  • March 20-April 6:  Rising Sophomores 
During this time counselors will be working with middle schools for incoming 9th grade course selection.
Please feel free to contact the counseling office with questions.
Melissa Perez, Head Counselor
Campus Tours This Saturday: Parent Volunteers Are Invited to Help
Guided Campus Tours - Saturday, January 27, arrive anytime between 10-11:30 AM
Prospective students -- including 7th grade, 8th grade and transfer students -- are invited to our Sequoia Campus Tours!  Each tour will be led by two Sequoia leadership students and will showcase several important locales around campus. Tours will also be accompanied by a PTSA volunteer who can help provide a parent's perspective on the school. No need to sign up ahead of time, just drop by and meet us at the front of the school! For further details, contact  Director of Student Activities Corey Uhalde.  
We are looking for parents interested in showing off our beautiful campus.   Would you like to join us in helping with the campus tours?  Contact Sequoia PTSA at  for more information.
Enrichment Before and After School
Did you know that Sequoia has an amazing menu of FREE before- and after-school opportunities for your student? SAFE (Sequoia After-school Focused Enrichment) a ctivities include badminton club, academic tutoring, culinary arts, robotics and more!
Check out the SAFE webpage which includes brochures about all the classes available (EnglishEspañol).  Some classes involve ongoing attendance, while others are on a drop-in format.  There's something for everyone!
Let's Talk About Sex
Over the past two decades, Health Connected has collaborated with SUHSD to bring relevant, high quality, and evidence-based sex education to students and their families.  Parents have voiced concerns and questions, like "how do I start a conversation with my child about consent?" or "my child doesn't want to talk with me about sex, what do I do?" Parents may also be curious as to what their children learn in the Health Connected program, Teen Talk. 
As a result,  Health Connected has launched its new sexual health resource just for parents and guardians - . The new website is designed to encourage open conversations about sexuality within families that help youth confidently navigate adolescence, and create positive relationships for a lifetime. is filled with tips and research to support parents in talking with their kids about sex and relationships, and offers an inside look at Health Connected's sex education programs that are implemented at Sequoia High School.

Health Connected, a Redwood City-based nonprofit organization, serves more than 10,000 students per year and has been partnering with SUHSD for more than two decades. Visit and start a conversation with your child today.   For more information, email For information about our suite of parent programs, visit our website
It's Crab Season!
Tickets are now available for this year's Crab Dinner which supports all Sequoia athletic programs.    This year, we are excited to have it at the Hiller Aviation Museum on Saturday, March 24th, 6:00-10:00 PM. 

This event can't happen without donations both small and large for the Silent and Live Auctions. Some ideas are:  wine, gift certificates, services, sport event tickets, and vacation rentals, to name a few.

It takes a lot of people to put on this party, and we need your help!  Please check our our volunteer list to see if there is a role for you! VOLUNTEER here.  Some key roles we need to fill include:   Business Donation Solicitors, Check-in/Check-out clerks, Bar Manager/Bartender, Kitchen Help, Student Server Supervisor, and more!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at
Help Reduce Congestion and Go Green - SamTrans Route 295 Is Here!
Beginning Sunday, January 21, the SamTrans bus route 295 was modified, making the route more accessible to Sequoia students living in the vicinity of Clifford Middle School and Central Middle School. The modified route incorporates the former Route 273 into the new route.

See details about the route, timetables, and Clipper Cards in this document.

In This Issue

Tuesday, Jan. 23
7 PM - Parent Education: "Raising Screenwise Kids in the Digital Age," Menlo-Atherton HS Performing Arts Center

Saturday, January 27
10 AM - Campus tours for prospective Sequoia families

Wednesday, Jan. 31
7 PM - Parent Education: " Managing Emotionally-Intense Conversations with Your Teen," Woodside HS Multi-Use Room

Saturday, Feb. 3
8 PM - Winter Formal, Fox Theater

Wednesday, Feb. 7
7 PM - Parent Education: "Prevention Works: Keeping Healthy Kids Healthy," Carrington Hall

Thursday, Feb. 8
7 PM - Community College Info meeting, MPR

Feb. 19-23
Mid-Winter Break, no school
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Parent Education - All Are Welcome

M-A Parent Education Series
Devorah Heitner, PhD, Raising Digital Natives
Raising Screenwise Kids in the Digital Age

Tuesday, January 23, 2018, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
M-A Performing Arts Center (PAC)

Parents today worry that kids are addicted, detached, or distracted because of digital devices. Often, adults are less conscious about what they are modelling with their own relationship with technology.
Dr. Devorah Heitner, kids' media expert and author of Screenwise, provides guidance to help parents become confident digital media mentors to texters, gamers, and social media users from childhood to young adulthood. Don't miss Dr. Heitner's last visit to the Bay Area this year!
Parents, students, educators, and community members welcome!
Spanish interpretation will be available. Free admission and light refreshments.
M-A Parent Education Series events are sponsored by   M-A PTA, Sequoia Healthcare District, and Sequoia Union High School District.
Questions? Contact Charlene Margot, M.A., Director, The Parent Education Series
For Spanish, contact Lilly Quiñonez, Parent Center Coordinator, at 650-322-5311, Ext. 50255. 
Woodside Parent Education Series
Eran Magen, PhD, Center for Supportive Relationships
Managing Emotionally-Intense Conversations with Your Teen
Wednesday, January 31, 2018, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Woodside High School, MUR (Multi-Use Room)
199 Churchill Avenue, Woodside

Back by popular demand!  Trying to offer support when your tween or teen seems upset or stressed can feel like tiptoeing through a minefield. 

Learn how to be more comfortable offering emotional support when your child is stressed, frustrated, angry, or anxious. Dr. Eran Magen shares strategies that will help your child feel better and think more clearly, while improving your parent-child relationship.
Parents, students, educators, and community members welcome!
Spanish interpretation will be available. Free admission & light refreshments.
Woodside Parent Education Series events are sponsored by Woodside PTSA, Sequoia Healthcare District, and Sequoia Union High School District.
Questions? Contact Charlene Margot, M.A., Director, The Parent Education Series
For Spanish, contact Maricela Lopez, Bilingual Parent Liaison, at (650) 367-7263, Ext. 45323. 
Sequoia Parent Education Series
Michael Donnolly, FCD Prevention Works
Prevention Works: Keeping Healthy Kids Healthy
Wednesday, February 7, 2018, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Sequoia High School, Carrington Hall
1201 Brewster Avenue, Redwood City

What keeps healthy kids and teens healthy?  Join Michael Connolly, Prevention Specialist, for an open discussion about the prevention of substance use/abuse in teens.

F CD works worldwide to provide students and families with the knowledge, understanding, and skills they need to make intelligent, healthy choices about alcohol, tobacco (vaping), marijuana and other drug use.

Parents, students, faculty/staff and community members welcome!
Spanish interpretation will be available. Free admission & light refreshments.
Sequoia Parent Education Series events are sponsored by the SHSEF, the Sequoia Healthcare District, and the Sequoia Union High School District.
Questions? Contact Charlene Margot, M.A., Director, The Parent Education Series
For Spanish, contact Mayela Ramirez, Parent Center Coordinator, 650-367-9780, Ext. 63105
Community News
Would  You Like to Hear From (and Speak to) Our Elected Officials?
On Sunday, January 28th from 2-4 PM Redwood City's Mayor and Vice Mayor will be on hand for a community meeting.  Students and adults are welcome at RWC Veteran's Memorial Senior Center.  See this flyer for more details.