January 23, 2017

Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message
"IB classes gave me the ability to connect ideas together in my writing."

"I got a sense of adventure and a global outlook from my IB classes."

The two weeks immediately following winter break is often a time when young alumni still on break visit campus to share exciting stories with their favorite teachers about their college success.  For the past two years, we've channeled this into a student panel for 9th and 10th graders.  On January 13, 500 Sequoia 10th graders listened to a group of young alumni speak about the impact of our International Baccalaureate Program on their lives.  The focus was on academics and 4-year college success, but their stories often veered into a kind of learning that extends beyond the classroom.  

The purpose of the panel was to help current students understand what IB at Sequoia is all about (similar to this video).  Staff talking about the challenges and benefits of IB is great, but the words of recent graduates possess a powerful peer-to-peer gravity.  Graduates on these panels are currently enrolled in a spectrum of 4-year colleges (UCs, CSUs, privates large and small from Palo Alto to Massachusetts).  There is consensus that they feel IB has given them an "edge" with their undergraduate peers.    

Staff facilitators Tessa Yeager and Lisa McCahon bounced back and forth between two themes in their questions to panel members: obstacles students face in IB and the unexpected rewards they can expect to reap.  "I left IB English because it was too much work and I couldn't guarantee I would get an 'A'.  I think about it whenever a class in college is hard...I keep trying at it because now that I'm in college I know I could've done IB English.  I regret quitting." explained one student.  

The panel is part of our coordinated school-wide efforts over the past few years to expand access to IB classes and open opportunities to a broader range of Sequoia's kids.  A panelist from the class of 2016 remarked, "It was tough being one of the only minorities in my class junior year," while another shared that the diversity in her IB classes helps her put herself in other people's shoes as well as the importance of service.  

Statements like this speak to the heart of cross-cultural competency and what employers have identified as one of the most important 21st Century skills: empathy. These are the kinds of conversations that make you feel very good about the future and young people who stand to inherit it.

Have great week!

Help Shape Our PTSA Leadership for 2017-18!
The PTSA Nominating Committee is looking for some parents who are willing to serve on this fun and important committee that helps identify our school's future parent leaders.  

The time commitment is minimal (a couple of hours) and meeting times are flexible. Contact Lauren Pachkowski if you are interested!

Students Preparing for a Sojourn to the Past
Twenty-eight students and two teachers from Sequoia High School will be traveling to the Deep South from February 17-23rd to embark on an interactive Civil Rights journey called Sojourn to the Past.  Science teacher Davina Gazulla writes about their upcoming trip:

We will start our journey in Atlanta, GA and learn about the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  We will continue on to Alabama to visit the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery and walk in the footsteps of John Lewis as we cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.  Other sites include the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham where four young girls were killed in a bombing, and a visit to Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.  We finish the journey in Memphis, TN at the Lorraine Motel; the site of the assassination of Dr. King.  

Among the highlights of the trip are the many icons of the Civil Rights movement our students will meet.  Two members of the Little Rock Nine, Minnijean Brown Trickey and Elizabeth Eckford, meet our students and Minnijean actually travels with us for the entire week.  We also plan to meet Congressman John Lewis who is always an inspiration.  Students have been preparing for the journey since September; meeting during lunch once a week and gaining background knowledge on the movement.  They are currently reading two books: Walking with the Wind, a memoir by John Lewis, and Elizabeth and Hazel, an account of Elizabeth Eckford's tribulations as one of the first African-American students to integrate Central High School in Little Rock.

For more information about Sojourn to the Past, please visit  We look forward to sharing our stories upon our return!

Let's Talk About Sex 
Mark your calendars for Tuesday, February 7th (our next PTSA meeting) for a presentation by Jennifer Rogers from Health Connected.  

Jennifer will highlight the "Teen Talk" sex-ed curriculum at Sequoia - sure, you know your kids take the class but don't you want to know what they really talk about? And she will give us some tips about initiating conversations with our own kids.

Join us for an evening of fun and enlightenment! -  Tuesday, February 7th at 7:30 PM, following Principal Sean Priest's monthly State-of-the-School update.  Everyone is welcome!
Wine Donations Needed for the Sequoia Booster Crab Feed
Not sure how to participate in the Crab Feed?  Need to clean out your wine cellar?   DONATE WINE!

We need your help collecting wine for the Wine Wheel at the upcoming Crab Feed on March 4th.  This is a fun part of the silent auction; it raises great money for Sequoia Sports, and it's a really easy way for everyone to donate to a great cause.  We're asking for bottles of red, white, or champagne.  Alisa MacAvoy (   and Ann Berljafa ( will pick up your bottles right from your house!  Just email us to make your wine donation arrangements. 

Also, remember to purchase your tickets for the Crab Feed! The event will be held on  Saturday, March 4 from 6:00-10:00 PM at the  American Legion Hall,  651 El Camino,  Redwood City; view a flyer here.

Shout-Out for Campus Tour Helpers
The rain let up with perfect timing this past Saturday morning for our 8th grade campus tours!  Thank you to our ASB Leadership students -- Karl Godinez, Jennifer Westling, Noah Masur, MacKenzie Utley, Caitlin Gilbert, Tyler Madsen, Margaret Martin, Ayanna Brewer, Emily Holman, Nicole Finn -- and Student Activities Director Corey Uhalde for leading the tours with their knowledge and friendliness.  Thank you also to PTSA parents Lisa Hane, Sian Davies, Gayle Hoch, Grace Schulz and alumni parent Geraldo Cadenas for helping to welcome and chat with families. 

Tour attendees were able to participate in full-length or shortened versions of the tour, where they were able to see the campus, ask questions about academics and student life, and see classrooms including the newly opened A-wing!

Mr. Uhalde speaks to prospective Sequoia families at the campus tours last Saturday.

Coffee, Cookies and Conversation a Sweet Success
Last Tuesday night, parents, teachers/staff, and students gathered in the MPR for an evening of fun and games and community building.

There were plenty of laughs as teams tried to out-do each other during the "back-to-school" Pictionary game.  Have you tried to sketch "late for school" in fewer than 30 seconds???  The evening was a wonderful way to connect with parents both new and familiar! 

Thanks to the efforts of Jane Slater, Cristelda Guillen, Elvira Macias, Mayela Ramirez, and Magdalena Galvan in making this event happen.

In This Issue
Monday, Jan. 23
Collab Day

Spirit Week
Thursday, Jan. 26
7 PM -  Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) Community Forum, SUHSD Office, 480 James Ave.

Saturday, Jan. 28
8 PM - Winter Formal, Fox Theater

Monday, Jan. 30
Collab Day

Thursday, Feb. 2
7 PM - Community College meeting for Seniors, MPR

Tuesday, Feb. 7
7 PM - PTSA Meeting, MPR

Mon, Feb. 20-Tue, Feb. 21
President's Holiday - No school

Feb. 24-26
Winter Play "Tartuffe" in Carrington Hall
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Community News

AFS Intercultural Programs Information
High School Study Abroad and Scholarship Session - Feb. 11 at 12 PM

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to live with a family in Italy?  Or maybe drink coffee in a café in Chile with your new Chilean friends while you learn Spanish?  How about eat real sushi in downtown Tokyo, Japan?  Maybe you could even spend your weekends on the beaches and in the jungles getting to know Indonesia or Malaysia?  There are so many amazing opportunities waiting for you to explore the world. What are you waiting for - learn about study abroad!
AFS, the largest exchange program with the mission of promoting cultural understanding as a way to bring peace to the world, has an informal information event on February 11th at the RWC Roundtable Pizza. You and your family can learn about the global programs and scholarships available to you and talk to local students who have studied abroad.  This is an opportunity for interested students, families, and educators to learn more about cultural exchange, opportunities, and $3 million in scholarships.  Scholarship information preview here.

In recent years Sequoia has sent students overseas with AFS as well as hosted students. Please attend the meeting if you would like more information.  Local returnees, their parents, and volunteers will share their exchange experiences and answer questions. 
Event details: February 11th at 12 PM at the Redwood City Roundtable PizzaSee this flyer for more info and  RSVP here.