January 29, 2018

Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message
In education, there are two kinds of professional development: the kind that tells us what we "need" to know, and the kind that helps us think about the challenges we face in new and innovative ways.  With a limited amount of time each year to dedicate to growth, my preference tilts strongly towards the latter.  Mandatory HR trainings are like death and taxes, but I'll take a substantive reflection of student performance data, a calibration of academic standards, or a dialogue on core values any day. 

Earlier this month, our staff participated in two days of professional development prior to students coming back from vacation that certainly fell into the category of helping professionals consider the challenges they face in a new way.  On January 8, all SUHSD staff heard from Dr. Guadalupe Valdez of Stanford University's School of Education.  Dr. Valdez is a pioneer in bilingualism and language acquisition -- a rockstar in the education community.  

In the afternoon, staff selected sessions to attend based on their curricular focus.  Choices ranged from trauma-informed practices to Desmos .  Most sessions were facilitated by district staff, but luminaries in the field such as Stanford's Jeff Zwiers (a former Sequoia teacher) were also on hand to help staff reflect and challenge their own assumptions.

The theme of the day was student talk.  Because we know that learning is a social activity, along with the renewed emphasis in our current practice on critical thinking and understanding conflicting perspectives, great strides were made on January 8 in improving strategies for facilitating meaningful conversations in the classroom.

On January 9, Sequoia teachers met, as we have for the last several years, to analyze student work generated by our all-school literacy and numeracy assessments.  These assessments mirror the current state assessments in math and language arts: a performance task where students are asked to analyze information from multiple sources, make a claim, and defend it with evidence.  All students complete the same tasks regardless of grade or academic level.

The basic idea behind all-school assessments at Sequoia is the same one behind a kindergarten teacher asking his students to draw a picture of their home on the first and last days of school.  Changes in the sophistication of how students respond between their first and final years of high school serve as a measure of growth.

Teachers graded a scientific sample of work to identify trends.  The results were processed immediately as they came in  using instructional data software called SchoolCity, and the second half of the day was spent identifying trends and working in cross-curricular teams to design strategies to improve outcomes for all students.

Among the comments from teachers:

"I loved collaborating with other disciplines and hearing what works for other teachers and in what settings. It really helps me visualize what I can do differently in my classroom."

"There was a positive and upbuilding sense of collaboration across curricular teams that can truly benefit the students."

"[In] digesting complex prompts for students, sentence stems or examples can be extremely helpful."

Have a great week!

"Our Author Visit Was a Hit!"
...according to Media Specialist Betsy Snow, who organized the well-attended event. This past Friday at lunch, the Media Center was filled with students (and their lunches) who came for a "Meet, Greet, and Eat" with Dashka Slater, the author of The 57 Bus which is about the true story of an Oakland hate crime. 

The county library system provided books, which were given away after thoughtful conversation around topics of empathy and accountability, as well as questions about Dashka Slater's road from journalist to young adult novelist.  Here's hoping there will be more in the future!

Students hear from Dashka Slater, author of The 57 Bus, in the Media Center last Friday.
Order Your Yearbooks Before the Price Goes Up!
Be sure to reserve your yearbook ASAP! Time is flying by and the price will go up soon. Our yearbook regularly sells out, and we don't want any sad faces this year when there are no books left. 

Order your yearbooks at  or see our treasurer Mrs. Gordon in room 105.
Campus Tours Welcome 8th Graders and Their Families
This past Saturday, Sequoia's campus was open for incoming students and their families to get a closer look at our beautiful school and campus. About 70 people gathered throughout the morning in the main hall to hear a brief introduction provided by Ms. Olliver and Mr. Uhalde before heading out for tours led by enthusiastic ASB students. Members of the PTSA were also on hand to answer questions and give a parent viewpoint. Visitors were impressed, especially those who were Sequoia alumni who noted how much the campus has changed (for the better) over the past few decades!  

Thank you to all the parents and ASB students who helped lead tours and answer questions from visiting families!
  • ASB tour guides:  Owen Mylod-Yee, Simon Montrose, Tyler Madsen, Sabrina Martinez, Yareli Solis, Michelle Bejarano, Morgan Taradash, Jennifer Westling, Jack Weber, Ben Murray, Jay Miller
  • PTSA Helpers:  Lauren Pachkowski, Erika Pretell, Hilary Paulsen, Glenn Bugos, Lisa Hane, Adrienne Heist, Sian Davies

Prospective families toured Sequoia last Saturday, guided by Sequoia Leadership students.
Drama Club Presents: "An Exercise in Apathy"
The Sequoia Drama Club will be hosting its second original student production, "An Exercise in Apathy" on Friday, February 2nd at 7 PM.  The play was written by current Junior Maddie Reynolds, and follows four high school seniors as they try to make sense of the world they are about to be thrust into when they graduate.  It's a beautiful coming of age story that you won't want to miss! 

Tickets will be sold at the door at a price of $5 in Carrington Hall (Sequoia's main auditorium).  Proceeds will go directly back into the Sequoia Drama Club fund, allowing us to continue our theatrical passions through original student work.  
We hope to see you there!
- Brandon Ah Tye and Maddie Reynolds
A Gift for Your Sweetie this Valentine's Day? How about a LOVE Bag?
Love Bags are back on sale through April.  These bags are well-made, attractive, eco-friendly and make great gifts.  40% of each order placed goes directly to support our 2018 Safe & Sober Grad Week activities.  

See this flyer  for details.  Bags can be ordered at , enter code SEQUOIA.
Junior Class Families: Quad Game Basketball Concessions Need Your Help!
Thank you to the junior class families who helped with our basketball concessions last Friday!

We will be doing concessions again on 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.
Last Call: Apply for Graduating High School Senior Scholarships
Due February 1
Your child's education doesn't end once they walk across that high-school graduation stage. That's why California State PTA has two scholarships to help your child achieve his or her college dreams and life goals.  Apply today!

For general questions about these important programs, please contact

In This Issue


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

Friday, Feb. 2
7 PM - Drama Club: "An Exercise in Apathy," Carrington Hall

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

Tuesday, Feb. 6
7 PM - PTSA Meeting, MUR

Wednesday, Feb. 7

7 PM - Parent Education at Sequoia:  POSTPONED

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

Wednesday, Feb. 15
7 PM - Parent Education: The Neuroscience of Learning, M-A Performing Arts Center

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

Woodside Parent Education Series
Eran Magen, PhD, Center for Supportive Relationships
Managing Emotionally-Intense Conversations with Your Teen
Wednesday, January 31, 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, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
M-A Parent Education Series
Melina Uncapher, PhD, Institute of Applied Neuroscience (IAN)
The Neuroscience of Learning 
Thursday, February 15, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
M-A Performing Arts Center (PAC)
555 Middlefield Road, Atherton

How does today's neuroscience affect learning? Dr. Melina Uncapher, a leading educational neuroscientist, will "unpack" the emerging field of educational neuroscience and describe how a neuroscientific understanding of learning can shape the future of education.   Institute of Applied Neuroscience (IAN) is an independent, nonprofit research and training organization.
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, 650-322-5311, Ext. 50255.
Carlmont Parent Education Series
Dr. Don Williams and Panel of HR Experts
Rethinking the College Arms Race: What Do Companies REALLY Want?
Tuesday, March 6, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Carlmont High School, Performing Arts Center (CPAC)

We hear a lot about "21st Century Skills," but what does that really mean? What kinds of skills or qualities are companies REALLY looking for in their new hires?

Come hear from a panel of Silicon Valley HR professionals - Kleiner Perkins, Google, and Tesla - responsible for sourcing talent for their companies. Discussion moderated by Dr. Don Williams, Palo Alto child and adolescent psychologist. 

Parents, students, educators, and community members welcome! Free admission and light refreshments.
Carlmont Parent Education Series events are sponsored by Carlmont PTSA, Sequoia Healthcare District, and Sequoia Union High School District.
Questions? Contact Charlene Margot, M.A., Director, The Parent Education Series.