January 30, 2017

Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message
Student athletes at Sequoia maintain a special place in my heart.  I attribute this to my personal experience in team sports and respect for the way our kids represent the school and community with sportsmanship, hard work, and heart.  My personal highlight reel of great Sequoia sports moments over the last several years would be long enough to need BOTH "We Are the Champions" and "One Shining Moment" on the accompanying soundtrack.

Few of these moments can compare, however, to the story that has unfolded this year with our Independent Living Skills class.  For some time, Sequoia teacher Rebeca Goodwin has shared her love of hockey with students on our campus by getting them on the ice.  The program enriches the district's already stellar adaptive PE program and summons the best of what sports can do for kids: redefining your limits, understanding team roles, and lifting up those around you.  

And, most importantly, having fun -- a lot of fun!  

When word of Rebeca's work reached the San Jose Sharks organization, inspiration struck.  The Sharks put together a generous funding package to provide equipment for the kids and pave the way for participation in the Disabled Hockey Festival this spring.  The presentation of the gift was made after the students were allowed to watch a Sharks practice.  The new equipment was presented in the team locker room decorated with the kids' names.  Sharks players mingled with the group.    

Apart from the happy faces of our kids, Rebeca's words are what strike me most about this story: "We're out there to become the best versions of ourselves."  

Hear, hear!  Have great week!

Become a Member!
It is not too late to join our Sequoia High School PTSA and become a member of the nation's largest children's advocacy organization. As a member of the Sequoia PTSA you are part of the California PTA ( as well the National PTA ( The mission of all PTAs is to positively impact the lives of children and families. For more than 120 years National PTA has been a leading voice in the pursuit of putting children first in policy decisions at the federal and local level. National PTA remains steadfast in their approach of putting the needs of all children first by advocating for high-quality public education. 

If you are not sure if you have joined already, please check out our current membership list.

Congratulations to District Reflections Winners! 
reflections art program
In December we sent our Reflections Arts Program entries that won an Award of Excellence at Sequoia up to the district-level of our PTA -- San Mateo County. We now have the results from the district-level judging. There were 4 possible results: an Award of Excellence, an Award of Merit, an Honorable Mention, and Recognition of Participation.

In Visual Arts, Maya Donovan's paper dress titled "Gifts of the Past" tied for an Award of Merit.

In Photography, Isabel Donovan's photograph titled "Hidden Integration" received an Award of Merit.

In Film Production, Briana Amaya-Adle's film "Mountain Above the Clouds" received an Award of Merit.

In Literature, Beatrice Bugos' essay "A Pair of Shoes" received an Award of Excellence.

And in Musical Composition, Michael Dooley's layered composition titled "Life Goes On" received an Award of Excellence.

Congratulations to all our students whose work advanced to the district level, and extra congratulations to Ms. Bugos and Mr. Dooley whose works will be moving up to the state level of competition!  

The works (except those moving to the state level) will be displayed at the PTA Founders Day lunch on Friday, Feb. 10 at Dominic's Restaurant in South San Francisco.   There is a free viewing from 11:00-11:30 AM for those not attending the luncheon.

All the winning entries at Sequoia can be viewed on the PTSA website  under the Programs / Reflections tab.
Apply for Spring Mini-Grants
Once again, with support from the SHSEF, the PTSA will be offering Mini-Grants to enhance the excellent education offered at Sequoia High School. These grants are designed to encourage creative approaches to learning and to foster well-rounded growth in our students and our school community.  Students, teachers and staff may apply.  Past grants have included books for the Gay/Straight Alliance, fetal pigs and calculators for the science department, foreign language movies and music, student white boards, college/career fair admission, math competitions, orchestra bows, chromebooks, and more.  Please see the PTSA website for a complete list of the grants we awarded last fall.
Is your student a member of a club or activity that is ready to take on a new endeavor? Encourage him or her to  apply for a Mini-Grant. The application deadline is Friday, February 17, 2017, at 8:00 PM.  Details are available on the PTSA website.
Questions? Contact our Mini-Grants committee chair Marlena Griffin at

PTSA Mini-Grants are funded by the Sequoia High School Education Foundation

Do You Love Organizing?
The Sequoia High School Media Center (SHSMC) needs your help!
Join the Textbook Room Team by volunteering with us this semester. Goals include maximizing space and efficiency in the textbook room as well as culling our collection. Sign up here if interested.

We will need helpers to sign up for textbook organization later in the spring as well.  Thanks in advance from Ms. Snow and Ms. Schadler!

Wolff at the Door Excites Students
Novelist Tobias Wolff and poet Kenneth Fields visited Sequoia High School to meet with a group of Ms. Jane Woodman's creative writing and IB English students before the Thanksgiving break. Both writers are professors in Stanford University's Creative Writing Program. This author event was part of the Robert C. Powell Distinguished Speaker Series. It is supported by the Powell Endowment, which funds programs and activities that enhance the International Baccalaureate Programme at Sequoia.

Ms. Woodman's students from 2015 and 2016 gathered in her music annex classroom.  Kenneth Fields, who teaches creative writing in poetry, started the discussion by reading from one of his chapbooks. He expertly connected classical writing fragments with a modern interpretation of those lines with projected completions of the lines. He also commented on a life in writing and how inspiration leads to vision and revision to produce good poetry and prose.

Mr. Fields then introduced Mr. Wolff with a brief summary of their 40 year friendship and creative collaborations. Fields reminded the audience that Wolff is often considered to be the American Chekov. Wolff read from his novel, Old School , and revealed his background that moved him to become a writer. He offered tips on writing, including reading prolifically, listening intently, and never leaving home without a notebook. Both writers urged students to pursue their true passions with intense vigor and to perceive the value of making mistakes. They also encouraged students to practice empathy and compassion in their daily lives.

Sequoia Principal Sean Priest, Library Media Specialist Betsy Snow and Library Assistant, Shannon Schadler also attended the event. Mr. Florian Shasky, co-administrator of the Powell Endowment and vice-president of the Sequoia High School Education Foundation, organized the gathering.

Winter Formal Soars with the Roaring Twenties
Following five days of dressing to themes and a raucous pep rally on Friday, Saturday evening provided a wonderful cap to a hugely successful Winter Spirit Week at Sequoia. More than 650 students attended the event, held at the Fox Theater in downtown Redwood City. While records of the sort are limited, Student Activities Director Corey Uhalde estimates the attendance to be the highest ever at a dance in Sequoia High School's history. "The size of the student body itself is growing, and our objective is to provide incredible experiences for absolutely as many of those students as we can. Having more than 1/3 of the students at Sequoia attend a formal dance is both an incredible achievement, and a goal for us to eclipse next year."

The dance was planned and produced in large part by Seniors MacKenzie Utley and Caitlin Gilbert, both four-year leadership students and the co-commissioners of the ASB Activities and Dance Committee.

Voice Your Input
On Friday, seven Sequoia parents including ELAC and PTSA members Glenn Bugos, Lauren Pachkowski, Rachel Krueger, and Lisa Hane met with Sequoia Union High School District Board of Trustees member Chris Thomsen to provide feedback about the parent experience at Sequoia.  The meeting was part of a district-wide effort on behalf of the Board of Trustees to hear directly from students, staff, and parents, and to see the schools in action, in order for the Board to better serve their constituents.

We thank Trustee Thomsen for listening, and we encourage all parents to contact SUHSD Board of Trustees with questions and concerns regarding school district issues. And remember, all parents are welcome to attend board meetings and public hearings!  

Click here for more information about the Board of Trustees Parent involvement can make a difference in our kids' education!

In This Issue
Monday, Jan. 30
Collab Day

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

Monday, Feb. 6
Collab Day

Tuesday, Feb. 7
7 PM - PTSA Meeting, MPR, with guest Jennifer Rogers speaking about Teen Talk

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

Feb. 24-26
Winter Play - Tartuffe, in Carrington Hall

Saturday, March 4
6 PM - Booster Club Crab Feed, American Legion Hall

Friday, March 17
Deadline to apply for Middle College
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Community News

Pacific Mambo Orchestra Benefit Concert
To keep music in Redwood City schools

Come and salsa or just sit back and listen to the captivating sounds of Grammy Award winning Pacific Mambo Orchestra with s pecial guest, Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble of San Francisco,  7 PM, February 10, 2017 at the Fox Theatre in Redwood City.   Tickets are $20-$35, students $15, and can be purchased at

The money raised goes for music in the RWC School District, which ensures there are quality music students coming in to Sequoia's music programs!