October 22, 2018     

Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
TopPrincipal's Message 
Popular culture is replete with "great" teachers whose distinguishing characteristic is their ability to "wake up" their students who are too timid/discouraged/overwhelmed/defiant to have otherwise been successful.  Charisma and "perseverance" (i.e., unwavering wisdom and positivity over the course of a five-minute montage) defeat long odds.

Often these teachers see things in their students that others don't.  Bedraggled colleagues shake their heads disapprovingly at unorthodox methods.  Tsk, tsk.  Administrators, myopic and cowardly, undermine the hero's efforts.  There's a showdown.  The stalemate is broken by an act of solidarity (chanting, standing on desks, e.g.).  Maybe the small-minded powers-that-be shrug and allow the iconoclast to continue, maybe not.  Either way, things predictably conclude with a pensive but satisfied glance across their empty classroom before turning off the lights.  Sigh.  Sniff.  Roll credits.

I think I just gave myself a toothache.

Look, I love a good teacher movie as much as anyone ( this one made me cry on an airplane ...wish I was joking).  I also love Harry Potter movies but I'm not sure I'd want to be a student or a parent at Hogwarts.
This week, I was thrilled to observe some TRULY great teaching.  No dramatic speeches, no textbooks destroyed.  Here's what every class had in common: the teachers had prepared meticulously and had thought deeply about objectives and what those outcomes would look like from a student's perspective.  They had reflected prior to the class about what might derail their plans (I call this a "pre-mortem").  Most importantly, for most of the class, the teacher played a secondary role to the students.   Facilitator, not sage.

Take, for example, Ms. Leah Thomas's Biology class.  From the bell, the students were writing in response to a prompt posted on the overhead screen.  They shared with partners, then with the class. This strategy gives the Hermione Grangers a chance to shine ("This type of data would be important for understanding how a cell maintains homeostasis," said one such student), while keeping the Neville Longbottoms engaged ("One question we had about the activity was how will we know whether or not our measurements are accurate enough," questioned another.)

In another class, Theory of Knowledge with Ms. Myndi McDonald, students worked in small groups to produce a detailed slide deck describing an indigenous knowledge system (e.g., the Ryukyuan, the Dogon, the Aymara).  Later the groups split apart and re-formed, the students presenting their research findings to their peers.  The guidelines, parameters, and connections to previous and future learning are all set and communicated by the teacher.  This isn't independent work time.  Ms McDonald is actively answering questions and prompting students to push the boundaries of their research.  The whole endeavor falls apart if the students don't understand the expectations with crystal clarity -- no small task in a class or 22 teenagers, even if they're all Hermione Grangers.

Students learn deeply by doing, which is sometimes messy.  In Ms. Lillian Humphrey's English II class on Friday afternoon, the students were comparing literary points of view to improve their skills as readers.  In pairs, they completed half-written definitions of the various kinds of POV (3rd person limited, e.g.), shared their findings, compared different kinds of POV to clarify differences, then set about creating their own short narratives in the various kinds of POV.  There was healthy struggle on the part of the kids distinguishing between objective POV and omniscient POV.  The role of teacher as coach (facilitating, directing, clarifying, encouraging) was vital.

This was a class where most students speak a language other than English at home and whose lexile was below grade-level at the start of ninth grade.  Yet the principles of high quality instruction are consistent with what I saw in the Theory of Knowledge class, where all are IB Diploma candidates.  This is a practical application of the core value we hold; all kids can achieve at high levels in the right environment and with the right supports.  There is no educational research I've seen that shows how lowering expectations helps kids.

Ms. McDonald, Ms. Humphrey, and Ms. Thomas are true pros.  We are lucky to have them as part of our community.  Their skills are buoyed by a faculty among which they are the norm rather than the exception.  There will be no need for their students to march on the district office in support of their misunderstood methods.  I'm in awe of their abilities.

Which is great because it gives me more time to catch that pesky Ferris Bueller.

Have a great week!
Catch the Sounds of Sequoia's Bands and Orchestra This Tuesday, October 23!  
The Sequoia High School Orchestra and Bands are presenting their annual Fall Scholarship Concert Tuesday, October 23 at 7:00 p.m. in Carrington Hall.  All proceeds from this concert fund music scholarships for orchestra and band members.  Tickets are $5.00 and will be available at the door.
Sequoia Orchestra is performing a wide-ranging selection, including Swan Lake, Music from "Coco", "Moonlight Odyssey", "Mozart's Symphony No. 32", and " Swamp Thang".  And not to be outdone, Sequoia Bands are performing "March Bou Shu", "DaVinci Sketches", "Hollywood Milestones", "Chant Rituals", "Pictures at an Exhibition", "Guardians of the Galaxy", "October" & "Ghost Dances".  It's sure to be a fun evening - don't miss it!
Raven Reporters Shine at Media Day   
The Raven Report staff attended the Journalism Education Association NorCal (JEANC) Media Day and many of the staffers competed in write-off competitions where they tested their journalism skills against other student journalists from across the Bay Area.
Congratulations to Rio Popper who placed first in Editorial writing and Lex Navarra who placed second in Review writing.  Also, congratulations to Sequoia's "All That's Lit to Print" for winning Best of the West in the Literary Magazine category.
Attention 9th Grade IB and College Bound Families!
Get your questions about what you and your student are supposed to be doing this year answered at the IB College Grade Level Meetings presented by the College Advisor, Teresa Ignaitis, and the IB Coordinator, Lisa McCahon.  All students wanting to attend a four year university and/or interested in or taking an IB course should attend with their parents/guardians.  This meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 24 at 6 :00 p.m. in Carrington Hall .  
A separate meeting in Spanish will be held for parents at the same time in the College Career Center.  All students should attend the English meeting in Carrington Hall.
These meetings are the main way Sequoia disseminates information about college and IB to families.  We look forward to seeing you all there! For more information, contact: 
Lisa McCahon (
IB Coordinator
650-369-1411 Ext.#63103
Auf Wiedersehen... Until Next Year!  
German exchange students and their hosts at Sequoia.
Yesterday, Sequoia host families said a sad goodbye to the German exchange students who had been staying with them for the past week.  All the visiting students are in their second-to-last year at Kopernikus School in Freigericht, near Frankfurt, Germany.  This marks the 9th consecutive year that a delegation of Kopernikus students has visited Sequoia High School.  Although Sequoia does not have a formal exchange program with this school, visiting student families host Sequoia students every summer on a private basis.
A taste of Halloween with hosts.
Ten students led by teachers Thorsten Weitzel and Susanne Kremp came to California for a very busy two-week learning experience.  After a week of exploring iconic sites such as Alcatraz, Stanford and the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, they moved in with Sequoia host families and spent their final week attending a series of one-day "internships."  They had the chance to learn about many different types of work places, including local fire departments, police stations, schools, tech companies, a Segway tour company in San Francisco, various hotels and the City Halls of Redwood City and San Carlos.  Along the way they had a chance to attend Sequoia sporting events, watch a movie downtown, and spend time with their American host families.  On Friday, they got a taste of the Sequoia High School experience when they shadowed classes with their host family siblings.
Feeling like you missed out?  Don't worry, there will be opportunities to host next year!  Any student who is interested in a German summer experience is encouraged to contact Thorston Weitzel, program director at: for more information. 
8th Grade Info Night on November 14  
Know a family with an 8th grader interested in attending Sequoia High School?  Spread the word: Sequoia is hosting its annual 8th Grade Information Night on Wednesday, November 14
from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Prospective students and families will have an opportunity to tour the campus, find out about the various programs offered, enjoy performances by the orchestra, choir and dance teams, and talk with teachers, staff, parents and current students.  
Please see the flyer for details.
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Seniors: Portrait and Baby Photo Deadline is October 31 
Seniors who have not taken their portraits yet, please call Prestige Portraits today and get an appointment ASAP.  The phone number is 650-597-1433.  If your appointment is after October 31, email Ms. Bray at and let her know right away.
Senior baby pictures should be e-mailed to by Halloween, October 31.
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VIA Heart Project FREE Screening  
Sunday, November 4, 2018 
9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Sequoia High School
1201 Brewster Avenue
Redwood City, CA 94062

Pre-register for a FREE Screening here!
Did you know that Sudden Cardiac Arrest is the #1 killer of student athletes and contributes to the #2 medical cause of death among youth under age 25?  Sports physicals may not discover life-threatening, undiagnosed heart conditions.  
On Sunday, November 4, students and community members between 12 and 25 can have a FREE heart screening, including an EKG and Echocardiogram worth up to $4000 performed by members of our local medical community.  Together with a health history survey, these tests can diagnose the risk of a heart condition and sudden cardiac arrest.  Sign up today!  No identification or documentation is necessary, but guardian permission is required.  Hurry, spots are limited and you must sign up online!

Fill Your Home With the Scent of Evergreens
Fragrant centerpiece
Our order deadline is in 2 weeks - next Friday, November 2 , so purchase your Sequoia High School Evergreen items now!  Sales will support the Sophomore Class of 2021 Safe & Sober Graduation activities. 

We are offering beautiful and fragrant wreaths, garlands, and centerpieces for $20-25 each.  Plus, back by popular demand, an adorable decorative set of two reindeer for $20.  They will be available for pick-up during the first week of December.
This link will take you directly to our product and ordering page.  Payments can be made through PayPal or credit/debit card.

Thank you for your support!  Please contact Katie Hultgren at or Caitlin Schneider at with any questions.
Two More Weeks to Submit Your Reflections Entry  
Give Voice to the Artist in You! 
It's almost here! Put the finishing touches on your Reflections project for this year's Reflections theme, Heroes Around Me; tema, roes a mi alrededor.'s not to late to start!
Enter your artwork and reflection about its meaning to you in one of six categories:
- Dance Choreography
- Film Production
- Literature
- Music Composition
- Photography
- Visual Arts
All entries will be recognized for their artistic achievement--participation itself is a meaningful contribution to the Sequoia community!  First-place finishers in each category enter the district competition.  District winners move on to the state, and winners there ultimately compete at the national level.
Be sure to review the rules on the Reflections page of the PTSA website HERE.  
Due date is Monday, November 5, 2018 at 3 p.m. in the Attendance Office
Questions: Contact Viki Young, Reflections 2018-19 Chair at

In This Issue

Tuesday, October 23
7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Band and Orchestra Fall Concert - all are welcome,
Carrington Hall

Wednesday, October 24
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
IB 9th Grade Info Night,
Carrington Hall

Friday, November 2
JV - 4:30 p.m.
V - 7:30 p.m.
Football: Seq. vs. Carlmont,
Sequoia High School

Sunday, November 4
9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
VIA Free Heart Screening,
Sequoia High School

Monday, November 5
3:00 p.m.
Reflections Contest Deadline,
Attendance Office

Saturday, November 10
7:00 p.m. & Sunday, November 11, 3:00 p.m.
The Drowsy Chaperone,
Carrington Hall

Monday, November 12
No School
Veteran's Day

Quick Links
The Drowsy Chaperone Tickets On Sale Now 
Step inside the apartment of a Broadway enthusiast whose vision of his favorite musical comes to life on stage before us. This hilarious, toe-tapping musical will leave you humming along and wishing for another evening with these lively wedding guests.

November 10, 16, & 17 at 7:00 p.m. 
November 11 at 3:00 p.m. 
November 17 at 2:00 p.m.
Tickets are available from the school treasurer, by phone 1.866.967-8167, or online at 
Dream Club Dinner 
Mark your calendars for November 16, 2018 for Sequoia's 9th Annual Dream Club Dinner!  The dinner will be held in Gym 1 from 6:00 - 8:30 p.m. 
Single: $15
Table for 8: $125 

Sustainability = LOVE Bag!  
These bags are well-made, available in many different styles and great for gifts.  40% of each order placed goes directly to support our 2019 Safe & Sober Grad activities. 
Check out all the different styles and order at 
Remember to use
Promo Code
at checkout. 

A Cushion to Enhance Game Enjoyment!
Show your school spirit and enjoy watching your favorite Sequoia games on a comfortable stadium seat cushion.  They feature our Unaliyi logo and have an easy carrying handle.
This fundraiser benefits seniors during 2019 Safe & Sober Grad activities. 
You can purchase yours at home football games and online on our
Join the PTSA  Anytime!  
Visit the
  to buy your 2018-19 PTSA membership today and contribute to Sequoia's Unaliyi spirit! 
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Sequoia Sentinel
If you have articles to submit to the Sentinel, please email the article/blurb by the end of the day on Thursday.  See Guidelines for news submissions. 
Find past issues of the Sentinel at  
En Español
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Parent Education

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Ana Homayoun, author of Social Media Wellness
Social Media Wellness: Executive Functioning in the Age of Digital Media and Tech Distractions
Thursday, October 25, 2018, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Woodside High School, Multi-Use Room (MUR)

In our always-on digital world, it can be hard for teens - and adults! - to successfully navigate online and IRL worlds. In fact, the latest Pew research suggests that both parents and teens are struggling with managing distractions.

With empathy, compassion, and humor, noted Silicon Valley Ana Homayoun discusses how the digital balancing act affects all aspects of our lives and personal wellness, and impacts students' academic abilities and social well-being as well as emotional and physical health.

Woodside Parent Education Series events are sponsored by WHS PTSA, Sequoia Healthcare District, and Sequoia Union High School District.
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Heidi Kasevich, PhD, founder of Quiet Schools Network
QUIET: Unlocking the Power of Introverts
Thursday, November 1, 2018, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
M-A Performing Arts Center (PAC)
All too often, quiet kids are shamed into feeling  less than  their extroverted peers, who are more likely to enjoy group work, crowded cafeterias, endless socializing, classroom discussions, and reward- motivated activities. When they discover that they fall on the introverted side of the spectrum, introverted students all too often lose confidence in their ability to lead.
Dr. Heidi Kasevich  is the founder of the Quiet Schools Network, a coalition of schools dedicated to the Quiet Revolution manifesto: "Quiet kids can and must be raised to know their strengths."
M-A Parent Education Series events are sponsored by M-A PTA, Sequoia Healthcare District, and Sequoia Union High School District.  
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Mike Duffy, former AVP of Merrill Lynch, founder of The Happiness Hall of Fame
Life 101: Helping Your Kids Gain Happiness, Purpose, and Money Skills
Thursday, November 8, 2018, 7:00 - 8:30  p.m.
Carlmont Performing Arts Center (PAC)
Mike Duffy, former Senior Vice President at Merrill Lynch and founder of The Happiness Hall of Fame, shares strategies about crucial money management techniques for kids, along with philanthropic giving and service. In a light-hearted, witty and inspirational conversation, Mike brings together all of the components of a happy life. 
Mike Duffy is a sought-after speaker on financial management and philanthropic giving, the author of five books on happiness, and the founder of  The Happiness Hall of Fame.  He is the CEO of Happiness Wealth Management in San Carlos, CA.
Carlmont Parent Education Series events are sponsored by Carlmont PTSA, Sequoia Healthcare District, and Sequoia Union High School District. 

* * *

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.

Charlene Margot, M.A. | CSM Consulting
650.868.0590 | 
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