November 19, 2018  

Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
TopPrincipal's Message - An Expression of Gratitude
A strong work ethic is a virtue.  Two other things are more important, in my opinion: (1) what you work towards and (2) who you work with.  When I asked members of the Sequoia High School community to share what they're grateful for leading into Thanksgiving week, their responses reflected these ideals.  

Take Social Studies teacher and wrestling coach Brad Ramezane , who articulated what I'm sure many of us are thinking this time of year: " I am very thankful for my beautiful and merry family, my beautiful and cozy home, my connection to a school and community that reminds me every day that I am one of the luckiest people on earth... mille grazie!!!"

"With the remodel of the Media Center impacting the entire school," shared Betsy Snow , whose leadership in the Media Center has been tested this year amidst major renovation, "I am grateful for Sequoia faculty's cooperative, solution-oriented spirit.  I am especially grateful for the help of our parent volunteers who packed us up for moving last spring.  As we near the unpacking phase, I feel grateful knowing that I have a supportive PTSA upon which we can rely for support.  Thank you!"

"In the current divisive political climate," remarked Social Studies teacher and Health Careers Academy Coordinator Ashley Gray , "I am thankful for Sequoia's spirit of Unaliyi.  I am grateful for my colleagues, admin, staff, and students."

"This school site is much more than a school site; this school site is a Community!!!" said AVP Secretary Grace Horton , "It's been a rewarding experience to serve our students and community members alongside such caring colleagues at my alma mater."

" Being a new employee to the school," added Speech/Language Therapist Christina Navas , "I'd like to give thanks to the all of the staff for being flexible, understanding and supportive."

Spanish Teacher Edith Salvatore called attention to the colleagues with whom she works closest, " I'm thankful for the collegiality of everyone at Sequoia, especially the folks in my department who pull together to celebrate our joys, and support each other in our times of need."

Judy Romero , eloquent and student-focused as always, shared her gratitude "for Sequoia staff, parents, and community partners for supporting the efforts of the Sequoia Teen Resource Center.  My sincere gratitude to all students that have trusted us.  And to the Youth Advisory Board and Peer Mediators for their service to the TRC and school community."  

Lead Night Custodian Pastor Guzman also expressed gratitude for his custodial team, "I give thanks to being able to work with such a great group of individuals.  Every single one of them contributes to the well-being of everyone here --  staff, students, and visitors."

Ditto from Arlene Valiente , who wanted to express gratitude for her team members in Food Services,  " I am always thankful to God for letting me work in an organization with wonderful co-workers like you.  I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting me all the time. You are the best colleagues that one can ever have."

Math teacher Subathra Ramanathan singled out two superstar colleagues for praise: "I am thankful for the Sequoia village that helps me be a better teacher and a better person.  I want to especially thank Laura Larkin , who seems to act as a mentor to everyone on campus.  She runs the Robotics club, teaches all her classes, is available at lunch and after school to all her students, is a union representative, and on the site council.  Yet, she has always found time to commiserate with me, counsel me gently, give me great teaching hints and generally make me feel like I have a 24/7 coach.  Thank you, Laura Larkin, for being a big part of the Sequoia Village.  I am also thankful for Plant Manager Cherry Stephens and her crew, who unobtrusively keep the campus beautiful and welcoming so that our students have a clean, well-lit place to come to every single day."

People matter and mission matters.  I'm grateful and inspired to see how this belief is shared across our community.  I hope everyone has a restful and joyous Thanksgiving.


A Community Comes Together to Make Dreams Come True

Dream Club students holding up posters representing their countries of origin.

The Dream Club hosted its 9th Annual "Making Dreams Come True" dinner this past Friday.  Close to 400 community members attended to hear stories from our immigrant students - about their trials, sorrows, courage, and strengths in dealing with the issues experienced by an immigrant in this country.  
Superintendent Mary Streshley, Principal Sean Priest, and Redwood City Mayor Ian Bain all addressed the crowd.  Representatives from Congresswomen Eshoo and Speier's offices presented commendations to some Sequoia Dream Club seniors.  Several City Council and School Board Members were also in attendance.
What's for Lunch? Make a Pit Stop at Sequoia's Newly Renovated Cafeteria 
At the November 13th PTSA Meeting, we had the pleasure of hearing from the Director of Food Service for the District, Nora DeCaro.  There are lots of exciting new developments in Food Service at Sequoia.  There is a new prep kitchen, six serving windows, and opening in January - a new salad bar and hot lunch line called "The Pit Stop".   
Ms. DeCaro passed around upcoming menus and the food sounds delicious. It conforms to the district's health and wellness guidelines and is reasonably priced. 
The goal is to move to a cashless system by the end of the school year so that more students can be served in less time.  Pre-payments can be added to your student's account by logging into their Infinite Campus account at:  Your student will then be able to show their student ID to purchase food.

For more information about Food Service at Sequoia, please go to: 

For Free and Reduced Meal Applications:
Ms. DeCaro is looking for feedback about the food service at Sequoia.  Please email any feedback that you or your student has about food service.
Prospective Student Campus Tour a Success 
Leadership students and a parent volunteer showing prospective families around campus. 
On Saturday, November 10, w
e had a very strong turn-out (approximately 80 prospective students -- possibly the largest in recent years) for our student-led campus tours.  
After an introduction and welcome by Activities Director Corey Uhalde and Principal Sean Priest,  Sequoia leadership students led tours of the campus and classrooms, providing information about the academic, extracurricular, and social experiences at Sequoia from a student perspective.  Thank you to our awesome student tour guides, Alison Barrientos, Ruby Calderon Cortez, Jasmine Esquivel Ellie Giorgi, Andrew Mancini, Olivia Meak, Jay Miller, Ben Murray, Fernanda Pardo, Serena Perrone, Noah Schembri, and Mia Terzic.
Corey Uhalde and Principal Sean Priest welcoming families in the main lobby.
Tours were also accompanied by Sequoia PTSA volunteer parents, Ann Berljafa, Brett Gardner, Susie Gilbert, Adrienne Heist, and Rachel Krueger, who were available to provide insight from a parent point-of-view.  
If you know of a prospective family who was not able to attend, but would be interested in a student-led campus tour, a second tour date will be offered on February 2, 2019.
Sequoia Choir Brings Cheer on Veterans Day

Sequoia Choir led by Choir Director Othello Jefferson on Veterans Day 

Last Monday, the Sequoia Choir spent part of the Veterans Day holiday at Brookdale Senior Living Community in Redwood City.  The choir performed three pieces, including "Tribute to the Armed Forces," a medley of U.S. military songs.  The choir also had the honor of hearing one of the residents speak about his experience serving in WWII for five years immediately after graduating from high school.  The residents greatly enjoyed the cheer that Sequoia's choir brought during what has become an annual Veterans Day visit!
Spring 2018 Mini-Grant Impact Story: Making Science a Hands-On Experience 
Dissolved Oxygen Water Quality Testing
4 mini-grants of $311 (total of $1244)
Students testing water quality at Stulsaft Park
Four science teachers teamed up to request funds to purchase Vernier Optical Dissolved Oxygen probes.  The devices are used in multiple labs and in various classes throughout grades 9-12.  During one of the labs, students used the Dissolved Oxygen probes to analyze the impacts of nitrogen fertilizer concentrations on photosynthesis and the growth of Duckweed (an aquatic plant).  In the experiment, students added different concentrations of nitrogen-based fertilizer to water samples.  They then added Duckweed to the experimental groups and measured the rate of photosynthesis conducted by the plants based on the amount of dissolved oxygen. 
Students also designed, built, and analyzed data on eco-columns and hydroponic systems using the Vernier Optical Dissolved Oxygen probes.  The amount of dissolved oxygen helped to determine the health of the aquatic ecosystem.  Other students used the probes in the field to test the water quality in Stulsaft Park.
"It is so much easier to conduct labs related to photosynthesis and impacts of pollution with these kits!  Without the kits, we could only collect qualitative data; with these kits, we are now able to collect quantitative data.  This enables students to have authentic science experiences via hands-on learning."
~ Ben Canning (in support of Debolina Dutta's Mini-Grant)
PTSA Mini-Grants are offered twice each year to enhance education at Sequoia High School.  The grants are awarded to students, teachers, staff members and school groups who need financial support for projects or supplies that benefit the Sequoia community.  Grants are available up to $500 and are made possible by funding from the Sequoia High School Education Foundation (SHSEF).
Donate Your Old Bike - All Sizes Welcome 
Although the parent center will be launching a Holiday gift drive in the coming weeks, AVID students are focusing on a bike drive specifically for kids of the Sequoia community and students who need bikes to get to and from school or work, etc.  The plan is to buy some new bikes (with monetary donations and money raised from bake sales, etc.), as well as recycle donated bikes by giving them a complete cleaning and tune-up before passing them along to their new owners. 
If you have some bikes in your garage gathering cobwebs, or if you'd like to make a monetary donation, please contact:  Scott Stalder-Skarmoutsos: and Stephanie Weden: 
Buy Your Tree This Week at...  
Help the Class of 2019 When Purchasing Your Christmas Tree This Year!
Sequoia 2019 Grad Activities receives 15% of the purchase price when  you buy a holiday tree at HONEY BEAR TREES.  Bring this flyer when you purchase your tree and wreath. (If you happen to forget it, there will be extra flyers on the lot.) 
There are three locations convenient to our Sequoia school community:
  • 955 Woodside Road, Redwood City
  • 1579 El Camino Real, San Carlos
  • 651 El Camino Real, Redwood City
Tree lots are now OPEN.  Hours are 9:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m., 7 days a week!
In This Issue

Monday, November 19
B-Day Schedule

Tuesday, November 20
A-Day Schedule

November 21-23
No School
Thanksgiving Break

Thursday, November 29
Minimum A-Day

Friday, November 30
Minimum B-Day

Tuesday, December 4
7:00 p.m.

Quick Links
LOVE Bags Make Great Gifts!
Love bags 2015-16
Check out all the different styles and order at 
Remember to use Promo Code SEQUOIA18 at checkout. 

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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