February 26, 2018

Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message
During the mid-winter break, I received several requests via email and in person to address the impact of the recent shooting at Marjorie Stoneman High School in Florida.  For students, parents, and educators, these kinds of occurrences are deeply unsettling.  The degree to which members of the Sequoia community interact with positive intent (and the assumption thereof) is incongruent with so many elements of school life that accompany a reality where horrific tragedy is so prominent in our collective culture.

Take lockdown drills, for example, which are performed once a year.  We collaborate with the Redwood City Police, review our protocols as a staff, run a simulation, and debrief ways to improve our practice.  Before, during, and after these drills, however, comes a feeling of deep unease.  Many teachers discuss these feelings with their students.  By acknowledging my own unease, I hope to show that we don't take it for granted that lockdown drills are an inevitability.  At Sequoia, in a small way, our mission is to push that glorious arc of history toward righteousness.  May that one day a simulation of perilous threats to the people on our campus seem as anachronistic as a nuclear bomb drill.

Over the past week, the media spotlight has volleyed between inspirational teens and ludicrous arguments about school safety measures from people who rarely (if ever) set foot on a school campus.  For obvious reasons, my heart is with the former.  I've made mention several times in this newsletter how gobsmacked I am each day by what our students can do.  Watching the kids in Florida, I think of our Dream Club's tireless work advocating for the rights of undocumented students and families, our transgendered students who recently organized a student panel to build staff awareness, our students returning this week from Sojourn to the Past, our Health Academy students becoming certified first responders and creating emergency "go-bags" to be distributed to families, and the many other student- and teacher-driven initiatives on our campus.  

These actions are driven by heart and aimed at the better world envisioned by our students.

You've read it here before: teenagers are awesome.  People who shake their heads when I tell them what I do ("High school kids?!? How do you do it?") are hopefully starting to see what I see when they turn on the news or scroll Twitter: intelligence, courage, determination, compassion -- chutzpah.  I always feel better about the future after spending the day with our kids at Sequoia.

Should the call for direct action grow louder, as it did for many of our students after the election last year, we will again do everything in our power to balance the following priorities: (1) the students' right to come to school every day and be educated without disruption or endangerment; (2) the need for student voices to be expressed and heard; and (3) the physical safety and well-being of all students during the school day.  Last year we adopted a district-wide set of guidelines for student walk-outs or protests with input from our county legal resources.  We will be reviewing those guidelines as a district in the coming days.

Thank you for being such outstanding partners in all of this uncharted territory we're navigating together.  Here's to a great spring at Sequoia!

Boys Basketball Earns Top PAL Titles
The Boys Varsity Basketball team was crowned Peninsula Athletic League (PAL) South League Champions and won the PAL Tournament both in the same week! This was the Cherokees' first PAL South League title since 1967, and the first under head Coach Fine Lauese.
The team came out strong against Mills High School on February 13th to win the League. The boys then beat Jefferson High School the following Saturday night in the final PAL Tournament game held in Half Moon Bay to earn the title. Assistant Coaches Bobby, Nick and Hudson (pictured below) helped Lauese lead the boys to victory.  Congratulations to the team!

Sequoia Varsity Boys Basketball team earned the PAL Tournament title Saturday, February 17, after a final game 62-48 win against Jefferson High School.  (Photo credit - Judy Stone)
Sojourn Participants Learn About the Past and Consider the Future
27 Sequoia students and 4 teachers participated in a life-changing trip to learn about our country's civil rights history with Sojourn to the Past during this year's mid-winter break. Led by the program's founder Jeff Steinberg, participants began their 7-day journey in Jackson, Mississippi where they visited the newest Civil Rights museum.  Students met important civil rights activists of the 1950s and 60s, walked the steps of the brave freedom fighters, and learned first-hand how our country navigated one of its most significant and trying times as they moved throughout Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee.

The lessons learned from the past resonated with current events -- the students drew parallels with the 1963 Birmingham Children's March as they considered the unfolding student movement initiated as a result of the recent Parkland Florida school shooting.   As always, students were polite, thoughtful, and well-behaved as they represented Sequoia during this trip.  And without a doubt, they will never forget this powerful experience.

Sojourn students will be giving a presentation at an upcoming PTSA meeting - stay tuned for details!

Above - Sequoia's participants in Sojourn to the Past.
Below - Sojourn attendees gathered at the grave site of murdered civil rights activist James Chaney who died in the fight to register people to vote.

Your Tax Dollars at Work! Performing Arts Wing Officially Open!
Ribbon cutting by Principal Sean Priest for the new M-wing.
On Thursday, Feb. 15th, students, alumni, parents and administrators were on hand for the dedication of Sequoia's beautiful new Performing Arts Wing.  The $4.5 million dollar renovation was funded by the recent Measure A bond and is something for us all to be proud of!

Visitors were treated to a choral performance, invited to tour the state of the art digital keyboard lab and renovated choral and band rehearsal rooms, and offered delicious snacks prepared by Sequoia's culinary arts students.

The next time you are on campus, please visit this beautiful new addition to Sequoia!

Sequoia's new band room (above) and choir room (below) being shown during the Ribbon Cutting event on February 15.

Mini-Grants Now Open!
It's Mini-Grants time again!  Twice each year, the PTSA, through the support of the SHSEF, offers Mini-Grants to enhance the excellent education offered at Sequoia High School. These grants are designed to encourage creative approaches to learning and/or to address compelling need which would otherwise go unfunded. Students, teachers and staff may apply. 

Is your student a member of a club or activity that is ready to take on a new endeavor? Please encourage him or her to apply. Additional information and the application form - due Thursday, March 8 - are available on the PTSA website

PARENTS: Would you like to be on the front row to some of Sequoia's innovative educational efforts? Consider joining our Mini-Grants team to help with the selection process. If you have a few hours to review applications and meet with the committee, we would love to have you on board. No experience is necessary, and there will be seasoned committee members assisting along the way. This is a great opportunity for new as well as returning Sequoia parents to learn about the great projects percolating in our school!   Contact our Mini-Grants committee chair Marlena Griffin at .

PTSA Mini-Grants are generously funded by the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
PTSA Reflections Art Show
reflections art program
Meet the students behind the work!
Come join us at 6:45 PM on Tuesday, March 6 in the Multi-Use room for our PTSA Reflections reception.   All the art entries will be on display, and you can meet the students who created them!   Light refreshments will be served.
At 7 PM, our student artists will be officially recognized by Principal Sean Priest.  Everyone is then welcome to stay for the monthly State-of-The-School message followed by the PTSA and ELAC meetings.   All are welcome!
Juniors: Apply for PTSA Scholarships!
Applications for our annual PTSA Junior Scholarships are now being accepted and are due Tuesday, April 17 by 10 PM. There are three categories of scholarships to recognize students: academic success, community service, or achievement in the face of socio-economic challenges.   We have 20 scholarships to offer, each worth $250.

This is a great way for juniors to get a head start on college applications, to be recognized for all they've done to make Sequoia a better place, and to earn some extra money to continue their education!   Click here for more information on applying for PTSA Junior Scholarships.

PARENTS: We are looking for freshman, sophomore and senior parent volunteers to join the Junior Scholarship Committee. The commitment would be 2-3 hours reviewing applications, a 2 hour meeting in mid-April to assess the applications, and some follow-up emails. Email DeeDee Clarke at  if you are interested in joining our group. 

PTSA Junior Scholarships are generously funded by the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Sequoia High School Presents: "The Diary of Anne Frank"
To escape the horrors of Nazi persecution, Otto Frank hides with his wife, Edith, and two daughters, Margot and Anne, in the annex above his Amsterdam office from 1942-1944. Also hiding with the Franks are four other people - the Van Daans, their son Peter, and a dentist, Mr Dussel. The families depend solely on their "Helpers," who risk everything to keep their friends safe. Through her words, Anne Frank portrays the triumph of the human spirit in the midst of suffering and cruelty. 
Performances are March 9, 10, & 11 in Carrington Hall.
Tickets are available from the school treasurer, at the door, and online at
A Message from the California PTA
California State PTA "Calls Out" Federal Lawmakers to Protect Children

California State PTA President Dianna MacDonald issued the following statement:  

"Our hearts break for the victims who lost their lives in the senseless tragedy earlier this month in Parkland, Florida. There are no excuses that are good enough. The time for change is now. We need to put politics aside and turn emotion into action. 

Gun violence is a public-health crisis that affects us all - most of all, our children and youth. And, it's preventable. 

For more than a century, California State PTA has advocated for safer schools by supporting legislation on gun restrictions in California. We now have some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. Yet, our children are still vulnerable. 

We've heard the voices of our members - the hundreds of thousands of parents, teachers, students, administrators and community members who care about our kids - and they are outraged and asking California State PTA to act. But we can't do this alone. We need the power of our PTA members to create and support change. 

We need each and every one of you to take action to end gun violence. #CallOut your federal legislator on March 14 and demand real change. #NoMore."

On March 14, students across the country are planning to "walk out" to make their voices heard. California State PTA is asking for your help to "call out" our federal legislators and demand action. 

Stand together with the voices of students and call your federal legislators on March 14 to demand stronger gun-violence prevention legislation including:
  • Prohibiting the sale and possession of assault weapons including automatic and semi-automatic weapons
  • Mandatory background checks
  • Waiting periods for all firearm purchases.
Feelin' Crabby? Support Sequoia's Sports!
Mark your calendars for Sequoia's 9 th Annual  Crab Dinner & Auction on Saturday, March 24th, 6-10 PM at the Hiller Aviation Museum.  

This fun event raises money to support all Sequoia Athletes.  This year alone we have purchased equipment and/or new uniforms for Girls Basketball, Lacrosse, Track, Baseball, Tennis, Football, Soccer, Cross Country, Golf, and Volleyball!  

Tickets are going fast, so don't miss out!

If you want to help but aren't able to attend, please consider donating an item or volunteering some of your time to help us make this a success.

We welcome donations like:
  • Gift cards (restaurants, services, or Costco/Smart & Final to offset our food costs)
  • Memorabilia, sporting event tickets
  • Hosted parties (dinners, Moms & Margaritas night, bowling night)
  • Getaway vacation homes.
Show Some LOVE, Buy a Bag, Support Our Seniors!
We continue our Love Bags 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.
In This Issue

Monday, Feb. 26
Collab day schedule

Tuesday, March 6
6:45 PM - Reflections Arts reception and PTSA Meeting (7 PM), MPR

Thursday, March 8
8 PM - Deadline to apply for Sequoia PTSA Mini-Grants

March 9-11
Fri & Sat at 7 PM, Sun at 3 PM - Sequoia Drama: "Diary of Anne Frank" in Carrington Hall (tickets here)

Wednesday, March 14
7 PM - Parent Education, "Tech Sex and Teen Dating Relationships," Carrington Hall

Friday, March 16
All day - Sequoia Music Festival, Carrington Hall

Saturday, March 24
6 PM - Sports Boosters Crab Dinner, Hiller Aviation Museum

Tuesday, April 17
10 PM - Deadline to apply for PTSA Junior Scholarships
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Parent Education - All Are Welcome
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. 

Vanessa Kellam, Parent Engagement Coordinator, Health Connected
Tech Sex & Teen Dating Relationships
Wednesday, March 14, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Sequoia High School, Carrington Hall

Join Vanessa Kellam of Health Connected for a thought-provoking discussion around the sexuality and dating culture of teenage digital natives.  Talking points will include the impact of social media and online pornography on relationships, and how parents and trusted adults can engage their children in open and honest conversations. 

Parents will receive helpful hints and learn what they can do to encourage a safe and positive dating landscape for their teens. Contrary to popular belief, teens want parental input and advice about sexual health and relationships. Come and be inspired to engage your teen in a new way! 

  Leanna Clegg, Education Outreach Coordinator, Impact Teen Drivers
What Do You Consider Lethal? Parent-Teen Safe Driving Workshop
Thursday, March 22, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Woodside High School, Multi-Use Room (MUR)

Automobile collisions are the leading cause of death for our nation's teens. The overwhelming majority of these crashes are caused by inexperience or distractions, not "thrill-seeking" or deliberate risk-taking. Teen drivers are at the highest risk: the crash rate for 16 year-olds is four times that of adults. 

In this workshop, you will learn about:
  • Strategies to keep your teen safe on the road
  • Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) laws
  • The Rules of the Road for teen drivers
  • How YOU can stop the #1 killer of teens in America--distracted driving
Since 2007, Impact Teen Drivers has emerged as a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to reversing the pervasive yet 100% preventable crisis of "distracted driving."

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

Community News
Mid-Peninsula Water Polo Club
Playing water polo and wanting more time in the water or interested in learning how to play? Here is your chance! The Mid-Peninsula Water Polo Club is open to players from all high schools. The sign-ups for the spring session are now open at

The 2018 spring session is from February 28 to April 18, 2018, with practices at M-A High School on Wednesday from 4 to 6 PM and at Woodside High School on Sunday from 11 AM to 1 PM.

Not sure if water polo is for you? Join us for a free practice on Wednesday, February 28 from 4 to 6 PM at M-A High School -- offer valid for first-time players only! Participants need to sign up on the Mid-Pen website and have USAWP Membership for insurance purposes: 14-day Trial Athlete Membership (available only once in a lifetime and as first-time membership) is free. Mid-Pen Water Polo Club ID is 24253.

Mid-Pen Water Polo Club is coached by Brandon Johnson, Boys' Water Polo Head Coach at M-A High School and Bruno Antonino, Boys' Water Polo Head Coach at Woodside High School .