March 20, 2017

Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message
Over coffee this weekend I read a fascinating article about the highly detailed plans in place for the end of Queen Elizabeth II's reign.  Among the takeaways: a slow-marching procession from St. James Cathedral to Westminster Hall will take 28 minutes precisely; the 18th Duke of Norfolk, as have his 17 predecessors dating back to 1672, will oversee the funeral; every British radio station has two prepared song lists on hand for the occasion: Mood One (Sad) and Mood Two (Saddest).

The end of Lisa Hane's tenure as PTSA president is also imminent, and planning is already underway for what comes next.  This is admittedly not as somber an affair as the death of the queen: Lisa has a 10th grader at Sequoia and assures me she'll still be a strong presence on campus.  Even though we won't be ringing the Argo Tower bells to mark the occasion (confession: there are no working bells in Argo Tower), her contributions nonetheless deserve serious acknowledgment.  The Sequoia High School community over the last two years has benefitted greatly from her positivity, inclusivity, belief in kids, and tireless work ethic.  She has been a great leader.  

The role of the PTSA President couldn't be more different than that of a ceremonial head of state.  It's a get-things-done type of job, overseeing a number of projects directly throughout the year, mobilizing a dedicated team and working closely with me to strengthen ties between the school and community.  The PTSA president is one of my key partners in making Sequoia a better place for students, teachers, and families.

Also unlike the British monarchy, where the Prince of Wales is standing by for his coronation, we are still in the process of identifying who will succeed Lisa next year.  We do know that, for a variety of reasons, no current executive board member is able to take on the role next year.  Experience is optional (Lisa had no PTSA experience in her kids' middle/elementary schools).  There is a strong core of both new and experienced leaders in place (including Lisa as next year's VP of Communications) and, according to Lisa herself, the president's job is a very manageable one.  The only qualifier is a willingness to work within the team of PTSA members, school parents and students, school administrators and teachers, towards the common goal of Sequoia's success.   

Are you interested?  Please contact Lisa directly to learn more ( ). 

Have a great week,

Festive St. Patrick's Breakfast
Last Friday morning, Sequoia's dedicated staff were delivered St. Patrick's Day breakfast treats and delicious hot espresso drinks compliments of the PTSA. Breakfast could be pre-ordered to be picked up in the staff lounge, and included beautifully decorated hard-boiled eggs, fruit, yogurt, bagels & cream cheese. Teachers and staff, many of whom were at school until late the night before due to Open House, greatly appreciated the breakfast treats. 

Volunteers from the PTSA hospitality team set up a festive breakfast spread, and leadership students were on hand to help with the deliveries.  Thank you very much to everyone who helped make this event special for our staff, especially:
Parent Helpers  - Jennifer DiGrande, Isabelle Dumazet, Lisa Hane, Rachel Krueger, Laura Vella-Fukuji, Lauren Pachkowski, Grace Schulz and Hilary Paulson.
Student Helpers  -  Tyler Madsen, Jay Miller, Natalie Petani, Lauren Schiff, Grace Weber, and Shayan Weera.
Food Donors  - Meredith Armienti, Annie Baker, Jennifer DiGrande, Espy Esquivel, Donna Fiore, Stacy Huisman, Barbara Jakoby, Rachel Krueger, Susan Lier, Lauren Pachkowski, Judith Ruhstaller, Pam Scannell, Caitlin Schneider, Jayne Sungail, Laura Vella-Fukuji, Heather Weber, and Adriana Yanez.
Coffee Cart  - Carlos & Cathy from Espresso Lane!

Above - Teachers enjoy breakfast treats; Below - Espresso Lane hard at work providing custom coffee drinks. 

Number Talks
Math teacher Nancy Ku received a PTSA Mini-Grant in Fall 2016 to attend a math workshop.  She reports:

"I attended the Number Talks Institute with Cathy Humphreys (one of the creators of Number Talks).  I learned strategies for helping my students develop their number sense and use numerical operations flexibly.  Number Talks also reinforce our class culture of thinking about math in different ways and validating students' unique ways of solving problems.   After the workshop, I successfully did Number Talks that helped my students make sense of percentages.  I will continue to use Number Talks to help my students build their understanding of numbers and operations, particularly subtraction as the opposite of addition, and division as the opposite of multiplication.  I believe these understandings are core to students' ability to deeply understand higher levels of mathematics.

At the workshop, I learned to use a cell phone charge bar to represent percentages. It really helped my students make realistic estimates of percentages (e.g. 40% of 2000 students).   In my Geometry classes for 11th and 12th graders, many students did not have a conceptual understanding of percentages, and therefore had difficulty making any estimations.  However, many of them have a better sense now."

Math concepts from the Number Talks workshop are put to use by students in Ms. Ku's classroom.

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

Looking for a Few Good People
PTSA is planning for next year already.  But, we need your help!!! Please consider joining us next year...and our jobs can often be shared, so grab a friend to do a 'job-share', and join the team!   

The PTSA's commitment to the school is great, but we truly need your help to support our programs and efforts at the school.  Please know that while PTAs in elementary and middle schools can be very time consuming, at SHS we work very hard to keep the commitments and meetings to a manageable level. We are trying to fill small jobs as well as larger jobs, so we have something for everyone.  Please let us know if you are interested in joining our team...we can even get you in touch with the person or team who is working on it this year so you can learn first-hand!  It's a great way to get more  involved at Sequoia! Please contact  Lauren Pachkowski via  if you'd like to learn more.

Final Two Weeks for LoveBags
Sales for LoveBags will end on March 31st!    See this flyer  or visit  and enter code 5ZF16 along with Sequoia High School Class of 2017.  We'll receive 40% back on each order received! There is free shipping on orders of $75 or more, so do some early Mother's Day shopping, or find that perfect hostess gift or birthday gift today.  Thank you to everyone who has bought LoveBags this year to support our Grad Week activities!

Help Proctor IB and AP Exams
Are you looking for a way to get involved at Sequoia that will only take a few hours of your time? Here's your chance -- help proctor IB and AP exams.  It's an easy and really important role.  Each year we have more students taking IB classes and exams. This year there are 3 weeks of exam sessions scheduled between April 28th and May 24th.

Please help us fill the 80 proctoring spots (compared to 75 last year, 66 the year before, and and 47 the year before that!). Parents of freshman and sophomores, if your student is considering an IB class in the future, it's a great way for you to check out what an IB exam is like.  Parents of juniors and seniors, if your student is currently in an IB class, you can see what he or she is going through! By the way, this is a great way for dads to contribute to our school. 

Parents may proctor an IB exam their student is taking, but please check with your student first to be sure he or she would be comfortable with this. 

Sequoia is an IB school that offers AP exams for some students. We don't need as many AP proctors, but they are very important to us.  According to the AP rules, you may not proctor an AP exam that your student is taking. Also, the AP rules allow a proctor to sit during part of the exam.

To find out more and sign up for a slot, click here .  Sign up soon so you'll have your pick of time spots.  After signing up, you will be contacted via email by Elisa Nino-Sears, Sequoia's Academic Volunteer coordinator. There is a quick and simple clearance process for all volunteers placed in academic settings.

IB FUN FACT:  There are 1751 IB Diploma Schools in 149 countries around the world.

Questions? Email Erika Pretell at .

In This Issue
Monday, March 20
Collab Day

Monday, March 27
B Day schedule

Friday, March 31
Cesar Chavez Day observed - No school

Tuesday, April 4
7 PM - PTSA Meeting, MPR

Friday, April 7 and Saturday, April 8
7:30 PM - Sequoia Dance Show, Carrington Hall (tickets at

April 10-14
Spring Break

Tuesday, April 18
10 PM - Deadline to apply for PTSA Junior Scholarships

Wednesday, April 19
6:30 PM - Incoming Freshmen Welcome Event, MPR

Saturday, April 22
7 PM - Prom

Wednesday, April 26
7 PM - Orchestra and Choir Concert, Carrington Hall

Thursday, April 27
7 PM - Band Concert, Carrington Hall
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Parent Education

Sequoia Parent Education Series
Documentary Film - SCREENAGERS: Growing Up in the Digital Age 
Thursday, April 20, 7:00 - 9:00 PM   S Parent Ed
Sequoia High School, Carrington Hall  

Are you watching your kids scroll through life, with their rapid-fire thumbs and a six-second attention span? Award-winning documentary SCREENAGERS probes into the vulnerable corners of family life, depicting messy struggles over social media, video games, academics, and internet addiction.
Through surprising insights from authors, brain scientists, parents and kids, solutions emerge on how we can empower kids to best navigate the digital world.
Parents, students, faculty/staff and community members welcome! 
Spanish subtitles will be available. Free admission.
Sequoia Parent Education Series events are sponsored by the SHSEF, the Sequoia Healthcare District, and the Sequoia Union High School District.
Questions? Contact Charlene Margot, M.A., Director, The Parent Education Series, at  or 650-868-0590. For Spanish, contact Mayela Ramirez, Parent Center Coordinator, 650-367-9780, Ext. 63105