Sequoia Sentinel
April 11, 2021
Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message
Overheard during the first week of the concurrent learning model:

“These mozzarella sticks are good!”
“Cool mask, Mr. Priest.”
“You had Ms. Schimek today? She’s awesome!”
“A-Wing? Follow me, I’ll show you.”
“I’m not lost, this tree is just a nice place to wait for my friend.”
“Gold stickers? That’s the drip!”

There was a beautiful convergence of our community on Monday morning in front of the school. Teachers holding homemade signs welcoming students adjacent to the entrance. An enthusiastic crew of parent/community volunteers directed students, helped them navigate the online health screening tool, and made merry as they lined up. Administrators, campus aides, health clerks, and food services staff were in position to check that students had completed all the required steps. Students embarked to their first class with a sticker indicating all clear (colors change daily), a meal, and hopefully a smile.  

We were able to get everyone through the entry point by 9:15 a.m., even with a handful experiencing technical difficulties with their device/screening app. The highest drama came when a local pedestrian’s cigarette smoke wafted into a B-wing classroom’s open window as they passed by the back of the school. Campus aides responded to the call. “Seriously?” asked one student, “Who still smokes cigarettes?!?”

Efficiency with entrance protocols improved on the second day as students mastered the screening app. Once the A1 students grew more comfortable being back on campus, figuring out where to eat lunch, where their friends were (“We haven’t seen each other since middle school!”), and which bathrooms they could use, things settled in. Not sure anyone expected it to be so quiet.  

The possibility for discovery drives a lot of the energy for students who have returned. I watched as kids figured out where the best outdoor spots for strong wifi or how to eat with minimal mask adjustment. There’s a novelty to school again. On the other hand, I don’t know of any student who needed to be reminded to affix their face covering or observe social distancing. Our students behaved with the maturity I expect, but never take for granted.

Campus Aide Matt Kelly made it his mission on Friday to get as many kids as possible to take their breakfast. We tried several persuasive pitches, discovering ultimately that “Don’t forget to grab your complimentary breakfast.” had a higher hit rate than “Take a free breakfast.”  

The concurrent model is a temporary solution. We are doing our best (and with our staff, that means pretty darn good) to balance some opposing forces: keeping the academic momentum as the ground continues to shift, trying to honor both the students who have come back in person and those who have not, for example.  

We are looking forward to moving from A1/A2 and B1/B2 to A and B, which will double the number of students on campus each day and further enliven the campus. But this week was a big milestone for our community and it was fitting that it started with staff, students, and families coming together under Argo Tower to kick off this next phase. I continue to be grateful for how we’ve held together through all this.  

Here’s to another awesome week!
President’s message

Spring is here, and this year it feels extra special! In addition to the warm weather, longer days, and sunshine, we have the vaccine. Beginning April 15, every Californian age 16 and older will become eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. San Mateo County has issued new guidelines for schools, gatherings and travel. This brings so much hope and positivity. 

Closer to home, last week we welcomed students back to campus. It was a lot of hard work for the staff as they planned the re-opening. The first week went smoothly and we look forward to the coming weeks as the students get settled in. A huge thank you to Principal Sean Priest, the staff, and the volunteers - we couldn't have had such a seamless reopening without your hard work. 

I often get emails from families who have opted to continue distance learning asking how they can be part of in-person learning. The school is maintaining a waitlist that manages the total number of students on campus. If you have opted for distance learning and feel ready for in-person learning, please reach out to the school administration and you can be added to the waitlist. 

With the new guidelines from the county, our Senior Grad Activities team is charged up to create a memorable experience for the Seniors! If you are a senior parent, you should be receiving all the information through the grad activities e-blasts. 

We have a good slate for next year's PTSA board. We still have open positions and would love to have new faces on the board. Here are the open positions: 

  • Class representative for each grade level:
  • Class of 2022 (Seniors)
  • Class of 2023 (Juniors)
  • Class of 2024 (Sophomores)
  • Class of 2025 (Freshmen)
  • Media Center/Library Support
  • VPA Liaison Support
  • Awards – Teachers
  • Awards – Parents
  • New Teacher Grants
  • Jr. Scholarship Chair

Spread the word, and if you are interested, please email us.
Stay healthy, stay safe,
Let's show teachers and staff our gratitude!

To show teachers and staff our gratitude, we will be filling the staff lounge with grab-and-go treats. Signup today to contribute! Contact Jenn DiGrande with questions and thank you for your help in showing our appreciation!
Tickets on sale for June 4 grad night

Grad night is a late night party beginning Friday, June 4, and ending Saturday morning. This fun event gives grads a chance to celebrate together in a safe and sober environment. Tickets are $75 and include food, drinks, activities, and entertainment. Click here to purchase tickets today!
Apr. 25: Deadline for for juniors to apply for PTSA junior scholarships 

Applications for our annual PTSA Junior Scholarships are now being accepted and are due by Sun, April 25, 10:00 p.m. The three categories of scholarships are: academic success, community service, and achievement in the face of socio-economic challenges. We have 20 scholarships to offer, each worth $250. Click here for the application and more information.
Do you have questions for our Sequoia 2020-2021 PTSA Board? Reach Isha Bhatt, PTSA President and the rest of the team at
Our mission is to positively impact the lives of all children and families.
Calling all parents of juniors - class of 2022 merchandise for sale!
We are selling crewnecks to benefit our class of 2022:
  • This crewneck was designed by Zoe Dovydaitis. Juniors were given the opportunity to submit designs, and the final design for was decided by a vote.
  • Sizes S-XL will be available. Feel free to purchase more than one!
  • Each crewneck is $20, and 100% of the profit will be directed towards our junior class. 
  • Crewnecks will be available for pick up on campus Wednesday May 12 @ Elwood parking lot.
Thank you for supporting our junior class! Click here to order.
Your student’s Junior Class President, 
Madelyn Obana
Have an hour you can share? Join our campus volunteer team!
Thank you to the moms, dads, and neighbors who have signed up to help make sure everything is running safely and smoothly on campus! We still need additional adult volunteers to assist us through the end of the year. Please sign up here and help spread the word!
  • Is there training? We will email you the recording of our Zoom training session for you to watch at your convenience. 
  • Can I get vaccinated as an education worker if I volunteer at the school? Yes! While our district cannot organize this appointment for you, we can provide documentation of your volunteer service as needed. 
  • Will I need to do paperwork? Yes - the two-step process includes clearance by Human Resources and a health-screen app called Frontline. Takes minutes!
  • Do I need to sign up for a regular time each week? A regular time is super helpful, however occasional volunteer help is great too! Please sign up for whenever you have a free hour, and thank you!
Questions? Please email Elisa Niño-Sears or call (650) 387-8390.
IB May 2021: Calculated route approved

Sequoia's request to switch from the exam route to the calculated route for the May 2021 IB assessments has been approved! Click here for more information.
Enjoy three NEW episodes of That's So Raven!
Mar. 22: Last year in sports.

0:39​ Weather
0:54Past Year in Sports
2:47Spring Break 2020
Mar. 29: Back to school tips and Sequoia Asian Student Union.

0:09 Announcements
0:20​ Weather
0:43Easter Egg Decorating
2:32Boosters Fashion Show
2:49​ Back to School Tips
3:40Asian Student Union
Apr. 5: Welcome back to school!

0:46 What's in the Box?
Check out the Media Center's April newsletter!

Check out the Media Center’s latest newsletter and follow us on Instagram to keep up with upcoming events, author talks, and more.
SHSEF contributions optimize quality education for our students
Thanks to our generous community, Sequoia Highschool Education Foundation (SHSEF) has raised over $400K to date! In this challenging year, the community’s contributions helped optimize distance learning and quality academic experiences through: 

  • At-home supplies including science and learning materials, art kits and musical instruments (New)
  • Equity and diversity training for faculty (New)
  • Technology equipment and resources (Expanded)
  • Teacher training for effective online instruction
  • Class size reduction
  • Math and homework tutoring
  • Summer classes 
  • Library/Media Center support
  • PTSA grants for innovative projects
A gift of any size can make a difference at Sequoia. Please donate today. Many employers will match your gift to SHSEF. To learn more, contact us at
The Parent Education Series
Trying to offer support when your child or teen is upset, stressed, anxious, or angry can feel like tiptoeing through a minefield. Join Eran Magen, PhD, founder of Parenting for Humans, in this interactive workshop to learn how to be more effective in offering emotional support while improving your parent-child relationship. Register now.

What impact does cannabis have on the young, developing brain?Join Dr. Tauheed Zaman to learn about current research on cannabis and adolescent brain development Register now.

Mental health concerns, including anxiety and depression, have increased since the start of COVID-19. Join a panel of medical and mental health experts, including Shashank Joshi, MD, to learn more. Register now.

Join Kendall Cotton Bronk, PhD for a discussion about purpose - What is it? Why does it matter? How can we help our children and teens discover theirs? Register now
Community Resources and Events
Summer Stem Institute applications open

The Summer STEM Institute (SSI) is a six-week virtual summer program for high school students. Click here to learn more.
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