April 16, 2018

Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message
This past week, I listened to an interview featuring a writer named Bill Simmons.  AKA The Sports Guy, he parlayed a popular blog he started in his 20s into a personal brand producing everything from disposable pop culture podcasts to award-winning documentary films.  In the interview, he talks about the pleasure he gets every time he hires someone who graduated from Georgetown University to work for him.

Like many of us (and our students), Bill Simmons grew up thinking there was an ideal college for him: Georgetown University.  He was enamored with Georgetown's sports program, strong academic reputation, and location.   He worked towards the goal of admission, applied, and didn't get in.  He ended up at a school in Worcester, Massachusetts called College of the Holy Cross.  In his first year at Holy Cross he was able to secure a job writing a weekly column in the school newspaper.  Maybe this happens at Georgetown, maybe not.  Regardless, a career (and small media empire) was born.  And, yeah, he still holds a small grudge.

I identified with this story because my experience out of high school was very similar.  Substitute Notre Dame for Georgetown and Pomona for Holy Cross, and Bill's story is mine.  I may not produce documentary films, but I know with great certainty that I am better today having been rejected by my "dream school."  I wouldn't trade anything (a Michiana middle-management gig, e.g.) for the opportunities I've had over the last 20 years.  My learning and the people I met at my "consolation" school broadened my worldview in ways I never could have predicted.  The experience of re-assembling my rejection-letter-shattered heart remains a source of grit to this day.

By now most Sequoia 12th graders have a much clearer idea of what their options are for next year.  Overall, I can report that this year's seniors look to be on pace to have earned admission to an even broader range of prestigious 4-year colleges than in previous years: Ivy League Colleges, state universities, liberal arts colleges, UCs, CSUs, international schools, you name it.  Our students' hard work, the high standards maintained by our teachers, and the energy of our college and career center staff in providing information to kids as well as establishing relationships with admissions departments around the country has paid off (Ms. Ignaitis will be in Colorado meeting with multiple schools later this month).

As is the case every year, many students are shocked (be it dismayed or elated) about the way the college admissions process played out for them.  Some will go to their dream schools and it will change their lives. Others will go to their dream schools and transfer at the end of the year -- having learned the dream and the reality were two different things.  There are no guarantees and, ideally, no looking back. Most will, in my experience, end up exactly where they belong way more often than not.

Your students may be facing this big decision imminently or it may still be a few years away.  In either case, it's important to remember that the virtues that enable students to meet eligibility requirements, formulate substantive personal statements, inspire authentic letters of recommendation, and put themselves out there for rejection in the first place are way more important than the old-timey script on the top on the diploma.  I'm talking about love of learning, follow-through, integrity, and courage -- all of which I see on display every day at Sequoia. Possession of these virtues is the greatest predictor of success.

The excitement about the opportunities that await all of our students who are off to college next year, no matter where that college may be, is contagious.  It's one of the things that makes this time of year so fun. There's a lot to be proud of at Sequoia. A special part of me, however, will be rooting for those whose disappointment this spring will push them even further past the boundaries of what's possible.  If you know one, give them a big hug after they pick themselves up and dust off. They're going to change the world.

Have a great week!

Ordered Your Yearbook Yet?
Yearbooks can be reserved o nline at  or with Mrs. Gordon in the treasurer's office.  Be sure to order ahead of time  to make sure you get a copy!
IB Ceremony Invitation for Seniors
A student shares her post-grad plans at the 2017 IB ceremony.
All seniors who have taken one or more IB classes during their time at Sequoia are invited, with their families and friends, to attend the 2018 IB Ceremony on Tuesday, May 22, from 5:30 to 7:30 PM in Carrington Hall.  View the invitation here.  

Todos los seniors que han tomado una clase de IB durante su tiempo en Sequoia están cordialmente invitados junto con su familia a la ceremonia de IB 2017: martes, 22 de mayo, 5.30 pm a 7.30 pm en el Auditorio Carrington Hall.  Invitación aquí.
Ysabel Jaquez Speaks at Fundraiser
On Friday, March 23rd, Sequoia senior Ysabel Jaquez spoke at an annual fundraiser for Women In Motion. The luncheon was held at the Peninsula Golf and Country Club with over 200 women in attendance. 

Ysabel, who is part of Sequoia's Special Ed program, was asked by BayKids to speak at the luncheon about her recently completed film, Fearless.  Baykids is a nonprofit organization that gives chronically and terminally ill children the opportunity to put their stories on film. At the luncheon, Ysabel spoke about her current life and then BayKids premiered her movie trailer. The luncheon was a huge success, raising over $50,000 to support BayKids.  Ysabel was also a big hit, raising the audience to their feet with a long standing ovation. 

Fearless  has been released to the public. Some of the film was shot on the SHS campus during the JV Dance team practice. Check out the film and see if you recognize anyone!
Getting Closer: 40 More IB/AP Proctors Needed
Thank  you to all who have signed up to help  proctor  our upcoming IB and AP exams from  April 27 to May 25!   If you haven't signed up yet, please  SIGN UP NOW
so we can make sure that the 
clearance process for our volunteers is completed in time.
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 c omfortable with this. 

For AP exams, 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.
Come Help Plant Trees on Campus for Arbor Day - April 28
This is your opportunity to help beautify the Sequoia High School campus!  CityTrees is partnering with the Sequoia High School Alumni Association and other co-sponsors for a tree planting event at Sequoia on Saturday, April 28th from 9 AM to noon in celebration of Arbor Day.  

Sign up online at, n o experience required! Contact David Grabel at 650-346-6064 for more information.
PTSA Junior Scholarship Applications Due Tomorrow!
Applications for our annual PTSA Junior Scholarships are due on  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 to apply.

PTSA Junior Scholarships are generously funded by the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Sequoia Dance Show Coming Soon
On Friday and Saturday, April 27 and 28, Carrington Hall will be exploding with energy as 125 dancers take the stage at Sequoia Dance '18.  For those of you who have seen the show, you'll know how impressive the event is.  For those who haven't had the chance, get your tickets now and prepare to be wowed!

Tickets go fast and as usual, this event will sell out, so visit now!
In This Issue

Tuesday, April 17
10 PM - Deadline to apply for PTSA Junior Scholarships

Saturday, April 21
7 PM - Prom, California Academy of Sciences

Wednesday, April 25
6:30 PM - Freshman Welcome Event, MPR

April 27-28

Sequoia Dance Show ( tickets here), Carrington Hall

Saturday, April 28
9 AM-noon - Tree planting event, Sequoia Campus

Tuesday, May 1
7 PM - PTSA Meeting, MPR

May 18-19
Spring Play:  The Brothers Grimm , Carrington Hall

Tuesday, May 22
5:30 PM - IB Ceremony, Carrington Hall

Thursday, May 24
7 PM - Pops Concert (Bands, Orchestra, Choir), Sequoia baseball field
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SUHSD Parent Education Series - All Are Welcome

Leah Weiss, PhD, Author, How We Work
Mindful Parenting: How to Raise Kids While Reclaiming Your Sanity
Tuesday, May 8, 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM  
Sequoia Union High School District Office, Birch Room
480 James Avenue, Redwood City

Join us for a lively discussion about what parents can do to remain mindful -- and not go insane! -- while navigating the ups and downs of raising kids. Using self-compassion methods and tips and tricks to stay mindful on any given day (yes, even the hectic ones!), Leah will lead attendees towards a calmer and more purposeful parenting path.

Leah Weiss, PhD, MSW,  is a teacher, researcher, and meditation expert at Stanford University. Her first book, How We Work, launched in March 2018.

Jess Shatkin, MD, MPH, Author, Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist (NYU)
Born to Be Wild: Why Teens Take Risks, and How We Can Help Keep Them Safe 
Thursday, May 17, 7:00-8:30 PM 
M-A Performing Arts Center (PAC)

Acclaimed adolescent psychiatrist and educator Dr. Jess Shatkin brings more than two decades' worth of research and clinical experience to the subject, along with cutting-edge findings from brain science, evolutionary psychology, and other disciplines -- plus a widely curious mind and the perspective of a concerned dad himself.
Jess Shatkin, MD, MPH , is Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine. His new book, Born to Be Wild, is a winner of the 2017 National Parenting Product Award. 


Parents, students, educators, and community members welcome! 
Free admission and light refreshments.
The Parent Education Series events are sponsored by Carlmont PTSA, M-A PTA, SHSEF, Woodside PTSA, Sequoia Healthcare District, and Sequoia Union High School District. Special funding from Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF).
Questions? Contact Charlene Margot, M.A., Director, The Parent Education Series. 

Community News
How to Start Your College Essays 
Learn what goes into essays; brainstorm topics for the UC and Common App essay prompts; practice writing; get planning tips -- all in a small, supportive environment. This  helpful workshop for juniors will be given by essay advisor Heather Woods of Heartwood Editing on May 30, 7:00-8:30 PM at the Redwood City Main Library, $35.  Sign up and see more dates at

The meeting space is provided as a community service by the City of Redwood City. The City neither sponsors nor endorses this event nor the presenting individual or organizations.
"Get a Leg Up" This Summer on the #1 Primary Executive Function Skill: Working Memory 
Working Memory requires a symphonic network of pictures, sounds, text, experiential connectors, executive  functioning & pragmatic language skills so that information truly is categorized and remembered the right way. Otherwise "poof" it's gone after the test. This is especially key for individuals who are great at rote memory for facts but struggle in other areas. This affects our academic performance, problem solving, social interactive skills, motivation, impulse control, etc.

WORKSHOPS SUMMER 2018: 1x-weekly all summer or intensive 5-days a week (2 wks).  Please email: Early Registration (save $150.00 by May 1st.)  Text 650-678-9769 .

SHS parents receive a complimentary assessment & session before June 1.