April 23, 2018

Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message
Sequoia High School Prom Live Blog, California Academy of Sciences 4.21.18:

7:11PM:  I receive a text from Vice Principal Sophia Olliver that the prom is off to a smooth start: well-organized, happy kids, great venue.  An update to the @shs.mediacenter Instagram feed confirms with a video of the red-carpet arrival.

8:08PM:  As I arrive, the last few students are being checked-in after making their way through the security gauntlet and registration desk.  This is as efficient a system as I've seen at a prom -- kids have maximum time inside the venue to enjoy the party. The lines for the taco bar and mini donut maker are equally efficient.

8:23PM:  I catch one of the hospitality servers doing what appears to be a flip-to-pour bottle trick out of the corner of my eye and proceed to investigate exactly what is being served at the various "bars" set up around the venue.  I'm relieved to find nothing stronger than grenadine on the menu. Shirley Temple and Roy Rogers are evidently as popular as ever.  I partake in my first one since 1983. Too sweet.

Claude the albino alligator
8:40PM:  The Academy has opened its impressive Steinhart Aquarium downstairs to the students, and it has drawn a much larger crowd than the dance floor at this point in the night.  Claude the albino alligator's energetic performance is a notable hit with everyone. I venture further into the depths of the aquarium watching our kids posing various group portrait configurations and meandering through the jellyfish and arthropods.  As I turn around a dark corner, my school administrator safety alarm bell starts to ring. I run into Special Education Teacher (and Senior Class Advisor) Kimberly Zilles, who is already two steps ahead. "There's an emergency exit and a bench in a dark corner," she says, smiling, "I thought it would be a good idea to have an adult here."

10:09PM:  Tough luck if you want to sit in the Karaoke Lounge set up near the penguin display: all chairs are taken.  It's a broad range of selections being belted by an even broader range of performers (students, teachers, teachers' children).  I am truly impressed by the number of Sequoia High School students who know all the words to "Summer Lovin'" from the 1978 film, Grease.   Since this is not a part of the California State Standards, nice job families!

10:45PM:  Given the honor of announcing the Prom King and Queen, Vice Principal Gary Gooch receives a rousing ovation from the now-packed dance floor.  "Gooch! Gooch! Gooch!" After the coronation and announcements about parking garage hours, he tells me about his high school vice principal in Orange, Texas: Hubert Hancock.  "He never spoke a word. He walked around with a stern look on his face that said, 'I'm watching', and we were scared." I'm glad Mr. Gooch and Ms. Olliver don't fit into that mold of vice principal.

11:03PM:  A sense that the party is coming to an end can be felt.  On the dance floor, an eruption of cheers goes up in response to the opening bass riff to Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline."  At Friday's rally, Student Activities Coordinator Corey Uhalde had led the school in a sing-along to the 49-year-old classic.  This front-loading pays off big time: the entire crowd of students is locked in by the time the chorus hits, blowing the Living Roof off the Academy.   "So good! So good! So good!"

Ms. Zilles and Mr. Uhalde
11:34PM:  As the students slowly exit the venue, I am somewhat taken aback to hear many of them thank me for the event.  This is my 15th prom as a supervising staff member and I don't ever remember being thanked -- affirming my beliefs that (a) Sequoia kids are extraordinarily well-mannered and gracious and (b) the popular notion that "millennial" teenagers are entitled and socially inept is hooey.  I direct all their gratitude and well-wishes to Mr. Uhalde and Ms. Zilles, who over the last 18 months did much of the heavy lifting to make the 2018 Sequoia Prom such a success.

12:42AM:  The last students are picked up from the dance, which means that I can go home.  I'm sure the celebration continued for many of the kids (I overheard talk of viewing an early morning meteor shower) but I'm ready to go to sleep -- over and out!

It was a great event for our community.  If your students attended, I hope they have more happy memories to share with you.  If your students are 9th and 10th graders, I hope they are excited for the fun awaiting them in coming years.

Have a great week!

IB Ceremony Parent Help
Parent help is needed to make the IB Ceremony a success.  Set up, clean up, and help with food on the day of the ceremony, Tuesday, May 22 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM in Carrington Hall.  To volunteer, email Glenn Bugos at
Senior families - Even if you can't help, don't forget to join us on Tuesday evening at this wonderful event to honor our students!
IB Proctoring Last Ditch Sign-Up
Thank  you to all who have signed up to help  proctor  our upcoming IB and AP exams from  April 27 to May 25!   Help us fill our last few spots by  signing up now .
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.
Sequoia Dance Show This Weekend!
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!
"Enchanted Forest" Prom Culminates a Spirited Week
Spirit days all through last week led up to a pep rally on Friday and the 2018 Sequoia Prom on Saturday that was held at the California Academy of Sciences for the first time.  There were 646 attendees, including Prom Court winners Maeve Heller, Eddie Aguayo, Macey Haslam and Zachary Lo.  

A huge thanks to all who made these events possible for our students, including:
  • Karl Godinez and Abbey Haas who  led the charge on Spring Spirit Week;
  • Jennifer Westling and Anika Huisman who coordinated the rally;
  • and for Prom - Senior Class officers Morgan Taradash, Dez Frazier, Samantha Ellard and Allison Carmichael, in association with ASB Activities and Dance coordinators Maddi Giles and Grace Weber, and Student Activities Coordinator Corey Uhalde and Senior Class Advisor Kimberly Zilles.

Above - The red-carpet entry to Prom on Saturday night.
Below - Students enjoy prom at the California Academy of Sciences.

Last Call for Love!
The Class of 2018 is offering one LAST chance to purchase Love Bags.  Our sale ends April 30 so get yours now!  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.
A Trip to Hawaii for Junior Parents... Whaaaat?
Ok, how about a lei-making party in San Carlos instead, to help support the Class of 2019?
Each year junior class families raise funds for their own students' Grad Night. This year it's our turn!  We are making and selling graduation candy leis to incoming 8th grade families, and we need your help.  Please sign up to donate candy by May 13 or help make leis on Friday, May 18.   Please contact Susie Vick ( with any questions.
Sequoia Journalists Shine in National Convention
Over spring break, 21 members of the Raven Report staff attended the National High School Journalism Convention in San Francisco and competed in journalism contests with students nationwide. We are proud to announce that five Sequoia High School students won awards. Those students are:

Dario McCarty: Superior in review writing
Benji Jude: Excellent in sports writing
Rio Popper: Excellent in news editing/headline writing
Mackenzie Clarke: Excellent in press law and ethics
Brighid Bugos: Honorable Mention in commentary writing
Also congratulations to the staff of "All That's Lit to Print" for winning Best of Show for Literary Magazines. Well done to all the journalists who participated!
Track & Field Success at Regional Invitational
Sequoia Track and Field competed at the Bearcat Invitational on Saturday, April 14 against 44 teams from all around the Bay Area. Sequoia athletes had many outstanding performances at the meet and won a total of 10 medals.  

Winners included: Heather Benway in the frosh/soph 100 and 200 meters, Gianna Colombo in the triple jump, Sam Brook in the frosh/soph pole vault (with a school record 9-foot clearance), and Gabi Cattalini who won the frosh/soph 800 in an all-time personal record. In the boys division, winners were  Ryan Reed in the 200 meters, Henry Utecht in the long jump and high jump, including an all-time best of 5 ft 10 inches in the high jump, Cameron Martin in the frosh/soph pole vault, and the varsity boys 4x400 relay team of Ryan Reed, Xander Posten, Noah Vauclair and Eli Rodriguez, who won an extremely exciting battle in the last race of the day.

Congratulations to everyone who competed!

Open House Staff Coffee Cart - HUGE Success!
THANK YOU to everyone who served hot espresso drinks and tasty breakfast treats to much deserving Sequoia teachers and staff members. Many teachers pre-ordered and received convenient in-class deliveries and others stopped in the staff lounge, but all enjoyed the artfully decorated hard-boiled eggs, fruit, yogurt, bagels, cream cheese & peanut butter, as well as a hot beverage of their choice. Each teacher and staff member expressed their appreciation, and it was the perfect pick-me-up following a late night at Open House and a great way to kick-off the spring break week. 

Volunteers from the PTSA hospitality team -- led by Jennifer DiGrande -- set up a spring breakfast spread, and leadership students jumped in to help with the deliveries.  Thank you very much to everyone who helped make this event special for our amazing Sequoia staff, especially our dedicated parents:
Noreen Abad, Judy Adams, Heather Alexander, Jen Benway, Blanca Crispin, Jennifer DiGrande, Cheryl diTargiani, Krysta Guglielmin, Janet Hart, Kristin Hendricks, Tia Knuedler, Rachel Krueger, Tanya Lazaroni, Susan Lier, Laura Lizundia, Sara Mancini, Holly Matsuo, Duoc McCutchan, Victoria Mendiola, Gabriala Mendoza-Evans, Katherine Schembri, Kristina Scott, Caitlin Schneider, Laura Vella-Fukuji, Adriana Yanaz.

Also thank you to our amazing student volunteers as well as Espresso Lane who served hot beverages to our teachers and staff despite the rain!

Staff enjoying the coffee cart and breakfast on April 6.
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.
In This Issue

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

Wednesday, May 23
4 PM - AVID Graduation, Carrington Hall

Thursday, May 24
7 PM - Pops Concert (Bands, Orchestra, Choir), Sequoia baseball field

Monday, May 28
Memorial Day - No school
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SUHSD Parent Education Series - All Are Welcome

Leah Weiss, PhD, Stanford University, 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.