May 15, 2017

Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message
Joyful / Fun / Learning / Exhausting / Exciting / Involved / Fulfilled / Challenging / Rewarding / Busy / Growth / Bittersweet / Inspiring / Stimulating / Loving / Reflective / Culture / Hectic / Surprising

Last week we whipped around the room at the end of our final new teacher lunch of the year, and asked our new teachers to describe their year in 1-2 words (see above).  This list was generated on the heels of a discussion about advice they'd give themselves 9 months ago.  Among the most common responses: reaching out sooner to colleagues, not taking disruptive student behavior personally, and getting out of the classroom to eat lunch and explore campus.  

This year's cohort of new teachers at Sequoia was a strong one.  Several of them were in their first full year in the classroom while others joined us after having begun their careers elsewhere. Those who come to Sequoia from other schools typically remark on how welcoming and collaborative their colleagues are.  We also hear about the high quality of the day-to-day instructional planning.  

When new teachers are hired to work in our district, they receive training at the SUHSD New Teacher Institute.  There are nuts-and-bolts elements to the training such as building a gradebook in School Loop and taking attendance.  There is also a focus on instructional strategies and understanding the diverse population served by our district.

At Sequoia, new teachers receive an afternoon orientation (campus tour, introductions to key staff, a copy room how-to, etc.) one day prior to the regular report date for teachers in August.  Because this amount of time is inadequate even to scratch the surface on the complex community that is Sequoia High School, a new teacher's orientation continues throughout the year informally.  Department chairs, veteran teachers in neighboring classrooms, curricular team members, and other colleagues readily take on the task of helping new staff feel at home throughout the year.

We've also organized monthly lunches with our new teachers to help get out in front of some of the quirks of the annual school calendar such as testing and evacuation drills as well as a deeper understanding of the mission of Sequoia and the myriad programs we support to improve equity in access and outcomes for all kids.  It's also helpful, they report, knowing who the other first-year teachers are on staff -- a fellowship of newcomers.

Sequoia is a place of friends.  Kids feel it (often when they "shadow" as eighth-graders), adults can sense it, and our staff guards it steadfastly.  My favorite reflection from the lunch with new teachers last week, commenting on what they now know after a year was, "you can trust your colleagues, they have your back."

Have a great week!

Bring in the Books!
We are still looking for volunteers from May 22 to June 8 to help our Library media staff organize the library and check in textbooks.   Sign up here   for a morning or afternoon shift; being there for even part of the shift will be helpful. Thank you!

Stress-Free Graduation Parking
Everyone knows how difficult it is to find a spot on campus on graduation day.  Fret no more!   VIP parking spots are available for purchase at $50 per space, which allows you to park to the left of Nicotine Field located directly behind the football field and in front of the school's main entrance! 

Click here to purchase VIP graduation parking  (scroll down in the list of Crab Feed auction items); a ll proceeds help fund Sequoia Athletic Programs.

Grad Year Special for Seniors and Their Families
Join the Sequoia High School Alumni Association for the price of your grad year --  just  $20.17  (instead of the usual $50).  This lifetime membership will allow you to follow your fellow grads, read about Sequoia events, get information on reunions and other activities, etc.  The Grad Year Special ends Aug. 15.

What a great gift idea for the graduating senior!  To obtain a 2017 Grad Year Special Membership Form, contact SHSAA at  or call 650-592-5822.

Cruise the SF Bay
To all parents that do not have a 2017 Graduating Senior: Does a midnight cruise sound like a nice start to your summer? Being a Chaperone for Grad Night allows you a fun sneak peek into what happens when the senior class celebrates their exit from high school.  Transportation provided on buses from school to SF and back to school again makes for an easy outing. No, the students won't want you crowding the game tables, but you can enjoy the food, soft drinks, coffee and maybe even have your picture taken in a photo booth as a fun remembrance of the night! 

Click here to sign up !  The spots are filling up but we are still looking for a few more volunteers; feel free to sign up with your spouse or a friend! If you have any questions, feel free to contact Donna Fiore at

Seniors: IB Ceremony May 23
All seniors who have taken an IB class during their time at Sequoia are cordially invited with their families to the 2017 IB Ceremony on Tuesday, May 23 from 5:30-7:30 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: m artes, 23 de mayo, 5.30 pm a 7.30 pm  en el Auditorio Carrington Hall.  Invitación aquí .

Sequoia Peer Mediators Enhance  Conflict Resolution
A PTSA Mini-Grant in Fall 2016 helped cover the cost of Peninsula Conflict Resource Center training for our student Peer Mediators (PM) program, which has been a part of the Teen Resource Center since 2007. A crucial part of PM is the annual training that students receive surrounding conflict and mediation, to enable students to mediate conflicts one-on-one with students referred by the assistant vice principals (AVP), staff, and other students.  It also equips them with the skills and knowledge to conduct their own workshops in other classes to further educate Sequoia students on conflict and its responses. 

This training is the foundation of the PM program. Students learn about conflict and its causes, practice active listening and effective communication skills, and are empowered with conflict management skills through practice and role-play scenarios. Not only does it have a direct impact on their work in the program, but is applied to students' daily lives and their personal and professional relationships.
As a result of the training, the Peer Mediators group has conducted  conflict resolution workshops at  Sequoia . Also, after reflecting on the events and attitudes that students reported experiencing after the 2016 election, the PM program  developed an ally campaign called "Where is the Love?"  that ran in March which addressed some of the issues and conflicts brought about by the current political climate.  

Advisor Whitney FitzGerald has seen significant improvements in the students' ability to handle conflicts both in the program and outside, particularly for students who have been in the program for a year or more. Whether they are having a conflict with a friend, teacher, or family member, their reasoning and understanding of others' perspectives and their ability to effectively communicate to solve the issue continues to grow in every way.

Sequoia Peer Mediation students attend conflict resolution training last fall.

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

In This Issue
Monday, May 15
Collab day

Tuesday, May 16
4 PM - Sequoia Choir Vocal Showcase, B Quad

Saturday, May 20
7 PM - Sequoia Talent Show

Monday, May 22
Collab day

Tuesday, May 23
5:30 PM - Senior IB Ceremony, Carrington Hall

Wednesday, May 24
7 PM - Pops Concert (Bands, Orchestra, Choir), Carrington Hall

Thursday, May 25
12:15 PM - Mandatory meeting for 10th graders interested in the IB Diploma (students only), Carrington Hall

6 PM - AVID Graduation

Monday, May 29
Memorial Day Holiday

Thursday, June 1
7 PM - Spring Sports Awards, Carrington Hall

Tue., June 6 - Thu., June 8

Wednesday, June 7
11 AM - Senior BBQ

6 PM - Senior Awards night, Carrington Hall

Thursday, June 8
11 AM - Senior Brunch, MPR

Last Day of School

Friday, June 9
10 AM - 2017 Graduation Ceremony, Terremere Field
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Parent Education

SUHSD Parent Education Mini-Series
"Safe and Healthy Teens"

Friday, June 2, 2017, 10:00-11:30 AM - "Help is a Text Away: How Crisis Text Line Saves Teen Lives, " with Libby Craig, Regional Director, and Pamela Weiss, Crisis Counselor, Crisis Text Line

Sequoia Union High School District Office - Birch Room
480 James Avenue, Redwood City

In this last of a series of four SUHSD Parent Education Mini-Series events on "Safe and Healthy Teens," attendees will learn from leading mental health professionals, psychologists, and nonprofit organizations.

Parents, students, faculty/staff, and community members welcome!   Free admission.
Parent Education Series events are sponsored by the Sequoia Healthcare District and the Sequoia Union High School District. Special funding for this series from Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF).
Questions? Contact Charlene Margot, M.A., Founder & Director, The Parent Education Series,

Community News

Social Skills & Executive Function Boot Camp
Complimentary Info Session for Sequoia Families
For incoming freshmen through college
Flexible scheduling June through Labor Day

Is your teen exhibiting organizational issues? Time management issues? Disorganization of thought during writing tasks, not great at prioritizing, attentional challenges?
Or, has difficulty with figurative language? Social cues? Whether you are readying them for college or just beginning high school, this program is designed for changing patterns.
Talking Playhouse  (across from campus) is offering a crash course boot camp for high schoolers this summer and parents to set up successful systems for practice over the summer. Establish systems that allow your child to practice independently with successful neuroscience behavioral techniques that take action and work. An added benefit is the program is set up to work local or from afar.
As a parent of a teen at Sequoia, I am all too aware of how the teenage brain works! If you'd like to know more or t o set up your complimentary info session, please email .

P.S.: Did you know teens can lose up to 30% of new material learned if they don't keep a consistent program of practice over the summer?

Talking Playhouse | 155 Birch St, Suite 2, Redwood City | 650-678-9769

AYSO Fall 2017 Soccer Registration
Registration for the boys and girls   AYSO  Soccer Menlo Park & Atherton Fall Season is now underway at

Walk-in registration is on May 13 & May 20 from 10 AM to 1 PM at the Hillview Middle School Library First-time players must register in person. Returning players  simply register online. $100 for kinderleague, $150 for first grade and older.

All can  participate, regardless of level (no try-outs). See you on the field!

Mid-Peninsula Water Polo Club
First-Time Player Free Clinic - May 20, 2017
If you are interested in learning to play water polo, here is your chance to try it out! We are offering a free clinic for first-time players on Saturday, May 20, 2017, 10 AM - 12 PM, at M-A High School.
2017 Summer Session from May 16 to July 23, 2017
  •  Co-Ed Splash Ball for boys and girls ages 10 and younger
    • From June 13 to July 20: Tuesday and Thursday, 4-5 PM
  • Middle School Boys playing at the 12U & 14U age group levels
    • From May 16 to June 6: Tuesday and Thursday, 4:30-6 PM
    • From June 12 to July 21: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, 4-5:30 PM
  • High School Boys playing at the 16U & 18U age group levels
    • From May 16 to June 6: Tuesday and Thursday, 4 - 6 PM
    • From June 12 to July 21: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, HS1 group 8 - 10 AM, HS2 group 4 - 6 PM
  • High School Girls playing at the 16U & 18U age group levels
    • From June 13 to July 20: Tuesday and Thursday, 
MidPen Water Polo Club  is coached by Brandon Johnson, current Boys Varsity Head Coach at M-A High School and member of the Stanford Water Polo Club staff. Brandon has been an assistant coach at UC Irvine and coached for USA Water Polo as the U18 Olympic Development  Coach .