May 22, 2017

Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message
"Dead Week" is no more.  For as long as I've been at Sequoia, this ominous term is what we've called the week prior to final exams.  It mirrors language many 4-year colleges and universities use to describe the week leading into the end of the semester, and it often means classes as well as all activities are cancelled.  In an effort to strengthen our college culture and underscore the importance of end-of-semester summative assessments, Sequoia adopted similar policies: no field trips, no new material, no after school activities.

This year we re-thought the purpose and function of "dead week" and looked for ways to better meet the needs of our students and staff.  

This issue was discussed at Site Council and Sequoia Leadership Team, Sequoia's dual  shared-decision-making bodies, earlier this year.  We identified outdated practices around "Dead Week," surveyed staff and students, and arrived at a set of recommendations.  It was a good example of how the process for changing policies affecting teaching and learning happens at Sequoia.

Moving forward, the week before finals (5/29-6/2 this year) will be called Study Week .  We believe using the term "Study Week" better encourages students to finish their semester on a strong and positive note.  The connotation of the word "Dead" is undesirable during what is already a stressful time.  It is also inaccurate since we do not have a full cessation of classes/activities during this time (as in a traditional university "Dead Week" where there are no classes).

During Study Week:
  • Field Trips of activities causing students to miss class will only be allowed with special permission from the principal.
  • Teachers may cover new material but will be encouraged to spend class time reviewing material for final exams.
  • SAFE Tutorials and Homework Center will be open for students, but other clubs/activities should not meet.  See an administrator for exceptions.
  • In-season athletics will continue to practice and compete.
  • Portions of final exams may be given in class.
  • If the entirety of the final exam is to be given during this week (for classes with majority 9th-11th graders), please let IVP office know and include what the plan is for the final exam.
  • 12th Graders complete final exams during Spring Study Week, as the last week is filled with graduation activities.
During finals week, all 9th-11th grade students are completing some form of summative assessment in their classes, and the early release time will allow them additional time in the afternoon to prepare (or rest).

We're in the homestretch for the end of the 2016-17 school year -- here's to a strong finish for all!

Have a great week!

Senior IB Ceremony Tomorrow
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 .

Help Appreciate Our Teachers & Staff
Help us recognize our teachers & staff before school ends with our End-of-the-year Teacher/Staff Luncheon on Wednesday, June 7.   Sign up  to pitch in by donating food or drinks, or help the PTSA for an hour and treat our dedicated staff to a well-deserved lunch to close out the school year.

PTSA Junior Scholarship Winners
Congratulations to the Sequoia juniors who were awarded PTSA Junior Scholarships this year, recognizing their academic success, community service, and their role in making Sequoia a better place, a place of friends:  Rita Abdel-Malek, Nathaniel Burrill, Ashley Gonzalez Contreras, Clara Epelman, Dezmond Frazier, Maddilyn Giles, Erik Huisman, Yareli Jimenez, Angelina Lazaro, Joseline Lazo, Clara MacAvoy, Rubi Mendez, Martin Pollack, Melissa Paulino Romero, Martina Silberman, Ellis Spickermann, Alexandra Strehlow, Estela Valencia, Grace Weber, and Jack Zhong
Thanks to the PTSA parents who reviewed the applications:  Carolyn Arbuckle, Glenn Bugos, DeeDee Clarke, Susie Gilbert, Karen Latina, Allison Ledbetter, and Jim Smith.

The 2017 PTSA Junior Scholarship Winners with Principal Sean Priest and PTSA President Lisa Hane. 

PTSA Junior Scholarships are funded by the Sequoia High School Education Foundation

Show Your Purple Pride!
Calling enthusiastic parents who want to show off their Purple Pride!  The 2017 Sequoia Lip Dub will be filmed on Friday, June 2nd at approximately 3:30 PM. We expect the filming to be completed by about 5:00. If interested, there are two very important required steps.
  1. Sign up using the following link: or contacting director of Student Activities Corey Uhalde  at
  2. Arrive the day of dressed in all your Sequoia gear and have some fun!
Feel free to check out Lip Dub films from the previous two years: Lip Dub 2015 and Lip Dub 2016

Congratulations to Our Golden Barbie Award Winners
The Academy Awards has Oscar the golden statuette, but he doesn't compare with the Golden Barbies at Sequoia! And who receives these precious awards? PTSA parents who have contributed to the school community by volunteering throughout their students' time here and whose last child is graduating. 

This year's awardees are: Jenny Bender, Jill Berry, Beatrice Carrot, Donna Fiore, Evelyn King, Karin Lubeck, Jennifer Marino, Sheri Sigueneza and Paige Singh. Congratulations to all, and thank you to Alice Henderson for her artistic talents in creating the statuettes!

Sequoia Choir Showcases Their Skills
The Sequoia High School Choir, under the direction of Choir Director Othello Jefferson, participated in  the California Music Educators Association (CMEA)  Choral  West B  Festival  on Saturday, May 13 at  Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo and received a Superior rating!

On Tuesday, May 16, the Choir presented their 6th Annual Vocal Showcase in the MPR. Students picked their own songs and, with coaching, performed  solos, sang in small ensembles, and even accompanied themselves as they performed. Thank you to all of the Sequoia staff and parent support for these events!

Above - The Sequoia Choir at the CMEA Festival on May 13. Below - The Chamber Choir, along with other ensembles and soloists, performed at the Vocal Showcase in the MPR on May 16.

Dry Erase Boards Enhance Engagement with Students
With her PTSA Mini-Grant from Fall 2016, math teacher Dr. Subathra Ramanathan was able to purchase dry erase boards, erasers and markers for her students.  Dr. Ramanathan comments on the impact of these boards:

"I am a firm believer in checking in often with my students about how much of my 'droning' is getting through to them.  At the same time, I respect that the students are sick of being graded all the time. So often, I'll ask a question and have students answer and hold up their answers. In a flash, I suddenly know who 'got it' and who is 'checked out.'  There is no place for anyone to hide because if you didn't know something, your board is blank.  This quick feedback allows me to change course or engage students differently.  By making students write their answers, they practice writing or acknowledging what they don't know.  My students love being able to graph quickly and get instant feedback.  We even use the white boards to get a quick read on how people are feeling."

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

Just 2 More Grad Chaperones Needed!
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, and you can enjoy the food, soft drinks, coffee to help keep you awake! 

Click here to sign up !  If you have any questions, feel free to contact Donna Fiore at

In This Issue
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), on the baseball outfield

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

Monday, June 5
Traditional Monday schedule

Tue., June 6 - Thu., June 8
Finals schedule

Wednesday, June 7
11 AM - Senior BBQ

7 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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Community News

Sequoia+Stanford Summer Workshop 2017
Is your son/daughter interested in exploring engineering, math or science this summer? Sequoia+Stanford 2017 invites you to join us for a six-week workshop starting June 22!

CAN I FIX THAT?: Exploring creative engineering through real-world projects
  • Where: Sequoia High School, Rooms 242 and 245
  • When: Mondays & Thursdays, 3-5 PM, June 22-July 27
  • Cost:  FREE for current Sequoia HS freshman, sophomores and seniors as well as incoming 9th graders
  • Instructor:  Jodie Sheffels, Stanford EdYD Fellow
  • Interested? Students can fill out a workshop application here
Wonder what it's like to be an engineer? Want to make a difference in your community and the world beyond by proposing creative solutions to serious problems? Do you get excited about solving puzzles a nd building things with your hands? In this six-week workshop, you'll explore a variety of fields of engineering through innovative, student-directed projects. As engineers-in-training, you'll get to do what real software, bio-, civil and electrical engineers all over the world do every single day, from researching a problem, to proposing a solution, to implementing that solution and fixing your mistakes. Our projects will focus on issues relevant to your own community, ranging from sustainable energy, to environmental protection, to earthquake-resistant buildings. You'll also learn about real-world projects when we tour local engineering companies and Stanford University Labs to hear from professional engineers. Along the way, you'll challenge yourself to think in new ways and build confidence in your own ability as a student and engineer.

We welcome students with all levels of experience. No previous coursework necessary. Don't worry if you don't think you'll be "good" at engineering--no one is good at anything when they first start. All you need is a positive attitude, a willingness to ask questions, and a deep curiosity about the world around you. The rest of it, we'll learn together as we take on some of the world's coolest puzzles.

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,