September 10, 2018     

Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
TopPrincipal's Message
From the equation 2x+9=25, solve for x.

How are you reacting at this moment?  Did you just pause for a few seconds and figure it out in your head?  Are you searching for scratch paper?  Do you vaguely remember something from your algebra days about cancellation and the distributive property?  Did you recoil in terror?

It's OK.  This won't be on the test.

I happened upon a small group of students working on their solution to this problem while visiting Ms. Katia Sterne's 4th-period Algebra Support class last week.  This is a class of 10th graders.  Prior to entering Sequoia in 2017, they were assessed at below grade-level in math.  Last year, they were enrolled in two periods of math: Algebra Readiness and Algebra Readiness Support.  This year, they are with the same students and the same teacher, again taking two periods of math: Algebra I and Algebra Support.  They need to pass this class with enough skill and confidence to be successful in Geometry next year and to meet Sequoia's math requirements for graduation.  

The students used dry erase markers on small plastic tablets for their computations.  One student suggested they subtract 2 from both sides.  Two of the other students went along, but the fourth student was skeptical.  "Naah, it's not a 2, it's a 2-X."

"The nine," suggested one of the other students, "take away nine from both sides."

Finally noticing that I was watching, the skeptical student looked at me.  I raised my eyebrows and tilted my head slightly to say, "you're on the right track, work it out."  He set his pen on the desk and quietly counted down from 25, using his fingers to make sure he was subtracting only nine numbers.  16.  He wrote it down on the line below the original equation.  One of the three other students liked that.  "Divide by two!  Divide by two!"

I gave a fist bump to the student who had initially questioned his buddy and quietly left.  They had moved onto the most important part of the activity, explaining their reasoning.  Which steps they'd taken, in which order, and, most importantly, why.  
In that moment, I saw students who trusted one another, weren't shy about questioning their teammates and moved on quickly after errors were identified.  This was the result of Ms. Sterne's teaching skills: she had created a safe learning environment with consistent norms and high expectations.  Though her students' computational skills may be less developed than their peers, they were still engaged in finding a solution to a rigorous challenge.
Mathematicians who are able to explain their reasoning, are open to input from their peers, and have a sense for the logical steps needed to reach the solution (in this case, to solve for X), are poised for success in the 21st century.  Everyone equipped with these skills is an asset.
Teamwork, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills: you'll see an emphasis on building them in math classes at Sequoia, whether Algebra Support or AP/IB Calculus.  It's no coincidence that these are the skills employers desire in their workforce when looking ahead to 2020.  Notably missing from that list: computational skills. 

There is so much to consider when looking around the corner in the education of our young people for the 21st century -- particularly when it comes to math.  I look forward to occasionally sharing my thoughts and observations in these newsletters this year.

Have a great week!

Welcome Night Recap
PTSA Check
PTSA President Erika Pretell presenting a check representing the number of 2017-18 volunteer hours to Principal Sean Priest.
On September 4, the PTSA and ELAC hosted around 150 parents and teachers at the Principal's Welcome and Reception in Carrington Hall.  We enjoyed an entertaining welcome as the Sequoia Cheer Squad greeted attendees with favorite cheers and fight songs.  Guests had an opportunity to visit information tables and speak with representatives from different parent organizations to learn more about getting involved with the PTSA, ELAC, Sequoia High School Education Foundation (SHSEF), and Athletic Boosters.
At the start of the evening, PTSA President Erika Pretell and Family Center Coordinator Elvira Macias welcomed everyone and introduced the dedicated PTSA executive board members and ELAC team.  The PTSA was honored to present Principal Sean Priest with a giant check for $85,842 representing the 3556 volunteer hours donated last year by our wonderful parent community - and noted that there were many more hours that went unreported.  We are truly grateful for our fabulous volunteers!  Mr. Priest then focused part of his presentation on the meaning and value of our school motto, Unaliyi, a word from the Cherokee language meaning "a place of friends."
Mr. Priest fielded a wide variety of questions from the audience, ranging from how to limit screen time for teens, to school safety, the latest on the school mascot issue, and new teachers and staff, among other topics.
Please mark your calendars for the next PTSA/ELAC meeting on Tuesday, October 2 at 7:00 p.m.  All parents, teachers and students are welcome and we hope to see you there!
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Club Day - Join the Club(s)!
Students packing the main campus drive on Club Day last year. 
It's almost time for Sequoia's annual CLUB DAY, one of the most popular events on campus.  Each year on a mid-September Friday, more than 50 of Sequoia's student organizations show up to recruit new members and let interested students know what they are all about.  Event facilitators estimate unofficially that more than 70% of Sequoia's 2100+ student body visit the campus' main drive to find a new group or niche to make part of their year.  Club Day is an awesome opportunity for everyone, but especially for Sequoia's newest freshman students to find groups of classmates who share their interests.  Club Day will take place on the main campus drive during lunch on Friday, September 14.  
Mini-Grants Application Deadline Extended!    
It's Mini-Grants time!  Twice each year, the PTSA, through the support of the SHSEF, offers Mini-Grants to enhance the excellent education offered at Sequoia High School.  These grants are designed to encourage creative approaches to learning and/or to address compelling need which would otherwise go unfunded.  Students, teachers and staff may apply.  Application deadline: Friday, September 21 at 8:00 p.m.

Parents, is your student a member of a club or activity that is ready to take on a new project?  Please encourage him or her to apply.  Additional information and application are available on the PTSA website.

Would you like to be on the front row to some of Sequoia's innovative educational efforts?  Consider joining our team to help with the selection process.  If you have a few hours to review applications and meet with the committee, we would love to have you on board.  No experience is necessary, and there will be seasoned committee members assisting along the way.  This is a great opportunity for new as well as returning Sequoia parents to learn about the great projects percolating in our school!  Our fall meeting will be held on Thursday, September 27 at 7 p.m.

Contact our Mini-Grants committee chairs Marlena Griffin and DeeDee Clarke at
Reflections 2018-19: Heroes Around Me 
Give Voice to the Artist in You!  
reflections art program Reflections is a national celebration of student art.  Encourage your student to let creativity reign with this year's theme, Heroes Around Me /tema,roes a mi alrededor.
Enter artwork and a personal reflection of its meaning in one of six categories:
  • Dance Choreography
  • Film Production
  • Literature
  • Music Composition
  • Photography
  • Visual Arts
All entries will be recognized for its artistic achievement -- participation itself is a meaningful contribution to the Sequoia community!  First-place finishers in each category enter the district competition.  District level winners move on to the state level, and winners there ultimately compete at the national level.
Submissions can be applicable school assignments or a personal creative project.  Background information on Reflections, rules, and category descriptions can be found at HERE.  Due date is Monday, November 5, 2018.  Stay tuned for updated submission guidelines! 
Questions: Contact Viki Young, Reflections 2018-19 Chair at
New 8th Grade Shadow Program Launched - Would You Like to Help?     
Sequoia's Student Activities Coordinator, Corey Uhalde and his team have created a new Shadow Day experience for incoming 8th graders.  In order to make it a success, we need a little parent involvement.   
Shadow days are Mondays only, October through January and require a short 90 minutes of your time.  You will work closely with Mr. Uhalde, the director of Student Activities and no special skills are required.  He is in search of  two adults  each session to help out from 7:45 - 9:15 a.m.  From time to time, Corey may ask you to chime in with your personal experience, but the majority of the role is to be a Sequoia Ambassador -- warm, welcoming and helpful to the nervous 8th graders (and their parents!).
Please consider participating; it's a fun opportunity to make someone's first impression of Sequoia overwhelmingly positive.   Please sign up here if you would like to volunteer.  F eel free to email Sara Mancini if you have any questions.  Thanks for your help!

And by the way, if you know of any families who have 8 th graders interested in shadowing at Sequoia, share this link:
Sign-ups fill quickly so act now!
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Senior Parents, Don't Delay: Help Your Class Earn Dollars for Grad Night by Helping with Football Concessions! 
The Class of 2019 parents are working hard to raise funds for Safe & Sober Grad Week Activities that happen the last week of school in June:  Senior Brunch and Senior BBQ, as well as Grad Night itself, when our graduates cruise around the SF Bay on board a Hornblower Yacht.  Join the effort to make this a successful, safe and memorable week!
Football Concessions : Be part of the action during the Friday night home football games.  Chat with students and parents while making iced mochas, serving hot drinks and selling freshly popped popcorn.  Sign up for a shift at one of the Sequoia home games  (September 14, September 28, October 5  and  November 2) .  Can't make it to the game?  Sign up to donate items needed to run the concession stand.  Click here to help out!   
Contact Laura Nibbi (650-703-8877), or Diane Holman (408-335-5012) with questions.  
Photo Re-takes on Friday, September 28 - Helpers Needed
Students will have the opportunity to re-take their school photos on Friday, September 28.  We need a few parent volunteers to assist the LifeTouch photographers with handing out name cards.
Please sign up here to help for a couple of hours during the school day.  It's an easy job and a fun way to meet students and teachers!
Thank You for Spoiling Our Teachers and Staff After Back-to-School Night! 
Staff Appreciation
Teachers and staff filled their brown bags with goodies and sipped custom-made beverages in the staff lounge.
THANK YOU to all the families (including parents and students) who served hot espresso drinks and tasty breakfast treats to our much deserving Sequoia teachers and staff members the morning after Back-to-School Night.  Many teachers pre-ordered and received convenient in-class deliveries while others stopped by the staff lounge.  All enjoyed the delicious hard-boiled eggs, mini-bagels, fruit, yogurt, cream cheese and peanut butter, as well as a hot beverage of their choice.  Each teacher and staff member expressed their appreciation for the perfect pick-me-up following the late night.  It was a great way to lead into the three-day weekend. 
Volunteers from the PTSA hospitality team set up the 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, including:   Tia Knuedler, Adrienne Heist, Amy Ollmann, Angie Lax, Anna Sanchez-Salgado, Anne Allen, Betsy Parkhurst, Caitlin Schneider, Cindy Fletcher, Duoc McCutchan, Erika Blaney, Heather Weber, Jane Taylor, Jasi Atwal, Jen Pedrotii, Jennifer Sugden, Julia Chalios, Julie Gleason, Kirsten Johnson, Laura Nibbi, Linda Burt, Lisa Hane, Marisela Gomez, Patricia Carpinelli, Sara Mancinin, Sarah Sorensen, Stacy Huisman, Susan Lier, Susan Tokheim, and Susan Murphy.  
A special shout-out to the Leadership students who helped deliver coffee and breakfast orders, and to our PTSA Hospitality committee leaders, Jennifer DiGrande, Laura Vella-Fukuji, and Blanca Crispin.
You Know You've Been Meaning To...   
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...So click the purple button on the right and JOIN NOW!
With your membership, you can:
  • Be a part of Sequoia's community of parents, teachers and students who make our school welcoming, united, and engaged!
  • Empower the California State PTA to speak up on behalf of our families.  Our State PTA has a long history of protecting and supporting California's most valued assets, our children.  The greater our number, the stronger our voice.
Not sure if you have joined yet this 2018-19 year?  Check the latest  Membership List.  
In This Issue

Thursday, September 13
M-A Parent Ed. - Mindful Parenting, MAPAC, Atherton

Friday, September 14
Lunch Period
Club Day, Main Campus Dr.

Friday, September 14
JV @ 4:30 p.m.
V @ 7:00 p.m.

1st Home Football Games: Sequoia vs. Mission-SF, Terremere Field

Monday, September 17
Professional Development Day - No School

Friday, September 28
Photo Re-take Day

Tuesday, October 2 
7:00 p.m.

2018-19 Visual & Performing Arts Schedule 
music notes  
Mark your calendars for this year's events from our Visual and Performing Arts Department.  Be sure to check the school calendar for the most up-to-date information about the music, theater and dance programs as each event nears!
Quick Links
PTA Slogan
California State PTA Statement on Family Separation and the U.S. Administration's "Zero Tolerance" Immigration Policy
Sequoia Sentinel
If you have articles to submit to the Sentinel, please email the article/blurb by the end of the day on Thursday.  See Guidelines for news submissions. 
Find past issues of the Sentinel at  
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Parent Education

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Mindful Parenting: How to Raise Kids Who Are Creative, Compassionate, and Resilient
Leah Weiss, PhD, Stanford University, Author: How We Work  
Thursday, September 13, 2018, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
M-A Performing Arts Center (MAPAC)
555 Middlefield Rd., Atherton, CA 94027 

How can you raise teens who are more creative, compassionate, and resilient? Students 
who will become emotionally intelligent leaders? 
Dr. Leah Weiss, Stanford University, international expert in compassion, shares advice about what parents can do to remain mindful - while navigating the ups and downs of raising kids. 
Using examples from her popular course, "Leading with Mindfulness and Compassion," Dr. Weiss will lead attendees towards a calmer and more purposeful parenting path. Learn how to quiet your critical inner voice and practice greater self-compassion to raise kids who are emotionally resilient.
Leah Weiss, PhD, is a researcher, lecturer, consultant, and author. She teaches courses on compassionate leadership at Stanford Graduate School of Business and is founding faculty for Stanford's Compassion Cultivation Program.  Her new book, How We Work, is endorsed by the Dalai Lama.

ANGST: Raising Awareness Around Anxiety
Documentary Film + Panel Discussion
Tuesday, October 16, 2018, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Sequoia High School, Carrington Hall 
1201 Brewster Avenue, Redwood City

What is causing the anxiety epidemic in our children and teens?  Join us for a special screening of the new IndieFlix documentary, ANGST: Raising Awareness Around Anxiety, followed by a student panel.
This is an opportunity for parents, students, and community members to hear from students about how anxiety impacts their lives.  Resource tables staffed by mental health organizations available from 6:30pm - 9:00pm.
ANGST features candid interviews with youth and young adults who suffer, or have suffered, from anxiety.  The film includes discussions with mental health experts about the causes of anxiety and its sociological effects, as well as help, resources, and tools.
Parents, students (ages 10 and up), educators, and community members welcome!  Spanish interpretation and light refreshments will be offered.  FREE admission.
Presented by SUHSD Wellness Advisory Council (WAC), with support from Children's Health Council, Sequoia Healthcare District, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, SafeSpace, and The Parent Education Series.
Sequoia Parent Education Series sponsored by SHSEF, Sequoia Healthcare District, and Sequoia Union High School District.
Questions? Contact Charlene Margot, M.A., Director, The Parent Education Series.
Charlene Margot, M.A. | CSM Consulting
650.868.0590 |
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