September 18, 2017

Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
topPrincipal's Message
Sequoia's three vice principals and I set a goal this year to visit to 500 classrooms between August and June.  It's an ambitious goal because of the inverse relationship between our duties and the time available to us between 7:30-3:45.  On the other hand, what could be more important to the operation of a world-class school than the action in the classroom?  

There are a variety of instructional strategies being used in Sequoia's classrooms as appropriate to individual courses, student need, and teaching styles.  There are also many common teacher strategies adopted to support students across curriculum.  For example, it's rare to see a class where (usually the same 3-4) kids raise their hands to volunteer their response to a teacher's question or prompt.  Instead, to ensure every student is engaged, teachers will give the whole class a question or prompt to ponder (Think), direct them to turn to a student seated next to them to discuss (Pair), then use a stack of "Equity Cards" to draw random names of students to present their response aloud with the class (Share). 

One of the things I'm most interested in when I visit a classroom is how students perceive their academic status against the status of their peers.  This reveals itself in all kinds of ways.  The body language of the students in a small group discussion or activity (who's leaning in, who has their head down, e.g.) or the tone of voice used by the student when they share their ideas (do they present their thoughts as a question or a statement?).  Learning is always a social activity (even if I'm quietly reading a book, that book was written by somebody).  As with any social interaction, status is always present.    

This perception of academic status has a huge impact on student achievement.  By around 4th grade kids' ranking of themselves and peers accurately reflects teacher rankings.  This only calcifies as students get older: statements like "I'm not a math person" become self-fulfilling prophecy.  We know also that we can turn around some of these low-status perceptions by talking explicitly with students about what it means to have a growth mindset.

As pernicious as a student's perception of low-status can be, we also know that teachers who believe in all kids see amazing results.  In the 1970s, a researcher at Harvard went around convincing teachers that an unidentified 10% of their students were poised blossom and make massive academic gains over the course of the year.  The teachers didn't know which students were a part of this subgroup, just that they were present.  Guess what?  The whole class showed growth by the end of the year equivalent to what we now call the achievement gap.  By believing that all our students may be on the cusp of huge gains, they actually can make huge gains.

When we talk at Sequoia about equity, unconditional positive regard, and high expectations for all kids, this is where we're coming from.  When I visit classrooms, this is what I'm looking for: everyone in the room believing in themselves and their peers.

Have a great week!


You Know You've Been Meaning to...

...So now's the time to Join the PTSA!  Click HERE
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!
  • Lend your voice to the national PTA's fight against school funding cuts and for quality education for every student!

Not sure if you have joined yet this year?  No problem! Check here for our updated Membership List

What Goes Around Comes Around ...
Spanish Exchange Students Visit Sequoia Families!

23 students from Majadahonda and Boadilla suburbs of Madrid, Spain, are currently visiting Sequoia students and families. Midway through a three-week stay, they attended Sequoia classes, visited the Academy of Sciences, braved the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and had other Bay Area adventures arranged by their hosts. This is the second stage of the exchange program. 21 Sequoia students traveled to Spain this past summer and were hosted by the visiting Spaniards. The summer travel included visits to Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Barcelona and time with host families in the Madrid area. Star Sequoia teachers Scott Stalder-Skarmoutsos and Tessa Yeager led the trip to Spain, and Sr. Stalder-Skarmoutsos and his Spanish counterpart teachers are coordinating the exchange activities in the Bay Area. They and their host families had an amazing time camping in the redwoods this weekend - a first for many of the Spaniards!

And by the way, the Spanish Club is looking for a new advisor as Sr. Stalder will not be continuing in 2019. If you know any teacher who would be perfect for this job, please let Sr. Stalder know!

Sequoia Teams Coming on Strong!

Sequoia's girls varsity golf and boys water polo teams both won big over their rivals this past week.  The fall brings opportunities to support these and all our athletes who are working hard after school and on weekends playing fall sports including cross country, football, and girls volleyball, tennis, water polo.  

Check out the schedules and standings at and support our Cherokees!
Sequoia Stampede 2017!

Hundreds of runners and dozens of volunteers showed up bright and early to participate in Sequoia's 7th Stampede 5K Run (and 2nd Tot Trot).  The participants' ages ran from under one to over 80 years, showing this community event is for everyone.  The three-mile race through the neighborhood surrounding the school was followed by the "Tot-trot," where kids aged five and under ran twice around the school track.  

The Stampede's goals are to nurture Sequoia's relationship with the community, involve all of the athletes in a common project, and raise funds to support all athletic teams at Sequoia.  The Boosters would like to thank all of the runners, volunteers, sponsors, and staff who participated this year to make it a great day!  

Reflections recognition is Within Reach!
Do you know Beatrice Bugos?  Or what about Michael Dooley, Remy Zerber, or Ellis Spikermann?  These students and many more submitted works of art for last year's Reflections Art Competition.  Their award winning works can be seen HERE.
Would your student like to enter their work for this year's competition?

reflections art programIs your student creative? Perhaps your student is in an art or dance class, or participates in theater events. Or maybe your student makes art on his/her own, takes photos and carefully curates an Instagram account, or makes short videos, or writes poems or stories.
We would love to recognize his/her efforts. Please tell your students about Reflections, the PTA Arts Recognition Contest.  There are 6 possible categories in which to enter. The theme their art must address this year is "Within Reach." How they interpret it is up to them.
An overview, the rules, and entry forms are available on-line at the  California PTA website. Fruther information will shortly be available on   the  Sequoia PTSA website under the Programs / Reflections tab and full instructions are available in the College and Career Center.  
The deadline is November 6, 2017.  For more information e-mail
Forget the Summer of Love and Embrace the Autumn of Love...Bags!
Love Bags are now available for purchase! These bags are well-made, attractive and make great hostess or birthday 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

8th Grade Shadow Program Now Open

If you know of any 8th graders who are considering coming to Sequoia in the fall, spread the word that Sequoia's Shadow Program is up and running! Click HERE for more information.

If slots are full, there is a waitlist and remember, please sign up only if your student is seriously considering Sequoia as spaces are limited!

Mini-Grants Now Open ... Step Right Up to Fund Your Project!
Twice each year, the PTSA, with support from 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 address compelling need which would otherwise go unfunded. Students, teachers and staff may apply. Past grants have included books for the Gay/Straight Alliance, fetal pigs and calculators for the science department, foreign language movies and music, student white boards, college/career fair admission, math competitions, orchestra bows, Chromebooks, and more.
Is your student a member of a club or activity that is ready to take on a new endeavor? Please encourage him or her to apply.  Additional information and application are available on the PTSA website. The application deadline is October 2, 2017, at 8:00pm.

Would you like to be on the front row to some of Sequoia's innovative educational efforts? We need parents to join our team to help with the selection process. If you have a few hours in early to mid October and again in March 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 get a front row seat on the great projects percolating in our school!

Sequoia Sentinel
Another Monday! We hope you are enjoying the Sentinel.  We welcome your feedback and input

If you have articles to submit to the Sentinel, please send the information to our article collection address  by the end of the day on Thursday. Guidelines for news submissions can be found on the Sequoia PTSA website

Class email lists: In addition to the Sentinel, the PTSA sends out grade-specific information during the year. Be sure that you are subscribed to your "Class of" list for EACH of your students! Visit the Stay Informed: Subscribe section of the PTSA website. 

With Kindest Regards,

Torri and Alex Horovitz
2017 - 2018 Sentinel Editors 

In This Issue
Upcoming Events

Tuesday, September 27
6pm 11th grade College and IB Info Night -  Carrington Hall

Thursday, September 28
Photo Retakes 

Thursday, September 28
7pm Sequoia Parent Education, "The Well-Balanced Student"
- Carrington Hall

Wednesday, October 4
6pm 10th grade College and IB info Night - Carrington Hall
Wednesday, October 11
PSAT for 10th and 11th grade students
Tuesday, October 17
7pm - College Financial Aid Information Night - 12th grade students and families -
Carrington Hall
Wednesday, October 18
6pm 9th grade College and IB Info Night - Carrington Hall

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En Español
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Parent Education

Lee Daniel Kravetz and Julie Lythcott-Haims
Social Contagion: How to Catch Resilience
Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, 7:00 - 8:30 pm
M-A Performing Arts Center (PAC)
555 Middlefield Road, Atherton CA 94025

Register Here 

Join us for an enlightening conversation with Lee Daniel Kravetz, author of Strange Contagion: Inside the Surprising Science of Infectious Behaviors and Viral Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves, and Julie Lythcott-Haims, NY Times bestselling author of How to Raise an Adult and Real American (2017).

Parents, students, faculty/staff, and community members welcome!
Spanish interpretation will be available. Free admission.

the M-A PTA, the Sequoia Healthcare District, and the Sequoia Union High School District.
Tauheed Zaman, M.D.
Clearing the Smokescreen: The Evidence on Marijuana
Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Woodside High School, WHS Performing Arts Center (PAC)
199 Churchill Avenue, Woodside

What does the current evidence show about marijuana (cannabis)? As a parent, what should you know about the potency of today's marijuana - "weed" - and its effect on the developing adolescent brain? Don't miss this critical presentation on "clearing the smokescreen" around marijuana. 

Parents, students, faculty/staff, and community members welcome!
Spanish interpretation will be available. Free admission.
Woodside Parent Education Series events are sponsored by the Woodside PTSA, the Sequoia Healthcare District, and the Sequoia Union High School District.

The Well-Balanced Student, Challenge Success, Stanford Graduate School of Education

Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, 7:00 - 8:30 pm  
Sequoia High School, Carrington Hall
1201 Brewster Avenue, Redwood City

When we are too focused on grades and performance, we deny our children the time and energy they need to tackle the demanding work of growing up. In this presentation, you'll learn how you can establish a healthier home environment for your school-aged student, reduce academic stress without sacrificing achievement, and increase your child's resilience, creativity, and well-being.

Challenge Success, founded in 2003 at the Stanford Graduate School of  Education, partners with schools and families to provide kids with the academic, social, and em otional skills need to succeed now and in the future. Mary Hofstedt, Ed.M., is the Community Education Direc tor for Challenge Success.  Parents, students, faculty/staff and community members welcome! Spanish interpretation will be available. Free admission.

Sequoia Parent Education Series events are sponsored by the SHSEF, the Sequoia Healthcare District, and the Sequoia Union High School District.

Questions? Contact Charlene Margot, M.A., Director, The Parent Education Series, via  email or 650-868-0590. For Spanish, contact Mayela Ramirez, Parent  Center Coordinator, 650-367-9780, Ext. 63105


Want to be a part of changing someone's life for the better?
Sequoia Aspiration Advocate Program (SAAP) is looking for mentors!
If you are a parent or a current or former Sequoia student, consider becoming a mentor for our most at-risk youth during their critical transition into high school. Connect with them as they work towards their goals.
What students develop: Trusting relationships, academic engagement, healthy outlets, leadership skills.
What mentors give: Positive guidance, supportive friendship, exposure to opportunities, tools for success.
What a mentor's role is: Mentors meet in a team of students and mentors weekly for 1-2 hours. Students attend once a week during a teacher approved class. Freshmen mentoring sessions are held on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, periods 1-6, and sophomore mentoring sessions are held every other Friday, periods 2, 4, and 6. Sign up for one session a week or several. 
Please sign up ASAP. Program runs from September 19th, 2017 - May 25th, 2018. The program runs through the end of the school year, but hopefully your relationship with the student will be a life-long one, but it's ok if it's not...
If you are interested please fill out this  FORM
Questions? Contact Evelyn Valencia