October 19, 2015

Celebrating Sequoia High School's 120th Anniversary!
Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message
Last Monday, while students were enjoying an extended weekend (and hopefully observing Indigenous People's Day), staff from all five SUHSD schools and the Redwood City School District were engaged in professional learning on Sequoia's campus.  The morning activity focused on how classroom personnel can use student data to create meaningful activities and authentic assessments to further increase student learning.

Teachers were provided with a set of "equity cards" for all students in their classes.  Each card contains an assemblage of data points such as reading level, class schedule, counselor name, home language, etc.  I, along with other principals and vice principals, facilitated an analysis of this data to help teachers understand: (a) what they were seeing, (b) what the implications of the data are, and (c) how it might be annotated to provide an easy reference tool for instruction.

The primary function of the equity card is to allow teachers to solicit non-voluntary responses from students in class.  Best practice in, say, a social studies class, would be to present students with a reflective prompt (e.g., "What were three factors that contributed to tensions between the U.S. and the Soviets in the Cold War?").  Students are first given a set amount of time to think, then a few minutes to discuss in pairs with a seat partner.  Finally the teacher would use the equity cards (pulling names at random) to call on students to share their responses with the class.  Think -> pair -> share.  It's a great way for teachers to assess how well their students are understanding the material in a class where students have mixed ability levels - and adjust instruction to ensure all students are progressing on pace.

Back to Monday: after analyzing student data, teachers set about creating seating charts based on student assets, asking questions like, "Which students would benefit sitting next to Student X, an AVID student with strong group skills?" or "Will Student Y's second language ability make her a good partner for Student Z, who struggles with academic vocabulary?"  Teachers also used the cards in conjunction with leveled academic sentence frames to help create appropriate prompts for discussion on the fly in an activity like the aforementioned Think-Pair-Share.

My job as facilitator was made easy by the high level of enthusiasm among the teachers in my group.  Professional educators are eager to have access to information about their kids and even more excited about the time (the scarcest commodity in education) to delve into the data in a meaningful way.  Full disclosure, my group's enthusiasm may be due to the high percentage of Sequoia teachers assigned to my group.  We institutionalized the distribution of equity cards and the student data analysis activity 5 years ago as part of our department release day agenda at Sequoia.  As is often the case when you're on the vanguard, it's great to have more colleagues aboard with this approach to learning.

Have a great week!
Issue #2 Is Now Available!
The latest issue of Sequoia's student newspaper, the Raven Report, is available here.  Learn about the Sequoia community and see the hard work of our Journalism students! 
Are You Interested in Helping a Local Teen Pursue a Dream Career in Health and Science?
With just two hours a month, you can have an enormous impact on the life of one of our terrific high school kids!

We have a record-breaking number of students signed up for our Healthcare Careers Academy again this year and still are searching for an additional 20 volunteer mentors so that we can match all of our students in a one-on-one relationship with a great mentor.

What Is Sequoia High School's Healthcare Careers Academy?
Please watch this two-minute video to learn more about our program, our wonderful kids and their goals.

Who Makes a Great Mentor?
Any caring adult working in healthcare, fitness, wellness, education, science, biotech, marketing, human resources and related fields. 

We ALSO love volunteer mentors who are retirees, stay-at-home parents, grandparents, college students, contractors, small business owners, teachers -- really anyone who wants to make a difference by supporting a teen pursuing a career in health and science. We need people from a wide variety of backgrounds to match the diverse goals of our students. 

What's the Commitment?
-- One 2-hour session a month.
-- All sessions take place from 10:25 AM-12:10 PM at Sequoia.
The 2015-2016 Event Calendar is below; we would be happy to reschedule an event with your Mentee if you have a scheduling conflict. 
  • FIRST EVENT: Thu., Oct. 22, 10:25 AM-12:10 PM - Mentor Program Kickoff/Training Event, Library
  • Nov. 5 - Mentor Biography
  • Dec. 10 - Personal Inventory
  • Jan. 21 - Resume Writing Workshop
  • Feb. 25 - Mock Job Interviews and Business Etiquette
  • March (Date TBA) - Career Fair
  • April 14 - Career Share
  • May 12 - Wrap-Up Event
For more information or to sign up, please contact Elisa Nino-Sears, Director, ATLAS, Sequoia High School's Volunteer and Intern Department, (650) 387-8390,
To learn more about ATLAS and other volunteer opportunities at Sequoia, please check out our flyer.

ELAC-Sponsored Author Event: A Great Success!
On Saturday, October 10th author Lucio Padilla spoke to over 100 members of the Sequoia community about his book "Memoirs of a Lechuguero."  English Learners Advisory Council (ELAC) parents greeted attendees and helped facilitate a roundtable conversation. Parents and students alike participated in a lively discussion and had many questions for the author whose book tells of his experiences growing up as a farm worker in Southern California.

A truly cooperative day unfolded: the MPR was festively decorated by EL students, and the Latino Student Union Club ran the child care offering a variety of activities for the kids.  A delicious meal was provided, and at the end of the day participants played volleyball, soccer and Zumba. 

The organizers' time and effort paid off as everyone who attended the event thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Deep Family Roots Strengthen Our Sequoia Community
In honor of Sequoia's 120th birthday we asked you for information about multi-generational Sequoia families, and you responded - thank you!  We know there are more out there, but the list below gives you a glimpse of the rich history in our Sequoia community.  Graduation years are provided, and the family relationships listed are in relation to the current Sequoia student.  Keep sending us your family stories, and enjoy!
  • Martin - Zack (2018), father Steve (1984)
  • Anderson - McKenzie (2015), Rebecca (2018), parents Bill (1985) and Sue (1987)
  • Lynch - Morgan (2017), parents Jennifer (1988) and Ryan (1989)
  • Filippuzzi - Kyle (2016), grandfather Albert (1950), great-aunt Elaine (1946), great-uncle Robert (1940's)
  • Bravo - Spencer (2014), Jonathan (2017), parents Debbie (1990) and Frank (1990), uncle (1994), aunt (1992), aunt (1987).  Frank was president of the alumni association when Sequoia celebrated its centennial birthday 20 years ago!
  • Barvich - Taylor (2018), grandfather Hal (1959), great-aunt Patricia (1957)
  • Regnier - Lauren (2017), Kari (2007), mom Robin (1981), grandparents Karen (1962) and David (1958), great-uncle Paul (1956).  Kari and Robin were both SHS cheerleaders!  David was a Sequoia gymnast and football player; he later became a Sequoia math teacher in the 1970's and a sub in the 2000's.
  • Cochran - Kyle (2018), grandfather Jeff (1977), great-aunt Karen (1978), great-uncle Mark (1980), great-grandparents Lavonne (1958) and Will (1956), plus several cousins and a great-uncle.  Among the activities that the family (Richardsons) have been involved with at Sequoia are band, orchestra, water polo, Future Business Leaders of America, and Cherokettes.
And a family with roots reaching back to Sequoia's beginnings...
  • Sjolund - Kristoffer (2016), Viktoria (2013), mom Heidi (1982), and grandmother Vivian Holmquist (1942) are just a few of the five generations of Sequoia alumni from the Holmquist family. Starting with Jalmer (who was good friends with classmate Roy Cloud) in the first graduating class of Sequoia in 1898, there are over 20 Holmquists who have graduated from Sequoia in almost every decade since Sequoia's opening, in addition to other Sequoia alumni who have married into the family.  The Holmquist family has other historical ties with Redwood City, such as great-great-grandfather Rudolph who opened Holmquist Hardware in 1895 (the building is across from Savers).  Activities that the Holmquists/Sjolunds have been involved with at Sequoia include swimming, volleyball, archery, band, theater with Ray Doherty, and Treble Clef with Jay Selby.
Do You Like Helping Those in Need?Do You Like Planning Parties?            
Would you like to make a real difference this holiday season and all year long? 
The PTSA is looking for individuals interested in working on the Holiday Giving/Family Support team.  During the holiday season and throughout the year, this team works with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation, Parent Center and PTSA to provide support for Sequoia families in need.  If this sounds like you, contact us at
Do you like planning parties? 
Parents of the Class of 2017 are coming together to begin planning for Grad Week 2017.  It is not as far away as you think, really! Please contact us at if you would like to be a part of this fun committee!
Shout-Out null
A shout-out to our Mini-Grants committee who is working diligently this month! They are currently distilling the 40 applications that were received, results of which will be announced in early November.  

The Mini-Grants committee members are:  Lisa Goularte-Waddell (chair), Sian Davies, Megan Goulden, Lauren Pachkowski, Bonnie Sachs and Jayne Sungail. Thank you for your hard work in making this program possible!

School Photo Orders
If you are still interested in ordering school photos and would like to view your student's photo beforehand, we have been informed that proof sheets are available from Lifetouch.  Proof sheets take approximately 2 weeks to arrive.

Contact: 888-898-4723 or 510-372-1500, or email

> Our school name

> Student's first and last name

> Student's grade

> Home address

Note that Lifetouch orders are for 9th-11th graders; senior portraits are through Prestige Portraits.

Photo Scavenger Hunt
This week's photo was taken with an artsy perspective, can you figure out what it is?

Last week's answer:  This owl is one of a pair of owls over the front doors of the school; they are guardians of wisdom!

Thank you to Alice Henderson and Hilary Paulson for our scavenger hunt photos!  If you have a photo you would like to submit, please send it to Be sure to include information about what the item in the photo is and where it is located.  We look forward to hearing from you!

In This Issue
Monday, Oct. 19
Collab Day 

Wednesday, Oct. 21
6 PM - 9th Grade College and IB/ICAP Info Night, Carrington Hall

Thursday, Oct. 22
10:25-12:15 - Healthcare Careers Academy Mentor Program Kickoff/Training, Library

Friday, Oct. 23
Homecoming Football Game

Saturday, Oct. 24
Homecoming Dance

Monday, Oct. 26
Collab Day

Wednesday, Oct. 28
6:30-8:30 PM - 8th Grade Information Night

Oct. 31
Deadline for taking Senior portraits and for submitting Senior baby photos to Ms. Bray

Tuesday, Nov. 3
6 PM - PTSA/ELAC Potluck Dinner, MPR
7 PM - PTSA Meeting, MPR

Friday, Nov. 6
Evergreens ordering deadline

Wednesday, Nov. 11
No school - Veteran's Day

Nov. 20, 21, 22
Fall Musical "Brigadoon"

Nov. 25-27
Thanksgiving Holiday - No school
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Parent Education
M-A Parent Education Series
Saving Jake: When Addiction Hits Home - with author D'Anne Burwell, M.A.

Thursday, October 22, 2015, 10:00 - 11:30 AM
M-A Performing Arts Center (PAC) Cafe
Menlo-Atherton High School
555 Middlefield Road, Atherton CA 94027
Register here.
D'Anne Burwell, local author of the newly released memoir, Saving Jake: When Addiction Hits Home, shares her heartbreak, hope and lessons learned when things fall apart. Her powerful personal story -- a family grappling with a teenaged son's drug addiction -- transcends addiction and speaks to us all. Join us to listen to D'Anne's story of experience, strength and hope. 

Ms. Burwell holds a Master's degree in education and advocates for families of addicts through radio commentaries, parent mentoring, speaking engagements, and her resource-and-information website, She organized the first screening in Northern California of The Anonymous People, and her radio commentaries have appeared on the Perspectives series on KQED/NPR. The mother of two young adults, D'Anne Burwell lives with her husband in Silicon Valley.
Books will be available for purchase at the event or on Amazon (in paperback and Kindle versions). 
M-A Parent Education Series events are free, sponsored by the M-A PTA, the Sequoia Healthcare District, and the Sequoia Union High School District. This event is open to parents, faculty/staff, and community members.
Questions? Contact Charlene Margot, M.A., Founding Director, The Parent Education Series, at or 650.868.0590.

Woodside Parent Education Series
"Body Image Workshop - Love the Skin You're In ®" - with founder and activist Brie Mathers

Thursday, November 5, 2015 , 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Woodside High School, Multi-Use Room (MUR)
Register here.
Has Instagram got your teen glued to his/her phone? Love the Skin You're In ® unites families in exploring the self-destructive doubt that emerges out of the commoditization of our bodies. Through media literacy, young women build body esteem and reclaim resilience together, while boys find power in respect and empathy. Join us for a mindful journey in which we can move beyond the pursuit of an elusive "hot body" and rediscover how to source our lives from within. 
Activist Brie Mathers has spoken to over 60,000 young women, inspiring them to reclaim their minds and bodies from ubiquitous media idealizations. Brie's partners include National Youth Week New Zealand, Bay Area TEDx, University of Rochester Medical Center, Jikoji Zen Center, and Dr. Riane Eisler's Center for Partnership Studies. She has been featured in The San Jose Mercury News, Coastal Living, Origin, and on LA Talk Radio and CTV News. Brie is the author of Freedom to Blossom and is currently working on a new documentary, You Got This - Owning Body Image.

Parents, students, faculty/staff and community members welcome! Free admission. Spanish interpretation will be available. 
Woodside Parent Education Series events are sponsored by the Woodside PTSA, the Sequoia Healthcare District, and the Sequoia Union High School District.
Questions? Contact Charlene Margot, M.A., Founding Director, The Parent Education Series, at or 650.868.0590.