October 26, 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
10 minutes after lunch was to have begun on Friday, the voices of two thousand students and staff echoed through the packed gymnasium: "There's no place like Sequoia!  There's no place like Sequoia!  There's no place like Sequoia!"

Amidst the fun of the moment, it struck me that there's some genuine magic at play here.  It's no small feat to bring a community as diverse as ours -- two thousand students with wildly different backgrounds, interests, prior knowledge, and life experiences -- to such a pure moment of shared joy.  Given the assignment of reverse engineering the moment without a blueprint, I'm not sure I could do it.  

Yet here we were.       

Last week was Fall Spirit Week.  There's a Homecoming football game and dance.  Students dress up thematically each day ("Flower Power" Tuesday was particularly popular).  Thursday, each class decorates one of the hallways in the main building.  There's a competition with a detailed rubric used by staff judges to choose a winner.  9th graders typically get schooled.  Upperclassmen tend to pull out all the stops.  The cycle repeats from year to year.      

Friday's rally was the culmination of the week's activities.  The students were dismissed from 4th period classes to the main gym.  They filed into the bleachers by class.  Jane Woodman's band played spirited music to set the mood (I'm particularly fond of their arrangement of "Smooth Criminal").  Once the crowd settled, Othello Jefferson's choir presented their powerful rendition of "Over the Rainbow" for the two thousand silent students -- a different kind of magic.

This year's Spirit Week theme was "There's No Place Like Homecoming" -- a play on The Wizard of Oz.  The rally followed a script of our two student heroes awaking, lost in a strange purple world, searching for a wizard to help them get home.  Teachers Lydia Cuffman, Nichole Vaughan, and Rob Poulos made appearances as, respectively, Dorothy, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion.  

There were groan-inducing puns, silly games, dazzling performances from Taylor White's dancers, and the ever-popular teacher dance.  Sports teams were recognized.  Kayla Howard's cheerleaders performed.  The rally ran into lunchtime.  Nobody cared.  

When Student Activities Coordinator Corey Uhalde (truly the man behind the curtain of the week's events) appeared as the titular Wizard to help the students find their way home, it became inevitable that the audience was going to have to play along.  

You know the rest of the story.  Play along we did.  "There's no place like Sequoia!"  It was a joyous moment.  I'm proud to have shared it with our students.  I'm proud that two thousand students with wildly different backgrounds, interests, prior knowledge, and life experiences have a home at Sequoia High School.

Have a great week!
Please Support SHSEF
Don't forget to donate by 12/31/15 for your tax deduction!
Sequoia High School Education Foundation provides funding for many great academic, career/college and family support programs including:
  • Class Size Reduction
  • After-School Math Tutors
  • IB Math Staff
  • Chromebooks, Tablets & Graphing Calculators
  • College & Career Counseling Assistant
  • PTSA Mini-Grants
  • Freshman College Day
  • PSAT Day
  • Student-Run Newspaper "Raven Report" Printing
  • Staff Development Day
Visit to donate by credit card or through PayPal, or to print a donation form to pay by check.

Smarter Balanced Testing Informational Resources
Families of students who took the Smarter Balanced assessment last year will have received letters in September notifiying them of their child's score.  As the district implements the Common Core State Standards, there may be questions arising about how these standards will impact student learning now and in the future.  

Here are resources available for parents looking to find out more about Common Core and Smarter Balanced assessments:
  • Sequoia Union High School District's October issue of the Sequitur provides excellent background information and recent district-wide test results.
  • On Wednesday, October 28th at the San Mateo County Office of Education (101 Twin Dolphin Drive, RWC), the 17th District PTA will be offering a presentation titled "Grasp the CAASPP: California's New Assessments and your Child" open to all parents - see this flyer.
Chief Sequoyah Statue Dedication Ceremony A Great Success!
On Friday, October 23rd, Sequoia's main hall was brimming with over 60 people who attended the dedication ceremony for the Chief Sequoyah sculpture. (see background information in the 10/12/15 Sentinel)

Sequoia High School Alumni Association President  Ken Rolandelli welcomed the crowd and provided some historical background on the project.  He then introduced Sequoia alum John Castro who was the driving force transforming the statue from a dream to a reality.  Principal Sean Priest spoke, and Sequoia's choir performed two selections. Many of the visitors on hand have been dedicated members of the Alumni Association for decades and have contributed to keeping the Cherokee spirit alive and well in our community.
Ken Rolandelli, Sean Priest and John Castro after the statue's unveiling.

Sequoia's Choir performing at the statue dedication.

Homecoming Shout-Outsnull
Many students and staff worked tirelessly these past few weeks to make this year's "There's No Place Like Homecoming" a fantastic success! But three individuals receive a special shout-out:
  • Mr. Othello Jefferson who, in addition to becoming a new father to baby Olivia Jean Jefferson on October 20th, prepared his choir for three performances on Homecoming Friday including the rally, the football game and the Chief Sequoyah Statue Dedication Ceremony.
  • Ms. Taylor White who, as well as presenting Sequoia's student dancers, choreographed a dance routine for teachers and spent many lunch hours and after-school time working on the final presentation that was a huge hit during Friday's Homecoming rally.
  • Mr. Corey Uhalde whose energy, enthusiasm and hard work was unmatched as he worked with students, staff and administrators to pull off a week of activities including spirit week and rally and culminating in Saturday night's Homecoming dance.
Thank you for all your efforts!

Photo Scavenger Hunt
Do you know what this is and where it is located?

Last week's answer:  This is the eastern football goal post.

If you have a photo you would like to submit, please send it to [email protected]. 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. 26
Collab Day 

Wednesday, Oct. 28
6:30-8:00 PM - 8th Grade Information Night

7 PM - Smarter Balanced Assessment presentation sponsored by the 17th District PTA, at the SM County Office of Education, 101 Twin Dolphin Drive

Friday, Oct. 30
Deadline for 11th/12th grade students to drop an IB course that has an exam this year; see Ms. McCahon

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

Monday, Nov. 2
Collab Day

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

Sunday, Nov. 15
Due date for IB Exam fees

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

Nov. 25-27
Thanksgiving Holiday - No school
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Parent Education
Sequoia Parent Education Series
"Helping Young Athletes Reach their Potential" - with Steve Smith, PhD, Palo Alto University

Wednesday, November 18, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Sequoia High School, Carrington Hall
Register here.
How can parents support their student's participation in sports to encourage a lifelong healthy lifestyle and to reach their potential? The balance between sports, academics, and downtime can be challenging -- come learn how to prepare your young athlete for the future. 

Steve Smith, PhD, psychologist and professor of clinical psychology in the PGSP-Stanford PsyD Consortium of Palo Alto University, will provide guidelines for parents and coaches to consider for healthy sport participation. Dr. Smith served as the consulting psychologist for the Division I Department of Intercollegiate Athletics at UC Santa Barbara. He maintains a private practice, Sport Psychology and Research Center (, where he works with school, club, and professional teams and athletes of all ages.
Parents, students, faculty/staff and community members welcome! Free admission.  Spanish interpretation will be available.

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., Founding Director, The Parent Education Series, at [email protected] or 650.868.0590.  For Spanish, contact Mayela Ramirez, Parent Center Coordinator, 650-369-1411 x 63105.

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 [email protected] or 650.868.0590.