November 16, 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
We've banned "homework" in my family.  My oldest, 2½ months into transitional kindergarten, groaned in a jarringly adolescent tone two Sundays ago when my wife (also a school principal) and I suggested getting started on her "homework." We watched our daughter go boneless over having to draw a picture of an object using her favorite color.  This is an activity which typically brings her joy.  We exchanged glances and changed the conversation.  

To be fair, my daughter is just turning five.  Butter on a waffle is potentially calamitous.  The ambivalence she expressed about the word "homework," however, transcends the vicissitudes of early childhood development.  Her groans were the groans of students everywhere.

Revisiting the topic a few minutes later, we suggested this time she get started on her "project."  Our new prompt was met with enthusiasm.  A-ha!

When we talk with Emilia about projects, reading, practice, or even school, we generally get an enthusiastic response.  She loves new texts, creative tasks, mastering skills, practicing her writing, and trying unfamiliar things.  So what is it about the "h" word?  Where does this visceral and universal reaction stem from?  More importantly, is there something to be gained by using more precise language to describe academic endeavors occurring outside of school hours?

I see students every day working on school assignments in the library, the quad, the hallways, the stairs, in front of campus, the coffee shops on Broadway -- everywhere BUT their homes.  They're often discussing, collaborating, debating, or questioning (and usually laughing).  When I talk to Sequoia students about the hours they spent last night on "homework," I hear about reading, annotating, composing, answering, responding, revising, defending, and practicing.

The parent in me wants my daughter to continue to love learning and intellectual risk-taking.  The educator in me knows "homework" is a vague umbrella term with a strong negative connotation describing a range of -- often enjoyable -- endeavors.  The philosophy major in me knows words matter.  So we're shelving the h-word indefinitely at my house.  Maybe this is the beginning of a movement.

Have a great week!
Reflections Contest: Most Student Entries Ever!reflections art program
The PTSA Reflections Committee worked diligently to encourage student participation in this wonderful program. Their efforts paid off, as over 30 entries were received!

Now comes the fun part: We are looking for judges to help decide which pieces of student work can move on to the regional competition. Do you have a couple of hours to help?  Judges are needed for each of the following categories: Literature, Visual Arts, Photography, Musical Composition.  If interested, please contact Rachel Levine at by Wednesday, November 18.  We are targeting for the judging to be completed by November 23. Thank you!

The November 13 issue of the Raven Report is online here!

Visual & Performing Arts Boosters
Parents of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) students are invited to attend the first meeting of a VPA Boosters organization that is being formed for Sequoia High School.  The meeting will be Thursday, November 19 from 7:00-8:30 PM in the Faculty/Staff Lounge, Room 233.

At the meeting, we will fine tune our mission statement and by-laws and elect some officers for the group.  In addition, we will brainstorm ideas for ways that we can "boost" VPA activities and events and provide support for all of the Visual and Performing Arts students at Sequoia.  We hope to become a vibrant group that helps to enrich the creativity of our students.

We really need your energy and support to launch this group, and we look forward to seeing you at the meeting.  We promise to keep the meeting on track and get through the agenda quickly. Even if you can't make the meeting, we hope that you will become an active member of the new VPA Boosters!

Questions - contact Kate Sheehan, VPA Department Chair, or Susie Gilbert, Interim President.

New Teacher Grants
Through the support of the Sequoia High School Education Foundation, the Sequoia PTSA administers grants to new teachers each year to welcome them and help them set up their classrooms.  For the 2015-16 year so far, 14 grants totaling $2500 have been given to our new teachers.

In appreciation of these grants, Social Studies teacher Ashley Gray says: "Thank you very much for the generous New Teacher Grant reimbursement check.  The $99.46 was used to purchase supplies for students' use in class and has already been utilized several times.  Having been a teacher at three high schools over the past 16 years, but only at Sequoia for this year, I am so pleased and honored to work at a school with such support, spirit, and leadership."

Thank you to all who support the PTSA and SHSEF to make these programs possible!

Thank You, SAP!
Sequoia thanks the SAP Corporation for its generous $45,000 donation for STEM education 2015-16. In the past three years, SAP has donated $80,000 to support STEM education. In addition, SAP employees have donated a total of 800 volunteer hours working with our Academy Mentor Program.

There's Still Time To Help With Our First Ever 8th Grade Campus Tours
ASB students will be leading tours for incoming 8th graders on Saturday, November 21 from 10:00 AM until about noon.  The tours will feature campus highlights both indoors and out.  

Having current Sequoia parents on hand to answer questions will be a great addition.  Plus, coffee and snacks will be provided in case the weather is chilly!  Contact us at if you can spend an hour or two on Nov. 21 welcoming potential Sequoia families.

Do You Like Planning Parties?
...Especially those that involve making our wonderful Sequoia teachers happy and well fed?  We have some opportunities coming up, including the December 17th Holiday Staff Luncheon.  If this sounds like something you'd like to get involved with, contact us at and come work with our terrific Hospitality Team!

Carrington bench Photo Scavenger Hunt
Here is another version of the Sequoia seal on our campus, showing the Sequoia tree with "Unaliyi." Have you seen it?

Last week's answer:  The "5" (also shown in full context) is the posted speed in the Jefferson lot.

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, Nov. 16
Collab day 

Wednesday, Nov. 18
7 PM - Sequoia Parent Education, "Helping Young Athletes Reach Their Potential," Carrington Hall

Thursday, Nov. 19
7 PM - VPA meeting, Room 233

Friday, Nov. 20
6 PM - Dream Club Dinner, MPR

Nov. 20 & 21, 7 PM; 
Nov. 22, 3 PM
Fall Musical "Brigadoon," Carrington Hall; tickets here

Monday, Nov. 23
Block schedule - B day

Nov. 25-27
Thanksgiving Holiday - No school

Tuesday, Dec. 1
7 PM - PTSA Meeting, MPR

Tuesday, Dec. 8
7 PM - Winter Concert, Orchestra and Choir

Wednesday, Dec. 9
7 PM - Fall Sports Awards, Carrington Hall

Thursday, Dec. 10
7 PM - Winter Concert, Bands

Dec. 15-17
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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 or 650.868.0590.  For Spanish, contact Mayela Ramirez, Parent Center Coordinator, 650-369-1411 x 63105.

Community News
Sequoia Students Perform in Nutcracker
Come see the Bay Area's most family-friendly Nutcracker performance at the historic Fox Theater in Redwood City on Friday, December 4th at 7:00 PM and Sunday, December 6th at 1:00 PM & 4:00 PM.  Ballet America's show has it all: professional dancers, alongside 100 local performers, including Sequoia's very own Tirzah L., Sadie R., Lauren S., Ellis S., and Harper G.  Tickets range in price from $22-$39 and are available via the website: Get your tickets early before they sell out. See you at the ballet!