November 23, 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
Like many of you, I look forward to spending time with friends and family over the best meal of the year this week.  I'm flush with gratitude as I reflect on Sequoia's successes this fall.  Below are just a few of the many things I'm thankful for this year:

Lisa Hane and this year's PTSA Executive Board: for their energy, wisdom, and dedication to our students and staff.  A record number of mini-grants awarded, luncheons, coffee carts, Saturday tours for prospective families, and the development of a new communication guide are just a smattering of their myriad accomplishments through November. Bravo!

Sophia Olliver, Michael Kuliga and Gary Gooch: Our administrators oversee a long list of complex programs and operations with a positive attitude and strong work ethic.  Weighing competing interests and stretching limited resources, their compasses remain fixed on what's best for our kids. Sequoia would not be what it is without them.

Chromebooks: A great tool for research, composition, revision, collaboration, formative assessment, direct instruction, and many other functions that have made our teaching and learning more dynamic.  In thoughtful and innovative ways, Sequoia's awesome teachers have embraced Chromebooks in their classrooms.  From what I've observed, the student experience is richer for it.

Students:  At least once a week, I observe the genuine goodness today's teenagers -- and particularly our kids at Sequoia -- are capable of.  At last Friday's Dream Club Dinner, following the parade of official well-wishes from city and district officials, a collection of Sequoia's undocumented students took to the podium to present their stories of coming to the U.S. and embracing the promise of education.  In the back of the room, I noticed 12 tall girls wearing basketball sneakers and sweaty practice gear filing in.  They had paused practice to show solidarity with their teammate who was the next speaker up.  She struggled to get through the speech, overwhelmed by the emotion of her own story.  When their cheers helped through the moment, I felt very confident about the future of this community.

At the heart of our mission is the belief that a high quality education is a basic human right.  When I see our kids stand up for that belief, I am very grateful indeed.

All my best to Sequoia's families this week.

News from Around the County
On Friday, Nov. 20th the 17th District PTA, which represents San Mateo County schools including Sequoia, held its annual Superintendents Luncheon. This event brings together school superintendents, principals, PTA officers and elected officials.  It allows for informal catching up and provides an opportunity to hear updates from the individuals who are helping to shape education throughout the Bay Area.

This year's theme -- "Connecting Families, Schools, and Communities" -- offered the perfect launch pad to hear San Mateo County superintendents report on initiatives in their school districts ranging from the introduction of student wellness programs, to various construction projects designed to accommodate increased student enrollment as well as renovate outdated facilities.

Sequoia Union High School District's superintendent Jim Lianides reported on the increased efforts to reach out to Redwood City and Ravenswood elementary and middle schools in order to improve students' transition to high school. The luncheon agenda also featured remarks from California State Senator Jerry Hill, a long time supporter of education initiatives, and Anne E. Campbell, San Mateo County Superintendent of schools.

To find out more about the 17th District PTA, legislative initiatives, and ways you can support public education on the state level, follow this link.

Fall Mini-Grants Awarded
This year's Fall Mini-Grants program was a success! We awarded 27 grants totalling almost $8800, for subjects from Biology to Music, from World Maps to Human Body Systems -- many different subjects were selected in this round.  Click here for a full listing of the grants awarded.  In future Sentinels, we will feature some of the various projects that were granted.

A special thanks to all the Mini-Grant committee members for their hard work in discerning the 39 requests that were received:  Sian Davies, Jayne Sungail, Bonnie Sachs, Lauren Pachkowski, Megan Goulden and chairperson Lisa Goularte-Waddell. Thank you also to the Sequoia High School Education Foundation for providing the funding to make these mini-grants possible.  

We look forward to working hard again in the Spring to give away the Spring Mini-Grants!

Feeling Hospitable?
Come join our Hospitality Team!  We organize a few teacher appreciation events during the year, including our upcoming December 17th Holiday Staff Luncheon. If you are interested, please contact us at [email protected], thanks!

Shout-Out to Many Lads and Lassies! null
Sequoia's musical production of Brigadoon was a huge success this past weekend!  Audience members were transported to the mystical village of Brigadoon where they enjoyed tales of love, strife and faith, along with joyous singing and merry dancing.

Congratulations to the many people involved in making this production happen, including students, staff and parents who were involved as cast members, tech crew, stage hands, pit orchestra, set construction helpers and costume assistants!

Great Response for 8th Grade Campus Tours
Sequoia High School, in conjunction with the Sequoia PTSA, provided guided tours of the campus for more than 50 guests on Saturday morning, Nov. 21. The tours were open to all members of the local community, and were geared toward students and families of prospective students. Members of Sequoia's Associated Student Body class led the tours and were accompanied by parent volunteers from the PTSA. Sequoia Principal Sean Priest was on hand to greet the guests and answer questions following the approximately 40-minute tour. Sequoia will offer a second open tour date on Saturday, January 30 from 10:00-11:30 AM.

Student Body VP Brianna Rosales (far left) and PTSA parent Jayne Sungail (far right) with a touring family.

Thanks goes to the students who served as guides (Brianna Rosales, Caitlin Gilbert, Shayan Weerasakera, Liam Melendez-Brennan, MacKenzie Utley, Danielle Amaya, Jeanette Marino, Maya Ebrahimpour, Caitlin Williams and Louis Bulka) and also to the parents who were present to answer questions (Jayne Sungail, Grace Schulz, Alice Henderson, Marta Roig, Sian Davies and Lisa Hane).

New Visual & Performing Arts Boosters Group Takes Off!
The new VPA Boosters Club held its first meeting on Nov. 19.  Parents of students in music, drama, dance, and visual arts came together, along with the head of the VPA department Ms. Sheehan, to discuss plans for ways in which this new organization can support the 1066+ students and 8 teachers who are involved in visual and performing arts programs at Sequoia.  VPA classes include ceramics, photography, IB art, chorus, band, advanced dance, drawing and painting, orchestra, stagecraft, guitar, and piano.  Extra-curricular theater is also part of VPA at Sequoia.

The VPA boosters' goal is to spearhead and coordinate parent involvement.  Parents have long been asking if there is a way that they can get involved and help with VPA activities.  Now we have a platform by which they can do that.

The VPA Boosters has some great ideas for activities and events to get started on which include: launching a website, designing an outdoor garden/art exhibit, sponsoring a booth at the Sequoia International Festival and San Carlos Hometown Days, marketing our students and VPA events to the community, developing additional scholarship opportunities for VPA students, and coordinating a spring art exhibit in downtown Redwood City.

Our next meeting will be in January and all are welcome to attend. Bring your ideas! In the meantime, we need help developing our website and we would love volunteers who are interested in beginning work on events and activities.

Please contact Susie Gilbert if you are ready to help the arts continue to grow and thrive at Sequoia!

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

Carrington bench

Last week's answer:  This seal is carved into a bench in the lobby of Carrington Hall.

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, Nov. 23
B day

Nov. 25-27
Thanksgiving Holiday - No school

Monday, Nov. 30
Collab day

Tuesday, Dec. 1
7 PM - PTSA Meeting, MPR (agenda here)

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

Friday, Dec. 18
Winter Break Begins
Quick Links
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Community News
"Christmas Carol The Gift" with Sequoia Students
Charles Dickens' story of "A Christmas Carol" is magically brought to life as a musical show in Belmont at NDNU theater December 11-13 and 17-20.  This show, otherwise known as "A Christmas Carol The Gift," is a gift to the community as 8 of the 9 shows are FREE. Audience members are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food or toy donation that will joyfully be distributed.  One show charges admission to offset production costs, and includes a party.  These shows traditionally sell out and you should order tickets in advance.  Visit for more information including how to get tickets.  Sequoia students Lexi Battaglini and Jojo Solfrank perform in this year's 30th anniversary show.

Successful College Applications: Showcase Your Achievements in the Arts
Monday, December 7, 2015, 7:00 p.m.
Community School of Music and Arts
Finn Center, 230 San Antonio Circle
Mountain View, CA 94040
Join us for a presentation by Harriet Katz, the Creative Kid College Coach. Learn the benefits of an arts education and how to position the arts for competitive advantage when applying to college. This talk will focus on highlighting the arts experience for students applying to any college, as well as those with special arts programs.

With over 20 years of professional experience in the arts, Harriet helps students identify programs and prepare materials when applying to college visual and performing arts programs. She coaches creative kids to effectively communicate their individuality and navigate the college application process!

Free admission! For more information or to RSVP: