January 18, 2016

Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message
There are a lot of great stories I could tell you about Administrative Vice Principal Mike Kuliga.  He once, for instance, raised a pig farm-to-table using discards collected during lunch. Many conversations about the food industry were sparked with students as he strolled the halls filling his orange scrap bucket.  He's a triathlete, a beekeeper, and makes a delicious smoked duck.  He has been a lifeline for too many kids to count, working quietly to shepherd vulnerable students through difficult crises.  The phrase "Unconditional positive regard for kids," one of our core values at Sequoia, comes from Mike.

A fun recent Mike story (too good not to share) has played out over the last few weeks.  With spring drawing closer, we were increasingly anxious about recruiting a coach for our Boys Lacrosse team.  Nobody on our staff was able to fill the role and we were coming up dry in the community finding someone willing to make the commitment.  

Having exhausted several leads, Mike came into my office and asked, "How do you feel about me coaching lacrosse this year?" This was Mike, as the administrator in charge of the athletics program, saying that if we couldn't find someone he was willing to shoulder the responsibility.  I appreciated his unfailing integrity but...

"Mike, you don't have time to coach lacrosse and do the other parts of your job."
"That's probably true."
"Also, you don't know anything about lacrosse."
"Also true.  If it makes you feel any better, I wouldn't accept the coaching stipend."
Forehead.  Palm of my hand.  Slap.

Thankfully, we found a qualified, experienced coach within a few days of this conversation who will be ready to start when the season gets underway officially next month.  In the interim, Mike has taken to leading morning conditioning with the team.  20-25 young men are meeting up voluntarily with Coach Kuliga each day at 7 AM.  They jog around the campus, sprint yard lines on the stadium field, and do plyometrics in the gym.  

Running alongside the team, Mike likes to play the role of "the voice in your head."  When spirits lag, Mike chants, "I wish I was still asleep!" or "I'm too tired to go on!"  The players have chosen "It's great to be alive!" as their response.  I'm waiting for the noise complaint from one of our neighbors.

"The team called me out this morning," Mike told me on Friday, "I was challenged to do planks against one of the guys.  It went for like 3 minutes.  I've never planked for more than 45 seconds!"  
"But you won right?"
"Oh yeah, but they'll get better."

Mike Kuliga, ladies and gentlemen...

Have an awesome week -- "It's great to be alive!"

Spanish DVDs Enhance Learning
In the Fall Mini-Grants, Edith Salvatore was awarded a grant to purchase Spanish travel/culture DVDs. Sixteen DVDs were purchased from the GlobeTrekker travel series, covering all countries of Latin America and Spain. This provides the World Language department with more resources to enhance cultural discussions and also to provide for substitute lesson plans when a Spanish-speaking substitute teacher is not available.  The DVDs will be used not only in Spanish classes, but across the department.

Thank you to the SHSEF for helping to make the Mini-Grants Program possible!  

Under the Stars
Sequoia students returned to the historic Fox Theatre in downtown Redwood City on Saturday night for the school's annual Winter Formal dance. 626 students flooded through the doors of the landmark site, up from 555 one year ago. Sequoia juniors Lauren Berry, Caitlin Williams and Leah Bondar, members of Sequoia's student leadership class, made the most significant contributions to the planning and decoration of the event. Students entered the Theatre beneath strings of shimmering lights illuminating the theme, "Under the Stars."  

Students and guests packed the dance floor from opening to close, and many expressed how much fun it was to enjoy the special night with their friends. "Everyone came together to have fun and dance, and it felt like one big family," said junior Leah King. Administrative Vice Principal Gary Gooch was the presiding administrator, and also was impressed by the event. "It was really awesome to see our students having such a great time. It's the best high school dance I've ever been to," gushed Gooch, who is in his first year at Sequoia. Principal Sean Priest expressed, "The big turnout made me happy. I was proud of our kids for the joy and style they brought to downtown Redwood City on a Saturday night."

The dance capped a successful Winter Spirit week for the Sequoia student body, which featured themed dress-up days throughout the week and a vibrant pep rally on Friday afternoon. "I think the awesome turnout at Winter Formal is indicative of a really healthy and positive school climate," added Student Activities Director Corey Uhalde. "Our kids really seem to like where they go to school and the natural consequence is that they love participating in all these events that help make high school what it is. I hope we can keep up this momentum throughout second semester and into the coming years."

Winter Sports - Girls Soccer
blue-soccer-ball-cleats.jpg Winter sports - soccer, basketball and wrestling - are in full swing at Sequoia!

The girls varsity soccer team is having a great season.  Coach Melissa Schmidt reports that they "played a very challenging pre-league schedule and had some great wins.  We're now three games into league and are doing great. It's a fun team with a lot of heart."  Come cheer on Sequoia's girls varsity soccer team at their next home games - January 28, February 4 & 9, all at 4:00 PM.

Spring SAFE Programs Have Begun
Curious about horsemanship, aviation maintenance or learning how to draw? Need some extra help with an academic subject? Want extra time to get some exercise? 

Sequoia After-school Focused Enrichment (SAFE) programs for the spring season are now open.  Encourage your student to try something new at these free sessions!  Check out this updated SAFE brochure that lists the programs that are available, including tutoring, sports, dance, science, drivers education and more. Meeting times for the various programs occur before school, during lunch, and after school.

Class of 2017 Basketball Concessions
Junior families, sign up here to donate food and supplies or help work the concessions stand at our quad games on January 22, 29 and February 5.  Proceeds will go towards the 2017 Safe and Sober Grad Week activities.

Spread the Word to 8th Grade Families!
If you know of any families with 8th graders who are considering attending Sequoia, encourage them to attend our Campus Tours on Saturday, January 30 from 10 AM until about noon. These informative tours will be led by ASB student leaders, highlighting various areas of the campus. Parent volunteers will also be available to answer questions.

We hope to have another great turnout like we did in November! Attendees can park at either the Brewster or James lots, where Sequoia students will direct them to the main entrance of the school to gather for the tours.  No sign-ups are needed beforehand. 

Contact [email protected] with any questions or if you wish to help with the tours.

A big shout-out to everyone who helped make last week's Spirit Week and Winter Formal dance a huge success, including ASB students, all those involved in the pep rally, teacher chaperones at the dance, and administrative staff.  Our students are fortunate to have events such as these that help bond them together as a Sequoia community!

Photo Scavenger Hunt
Can you figure out which set of stairs this is?

Last week's answer: This Sequoia seal is on the Veteran's Memorial plaque.

In This Issue
Monday, Jan. 18
No school - Martin Luther King holiday

Monday, Jan. 25
Collab Day

Saturday, Jan. 30
10 AM - 8th Grade Campus Tours

Tuesday, Feb. 2
7 PM - PTSA Meeting

Fri, Feb. 12 & Mon, Feb. 15
No school - Lincoln's Birthday and Presidents' Holiday

Tue, Feb. 16
6 PM - Spring Sports Info Night

Thursday, Feb. 18
7 PM - Sequoia Parent Education, Finding the Right Fit / College Search, Carrington Hall

Feb. 19-21
Winter Play - Rehearsal for Murder
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Parent Education
Sequoia Parent Education Series
"Finding the Right Fit - A Conversation about the College Search" - with Maria Furtado, Executive Director, Colleges That Change Lives (CTCL)
Thursday, February 18, 2016, 7:00 - 8:30 PM
Carrington Hall, Sequoia High School
1201 Brewster Avenue, Redwood City

Join Maria Furtado, Executive Director of Colleges That Change Lives, for a conversation about helping your student find the "right fit" for college. Colleges That Change Lives, Inc. (CTCL) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement and support of a student-centered college search process. CTCL supports the goal of each student finding a college that develops a lifelong love of learning and provides the foundation for a successful and fulfilling life beyond college.

Maria Furtado has worked in higher education for over 20 years. Maria speaks all around the country to students, parents, and counselors about college rankings and popular misperceptions about college admission, the strength and worth of a liberal arts education, and offers tips for students and parents on how to manage the college search.

Parents, students, faculty/staff and community members welcome! Free admission.
Simultaneous 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., Director, The Parent Education Series, at [email protected] or (650) 868-0590. For Spanish, contact Mayela Ramirez, Parent Center Coordinator, at (650) 369-1411 Ext. 63105.

Menlo-Atherton Parent Education Series
"Mastering Difficult Conversations with Your Teen" - with Eran Magen, Ph.D.
Thursday, February 4, 2016, 7:00 - 8:30 PM
M-A Performing Arts Center (PAC)
Menlo-Atherton High School
555 Middlefield Road, Atherton

Trying to offer support when your adolescent seems upset or stressed can feel like tiptoeing through a minefield. In this highly interactive 90-minute workshop, you will learn how to offer emotional support comfortably and effectively when your teen is experiencing strong emotions such as stress, frustration, anxiety, or anger. You will learn how to respond in a way that helps your student feel better and think more clearly, while strengthening your relationship.
Eran Magen, Ph.D., is the founder and scientific director of the Center for Supportive Relationships, which provides relational skills training for school districts, higher education institutions, healthcare professionals, and private corporations. Dr. Magen received his MA in education and PhD in psychology from Stanford University. 
Parents, students, faculty/staff, and community members welcome!
Spanish interpretation will be available. Free admission.
 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., Director, The Parent Education Series, at [email protected] or (650) 868-0590. For Spanish, contact Lilly Qui�onez, Parent Center Coordinator, at (650) 322-5311 Ext. 5255.