February 15, 2016

Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message
For the first time this year, Sequoia High School removed class ranking from its transcripts. This is a decision that has both a practical and philosophical rationale.  I open school each year with remarks about intellectual risk-taking and growth mindset.  Feedback from teachers at Sequoia is rooted in their believing in students.  Inclusiveness and encouragement are in the cultural fabric of the school.  

Yet, when it was all said and done, every student before this year received a number comparing their grades to those of their classmates.  It seemed slightly hypocritical.  Furthermore, weighting and the sheer quantity of high-achieving students meant that a 4.00 usually placed you between the 75-80th percentile of your peers.  

A 4.00 is outstanding work.  Anything we're doing, even implicitly, to minimize that type of achievement is something we needed to stop doing.

We are not the first school to make this policy change and it has no effect on college  admission/eligibility.  Most colleges and universities have their own systems in place for assessing (i.e., weighing) a HS transcript.  They are indifferent to whether or not schools rank their students.

We will continue, for the time being, to name Valedictorians and Salutatorians using the following criteria.  This is subject to change as early as 2016-17.  A valedictorian is defined as the top student in a graduating class, so our broad criteria by nature makes the award a misnomer.  In the past three graduating classes, between 6-12 Sequoia students each year met the criteria for being named valedictorian.  With this in mind, one SUHSD school long-ago abandoned the practice of naming valedictorians.
I believe in distinguishing academic achievement at the highest level with commensurate recognition and will continue to do so.  I am also mindful of the tremendous stress students of this caliber place on themselves.  I feel fortunate that Sequoia is not a school where classmates are sabotaging one another's science labs or hoarding library materials to hamstring their classmates, but I've seen kids -- amazing, brilliant, talented kids -- hang their heads for not making the Valedictorian or Salutatorian "cut."  This strikes me as contrary to who we are and what we say we believe.  So we'll continue to reflect and dialogue and do what needs to be done to keep Sequoia a "place of friends" and a great place for kids.

Have a great week!
Coffee, Cookies and Conversation
Sequoia teachers and staff invite you to a dialogue on Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 6:45 PM in the MPR on the timely topic of teen stress. A brief presentation will be followed by discussion time. Sequoia staff members will be there to participate and facilitate the conversations.  Click here for flyers in English and Espa�ol.

Educational Movies in Spanish
With the Mini-Grant that Bel�n �lvarez Iglesias was awarded, she bought educational movies to include in thematic units to reinforce knowledge of topics. The movies are used as a supplement to their books, and are articles to enrich classroom discussions and improve comprehension and vocabulary skills. 

Here are some students' testimonials about having these movies:
  • "Movies are very helpful for understanding difficult texts, especially for foreign languages, because a lot more can be learned from watching the actors act out what happens than from just reading the text."
  • "I always enjoy watching movie versions of things we read and it helps me understand the content better too. It is interesting to see how characters appear in the movies compared to the original, as well."
  • "The movies allow me to visually see the actions of the characters, which helps me better understand the content. Not only is it helpful in comprehension, but also in practicing the ability to listen and understand the target language."
  • "When reading a story or novel, I find it very helpful to watch the movie afterwards because it helps me understand scenes or passages that I didn't catch while reading. "
  • "The movies have really helped me become more familiar with Spanish because by watching and hearing the story on the screen, I'm able to better understand what's going on. Most importantly, I can effectively connect what's going on with the words I need to learn. I love movies in general, and watching in another language doesn't take away that love, it builds off of it."
  • "It's especially helpful for me to watch movies in addition to our normal classwork. Hearing and seeing how Spanish is spoken helps with pronunciation and gives us better understanding of the context in which we say or conjugate words."

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

SUHSD Sequitur
Stay informed of happenings around the school district by reading the district newsletter, the Sequitur.  Find the February issue here!

Crab Season Is Here!
The Booster Club Crab Dinner is coming up soon - March 12 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Redwood City.  Have fun, eat crab, enjoy the auction & raffle, and support our athletics and cheer programs! Get tickets here

Kudos to Hospitality committee members Sheri Siguenza, Jennifer Marino, Merce Carroll, Jenny Bender and Donna Fiore for putting together and delivering Valentine's notes for our staff!  

Photo Scavenger Hunt
Here is an unusual tree on our campus.  Have you seen it, and do you know why it is like this?

Last week's answer: This IB logo is on the hallway floor in front of the library. 

In This Issue
Monday, Feb. 15
No school - Presidents' Holiday

Tuesday, Feb. 16
6 PM - Spring Sports Info Night, MPR

Thursday, Feb. 18
7 PM - Sequoia Parent Education, Finding the Right Fit / College Search, MPR (register here)

Feb. 19, 7 PM
Feb. 20, 7 PM
Feb. 21, 3 PM
Winter Play - Rehearsal for Murder, Carrington Hall (tickets here)

Monday, Feb. 22
Collab Day

Tuesday, Feb. 23
6:45 PM - Teen Stress presentation and dialogue, MPR

Tuesday, March 1
PTSA Meeting, MPR

Friday, March 4
Cheer Showcase

Friday, March 11

Saturday, March 12
6 PM - Booster Club Crab Dinner, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel (tickets here)
Quick Links
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Find past issues of the Sentinel: 
En Espa�ol
�Quieres traducir este bolet�n ahora? Siga estas instrucciones para obtener una traducci�n:
1. Haga clic en "Click here" en la parte superior del correo electr�nico: "Having trouble viewing this email? Click here."
2. Mantenga presionada la tecla Control (PC) y la tecla A para seleccionar toda la p�gina, a continuaci�n, mantenga presionada la tecla Control y haga clic en la tecla C para copiar la p�gina entera.
3. Abra una p�gina nueva del navegador web y vaya a
4. Coloca el cursor en la caja y mantenga presionada la tecla Control y haga clic en la tecla V para pegar el bolet�n completo en el cuadro de traducci�n.
5. Aseg�rese de seleccionar "To: Spanish" en la parte superior de la p�gina. Haga clic en el bot�n Traducir. La traducci�n al espa�ol debe aparecer en el lado derecho.
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
Multi-Purpose Room, 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.

Community News
College Apps: Executive Function Organizational Planning
March Madness has a new definition as evidenced by the overwhelming process of completing college apps when one has cognitive and logistical organizational challenges. This is one of the best real life executive function exercises for project planning; a planning life skill that can be applied in many ways. If you are looking for support for your Junior, please email [email protected]Please put in the subject line COLLEGE APPS-EF MARCH MADNESS.

Your junior will learn the prep tools that will generalize into college tasks such as: Metacognition, How to Start Difficult Tasks, Organizational Steps for any process, How to Build and Schedule a Plan, Brainstorming with MindMaps (using Design Thinking processes), Structure Support to help with forgetfulness, Working Memory & Mnemonics tricks, Chunking & Categorizing, Cause/Effect with Prediction & Decision Making, Sensory Exercises to aid in Self Regulation with Attention & Impulsive Distractions, Perspective Taking. If time allows, depending upon skills and needs, Writing & Executive Function Basics may be incorporated into curriculum.

Classes: Weekly from March to August (with a 3-week break in June)
Times/Days: Arranged according to mutual schedule availability.
Offer: Individual or small group.
Please note this is executive function therapy for students who need support for cognitive and logistical organization. 10 course program is 995.00 conducted by a licensed social cognitive/executive function therapist.

Jennifer Abbott Bulka, CCC-SLP,CA License #14006 | Phone: 650-678-9769 | 

Addiction Symposium
"Protecting our Developing Youth: Adolescent Addiction, Prevention and Recovery" 
Community Symposium - hosted by Adolescent Counseling Services (ACS)
Saturday, March 5, 2016, 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM 
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula
2031 Pulgas Ave., East Palo Alto, CA 94303
Join Adolescent Counseling Services (ACS) for a symposium on addiction, prevention and recovery.  Sessions will feature local experts on topics related to adolescent addiction including Stephanie Brown, Ph.D., founder and director of The Addictions Institute, Menlo Park; Anna Lembke, M.D., current Chief of Addiction Medicine Services at Stanford University; and D'Anne Burwell, M.A., award-winning author of Saving Jake: When Addiction Hits Home.
This event is free of charge and sponsored by the Esther Ting Foundation, whose mission is to protect adolescents from the risks of substance abuse. Additional event sponsors include Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula, Project Safety Net, Youth Community Service (YCS), Palo Alto Police Department, and Voices United.  
For more information on the event or how to register, contact the ACS Marketing Department at 650-424-0852 ext. 111 or email [email protected].