March 7, 2016

Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message
"Our kids are really cool!" said parent and PTSA Reflections coordinator Rachel Levine at last Tuesday's meeting to the large group of parents in the room.  She was talking about the amazing work submitted as part of the contest -- paintings, photography, creative writing, music and film -- but her statement applies to more than just the participants in this year's program.  Teens are cool.  So cool, in fact, that I'm going to need a two-part newsletter to unpack this topic.

Teens are cool in ways we've come to expect: they're earnest and idealistic; their awkward charm is endearing; they're loyal; they're honest (especially when it comes to assessing others).  It's always clear where you stand with a teenager.  Usually their body language alone tells you everything you need to know.

Of course, teenagers also take their fair share of knocks.  People complain about teens' obsessions with superficial things, how they spend too much time on their phones or social media, or how they're moody and disrespectful.  I challenge these assumptions.  It's been my experience that often within these so-called difficult aspects of adolescence, we see teens at their absolute best.

For instance, I greeted a young man last week during lunch.  I received friendly but monosyllabic adolescent response.  It happens.  I'm comfortable enough in my skin to be okay with some kids not being jazzed to chat with the principal.  Then I asked about his shoes -- they were cool.  He lit up.  They were new and he was excited about them.  I asked if he was a sneakerhead.  He balked.  Since he didn't have the budget to collect the latest limited edition releases, he couldn't justify calling himself a sneakerhead.  From there, he unspooled for me a surfeit of footwear scholarship before the warning bell signalled lunch was coming to an end.

This student is a senior, and I don't know where his path will lead.  I got the sense he doesn't yet either, though I didn't ask him what his plans are for next year.  I figure he's getting enough of that. His knowledge and intensity, however, inspired confidence that he's going to contribute to whatever endeavor he ends up involved with.  I do worry that people will dismiss his interest in sneakers as superficial (as we often do with the interests of teenagers) and discourage the passion.  

I hope that never happens.  I hope also that the 2000 other kids walking around during that same lunch period, fires burning inside for something else which might be dismissed by "grown ups" as superficial (video games, anime, a favorite new band, a Snapchat account...) don't have their passion extinguished.  I hope, on the contrary, that we're adding wood to the fire.

To be continued in the next Sentinel...

Have a great week!
Mini-Grants Deadline This Friday
THIS IS IT!  The Mini-Grant deadline is THIS Friday.  Don't delay...late submissions cannot be accepted!   Please go to the PTSA Mini-Grant webpage for more information, complete instructions and an application.

These grants can be used for classroom needs or even for student-run clubs!  Grants are available from $50 to $400.  Your overall expense/request may cost more than $400, but that is the maximum we can distribute per grant. 

Please apply if you are a teacher, staff member, or club leader.  You must be a member of the PTSA to qualify for a grant. If you have any questions, please contact Mini Grant Chairperson - Lauren Pachkowski at

Remember -- the Deadline for grant requests is Friday, March 11 at 8 PM.

Spring Open House
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Sequoia's Open House will be Thursday, March 17 from 7:00-8:30 PM.  You are welcome to roam the school, visit classrooms, talk with faculty members, see your student's work, and gather information about the school's programs and offerings.

Also be sure to stop by the 11th annual IB Art Show where the amazing portfolios of our IB Art seniors will be displayed.  The show will be in Powell Gallery from March 17-31.

Make Their Day
The staff and teachers work long hours getting ready for Open House, and as a treat we are planning a light breakfast and hot beverages for them the morning after. Make their day by either donating something on the list or coming and helping out for an hour the morning of the event. Sign up here, thank you! 

Reflections Reception and Student Art Awards Light Up the MPR!
Last Tuesday, March 1st, prior to Sean Priest's monthly State-of-the-school report, the MPR was host to students and their families, PTSA members and members of ELAC who all gathered to enjoy a festive display of student art, delicious snacks, and an award presentation ceremony. This year more students than ever before participated in the PTSA Reflections Art competition with entries in literature, music, photography, film and visual art. The students followed the theme "Let Your Imagination Fly," and did they ever! Stay tuned next fall when a new theme will be announced providing opportunities for Sequoia art to shine.

Above - Reflections entrants with Principal Sean Priest and Reflections Chairperson Rachel Levine.  Below - Families browse the display of Reflections entries.

Festive Day of Music
Congratulations to Sequoia's Band and Orchestra who performed wonderfully at the Sequoia Music Festival on Friday, March 4!  During the festival, which also included appearances by ensembles from other schools, judges rated the performance of each group and provided feedback in an interactive clinic. Kudos also to Ms. Woodman and Mr. Broome for organizing and hosting the festival!

IB Proctoring Volunteer Opportunities Available Now
The Sequoia IB Programme is growing rapidly. Each year we have more students taking IB classes and more students taking IB exams in the spring. This year there are 17 IB exam sessions scheduled for May. Sequoia relies on parent volunteers to help proctor all of these exams.
Please consider helping fill the 62 proctoring spots. If your student is considering an IB class in the future, it's a great way for you to check out what an IB exam is like. If your student is currently in an IB class, you can see what he or she is going through! Parents can proctor an IB exam their student is taking, but please check with your student first to be sure he or she would be comfortable with this. 
Sequoia is an IB school that offers AP exams for some students. We don't need as many AP proctors, but they are very important to us. This year we will need proctors for calculus and Spanish. According to the AP rules, you may not proctor an AP exam that your student is taking. Also, the AP rules allow a proctor to sit during part of the exam.
All parents are welcome, but we especially encourage freshman and sophomore families to participate in this simple but very important volunteer effort!
To find out more and sign up for a slot, click here. (Note, the AP spots are not posted yet but will be added soon.)  After signing up, you will be contacted via email by Elisa Nino-Sears, Sequoia's Academic Volunteer coordinator. There is a quick and simple clearance process for all volunteers placed in academic settings.  Questions - contact Erika Pretell at

Delicious Food and Fabulous Auction Items
The Sequoia Boosters Club Crab Dinner & Auction is this Saturday, March 12th! There are still some tickets available, click here to buy now.  

Here's a glimpse of the auction items that you can win, don't miss out!
  • Set of four 1-day Disneyland park hopper tickets
  • VIP Graduation seats
  • Premium graduation parking spots
  • His & Hers FitBits
  • Adults Bowling Night Out for 50 at Bel Mateo Bowl
null Shout-out to PTSA Treasurer Sian Davies and Auditor Gayle Hoch!  Sian works continually behind-the-scenes to handle our income and expenses; and Gayle ensures that all of our books are in order.  Our PTSA could not run smoothly without these dedicated volunteers; thanks Sian and Gayle! 

Photo Scavenger Hunt
This is a unique Sequoia emblem on our campus, have you seen it?

Last week's answer:
This seal is in the hallway near the athletics office.

In This Issue
Monday, March 7
Collab Day

7 PM - Winter Sports Awards, Carrington Hall

Friday, March 11
7 PM - Talent Show, Carrington Hall

8 PM - Deadline to apply for Mini-Grants

Saturday, March 12
6 PM - Booster Club Crab Dinner, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel (tickets here)

Monday, March 14
Collab Day

Wednesday, March 16
7 PM - Mandatory meeting for Juniors planning on attending a Common App and/or Private College, Carrington Hall

Thursday, March 17
7 PM - Open House

Friday, March 18
Minimum Day (schedule here)

Friday, April 1
No school - Cesar Chavez Day

April 4-8 
Spring Break
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Community News
Organizational Management & Social Skills
Organized Thinking Skills are the first order of managing strategies for improving social skills and organization. Understanding metacognition, prioritization, sequence of events needed, inferencing, cause & effect, prediction, social deductive reasoning, abstract language such as humor, idioms, metaphors, etc. This skill set includes cognitive and logistical thinking skills for planning as well as impulse control, time management, attention, and working memory (your kiddo ever forget names or new information, concepts or items like their lunch, etc.?). 

This summer your child will learn how to start difficult tasks, organize steps for any process, how to build and schedule a plan, cohesive brainstorming and idea generation with explicit structure (using Design Thinking processes), 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 and evaluation for recalibrating and checking into a schedule. You as parents will learn effective strategies to maximize the organized brain and procure positive social thinking and interactions.

Activities include designing video games (no coding) to motivate with exercises, brain games with smart apps, designing smart phone apps (no coding), organizing fun events, cooking, etc.

- College Apps Organization: Weekly from April- June and 5 additional seasons over summer.
- Executive Function/Organizational Life: June 27-August 31st
- Social Skills classes is designed to connect with others and reduce social anxiety: June 27-August 31
- Writing Sensibilities: June 27-Augst 31st
Times/Days: Arranged according to mutual schedule availability. Individual or small group.

League of Women Voters Hosts "Issues in CA Public Higher Education"
Saturday, March 12, 9 AM - 1 PM
Independence Hall (next to Town Hall)
2955 Woodside Road, Woodside

Come hear three local perspectives on current issues in public higher education in California. Panel and Q&A session are part of a League study on issues of college accessibility, funding and affordability; student preparedness (or lack of) and barriers to success; along with new learning opportunities for all, including continuing education and retraining. Come to learn--and to tell us what you think is important to ensure that we can educate the CA workforce for 21st century success!

Panelists include Karen Schwarz, trustee of the San Mateo County Community College District, Jon Kitamura, associate professor of English and coordinator of the Puente Program at the College of San Mateo, and Brooke Marquart, concurrent student attending San Mateo High School and CSM (Middle College). 
This free event is open to the public and organized by the League of Women Voters of South San Mateo County. No RSVP needed.

Redwood City Together Café hands_together_sand.jpg
Tuesday, March 29, 5:30-8:00 PM
Sequoia High School MPR

You are cordially invited to Redwood City Together's 3rd annual café. Come share your stories, experience immigrant youth art, celebrate our diverse community, and foster a welcoming environment for all. March 29, 2016 from 5:30 PM - 8:00 PM at the Sequoia High School Multipurpose Room. Dinner is free. Childcare and interpretation are available. RSVP:

Redwood City Together is Redwood City 2020's Welcoming Initiative, which aims to create a welcoming environment for all in Redwood City and North Fair Oaks.


Usted está cordialmente invitado a Redwood City Together's tercera cafe annual. Venga a compartir sus historias, experiencia arte de los jóvenes inmigrantes, celebre nuestra comunidad diversa, y fomente un ambiente acogedor para todos. El 29 de marzo 2016 de 5:30 PM - 8:00 PM en el salón de usos múltiples en la escuela secundaria de Sequoia. La cena es gratis. Cuidado de niños y la interpretación están disponibles. RSVP:

Redwood City Together es una iniciativa de bienvenida de Redwood City 2020, que tiene como objetivo crear un ambiente acogedor para todos en Redwood City y North Fair Oaks.

Stanford Teen Sleep Study
The Stanford University Department of Psychiatry is currently conducting a study to help teens (14-18) go to bed earlier and wake up earlier.  The treatment involves use of a light device that is placed by the child's bedside and flashes periodically throughout the night. Teens also meet for four sessions with a licensed psychologist or doctoral therapist under the supervision of a licensed psychologist at Stanford University to learn about sleep and strategies to improve sleep. The paid study requires completing a sleep diary daily for five weeks. Please contact the Teen Sleep Study at or (650) 725-7767.

Teenagers ages 14-18, enrolled full-time in 9th-12th grades, may participate. Click here for a flyer with more information.