March 21, 2016

Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message
The 2015-16 school year is 75% complete.  Summer is right around the corner.  Third quarter grades will be issued within the next week.  Quarter report cards are essentially, of course, a progress report.  High School transcripts contain only semester grades, which are used to calculate cumulative GPA.  Colleges see only semester grades.

Of course, any low grade can be a source of anxiety for students and their families.  Though we always encourage students to advocate on their own behalf, counselors and administrators receive the majority of our calls from parents about grades this time of year.  We are fortunate to have so many families who play an active role in their child's education.  Sequoia wouldn't be the school it is without such support and engagement.

There is a protocol for inquiring about a grade or a class if the dialogue between teacher and student hits a snag.  The steps are as follows: speak with or email the teacher first, speak with or email the department chair if the concern persists, and speak with Instructional Vice Principal Sophia Olliver from there.  I will also be involved if an issue reaches this point.

In my experience, the overwhelming majority of questions/concerns about what's happening in a class or with a grade resolve themselves when parents and teachers communicate directly.

Families sometimes express hesitation or frustration with this protocol, but there is a rationale behind it.  First, Sequoia strives to maintain a strong sense of alliance between teachers and parents.  When an administrator is involved from the outset, a simple question might take on an unnecessarily combative tone.

Secondly, though our team of administrators wants nothing more but to help resolve problems that come our way, there are 2000 students and 4 of us.  Channeling directly with the teacher is simply the most efficient way to have a question or concern addressed.

I also want to push back the notion that speaking with a teacher (whether student or parent) will adversely impact the student's treatment in the class.  Sequoia's teachers are professionals.  They understand that misunderstandings happen and reasonable people sometimes disagree.  We want our students to be self-advocates, and we are sympathetic to the fact that a difficult conversation with an adult is a test of mettle.  As an equity-focused school, grades are based on student performance not subjective personality tests.

I hope this is helpful as we round into the homestretch of 2015-16 and beyond. 

Have a great week!
Help Proctor IB and AP Exams
Are you looking for a way to get involved at Sequoia that will only take a few hours of your time?  Here's your chance:  Help proctor IB or AP exams.  It's an easy and really important role.  Each year we have more students taking IB classes and exams. This year there are 3 weeks of exam sessions scheduled between May 2 and 19.
Please help us fill the 75 proctoring spots (compared to 66 last year and 47 the year before that!).  Parents of freshmen and sophomores, 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.  Parents of juniors and seniors, if your student is currently in an IB class, you can see what he or she is going through! By the way, this is a great way for dads to contribute to our school.  (Who will be the first dad to sign up this year?) 
Parents may 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.  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.
To find out more and sign up for a slot, click here.  Sign up soon so you'll have your pick of time spots.  After signing up, you will be contacted via email by Elisa Niño-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

Dance Show 2016!
Join us for Sequoia Dance Show 2016....  Friday & Saturday, April 15th & 16th, 7:30 PM at Carrington Hall. 
Come see your fellow dance students perform in a variety of dance styles from jazz to hip hop, lyrical and more.

Tickets can be purchased online at  Tickets are $14 in advance; $20 at the door.
All tickets are for reserved seating only.  The dance show always sells out! So don't your tickets today!

International Festival
This year Sequoia's International Festival is being held on April 16th from 2-6 PM in front of Sequoia. The event is student-led and showcases the work of Sequoia's art groups and clubs.

Clubs will be hosting carnival-style games, and musical groups will be performing on the stage. There will also be an incoming 9th grade student and new family welcome.  In addition, there will be multiple food trucks.

The festival is right before the Dance Show, so stop by and grab a bite at the amazing food trucks and see Sequoia in action! 

We also have opportunities to participate in the festival by welcoming incoming 9th grade families, donating beverages, staffing the beverage booth, and helping with set-up or clean-up.  Click here to sign up for this easy way to make an impact at Sequoia!

Tulips, Tangerines & Tumeric Eggs!
On Friday, March 18th, the tables in Sequoia's staff lounge were laden with yummy treats, all donated by parents, as a thank you for our hardworking staff who stayed late the night before welcoming families to Sequoia's annual Open House. Additionally, Carlos Lopez from Espresso Lane in Redwood City was offering custom espresso drinks to help ring in the morning.  From 8-10 AM parents and students could be seen throughout the halls hand-delivering coffee and breakfast to busy staff members. 

An e-mail, IVP Sophia Olliver echoed many teachers' sentiments, "Thanks again to you and ALL parents who supported last night's event, this morning's breakfast, and the day to day matters on our campus!"

Special thanks to Donna Fiore - PTSA Hospitality Chair and her fantastic team of helpers.  Student helpers were: Danielle Amaya, Leah King, Nicole Finn and Maddi Giles.  Parents who donated food or volunteered their time were: Alice Henderson, Alisa MacAvoy, Ana Luna-Victoria, Barbara Jakoby, Bonnie Sachs-Fossenier, Caitlin Schneider, Diane Holman, Hilary Paulson, Jayne Sungail, Jenn Bulka, Jenny Bender, Kara Cadagan, Marianne Cheatham, Mila Paul, Noreen Abad, Pooja Mehra, Rachel Krueger, Rosemarie Campos, Sherri Horan, Tammy Bene and Tobey Bergen.

And by the way, we are looking for a few folks who are interested in taking the lead with the Hospitality Committee next year.  If making teachers and administrators happy and well-fed is something you'd like to be a part of, come on board! You will be given lots of support and many volunteers to assist. Contact us at

Mathematicians Compete in AMC
On February 2nd, 163 dedicated mathematicians spent 75 minutes involved in deep problem solving on the AMC 10/12.  The American Mathematics Competition is given nationwide to students wishing to challenge themselves at the highest levels of mathematical thinking.  Several STEM-focused colleges and universities ask students to report AMC scores.  

The top 3 Sequoia mathematicians for the AMC 12 are Sam Pedley, Jenna Pucel, and  Brendan Snyder; and the top AMC 10 mathematicians are Clara MacAvoy, Evangeline Gillet, and Bradley Schulz.  Congratulations to all of our mathematicians for their perseverance on this challenging test!

Money from a PTSA Mini-Grant helped math teacher Laura Larkin to continue the tradition of the AMC competitions at Sequoia.

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

Broome Chronicled in News Story
Our own Danny Broome was featured two weeks ago in a San Francisco Chronicle news story entitled "Finding the Best High School Drama Teachers." In the article, Mr. Broome was interviewed regarding Sequoia's drama program and his background. Kudos to Mr. Broome for being recognized as an outstanding drama teacher!  Here are some excerpts from the article:

Inspiration: I started out as a music teacher and I still am. I teach orchestra, guitar and piano in addition to drama. I was doing technical theater, and the drama teacher, Ray Doherty, convinced me that when he retired I could take over and I did.

Best Memory: We did "Cabaret" three seasons ago. When we finished it we dropped down the Nazi flags and flew in the barbed wire fence. To have a full house and the show ends and nobody applauds, which is what I kept telling the kids they were aiming for. That's something I was really hoping for and it happened.

Greatest success story:
We've had a bunch. We have Alexandra Kay who went to New York and studied theater then she went to study with the Royal Shakespeare Company. 

Admire Student Artwork at RWC Library
Sequoia High School Visual Arts is on display at the Redwood City Library (Middlefield Road) through the end of March.  This exhibit represents pieces from all of our Visual Arts classes, and is in the four display cabinets on the first floor. Be sure to stop by and view the talented work by our student artists!

Feedback Being Collected on California Exit Exam
The California Department of Education is seeking feedback about the continuation of the high school exit examination and alternative pathways to satisfy high school graduation requirements in coming years.  

The department is conducting regional meetings throughout the state specifically regarding the suspension of the administration of the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE) and removing the exam as a condition of receiving a diploma or as a condition of graduation from high school, per the new Senate Bill 172 that went into effect this January.   

The regional meetings will involve brief informational summaries on the current status of high school exit curricula and will welcome your questions, comments and ideas.  

WHEN:  April 7, 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. 
WHERE: Santa Clara County Office of Education, 1290 Ridder Park Dr., San Jose, CA 95131.

Crab Dinner Shout-Out
The Crab Dinner held on March 12th was a huge success!  We had a full house, and the guests enjoyed crab and delicious food prepared by a team of volunteers led by Alessandra McCarty and Joanna Dagum.  Dina Acreman and Meredith Armienti transformed the Mt. Carmel MPR with their decorations.  The bar was led by Judy Sloan, Booster President, who has been running the Crab Dinner Bar for 7 years!  

There were tables full of donations (Irena Petani/Lynn Pierce) and team baskets (coordinated by Marianne Amaya).  We had 50 Student Athletes representing most of the 30 different Sequoia Sport Teams serving the guests (supervised by Jill Berry and Paul Tanzillo) and selling raffle tickets (Ann Berljafa/Alisa MacAvoy).  Check In/Check Out/Catalog/Tables were coordinated by Susan Alley, Merce Carroll, and Karin Lubeck and all financial transactions by Jennifer Marino.  Fun was had by all, and we raised funds to support Sequoia Athletic programs (transportation, uniforms, equipment, awards, etc.)!  

Thanks to the numerous volunteers who helped the day of and the days leading up to the event!  Thanks to all who attended including coaches, teachers, and the administration!  Go Sequoia Cherokees!

- Lynn Pierce, Crab Dinner Chairman

Photo Scavenger Hunt
Sequoia fills Carrington Hall with a musical production each fall.  What show does this logo represent? (Bonus question - what year was it performed at Sequoia?)

Last week's answer:
These fragrant wisteria are enhancing the central courtyard.

In This Issue
Monday, March 21
Collab Day

Monday, March 28
Block B Day

Friday, April 1
No school - Cesar Chavez Day

April 4-8 
Spring Break

Friday, April 15
7:30 PM - Dance Show (tickets here)

Saturday, April 16
2 PM - International Festival
7:30 PM - Dance Show

April 19-22 (Tue-Fri)
SBAC Testing; modified schedule  for all grades

Thursday, April 21
7 PM - Parent Education: How to Raise an Adult, Carrington Hall

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Parent Education
Sequoia Parent Education Series
"How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success"
Julie Lythcott-Haims, New York Times Bestselling Author 
Thursday, April 21, 7:00 - 8:30 PM
Sequoia High School, Carrington Hall 
Register here:  Admission is FREE.

In How to Raise an Adult, Julie Lythcott-Haims draws on research, on conversations with admissions officers, educators, and employers, and on her own insights as a mother and as a student dean to highlight the ways in which overparenting harms children, their stressed-out parents, and society at large. Lythcott-Haims offers practical alternative strategies that underline the importance of allowing children to make their own mistakes and develop the resilience, resourcefulness, and inner determination necessary for success.
Julie Lythcott-Haims is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law. She practiced law in the Bay Area before returning to Stanford as an Associate Dean, and then Assistant to the President. She spent a decade as the Dean of Freshmen, and in 2010 she received the university's Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award. To her students, she was affectionately known as "Dean Julie."
Parents, students, faculty/staff, and community members welcome! Spanish interpretation will be provided. Sequoia Parent Education Series events are sponsored by the SHSEF, the Sequoia Healthcare District, and the Sequoia Union High School District. 
For more information, contact Charlene Margot, M.A., Director, The Parent Education Series, at or 650-868-0590.

Community News
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.