September 19, 2016

Sequoia PTSA's weekly eNewsletter in partnership with the Sequoia High School Education Foundation
Principal's Message
As this email goes out, many of our students are enjoying an extra morning sleeping in.  I'm sure many will use today to catch up on school work, enjoy an active day outdoors, or go deep-diving on YouTube.  Sequoia staff is getting to know your students better in order to engage them in learning.

All district teachers participate today in a professional development activity called "Who's in the Room?"  The workshop was designed at Sequoia in 2011 and became a district-wide initiative two years ago.  

Over the course of the morning, teachers analyze their students' information such as reading assessment results, credits earned and cumulative GPA, the results of statewide assessments, and math level.  Special Education status is reviewed and, in the case of English Learners, teachers look at where their students score on EL assessments, the number of years they have been enrolled in CA schools, and if they were redesignated as fluent English speakers within the last two years.

Teachers use this information to annotate "equity cards,"which are a key tool for everyday classroom instruction.  "Equity cards" allow teachers to solicit non-voluntary responses from students in class.  Best practice in, say, a social studies class, would be to present students with a reflective prompt ("Which disagreements between Federalists and Anti-Federalists still exist in present-day American politics?" e.g.).  Students are first given a set amount of time to think, then a few minutes to discuss in pairs with a seat partner.  Finally the teacher would use the "equity cards" (pulled at random) to call on students to share their responses with the class.  Think -> pair -> share.  It's a great way for teachers to assess how well their students are understanding the material in a class where students have mixed ability levels -- and adjust instruction to ensure all students are progressing on pace.

Teachers also use student data to create seating charts based on student assets, asking questions like, "Which students would benefit sitting next to a Student X, an AVID student with strong group skills?" or "Will student Y's second language ability make her a good partner for Student Z, who struggles with academic vocabulary?" 

Professional educators are eager to have access to information about their kids and even more excited about the time (the scarcest commodity in education) to delve into the data in a meaningful way.  Looking forward to having the students back on campus tomorrow and putting our hard work into action.

Have a great week!

Mini-Grant Applications Now Open
Apply Now!  Twice each year, the PTSA, with support from the SHSEF, offers Mini-Grants to enhance the excellent education offered at Sequoia High School.  These grants are designed to encourage creative approaches to learning and/or address compelling need which would otherwise go unfunded.  Students, teachers and staff may apply.  Past grants have included books for the Gay/Straight Alliance, fetal pigs and calculators for the science department, foreign language movies and music, student white boards, college/career fair admission, math competitions, orchestra bows, chromebooks, and more.
Is your student a member of a club or activity that is ready to take on a new endeavor?  Please encourage him or her to apply for a Mini-Grant.   The application deadline is Friday, October 7, 2016, at 8:00 PM.
Would you like to be on the front row to some of Sequoia's innovative educational efforts?  We need parents to join our team to help with the selection process. If you have a few hours in early to mid October and again in March to review applications and meet with the committee, we would love to have you on board. No experience is necessary, and there will be seasoned committee members assisting along the way. This is a great opportunity for new as well as returning Sequoia parents to get to know all the great projects percolating in our school!

Questions? Contact our Mini-Grants committee chair Marlena Griffin at [email protected].

Thank you to the SHSEF for making the PTSA Mini-Grants Program possible!

Sequoia International Festival
The Sequoia International Festival is fast approaching! This wonderful event will celebrate international culture, and bring together the Sequoia Community through performances, games, and much more. The Festival is at Sequoia on Saturday, October 22nd from 12-4 PM, and will feature Sequoia Clubs, live performances, and food trucks. 

We are also looking for: 
  • Entertainers to perform onstage - please let us know if you or someone else in the Sequoia Community is interested.
  • Parents to help with general tasks such as publicity, set up/take down, or staffing the welcome booth for an hour or two.

  • For more information, please contact [email protected]. Hope to see you there!
    Senior Parents: Grad Week Planning Is in Full Swing!
    We are working to raise funds for the Safe & Sober Grad Week Activities that happen the last week of school in June:  Senior Brunch, Senior BBQ, and Grad Night for our graduates onboard a Hornblower Yacht cruising around the SF Bay. There will be plenty of food, music, games and pictures. Ticket sales are online now!

    Football Concessions: Do you like watching the action at the football game but don't care so much about watching the game itself? Sign up for a shift at one of the 4 games left (including this Friday, Sept. 23) and come help out while having fun at the same time with other Senior parents making iced and hot drinks and selling candy. You can also sign up to donate items needed to run the concession stand.  Click here to help out.

    LoveBags are a great way to support the fundraising effort. They make great gifts for the holidays, hostess gifts, or a stylish treat for yourself to spruce up your own reusable bag collection. Go to and use code 5ZF16, or see this flyer for more details. LoveBags gives back 40% on each item purchased to our Class of 2017 fundraising efforts.

    Contact Donna Fiore or Jill Berry with questions.

    null A big thanks to Lauren Pachkowski and Marlena Griffin for putting many hours into re-vamping our Mini-Grants application and webpage!  Mini-Grants are an important part of our mission, and as Marlena stated in her letter to the teachers: "PTSA Mini-Grants are offerred to provide funding for enhancing education at Sequoia High School, with a focus on creative approaches and/or addressing compelling need which would otherwise go unfunded."

    We are fortunate to have volunteers who are dedicated to our mission and willing to take the time to make our programs the best they can be!

    In This Issue
    Monday, Sept. 19
    No school, Staff Professional Development

    Thursday, Sept. 22
    7 PM - Sequoia Parent Education, "Distracted Driving Workshop," Carrington Hall

    Saturday, Sept. 24
    8:30 AM -  Sequoia 5K Stampede

    Monday, Sept. 26
    Collab Day

    Wednesday, Sept. 28
    6 PM - 11th Grade College and IB Info Night, Carrington Hall

    Thursday, Sept. 29
    Photo re-takes

    Tuesday, Oct. 4
    7 PM - PTSA Meeting, MPR

    Wednesday, Oct. 5
    6 PM - 10th Grade College and IB Info Night, Carrington Hall

    Friday, Oct. 7

    8 PM - Deadline for PTSA Mini-Grants Applications

    Tuesday, Oct. 11
    Freshman College Day

    Tuesday, Oct. 18
    7 PM - Band and Orchestra Concert, Carrington Hall

    Wednesday, Oct. 19
    PSAT, 10th and 11th grades

    Saturday, Oct. 22
    12-4 PM - Sequoia International Festival

    Wednesday, Oct. 26
    6 PM - 9th Grade College and IB Info Night, Carrington Hall

    Thursday, Oct. 27
    6:30-8 PM - 8th grade info night
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    Parent Education
    Sequoia Parent Education Series
    Impact Teen Drivers - Distracted Driving Workshop 
    Kelly Browning, PhD, Executive Director, Impact Teen Drivers
    Thursday, September 22, 7:00 - 9:00 PM
    Sequoia High School, Carrington Hall 

    Don't-miss presentation for parents, teens, and families! Automobile collisions are the #1 cause of death for our nation's teens. The overwhelming majority of crashes are caused by inexperience or distractions, not "thrill-seeking" or deliberate risk-taking.
    Since 2007, Impact Teen Drivers has emerged as a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to reversing the pervasive yet 100% preventable crisis of "distracted driving." Impact's mission is to change the culture of teen driving, thereby saving lives in this and future generations of drivers. 
    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., Founding Director, The Parent Education Series, at [email protected] or 650-868-0590. For Spanish, contact Mayela Ramirez, Parent Center Coordinator, 650-367-9780, Ext. 63105

    Community News
    Drop-In Open Gym for Teens
    San Carlos Youth Center, Wednesday through Friday 6-8 PM
    Open to High School Students

    Teens have the opportunity to take over the San Carlos Youth Center on weeknights beginning in September. The Youth Center's FREE Drop-In program has been extended for teens only after hours. Play ball in the full size gymnasium, check out our PlayStation4 and Wii U and many other games in the Activity Room. Supervised by Youth Center Staff. Registration required; sign up in person at the Youth Center, 1001 Chestnut Street, San Carlos. Call 650-802-4471 or visit for more info.