Sequoyah Plans to Begin 2020-21 School Year as Scheduled
High School Exhibition Night to be held online
The annual year-end Exhibition will be held online this year. The faculty is currently working on creative ways to showcase student learning, so stay tuned for an update. The live Exhibition date will be Thursday, May 28th, but there will be a pre-Exhibition assignment for your child to present work to you before the actual event. More information about this will be sent soon.
High school plans in-person graduation ceremony in August
Watch party of high school production of Heathers to be held 5/22
We are very excited to announce the watch party for our virtual choir production of Heathers! Our high school spring musical may have been shut down, but that couldn’t stop us! We have recorded a number of songs from Heathers, the Musical and we can’t wait to share the performance with you. Please join us for a Zoom Watch Party on Friday May 22nd at 7 p.m.
Sequoyah Shares COVID-19 Task Force Details
Health & Safety is charged with designing and continually updating how learning and operations should commence based on current health and safety guidelines from federal agencies, state and local government, and medical and scientific resources. They will inform scenario planning for both learning and operations. They will design and continually update the policies, procedures and precautions to ensure the health and safety of our entire community.
Teaching & Learning is charged with ensuring that the approach and execution of teaching and learning fulfills the school’s mission and meets reasonable parent and faculty expectations, regardless of the vehicle or format dictated by health and safety guidelines. They will consider and support students’ social and emotional wellness across all age groups. They will examine assessment and reporting, including how to make on-campus and remote learning more seamless. They will work to strengthen mental health support and structures. They will determine what K-8 and high school events and gatherings will look like online or on campus. They will define objectives for remote learning and suggest best practices for online-courses.
Faculty & Staff will examine how we are supporting the wellness and confidence of our faculty and staff. They will make determinations as to how we are using available staff to fill new roles and needs, and how we deliver teaching and learning that fulfills Sequoyah’s mission and meets reasonable parent and faculty expectations, regardless of the content delivery method dictated by health and safety guidelines. They will design workforce policies and work-from-home guidelines.
Campus Operations will ensure the buildings and grounds are maintained and modified to meet health and safety requirements, including guidelines for social distancing. They will ensure that Sequoyah is equipped with the infrastructure, equipment, and software necessary to immediately execute a high quality response to various teaching and learning scenarios (i.e., all on campus, all remote, and hybrid). They will plan for any necessary changes to the provision of tech support to students, parents, faculty, and staff. They will ensure that our field studies, PE, sports, SIP, and auxiliary programs are responsive to the changing situation and find adaptations or alternatives to our pre-COVID practices, where possible
Finance & Legal will ensure that school administration and trustees are aware of the options for maintaining good financial health and take necessary actions to ensure financial sustainability. They will make determinations regarding tuition, indexed tuition and fees. They will act in alignment with the Health and Safety working group recommendations to develop and update policies, procedures and handbooks. They will determine if new training is required, and will monitor policy/law changes at federal, state, and local level. They will engage in multi-year scenario planning and Advancement.
Communication & Events will draft regular and proactive communications to the Sequoyah community, including alumni. They will plan or adapt standard school events to build and nurture community while considering health and safety. They will work to ensure parent support and engagement and ensure that Sequoyah continues to recruit, screen, and accept students while educating families about the process and navigating any changes. They will be responsible for all internal and external communications.
Sequoyah to maintain grading system during pandemic
At Sequoyah, rich, inspiring learning opportunities, individual choice and a balanced load of activities has always been a priority. Our High School program was designed to include experiences for students to apply learning rather than rely on high-stakes tests. Students complete projects rather than do midterms and final exams. Students also have opportunities to revise work that needs to be improved.Our faculty and administrative leadership at Sequoyah, like those at many other schools around the world, have researched and had ongoing discussions about the difficult trade-offs of modifying assessment and grading systems during distance learning. We have considered equity, student support and college admissions factors and we have concluded that given Sequoyah’s approach to learning, our ability to provide support for individual students, and overall benefits to Sequoyah students, we will maintain our current system of assessment.That being said, we understand that your child may be struggling to learn during this difficult time. If this is true for your child, if they are not able to engage with the learning happening in their classes, please contact their Advisor and/or our Dean of Students, Viviana Palacio email@example.com. We will work with your child to develop a support plan.In the coming days, we will ask students to complete a distance learning survey to better understand how each student is doing, what is working or not working for them, and to determine what support they may need. This will hopefully make it easier for any student who feels uncomfortable communicating to the School that they need additional help.
— Marc Alongi
Mod 7 Schedule Modified
“There will be at least one hour three days a week (10:50-12:00PM) for students to work on their Talking Leaf, and opportunities to meet with their teacher or Advisor. The late start on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:40AM and the early dismissal at 2:00PM Mon-Fri are designed to provide time for students to work on their Talking Leaf.”
— Marc Alongi
Exhibition Night to be held online
The annual year-end Exhibition will be held online this year. The faculty are currently working on creative ways to showcase student learning, so stay tuned for an update. It is very likely the Exhibition date will be moved to late May, probably Thursday, May 28th.
Baccalaureate to be held virtually, prom canceled, caravan graduation day
We will hold a virtual Baccalaureate ceremony to celebrate graduates. There will be more information about this soon.
Unfortunately, Prom will be cancelled. We are working with Seniors and other student committees to find additional social opportunities for our students.
On June 7th, our previous graduation date, staff members will conduct a caravan graduation day celebration to deliver diplomas, caps and gowns and other treats to acknowledge this important milestone for each Senior!
— Marc Alongi
Sequoyah Will Not Return to Campus This Year
I am writing to you now to acknowledge the disappointing reality that our students will not be able to return to campus this spring. Sequoyah will join schools throughout California in ending the 2019-2020 academic year still working remotely, maximizing our ability to protect the health of our students and their families and contributing to flattening the COVID-19 curve.
— Josh Body
8th, 12th grade graduation postponed due to COVID-19
In consultation with our seniors and 8th graders, we have elected to delay their graduation ceremonies to later in the summer, in the hope it will be possible to physically come together to celebrate these major milestones for students and their families.
— Josh Body
Sequoyah Summerhouse May Be Online
As we look from spring to summer, we are making plans to possibly move our Summer House Program online.
— Josh Body
2020-21 School Year May Be Affected By COVID-19, Pandemic Response Task Force Formed to Plan Transition
I am mindful that COVID-19 will likely continue to be with us in some form into the next school year. To prepare for this, we have formed a Pandemic Response Task Force in order to plan for the eventual transition back to our physical campuses. This task force will consist of the following members: Board Chair Michael Barak, Trustee & Attorney, Laura Gowen, Trustee & Harvard Westlake Upper School Dean, Jennifer Cardillo, Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Antimicrobial Stewardship at Keck Medical Center, Dr. Neha Nanda, Trustee and Chief Medical Officer at Carbon Health, Sujal Mandavia, Assistant Head of School, Azizi Williams, High School Director, Marc Alongi, Director of Curriculum and Student Support, Emily Singer, High School Visual Arts Teacher and Interim Dean of Students, Viviana Palacio, Director of Technology, Zed Kelley, and Jr. High Lead Teacher, Kristen Moore.
We know that the transition back to school next fall may be complicated. In the event the virus causes us again to pause in-school instruction, the distance learning practices we have developed and are continuing to strengthen will be critical. We also recognize that some of our students’ own health-or the health of close family members-may require them to work from home some days next year. With that in mind, our faculty, administration and staff will continue to refine our Distance Learning Program should we need to rely upon it into the Fall.
— Josh Body
Sequoyah Announces Online Senior Events
- Senior lunches every Wednesday on Zoom
- Group movie viewing (date TBA)
- Cooking lessons from Ian Chang, former chef at Lucques (dates TBA)
Sequoyah Shares Financial Update
“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sequoyah was in a stable financial situation, working towards and meeting financial goals to maintain our sustainability. We had also been experiencing success in our efforts to raise funds to purchase our K-8 campus and build out space for our high school program. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, we are facing the financial realities that most independent schools are facing. Our core expenses have not changed. Salaries and benefits for our employees will continue as we support the dedication and commitment of our faculty and staff who are putting in countless hours to ensure the success of our Distance Learning Program. We remain committed to socioeconomic diversity through indexed tuition, along with shouldering our existing financial commitments to technology, facilities maintenance, operations and other operating expenses. We also know that the eventual success of our capital campaign will be critical to ensuring Sequoyah’s success in the future.”
— Josh Brody
Sequoyah Summerhouse still planned, full refunds if COVID-19 causes cancellation
We are planning an amazing summer for everyone! And while we have to plan apart from each other, we look forward and hope to be together this summer!
IN THE EVENT OF A COVID-19 SUMMERHOUSE CANCELLATION, YOU WILL RECEIVE A FULL REFUND
— Mason Kaye
Morning Meeting at high school to be held on Zoom
“We are excited to say our all High School Morning Meeting will begin at 9AM tomorrow. Students will receive an email from Viviana this evening with log-in instructions. Please log-in to the meeting at least 5 minutes before as it will take time to admit everyone to the meeting. Make sure your first and last name are correctly entered into Zoom so that you will be admitted. Morning Meeting attendance is required and is a great opportunity to connect with the whole high school community and hear updates.”
— Marc Alongi
Sequoyah announces it is “very unlikely” students will return to campus this school year
Daycare, Options to Move to Distance Learning at K–8
Daycare staff are so excited to begin offering after school activities via Zoom. We’ll plan on having one or two activities from 3:30-4:30, Mondays through Thursdays. We’re reimagining Options time on Fridays. A multitude of activities will be offered from 1:30-2:30 with Ben offering song time from 2:30-3:00. If you or your student would like to host an activity on a Friday let me know. This is a chance for them to share what they’re interested in with the rest of the Sequoyah community.
This Monday and Tuesday my staff will be hosting All Day Daycare. Below is the schedule for those two days. No need to pre-register. I’ll send out an email over the weekend with the Zoom links for each activity as well as the schedule for the rest of the week.
We can’t wait to see the kids!
I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy,
Changes to high school schedule announced
- Mod 6 classes extended from April 28 to May 8 for A-, B-, and C-block classes. (Z-block classes will end as scheduled on April 28.)
- Final deadline for A-, B-, and C-block coursework pushed to May 18.
- New Mod 6 schedule moves SIP, Stewardship from Friday to Wednesday and cancels all other classes, leading to a shortened schedule of 9 AM to 12:10 PM; Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday have shortened A-, B-, and C-block classes (from 85 minutes to 60 minutes), leading to a shortened schedule of 9 AM to 2:25 PM.
- Mod 7 schedule allows Stewardship committees, Advisory to continue meeting.
Spring Break begins as scheduled
Staff-in-Service days announced, effectively extending Spring Break by two days
The development and implementation of our Distance Learning Program, which honors Sequoyah’s emphasis on relationships, connections, critical thinking, and community, was and is a massive undertaking for our faculty and staff. We thank all of our students and parents who have filled out surveys at the K-8 and high school. Your feedback on our Distance Learning Program is valuable to us and we will be incorporating your thoughts as we continue to refine the program to best meet the needs of our students. This, of course, will require ongoing time and effort. Many of us will be using time during spring break to work on our programs. To allow faculty and staff additional time to strengthen our Distance Learning Programs, there will be no regular classes April 6th and April 7th. Instead, we will run optional programming led by Mason and the Daycare staff for the K-8 and at the high school students will work on projects assigned to them by their teachers. You will receive details regarding programming for April 6th and April 7th in the coming days.
— Josh Brody
Camping trips canceled through mid-May
I’m writing to you today with an update from the Field Studies department letting you know that we have made the tough decision to cancel all of our trips through mid-May. This includes the following planned trips:
- Klamath River with the Junior High
- Utah with the 9th grade
- San Clemente with the 10th grade (abridged option)
- Catalina with the Nest
With the ongoing trend of COVID-19, this was clearly the prudent and necessary choice.
David and I are certainly feeling a lot of disappointment with having to cancel these trips, and we know many of our students will feel similarly. Field Studies is a space where our community gets to live closely together and build important, lifelong skills and connections. We are working hard on developing ways to engage with students remotely, helping them gain those skills in a different setting.
Once we return from spring break, we will be rolling out some activities that can easily be completed at home or on walks around your neighborhood. While we will specifically be targeting the classes that won’t have a Field Studies trip this spring, we will be making these resources available to the entire school.
— Brian Eagen
Distance learning begins at K–8
Distance learning begins at high school
Classes, activities, events canceled
After ongoing consultation with PASH (Pasadena Area School Heads) and repeated directives from health authorities to practice social distancing, we have made the difficult decision to cancel classes and all student-related activities and events, effective Monday, March 16, 2020.
— Josh Brody
Sequoyah says “campus closure is unlikely” but “Sequoyah is in the process of developing strategies to continue the learning process and maintain a sense of community remotely, should we need to do so”
While a campus closure is unlikely, Sequoyah is in the process of developing strategies to continue the learning process and maintain a sense of community remotely, should we need to do so. For years, Sequoyah has been contracting with Joffe Emergency Services, a leading provider of emergency support services for independent schools, and will be continuing to update our business continuity plan with their support.
— Josh Brody