December 08, 2010

Community Building Dinner - Sequoia High School District

By Tara Moeller, MarCom Committee

Here is some of the amazing work our League has been up to. Carrie Du Bois (League Member) had an inspiring idea to bring families and students together from the Sequoia Union High School District (SUHSD) to help ease the East Palo Alto students’ transition. The resulting inaugural event also helped to better include the parents of these students so they feel confident in supporting their children, and to help them become aware of the education process, especially for transferring to high school. How better to meet these goals than over an amazing Community Building Dinner?

8th grade students and their families from Cesar Chavez Academy were the main event. With 95% of the families living in poverty, the high school transition can often be difficult. To add to the stress, the kids have to travel among 3 schools--Woodside, Menlo-Atherton (MA) and Carlmont. Since most students and parents don’t attend the school’s 8th grade information nights, back to school nights or shadowing events, this dinner was an attempt to bring the district to them and make them feel part of the family.

Dr. Lianides, the superintendent of the SUHSD, said "This night is a historic first. All of our schools are represented tonight and we want you all to know that we welcome you to our district."

Over 230 people (mostly non-English speaking guests) including East Palo Alto families, Sequoia Union district families, all four principals from the highs schools (Carlmont, Woodside, MA, and Sequoia), and the district superintendent had a very memorable evening. This was the first time in the school's history something like this had been held, and the event was generously funded by PVF (Philanthropic Ventures Foundation). PVF’s Executive Director, Bill Somerville, didn't stop at funding-word is he rolled up his sleeves to help Carrie set up tables for the event.

PTA leaders were so inspired from the turn out they have suggested making this an annual event. “The evening was inspirational for me,” said an enthusiastic Carlmont PTA leader. "I had no idea how hard it has been for these families to just get to our school. Needless to say, I learned a lot".

Thank you to the partner sponsors, Sprinkles for donating deliciously beautiful cupcakes and Ravenswood Educational Foundation.

Last but not least, this event would not have been possible without the support of our many volunteers. Thank you to DIAD members Ana Newton and Jamie Meyer for working with Carrie Du Bois to coordinate the event, and to all of the volunteers it takes to host an amazingly magical evening.

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