Teachers flash back to their high school years


While walking through familiar hallways and seeing unfamiliar faces, many teachers flash back to their high school years at Sequoia.

“I just remember being kind of nervous and trying to find all my classes, and also trying to find my friends I already knew in the hallways,” said Dustin Waters, a history teacher who graduated in Sequoia’s Class of 2000. “I always thought it would be cool to come back and teach at the high school that I went to.”

When Waters was a sophomore, history teacher Nancy Berry taught him.

“I’m very flattered that [Waters] decided to be a history teacher,” Berry said.

Waters had good memories of being in Berry’s class.

“She had really interesting stories about history, and she would bring in stories about her own life and really knew how to engage the class and make us feel comfortable. She always wanted to hear what we had to say, and I always had fun in her class,” Waters said.

As faces change at Sequoia, the students and teachers write new pages in its history.

“I think Sequoia has really become a place of learning. I’m really happy to be a part of it,” Waters said. “I was really happy to see how well the students got along and how respectful they were.”

Waters mentions the demographic of Sequoia, which has changed over the last 20 years. According to the California Department of Education, the percentage of Hispanic or Latino-identifying students has grown from 52 percent of the student body at Sequoia to 59 percent over 20 years. The percentage of students who identify themselves as white has decreased from 36.9 percent to 28 percent from the years 1995- 2015.

“I always thought it would be cool to come back and teach at the high school that I went to.”

— —Dustin Waters, History Teacher

Another aspect of the school that has changed over the past 20 years is the campus. The number of enrolled students has soared from 1,446 in 1995 to 2,135 in 2014 students, which resulted in adding buildings to the campus. The Multi-Purpose Building and the Veterans Memorial were added starting in 2000 and Gym 1 finished renovation in 2010.

In the ‘80s, even rules were different. “We had open campus. We would park our cars out in the student parking lot, out there. And then they would unlock the chains and open up the gates at lunch, and we would all jump in my truck and drive over to Burger King. And then we would come back over and sit out in the parking lot and play music in our cars,” said David Brand, Special Education Teacher and Class of 1984.

Since the campus has changed, so have the traditions.

“I think the reputation here has improved. Sequoia is one of the top schools on the Peninsula,” Waters said.

Sequoia was ranked the 119th school in California out of the 3,244 high schools and 622nd out of more than 21,000 schools nationwide by Niche for the school year 2014-2015. This is an improvement from previous years. There has also been a rise in test scores in science, math and English since the 2008 school year, according to Zillow.

“We had auto shop, machine shop, and industrial arts. I think that would still be of value here, because even though we have a lot of technology and it is huge now, there is still a need for trade jobs, for mechanics. And I just thought we had a well rounded program for all types of students. Some kids just aren’t going on the college track. Maybe they aren’t book smart, but they are very smart with their hands,” Brand said.

Over the course of the years, electives have changed with the campus. Machine shop, typing class, auto shop and industrial arts are no longer available for students because the B-Wing has been remodeled to fit different classrooms