The Sequoia Union High School District (SUHSD) recently convened two listening sessions: a face-to-face meeting on September 12 at Bloomhouse on Pulgas Avenue in East Palo Alto and a virtual meeting on September 15. Both meetings brought together SUHSD officials, East Palo Alto Community Archive staff and the alumni of the now defunct Ravenswood High School.
The meetings were the brainchild of Trustee Shawneece Stevenson, who is serving the third year of her four-year term on the board of the SUHSD who recently noted that the changes at the executive level in the district in the last four years underscored the need for the top leadership to know how SUHSD policies have impacted East Palo Alto.
“I was inspired in this effort by requests from local elders in the community to introduce the newly appointed Superintendent, Crystal Leach, to the community,” said Trustee Stevenson, “as well as the desire of the new superintendent to get to know the community.”
In the last three years, the district has had three superintendents. Crystal Leach, the current superintendent, has only been in her position since April, 2023. She replaced Darnise Williams who vacated the position at the end of 2022. Dr. Williams had replaced Mary Streshly who left in 2020.
“I am very pleased and extremely encouraged that EPACA is being recognized as a resource for the community both within and outside East Palo Alto,” said Sharifa Wilson, the Executive Director of the East Palo Alto Community Archive, acknowledging the budding partnership with the Sequoia Union High School District.
The East Palo Alto Community Archive (EPACA) helped the SUHSD facilitate the participation of the Ravenswood High School Alumni in both events. It also assisted in developing questions for the two sessions as well as publicizing the event to the Ravenswood High School alumni.
“Learning from our past into our future,” said Trustee Stevenson, emphasizing the theme of the two listening sessions, “was a first step in developing a strong partnership with East Palo Alto entities.”
The two listening sessions were recorded and the District, according to Trustee Stevenson, intends to pass those video recordings to EPACA. In addition, the District conducted one-on-one interviews with several Ravenswood High School alumni, recordings that will also augment EPACA’s Ravenswood High School Collection.
Ravenswood High School opened in 1958 and operated until formally closing in 1975. Since then, East Palo Alto has not had a comprehensive public or private high school.