Dear Parents and Students,
I hope you are enjoying the middle of the summer break as much as I am. It has been a busy time around campus with cleaning, painting, hanging new signs, Animas meetings, sports, and cheerleader uniform fittings. I am proud to share that we already have over 20 young ladies committed to creating and building school spirit through a fun and competitive cheerleading program. This program will soon be a CIF and CCS sport in the next few years and I am extremely happy to have our cheerleaders lifting our spirit at rallies and games. In all, our students are creating a palpable buzz of excitement, as they have hit the ground running with a passion that is infectious.
We had an exceptional New Student Orientation on June 6th with over 2/3’s of our incoming students present along with their parents. Our student leadership team, Animas, and our student Ambassadors greeted all students; together they played games, ate ice cream sundaes, and received their school issued iPad. Each of the area managers spoke along with our Admissions Officer, Ms. Marie Marheineke, and towards the end of the night we provided a fun introduction to our Friday Night Bingo – all were welcomed across the street at the Kennedy Center. Dinner was provided as all parents were introduced to the Bingo Management Team, various jobs at Bingo, and they even got a chance to play Bingo and win prizes. Students and parents had a fun and informative night, as they were welcomed into our Sharks Family.
While our gym floor is being sanded, painted, and sealed, our classrooms are being cleaned and polished. Our students will leave for SYLC (Salesian Youth Leadership Conference) with Mr. Monroy on June 20th. If you have not gone I highly suggest you apply and attend. You go with classmates from all four grades with an adult leader to a formal and fun leadership camp in Aptos for the week. You partner with students and adults from our other four high schools, boys and girls clubs, and parishes to learn transformation leadership skills and make friends for life.
Our Summer Bridge Program for incoming 9th graders is preparing to start in the middle of July. Along with their presence and passion we have new people at St. Francis. While Ms. Nereida Madrigal is out on maternity leave, we have Ms. Haydee Lemus working as our School Registrar and Secretary. It is with a heavy heart that I share that Ms. Janelle Silva took a public middle school job and will not be returning; however, I am very happy to share that we have secured Ms. Alexis Meschi to come in as our new English teacher. She will be working directly with Ms. Cmaylo in the English Department this year. Ms. Meschi has honed her craft at Salesian Sisters junior high and comes in with a wealth of Salesian history and training. Mr. Hazel and I are also pleased to announce that our new Women’s Head Varsity Basketball Coach is Ms. Meghan Garcia. Meghan has worked hard as our assistant varsity coach for years and comes to us with a wealth of high school/college playing and coaching.
Along with these changes and events we have been busy hand selecting the student population
at St. Francis for the 2016-2017 school year. I am glad to share that the number of Sharks continues to grow. Our resident and international student population will be bigger this year and we are very proud of our growth. Even with the new growth, we are committed to maintaining personal relationships amongst the students, parents, faculty, and staff. We will still maintain a high level of connectivity – both electronic and personal – that will continue to be the hallmark of this great school. As I have stated at parent meetings and recruiting nights, the #1 indicator for success with high school students is whether they feel known by name and nurtured for success. This is also the value proposition of our patron saint and founder, St. John Bosco; and, this is the value added for our educational experience versus any other public, private, or charter school in the central coast.
I celebrate the opportunity to welcome all of our students to St. Francis High School – Salesian College Preparatory this fall. It is a blessing to watch them grow day by day. This summer I had the opportunity to connect with alumni from St. Francis and my other school, St. John Bosco. This year’s event saw recent graduate Camille Baylis with 2015 alumnus Izzy Shahmirza partner with some of my SJB graduates Matt Herrera and Delano Perea. They all came together to host the 2nd annual kick-off dinner for the Salesian Youth Leadership Conference (SYLC) held each summer in Aptos at Camp St. Francis. I have been working with Br. Al Vu, Ms. Shannon McLeod, Mr. Monroy, Mr. Dewig, and Ms. Lina Silva, to host a dinner for 135 young people.
I pray each of our students have meaningful, life-altering experiences like this and the ones talked about by our two 2016 Valedictorians – Andrew Kreeft (UCLA bound) and Marissa DeVogelaere (University of Portland bound) that help them grow in faith, knowledge, compassion, confidence, leadership, service, and love to each other and to God. We are truly the home of scholars, champions, and leaders!
A reminder, also, about the great success of our Latin Language program in passing the National Latin Exam. Congratulations to Gabriella Gutierrez who achieved a perfect score on her National Latin Exam. She was 1 of 22,200 to take it and only 1% of those scored 100%. Thank you Mr. Pyne. This year we are launching our second biomedical science class, Human Body Systems, to enhance the real-world STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, & Mathematics) learning opportunities for our students. Ms. Nicole Sutherland, our Athletic Trainer, is poised and ready to lead these new classes. She will be working alongside our other biomedical science teacher, Dr. Lisa Homesley. Finally, I want to congratulate Nathaniel Ramos and Riley Scherr for achieving National Merit Scholarship Program status for 2016-2017. These talented students are in the top 3% of all students who
took the PSAT last year – a number close to 1.5 million. Like a proud parent, I am honored to share in the successes of our students and our staff.
This year’s province wide theme is accompaniment. We will continue to develop this and the Salesian strenna as we move into this new school year. You will see and hear some version of this accompaniment theme permeate everything that we do. I value themes that can be branded on a t-shirt or coffee cup so we are partnering with the Salesian Province and Salesian High School in Richmond to tighten this theme up. With this theme in mind, we are focusing on our Schoolwide role in accompanying each student on his or her life’s journey. A good friend and mentor of mine, Fr. John Roche at Don Bosco Hall of UC Berkeley, explains this concept well in terms of Saint John Bosco’s life and work:
“Any reading of the life of Saint John Bosco will lead immediately to the conclusion that there were many key figures in his own life and throughout his life which became for him both friendly companions and spiritual guides. Various moments along his own journey of life are marked by a capturing of his heart and imagination spurring him into an uncertain and often frightening future with courage and faith. These touchstones along the path often became models from which he would draw inspiration and guidance and by which he would, in turn, offer both gifts to the young people considered his…[mission’s] focus. In the details of his own encounters, we find substance and precise characteristics of his particular spirituality: spirituality marked by the ability to attract the young, win their hearts, and shape their lives and souls to good purpose and holiness.”
This is our promise to you - Don Bosco’s Spirituality of Accompaniment to win and guide young hearts! Our staff commits to mentor your son or daughter; to love what they love; and, to get them to love what we love – reason, religion, and loving-kindness. As a result, each will be a better person, more confident, and ready to make an impact in their community and in our world.
This year we again commit to enhancing communication. This year we ask that you sign up for monthly e-newsletters, weekly progress and behavior reports, constant contact emails, and text message alerts. We also suggest that you sign up with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to be better connected to your student’s life at school, community building activities, and service hour opportunities. When you do this you will directly connect to the pulse and life of our vibrant campus, and you will never miss any important information.
With this letter I am attaching our 2016-2017 Fundraising calendar; with the Board of Director’s leadership we have simplified this effort and are communicating early so you as a family know what is coming and what our commitments are. Our goal is 100% participation for each. By achieving 100% participation it makes us more eligible for local and national grant funding, and by securing 100% participation we get to share in the responsibility of ensuring all of our students have the best opportunities.
Here, at St. Francis High School, we form a family in the spirit of Don Bosco. He reminds us that we are on loan to each other. In this life we are given to each other temporarily, just for a time. That in no way lessens, but rather enhances, the relationships we have, encouraging us to live each day and each moment to the full. This, I think, is at the heart of Don Bosco’s spirituality. He found God in daily life. He found God in events as they unfolded, in the young to whom he was sent, in the colleagues with whom he worked. Don Bosco promoted a religion of ordinary life, spirituality for the young of just completed homework, of responsibly done chores, of well played games, and beautifully crafted music and drama. As a product of this educational system for the
last 36 years, and as a junior parent too, I have found that it’s a good spirituality for all of us - both young and adult. May we live it daily this summer, finding God in all things. For now, I hope each of you have a summer that offers rest as well as the opportunity to do good for others.
Yours in Christ,
President and Principal