Dear Students, Alumni, Parents, and Friends of St. Francis:
O God of Creation, you have blessed us with the changing of the seasons.
As we embrace these autumn months,
May the earlier setting of the sun…remind us to take time to rest.
May the crunch of the leaves beneath our feet…remind us of the brevity of this earthly life.
May the steam of our breath in the cool air…remind us that it is you who give us your breath of life.
May the scurrying of the squirrels and the migration of the birds…remind us that You call us to follow Your will.
We praise you for your goodness forever and ever.
The school year is definitely in full swing as we move from the freshness of a new school year to the calmer days of autumn. As I write this newsletter article today, on Halloween, I am touched by the playfulness of our student body and our staff. From Pee Wee Herman to the Wiggles, Scooby Do to Super Mario Brothers, our community embraces the playground and creates a nurturing home where all are welcome.
First quarter grades are in and we completed a wonderfully attended Parent-Teacher Conference night. I am pleased to share that the 2nd quarter is officially off to a great start. Because of our rigor and our caring staff, along with the use of all-school study and daily tutorial periods, we have reached an unprecedented level of academic success. On the heels of this observation, I am thrilled to have received the news that two of our seniors have been named National Merit Program Commended Scholars based on their outstanding scores on the PSAT exam taken during junior year. Congratulations to Nathaniel Ramos and Riley Scherr for this fine honor. We are very proud of these two students and their achievements! This year’s PSAT was taken on October 19th and both the Math and English departments worked diligently to prepare their students for the content rigor and skills necessary for our students to feel comfortable and be successful. This year we added the 9th graders to the testing process; we all know that one test does not make or define a student, but these tests are used as benchmarks for future success on the SAT and AP tests and are also a tool to place your student on the radar for some of America’s top universities and scholarships.
This November we have many activities – cross country, tennis, and volleyball playoffs, for sure; maybe football playoffs; the winter sports season is just getting under way; the fall sports banquet on November 6th; winter sports parent meeting on November 7th; 2017-2018 Early Commitment Interviews; Parent-Campus-Beautification Day on November 12th from 9 am to 12 noon (this day counts as double service hours); our November 13th Fall Open House from 1-4 pm; an all school liturgy November 18th; the coveted Thanksgiving Week Holiday – November 21st-25th; and, finally, our participation in the National Giving Day with our Annual Fund November 29th.
If you want to earn service hours, check-out fall Open House lawn signs any time this week or next (October 31st -November 11th) from Mrs. Marie Marheineke. The signs are only good the week of the event (Open House is on November 13, 2016), because we intentionally left off the date so that the signs may be reused year after year. For every three signs you take and place around your business/parish/neighborhood, you will earn one service hour. Heck, if you want to put up 30 signs in your community, you can earn 10 service hours! We ask that you bring them back to Mrs. Marheineke after our event. This commitment to presence and the brand allows more of the communities in the 4 counties we serve to feel they can join our family – even if they live in a different city, county, or diocese. It extends the St. Francis family.
With the research done by Dr. Denise Pope of Stanford and Mr. Brankovich, the Director of Sports Performance at Menlo College, both of whom spoke at one of our fall SFPA Meetings in the past, we hope your son and/or daughter is getting the necessary sleep and eating/drinking the right nutrition daily. We know this time of year can be stressful with the college application season, end of fall sports, VAPA one-act plays, start of winter sports, and semester exams. Any one of these can be overwhelming for even for the most confident student.
As part of our recognitions, I want to thank Mrs. Megan Martinelli and Mrs. Lisa O’Rourke for their leadership with our 5th Annual Burgundy & Gray event. We again saw record attendance this year and record fundraising as we honored two critically important figures in our school’s life – Mrs. Denise Colosi and the Most Reverend Bishop Sylvester Ryan. Our goals were simple: add 5% in ticket sales and attendance as well as net $100,000. We exceeded both. Thank you to all of our sponsors, donors, auction winners, and volunteers for making this the best B&G event ever. This event continues to grow as our signature SFPA fundraiser for the school. The support for the event also saw us complete our 3rd annual fund-a-need goal for EPSON short throw projectors for science and art classrooms, B4, and the LRC. We will install the first one this winter in D3, so that Mr. Cmaylo and Mr. Castellon can master the device; then, we will add the rest of them as planned. The SFPA Board will begin working on the next community and fundraising event for the school. Look to hear from your grade-level representatives for our committee meetings, philanthropic efforts as a school, and other opportunities to get involved in the lives of all of our students. Our B&G wrap up meeting/celebration will be November 2nd at Café Cruz. All are welcome.
Our next SFPA Board meeting is Monday, November 14th at 6 pm in B4. All are welcome! Your attendance also counts for the mandatory SFPA meeting requirement, but,more importantly it connects you to the pulse of the school. Come share your ideas with like-minded parents who truly care about the Salesian mission and the vision of St. Francis High School.
Finally, we are ready to launch our 2016-2017 Annual Fund Campaign. I am happy to say that Isabella Shahmirza, our 2015 alumna and Sister Laura Goedken scholarship winner, wrote this year’s annual fund letter as a Part 2 to last year’s appeal. This gives all of us a chance to hear from a young alumna who is making her mark in UCLA’s honors program as a pre-med student. Whether you are on tuition assistance or not, our goal is 100% participation from our families. I am so impressed with our community-- we currently have families who give $25 a year through twenty-four payments of $1.04; we also have families who give the opposite end of the spectrum. We just ask that you make St. Francis the priority of all of your philanthropic giving and give what you can. This year, we will again use our SFPA Grade Level Representatives to facilitate each grade level’s participation. The class with the highest % of families participating will get a free dress day and a free lunch. Every dollar counts in bridging the gap between what we charge for tuition versus the actual cost of what tuition should be charged.
We are committed to offering the best Catholic college-prep education in the smallest classroom sizes with the best teachers who genuinely care about each and every student. I heard this exact statement and felt this at our alumni Homecoming gathering at the school and later at the Corralitos Brewery.
Yours in Christ,
President and Principal