Dear St. Francis Families and Friends,
It’s my privilege to welcome each of you to the 2020-2021 St. Francis High School – Salesian College Preparatory online home. I am very eager to continue my journey as the President/Principal of one of the top private, Catholic, Salesian high schools in the state. I have spent 39 years in Salesian education, both as a student and educator, and this experience provides me with a profound understanding of the responsibility that our faculty, coaches, and staff have in mentoring young women and men to become successful adults equipped with a strong set of Catholic values and the moral fortitude to be leading global citizens.
For the 2020-2021 school year, our plan will be to provide face-to-face learning with the adaptability to move to hybrid learning and back at any time. St. Francis High School is committed to ensuring the health and safety of our students, parents, staff, and local communities while providing high quality and engaging instruction. Our published reopening plan is the result of a collaboration between current and alumni students, current and alumni parents, faculty, staff, first responders, and local experts. It utilizes local, state, and federal health guidelines as well as survey feedback from our stakeholders.
Even while applying and following these guidelines, we acknowledge that there are inherent risks as we transition from the shelter-in-place model to a face-to-face model of non-standard groupings while social distancing and implementing appropriate hygiene practices. This is our new reality.
We are committed to training students and employees on the new protocols as well as continuing to review health guidelines and best practices to ensure a safe learning environment that maximizes academic, faith, social, and emotional opportunities. Our reopening plan is both comprehensive and flexible until a vaccination is in place, as the pandemic continues to ebb and flow.
With this reopening overview, I would like to introduce who we are: Our great school is named after St. Francis of Assisi, but our spirit and passion come from our patron, St. John Bosco. The story of St. John Bosco and his mission is inspiring. It captures the essence of our vision:
To ensure every student is prepared to attend a 4-year college and possesses the values of a good Christian and an honest global citizen.
Since 2001, the partnership between the Diocese of Monterey, Salesian priests and brothers who follow the model of St. John Bosco, and our community of parents has empowered young women and men to be successful. They find success in the classroom, on the court and field, and in the community as each student and staff member continues to demonstrate servant leadership and a commitment to social justice. Students graduate from St. Francis as confident and dynamic young women and men of character who are ready to lead, influence, serve, and inspire.
On June 5 the Wall Street Journal said, “Public/charter school districts closed campuses in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic and, with practically no time at all for planning or training, launched a grand experiment to educate more than 50 million students from kindergarten through 12th-grade using technology: it didn’t work.” What we learned is that live, distance, and hybrid learning at St. Francis works very well. We saw a 98.5% engagement and participation rate, up slightly from our in-person learning. None of our students had pass/fail classes or guaranteed grades from the third quarter. Our students continued to learn and earn their grades. Unlike our other local schools, we will not be re-teaching the 2020 spring semester in the fall of 2020. Our students will continue to learn at high levels.
As evidence of that high-level learning, we want to share with you the following noteworthy accomplishments from the last 4 years:
- In the last 3 years, our 171 graduates have earned over $17,100,000 in collegiate academic and athletic scholarships. This number is unmatched by schools with 2 or 3 times as many students.
- 98.5% of our graduates attend college, and 100% of our students who apply to college are accepted into a college of their choice.
- 100% of our students meet and/or exceed our service hours project.
- Students annually test well above average on the PSAT and SAT exams. Our four-year SAT scores are 34 points higher than the local and national average.
- Students annually test well above average on the Advanced Placement and National Latin exams. Our four-year AP score history averages 11-45% higher pass percentages than the local and national average. In the last four years Calculus BC, English Language, Studio Art, Spanish Language, and English Literature have all celebrated a 100% pass rate one or more times.
- Annually we recognize 2-5% of our seniors as National Merit Commended Scholars, Semi-Finalists, Finalists, and/or National Hispanic Merit Commended Scholars.
- 4 seniors in the last 5 years have been recognized by the CIF and the CCS as the top male or female academic athlete.
- 100% of our AP Spanish Language, AP English Literature, AP Calculus, and AP Biology students are recognized in their respective National Honor Societies.
- The junior and senior classes have a 46% membership in the California Scholarship Federation and 38% are members of the National Honor Society.
- 85% of our student population participates in sports, the arts, or both.
- 22% of our students participate in the Project Lead the Way Biomedical Science Pathway.
- 26% of our students have a 4.0 or better in a rigorous college preparatory curriculum that includes Honors, Advanced Placement, and online classes.
St. Francis offers a comprehensive high school experience that is also an intensely personal one. Our teacher to student ratio is 11.5:1, with an average class size of 20. We are also proud to offer a high level of personal, academic, and college/career counseling. Ms. Haydee Lemus focuses all of her counseling attention on the 9th grade and Ms. Patricia Gutierrez is the Head Counselor and focuses her attention on the 10th-12th grade students. This year we have added an extra service with a professional college/career counselor, who is also a current and alumni parent and volunteers to meet with each junior and senior to facilitate the college and scholarship application process. This means that you and your student will receive comprehensive support for success inside and outside of the classroom as well as the personal attention when choosing appropriate majors, colleges, and scholarships.
We are committed to preparing students for the dynamic challenges of an ever-changing world inside and outside of this pandemic. Now more than ever, students need to master not only subject knowledge but also 21st-century skills such as critical thinking, creation, collaboration, and oral/written communication. Our highly qualified, expert staff mentors each young person to master the rigors of class as well as build the confidence he or she needs to be a leader in the community. We do this with tutorial periods after academic classes Monday through Thursday; all-school studies monthly; and semester exam prep days. Teachers genuinely care about each student, knowing him or her by name, and reaching out to celebrate their successes and support them when they struggle.
As part of our vision, we continue to grow programs, services, and the student population. We have done this by delivering on our promise: we foster excellence in academics, athletics, arts, service, leadership, and faith development. As a result, we now proudly serve students from four local counties in California, two dioceses, as well as countries outside of the US: China, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico this year alone. It is our vision to slowly grow the local number of students attending as well as expand our services to students from outside the US. Being so close to Silicon Valley and the international city of San Francisco, it is our plan to mentor global citizens who demonstrate good Christian values.
As I finish this welcome letter, let us not forget the message of Pope Francis: “Dear Young People, do not bury your talents – the gifts God has given you! Do not be afraid to dream of great things!” We are here to nurture big dreams in all of the young people that we serve; and as mentors and Salesian educators to the young, we are here to help them support each other and our communities as servant leaders with influence. Our vision is coming to fruition as we continue to fulfill the mission of St. John Bosco.
There is something truly extraordinary about St. Francis High School and each member of our community has played an integral role in our growth and our students’ success. As the leader of our St. Francis High School family, I look forward to building a strong relationship with you so that we may continue to provide young women and men with the necessary formation to be captains of industry, champions of social justice, innovative thinkers, and ethical leaders in our local and global communities.
God bless and Go SHARKS!
Mr. Patrick Lee
President | Principal