Dear St. Francis Families and Friends,
It’s my privilege to welcome each of you to the 2021-2022 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 41 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 2021-2022 school year, we are grateful to be back live with all of our students and staff. 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 COVID-19 Safety Plan is a collaboration between the Salesians, Diocese of Monterey, Santa Cruz County Public Health Office, and the Santa Cruz County Office of Education.
Even with strictly applying and following these guidelines we acknowledge that there are inherent risks as we host in-person instruction, sports, arts, dances, events, etc. This is our new reality. I am confident that things will never go back to the way they were before COVID-19.
We are committed to ensuring all students and employees continue to review health guidelines and best practices to ensure a safe learning environment that maximizes academic, faith, social, and emotional opportunities. Our safety plan, posted on the website, is both comprehensive and flexible as the pandemic ebbs and flows.
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 what we do together at St. Francis works. Our students will continue to learn and earn their grades. Unlike our other local schools, we will not be re-teaching the 2020-2021 school year. Our students will continue to learn at high levels.
With this welcome, I would like to introduce who we are: Our great school is named after St. Francis of Assisi, but our spirit and passion comes 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 university 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, a Salesian college preparatory high school, as confident and dynamic young women and men of character who are ready to lead, influence, serve, and inspire.
As evidence of that readiness, we want to share with you the following noteworthy accomplishments from the last 3 years:
- In the last 3 years, our 2019-2021 graduates have earned over $14.7M 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 a university are accepted into one of their choices.
- 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 five years Calculus BC, English Language, Studio Art 1 & 2, Spanish Language, English Literature, and Computer Science have all celebrated a 100% pass rate one or more times. This year we introduce a new class, AP Environmental Science.
- 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 recognize 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.
- 88% of our students, faculty, and staff are Catholic. We have the highest Catholicity amongst all 5 Salesian high schools in California.
- 69% of our students receive merit or need-based tuition assistance; this year we awarded $720,000 to our families.
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 very high level of personal, academic, and college/career counseling. Ms. Patricia Gutierrez is the Head Counselor and focuses her attention on the 9th-12th grade students. This year we have added a Student Support Counselor, Mr. Vernon Calhoun. Mr. Calhoun is excited to work with all students who need support – whether they have an IEP, ISP, 504, or have just fallen below our academic standards. This means he can host 1-on-1 meetings with students, meetings with parents/teachers/ students, or collaborate with teachers to ensure every student has the most support to be successful in every class.
As you can see from our data and our positive changes, we are committed to prepare 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 master 21st-century skills like 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 before academic classes Monday through Friday, all school studies monthly, virtual office hour days 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 USA. 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 Silicone 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. #SF_DreamBigger. Our vision is coming to fruition as we continue to fulfill the mission of St. John Bosco. This year we plan on completing the construction of our new stadium for our current and alumni students as well as future Sharks and the community.
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 each of 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 design thinkers, and ethical leaders in our local and global communities.
God bless and Go SHARKS!
Mr. Patrick Lee
President | Principal