Dear St. Francis Families and Friends,
It’s my privilege to welcome each of you to the 2019-2020 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 34 years in Salesian education, providing 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.
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 4-year college and possesses the values of a good Christian and an honest global citizen.
St. John Bosco’s revolutionary educational leadership in 19th century Italy led to sweeping educational reform and has become the cornerstone and vernacular for most contemporary schools – whether they are public, charter, private, or diocesan. Now everyone talks about educating the whole child and the value of social and emotional learning. Don Bosco’s educational philosophy launched these revolutionary educational reforms and it is as relevant today as it was in Turin 165 years ago.
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 4 years:
- 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 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.
- 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.
St. Francis offers a comprehensive high school experience that is also an intensely personal one. Our teacher to student ratio is 12:1 with an average class size of 20.5. We are also proud to offer a very 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 professional college/career counselors, who are also current and alumni parents, are volunteering 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 to pick appropriate majors, colleges, and scholarships. The Class of 2019 (64 graduates) earned $5.2 million and the Class of 2018 (60 graduates) earned $7.1 million in college academic and athletic scholarships! This number is unmatched by schools with 2 or 3 times as many students.
Within this framework we are committed to prepare students for the dynamic challenges of an ever-changing world. 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 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, 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 Silicone Valley and the international city of San Francisco, it is our plan to mentor global citizens who demonstrate good Christian values.
Secondly, our mission and vision focuses our attention on program and service expansion to meet individual student needs. The school allows students to take 7 classes each semester, and we educate using the 4x4 rotating block schedule. This allows our teachers and students to investigate, research, create, and produce better than any surrounding school. All of our students use iPads and all of us have committed to printing 10% less paper products than last year. We are getting greener each year. Since the introduction of blended learning – online learning done on campus, managed by our staff, with peer and teacher tutoring – we now offer more Advanced Placement, honors, and elective choices in math, social studies, science, modern language, and the visual arts. The school has had tremendous success in athletics due to a commitment to hire teachers/staff who are program coaches as well as the expansion of our strength and conditioning program for all athletes in an effort to promote good health, safety, nutrition, and injury rehabilitation. This last year we celebrated the Year of the Woman, with our ladies winning league titles in cross country, basketball, and softball!
As part of our story and journey, St. Francis has been quietly working on a capital campaign – the VISION campaign. I am excited to provide you with an update on our VISION Capital Campaign to add a Counseling Center/Administration Building as well as renovate the Stadium with turf, bleachers, and lines for football/soccer/women’s lacrosse. Through this capital campaign, we will maintain, modernize, and expand our buildings, sports facilities and services to meet the needs of our educational community.
With Board of Directors and Corporate members Board approval we will start this fall. We are gratified for the very generous support already shown. Thank you to everyone who has pledged or given to see the Counseling Center/Administration building and field renovation get completed.
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.
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 design thinkers, and ethical leaders in our local and global communities.
God bless, and Go SHARKS!