The dear Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet always taught us to say “please” and “thank you”. It is in that spirit that the following two letters (the below and the Stella Maris Award letter) come from our principal, Mr. Hanley.
A decade ago, Star of the Sea began several fundraising activities because the school was in dire straits financially. One of my first acts as principal was to ask the pastor for $65,000, not for a special project, but to meet summer payroll! Through the diligent work of parents, faculty and alumni, Star is in a much healthier place now. Fundraisers, a Parent Pledge Program, foundation grants and gifts from alumni have all been a part of this recovery.
Recent years have seen the addition of a preschool, a science lab, and great expansion of our technology program. Enrollment from K-8 is up 13% and there are 38 students in our preschool. For the second consecutive year our kindergarten is at capacity. There are still physical plant needs to be addressed. We also have a curriculum moving full speed ahead to prepare our students for life in the 21st century, and a commitment to never deny a Catholic school education to a family who can’t quite afford to pay full tuition.
Years ago, I was advised to constantly speak about our curriculum, our high test scores, our extra-curricular activities, the great high schools our graduates attend, the sports program, and our technology classes. I have, and will continue to sing the praises of each of those components of Star, but first and foremost Star of the Sea is community.
Just as the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet came to 9th Avenue in 1909 seeking to build community, today Star still strives to build community, to be neighbors helping neighbors. The fact is that our demographics have changed over the last 103 years, and if asked, I can give a breakdown of our student body and parent community. But the truth is that at 7:55 a.m. when that bell rings, there is only one kind of person in our schoolyard…a Star of the Sea person. That goes for the youngest preschooler to the oldest teacher, from the newest parent who has no previous experience in Catholic school to the Dad who brings his sons to the same school he went to and the same school his Mom went to, from the student who came to Star only for junior high to the “12 year Stars” who attended from 1st grade through high school when our Academy was still serving the community. We are Star!
I am asking that all of us, the entire Star community participate in Phase II of our capital campaign. Just as our parents and grandparents made sacrifices to build the school we attended, we must now do what we can to assure that Star is successful in its second century. Our goals during this phase are:
- To replace windows throughout the school. Most are the original windows installed in the 1930s when the current building was erected. New windows are just one part of our commitment to becoming a ‘green’ school. New windows will reduce the amount of energy we use to heat the building and improve lighting, which will decrease our electricity use. Our recycling and composting programs have been very successful. Over the last few years, we have reduced the amount of refuse we throw out by over 50%. Students learn about the importance of conservation in Science and Religion classes. And one of our four Student Learning Expectations is to be a “responsible, globally aware steward”.
- To continue to keep up with the best practices in education in all subject areas but particularly in the use of varied methodologies to address the learning needs of each student. Two particular areas of concern here are technology and theology. Our students will continue their education and their careers in a world in which technology is key to their success. The foundation of what they do, how they do it and why they do it must be values learned in Religion class. To be the best men and women they can be, our children must not just learn Religion, they must share their faith. Our community outreach programs (donations to SF Food Bank, adopting less fortunate families for Christmas, participating in the Breast Cancer Walk, and contributing to the Leukemia Society) are very concrete ways to reach out to help our sisters and brothers.
- To continue to assure that no child misses the opportunity to receive a Catholic education, Star of the Sea School plans to increase our annual financial aid by 50%. The best way to do this is to put more funds into our scholarship account. Recent economic turmoil has resulted in that account losing much of its value, but the market will turn around one day and increasing our contributions to this account will pay off.
I’m writing to ask for your support in this endeavor. The old phrase, “it takes a village” has never been a more accurate description of financing a great education. In the earliest years the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet served our students and families for little more than room and board. Now we are faced with financial realities that are much more challenging. Our goal in Phase II is to raise $350,000. The majority of this ($290,000) will go to replacing the windows. The remainder will be put towards maintaining our technology program and scholarship aid for families who need some help with tuition. We need to work as one community and continue to offer Star of the Sea students the best Catholic education available.
Robert Kennedy once said that one never knows the long-term effect of the good acts he performs. Like a stone tossed into a pond, one may see the initial splash, but never see the ripples that make their way across the pond. I’m asking you to contribute today to assure us all of a better tomorrow.
See the Stella Maris Award letter