Weekly Letter (May 15 ’17)

Dear Parents and Students,

I want to share two thoughts with you today; one spiritual and one corporal. Let me begin with the spiritual. This time of year between Easter and mid-June can be very emotional for me. Confirmation, First Holy Communion and finally Graduation are three very special spring time events. It is so touching to watch parents as they pass on to their kids the truly important aspects of life. The intimacy of Christ in our lives through the Eucharist and the joy of full initiation through Confirmation are two of the deepest spiritual moments of life. To be able to watch the joy of children (young women and men), parents, and grandparents as these sacraments are celebrated is a gift to any teacher. Compared to these two, Graduation is minor, but I am a teacher, so watching our kids move on always touches my heart.

On the corporal side, I want to strongly encourage you all to attend the final “Workshop” with all stakeholders on May 24 from 5:30-7:30pm in the auditorium. This workshop is to reach a conclusion on the Master Plan. All are invited–parents, staff, parishioners, etc. Ratcliff will have large boards with several options for small group discussion (6-8 per table) and try to reach some consensus. The future of our physical plant may not affect us directly, but it is time for us to share our ideas and dreams to assure the best possible future for Star’s physical plant, students and parishioners. Please join us.

God Bless You All and Happy Mothers’ Day to All the Moms,

Terrence Hanley

Principal

Weekly Letter (May 8 ’17)

Dear Parents and Students,

On behalf of the entire faculty and staff, I want to thank you for your many kind considerations during Teacher Appreciation Week. And for what it’s worth, we feel appreciated by you all through the year. Thanks and God bless you all.

I also want to thank Celina Martin and Janice Moon for coordinating the major clean up job in the south hallway. It is 100% better!

And thanks to Meghan Parent, Riko Knight, Kathleen Lee, Jo Kenny, Jessie Holcer, Mary & Richard Wong, Francesca Dobbs, Sive Cavanaugh, Maureen Perry, Jackie Marx and anyone else who steps up to help prepare Grandparent and Special Friends Day.

This coming Saturday is our Parish / School Festival. Raffle tickets were sent home with the oldest child in each family and each family must sell one book. All proceeds from sales of raffle tickets will go toward the retrofit project. Please be generous and then come and join us for a great time on Saturday!

God Bless You All,

Terrence Hanley

Principal

Weekly Letter (May 1 ’17)

Dear Parents and Students,

We at Star understand how difficult it is to keep up with how our children use new and ever- changing technologies. Our children are immersed in a society that seems to have become dependent on powerful computers, including iPhones, gaming stations, tablets, and other portable digital devices. Children as young as elementary students are extremely savvy in the use of technology. Therefore, it is no surprise that the Internet is now the favored forum for socializing, and the preferred method of communication among children and teens.

Students communicate with each other via text, and on the Web through email, IM, chatrooms, blogs, and other social networking sites. The addition of social networking apps make it very easy for children to post personal information about themselves including their name, age and photograph, their likes, dislikes, interests and friends. It is a common and disturbing reality that while students would not share this information with a stranger on the street, they somehow feel comfortable when sharing such information on the Web for everyone to see. These networking sites and social networking apps also provide features such as instant messaging and email so that visitors, and strangers included, can communicate and have a direct discussion with your child.

Star of the Sea School uses google apps for education and other safety features implemented by the Tech committee to restrict access to these Web sites and apps in school. With the safety of our students foremost in mind, we strongly recommend that parents limit and monitor their children’s Internet and email access at home. We also encourage parents to learn about Internet safety and to play an active role in discussing the issue with their children.

Through lessons provided by classroom teachers, and the Technology and Prevention programs we have through the Archdiocese, we do our best to provide Star of the Sea students with the awareness and knowledge they need in order to recognize and avoid dangerous, destructive, or unlawful behavior and to respond appropriately.

However, it is only through a collaborative effort between parents and teachers that we will succeed in creating responsible and safe cyber citizens.

God Bless You All,

Theresa Poon

Vice Principal in Charge of Technology

 

Weekly Letter (Apr 24 ’17)

Dear Parents and Students,

Welcome back, I hope you had a peaceful, joyful Easter vacation. With spring in full bloom it is tempting to daydream about summer, vacation and graduation. But we still have plenty of schoolwork to do before we call it a year. Thirty–two days remain on the calendar (only 29 for the Class of 2017).

I promise you those days will be full of academics and activities such as:

How To Get Your Child Into High School Night (current 7th & 6th parents only), Vocation Day (April 28, grades 5-8 with Fr Vito), First Holy Communion (April 29), Coaches versus Eighth Graders Game (April 29), Talent Show (May 4), Faculty Retreat (May 5), Teddy Bear Picnic (May 6), Star Testing (May 8-19), Several graduation activities (throughout May and early June), Grandparents and Special Friends Day (May10), Sports Awards Night (May 25), Field Day (May 26), and a host of other events fill the next few weeks.

For those of you in grades K-7, please keep your focus. It may be years before you look back and realize what a great elementary school experience you have had, but one day you will.

For our beloved Class of 2017, we are all so proud of your accomplishments to date and we are confident that as life presents bigger challenges, you will meet them successfully.  Right now my main goal for you is to take these last few days to treat each other like the sisters and brothers you are. And please remember that you are Star students until you and that signed diploma are on Geary Boulevard on Friday, June 2.

God Bless You All,

Terrence Hanley

Principal

Weekly Letter (Apr 16 ’17)

Dear Parents and Students,

Happy Easter!

In the evolution of the human race there have been several major steps to becoming who we are today. Communication is one of the most important skills we have developed. From cave drawings to spoken languages, written languages, the printing press, radio, television and the internet, human communications have played a major role in forming our societies and our families.

Of course it would be overly simplistic to state that all communications are of equal value, but “telling the story” makes us who we are. Some stories are true; some are false. And some stories are important at the time they are told, but lose credibility over time. Some stories make an impact on our lives and some are just passing by.

So what is it that makes any story important? Credibility, durability and effectiveness. True stories that last and make an impact on human lives are the most important stories we have. Last week at our school prayer service a group of students read from the Gospels of Holy Week about the days before Jesus was arrested, executed and rose from the dead. This story goes back 2000 years, closer to 2600 years if we consider the writings of the prophet Isaiah. This story has had a profound effect on over a billion Christians and many of our sisters and brothers of other faiths.

We are all Children of God, as such we are all loved and we must accept the joy of sharing God’s love with each other. And Easter proves to us that as difficult as our lives may be, we have nothing to fear, not even death has any authority over us. We are all called to live in God’s eternal love.

Happy Easter!

Terrence Hanley

Principal

Weekly Letter (Apr 10 ’17)

Dear Parents and Students,

We are now in the last few days of the Liturgical Season of Lent with Palm Sunday yesterday and Holy Week this week. For those unfamiliar with the story it was on Palm Sunday that Jesus went to Jerusalem. Some thought He was going to proclaim a new earthly kingdom, some welcomed this, some feared this, but few if any knew that His kingdom was not to be “earthly.”

“Palm Sunday” refers to the fact that many laid down palm branches to pave the road for Jesus just as we now might roll out a red carpet for a special dignitary. Crowds greeted Him with joy and enthusiasm. But as the following week unfolded, Jesus was betrayed by Judas, arrested and beaten, abandoned by His friends, condemned to death and crucified. This is not the foundation of any earthly kingdom. Were we to stop at the crucifixion, Christianity would simply be a failed social experiment.

But Christians believe that there is more to the story. We firmly believe that on the Sunday after His execution, Jesus rose from the dead. When the disciples went to His gravesite that Sunday morning, they found an empty tomb. An angel told them, “He is not here, He is risen.” Even death could not hold power over Jesus and He promises us that as his sisters and brothers we too are called to an eternal life in God’s loving presence.

Until this year, I was Star’s 6th grade Religion teacher and from time to time students would ask me why or how I believed this story. For me the answer is simple. I was taught this article of faith throughout my life by family, Sisters of Mercy, Christian Brothers and Jesuits. But more than that, I too have lost loved ones to death. If I was not absolutely sure of their continued life in God’s loving presence, I do not know how I could continue to exist. Yet, I continue to live, to laugh, to love and to learn. The love I shared with those I seem to have lost is just as real today as it was when they were with me here. The resurrection is real, the promise of eternal life is true. May God’s love be clearly present to us all as we conclude Lent and move towards the joyful celebration of Easter.

God Bless You All,

Terrence Hanley

Principal

Weekly Letter (Apr 3 ’17)

Dear Parents,

I received a letter from Archbishop Cordileone on March 20th and he asked that I share some of his thoughts with you. First of all, the Archbishop wants to express his gratitude to all the parents who have met with Father Illo, with the goal of seeking to understand each other better. It is his belief that continuing with such meetings will go a long way toward building greater unity in the school and parish. His idea is simply to meet together to speak and especially to listen to each other. Through this we can get to know each other better and seek to understand each other’s point of view. He suggests no defined goals, no action plan, or resolution. His request is simply that we meet, listen and get to know each other better.

The Archbishop also asks that the school and parish undertake some small projects together, in the hopes that we find ways to build trust. We have already started this process as you know. Father Illo has met with several of the faculty / staff members and he and I meet at least once per week to discuss what’s going on in the school. Father Illo was able to spend some time with the WCEA Team that visited, the kids in grades 4-8 are leading Stations of the Cross (as they do every Lent) at 11:30 on Fridays so that parishioners may join us. The Festival is coming up and it will be a joint effort by school and parish. And as you can see Father Illo will be writing a paragraph in our Monday letter starting this week.

God Bless You All,

Terrence Hanley

Principal

Weekly Letter (Mar 27 ’17)

Dear Parents and Students,

Over the last few months the Ratcliff Architects has been working on the “master plan” for Star of the Sea Parish and School. In early January, the Ratcliff folks met with our Seismic Committee to discuss in very general terms our hopes and dreams for the future. They also reviewed the seismic reports that were prepared last year to ascertain the safety issues we face as we repair or replace various structures on campus.

In February Ratcliff met with “user groups” to get ideas from those of us who use the facilities most often to assess space needs. The three “user groups” were the seismic committee (comprised of parishioners and parents as well as Father Illo, Father Vito and Mr. Hanley); the faculty, staff, Athletic Department, and a few Moms who are very involved in setting up fundraisers and parties here; and the rectory staff including some parish volunteers.

Quite bluntly, we do not have a lot of money, but we do have property that we might be able to leverage to help finance building and site improvements. We may have the largest Parish / School complex in San Francisco. We have a convent, a church, a rectory, an elementary school, a preschool, a high school (the Laurel School was originally Star of the Sea Academy, one of the finest high schools for young ladies in San Francisco), and a gymnasium. One major reason for a “master plan” is to help us figure out what is possible. I admit it is an exaggeration, but right now we are looking at what works best from “everybody bring duct tape” to “let’s rebuild the whole place.” At this point, all our buildings are in play for improvement consideration except the Church.

Ratcliff is currently working on creating two master plan options – one closer to “duct tape”, one closer to “rebuild the whole place”.  When those are ready, Ratcliff will hold several open workshop meetings for parents, parishioners and other stakeholders to attend and give input. The original deadline for all of this was early May, but it seems that we may not meet that deadline.

Father Illo and I want to thank all of you who have been involved in this process so far and encourage the rest of you to attend the open meetings when they are scheduled.

God Bless You All,

Terrence Hanley

Principal

Weekly Letter (Mar 20 ’17)

Dear Parents and Students,

Aside from the WCEA visit last week there were three other major events: the feast days of Saint Patrick and Saint Joseph and the high school acceptance announcements.

Perhaps you know that I am of Irish ancestry, so of course Saint Patrick is important to me. But I sincerely believe that all cultures and maybe all individuals have had their own “Patrick.” Whether it was a saint, a grandparent, a parent, a priest, or a group of nuns, somebody (probably all of them together) brought each of us closer to understanding God. So for all of us who owe a thank you to those who helped us build our faith, “Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!”

When I think of Saint Joseph I have two immediate thoughts: the most underappreciated Saint ever, and Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet who staffed our beloved school for the first 98 years. The faith and the love Joseph quietly shared with Mary and Jesus should be an example to us all. And God bless the dear Sisters of Saint Joseph for coming to the edge of the world (in 1909 anyway) to teach the children of San Francisco.

Finally, I want to congratulate all of our eighth graders who received their high school acceptances last week. This is a big deal and I am so proud of you all.

Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep                          19 accepted, 11 with Honors

Saint Ignatius College Prep                            6 accepted, 6 with honors

Archbishop Riordan High School                   4 accepted, 1 with Honors

Mercy High School                                         3 accepted

Convent of the Sacred Heart                          2 accepted

Immaculate Conception Academy                 1 accepted

Sacred Heart Prep (Atherton)                         1 accepted

Lowell High School                                        3 accepted

Private schools and Catholic schools outside the City do not usually inform us of their decisions so if I left off any schools please let me know so I can update this information. (But remember that you still are Star students until you walk out of Church with that diploma.)

Next week I will give an update on the master plan for repairing or rebuilding the campus. The short version is that the “user meetings” were held last month and were actually very exciting.

Sincerely,

Terrence Hanley

Principal

Weekly Letter (Mar 13 ’17)

Dear Parents and Students,

This is the week we have been working toward for over a year. The evaluation team that represents the West Catholic Education Association and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges will be here on campus to visit our school. I want to thank all of you who have helped make Star of the Sea School such a great Catholic school. Some of you are very much in the limelight (teachers, Parent Club and Finance Committee members) and some of you show your support of the school in very quiet ways. But to all of you I extend my most sincere gratitude.

After all of the hard work we put in, we had to document “all of the hard work we put in” so the visiting team could have an idea who and what we are. This week they get to see Star in action. My Uncle Jim (the Jesuit) told me an old trick he always used: if the visitors ask any question, all of you should raise your hands, right hand if you actually know the answer, left hand if you don’t. But I’m pretty sure he was just joking. What I want the Visiting Team to see is the real Star. They should see the same thing any parent who tours the school would see. They should see students who take responsibility for representing our school, parents who tell them why they chose Star of the Sea for their kids, and teachers who are devoted to sharing their faith and their knowledge with the students.

This process produces no instant gratification; we will be informed this summer of our term of accreditation. But I am certain that Star of the Sea School will get the same full term of accreditation that it has gotten since this process was started in the mid 1970s. And next Monday we will start all over with more hard work. But, for some reason, these kids make it all worthwhile. God bless you all.

Sincerely,

Terrence Hanley

Principal