As I start to write this week’s letter I can’t help but notice the date on the top of the page. April 18, 1906 was, in a sense, the day Star of the Sea School started. Though it took almost three years for the first school building to be built on the edge of the sand dunes between the Presidio and Golden Gate Park, it was the 1906 earthquake and fires that drew the attention of the Community of Saint Joseph (Carondelet) to send a group of Sisters to start a school in San Francisco. The pastor at the time was Father Phillip O’Ryan and he believed that San Francisco would rebuild and that our children would need not only strong academic skills but good moral values that the Church could provide.
One hundred-seven years later, Star still serves this community well. The names and faces have changed but the stories are the same. Hard working parents still look for a school community that will help them in the most important task they will ever face. Raising our children, sharing in God’s never ending act of creation, is both the toughest and most wonderful experience most of us will ever have.
I was raised in San Francisco Catholic schools and I have never had a full time job anywhere other than San Francisco Catholic schools. So I may be biased, but I believe in Catholic Education and I believe in Star. The question then becomes, “What is Star?” Is it the building at 360 9th Avenue? Is it the old Star of the Sea Academy building next door? Is it the gym? Is it the Church? Yes and no, to all of those.
Star is bigger than all of that. Star is an experience, a spirit. I have worn my Star sweatshirt all over the Bay Area and inevitably someone will stop me to share their “Star story.” From my experiences with the faculty, staff, kids, parents, clergy, and alumni I have come to believe that Star of the Sea School is all of us. Everyone from Mother Germaine Miskell, CSJ who was our first principal, to a generation of kids who have not yet started preschool here, is a part of our community.
In response to the recent seismic review of our three buildings, we will be slowly starting the process of looking at what options we have to repair or rebuild our beloved school. Many of you know that my dream is to rebuild in order to make a commitment to future Star families. But you also know that I am neither an architect nor a financier. As this process unfolds, there will be regular reports on ideas and possibilities both in these letters and at Parent Club meetings. But, as I asked the parents at the meeting last week, please dream. Dream about the school you would want for your child or grandchild. Dream about the community you want to nurture. And rest confidently knowing that in some other parish, perhaps in some other city, there are more dreamers who also feel God’s gift of creativity must be realized.
An Archdiocese retrofit meeting was held last Friday and the documents from that meeting were discussed and attached for your reference. If you have any questions regarding this or would like to share your ideas, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
PS Please keep my family in your prayers. My step-mother passed away last Thursday after a long illness. I have no doubt that she is now in God’s loving presence but this will be a tough time for the family.