Star of the Sea School, a 110-year-old Catholic neighborhood institution in San Francisco’s Richmond District, will suspend classes at the end of the school year in June amid “unforeseen challenges” as the parish K-8 school attempts to adopt a classical education curriculum.
Star pastor Father Joseph Illo and the Archdiocese of San Francisco jointly announced the decision today in an April 3 post on the archdiocesan website.
“The school will continue its preschool classes uninterrupted and will build greater collaboration between the fully enrolled preschool and the elementary school,” the announcement said. “After much consultation, the decision has been made to take the necessary time to develop an Integrated Classical Program, including curriculum development, marketing strategy, and effective business model.”
In a statement to parents earlier in the day, Father Illo said the parish “has done everything possible to maintain classes uninterrupted during this time of transition. Due to unforeseen challenges, however, we now see that it is wiser to take additional time to properly study, design, market and fund this new model. We regret that we must suspend classes because of projected low enrollment for the upcoming school year.
“This has been a difficult and uncertain period for many school parents, some of whom have strongly expressed their concerns and reluctance to this development,” Father Illo said. “There has also been a good deal of positive interest in moving forward with this new model.”
The announcement provided no details about finances or enrollment. However, the San Francisco Examiner reported April 2 that only 40 to 50 students had committed to re-enrolling , less than a quarter of 2017-2018 enrollment.
The new curriculum was featured in an article in the Jan. 11, 2019, issue of Catholic San Francisco.
The article described classical education as a traditional educational model that seeks truth, goodness and beauty through the study of the liberal arts and literature’s “great books.”
The article quoted Star principal David Gallagher as saying the merits of a classical school education in both public and private schools have been largely “pushed aside” by progressive education programs championed by philosopher John Dewey (1859-1952).
“Catholic schools, all of them, do a great job with reading, writing and mathematics,” Gallagher said in the article. “I think we’ve always done that and we will always continue to do that. Where a classical education differs is that we are trying to create virtue in our students. We are not just trying to point students toward a career but providing them with a knowledge base where they can go on to any career area they want.”
As a parish, Star of the Sea has become a success story in terms of Mass attendance, ministry activity, physical upkeep and finances,
Full story at Catholic San Francisco.