Redefining Jesuit Education (1970–1979)
The 1970s saw SI complete its first decade at its brand new campus at 2001 37th Avenue, built atop some of the last inland sand dunes San Franciscans would ever see. Rising from the grains was a modern facility and a new name — St. Ignatius College Preparatory. Inside the new buildings, tensions flared amongst the faculty as the dynamics of the times played themselves out between the older and younger teachers. The decade saw several changes in leadership with no fewer than four presidents and two principals trying to steer the Good Ship SI into calmer waters.
Students continued excelling at classes and extracurriculars. Peter Devine ’66 joined the faculty in 1976 and began a remarkable 25-year run directing 100 plays. Inside SI faded from sight, replaced by a series of newspapers, and students found new homes in the various ethnic clubs that were outgrowths of the Civil Rights movement.
SI was changing in a more profound way, too, as Jesuit schools all over the U.S. reexamined their mission. In a remarkable document called “The Preamble,” Jesuits and lay teachers redefined Jesuit education for a modern world. At SI, that meant the creation of the Community Service Program, Sunday Night Liturgies, SI Outbound and Christian Life Communities (CLCs).
In athletics, SI dominated in track and field, with coach Terry Ward ’63 and his boys taking the league championship seven times. Under Coach Luis Sagastume, the soccer team prevailed, winning league crowns three times, and the golf team locked up league honors from 1977 to 1979. The basketball team generated the most excitement by also taking laurels three times and coming close to being NorCal Champs. While the football team did not win a championship, it captured the hearts and minds of many Wildcats with several outstanding seasons under coaches Tom Kennedy ’63, Jim McDonald ’55 and Gil Haskell ’61.
Changes in Leadership
SI students, well into their first year in their new quarters, held a dance in the Carlin Commons on April 15, 1970. The school then opened its doors to the public on April 18 and 19 for an Open House, drawing 7,000 to inspect the still unfinished structures. Then, on June 6, 248 members of the class of ’70 took part in the school’s 111th commencement exercises at St. Ignatius Church, and many returned to SI June 9 when Archbishop McGucken blessed the school. The ceremony apparently took many hours as he blessed and dedicated each classroom, laboratory and office as well as the Stephen Orradre Memorial Chapel where he concelebrated Mass with the SI Jesuits. At the end, the announcement was made that the Jesuit residence would be named McGucken Hall in honor of the Archbishop’s financial and moral support.
That chapel, incidentally, features 12 brilliant faceted glass windows created and installed in 1970 by Carl Huneke. Each window holds “inch-thick glass set in a thin epoxy matrix that allowed the chipped edges of the glass to refract light in radiant colors. The saints depicted in the windows are Jesuit saints except for St. Stephen, who was selected in honor of Stephen Orradre.”1 The saints include St. Ignatius, St. Francis Xavier, St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, St. Peter Claver, St. John Brébeuf, St. Isaac Jogues, St. Stephen, St. John Berchmans, St. Stanislaus Kostka, St. Peter Canisius, St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Aloysius Gonzaga. The artist, who died shortly after the new campus opened, was born in Achim bei Bremen, Germany, where he started his apprenticeship at age 13. After immigrating to San Francisco, he opened the Century Stained Glass Studio on Fillmore Street where he created windows for more than 70 California churches and two additional windows in the Jesuit chapel in McGucken Hall. This second chapel, now known as the Monserrat Chapel, started as a house infirmary for the Jesuits.That space featured a 24-hour nurses quarters if the need ever arose and a bathroom to serve the patients. (Fr. Paul Capitolo, S.J., told SI archivist Michael Kotlanger, S.J., that a central staircase was added between the first and second floors so that lay health care specialists could enter a cloistered house without disrupting community life, as canon law had not yet been revised.) Sick priests could also walk out over the Jesuit garage for fresh air without exposing other members of their community to illness. This infirmary was short-lived. Shortly after McGucken Hall opened, President Cornelius Buckley, S.J., decided that the community needed a large chapel and more residence rooms. The stained glass windows in place today arrived from the artist's atelier in Scottsdale. The fresco on the wall of St. Ignatius surrendering his sword to the Black Madonna at Monserrat was commissioned by Fr. Buckley and was painted by an Italian artist of his acquaintance.
Fr. Edward McFadden, SJ, continued to serve as principal until 1976, when Fr. Richard McCurdy, SJ, succeeded him. The Office of the President saw five occupants in the 1970s. Fr. Cornelius Michael Buckley, SJ, who led the school as president between 1970 and 1973, had taught at SI from 1956 to 1959 before being ordained in France in 1962. Fr. James R. Hanley, SJ, who succeeded him, was a native San Franciscan who had taught theology at SI between 1960 and 1968. He served until 1975 and was succeeded by Fr. Russell Roide, SJ, who served until 1979. Fr. Anthony P. Sauer, SJ, who had taught at SI in the 1960s and early ’70s, returned in 1979 to serve as president, and his record 26-year tenure in that office has provided the school with leadership in key moments in the school’s history.
Changes were taking place, too, on the academic side of the school, with the creation of two new positions — assistant principal for academics and assistant principal for student activities. Fr. Charles R. Gagan, SJ ’55 (who, at the time of this writing, is pastor of St. Ignatius Church), held the former position, supervising faculty, and Fr. Roide held the latter position, supervising all extracurricular activities, including athletics.
The administration and faculty were still primarily Jesuit with 39 religious and 34 laymen serving the school, a far cry from the school’s early days, when SI employed a handful of laymen; but by the end of the decade, those numbers would shift dramatically, with 51 lay faculty, administrators and staff and only 29 Jesuits. The 1979 faculty also included three women — Anny Medina (French), Carolyn Rocca (Italian) and Katie Wolf (Art & Architecture). In addition, two women worked in the library (Renate Morlock and Geraldine Ferring), nine served as secretaries and one served as the registrar.
Jesuit Education Redefines Itself
The social activism of the 1960s carried over into the new decade and led to the birth of SI Outbound, which had taken the place of the student Sodality of the Blessed Virgin. Students in this organization worked as tutors in grammar schools throughout the city, visited the elderly and did other acts of community service. The success of this program led to the creation of the Community Service Program in 1980, with every student asked to complete 100 hours of ministry. (This office was renamed the Christian Service Program in 2003.)
One of its creators, Michael Mandala, a scholastic at the time, hoped that SI students would contribute “to the betterment of the San Francisco community” by tutoring students from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. In its first year, the program attracted 80 students and offered academic credit to 25 seniors. It also helped the school attract students of diverse ethnicities and races, something SI had pursued actively since the 1960s.
The start of SI Outbound was a reflection of a profound change that was taking place at SI and at other Jesuit schools. The tenor of Jesuit education had been slowly changing across the country, spurred both by Vatican II and by financial troubles at some of the high schools. In 1969, the Jesuit Educational Association, made up of colleges and high schools, disbanded when the universities left to form their own organization. In 1970, representatives of the Jesuit high schools gathered in Scottsdale, Arizona, to discuss the creation of a new organization to be called the Jesuit Secondary Education Association. (The first president of the JSEA was an SI grad — Fr. Edwin McDermott, SJ ’36.)
One of those in attendance, Robert “Jerry” Starratt, principal of Fairfield Prep in Connecticut, recalled one shocking announcement at that meeting, made by a friend of his, a Jesuit principal in New York. He told Starratt and the others assembled that “morale in his school was at an all-time low … and that if he didn’t come away from the meeting with any sense of direction, he was going to go back and close his school.”
Starratt had just read an essay by Fr. Jim Connor, SJ, the Maryland provincial at the time, “who wrote that no matter what ministry Jesuits are engaged in, they’re basically giving the Spiritual Exercises,” noted Starratt. “I began talking about what that might mean in a high school setting, citing themes from the Exercises such as the Call to the Kingdom, Finding God in All Things, Contemplatives in Action and Carrying the Cross with Christ. I spoke off the top of my head about how to translate the Exercises into the curriculum and pedagogy of a Jesuit school and thereby to recapture the Jesuit identity of our work.”
His friends told him to go to his room and put those ideas into writing. “I went to my room and said, ‘My God, what have I gotten myself into!’ The trouble was that I couldn’t remember what I had just said.” When he returned to the meeting, Starratt had in his hand what became the Preamble to the JSEA’s Constitution — one of the key documents that gave those assembled a reason to continue assembling.
The response to that document was electric. “The Preamble became a rallying cry for the schools,” said Joe O’Connell, SJ, the JSEA President who honored Starratt in 2001 with its Ignatian Educator Award. “It proved to be a transformational point for Jesuit secondary education in the United States. Had it not been for Jerry’s inspiration, we would have been in a very different place than we are now.”
That Preamble and the Constitution for the new JSEA became a catalyst for change throughout the decade of the ’70s for SI and for Jesuit schools across the country. The Preamble asks schools to “go beyond the criteria of academic excellence, important as this is, to the far more challenging task of bringing about a truemetanoia [a fundamental change of character] in their students….” It also asks Jesuit schools to “move more vigorously towards participation in community affairs” and to “honestly evaluate their efforts according to the criteria of both the Christian reform of social structures and renewal of the church.”
In 1973, during the first mandatory faculty retreat, teachers discussed the Preamble and made it “the ultimate criterion for all of our future decisions,” wrote Fr. McCurdy in the December 1973 Genesis magazine. When the faculty returned to SI, they formed committees to “evaluate every aspect of the school in the light of our stated values and goals.”
Charlie Dullea, then in his first year teaching at SI, attended those meetings and recalls how revolutionary the document was. “It was filled with ideas that today we take for granted. But that was the first time we heard of the concept of ‘magis.’ In our meetings we discussed the need for a community service requirement as a prerequisite to graduation.” Dullea was most struck by this statement from the Preamble: “If the faculty at a Jesuit school are men and women whose lives are inspired by the Ignatian vision, then the question about the percentage of Jesuits on the faculty is not an overriding issue. It is more a question of the quality of the lives of the faculty, both Jesuit and lay. The school will be Jesuit if the lives of its teachers exemplify and communicate to the students the vision of Ignatius.”
“For me, this meant I should learn the craft of teaching and develop spirituality in concert with my colleagues,” said Dullea. “Thirty three years later we have an Adult Spirituality Office that serves the spiritual needs of the entire faculty, outside of the classroom.”
The establishment of SI Outbound, and later, of the Community Service Program, was only a part of SI’s response to this call to action. In the 1960s and earlier, students and priests may have had informal conversations about religion, and certainly friendships developed and grew among them. Rarely, however, did Jesuits share their unique brand of spirituality with students beyond the senior retreat. That changed with the birth of the Christian Life Communities in the early 1970s and a new kind of senior retreat.
Christian Life Communities
The Christian Life Community movement traces its roots to 1563 when Fr. John Leunis, SJ, founded the first Sodality of Our Lady by “gathering a group of young lay students at the Roman College to help them unite their lives.”2 The first Sodalities at SI were among the 80,000 Sodalities that prospered around the world into the early 20th century.
By the 1950s, more than 2 million American teens were members of Sodalities. Some Church leaders, responding to Vatican II, felt these groups would work better as smaller communities, and the CLC movement began. For the first few years of the 1970s, SI students used the words “Sodality” and “CLCs” interchangeably, but by the mid-70s, the name change took hold for good.
CLCs prospered at SI because they involved smaller communities than the Sodality. A dozen or so students met weekly with one or more moderators — priest or lay teachers — to discuss matters spiritual, go on retreats or simply enjoy each others’ company. These CLCs grew in popularity with students at SI (there were 10 active CLCs by 1979) in part because they stressed six points that are at the heart of Ignatian spirituality: Finding God in all things, following the Spirit (to hear and respond to any call), collaboration with Jesus to further God’s kingdom, ordering relationships by living and choosing in loving collaboration with Jesus, living in the freedom for which we are created, and making retreats along the lines of the Spiritual Exercises.
CLCs remain popular at SI to this day. “My fondest memory of SI was my involvement with CLCs,” said Elwyn Cabebe, MD ’92. “As a freshman, I joined Lucie Rosa-Stagi’s CLC, which at the time had only four members. After the first meeting, by default, I became the CLC leader and continued on until senior year. By senior year, however, it had grown to more than 100 members. It served a social function and fostered empowerment. It also taught us that our community extends well beyond the walls of SI.”
Cabebe’s group raised money towards tuition for a girl in South America, volunteered at community events, had discussions about spirituality and learned to pray together. “My CLC gave me the tools and encouragement to become involved in my community and build on the relationship that God has with all of us,” he added. “For that, I am truly grateful.”
The CLCs (and the Sodalities of past years) held an annual Christmas food drive to help San Francisco families of limited means. The food baskets, with the help of Fathers’ Club drivers, now help families who come to the Christmas Store at St. Dominic’s Church in a program devised by Sr. Cathryn deBack who, in 1981, became the first sister hired at SI. (She received the President’s Award in 1998 for her service to the city and the school.)
A New Kind of Retreat
The senior retreat in the 1960s wasn’t much different from retreats of decades past. In the early 1970s, the retreats changed to reflect the Preamble and Vatican II. Teachers such as Frank Kavanagh and Charlie Dullea told stories from their lives of how they lived out Gospel values, and students had opportunities not only to reflect but also to share their reflections with teachers and friends. “We really got close to students during these retreats,” says Dullea. “We tried to do more than merely preach to students.” Those changes ultimately led to the Kairos retreat — encouraged by SI Principal Steven Nejasmich — which began at SI in 1999, modeled after a program pioneered at St. Ignatius College Preparatory in Chicago. The senior Kairos retreat now runs four days and is one of the watershed events for seniors at SI. The name comes from a Greek word meaning “decisive time,” and the campus ministry team has created a retreat that they believe is “filled with opportunity, that requires both discernment and bold action” and that offers high school students “the opportunity to examine, develop and deepen their commitment to the Lord.”3
Fr. Pedro Arrupe & the Call to Action
Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ, the Jesuit Superior General from 1965 to 1981, gave SI another reason to move in this new direction. He visited SI in 1971 where he told students that if we have “suicidal blind irresponsibility and lack of courage, we will have no right at some later date to mourn the passing of our schools.” Two years later, in a speech to the Tenth International Congress of Jesuit Alumni of Europe in Valencia, Spain, he spoke to alumni from Jesuit high schools and universities, many of whom felt that their primary duty as Jesuit supporters was to donate money. He challenged them to do far more, to dedicate themselves to become “men for others” and to rise out of their complacency. He asked his listeners — and challenged those who taught and studied at Jesuit schools — to live simply “and in this way to stop short, or at least to slow down, the expanding spiral of luxurious living and social competition” and to “draw no profit whatever from clearly unjust sources. Not only that, but going further, to diminish progressively our share in the benefits of an economic and social system in which the rewards of production accrue to those already rich, while the cost of production lies heavily on the poor.” He asked all to be “agents of change in society; not merely resisting unjust structures and arrangements, but actively undertaking to reform them.”
Priests at SI, like Jesuits throughout the world, were unclear on how to respond immediately to Arrupe’s words. Some priests at SI embraced the speech and invited students to become these “men for others.” Priests invited students to join picket lines in support of the United Farm Workers’ grape boycott, and others created more opportunities for SI students to minister to those in need.
“Whose side are you on?”
For the first year at the new campus, SI held half-day sessions to let workers finish the building. The Jesuits also had to adjust their schedules, eating their meals at the Holy Name Parish Center, as workers still had not finished the kitchen in the Jesuit residence. “Each morning we would board a bus at Welch Hall and drive to Holy Name,” said Fr. Charles Gagan, SJ ’55. “It was an old bus and pretty grim.”
In 1970, the school began a new tradition and one that would last until the 1990s. The Sunday Evening Liturgy began not in Orradre Chapel, which was still unfinished, but in a double classroom on the second floor. Every Sunday, Fr. Gagan had students move the altar from the small Jensen Chapel to the classroom and then move it back. A priest in charge of the chapel complained to the rector each Monday that the altar hadn’t been replaced correctly. “He was very careful about Jensen Chapel,” said Fr. Gagan, “and if we put the altar back one inch from where it had been, I would hear about it.”
Within a few weeks, students began crowding into the classroom every Sunday night for Mass. “We were addressing a need not being addressed by parishes at the time,” he added. “This became a sore point, as pastors in the area resented their parishioners coming to us. Now that I’m a pastor, I see their point.”
It didn’t take long before the double classroom proved too small to fit all those who came to Sunday Evening Liturgy. To accommodate the crowds, Fr. Gagan had the chairs moved outside and invited people to sit on the floor. “Even then it was crowded. We didn’t really have enough room until we moved into the chapel.” Mercy student Mame Campbell Salin preferred “sitting on the floor to pews” and she liked the fact that Masses were celebrated at night. “That seemed to make it special for some reason.”
The same priest who was in charge of Jensen Chapel was also placed in charge of Orradre Chapel, and he again proved an adversary to Fr. Gagan. “We argued over the number of confessionals for the chapel, and he insisted that the altar be set in cement on top of the stairs, so we had to use a second altar, as we didn’t want to celebrate Mass that way. We asked for a portable altar, and this created controversy in the community. This was a time of tension in the Church between the old and the new when changes in the liturgy brought on by Vatican II were still being promulgated.”
Fr. Gagan wasn’t the only one to sense the tension. Many in the administration were used to a pre-Vatican II way of doing business, while many of the young priests, scholastics and teachers were ready for a change. Colleagues soon found themselves in adversarial roles, fighting over all sorts of issues — from the plays performed to the dress code among priests, some of whom did not feel the need to wear a Roman collar all day.
Tensions came to a head in 1972 when Nick Weber, then a Jesuit, put on The Fantasticks. Controversy arose when the Jesuit administration told Weber to cut a few risqué lines and the show was nearly cancelled. (Nick left SI after another fight over the play Celebration when the administration objected to a sexual reference in the play’s opening line.)
Charlie Dullea ’65, recalls being pulled aside by a colleague during the first mandatory faculty retreat shortly after he was hired in 1972 and asked, “Whose side are you on?” “He wanted to know if I supported the old guard or the younger priests who were pushing for change.”
Fr. Gagan praised Fr. Sauer and Fr. McCurdy for helping to restore peace between the factions in the years that followed. “In addition, a tremendous group of lay faculty helped spread the Jesuit message,” said Fr. Gagan. “Some of them understood the Jesuit message better than the Jesuits did. When I look at other schools, I’d say that one of Fr. McFadden’s strong points was that he hired good teachers. He also refused to take sides. He hated conflict. At the time, some found that diffidence infuriating, but his care and concern for individual teachers was outstanding.”
The struggle between old and new was inevitable, Fr. Gagan adds. “Looking back, I don’t see how we could have avoided it. We had to enter it and come out. Those who did were better off than those who pretended that Vatican II had never taken place.”
Fr. Gagan’s fondness for SI stems from his happy experiences there both as a student and scholastic. “I received my vocation at SI. And I loved teaching under Fr. Reed in the 1960s.” But the best was yet to come, he noted. “Some say Jesuit schools live on a great reputation. In the 1970s, SI began to deserve its reputation. It improved academically under Fr. McCurdy, and the ideas of ‘Men for Others,’ of social ministry and faith that does justice distinguished us from other schools and made us successful. In years past, the Sodalities did outreach work. In the 1970s, that spirit of outreach permeated the entire school.”
Br. Douglas Draper, SJ
Br. Draper is perhaps the best-known dean of discipline in the U.S. For the past few years he’s also served as minister of the Jesuit community, assisting the rector in the day-to-day business matters affecting the residents of McGucken Hall.
Beginning in 1969 when he took over as dean, students have known the power of his voice over the public address system as he runs down the list of students to be called to his office. And while most students may fear hearing their names on that list, they respect the man who reads it.
“They feel this way because he’s a fair, honest and loving human being,” said his close friend, Fr. Paul Capitolo, SJ. “That’s what allows him to be dean as long as he has — the longest reigning dean in any Jesuit school in America.”
“I’m always puzzled when someone asks me why I became a brother,” said Br. Draper (who is also known as the Duke of Discipline, or, simply the Duke.) “It’s a vocation, just like a vocation to the priesthood. I knew that God called me to a religious state as a brother, and I knew I could be happy doing this work.”
When Br. Draper started as SI’s dean in 1969, he was “absolutely petrified. But over the years, I’ve seen the seeds we’ve planted come to fruition. We do instill values in them. And when you make a friend with a student, you have a friend for life.”
Br. Draper is also known for his sense of humor when it comes to catching rule-breakers. For the 1973 prom, dozens of students rented a penthouse room at a hotel on Sutter Street. As they continued celebrating there with their dates, Br. Draper received a call alerting him to the situation. He and Fr. Gene Growney, SJ, drove to the hotel and finally convinced the manager to give them permission to raid the party. “Just as he gave us permission, we heard that the students called for room service. A waiter in a green jacket wheeled his cart out, and I borrowed his jacket,” recalled Br. Draper. Then he and Fr. Growney took the elevator to the penthouse, knocked on the door and announced that room service had arrived. “When the door opened, I burst through and saw everyone dive for cover. I opened the door to the bathroom and found a young man, fully clothed, sitting on the toilet with his date on his lap. I told him if he sat there too long, he would get hemorrhoids.”
The next year, after the last final exams for the Class of 1974, the seniors brought a keg to the top of Strawberry Hill in Golden Gate Park. “Fr. McFadden heard about it and told me to do my job.” He and Fr. Capitolo walked up the hill, found the boys and poured out the keg. Br. Draper then realized that, in his cassock, he was unable to walk down the hill. One of the students, John Stiegeler ’74 (who teaches history and coaches soccer at SI) hoisted Br. Draper on his back and carried him down the hill.
In 2000, Pope John Paul II honored Br. Draper in a ceremony at St. Mary’s Cathedral along with 50 other Bay Area priests, religious and lay people as part of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 celebration. Br. Draper received the Pro Eclesia et Pontifice papal honor (for individuals who have served the Church and the Pope with distinction) along with four alumni — Frank Heffernan ’48, Robert McCullough ’48, Michael D. Nevin ’61 and Dr. Collin Poy Quock ’57 — and former regent H. Welton Flynn ’71 at St. Mary’s Cathedral on September 17, 2000. The Pope also honored several SI parents and one alumnus by naming them to the Order of St. Gregory the Great, including Suzanne and Louis Giraudo ’64, Richard J. Dunn and the late Marygrace Dunn, and Mary Anne Schwab (an SI mother and grandmother).
“I was certainly humbled by this honor,” said Br. Draper, “but I wasn’t really struck by the significance of it until SI’s Mass of the Holy Spirit when the student body gave me a standing ovation.”
When he heard that he was to receive the honor, Br. Draper asked himself, “Why me, Lord? My life is very ordinary. I sow seeds of discipline for the young men and women at our school. But I imagine that that’s the point of the award — to honor people who do ordinary things that really do matter.” Br. Draper accepted the award “in the name of the many students, parents and faculty members, both lay and Jesuit, who have touched my life so deeply during my time at SI.”
At the ceremony, presided over by Archbishop William Levada, the recipients sat together. “There I was,” said Br. Draper, “near Welton Flynn, the former SI Fathers’ Club President. I realized all the good he and all the other honorees had done for the Church, especially those who work with high school students. The seeds we sow will come to fruition in later years.” In addition to a cape and medallion, Br. Draper received a scroll, which he hangs proudly in his office.
Fr. Richard McCurdy, SJ
Fr. Richard McCurdy, SJ, who succeeded Fr. McFadden in 1976 as principal, attended high school in San Diego and had taught English and directed plays as a layman at SI between 1954 and 1956. He then entered the Society of Jesus and came back to teach at SI as a scholastic between 1962 and 1964. He returned in 1972 to serve as assistant principal for academics for a year and executive vice principal for a year. “I was lucky to be Fr. McFadden’s assistant. He, like me, had his eccentricities, but he taught me much more than anyone else about being a principal. I loved him and owe him a great deal.” Fr. McCurdy then left for Brophy in 1974 and returned to SI in 1976 to serve as principal, a job he held until 1981.
With each return, Fr. McCurdy felt delighted to work with colleagues, some of whom had been students of his. “In 1954, the only laymen aside from myself were J.B. Murphy, Frank Corwin and Rene Herrerias. But when I returned in the 1970s, I was teaching alongside Bob Drucker, Chuck Murphy and other familiar faces. By the time I was principal, I felt as if I knew everyone and had even hired a few of them. Being principal was like a homecoming for me.”
Thanks to Fr. McCurdy, academics continued to improve and SI began living up to its new name as a college preparatory. As a member of the Commission on Research and Development (a part of the Jesuit Secondary Education Association), Fr. McCurdy helped to pioneer what became known as the CIP — the Curriculum Improvement Process. In 1977, he started a yearlong reevaluation of what was taught at SI and how it was taught, and he asked Assistant Principal for Academics Steve Lovette ’63 to administer the self-study.
“As a result of the CIP, SI changed in many ways,” said Fr. McCurdy. “This was the first real step towards collegiality between Jesuits and lay people. Every member of the faculty was involved in the CIP. We met in departments and in larger groups to critique our curriculum and to relate it to the seminal documents coming out of the JSEA on faith and justice. We had to see if we were doing what Fr. Arrupe suggested we should be doing. It was tedious at times, looking at every single aspect of the school, but it was necessary.”
Students in 1978 probably didn’t notice too much of a change in their classes. “The classes didn’t change, but their focus did,” says Fr. McCurdy. “For instance, we wondered how to change math classes so that they could teach social justice. We wondered if word problems should deal with hunger or the percentage of disadvantaged in the world.”
Fr. McCurdy also briefly considered having SI become a coeducational school. “The biggest problem we faced was what the consequences would be for the girls’ schools.” He also stepped up his efforts to recruit students from diverse backgrounds. “When I came as a layman, the population was working class Italian and Irish. However, the composition of the city had changed, and I went to every grammar school each year to talk to principals to encourage their students to come to SI.”
Sr. Cathryn deBack, OP, principal at Sacred Heart School in the Fillmore, didn’t believe SI would be a welcoming place for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. “I told her I would accept any student she recommended,” said Fr. McCurdy. “She didn’t believe me. Still, she recommended some students, and I took them in. That was a breakthrough for her. Later, she came to SI to tutor students after school and that began her much stronger involvement with SI. She proved influential in talking with other principals, telling them that we meant what we said.”
McCurdy worked hard to keep the college preparatory from becoming preppy. “I was anxious that it should not turn elitist. I feared it might if we could not continue to diversify. I thought that taking in economically disadvantaged students was crucial” and toward that end he asked Steve Phelps to accelerate his recruitment efforts.
Fr. McCurdy continued the improvements to the counseling department inaugurated by Fr. McFadden. In the mid-1970s, Brian Robinson and Fr. Curtis Bryant, SJ, came to SI trained in counseling, and, as the school hired other trained counselors, the department grew more professional under Fr. Bryant’s direction. He also set up a mentoring program in which he trained students to run group discussions among freshmen to help them fit in, and he instituted an alcohol education program that debuted in early 1975.
The faculty never had a tenure process until Fr. McCurdy established a five-year renewable tenure system in 1977. “Teachers walked in to the tenure meetings feeling challenged but left feeling supported,” said Charlie Dullea, head of the English Department in the ’70s. “You had a chance to review your past few years and plan for the next five.”
Fr. McCurdy also lobbied the Board of Regents for permission to raise faculty salaries. “The trouble was that each time we raised salaries, tuition went up. This was at a time when I was doing everything I could to beg, borrow and steal scholarship money so poor students could come to SI. But we had to help our teachers as the salaries we were paying weren’t just.”
Fr. McCurdy praised Lovette for pushing through many of these needed changes. “He was absolutely wonderful. He has a love for the school that goes beyond what most people understand. I leaned on him tremendously. Everything that I’m proud of accomplishing, he was a big part of.” (Steve Lovette now serves the school as Vice President of Development.) Fr. McCurdy also praised several other faculty leaders, including Bob Drucker, Charlie Dullea, Chuck Murphy and Bill Morlock. He saved his highest praise for Fr. Carlin. “He made it possible for us to do all that we did. He is a great hero for me who worked unceasingly with great success. He stands in gigantic proportion, and SI is what it is thanks to him.”
McCurdy also hired his share of wonderful teachers, and he points to Peter Devine ’66 and Katie Wolf as two who helped SI advance in theatre arts and fine arts over the years. “In the 1950s, the arts were present but they were a bit extraneous. Thanks to Peter and Katie, they became an integral part of an SI education. They added to the great program that Nick Sablinsky began after Fr. McFadden hired him.”
McCurdy grew close to many students and faculty, and he treasures those relationships to this day. “I think of Stan Raggio ’73 and Burl Toler ’74, who were on the SI Board of Regents and have become great supporters of the school. And I appreciate those teachers who worked for so little in the beginnings of their careers. My greatest memory is the community that was formed by the Jesuits, faculty and students. That is what I most treasure.”
McCurdy developed a severe case of mononucleosis in 1980 and recommended that Fr. Mario Prietto, SJ, the assistant principal for student affairs, take over as principal the following year. “I’m very fond of Mario and thought he had great potential to lead the school. Fortunately, Fr. Sauer agreed.”
After SI, McCurdy served as assistant to the provincial for four years before going to Jesuit High School in Sacramento where he continues to work as an English teacher.
Varsity football head coaches in the 1970s included Tom Kennedy ’63, Jim McDonald ’55 and Gil Haskell ’61. While their teams never won a league championship, they made their mark as exemplary and memorable coaches, especially Haskell, who coached from 1973 to 1977. “Anybody who played for him would tell you that his enthusiasm was infectious,” says SI Athletic Director Robert Vergara ’76. “He had the kind of personality that made you want to play hard for him.”
As a player at SI, Haskell grew frustrated with one of his coaches and, according to Vince Tringali, was ready to walk off the field and quit. “I told him that I thought he was a great football player. I told him not to worry about what the coach said, to keep his mouth shut and do what he said.” Haskell followed that advice and enjoyed much success at SI, making all-city in his senior year. At San Francisco State College, his team won three championships, and he played briefly in 1966 with the ’49ers and joined SI’s coaching staff in 1969. At SI he used coaching techniques he learned from ’49ers’ coaches Frankie Albert and Dick Nolan and his SI coach, Pat Malley.
After leaving SI, Haskell coached for USC, the LA Rams, the Green Bay Packers, the Carolina Panthers and the Seattle Seahawks, where he is the offensive coordinator working with Seahawks’ head coach and Lincoln grad Mike Holmgren and former SI coach Bill Laveroni ’66. In his first year with the Seahawks, Haskell coordinated the AFC’s top-ranked red zone offense, which gained 292.5 yards per game.
Backfield in Motion – Again
By Bob Lalanne ’73
(Bob Lalanne delivered this address to a meeting of the Board of Regents in 2002 after noting that among the regents were several members of the SI backfield from his days at SI.)
The most successful SI football season since the last WCAL Championship Team in 1967 took place in 1972 when the ’Cats went 8–2. The 1984 Wildcats were also 8 and 2 but also had one tie. Coach Tringali always said a tie is worse than a loss and that any team that would play for a tie is not worthy and are just a bunch of measly…. Unfortunately that tie greatly tarnishes that 1984 record.
At this meeting are regents who were also members of that record-breaking 1972 Wishbone backfield-in-motion, who dazzled the opponents with speed and smarts: quarterback Stan Raggio ’73, fullback Al Clifford ’73 and halfbacks Sam Coffey ’74 and Burl Toler ’74. I was a defensive lineman from that 1972 team, so I have some inside information I can share with you.
In 1971 we were 1–7–1. Most of us were juniors, so we had the seniors to blame. Head coach was Tom Kennedy who coached the offense and the backs, and Gil Haskell served as line coach. Gil, a great guy who now coaches for the Seahawks, was always full of energy and enthusiasm.
In spite of the poor 1971 season, Tom Kennedy saw something in these guys. Given their intelligence and ability to perform, Tom decided to throw out the entire offensive system from 1971 and over the summer install a version of the highly complex Wishbone offense. He also brought in a past SI and collegiate lineman to coach the line — Bill Laveroni.
Coach Kennedy, an SI and Santa Clara football great, was a super coach and had a great influence on us as players. He was incredibly organized, neat, in fantastic physical shape, a hard worker and very disciplined. He reminded me of Bill Walsh: He was a professor of the game who ran a tight ship.
Coach Bill Laveroni had a heart of gold. He was a classic, burly offensive lineman, a standout at SI who had a great career with UC Berkeley’s Golden Bears. His experience enabled him to share with the linemen the real tricks of the trade in the trenches. We felt that with Coach Laveroni we had a competitive advantage and a loyal teacher.
Fr. Sauer taught most of us English, but we also learned poetry from our coaches who told us we had to be “mobile, agile and hostile.” Our coaches also expanded our vocabulary. Coach Bill’s favorite word was “doofus.” He called me a doofus so many times that I began to believe him.
Stan, Al, Sam and Burl were a real combo, all fast and smart. Stan “the Man” was brilliant. He was always walking the halls with either Coach Kennedy’s playbook or his college level Greek and Latin books. As a defensive player, how many times have you looked across the offensive line and seen a wily quarterback who also majored in the classics and then went off to Dartmouth? Stan was smooth.
Al was like Linus in Peanuts, always muddy, curled in a ball, low to the ground and constantly pounding his helmet into lineman and linebackers so that Sam and Burl could run for glory. Al was relentless, and when he did carry the ball, you hardly knew it because he never changed his pounding style.
Sam Coffey had style and a constant grin on his face, even when he took a hit. Do you remember the old black-and-white glossy action football photos in yearbooks from the ’50s? Even when Sam cut up the field, he had the unique ability to cut, freeze (to let the photographer shoot) and then score. He was another of Coach Kennedy’s backfield who would study at Dartmouth.
And finally there was Burl Toler, Jr. He was all business, and nobody could catch him. Coach Laveroni always said the first priority as a defensive end was to turn the halfback up-field and to never, never let him get outside and around you. I liked that approach, because if I turned Burl to the inside, even if I missed tackling him, I was successful in containing the perimeter, and the inside linebacker would then have to catch him.
Burl had a great career as a running back at SI, and he had even a greater career at UC Berkeley as linebacker. When he showed up at UC Berkeley the year after me, he was just as quick as ever but 40 pounds heavier. He was moved to linebacker and became the quarterback of the defense not only because of his athletic ability but also because of his smarts. Yet another Jesuit trained athlete.
We went 8–2 and were very close to going 10–0. We barely lost to Serra in a mud bowl, missing a long field goal with little time remaining. We were convinced Serra watered down their field on top of the recent rainstorms to slow down the Regent backfield.
We beat Mitty and SH and shut out Bellarmine at Kezar 21–0. Against Bellarmine, I tipped a pass and intercepted it — a defensive end’s dream. After spinning, faking, juking and pulling a “Sam Coffey,” I returned the ball up the sidelines for a 3-yard return. I could have gone all the way, but fellow defensive lineman and future 4-year starter at Stanford, Alex Karakozoff, and Tom Corsiglia ’73, a future Santa Clara lineman, tackled me out of shear excitement.
The week before our championship game against Riordan, we played St. Francis under the lights. They had a very good team, but we just rolled over them. We were hitting on all cylinders. Our final game was the WCAL championship game against Riordan the following week. It took place at Lowell because Kezar was just too wet and the ’49ers were playing the next day. The SI stadium couldn’t hold enough people. It was a very full house.
Riordan had a great quarterback in Mike Carey who later played at USC. They were coached by Bob Toledo who, until recently, coached at UCLA for years and won a few Rose Bowls. It was one of those games that whoever had the ball last on offense would probably win. I forget the final score. Maybe it was 28 to 24. Some might remember that late in the fourth quarter Stan and Xonie Lloyd, our wide receiver who later tutored Jerry Rice, barely missed hooking up on a deep sideline route with us down by a few points.
In any event, one summer 30 years ago, Tom Kennedy saw in these four athletes something special. I can’t think of a better place for the wishbone backfield of ’72 to reunite than here on the SI Board of Regents. May the four of you continue to help bring SI across the goal line for years to come.
By Loring R. Tocchini ’80
(Loring Tocchini was the fifth member of the Tocchini family to graduate from SI.)
I was a freshman in the fall of 1976, and the varsity football team was preparing for a home game against Bellarmine. The varsity squad was in a position to capture the first championship football title for the school since moving from the Stanyan Street campus. I remember the excitement around the school that week was intense. There were articles in the paper about the upcoming game as well. SI had come out of the 1950s and 1960s with many football championships, but none so far in the ’70s.
The roster of names for that team read like an “Old San Francisco” ethnic montage: Cipolla, Barberini, Rocca, Shannon, Murphy, Clancy, Garvey … the list goes on. It’s trite but true: Each member of that squad brought something special to that team, but they shared in common a strong work ethic. They came from families with proud ethnic heritages that are very much a part of the make-up of our country, city and school. They were also young men whom a freshman could look up to and try to emulate.
Coach Gil Haskell worked the varsity squad hard that week. I was a member of the frosh football club that year, and I can remember heading home each night that week after practice and seeing the varsity still at it. I would stop and watch for a while from the top of the stadium stands. You could smell the scent of cut grass coming off the field in the cool fall air. The stadium had no lights, and nightfall, as it always does that time of year, would come on fast. The only thing you could see were the silhouettes of these athletes running through their drills with the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean behind them. If the play didn’t run smoothly, you could hear coach Haskell yell, “Run it again!” This went on each afternoon that week until there wasn’t any more light to work with at the end of each day. After rigorous wind sprints, these guys would come off the field looking as if they had just been through battle.
Coach Haskell was preparing them for what he knew was going to be a tough game. He was always upbeat as he would say, “Men, enthusiasm is the force that drives momentum.” He preached it to his squad and insisted the other coaches approach their daily routine on the field the same way. That attitude became infectious. Every player did his best to encourage his partner to take his game to the next level, especially that week.
Game day came on Friday. There were banners all over school proclaiming, “Beat the Bells!” and “Ring the Bells!” I can remember the stands at the beginning of the game being packed on both sides of the field with students, family, alumni and friends from both schools. The stadium went from crowded to standing room only as the game wore on. In fact, during the last half of the game there were people standing on the track, sitting on the cyclone fences at the south end of the field and standing all over the grassy sections at each end of the field. There were even people in their front room windows on Rivera Street watching the game.
The cheering went back and forth from each side of the field. I can remember the head cheerleader for SI, John Forsyth, yelling to the student body that he wanted “echo quality” cheers. “Go Cats!” “Smash the Bells!” The cheers rang out. When the student body cheered loud enough, the cheer would echo off the houses on 39th Avenue. It was unreal.
SI led for most of the game, but the Bells fought back to a 15–15 tie as the final gun sounded. Nightfall was descending quickly upon the stadium, and emotions from both sides of the stadium were running high. Since a championship was on the line, a “California tie-breaker” was instituted. Each squad had four plays to advance the football. The football was placed on the 50-yard line, and the team that advanced the ball the furthest would win the game. All I could see on the field were the silhouettes battling back and forth, just as I had seen during practice.
When it was all over, SI had lost by what someone said was about a foot. My voice was gone from yelling cheers. I remember seeing our players coming off the field with tears in their eyes, exhausted. They had given everything they had on that field that afternoon and there was nothing left to give. Coach Haskell led his team into the field house at the north end of the field after they had congratulated the other team, and then they closed the doors. After a brief moment of silence, you could hear the school fight song rising over the stadium, sung by the players inside the field house. You couldn’t have written a better script to this game except to include a win. These men were proud of themselves and the school they represented.
I felt proud of those guys and proud to be associated with SI. Revenge can be somewhat sweet though. The following year, although there wasn’t a championship on the line for SI, we traveled to Buck Shaw Stadium at Santa Clara University to face Bellarmine, then ranked the number-one high school football team in the country. No one gave us a chance of winning. We shut the Bells out 8–0 in a defensive struggle. It was one of hardest hitting games I have ever seen.
The 1974-75 & 1975-76 Basketball Teams
By Mark Hazelwood ’80
St. Ignatius has had a rich sports history, and in particular a great basketball tradition. City high school legends — from Kevin O’Shea, Fred LaCour, Bob Portman, Paul Fortier and Levy Middlebrooks to Jesse Lopez Low, Nico Mizono and the rest of the 2004 CCS champion Wildcats — have “laced ’em up” for the Wildcats over the past 60 years.
Never, however, has SI ever had a greater run of hoop success than during the years 1974–75 and 1975–76. These two teams, coached by the “Wizard of Westlake” Bob Drucker, set a standard of success that has never been duplicated.
In the fall of 1974, Coach Drucker was beginning his ninth season as coach. He had enjoyed great success in those first eight years, winning a WCAL title in 1968, and never suffering a losing record. In 1974, he welcomed back four returning seniors: forwards Juan Mitchell and Tony Passanisi, center Michael Bowie and point-guard Dan Buick. This group had helped lead SI to an impressive 20-win season and a second-place finish the year before. It was not, however, a championship, and Drucker continually reminded his players of this as the ’74–’75 season progressed.
Joining the returning seniors were a powerful group of players moving up from the JVs: forward/center Billy O’Neill; forwards Kurt Bruneman, Tom Stack and Bob Enright; and guards Mike McEvoy, Craig Bianchi, Louie Carella and Dan Abela.
During pre-season play, Drucker tried to find the right mix. The team struggled early on against Marin Catholic and Redwood before earning comeback wins. As the pre-season progressed, the team improved offensively. Buick and Bowie started to develop some chemistry with Buick looking to give what was called the “Bowie Lob” as often as he could to the 6-foot, 7-inch senior. SI finished the 12–0 pre-season, with 30-point wins over Mills and Carlmont.
As always, the WCAL would be a tough fight every night. Right away, SI was matched up against archrival Sacred Heart at Kezar. On January 3, 1975, a capacity crowd of 5,000 watched one of the great basketball games in the storied history of the two schools. During regulation, no team led by more than 6 points. With Bill Duffy and Bill Duggan, the Irish hung in there with the ’Cats and, with 26 seconds left, pulled ahead 52–50. Senior Tony Passanisi responded and nailed a jumper from the corner to put the game into overtime.
Duggan returned the favor for SH by hitting a 30-footer at the buzzer to send the game into a second overtime. As the second overtime wound down, SI trailed 61–60. With less than 10 seconds left, Kurt Bruneman fired up a shot that bounced off the rim. Out of nowhere came Bill O’Neill, who pulled down the rebound, and put it back in to clinch the victory. Looking back at all the games he coached, Drucker called this a classic.
The ’Cats then rattled off seven more wins, including a 90–32 trouncing of Bellarmine. SI clinched the regular season WCAL title, whipping St. Francis. In the final regular game of the season, SI traveled to Serra hoping to be the first city team to go undefeated since Wilson in 1968. A hostile “Jungle” crowd helped the Padres move out to an early lead. Juan Mitchell led the ’Cats back to send the game to overtime. Unfortunately, Serra guard John O’Leary hit five free throws, and Serra pulled the upset, ruining the perfect season.
After the game, Drucker told the press: “It’s like getting the monkey off our back. When the guys left the locker room, I could see relief on their faces. We’re going to be all right.” SI’s colorful coach was prophetic.
In the WCAL semi-final playoff game the following week, Michael Bowie poured in 33 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and had three blocks as SI clobbered Mitty 70–40. Drucker’s crew was then paired up once again with Serra in the finals at USF. With 5,000 mostly SI partisan fans looking on, SI jumped out to a 47–36 lead before hanging on to nip the Padres 54–52, earning both revenge and the WCAL title.
SI then moved to the Central Coast Section Tournament. First up in Region I was San Mateo High, featuring star forward Sylvester “Sly” Pritchett. Holding Pritchett to eight points, the ’Cats pulled away late and won 84–75. Unfortunately, SI lost Dan Buick for the rest of the playoffs to a broken hand.
Facing Westmoor in the next round, Drucker worried about the loss of Buick and about his team growing overconfident, as SI had beaten the Rams earlier in the season. As they had all season, the team responded. Stepping in for Buick, junior guard Mike McEvoy recorded 19 points and five steals to lead the ’Cats to the Region I title.
Not satisfied, SI then advanced to the CCS final tournament at Maples Pavilion. In the semifinal contest, the Wildcats took on Region III champ Gilroy. Showing great leadership, Billy O’Neill led SI with 13 points in a defensive struggle as the ’Cats prevailed 57–40.
In the season finale at Maples Pavilion, SI faced Cupertino, led by All Northern California performer and future Los Angeles Laker Kurt Rambis. Rambis, a junior, had played superbly all season in leading Cupertino to a 27–1 record, nearly identical to SI’s 28–1 record. In front of a sold-out crowd of 6,500, SI’s front-line held the Pioneers’ big man in check and the ’Cats matched Cupertino point for point.
As the game wound down to the 1-minute mark, Juan Mitchell committed his fifth foul, putting guard Mike Saladino to the line. Saladino missed the free throw, but Rambis tipped in the basket, giving Cupertino a 61–60 victory. Despite the CCS final loss, SI ended with an incredible record of 28–2. No St. Ignatius team had ever won so many games.
With the beginning of the 1975–76 school year, Drucker said good-bye to starters Mitchell, Bowie, Passanisi and Buick. The 1975–76 team returned McEvoy, O’Neill, Carella, Abela, Bianchi, Enright and Bruneman, who gained so much experience from the year before. Drucker now added Craig Wallsten, Alan Smoot, Chris LaRocca, Brad Levesque, Dan Hurley, John Skapik and sophomore Tony Zanze.
The fantastic season the year before led to high expectations. SI was picked as the fourth-ranked high school team in Northern California by the San Francisco Examiner. Without Bowie and Mitchell, Drucker knew this team needed to win with defense and good outside shooting.
SI started the pre-season right where it left off the year before with impressive wins over St. Joseph’s, Marin Catholic and Washington. Despite a loss in the El Camino Tournament to Westmoor, SI finished the pre-season 12–1.
The ’Cats opened the defense of their WCAL crown against St. Francis. In what would be a typical, unselfish performance for this team, SI had five scorers in double figures, led by Mike McEvoy with 18 points. SI won 68–59.
SI continued its winning ways and eventually took on archrival Sacred Heart. Extracting revenge for a JV championship loss two years earlier, Bill O’Neill scored 20 points and SI whipped SH 68–56 at Kezar. After cruising past St. Francis and Riordan and edging Serra twice, an undefeated WCAL season came down to the final game against Mitty. A year earlier, the ’Cats had fallen just short of this goal. This time McEvoy and O’Neill saw to it that there would be no letdown. Combining for 34 points, the senior leaders led SI to win 68–50 and the perfect league record, a feat never before accomplished in the history of the WCAL.
The Wildcats went on to face Bellarmine in the WCAL Tournament’s final game at USF. SI kept the Bells close in the first half, shooting just 11 for 31 from the field. In the second half, playoff hero Craig Bianchi came through, scoring 17 points to lead the ’Cats to their second straight title with a 47–40 victory.
Drucker’s boys, now an amazing 26–1 returned to the CCS tournament to face a familiar opponent, Westmoor, which had an impressive 25–1 record. The Rams took it to SI early on, leading 30–27 at the half. The Wildcats then tightened their defense, holding Westmoor to eight points in the third quarter. McEvoy, Bruneman, and O’Neill once again came through with big shots down the stretch and the ’Cats, avenging their early season loss to the Rams, claimed the Division I title for the second straight season.
Next up for SI was Region III winner Carmel. Again playing great defense, the Wildcats allowed their lowest point total of the year, winning 49–31 and setting up another showdown with Kurt Rambis and Cupertino in the CCS final at Maples Pavilion. SI kept Cupertino’s high powered offense under control in the first half, but simply could not generate enough offense. Eventually, Rambis, who would score 27 points and grab 12 rebounds, wore SI out and led the Pioneers to a second straight CCS title over a disappointed Wildcat squad.
The loss was especially tough for senior O’Neill. “We didn’t really care about Carmel,” O’Neill told Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Examiner. “I mean Carmel is where you go on your honeymoon. Nobody plays basketball there. But Cupertino was the big one for us.”
SI’s season did not end with the loss to Cupertino as it had the previous year. The ’Cats were invited as an “at-large” team to the Tournament of Champions. It was SI’s first invite to the tournament since 1965 when the ’Cats were led by Bob Portman. As Drucker would lament later, his team was simply not able to get over the Cupertino loss. With an ill O’Neill playing only limited minutes, the ’Cats lost to Del Mar in the first round, playing their worst game of the season.
Showing typical pride, SI rebounded in the double elimination tournament by whipping St. Mary’s of Stockton in the next game 81–46, giving the Wildcats their 29th win of the season and earning another shot at Rambis and Cupertino. Unfortunately, SI would have little left in the tank, losing to the Pioneers 64–55. The loss did not erase the accomplishments of the long season, which included the WCAL title, the perfect conference record, the all-league performances of O’Neill, McEvoy and Bianchi and the tremendous showing in the CCS.
Over the 2-year span, SI had won 57 games and lost 6. From the inside play of Bowie, Mitchell and O’Neill to the outside shooting of Passanisi, McEvoy and Bianchi, they had played at a level of basketball that had not been seen before at the Prep. It may never be seen again.
The SI track and field team took league championships seven times in the 1970s with Terry Ward ’63 coaching most of those teams. Ward got his start at SI by running the 4x800 relay with three seniors and setting the school record in his sophomore year under coach Roger Hoy. In his senior year, Ward competed for Fr. Ray Devlin, SJ ’42, who took over the program. (His brother, Fr. Joe Devlin, SJ, was the track coach at Bellarmine.) In 1963, SI sent five athletes to the state meet, and Ward became city champion in the 800-meter event.
After studying and coaching at SFSU, Ward joined the SI faculty in 1969 and coached track for Gil Haskell until 1973 when they shared the head coaching job. Ward ran the program between 1974 and 1978, but credits his coaching staff for much of the program’s success. “We had guys like Gil Haskell, Tom Kennedy, Jim Walsh, Mike Lewis, Br. Charlie Jackson, SJ, and Dick Howard,” says Ward. “They paid attention not just to the stars but to all the athletes.”
While some of SI’s success can be attributed to the depth of the program, Ward also credits the boys’ attitudes. “We loved having stars, but we also loved working with kids who weren’t stars. These guys sometimes worked all summer and came back as ready to go as some of the previous year’s standouts.”
Ward let his athletes know his priorities by making sure, at the end of a race, to congratulate the runner who finished last and then move up the line to congratulate the first-place runner.
Ward enjoyed coaching at SI. “It always seemed like a family affair, especially since I had so many relatives on my teams. If a problem arose, we could talk about it because we all knew each other. It was always fun being with those guys.”
Ward left SI for Bellarmine in 1980 for a change of climate, thinking that he would stay there for 10 years before moving on. He has never left and now serves as Bellarmine’s athletic director.
Track Stars of the 1970s
Coach Terry Ward sang the praises of many of his athletes, including the following:
All-Americans: Chris Cole ’72, Mike Porter ’72, Dan Graham ’72, John McVeigh ’73 and Jim Hannawalt ’78.
School Record Holders: David Gherardi ’72, Chris Cole ’72, Paul McCarthy ’75, Bruce Parker ’78, Brendan Ward ’71, Julius Yap ’74 and Paul Roache ’78.
State Meet Qualifiers and Finalists: David Gherardi ’72, Chris Cole ’72, Xonie Lloyd ’73 and Bruce Parker ’78
Sprinters: Dan Magee ’76, Gil Pacaldo ’79, Charles Taylor ’88, Mike Kelly ’72 and Brian Sampson ’78.
Middle Distance: Dennis Burns ’76, Pat Linehan ’76, Aleo Brugnara ’79 and Tony Fotinos ’73.
Pole Vaulter: Frank Lawler ’71.
Shot and Discus: Peter DeMartini ’76, Aldo Congi ’72 and Tom Lagomarsino ’72.4
Distance Runners: Yannick Loyer ’80, Ernie Stanton ’81, Mark Gillis ’81, Phil Bennett ’77 and Bill Magee ’74.
Hurdlers: Juan Mitchell ’75, Bill Ryan ’77 and John Goldberg ’75.
Jumpers: Peter Imperial ’77, Jim Paver ’74, Sean Laughlin ’82 and Don Vidal ’77.
All Time Team Leader: Rob Hickox ’72.
By Julius Yap ’74
The 1970s cross country and track and field program at SI had perhaps the biggest impact on the person I have become today. All SI athletic experiences have a positive effect on its students but Cross Country and Track and Field are unique in that freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors all work out together. I learned the values an Ignatian is supposed to have by watching the upper classmen live those values every day, so I grew up not only learning those values but also understanding that it was my responsibility to make sure that those who followed would find those values in me. Coach Ward and Coach Haskell also provided the model for me to follow as I returned to teach and coach here at SI. I have had some success here during my 25 years at the prep, and I owe much of that to my two coaches at SI. They taught me the value of hard work. The most important value an SI coach should honor — and this is the top priority of an SI coach — is to care for the student as a person first and an athlete second.
In 1974, Coach Jim Keating retired and Jim Dekker ’68 stepped in to lead the Varsity Boys Baseball Team for the next 20 years (with the exception of a 3-year leave of absence when Len Christensen was head coach). Dekker played three years of varsity for Keating starting in his freshman year. As a junior centerfielder and .375 lead-off hitter, he made the all-city team and helped his team take the league championship with a 20–1 record. (That record stood until Dekker’s last year as a coach in 1993 when his team won 25 games.)
In his junior year, Dekker won the race for student body president and was being eyed by scouts for professional baseball. Any hopes of turning pro, however, were crushed the summer between his junior and senior years when a car accident left Dekker severely injured. That Dekker can now walk is a tribute to Dr. C. Allen Wall ’46, a vascular surgeon. While recuperating, Joe DiMaggio came to visit Dekker and present him with the batting trophy from the first-ever Joe DiMaggio League that Dekker had won that summer.
While a student at Santa Clara University, Dekker commuted to SI to coach with Keating, and after graduating with his degree in English, he returned to SI to teach and coach. When Keating retired in 1974, Dekker took over and led his team in numerous successful seasons, including the 1977 season when SI tied for first place with Serra at the end of the round-robin in the WCAL. Team leaders included George Torassa ’77, who eventually signed and played three years in the San Francisco Giants’ farm system.
In 1967, Luis Sagastume began teaching Spanish and coaching soccer at SI. He came to the U.S. at age 11 from Guatemala and played soccer at USF. As captain there, he led that school to an NCAA national championship. His assistant, Fr. Francis Stiegeler, SJ, wrote in a 1974 Genesis article that “his professional attitude and low-key personal approach immediately injected a transfusion into the moribund soccer program and the subsequent revival of the program has been truly phenomenal. From one team of 18 players in 1969, the soccer program has grown in 1974 to six teams with more than 140 participating players. Along with its growth in size, SI soccer has dominated the WCAL since its inception, winning the varsity title three times in six years and compiling a remarkable record of only six losses in 67 league matches.”
Sagastume’s 1973 team went undefeated, earning 43 goals and allowing only four against them on their way to a second-place finish in the CCS. The following year, the ’Cats went 12–1–1 to win the league with offensive stars such as Bill Magee ’74 (a high school All-American and league MVP), Jim Paver ’74 (who scored 13 goals in the ’74 season), Connie Konstin ’75, Bob Bustamante ’76, John Kolenda ’75, Dan Salvemini ’75 and Rob Fetter ’74.
Sagastume left SI for Chico State in 1975 where he received a Master’s degree in physical education and returned in 1977. That fall, word got around school that Sagastume had invited a few students out to West Sunset to kick around a few soccer balls. “That word spread around campus and more than 40 students showed up,” said Joe Totah ’78. “Everyone wanted to be on his team as he had become a legend.”
Totah was among those who played for him in 1978 when SI came in second in the league. He praised Sagastume for emphasizing technique and strategy. “He brought each individual player and the team as a whole to a new level. He made sure each player understood his position and was as skillful as possible.” Sagastume also taught by example the virtue of good sportsmanship. “He was very patient on the sidelines,” recalls Totah. “He wasn't animated, running up and down screaming. He was very quiet and let the team play. He carried himself professionally and demanded the same of his players both on and off the field.”
Sagastume also coached at Chico State and SFSU before leaving for the Air Force Academy in 1979, where he continues to coach soccer. Since then, he has led the Falcons to more than 270 victories in 26 seasons. Taking over for him was Rob Hickox ’72, who continues to head the Boys’ Soccer Program. He led the ’Cats to championships in 1981 and 2005 and many CCS semifinals.
In addition to Sagastume, Fr. Paul Capitolo, SJ ’53, has played a large role in SI soccer starting in November 1973, when Steve Nejasmich and Fran Stiegeler, SJ, asked him to coach in the newly-formed soph-frosh program. He and Dennis Sweeney coached the SI Tigers until 1982 when the WCAL expanded to include a freshman soccer component. Fr. Capitolo moved on to become moderator for the entire boys’ soccer program, and is known affectionately by players and coaches as “Cappy Bear” and “The Grand Pooh Bah.”
SI, which had won six league victories in golf between 1951 and 1961, finally got back on track, capturing three league crowns between 1977 and 1979, as well as the CCS championship in 1979, led by Fr. Roland P. Dodd, SJ. Standouts on the team included Tom Sheppard, Manuel Neves, Mike Cinelli, Joe Slane, Joe Vetrano, Sean Sarsfield, Kevin McWalters, Mike Modesti, Pat Doherty, Russ Tominaga, Matt Healy, Glenn Schuldt, Joe Vetrano and Joe Luceti.
Over the years others would step in to coach boys’ golf, including Bob Drucker and Julius Yap, who, in 2001, oversaw the creation of the girls’ golf program, which won the league, CCS and NorCal championship in 2003.
By Stephen Finnegan ’88
(This article was first published in the Summer 2003 Genesis IV to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Lacrosse team.)
As Will McMinn ’79 gazed out the window toward the Pacific Ocean from Fr. Dominic Harrington’s math class in the spring of 1979, he heard an announcement over the PA that perked up his senior year at SI and his college years at UC Santa Barbara.
“All those students interested in forming a lacrosse club, please report to the student activities office after school.” McMinn daydreamed as he continued to look out over the sand dunes that would later become the field where SI would play many of its lacrosse games. McMinn hoped that his father, who had not let him play football, would let him play lacrosse.
On April 19, 2003, McMinn returned to SI and played in the 15th annual alumni lacrosse game on the new FieldTurf of J.B. Murphy Field. Before the game began, he reflected on his early memories of lacrosse at SI. He started by holding up the first jersey from 1979, which resembled a wool football uniform shirt, and then he and others thanked the many people who were instrumental in the program’s creation.
Ken Ross ’79 was one such pioneer who started the lacrosse team “to help the younger guys play an alternative to football or baseball that would make them proud and build their confidence.” He went to Chuck Murphy ’61, the student activities director at the time, and asked about buying gym mats for a wrestling team. Murphy told Ross that he was concerned about the “liability of a bunch of guys throwing each other around.” Then Ross remembered reading that football legend Jim Brown had played lacrosse along with football while at Syracuse University. Ross returned to Murphy, who always listened to students, and asked about forming a lacrosse club.
Murphy gave the go-ahead, but because lacrosse did not begin as an official school sport, he could offer no funding. Ross’s father made a large contribution, and Ross solicited donations from Financial District law and accounting firms. He found that SI’s reputation helped him in his fund-raising efforts.
Ross sought advice from University High School Lacrosse Coach Mike Gotlieb (who would be a perennial rival), and he referred him to Bruce Nelson, who coordinated lacrosse leagues around the Bay Area. He assisted Ross in purchasing discounted lacrosse equipment. All Ross needed now was a coach.
By this time Sam Coffey ’74, who had played football for Dartmouth College, was teaching history and coaching freshman football at SI. He had heard about Ross’s search for a coach and introduced him to John Carney, who had played football with Coffey in college and also played lacrosse at Dartmouth as an All-American.
Carney agreed to coach the “lads” as Ross remembered Carney’s term for the ragtag group of SI players (delivered in his East Coast accent). Ross went to every class to recruit players and found nearly 30 athletes who, along with McMinn, showed up to the first meeting.
“We had guys playing in their corduroy pants and button down shirts,” said Ross. “A couple of times, midway through the season, we would trade for players with the opposing team to level the talent pool.”
Bruce Burns, a freshman at the time, was one of the team’s best ball handlers. “We had Jim Hill, John Kapulica, Frank Hseih, John Clark, Rich Alden, Jim Kearney, Tim McInerney, Bill Mazzetti, Mike Patt and many others. The one player on the team who exemplified what we were all about was Kevin Barberini, who, sadly, passed away from cancer several years out of SI. Kevin had a great sense of humor that represented the positive attitude of our program.”
In the spring of 2004, SI lacrosse celebrated its 25th anniversary. There have been so many players, coaches, parents and friends who contributed over the years, not only to SI lacrosse, but also to the overall growth of the game on the West Coast.
Many players have handed down their old lacrosse gear to their younger brothers. Bruce Burns ’82, who later went on to expand lacrosse at UOP, gave his old gear to his brother Todd ’87. Jim Kircher ’82, who started lacrosse at Humboldt State, handed down his gear to his brother Glenn ’87.
Steve Wynne ’90 (younger brother of lacrosse alumnus Ed Wynne ’84) came back to SI as a coach to help Dave Giarrusso lead the Wildcats to three of their four state championships.
Other Lacrosse alumni include Willie Wade ’85 and his brother, Yancey ’88, who was named High School All-American. Trevor Buck ’93 went on to play at Hobart; his father, Stockton Buck, helped build the SI program as a coach for many years.
One family best represents the SI lacrosse tradition. The Merrion clan, who all showed up for the 2003 game, includes Mark ’82, whose son and daughter played catch with lacrosse sticks after the game, John ’86, who was named High School All-American, and Paul ’92 who looked up to his older brothers playing lacrosse. These brothers all took the field and scored goals in this most recent game.
Each year when the varsity and the alumni come together to play, we remember and honor those who came before us. When we pray the prayer of St. Ignatius, we honor the founder of the Jesuits whose missionaries and martyrs were some of the first Europeans to see the game of lacrosse.
We know that we are part of a large extended family of SI alumni, and we wish future teams good luck. We are grateful to the parents and SI for providing us with a beautiful field. We look forward to future seasons and say thank you to McMinn, Ross, Coffey, Carney (now lieutenant governor of Delaware) and all those who made the first 25 years of lacrosse at SI possible.
By Tom Hsieh ’83
More than 100 alumni, along with family and friends from across the country, attended the 35-year SI Lacrosse Reunion on April 17, 2015, and after back slaps and bro hugs, many left with the promise of resting a little easier knowing the slights of the past were finally reconciled.
The source of the slights? These men never received block letters for playing high school lacrosse, as it was considered a club sport, not a varsity sport, between 1979 and 1986.
They finally received their blocks on a night “that was a long time coming,” noted Sam Coffey ’74, the team’s first general manager. “We did not know back then what SI lacrosse would become.”
He was referring to the national dominance of the SI boys’ varsity lacrosse program, which this year finished among the top five teams in the nation, and, along with the varsity girls’ program, won a first-place state ranking. In addition, the boys’ teams have won six straight WCAL titles and two state titles and have sent more than 50 athletes to compete on the college level.
The only quiet part of the night was when former dean of students, Br. Douglas Draper, S.J., took the microphone for the event’s blessing and scanned the room. “Tonight gentlemen,” he said to the relief of all, “I will not name names.”
Coffey went on to describe the origins of SI lacrosse in terms the faithful could understand. “In the beginning,” he said solemnly, “there was nothing.”
He went on to recount how on the first day “the great Ken Ross ’79 — student body president, idea guy and football player — wanted a lacrosse team to keep football guys in shape during the off-season.” Ross himself had broken his leg at the beginning of his senior year and missed the football season but desperately wanted to get back onto the field.
On the second day, Ross and Coffey went to John Carney, who would later serve as lieutenant governor of Delaware and who now serves as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, to convince him to be the first coach. The Dartmouth All-American served as SI’s lacrosse coach from 1979 to 1981.
On the third day, Coffey described how he went to visit Athletic Director Leo La Rocca ’53, who presided over an era of tremendous success in football, basketball and baseball. There was little room for a sport unknown on this side of the Mississippi, but he gave Coffey permission to organize a lacrosse club and offered $500 and some old football jerseys. Lacrosse players, however, would have no access to the field.
On the fourth day, Coffey and Carney, with their rocker long hair and brush mustaches, went to Trader Sam’s on 26th and Geary to establish a strategy for the upcoming season.
On the fifth day, Coffey handed the reins of the new program to Carney and gave him the authority to launch it forward, which Carney did with unforgettable gusto.
On the sixth and seventh days, Coffey noted, “we rested because back then lacrosse was not a seven-day-a-week program like it is today.”
On that first day of practice, according to a history of lacrosse written by Stephen Finnegan ’88 and published in Genesis, the players wore only corduroy pants and button down shirts. The club classification and lack of formal financial support formed a renegade ethos among the first teams. It built bonds and grit among players who had to buy their own equipment, organize rides to away-games and rally students, some of whom were reluctant to recognize the athletes as a real part of the school.
“We left our guts out on those fields because we represented SI,” said Mike Patt ’82 as he crouched into a linebacker pose the night of the reunion. Patt played on Team One in 1979 and was a football convert.
“I know what kind of game we played in 1979, and nothing I saw on the field today resembled it,” added Carney. “We promised the football players we were trying to recruit a helmet, a stick and the ability to hit guys.” He taught and promoted a brand of hard knocking lacrosse that seemed a far cry from the speed, finesse and power of SI’s current varsity team.
Although old school in comparison, Carney’s coaching approach was no less effective in the first three seasons. A strong leadership figure who commanded respect, Carney promoted a rigorous regimen that included wind sprints, stick skills, pick and rolls and fundamental plays that could be called out from the sidelines to the captains. With strong athletes and daily practices at the Polo Fields or Speedway Meadow, Wildcat lacrosse turned into a contender within the first few seasons.
At the beginning of the third season in 1982, Carney went back to the East Coast, and the team was left without a coach. Bruce Burns ’82, one of the best players, effectively ran the team along with Chris Edmonson ’82 as team manager. Halfway through the season, an interim coach named Parker Selmer took over and the Wildcats were on their way to their best season of that era.
SI played Novato High in what was the equivalent of the Northern California championships. Carney returned to the big game but didn’t want to interfere with the new coach; however, he ran up and down the opposite side of the field to offer advice. Novato scored with less than a minute to go in overtime to secure the win, and though the loss was heartbreaking, that game boosted the confidence of the team and garnered the attention of the entire school.
Fast forward to 2015: The anniversary evening took an emotional turn when Athletic Director John Mulkerrins ’89 presented honorary block letters and senior pins to more than 35 alums who played from 1979 to 1986. Calling them up individually and by class, Mulkerrins thanked those players who helped to pay it forward.
As grown men hugged each other, current head coach Chris Packard said that “this program owes a debt of gratitude to all of you tonight.” Since 2002, Packard has steadily built the program into a national powerhouse.
This year’s season was arguably the team’s best, as it included an 18–1 record, a win over the second-ranked team in the country, a sixth WCAL championship, a program high number-4 USA Today national ranking and leadership from two of the finest captains to have played the game in seniors Nick Stinn and Matt Klein, who will continue to play the sport at, respectively, Notre Dame and Stanford.
“None of the tradition has been lost on these young players,” said Packard. “They have forged unbreakable relationships, win or lose.”
After Stinn and Klein addressed the alumni, Mulkerrins was presented a proclamation from the office of Mayor Ed Lee declaring “SI Lacrosse Day in San Francisco,” and a conga line of players came to the microphone to speak about their coaches and memories of deceased teammates. It was both heartwarming and cathartic, an off-script outpouring of gratitude and emotion from the past three decades.
In 1977, SI won the WCAL All-Sports Trophy for the first time. The WCAL gave the award to the school that won the most league championships in one year. The WCAL in the 1980s discontinued that award as the two most powerful schools in the league — Bellarmine and St. Francis — typically traded the trophy each year.
Birth of the BSU
Fr. Buckley, SI’s president, noted in the September 1972 Genesis that “today there is a strong emphasis in secondary education on areas of study outside the merely academic. This emphasis finds an echo in the traditional Jesuit philosophy of training graduates who have internalized attitudes of deep and universal compassion for the poor, the victims of injustice, and those in our society who suffer oppression. We plan bold new programs this year to realize better our own Jesuit tradition….”
Those programs included SI Outbound and something new to the SI landscape: the Black Students Union. The BSU reflected the times and the needs of the students and was the first of many ethnic-based clubs to start at SI in the 1970s. (The Black Students Union in 1992 changed its name to the Association of African American Students.) Other organizations included the Spanish Club (later called the Association of Latin American Students), the Asian Students Coalition, the Irish Club and the Italian Club. Some of these groups had their origin in the Civil Rights movement and in the growing sense that Jesuit schools needed to support the rights of and provide equal opportunity for underrepresented groups. The first of these clubs, the BSU, began as a response to a parody of Huckleberry Finnthat appeared in 1970 in Soph Press, a short-lived sophomore publication. The parody included the N-word and drew strong reaction from African American students, including Eric Goosby ’70.
The following year, two students — Timothy Alan Simon ’73 and Welton Flynn ’71— began talking about the need for a support group for black students at SI. Simon’s sister, a Presentation High School grad and a student at San Francisco State University, was involved with activists there, and Simon met many of them around his parents’ dining room table discussing Ralph Ellison and W.E.B. DuBois. “It was a vibrant time for intellectual discourse,” said Simon. “I was surrounded by black nationalistic thought, and I saw the need for black students at SI to have resources that we could utilize to increase our academic success.”
Before the club formed, Simon, Flynn and others participated in forums, moderated by Scott Wood, Chuck Murphy and Bill Kennedy, regarding the need for such a support group. “Many white students asked why we needed to have a separate organization,” said Simon. “Now that I’m 49, I see that their arguments were sincere. SI was there for all of us. But we still faced racism. For example, we had no courses that put any focus on contributions from African Americans who gave 300 years of slave labor to build this country. On a more personal level, we were rarely invited to parties, and interracial dating was still a big issue.”
Simon, now an attorney, law professor and elected member of the San Francisco Republican County Committee, found supporters in SI Principal Edward McFadden, SJ, counselor (and future Regent) Lou Giraudo ’64, English teacher Scott Wood and Fr. Cornelius Buckley, SJ. “Scott Wood did so much for us. What a saint,” said Simon. “Also, Fr. Buckley and I met on a regular basis. This relationship continued through my collegiate and law school years. My family was from Louisiana and drenched in Francophone culture. This was a scholarly interest of Fr. Buckley’s.” Later, when Steve Phelps joined the faculty in 1972, his long history of working with African American students led Fr. McFadden to make him BSU moderator. Phelps also coached the BSU basketball team that competed in the CYO Teenage Leagues.
Simon felt tremendous support from the Society of Jesus and the Church. “The BSU became in many ways an outreach of Jesuit ministry,” he noted. “Fr. Buckley recognized that our pursuits were not only honorable but also reflective of Christ’s teachings. We were even featured on a television program on what is now KBHK, hosted by famed Bay Area and national journalist Sam Skinner.”
English teacher Frank Kavanagh ’46 also provided support for the group in its first year of existence (1971–72) by donating his collection of black literature to the students. “He came into the English Center, where we started holding meetings, holding a box of books,” said Simon. “Then he asked us to come to his car for more boxes.” The group then appointed Alan Robinson ’73 as librarian, and he wasted no time in creating a Library of Congress Card Catalogue system. “He would track you down if you were overdue in returning a book,” recalled Simon.
The club used those books to help educate its members on black history and culture, offering book report presentations on The Invisible Man and poetry presentations by Jerome Williams ’75 and Gregory Sullivan ’73. The group invited political activists visiting the U.S. from Angola and Mozambique to speak to students, and in the 1972–73 school year, they began working with other schools to help them form their own BSUs. They even held a Saturday gathering at SI bringing 100 students from Northern California to the school for an all-day conference featuring Raye Richardson, the owner of Marcus Bookstore in San Francisco. African American students came from El Cerrito, Stockton and Seaside to listen to him and to a host of student speakers.
In 1972, the club became officially sanctioned and joined the Student Council. Still, some students continued to resent Simon for creating a club that they believed divided the SI community along color lines. “When Bill Kennedy read off grades in class one day, I heard a hiss from some students when he got to my name. He stopped right there and said, ‘I want to take my hat off to these students for creating the BSU and for discussing racism at SI.’ In his own quirky way, he was an extraordinary supporter of our cause.”
Simon worked hard to keep academics the focus of the club, and he praised Xonie Lloyd ’73 and future BSU leaders Burl Toler ’74, Rod Carter ’74, Jerome Williams ’75, Kevin Goosby ’77, Juan Mitchell ’75, Michael Bowie ’75 and others for picking up the baton. “Those guys were in the top of the class from the day they stepped on campus.”
That the BSU is active in the new millennium is a testament to its success. Simon praised the support given it by parents, who now have their own organization at SI — the Parents of the Association of African American Students (PAAAS). “Black parents in the early days of the BSU did not always support us,” he added. “They felt we were putting a top-rated education at risk by challenging students on issues of race. Now the parents, along with alumni and students, support the organization wholeheartedly, and the BSU has helped many students excel. That is the group’s lasting legacy and what makes it a proud part of the Ignatian tradition.”
A few key events define the era for Simon. “When Eric Goosby ’70 (who served as AIDS Czar in the Clinton administration) started wearing an afro, that was a major event. He identified with his African American roots. Timothy’s cousin Gerald Simon ’72 (who would become the Fire Chief for Santa Clara and Oakland) was a mentor and exemplar for all of us, especially for freshmen who found coming to SI a tough transition from their grammar schools. The BSU helped students matriculate, which sounds like a contradiction. How can you matriculate if you separate yourself? But through the process of separating, we found common issues and common solutions. We couldn’t have found those otherwise. I think that’s why other ethnic groups formed.”
SI made a commitment in 1972 to support African American students at SI by hiring Susan Johnson, a Boalt Hall Law Student and the first African American woman to join SI’s faculty, as a part-time teacher of Afro-American literature. The school also hired a young blond-haired coach named Steve Phelps, whom colleagues later nicknamed the White Shadow after a popular TV show.
A USF grad, Phelps had earlier worked at Hunter’s Point and in the Fillmore District as a recreation director. He encouraged some of his best kids to apply to SI and other academically strong high schools. When he approached Fr. McFadden in 1969, the principal told Phelps that SI would accept as many kids as he could send. Phelps insisted that SI offer services to students from these neighborhoods to help them survive in a culture very different from their own and help students preserve their racial identities. “SI wisely agreed,” said Phelps, and as a result, SI had, and still has, a higher retention rate of students of color than other schools.
Phelps also started SI Uplift, a summer school program designed to improve diversity at SI. That program, now called Magis, is still in existence at SI, under the direction of Emily Behr ’93, the first member of the pioneer coed class to work full time at SI, and her assistant, Chris Delaney, a faculty member since 2003.
The Rise of Other Ethnic Clubs
Phelps served as BSU moderator for nine years starting in 1972. In 1973 two freshmen approached him looking to form their own organization — the Asian Students Coalition (ASC). Phelps agreed to serve as moderator and soon found himself advising 50 students who modeled their club along the same lines as the BSU. Soon after that, the Spanish Club started at SI, which later changed its name to the Association of Latin-American Students (ALAS), and the Italian Club also formed.
From the onset, students at SI debated the usefulness of these ethnic clubs. Some wondered if they exacerbated, rather than healed, divisions among students. “The merits of the BSU are debatable,” wrote one student in a 1972 Inside SI article. “A more serious conflict might arise from the formation of the Irish Students Union, who, although they claim that no mockery is intended [of] the BSU, exist as a living statement to say that they do not want a Black Students Union at SI.”
Timothy Simon, who founded the BSU, nevertheless supported the Irish Student Union. “I was educated by the Daughters of Mary and Joseph at St. Michael the Archangel. They were predominately Irish among many Irish students and parish members, and that helped me become sensitive to the plight of the Irish. Black students felt an oppression similar to theirs. Some people opposed the formation of the ISU, but I supported it. Why shouldn’t they get together and celebrate their culture just as we were doing?”
Bill Love ’59 & the Environmental Movement
The modern environmental movement began in the early 1960s with the publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. In the 1970s, SI’s own Peter Raven ’53 (now the director of the Missouri Botanical Garden) warned against the twin dangers of rainforest deforestation and species eradication. At SI, Bill Love ’59 was leading the charge to help students grow as stewards of the planet. In 1972 he participated in a unique program in environmental education with the public elementary schools’ Science Resource Center. Each week, he took grammar school students to Lake Merced to study the flora and fauna, guided by SI students who had taken Love’s Field Ecology course. Those same Ignatians then visited grammar schools to continue the lessons regarding pollution and habitat preservation and tried to provide students, according to Love, “with a new set of standards — a measure stick — which they can apply to their home environments.”
Ambient, an environmental club that stressed recycling, formed on January 29, 1972, “with member Tom Yasumura standing in front of the school building, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the first [member]. His patience was well-rewarded as senior Nick Carouba drove up and left a trunk-load of cans and bottles at his feet.”5 Ambient continued over the years, and the group, now called the SI Environmental Club, focuses on recycling, native plant restoration, reduction of consumption and composting.
Newspapers, Magazines, Radio & TV
Inside SI continued to publish for the first half of the 1970s, but it took a six-year hiatus between 1975 and 1981. The SI administration ended its long run in favor of a new publication — a tabloid newspaper first called SI News (for the first five issues), and then The 2001 before a final name change to The OceanSIder in 1979 when rookie faculty member Michael Shaughnessy won the Name That Paper Contest with that offering. (The winning prize in that contest was a six-pack of “his favorite beer.”) In 1981, the name changed back to Inside SI and the publication has come out in both magazine and tabloid formats since then.
For the final edition of Inside SI in 1975, students went all-out and printed a 104-page magazine with a full-color cover and featuring a Stonehenge game (based on lectures on that topic by Fr. Spohn) and a bumper sticker. All the work was done in-house, from typesetting to printing and binding, with students using the printing presses, carbon arcs, process cameras and light tables. After 1975, all production for student publications occurred off campus.
In October 1973, a new media outlet broadcast at SI when KZIC (later called KRSI) went into operation. The radio station was actually a public address system with two speakers in the Carlin Commons that “broadcast” during the two lunch periods. After Mark Roos ’75 set up the equipment, the station took requests from its collection of 38 records. Also, SITV debuted in 1971 when Mr. Art Encinas, SJ, set up a TV studio in a classroom. It expanded in February 1974, when students in an advanced television production course, taught by Br. Sullivan, broadcast 10-minute news shows in the Carlin Commons at lunch twice each week.
By 1979, in addition to the clubs mentioned above, students had a wide selection of groups they could join. In 1975, Fr. Russell Roide, SJ, SI’s new president, created the Service Club as a way for students who weren’t members of the Block Club to serve the school. Students had to have good grades and recommendations from teachers. They wore blue blazers with the Service Club emblem and came to school events to serve as ushers and hosts. Since then, the Service Club has become one of the most active organizations at SI.
Gone were the Sanctuary Society (1975) and the Sodality (which became the CLCs), but according to the Ignatians from those years, the following organizations were going strong: CLCs, Block Club, Service Club, CSF, Forum, Cheerleaders, Art and Publicity, Dance Committee, Spirit Club, Rally Committee, Math Club, Frosh Press, Science Fiction Club, Military Service Club, Liturgy Group, Chess Club, Rod and Gun Club, Computer Club, Language Club, Stage Crew, Ski Club, Bike Club, and intramurals.
Cultural Renaissance at SI
From its earliest years, SI has been a school that has stressed the fine arts, and the student musicals and plays throughout the years showed a commitment to excellence by the students and directors. In the 1970s and 1980s, that strong tradition provided a foundation for a remarkable cultural renaissance at SI, one involving four outstanding teachers who inspired students to excel in music, drama and the visual arts.
Janet & Nicholas Sablinsky ’64
The first band was formed at SI on Feb. 12, 1874, “to cultivate music for innocent social enjoyment and to add solemnity to civil and religious festivals” and was directed by Mr. L. Von der Mehden.6 That the school did not assemble the band each year is evidenced by a 1962 Inside SI story on the school’s reconstituted band program, then in its second year: “Perhaps you don’t realize this, but SIdoes have a band. It is young and small, but dedicated. Our band practices forty minutes a day to be able to play for our enjoyment at school functions…. This year the band plans a formal concert, perhaps a joint concert with Riordan, and a Pops Concert. The Pops Concert will probably be held in December with guest artists, professional singers and all types of music.”
Before 1972, SI student musicians played in a concert band primarily at the rallies and games, performing Sousa marches and the fight song. All that changed when SI hired Nick Sablinsky ’64. As a student, he had played piano and percussion for the 20-piece SI band, led by Dennis Monk. Now, he felt, SI needed a full-fledged orchestra, and he combined students from the girls’ schools with SI boys to perform for Fiddler on the Roof in 1973. (That show, performed at SI, was directed by Peter Devine ’66 who was then teaching at Convent of the Sacred Heart.) In prior years, adult musicians were brought in for the shows, and this was the first SI musical to feature an all-student orchestra, according to Sablinsky.
For the next five years, SI musicians had a busy spring. After they played in the spring musical, they put on a spring concert. That changed in 1978 with the introduction of the Winter Pops Concert, which also featured the SI Jazz Band.
Nick’s wife, Janet, served as a vocal coach starting in 1972, and in 1992 SI hired her to start a formal choral program. In the first year she directed one large choral group that over the years has branched into the advanced Chamber Singers, the Men’s Choir, the Men’s Quartet, the Mixed Chorus and the Women’s Chorus. In 1994 she introduced the Handbell Choir to the Winter Pop’s repertoire and added a spring choral concert to the litany of shows at SI.
For many students, the highlight of their four years here has been playing for Nick or singing for Janet Sablinsky in such shows as The King and I (1977),Cabaret (1985), 1776 (1987), My Fair Lady (1988), Evita (1996) and The Secret Garden (1998). The Winter Pops Concert features nearly 200 singers and musicians and is a perennial highlight of the school year. In their 30-plus years at SI, the Sablinskys have fashioned one of the best high school music programs in the country, and future students will profit from their talent, energy and commitment.
Peter Devine ’66
Peter Devine ’66 directed his 100th play, Man of La Mancha, in 1998 after a remarkable 25-year run as director of SI’s theatre department. His love of the theatre began when his mother took him to see Mary Martin in the stage playPeter Pan when he was 5 years old. “When I saw her fly through the doors into Wendy’s room, I was hooked on theatre,” said Devine. “That was pure magic.”
Devine was steeped in theatre, too, through his relatives. His granduncle Martin Merle served as drama director at SCU and directed the school’s annual Mission and Passion plays and the 1925 Pageant of Youth in San Francisco. Another granduncle, Martin Flavin, won the Pulitzer Prize for writing the Broadway playThe Criminal Code.
As a young actor at SI, Devine performed in many plays including Arsenic and Old Lace, Oklahoma and Margo and Me. “He was an inspiration for me,” said Ron Lagomarsino ’69, who directed the Tony-Award winning play Last Night of Ballyhoo. “He was the lead in several plays when I was a freshman, and he was wonderful and very funny. He was in the first play I ever saw, and he made me want to work in the theatre.”
The City of San Francisco publicly recognized Devine for his contribution to the school and to the city in 1987 when it awarded him a citation and issued a proclamation. One year later, he received another, and perhaps greater, distinction when Herb Caen waxed eloquently in his column about Devine’s production of My Fair Lady. “The best entertainment in our town last week was not in the usual haunts but at 37th and Rivera in the Sunset … where a wildly talented bunch of teenagers from that school did nightly performances of My Fair Lady at a level not far below professional. A lot of people in the audience were moved to observe that ‘There’s nothing wrong with the kids of today!’ which is certainly as true as most clichés. They may even be better than the kids of yesterday, despite the bad press they get so often. All I know is that the senior class at Sacramento High in 1932 never came close to putting on anything resembling the ambitious show at St. Ignatius last week.”
After graduating from SI, Devine continued to perform at USF while also majoring in English and theatre. He went on to study at the American Conservatory Theatre and later received his teaching credential. He has continued his drama studies at various workshops, including ones at ACT, Stanford, SCU and the Good Speed Opera House in Connecticut.
Devine joined the SI faculty in 1974 after working at Convent of the Sacred Heart and Mercy where he staged musicals featuring students from those schools acting alongside SI boys. Students in his program flourished, Devine noted, “because we did a number of shows every year and because we took what we did seriously. We respected students and the dignity of their work. I think that rubs off on them, and they learn to respect themselves as artists and as human beings.”
Those who worked with Devine feel the same way toward him. Faculty member Kevin Quattrin ’78, who oversees the backstage crew, got his start building sets for Devine back in the 1970s. “Peter’s approach to teaching has always been that the student comes first,” said Quattrin. “He teaches the person, not just the subject. Working with him in the theatre has taught me more about humanity and ministry than anything else in my life.”
Devine believes students create both spiritual and artistic communities in the two downstairs theatres at SI. For example, on the closing night of his spring musicals, the students gathered for an end-of-the-year Mass in the theatre. “The junior who had been in the program the longest led the seniors from the stage to the seats to mark the fact that they would never again walk those boards as actors. They were, from that point on, part of the audience at SI and had to find another theatre. The juniors, sophomores and freshmen then gave them their blessing.”
Thanks to foundations built by Devine and those who came before him, the theatre department continues to thrive under the leadership of Marc Bauman, who joined SI in 2000.
In 1977, Katie Wolf offered to develop a course of study in visual arts for SI students. Kate was a St. Rose graduate who had studied fine arts at Santa Clara University and had earned an MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute. She had acted in plays at SI and, later, assisted Peter Devine by designing sets. For nearly 30 years, she has developed curriculum and taught the creative process to thousands of young artists whose work has earned national honors.
“I had great visions of presenting a variety of art styles that would generate the students’ interest in the process of creativity,” she wrote in a Genesis II story. “Who wouldn’t get excited about works by Picasso, Matisse, Magritte, Miro and Munch? I remember presenting posters of abstract and non-objective paintings for class critique, hoping to stir up some insightful discussions on color, form, line quality and feeling. I was rather surprised when a student called upon had the following comment: ‘Miss Wolf, why is that art? My 8-year-old sister could paint something like that!’ I then realized I had some attitudes to change….”7
Since 1978, Wolf has taught several classes, including Art and Architecture, 3D Studies, Studio Art, Sacred Symbols, and Art and Nature, taking students on an inner journey to discover their own creativity and on hundreds of journeys beyond the school walls to see art firsthand in museums and buildings around the Bay Area.
In the 1990s she led a summer workshop for students who designed large-scale outdoor pieces that are on permanent display around the school. In the summer of 2003, she and a group of students were artists in residence at the NorCal Transfer Station near Candlestick Park where they transformed trash into works of art. In 1993 the San Francisco Unified School District honored her as the Outstanding Art Teacher of the Year and featured the work of SI students at the de Young Museum. St. Mary’s Cathedral also chose her to be its official fabric artist for San Francisco’s cathedral, and all the banners and in that building are her creations. Her work ranges from environmental fabric designs at St. Mary’s to stained-glass pieces, steel sculpture and Byzantine icons in intimate sacred spaces. She redesigned Jensen Chapel on the SI campus in 2003 when the school moved that facility from the second floor to the Student Activities Center, and her work incorporated her sense of the natural and the sacred.
Wolf is a working artist who continues her personal expression through printmaking, large format acrylic canvases, theatrical set design and the design and construction of wearable art. She also spent her 2003–2004 sabbatical year investigating ways sustainability and nature could enter into the artistic process. From her studies, she designed a new course that asks students to involve those concepts in their sculpture to experience “nature as master designer” and to help students “experience growth in awareness of the creative process.”
Nostalgia at the Prep
In the 1970s, a nostalgia fad swept America. The play Grease (and later the movie) was making the rounds, as was Sha Na Na, a ’50s revival band. Locally, Butch Whacks and the Glass Packs, formed in 1971 at St. Mary’s College, featured Class of 1968 members Bob Sarlatte and Craig Martin as well as John Buick III ’70 who died in 1989. SI students began forming their own music groups. In 1971, Gary and the Greasers made their debut with Jim McManus, Charlie Caldarola, Tom McManus, Kevin Bravo, Joe Caldarola and Steve Aveson. “To round out the group,” reported an Inside SI article, was “vocalist Carol Devincenzi. If there was ever a cross between Janis Joplin and Grace Slick, here she is.”8 (Devencenzi now teaches religious studies at SI.) In 1975 Johnny B. and the Speedshifters formed with members of the Class of ’75 that included Peter Radsliffe, Jim Lawrie, Tom Stone, John Bacchini, Julio Bandoni, John Agostini, Jean-Louis Casabonne, Jim Farrell and John Flynn. As a fun diversion, SI would occasionally hold “1950s Days” with students coming to school wearing slicked-back hair, rolled up cuffs and leather jackets.
The Blood Drive
Also in 1974, the school began a new tradition, one that continues to this day: the blood drive. From that year on, blood banks have visited SI to ask for volunteers from the student body, some of whom felt it served three purposes: getting out of class, munching on cookies and helping people in need.
The Nightmare of November 1978
Tragedy struck the Bay Area twice in nine days in November 1978, first with the Jonestown holocaust and then the slayings of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. On November 18, Jim Jones, the leader of the Peoples Temple, ordered more than 900 of his followers to drink punch laced with cyanide shortly after some of them assassinated U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan and four people traveling with him to investigate abuses at Jonestown in Guyana. Among those wounded in that attack was Tim Reiterman ’65, a reporter for theExaminer. As Reiterman accompanied Ryan and several Jonestown defectors to an airfield, a truckload of People’s Temple members drove up and approached the planes. “We suspected that they were there to prevent those defectors from leaving and telling their stories about what was really going on in Jonestown,” said Reiterman.
“As we were loading passengers on the larger of the two planes, some shots rang out and we had no time to do anything but react. I ran and dove trying to get my head behind one of the plane’s wheels.” A bullet hit Reiterman in his left arm and wrist and shrapnel entered his right shoulder. “People around me were being hit; there were screaming and rolling amidst a lot of confusion. I bounced up as fast as I could and sprinted for the tall grass around the airstrip. I dove in as soon as I was close enough and crawled into the jungle.” There he found a clump of trees where he could gather himself. He wrapped a belt around his arm to stop the bleeding and listened as the shooting subsided. Suddenly he heard several more shots. “I later learned that those were gunmen finishing off a number of the wounded.”
When the gunmen left, he returned to the planes and found among the dead Leo Ryan, Examiner photographer and close friend Greg Robinson, NBC cameraman Bob Brown, reporter Don Harris and one of the defectors. Of those who survived, 10 were wounded, including Ryan’s aide, Jackie Speier, who later became a state senator. Reiterman and most of the other survivors hid in a small rum shop that night along with some of the defectors. “We didn’t know if the gunmen would return, but the defectors told us that this would trigger mass suicides in Jonestown, which, in fact, happened.” Reiterman returned to the Bay Area, and in 1982, he and fellow reporter John Jacobs (now deceased) wrote Raven: The Untold Story of Reverend Jim Jones and His People. Reiterman has kept in contact with survivors and relatives of those who died and has written about the incident from time to time. He serves as a writer for the Los Angeles Times and teaches investigative reporting at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. (His daughter, Amanda is a member of the Class of 1998.)
Nine days later, tragedy struck again. On November 27 former Supervisor Dan White killed Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone ’47. The Mayor’s sons — Chris ’80 and Jonathon ’82 — were students at SI at the time. Matthew Bernstein ’81 was one of Chris’s friends. “I arrived to my fourth period French, and a minute later, Chris followed. He had not been seated more than a minute or two when Leo La Rocca entered the room and whispered in Anny Medina’s ear. He then asked Chris to leave with him. I believe they then went directly to the Dean’s office. About 10 minutes later, Fr. McCurdy announced through the loudspeakers that the Mayor had been fatally shot. I remember going to see Chris that evening at his house. Several of his classmates were also there. That weekend, we had a basketball game at Bishop O’Dowd. I vividly recall several of O’Dowd’s cheerleaders openly rooting for Chris when he entered the game. I also believe they gave him cards and balloons.”
A week later, Fr. McCurdy announced on the loudspeaker that the father of Marty Healy ’80, had been shot by a disgruntled coworker. “It was certainly a sad time for us,” added Bernstein. “I drove home with Chris that evening, and he was amazed that this tragedy could repeat itself so quickly. Whenever Fr. McCurdy made an announcement during the remainder of that year, many of us were quite tense not knowing what tragedy was to be announced. Happily, though, I believe none followed these two tragic events. Yet, it was a very sad week in our school's and city's history and one that I will never forget.”
Tim Crudo ’80 eulogized the Mayor in The 2001 that December. “Always in attendance at such social gatherings as the Communion Breakfasts, George Moscone especially loved to watch his son, Chris, play basketball. As a freshman, I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. Moscone. I had had many previous notions about what to expect, but I had all images except the right one: the father of a friend. Out of City Hall, he was no different from any other father…. At the last basketball game he was to see, he came up to me and began a conversation that lasted but a brief time. But during that time he managed to seem more concerned with my wellbeing than I thought possible. This encounter, though brief, was the highlight of my week. The mayor of a vast and wonderful city taking time out to talk to me, just a friend of his son’s.”
A Step Toward Coeducation
A few of the Catholic girls’ schools in 1969 started sending students to SI to take physics from Fr. Spohn during the first period of the school day. The first class consisted of 32 girls and eight boys who gathered at the school’s new campus. Mame Campbell Salin (Mercy ’72) was among 19 girls to take a class at the new SI in her senior year. (Mame’s SI connections include brothers Ron ’71 and Steve ’76 and sons Zach ’05 and Jared ’06.) Mame recalls walking down the halls as freshmen shot rubber bands at her legs. “Before coming to SI, I had this notion that the 20 of us would be treated like princesses by the thousand boys. I thought doors would open for us everywhere we went.” The freshmen, she added, “just wanted some attention. They weren’t angry that we were there; they were just a little uncomfortable around us. I never felt any resentment from the juniors or seniors about our being there.”
She was impressed both with the stadium seating that resembled a college classroom and with Fr. Spohn’s precise lessons. Her brother, Ron, had had Fr. Spohn the year before and had kept all his notes and tests. Mame was amazed that Fr. Spohn’s schedule her year was never more than a day away from the lessons her brother had. “I knew about the rocket experiment and told my friends what would happen,” she noted. “As a result, we didn’t ooh and ahh as much as Fr. Spohn expected us to.”
Like most Catholic high school students then, Mame never questioned the logic of single-sex high schools. But taking physics at SI surprised her because it was “a normal class, like any other. For the first time, I wondered why all my classes weren’t coed.”
In the 1960s and the first half of the 1970s, girls schools sent candidates to SI to compete to be Homecoming Queen. In the fall of 1973, Convent of the Sacred Heart decided not to send candidates to the three boys’ schools. “We felt as if it were a meat market,” said Lola Giusti, who was a senior at Convent then and who was originally selected to represent her school in the competition. Giusti was familiar with SI both because her father, Bob Giusti ’48, was a graduate and her brother, Bob ’76, was a sophomore. She also studied physics with Fr. Spohn in the mornings. She met with several teachers and seniors to tell them that Convent would no longer participate. “Some students reacted with incredulity, others with derision and still others with quiet respect.”
Giusti had a fondness for SI, but also wanted the school “to be better for those who followed. SI could be a harsh place, with whistles and derogatory comments as I walked from my car to class.” She even found herself parodied on the cover of the December 1973 Inside SI for her involvement in Convent’s withdrawal from the contest.
In September 1975, the administration ended that contest because of the reaction from Convent and partly because “the contest is a humiliating experience for the girls involved,” said Chuck Murphy, then the assistant principal for student activities.”9
Giusti, whose children are Mia Kosmas ’04 and Matthew Kosmas ’07, is pleased the school has come so far. “My daughter, who was a part of the dance and drill team as a freshman, asked one priest why SI didn’t have cheerleaders. The priest told her that the school doesn’t have cheerleaders for the same reason we no longer have homecoming queens — it’s not keeping within the school’s mission.”
Now a professor at UOP’s dental school in San Francisco, Giusti has carried on the legacy of Fr. Spohn by teaching several SI grads, including Catherine and Michael Vista, Kevin Growney and Claire Roberts. “Because I had such an inspirational mentor in Fr. Spohn, I am able to give back to the SI community as well as to my profession.”
Women at SI & the Coed Issue
The move represented a shift in attitude toward women at SI. Not surprisingly, that attitude changed along with the demographics of the faculty. In 1973, Anny Medina joined the faculty as a Spanish and French teacher, and in 1976, Carolyn Rocca came as a part-time Italian teacher. In 1978, three more women joined the faculty and staff: Julia Maionchi (Italian), Katie Robinson (counseling) and Katie Wolf (studio art).
In 1979, Mary Husung McCarty joined the faculty as a Latin teacher. She did not find it strange teaching at an all-male school, as she was the only woman in her graduate program and had taught three years at an all-boys school. She recalls that “a few kids developed crushes, as they definitely weren’t used to having a young, female, single teacher, but I was used to dealing with boys, so it didn’t rattle me much.” She did receive a few love letters and one boy hung around the classroom and left notes on her car. “I much prefer teaching at a coed school,” said McCarty. “It’s more normal to have girls and boys in the same room, and they are more fun to teach together.”
While SI would not admit girls until 1989, students and faculty discussed the possibility of coeducation throughout the 1970s. The April 27, 1971, Inside SI ran a column entitled “Girls at SI?” and the December 16, 1976, issue of The 2001 ran a story by Phil Bennett ’77 (now the managing editor of The Washington Post)with this headline: “The Question Remains: Coeducation?” Several faculty offered their reflections, including Charlie Dullea, who noted that “coeducation would be a logical step in the progress of the school in light of the recent changes under the stimulus of the Preamble. Women are certainly a part of the community we are tasked to serve.”
Others disagreed, including math teacher Col. Vern Gilbert, who feared that going coed would dilute the sports program. SI Chaplain Gordon Bennett, SJ (now the bishop of the Diocese of Mandeville in Jamaica), noted that he had spent two years researching the subject and found no conclusive evidence regarding whether coed or single sex schools worked better. “I personally favor coeducation at SI for reasons that are particular to the city of San Francisco. I am also convinced that, because of the lack of direct evidence, that SI will not become coeducational until financial circumstances indicate that the school must change or face oblivion….”
In 1972, SI instituted the President’s Award, given each year at graduation “to a non-alumnus who has distinguished himself in some special manner in civic life and has aided St. Ignatius College Preparatory in realizing its goals and objectives.” The first recipient was Benjamin H. Swig who was honored as an “outstanding humanitarian, civic leader, hotelier, philanthropist and ecumenist.” The inscription read “Pace tanti viri” — “With due respect to so great a man.” Over the years, SI has given the award to a host of individuals, some who have served the school and others the greater community. The full list of winners appears in the appendix.10
SI launched a new program on March 2, 1978, with the first Career Day, sponsored by the counseling department. More than 40 people — many of them alumni — representing 25 professions came to SI to speak to juniors. “Some students were discouraged by the prospect of eight or 10 more years of schooling required for certain professions, but most felt the requirements were realistic,” wrote English teacher Bob Grady and counselor Andy Dworak in the March 1978 edition of Genesis. The program continues under the direction of counselor Michael Thomas ’71 and is held every other year. In March 2003, 74 people came to speak at SI, 22 of whom were SI grads.
Night Classes for Parents
SI President Russell Roide, SJ, took seriously the job of communicating the Jesuit mission and vision to the broader community. He instituted a series of adult faith formation classes in the evenings for SI parents, taught by priests on the faculty. He also supported the Sunday Evening Liturgy and encouraged students to attend the Friday Morning Liturgies. Under his administration, the job of bringing Vatican II to life became more fully realized.
125-Year Celebration & Community Service
In 1979, SI celebrated its 125-year anniversary with the coming of a new president, Fr. Anthony P. Sauer, SJ, who had taught at SI in the 1960s and early in the 1970s. In a report to the Board of Regents in his first year in office, Fr. Sauer noted that “our sense of community is strong at SI, but good feelings alone will not ensure excellence. If SI is to be more than a pleasant cocoon, if it is to have a lasting impact, and if it is to live up to its ideals of excellence and service, then it requires a rigorous commitment to high academic standards and to high moral and religious principles…. One of my highest priorities, therefore is a renewal of SI’s commitment to the Jesuit tradition of educating the leaders of society who will go forth to serve.”
He referred to the jubilee year by noting that “125 years ago, the wisdom and wealth of generous benefactors and the dedication of the Society of Jesus working with an equally devoted lay faculty built this Eucharistic haven by the Bay. Let us commit ourselves this afternoon to carry on the work so nobly begun in 1855 as we move into a new era for St. Ignatius College Preparatory in the City of San Francisco.”
To give flesh to those words, SI used the 125th anniversary to launch the Community Service Program (later renamed the Christian Service Program). In order to graduate, students, starting with the Class of 1981, would need to perform 100 hours of service “for those members of our human community who are disadvantaged by poverty, old age, poor health, discrimination or physical and mental handicaps,” wrote Art Cecchin ’63, SI’s first CSP director. This new requirement became an extension of the work done in past decades by the Sodalities, SI Outbound and the CLCs at the Little Sisters of the Poor, Laguna Honda Hospital and Helpers’ Home. Cecchin believed that “through the performance of service, the student gains a first-hand experiential knowledge of the inequities and injustices in society. Through [reflecting on these injustices] the student can contemplate and discuss the reasons for the existence of these injustices and is challenged to understand that Christ calls each of us to be a man for others.”11
SI commemorated the 125th anniversary in other ways. Fr. Sauer, Fr. Largan, Board of Regents Chairman Gene Lynch, Finance Chairman Hugh O’Donnell and senior class president Timothy P. Crudo ’80, along with San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein, unveiled a plaque at The Emporium on Market Street, the site of the first school. (The 1955 plaque, placed on the Emporium façade for the centennial, was affixed to the new plaque.) The plaque, which will appear on the side of the new Bloomingdales when it opens, bears these words: “The original St. Ignatius College has developed into both the University of San Francisco and St. Ignatius College Preparatory. Placed in honor of their 125th year by both senior classes of 1980. October 15, 1979.” Bartley S. Durant, chairman of the Emporium, accepted the award on the behalf of the store, and Dr. Albert Shumate, a director of the California Society of Pioneers, spoke on the history of SI. Fr. Sauer also spoke on the importance of religion in the founding of educational institutions.
A month later, on November 13, SI held a grand celebration at Bimbo’s 365 Club with Harry James and his Big Band, featuring singer Phil Harris, organized by Ursula Marsten and Wolfgang Fliess. At the event, Fr. Carlin received the Key to the City, a plaque from the California Legislature, a proclamation from the Mayor’s Office and the Citizen of the Day Award from radio station KABL.
Michael Thomas ’71
I spent two years at the old school and two years at the new school. We loved the half-day sessions in our first year at the new school. We started at 8:10 a.m. and ended at 12:10 p.m. with no lunch or recess. After we left, work could continue on the school. When we had basketball practice, we would hop in Leo La Rocca’s car and drive to Glen Park to practice there because SI’s gym wasn’t finished.
Fr. McFadden didn’t talk to me until I was a senior, and Br. Draper commanded respect from the first. We had an elevator at the new school, and in the very early days, students were never allowed to use it. To be on that elevator was a privileged experience. My buddy Mark Stahl and I were there after hours, and somehow we managed to get on the elevator. In typical 16-year-old fashion, we kept telling ourselves, “This is so great!” Then the elevator opened at the third floor, and we saw Fr. Spohn standing there. We hit the “close door” button and hightailed it out of there as soon as we got off on the first floor.
Fr. Francis Stiegeler, SJ ’61
(Fr. Stiegeler taught English and coached soccer at SI between 1973 and 1975 before returning to teach in the 1990s. He has taught at all five schools in the California Province.)
When I came back to SI, I found that it still had the same spirit as when I was a student. You still asked what parish the students came from. I was here with nine young Jesuits, and I recall Fr. Curtis Bryant, SJ, coming to SI wearing a mustache. He wasn’t going to shave it off, and that opened the door for the rest of us to wear one.
I don’t see much difference now that we are coed. Possibly the boys are more subdued. When SI was all boys, the school was like a living organism that rolls through the doors each morning. The student body had great camaraderie, with boys patting each other on the back and punching each other on the shoulders like a bunch of pups.
Arthur Cecchin ’63
(Art Cecchin came to SI in 1973 and has served as tennis coach, director of scheduling, director of community service and chairman of the social science department.)
Fr. Richard McCurdy, SJ, asked me to facilitate the Colloquium on the Ministry of Teaching for eight years. In that program, new teachers from SI met new teachers from other province schools and learned about Ignatian education. He took SI to a new philosophical level with the Preamble and the Jesuit Secondary Education Association.
Peter Schwab ’71
There was a certain amount of traditional lawlessness at the old school, with food fights and senior sneaks. When we came to the new school, we found it well lit with carpets and an administration that tried to create a professional atmosphere by coming down a little harder on us when we tried to stretch the rules. The day before our first senior sneak, we heard from the administration if we didn’t come to class, we would be suspended and lose our prom. We had a meeting in Room 214 with most of the seniors (it was a double room), and one person said that his girlfriend would kill him if he didn’t take her to the prom. Another student quoted the Third Rule of Mao. We called them on their bluff and had our sneak anyway. About 150 of us met at The Circle at 7:30 a.m. and drove in a car parade up 37th Avenue to Santiago. There, we got out of the cars and marched to school singing “We Shall Overcome” and the fight song. We all violated the dress code as much as we could, with most of us wearing shorts. We got to school just as the first bell sounded. Then the announcement came that we had 20 minutes to be appropriately attired. Some guys changed and ran to class and others returned to the Circle and then went to the beach. Eventually, 40 seniors were suspended and had to write out Macbeth in order to return to school.
Gary Brickley ’71
During the rocket demonstration in Fr. Spohn’s class, he was so focused on one aspect of the experiment that he didn’t notice that, at the last second, someone had snipped the string and the rocket flew out the window. He never found out who did it.
By Alfred Pace ’74
My First Day
In order to attend SI, it was necessary for me to take a series of buses and the L Taraval from Forest Hill Station. Upon arriving at Forest Hill Station, I was confused about which direction and which car I should take. Within moments, I observed several students wearing red and blue SI jackets … clearly juniors or seniors. Thus it was that I got onto that car, presuming we would arrive at SI in short order. Wrong. The students had just completed photo day and were going downtown. I found myself on Market Street “dazed and confused.” A Muni driver provided the correct info and I took the L back to the Forest Hill Station Tunnel. At that point, I was told we had to disembark as the car was no longer “in service.” As the time was now approaching 9 a.m., I decided to run from the station to SI, a distance of about 28 city blocks.
Of course, this resulted in my first encounter with J.B. Murphy and Br. Draper, whose quote rings in my head to this day: “Mr. Pace, this is not the way to begin your 4-year career at St. Ignatius Prep. JUG for five days.” But because of that lengthy run (my first, ever), I decided to go out for the cross country team.
Hair & Grooming Regulations
From time to time during the 4th and 5th period lunch breaks, the doors of Carlin Commons would abruptly and simultaneously close, virtually trapping the students inside with the teachers and faculty standing guard. Swiftly, Br. Draper would enter, black book in hand and with an air of élan, plug in a microphone and announce, “Gentlemen, this is a grooming inspection!” Brother would then make the rounds, entering into his black book those students whose hair was too long and those who were showing the first signs of facial hair. Of course, this became a bit of an event and a number of students would begin to chant the names of those they thought warranted the attention of Br. Draper.
Such it was one day the doors of Carlin Commons closed and the faculty stood guard. It was not long before some students began to chant “Pace, Pace, Pace!” Brother wandered over and suggested, “Get a haircut by Monday.”
I failed to get the haircut. Monday arrived and at the end of second period, Br. Draper made his usual intercom announcements of the day and then asked those who had been asked to get a haircut or shave to come down to his office. Yikes!
Upon arrival, Brother correctly observed that I had not complied with his request. Accordingly, he asked me to enter his office and sit down, at which time he proceeded to cut off a portion of my dangling locks. Frankly, this is an area where Brother has little talent. The result was a clearly lopsided, partial haircut. Brother then said, “Mr. Pace, I suggest you get the rest done by a professional.”
I also remember the following miscellaneous events: Aldo Congi ’72 and the SI Juke Box dancing to “Rock around the Clock” during lunch in Carlin Commons; Mark (now Father) Taheny ’74 climbing the exterior corner of the gymnasium, using only his hands and feet; Stan Raggio ’73, several other students and I in Stan’s yellow Plymouth hemi-head Duster listening to Led Zeppelin's “Whole Lotta Love” blaring out of the 8-track; the Circle; races at Brotherhood Way; my first fistfight on the second floor of the school building; and Mr. Kennedy’s biology class where we launched a boat and deployed a seine net in Middle Lake at Golden Gate Park. The police arrived shortly thereafter urging us to bring the boat and net ashore.
Dan Tracey ’77
Fr. Gordon Bennett, SJ, our chaplain, was young and approachable and got along with kids. Mike Silvestri helped me out after school with math problems I didn’t understand in class. We played Riordan on Halloween night in 1975, and I recall Coach Haskell saying the SH and Riordan games were special because players from those teams would be our buddies after graduation. We beat Riordan 27–0 that night. The day before, Bob Drucker had predicted the score and had written it on the chalkboard in the coach’s room.
Kevin Quattrin ’78
I recall trying out for frosh football with 130 kids playing for Fran Stiegeler and Steve Nejasmich, our line coach. He figured out who the best five offensive linemen were and prepared them for the first game. Then Brad Carter, who played left guard, pulled a hamstring in the warm-ups before our first game at Bellarmine. They put in the next guy in line, who had almost no practice time and knew none of the plays. I always made sure as a coach not to do that.
Peter Devine’s English class was very engaging and humorous. There was a playfulness between students and teachers that didn’t exist in grammar school with nuns.
One year, my classmate Brian Duddy died in a car accident. I had been to funerals for old people, but that was my first experience of mortality for people my age. Our whole class went to the funeral. I remember not being able to sleep that night, thinking what a waste and asking why did these things happen.
Ugo Pignati ’69
One of my most memorable experiences at SI occurred after I graduated in 1969, the last class to graduate from the Stanyan Street campus (we had been promised to be the first class to graduate out of the new SI, but the new school wasn’t yet completed). I had come to SI in 1967 for junior year, having arrived from Italy in 1963. Being Italian, I loved playing soccer, and in senior year was on the varsity and made All-WCAL. That year, our team won the first WCAL Soccer Championship in SI history After I graduated, soccer coach Luis Sagastume asked me to return to SI and coach the junior varsity. I jumped at the chance and agreed to take on the JV team. The first thing I did was to try to put together some uniforms for the team. The shirts my team had worn the previous year had been bought by Coach Sagastume in Mexico, and we were lucky to inherit these. (The soccer jackets we wore as seniors were hand-me-downs from the basketball team). The problem was finding the shorts, since there was really no budget for the JVs. I had been given a few hundred dollars as “salary” so I went to a store on Taraval Street, used my money to buy blue shorts for the team, and had the SI soccer logo put on them. Despite our “mix and match” uniforms from two countries, the JVs played quite well, and I was very proud to lead the Class of 1970 team to the first-ever WCAL JV soccer championship in SI history.
Anne Phipps, Ignatian Guild President 1980–81
I served as chairman of the February 24, 1979, fashion show, which offered a New Orleans theme, and for that show we offered cookbooks as favors and featured, for the first time, Jesuits as models. We had a Dixieland band from the Fairmont Hotel featuring Jimmy Diamond playing individual songs for each Jesuit. For Fr. Carlin, we played “I’m Just Wild About Harry,” and Mr. Kevin Dilworth, SJ, a youngish scholastic, strolled down the runway to “You Make Me Feel So Young.” Everyone seemed to love the show, and more than 700 attended. The show was a labor of love, and it was so gratifying to be involved in such a successful event.
I also helped to re-establish links between the Loyola and Ignatian Guilds and worked on the rummage sale with them in the Hall of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, selling items donated by SI families, local businesses and organizations and members of the Loyola Guild. A highlight for our generous Loyola Guild team was a “fashion show” at USF for fun, using rummage clothes.
For all Ignatian Guild events, I encouraged the participation of women who reflected the diversity of the SI community and of San Francisco. I was also privileged to have introduced to the Guild the establishment of the Dorothy Leonardini Scholarship to honor our first president and to assist needy students.
Peter Devine ’66
When I first started teaching at SI in 1974, the English Department had gone through a major revamping. Fr. Becker and others were still doing the old curriculum, but the young faculty were doing the Moffet system. Students only wrote when moved to write. They read no literature not written in their lifetime (meaning 1950 on). The Catcher in the Rye was part of that curriculum, but we were not allowed to read or teach it.
The faculty did not teach grammar. Students learned it by writing, by discovering their mistakes and by wanting to correct them out of their “natural curiosity.” We had senior electives such as Cowboy Literature, Science Fiction and Fantasy and Film Literature. Fr. Becker, in revolt, took his old courses and renamed them. “Mindbending” was his senior elective, because Shakespeare and the other British writers bent your mind to great thoughts; “Pretzels” was his junior course in American Literature (American thought was like a pretzel, heavily salted, going in circles).
By 1977, when SAT scores had declined, Principal McCurdy asked the department to bring back a more traditional approach in the lower division with more emphasis on grammar and writing. Upper division electives were maintained but tightened. We adopted Sir Francis Drake High School’s Writing Project (pioneered by Cap Lavin ’48), adopted minimum proficiency standards for grammar and writing, and standardized the reading list to include both modern and classic works. We instituted standard department exams, emphasized literary terms from the Oregon Curriculum series and taught grammar and writing terms from the Warriner’s Grammar series.
Fr. McCurdy introduced teacher evaluations, and not every teacher was happy about this. However, the exam results, the evaluations and the school-wide writing exam led to many refinements of the curriculum. These changes continued in the late 1970s with the introduction of the Bay Area Writers’ Project that started at UC Berkeley. The department began offering the Advanced Placement English test in the spring of 1978 and taught its first AP English course in 1979. Some members of the department resisted “pulling out the bright lights” from the regular classes, since mainstreaming was big at that time; however, parents and the principal wanted an AP program for seniors. We had two sections, each with 45 students. At that time, we only had one lower division honors class sophomore year and no frosh or junior honors classes. We finally did institute a junior honors class and found that the SAT scores went back up.