The best thing about SI are the people who make up the SI Family – students, parents, teachers, counselors, staff, coaches, alumni and administrators. We tell their stories on SITV, in Genesis magazine, on the pages of Inside SI and the Ignatian yearbook and in a hundred other venues. Get to know them, and you'll get to know the mission that SI pursues, the traditions that keep us rooted in our values and the vision for the future that is rooted in our faith.
Read below to learn more about who we are.
Our Teachers, Coaches & Staff
Barbara Talavan has shaped SI’s Summer Programs for 17 years, the first seven as assistant program director and the past decade as its director.
After she announced that the past summer would be her last in the program, the school named Bill Gotch as her replacement. Currently dean of students along with Michelle Levine, Gotch is an experienced coach and educator. He inherits a robust and successful program, he noted, “thanks to Barbara.”
He praised her organization and creativity, noting that “she has been generous to me about sharing both the details of her organization and her passion for serving families who need great summer programs. You name it, she has been gracious helping me with contacts and curriculum.”
He also praised her for “being present to teachers and the families of those in the summer school classes and camps year-round. As I have spoken with teachers, coaches and camp directors, I have heard them sing her praises. She supported them tremendously, and it will be a challenge for me to maintain her level of care.” (Read more …)
Jennifer Roy and Karen Dana have given massages to members of the city’s homeless community thanks to training they received from the Care Through Touch Institute.
Most of us follow unspoken rules when we see homeless people on the street: We avoid eye-contact, we never give money, and we avoid touching people who may smell or have dirty and torn clothing.
Karen Dana, the mother of Alison Dana ’09, and Jennifer Roy, who works in SI’s Campus Ministry office organizing senior and sophomore retreats, break these rules on a regular basis by volunteering to massage homeless men and women, easing knots in sore backs and shoulders and rubbing tired and calloused feet.
They received training to do this from San Francisco’s Care Through Touch Institute (CTI), an organization founded by Mary Ann Finch in 1983. (Read more …)
Justin Christensen was humbled when the California League of High Schools named him one of nine Educators of the Year for District 4.
He was even more moved when he heard what his students had to say about him during an interview for this piece.
Students offered a wave of praise for a man who has introduced innovative ways to teach AP Government. (Read more …)
When SI counselor Brice Campoverdi came to SI from Archbishop Mitty High School in 2007, she brought with her Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society’s signature fund-raiser.
She also brought a history of serving as a caregiver for a colleague who survived a brain tumor. She also carries the memory of two aunts, one who had recently fallen victim to leukemia.
Campoverdi had been an organizer for Mitty’s Relay for Life, which asks those affected by cancer, either as patients, survivors or family members, to walk around a track in shifts for 24 hours and raise funds from sponsors. (Read more …)
Meredith Cecchin Galvin ’97 celebrated with Kevin Quattrin ’78 and his daughter, Joanna ’14, one of the dancers in Kevin’s last show.
Kevin Quattrin ’78, at the end of the 20-year anniversary Dance Concert in January, retired from SI’s theatre department after 34 years of managing the stage and lighting crews for 109 different productions.
A talented teacher who has chaired the math department, authored texts and earned a doctoral degree, Quattrin will continue teaching and analyzing the school’s statistical data.
While his statistics as the backstage guru are impressive, one story best captures the impact he had on the SI theatre program. (Read more …)
From left, Michelle Nevin Levine, Bill Gotch and Katie Drucker Kohmann continue the traditions of past deans, and they meet challenges brought on by 21st century dangers, including the potential abuses of social media.
When most SI grads from the 1960s or 1970s reminisce about the times they got into trouble, they probably picture themselves receiving detention for drinking beer or smoking cigarettes at the Circle.
Michelle Levine and Bill Gotch, who have served as deans of discipline since 2008, face a different disciplinary landscape than in past years given the greater prevalence of social media and new technologies.
Just like the deans of past years, they are meeting those challenges head-on both with a flexible set of rules and a partnership with the greater school community. They also practice the same cura personalis – care for the whole person – that has guided the deans’ office for decades. (Read more …)
Shannon Vanderpol (in green) with her students. Below: Top row, from right, is Shannon Vanderpol; third from right is Anna Kegulski ’09, who nominated Vanderpol for the award. The photo was taken in a Katrina-damaged home in New Orleans that the SI immersion group renovated.
Shannon Vanderpol, who teaches religious studies and works in campus ministry, was named a Symetra Hero in the Classroom (presented by Wells Fargo and the San Francisco 49ers), and received a surprise visit Aug. 30, 2012, when Tyson Lamp, a sales executive for the team, presented her with a series of gifts and the school with a $1,000 check. (She plans to donate the money to the financial aid fund for SI’s Immersion Program.)
Vanderpol was also honored, along with one other teacher, during the halftime show of the 49ers-Lions game on Sept. 16, when she received a jersey and ball signed by the team. She also received a $250 gift card for Office Max and two VIP field passes for the game. (Read more …)
Grace Curcio (center, in red) with one of her Latin classes at SI.
The California League of High Schools named SI Latin teacher Grace Curcio Educator of the Year for District 4 on Nov. 8, 2012.
Curcio received her award (as well as a plaque, a gift basket and an iPad mini) after a nomination by SI Principal Patrick Ruff, who called Curcio “simply one of the brightest, most creative and dedicated teachers I have been blessed to work with. Grace’s excellence not only brings great benefit upon her students, but her contributions to her colleagues and the school continued to make all of us better.”
In his letter of nomination, he cited Curcio’s “infectious, inspiring and enthusiastic passion for Latin. Not surprisingly, Grace’s students absolutely love coming to her class.”
Ruff also praised her work as a department chair, a job where she “created and sustained a department culture that respects all viewpoints; she consistently models effective interpersonal skills with her colleagues, always communicating in a gentle yet direct manner.” (Read more …)
Chinese language teachers at SI include Leona Pappas (center) and Irene Wong (second from right). Ashley Miao ’16 (right) and Mattew Wu ’17 (left) have helped acclimate four college students from China (one of whom is pictured second from left), who spent 10 days at SI in January.
Irene Wong and Leona Pappas, the two Mandarin teachers at SI, have inspired students for years because they have refused to teach the way they were taught.
Both are also ushering in changes to the Chinese language program, with SI students hosting college students from China and with a China trip planned for this summer.
Born in Taiwan, Wong first came to the U.S. in 1996. “Working as a teacher was the last thing I wanted to do,” she said. “The old Chinese way of teaching made me hate teachers, especially given all the work they gave us.”
In her last year of graduate school, Wong worked at City College of San Francisco as a teaching assistant. There she discovered new methods of teaching that fascinated her. She honed her skills at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, where she learned to integrate technology into the study of Mandarin. (Read more …)
Adrian O’Keefe teaches an astronomy class from his home in Mobile, Ala.,using a robotic device called The Double, as well as video-conferencing technology.
Adrian O’Keefe still finds himself amazed when he peers through a telescope and sees the rings around Saturn and the bands around Jupiter, especially as he knows he is viewing these planets in real time across the vastness of space.
That experience is a good metaphor for a new online course he is piloting from his home in Mobile, Ala., where he teaches students sitting in SI’s Beta Lab, looking at them in real time even though they are 2,300 miles away. (Read more …)
Don Gamble, Vanessa Barnard ’17 and Adeeb Shihadeh ’18 at the FRC competition. Left: The arena where #5924 competed for the first time. Below inset: Club president Alex Jarnutowski ’16 (right) and Patrick Oven ’17.
The new SI Robotics Team was barely three months old when it shocked its peers by winning the Rookie All-Star Award at its inaugural competition March 25 and 26 at UC Davis, making it to the semifinals and earning the right to compete in the world championships in St. Louis in late April.
Of 65 teams, the SI entry — which went both by its official team number (5924) and by the title “The Cat Machine” — competed in the playoff elimination rounds with the top 24 teams and was chosen by a top-seeded alliance at the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition. By the end of the knockout rounds, SI lost to a team that included the defending world champion.
SI finished seventh in Overall Power Ratings, which is a ranking based on an algorithm devised by FIRST to determine the total performance of a robot. (Read more …)
Chad Zullinger in Studio 2001.
Gabe Todaro ’12 helped set up Studio 2001.
Listen to SI singers and instrumentalists on SI’s Soundcloud channel, and you will be shocked in equal measure by two factors. First, these students are enormously talented; secondly, they sound great.
The second part is due in large measure to SI’s new recording studio in the Doris Duke Wall Choral Room. A collaboration between Choral Music Director Chad Zullinger and Gabe Todaro ’12, the facility rivals most professional recording studios with top-of-the-line pre-amps, microphones and digital audio software.
The beauty of the system is that it weds old-school tube pre-amps with the best in digital recording. Rather than spending $50,000 on a mixing board, for instance, both men opted for a high-end software package (Logic Pro X) for producing audio.
The tube-based pre-amps and microphones (from brands such as Universal Audio, DBX Neumann, AKG, and Royer) blend through a digital-to-analog workstation to deliver sound that is both clean and warm, making recordings from students sound just as good as they do in person. (Read more …)
For the past eight years, Amy Harms has given herself to building one of the most prestigious girls’ lacrosse programs in the country. Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. Harms was selected by the California Coaches’ Association as the Northern California Girls’ Lacrosse Coach of the year.
“She is successful because she invests so much into us both on and off the field,” said Alex Robertson ’14, one of four senior captains.
Harms came to SI from her alma mater, St. Mary’s College, where she played lacrosse just two years. “When I was hired as the SI head coach, I realized just how much I had to learn. That first year was tough. Fortunately, the girls were fantastic, and I had some great athletes.” (Read more …)
Last fall, in her first months working for SI, field hockey coach Haley Sanchez led her team to a 14–0 season and took her girls to CCS play for the first time since 1998.
Along the way, she helped Jackie Ocaña ’15 earn Goalkeeper of the Year honors and Clare Connolly ’14 receive the Blossom Valley League’s MVP Award.
She also won something for herself, earning Coach of the Year while moving her squad up the league ladder from D2 to D1 play. Next year, the Wildcats will face even tougher opponents, including St. Francis and Mitty. (Read more …)
by Anne Stricherz
Genesis Sports Editor
In the era of increased specialization in youth sports, a three-sport athlete is nearly an artifact. While a few two-sport athletes remain, the majority of high school students commit to one sport in order to compete on a varsity squad. High school coaches follow this trend, too.
Then there’s Kareem Guilbeaux ’01.
The community outreach associate for the SI admissions office, Guilbeaux played three different sports as a student at SI, and he is now one of a handful of folks who coaches multiple sports for the Wildcats. He switched last year from head JV boys’ basketball coach to serve as the assistant coach for the varsity team. As soon as that season winds down, he’s back on the same court, this time as head coach of the varsity boys’ volleyball squad.
Coaching basketball and volleyball makes him a better coach, he noted, “because each sport asks me to find different ways to support and relate to kids. My coaching philosophy is rooted in the belief that it’s not what you know that matters; it’s how you communicate that information to kids. Good coaches can do just that.” (Read more …)
SI Trainer Marla Bottner.
Dylan Elder ’15 doing rehab for his hip.
by Anne Stricherz
Genesis Sports Editor
No one embodies cura personalis — care for the whole person —quite like 25-year-veteran athletic trainer Marla Bottner.
Jesuit schools have adopted this Latin phrase, one that points to the need to care for all aspects of each individual. Even though Bottner cares for injuries, she doesn’t limit herself to the physical when helping athletes in her care.
When former athletic director Leo La Rocca ’53 hired Bottner, her position was part time. “Leo made athletic training a priority for the school,” said Bottner, who now works full time, evolving her role as SI and other schools have shifted in their thinking regarding the job of a trainer. “Sports medicine was in a different place when I was first hired,” said Bottner.
One notable change in high school athletics is concussion awareness, education and rehabilitation. For the last two years, the football team has played with sensors in their helmets to inform trainers and coaches if an athlete was hit hard enough to warrant examination. “Concussion education and tools to help trainers and coaches are constantly evolving,” Bottner said. “We might have a whole new system of concussion protocol next year.” She also helped with last year’s Brain Summit, which offered information to the SI community regarding head trauma, including concussions. (Read more …)
Coach Derek Johnson (right) offers religious medals as a way of inspiring his players. Photo by Paul Ghiglieri.
by Anne Stricherz
Genesis Sports Editor
Before coming to SI in 2011 to coach JV softball, Derek Johnson tried to retire from a sport he has coached for nearly 16 years.
He told himself that he was done with youth sports but relented thanks to the persistence of former SI varsity softball coach Paul Webb, who turned the varsity program over to Johnson in 2013.
“Paul set a new standard, one that extended pride in the program throughout the school,” said Johnson. “I hoped to carry on that tradition.”
When SI Athletic Director John Mulkerrins asked Johnson if he would feel comfortable praying with the team, Johnson knew he could and realized then “that I was given an invitation to be a part of something very special.” He takes prayer to heart in his pre-game and post-game rituals and in the way he conducts his practices.
Several years ago, he also created a new tradition in the Medal Game that takes place during Holy Week every spring as it wasn’t feasible for the team to practice during Easter break. He gave each player a religious medal to show his gratitude for the way they started the first half of the season and to extend a token of his appreciation to the team. (Read more …)
By Claire Dworsky ’18
I never thought I stood a chance of being admitted to the first gathering of high school students at Yale University’s new Beijing campus. I had found the Yale Young Global Scholars program, and it sounded amazing: a group of high school students from all over the world who would study with Yale professors. I filled out the app and said a prayer. I’m not a 4.0 student, but I work hard.
That prayer was answered, and then the hard work began: stacks of reading to prepare for seminars on “Asymmetric War and Nonstate Actors,” “Comparative International Law of Surveillance,” “The Unbalanced Economies of China and the U.S.,” “U.S.-China Cybersecurity Issues” and “Three-D Printing of Human Organs.” In addition to getting my SI homework done and playing varsity soccer, I was up past midnight every night for weeks getting the reading done. But then everything fell apart.
In a tough game against Valley Christian on Jan. 23, I smashed into another player and tore my MCL. (More importantly, we won. Go ’Cats!) Thankfully, an MRI revealed that I could travel by wearing a brace and by using crutches. (Read more …)
Sophomores Peyton Hansen and Ava Mar (both Class of 2018) are, respectively, president and vice president of the WE Day Club at SI.
You would think that the 11 SI students who traveled to LA for the April 7 WE Day would have said their trip’s highlight was meeting famed Glee and Broadway actor Darren Criss ’05.
They did convince him to come over and take photos with them and loved chatting about his days at SI.
What they loved even more, though, was being at The Forum in Inglewood with tens of thousands of fellow California teens to celebrate a culture of doing good both locally and globally.
SI’s WE Day Club with its 109 members is one of the largest clubs at SI thanks to the appeal of the WE Day organization, which asks students around the U.S. and Canada to commit to do something regarding education, clean water, health, food security and alternative income — which organizers refer to as the five pillars. (Read more …)
Last year, the Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco honored Aidan Banfield ’18 with an award for his many hours volunteering at the organization’s newly opened Don Fisher Clubhouse, located near City Hall.
Banfield worked with children ages 6 to 11, most of whom live in most of whom live in under-resourced communities nearby, reading and playing baseball with them. (Read more …)
Most SI students look back on their primary schools and recall the good times they had. Grace Pating ’18 remembers the shootings.
A student at Rosa Parks Elementary School on O’Farrell Street near Webster, Pating had two classmates who lost one parent each to gun violence.
“That was eye-opening for me,” she said. “Killings like these are tragic no matter where or when they happen, but those crimes shook me.”
They also led her to do something to address the issue. Her aunt, Sandra Fewer, a former member of the city’s Board of Education, first suggested she join the Youth Commission, and after several rounds of interviews, Mayor Ed Lee appointed her as a member last September.
Thus far, she and her fellow commissioners are working to help the children of men and women who are in prison or in jail. Older teens whose parents are in jail often have to live on their own and drop out of school to support themselves. (Read more …)
Angela Yang ’18 has the distinction of being the only member of her class — and most likely the entire school — of being the author of four novels, one of which was published in China. She is far from done, as she has two more novels due out by the end of the year.
If her plans come to fruition, she won’t be the only person passionate about writing, as she will be starting a club in the fall to help students both write their own work and to help primary school students do the same. “We’ll focus on schools that lack resources,” said Yang.
When she isn’t writing novels, she is penning a column for a literary magazine in China that sells 200,000 copies each month to teens and pre-teens.
She started her career after a fourth-grade teacher asked Yang to write about her travels to China. That first work became The Way Through and told the story of a girl named Jessica, whose Chinese-American parents have returned to China for work. “Jessica had to adapt to a new culture even though she doesn’t speak Chinese,” said Yang. “But she does come to accept her roots and heritage.” Yang, a talented artist, created the cover art for that book and for all of the subsequent novels. (Read more here …)
When the 5M Project is built around 5th and Mission Streets in the next few years, it will include nearly 50,000 square feet of open space. With luck, part of that area will have been designed by Erik Connell ’18 and his team of seven fellow high school students.
Last June 8 through 26, Connell took part in the Build San Francisco Summer Design Institute, a program aimed at helping high school students learn about architecture, design and urban development.
At the program’s headquarters in the Chronicle Building, set on the edge of the 5M Project, Connell and his colleagues learned 3D modeling through programs such as AutoCAD and other Autodesk programs. (Read more …)
It may be hard to believe, but some students actually complain about homework.
Matthew Abranches Da Silva ’17 isn’t one of them. He assigns himself homework for the pure joy or learning and creating.
He has received a host of awards for his art — he is a talented painter and loves cubism — but it is a glass tube contraption in his home that impresses his peers and teachers.
Da Silva built a photobioreactor for Mike Ugawa’s Science Research class several semesters ago to experiment with light on algae. Even though he no longer can receive credit for Science Research — students can take that course for credit for a maximum of two semesters — he continued signing up for the class and spent the past semester, along with Alex Lo ’17, building a solar cell to generate electricity.
“He’s very interested in science and always comes up with projects more involved than other students,” said Ugawa. “I am impressed by how he seeks to challenge himself with ambitious projects, rather than doing the minimum to meet requirements. This dedication will serve him well if he chooses to pursue a career in research.”
After his class ended, Da Silva still was curious about the photobioreactor sitting in his room and decided to use what he had learned in his AP biology class taught by Kaitlin Shorrock Chen this past year. “She inspired me to continue tests on algae. Colored light affects photosynthesis in different ways, and algae has a faster rate of photosynthesis under red light.” (Read more …)
When Apple launched the iPhone, it used the catch phrase “there’s an app for that.”
What it didn’t tell you was that the makers of those apps were typically male.
To combat that, Reshma Saujani, a New York attorney and politician, created the Girls Who Code organization to encourage young women to learn computer science and design apps.
At SI, Elizabeth Leong ’17 heeded that call and began a local chapter at the school following a six-week program in the summer of 2015 at Google, also designed to encourage girls to enter the tech sector. In addition, SI’s Director of Ed Tech and Innovation Jennifer Gaspar-Santos created a Women in Tech Speaker Series in February to bring professionals back to SI.
Last May 18, 20 SI girls, including Leong, graduated from the Girls Who Code program with certificates acknowledging their success and their commitment to meeting once each week for two hours since the start of the school year. (Read more …)
Aidan Callahan ’16 helped start a company he hopes will promote interest in STEM classes.
Rachel Aquitania ’17 and her company seeks to provide support for students through a networking app.
This year’s Catapult Program, which included two members of the Boosalis family (see story on previous page) also involved Rachel Aquitania ’17 and Aidan Callahan ’16 and their separate startups.
Aquitania and her six-person team created a company called Eroteme that promises to develop an iPhone app to help students engage in online conversations in ways that promote understanding and assistance while also providing a safe space to offer opinions.
“Right before a prom, girls might wonder where to buy dresses,” said Aquitania. “Students can use this app, which is a location-based anonymous forum for questions and answers, to pose questions or offer answers.” The team chose Eroteme for their company name, as the word is the term used for the question mark.
The anonymity of the posters, she added, is essential, as some students who are shy or anxious about asking questions or offering opinions might not engage in the forum if their names were public. The forum will use a moderator to prevent online bullying or abusive comments. (Read more …)
From left: Andrew ’18, Sophia ’18, Zoe ’16, William ’11, Phoebe ’13 and Ari ’15 Boosalis. Photo by Classic Kids.
The ancient Spartans would be proud of the Boosalis family, all of whom can trace their lineage back to the warriors of this ancient city-state.
Rather than with spears and swords, the Boosalises have armed themselves in the arts, from dancing and taking photographs to playing musical instruments and painting. Many of the siblings — William ’11, Phoebe ’13, Aristotle ’15, Zoe ’16, Sophia ’18 and Andrew ’18 — have studied in New York, London and Paris. This spring, for instance, Phoebe will graduate from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts as an art history and photography major, while Zoe, a pre-professional ballet student, has studied at San Francisco Ballet School, the Royal Ballet School in London and the Ballet School of the Opéra national de Paris, where she honed her dancing skills. Andrew, a gifted instrumentalist and dancer, has performed at Lincoln Center, the War Memorial Opera House and Davies Symphony Hall.
For the younger four, their most recent work brought them closer to home when they taught for two weeks in June at Mission Dolores Academy, sharing their passion for dance with students there.
Zoe and Andrew have taken that effort one step further thanks to their involvement with Catapult, an incubator program for students that has helped the duo launch their WorlDance website, offering step-by-step lesson plans at no charge to any PE teacher interested in teaching dance. (Read more …)
Just to the north of SI, students each day walk past the Sunset Community Garden, one of the oldest of its kind in the city. In front of that garden, they now see a host of native plants, including those recently added by Peter Evans ’16 to help attract butterflies, bees and other pollinators.
While searching for a service project that would help him earn his Eagle Scout Badge, Evans connected his religious studies class with his experience during Stewardship Week.
In Patrick Lannan’s religious studies class, Evans chose a research project dealing with colony collapse disorder, which destroys bees and beehives at alarming rates. Between 2007 and 2013, the disorder destroyed more than 10 million hives. (Read more …)
At the graduation ceremony, SI Principal Patrick Ruff introduced Valedictorian Sean Hampton and called him “a true renaissance man who was a fixture in all of our musical ensembles playing multiple instruments including bass, drums, guitar and keyboard. From the musicals in Bannan Theater to our chamber and symphonic orchestras, he excelled in all settings. He was a founding member of the Pep Band and was an anchor for our Gospel Choir that brought great joy to our community. He was an editor-in-chief for The Quill and a production editor for Inside SI. He was a sophomore, junior and Kairos retreat leader and a member of InSIgnis and the 200-Hour Service Club. He was a National Merit Commended Scholar, an Advanced Placement Scholar with distinction and a member of the Principal’s Honor Roll each and every semester. Whatever he sets out to accomplish, he does so with passion, perseverance and humility, and SI is a better place because of him.”
By Sean Hampton ’16
Wisdom. That’s a loaded word. And it’s my job as valedictorian to impart some to you all?! That’s an enormous task, not one I was so readily willing to take on as an 18-year-old kid-slash-adult. That is, of course, until I remembered that none of the wisdom I have belongs to me; it’s all just accumulated from my experiences both inside and outside the doors of SI. I’m just reminding you of everything we’ve all learned from our million-dollar education.
One of these little nuggets of wisdom comes from last summer on my service trip to West Virginia. Our group leader told us that “the true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” Ignatius would call that giving glory to God, working not for ourselves but for others. He would also call it love. (Read more …)
SI’s ‘silent warrior’ Eduardo Cabrera ’16 brings leadership skills to the Mission District and the Steinhart Aquarium
Senior counselor Anna Maria Vaccaro has a name for senior Eduardo Cabrera. She calls him a “silent warrior.”
Cabrera’s silence is more a thing of the past now that he has taken on greater leadership roles at SI and in the community.
“I started out as a shy kid, and I’m still shy, but I push myself not to be,” said Cabrera. “I told myself I won’t get anywhere being shy, so I put myself in situations that help me speak out.”
His efforts have led to a litany of service work, starting with SI’s Association of Latino American Students, which he serves as co-president.
His experience of SI, however, began even before he enrolled here. While a sixth grader at St. Peter’s School, he joined SI’s Magis Program. “I loved coming to SI with Magis, as I heard it was the best school in the city. It was always my goal to come here.” (Read more …)
SI honored two seniors at the Awards Ceremony in May with the Thomas A. Reed, S.J. Christian Service Award for their work with special needs children and senior citizens.
Patrick Watson spent more than 500 hours doing community service, including volunteering with Via West in Cupertino, both over the summer and during the school year, before being hired by the company to work with children with Down’s syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy and a host of other conditions.
Marisol Sandoval spent a like amount of time doing service, including a summer at Laguna Honda Rehabilitation Hospital working with seniors doing art therapy.
Representatives from both organizations were on hand for the May ceremony when they received checks from SI in the names of both students.
Watson first learned about the work of Via West at SI’s Volunteer Fair. “My first day was a mess of confusion,” Watson wrote for his college essay. “I harbored conventional stereotypes about people with special needs, and I felt lost and hesitant to participate. But after seven straight days of volunteering at Via West, I began to appreciate the meaningful relationships built between the participants and the staff.”
He developed such a relationship with 12-year-old Job, who had cerebral palsy. “He is in a wheelchair full time and has no control of his arms or legs. He can’t talk, but he can communicate by rolling his eyes as I point to a board. I was nervous working with him during my first week, but as time went on, I saw him in a different light. We learned to communicate, and I saw how much he enjoyed swimming. I’d lay him on a lifeguard tube and carry him around. His face would light up, just as it did when I took him dancing. I wrapped a hula-hoop around his chair and danced with him. His face was pure joy. That week changed my life.” (Read more …)
Student Body President Lizzie Ford ’16 received the Ignatian Award — SI’s highest honor — at the June commencement, for four years marked by humble service to the school and a career where she helped put a new spin on old traditions while creating new ones.
“I never dreamed in my freshman year that I would become student body president. I never thought I was good enough. But I also hated having people tell me I couldn’t do something. When I told a friend that I wanted to run for sophomore class council, she told me that I most likely wouldn’t make it. So I put up posters all around the school, if anything just to prove to myself that I could put myself out there. To my great and continued surprise, I was elected sophomore class president.”
That experience led her to fall in love with student government and “the joy of giving back to the school. Sometimes people thank me for what I do for SI, but I’m grateful for all I’ve been given. It has been my passion to serve SI.” (Read more …)
Readers of Genesis may recall Gavin Doyle ’16 from the winter 2015–16 issue, which featured his success as an author of a book detailing secrets and tips associated with Disneyland.
It should be no surprise to them that Doyle is no one-trick wonder. His successes at SI as a rower for the varsity crew, as student body treasurer and as the co-president of the Arrupe Solidarity Council earned for him the Loyalty Award, which he received at the June graduation ceremony.
Doyle, who plans to major in business at USC, helped the varsity boys’ boat compete in the state championship before flying to Ohio with his team to compete in Zanesville, where SI took eighth in the nation. (Read more …)
Allyson Abad ’16, who received the Fr. Anthony P. Sauer, S.J., General Excellence Award at the June graduation, knows exactly why she wants to major in chemical engineering at UCLA this fall.
She hopes to wed that field to biopharmaceuticals in the hopes of creating new drugs that will be safer to administer and that will improve the lives of patients and maybe even their families.
Her passion for working on new medicines was fueled by her SI chemistry teacher, Michelle Wynn, who helped Abad become an aide for Wynn’s honors and AP chemistry classes. Wynn also helped Abad find a job as an intern at a UCSF lab. “I learned so much and realized I had so much more to learn. With science, you never run out of things to explore.” Working in the lab, she added, convinced her to become a chemical engineer. (Read more …)
In the middle of the Bruce-Mahoney football game last October, Nikie Abillano ’16 began crying. “I was just standing in the middle of the student section with a couple of my friends, and it hit me that I was a senior and that this would be my last Bruce-Mahoney game.”
The realization was a poignant one for her, especially given all the good she has done in her four years at SI — to say nothing of the challenges she faced on her pathway to SI.
Abillano’s parents, both immigrants from the Philippines, don’t make much money. Her mother works two jobs, leaving the home at 6 a.m. and returning at 11 p.m. Her father, in his late 70s, can’t work given his health conditions. (Read more …)
Next year, if all goes according to plan, Raymond Breault ’16 will make waves by harnessing the power of waves.
A cross-country runner at SI, Breault has a fascination for water because of what he sees most days on his running circuit. “It’s awesome seeing the waves off Lands End while staying in shape.”
That experience led him to register for a course at Cal in oceanography during the summer between his sophomore and junior years. Breault would run in the morning and take BART to Berkeley for the course.
There, he learned about geology, ecology, tectonic plates and the dangers of climate change, all of which gave him the idea of developing a machine that would generate electricity through the power of waves and tides. For physics at SI, he developed a Ruben’s tube, which uses propane and flames to generate waves, to help him better understand the qualities of waves, and he is pondering prototypes that he will work on while studying electrical engineering at, he hopes, UC Santa Cruz. (Read more …)
Taylor Abrams at the Dolphin Research Center in Florida, where she volunteers each summer.
Taylor has sung in a rock band ever since she was a pre-teen.
Taylor Abrams ’16 thrives and finds passion in encountering the “other,” whether a dolphin in a rescue center in Florida or an audience coming to listen to her sing with her rock band.
Since she turned 10, she has visited or volunteered at the Dolphin Research Center (DRC) in Marathon, Fla., learning to train dolphins and helping with research. Also since 10, she has served as a lead singer in a band that has performed as far away as Los Angeles.
“What connects these two experiences for me is compassion,” said Abrams. “I put my whole heart into both activities as I work for others. I’m there for the dolphins, and I play music because I love taking risks. In both instances, I am nervous at first, but when I’m in the moment, I feel lucky to sing in front of huge crowds and to train dolphins in front of people who come to visit from all over the world.”
Her expertise has also put her in touch with celebrities in both worlds, including Mandy Rodriguez, the co-founder and chief operating officer at the DRC, and musicians like Bob Weir and Justin Bieber. (Read more …)
Sabrina Santander ’16 went from feeding men on probation and sorting donated clothing to starting an organization at SI to help people leaving the prison system.
Santander became involved with young inmates at the Contra Costa County Probation Department through her mother, Stephanie, who works as a clerk in that office.
As a freshman, Santander would take BART to El Sobrante near her mother’s workplace and then help her prepare meals for a dozen men on probation who are part of an innovative program called Thinking for Change, which came about through AB 109 and 117, both signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown ’55. (Read more here …)
Hannah Holscher '16 became the youngest American to swim the Strait of Gibraltar when she made the 10-mile swim Aug. 6, with her father swimming alongside her.
She was glad for the company, especially given her father's credentials. David Holscher set a world record for the longest relay when he and his team swam in shifts from San Francisco to Santa Barbara, and he also swam the English Channel twice, also as part of a relay team.
Holscher at 16 already has her list of accomplishments, having won top awards her freshman year as a member of both the water polo and swim teams at SI. This year, she is competing on the varsity level as well as continuing her off-season work with SHAQ, a Junior Olympic team. Eventually, she hopes to become an architect and follow in both of her parents' footsteps. (Read more here …)
Michael Chichioco ’16 has a handicap as a golfer that his teammates don’t have — Tourette syndrome, which causes both verbal and physical tics.
Those tics, interestingly enough, go away when he’s teeing off. They also disappeared Jan. 17 when he spoke during a TEDxYouth Talk at Sacred Heart Cathedral College Preparatory before a crowd of 150.
“If I’m focused on something I really like to do, then the sensation of needing to tic is gone,” he noted. Chichioco was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome shortly before coming to SI, although his symptoms began surfacing shortly after he turned 6. “I made throat clearing sounds and other weird noises and motions. My parents and I didn’t think much about it. We assumed it was allergies.” (Read more here …)
Competing against high school and college students, Juniors Jennifer Gao and Jamie Chen took fourth in the nation in a film festival that they entered, in part, because they were a little bored.
It’s not as if their schedules weren’t busy already. In addition to their honors and AP classes, they run at full speed after school. Gao plays flute in the SI orchestra and is the vice president of the Chinese Culture Club. Chen plays viola both in the symphonic and chamber orchestras at SI, and both girls are the junior representatives for the Cancer Awareness Club.
The girls, who have been friends since they were 5-year-old dance students, found the Girls Impact World Film Festival one day while searching online for something else to do. (Read more here …)
You can see the film made by Iris Chan ’15 and Elizabeth Leong ’17 on the White House website thanks to their honorable mention finish in a contest that asked students from around the country to highlight service in action.
The girls both went to the St. Anthony Foundation soup kitchen during their sophomore retreats, and Leong felt compelled to tell the story of the people she met just last October.
“The guests there were so friendly, and many offered me advice. It felt very much like a community that was woven together.”
Leong serves as president of SITV, and Chan works as the group’s technical director. The two of them returned to St. Anthony’s over Christmas break and used DSLRs to record conversations with staff and guests during one of the meals. (Read more here …)
Listen to the buzz around Silicon Valley and you’ll hear words like “incubator” and “accelerator.” These terms have nothing to do with chickens and sports cars and everything to do with launching and growing new businesses.
Thanks to a group called Catapult, an SI junior and senior are both incubating and accelerating two new ventures that seek to help students who want to play music and who hope to make the most of their volunteer hours.
Tori Allen ’16 created Cantio to provide musical instruments and instruction to children from underrepresented communities, and SI Student Body President Eoin Lyons ’15 is working on a website for peers who want to tell future employers and college admissions directors more about their volunteer work. (Read more here …)
Seniors Maria Garcia and Christopher Ansay both received the Thomas A. Reed, S.J. Christian Service Award in May from SI for their remarkable volunteer service.
The spring Genesis featured Garcia’s many accomplishments and her extensive service work. Ansay’s achievements are just as impressive.
He logged more than 200 hours at Mills Peninsula Hospital in Burlingame, helping nurses care for patients, and another 200 hours at the St. Vincent de Paul center in South San Francisco preparing bag lunches and making hot breakfasts for people in need of free meals. (Read more …)
Deanna Anderson ’15, the recipient of the Ignatian Award, the highest honor SI bestows upon a student at graduation, is about as successful an SI student as you can imagine. The Stanford-bound graduate served as editor-in-chief of Inside SI, did publicity for The Quill, acted in SI Live, produced two YouTube documentaries and helped on the Ignatian.
Still, it’s her one failure that matters the most to her. For much of her senior year, she tried to have the Bruce-Mahoney trophy series between SI and SHC include girls’ sports.
Her plan was simple: expand the games from three to five by including girls’ volleyball and basketball in the mix. “I don’t want separate but equal but a combined and united trophy for the whole school, male and female sports together,” said Anderson. (Read more here …)
Nate Nickolai, who will soon study English at UCLA, will bring with him a passion for storytelling and a love of art that will make it easy for him to succeed and to find a home.
That home may be similar to the one he made in high school in the newspaper office. As one of three editors-in-chief of Inside SI this year, and as the art editor of The Quill, he has worked on publications that build community and that allow those who need to be heard to have a voice.
For his many accomplishments, SI honored him at graduation with the Fr. Anthony P. Sauer, S.J., General Excellence Award, one that acknowledges him, in the words of Principal Patrick Ruff, as “an articulate, reflective and conscientious young man” as well as a “quiet and humble leader for the Class of 2015 who has worked to do his personal best to develop intellectually, athletically and spiritually.” (Read more here …)
Student Body President Eoin Lyons is an athlete, a musician, an editor, a volunteer, an entrepreneur and a leader. By virtue of all of the above, he is also the recipient of SI’s Loyalty Award, given to him at the graduation ceremony in May.
SI Principal Patrick Ruff described Lyons well when he called him “a Renaissance Man” with “a variety of gifts, talents and interests” who “reflects the ideals of Jesuit education and who is an impressive example of our aspiration and hope for the future.”
Just look at his many accomplishments, and you’ll see why Lyons merited this award. He served as managing editor for two years for Inside SI and worked on The Quill’s editorial board. For the latter, he helped set up a new online edition of the literary magazine to make the poems, short stories and art more accessible to readers around the world. (Read more here …)
When Anthony Ballesteros ’15 worked at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, he ran into an elderly man one day who asked him why he was there.
“He wanted to know if I was being punished,” said Ballesteros, who did his core service hours at the agency. “He asked what I had done to get in trouble to be sent there. I was shocked by his reaction.”
Ballesteros’ surprise came, in part, from the joy he received from working as a volunteer at the foundation, serving men and women with HIV.
He spoke in conversational Spanish to immigrants from Central and South America. “My Spanish classes at SI prepared me well for this and helped me appreciate even more the perspective of these marginalized people.” (Read more here …)
For Stephanie Borja ’15, building bridges is more than a metaphor, as she was part of the support team behind the new Bay Bridge span. Still, she sees bridge-building as symbolic, given her work in El Salvador, the country of her parents’ birth, and with middle school students in the Magis Program to encourage them to apply to SI.
Borja landed a job assisting Bill Shedd, a senior transportation engineer at CalTrans, thanks, in part, to her father, Roberto, a civil engineer for the state’s Department of Transportation. “She really got the job thanks to her confidence and ability to network,” said counselor Anna Maria Vaccaro, who praised Borja for her accomplishments at SI.
Between October 2013 and April 2014, Borja assisted CalTrans engineers on the estimates received from contractors for the bridge project, and she reviewed and sorted bills. She also ensured that CalTrans paid contractors correctly and on time. Before she left, she created a spreadsheet for the department to streamline bill paying. (Read more here …)
Senior Maria Garcia has been to Costa Rica, Uganda and Washington, D.C., all in the last year, in her world tour of service and solidarity, but her work with the Jewish Home of San Francisco just across town earned her a feature on SITV’s series of students who exemplify the qualities of a “graduate at graduation.”
Garcia has logged nearly 1,000 hours of volunteer work because, as she says, “the feeling I get after I help others is one of accomplishment. My service benefits me as much as it does others. Every time I visit those at the Jewish Home, I come away thanked by folks whose big smile tells me how much I am affecting their lives.”
Even after finishing her 100-hour service requirement, Garcia continued at the Jewish Home because “I love spending time with the residents there, and they help me to be my best self.” (Read more here …)
Like the soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, Matt Klein ’15 felt as if he had unfinished business.
In his freshman year, one of his close friends committed suicide. “When that happened,” he said, “I felt as if the safe bubble that I was living in had burst. I felt angry and confused and wanted to do something positive that stemmed from all that I was feeling. I just didn’t know what to do.”
When he shared this with his parents, Tom Klein and Kate Kelly, they put him in touch with UCSF’s Next Mission program, which helps veterans suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and with UCSF’s Young Adult and Family Center, founded by Dr. Kim Norman in 2004. (Read more here …)
Some kids have to grow up fast. Count Christian Daniel Barraza ’15 among them.
He is a typical teen in many ways, competing in shot put and discus and coaching his little brother’s basketball squad at Holy Name School. He also has volunteered at the Pomeroy Recreation and Rehabilitation Center and UCSF’s Child Development Centers.
Since his freshman year, however, he has also helped his parents care for a grandmother, a grandfather and his mother’s uncle, who has since died.
Barraza had to learn to help seniors with dementia, diabetes and kidney failure, doing such chores as cleaning them, preparing and administering their medicine, changing their Depends and making them meals, as well as spoon-feeding his uncle. (Read more here …)
Singing the praises of Rachel Quock ’15, it’s hard to know just where to begin. Forget that she is president of the Service Club, editor-in-chief of The Ignatian, a violinist in the orchestra, an InSIgnis retreat leader and a student who has yet to miss a Friday Morning Liturgy, where she plays violin to accompany the choir.
Keep in mind everything else, including her study of a threatened species of African frogs at the California Academy of Sciences thanks to a highly selective yearlong fellowship. Add to that the six Science Research Seminar classes she has taken at SI — four of which she did for no academic credit and only for the experience and the pure joy of learning.
Faculty at SI are quick to extoll Quock’s work ethic and generosity to the school, including Michael Ugawa, who meets with between 40 and 60 students each semester for the independent Science Research Seminars. (Read more here …)
Being a Wildcat suits Samuel Bernstein ’14 well. It should. Throughout the year, he wore a wildcat suit to serve as the team mascot at games and rallies.
He shows his school spirit even in his signature. His parents gave him the middle name “Carlin” after former SI president Rev. Harry Carlin, S.J., a close family friend.
“My family and I would bring Father Carlin burgers and chocolate shakes for lunch, as those were his favorite foods,” said Bernstein.
Sam’s grandfather, Dr. Joseph Bernstein, also served as the team doctor for SI’s football program in the 1970s. He and his wife, Helen, are recipients of SI’s President’s Award. The training room is also named for Dr. Bernstein. Sam’s father, David ’80; brother, Jacob ’11; uncles Mark ’75, John ’77 and Matt ’81; and cousin Jessica ’09 are also SI grads. Sam’s father also received the Loyalty Award in his senior year. (Read more …)
Julia Bonacini ’14 hopes to work for the United Nations one day as well as fight for social justice.
Her parents helped her prepare for this future by teaching her three languages by the time she was 6. Since then, she has studied a fourth language.
Bonacini, who will attend Fordham in the fall and major in International Political Economy on the pre-law track. also spent her time at SI running cross-country all four years, rowing crew for two years and competing as a long distance track runner in her senior year as well as taking part in SI’s InSIgnis Program.
She also devoted herself to social justice ministry during her time at SI, working at St. Anthony’s Foundation for far more than the 100 required hours of service. (Read more …)
Cornell-bound valedictorian Camille Edwards achieved an unweighted 3.86 GPA while taking 14 AP and honors courses and acting in several theater productions. She held prominent roles in The Crucible, Noises Off, and 33 Variations, and directed 13 Ways to Screw up your College Interview. She served as a peer counselor for Sources of Strength and was a student leader of the weekly Examen. She was published in the literary magazine, The Quill, is a member of SI’s 200-hour service club and participated in the Jerusalem Farms Service Trip to Kansas City. A member of InSIgnis, she served as vice president of the AAAS and still found time to tutor first and fourth graders in math, reading and writing at De Marillac Academy each week. (Read more …)
Sarah Mulchand at the Student Arts Showcase in February. She will attend Cal this fall and hopes to play in the university orchestra there while studying molecular cellular biology.
This past spring, Sarah Mulchand ’14 shone on the altar at St. Ignatius Church, where she received the Fr. Anthony P. Sauer, S.J., General Excellence Award at the May graduation, and on the stage of Carnegie Hall, where she led SI’s orchestra and chamber orchestra April 23.
At the graduation ceremony, SI Principal Patrick Ruff praised Mulchand, who received the Instrumental Music Award at the Performing Arts Banquet and who has served as concert master of the symphonic and chamber orchestras — some years for one and some years for both groups. (Read more …)
Nasser Al-Rayess ’14 has many firsts at SI.
A Syrian-American, he is the first Muslim to serve as salutatorian and the first SI student chosen for a Students Rising Above scholarship — a prestigious honor from the organization founded in 1998 by local news anchor Wendy Tokuda.
He will use money from that scholarship to follow in the footsteps of his brother, Khalid ’12, a student at Cal.
When his parents divorced in 2001, his father fled the country, leaving his family to fend for themselves. His mother, Souzan, worked at SI’s bookstore and helped in the principal’s office, and the family received help from Nasser’s uncle. (Read more …)
Jonathan Tynan holds a plant with five leaves, showing how the Fibonacci sequence occurs in nature.
Most people walk through the San Francisco Botanical Garden content to smell the flowers and remark on the beauty and diversity of the flora from around the world. Others take it a step further and record the beauty with camera or paintbrush.
Jonathan Tynan ’14 had neither camera nor paintbrush, but used a protractor to measure angles between leaves and petals to do ground-breaking research that earned him second prize at San Mateo County’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Fair in February, third prize in the San Francisco Bay Area Science Fair in March and an honorable mention at the California State Science Fair in April. (Read more …)
Sarah Armstrong, who will study at Yale in the fall, has committed herself to social justice and combatting poverty.
When Student Body President Sarah Armstrong ’14 spoke to the students, faculty and staff at the May Awards Assembly, she chose to focus not on her accomplishments but those of her peers.
By the end of her talk, the crowd gave her a standing ovation both for her stirring words (which you can find on our website) and for a remarkable legacy of service to SI and to San Francisco.
A week later, she earned another standing ovation when Principal Patrick Ruff named her the recipient of the Ignatian Award, the highest honor offered by the school. (Read more …)
Madeleine Barry ’14 began a club at SI with an exclusive membership. Those who don’t qualify don’t mind. Her Celiac Disease Club helps students who become ill and suffer stomach pain when they eat anything with gluten.
Barry designed the club for the 10 SI students with the disease to gather and learn more about their condition. They also bring gluten-free food to club meetings and share information about restaurants that offer true gluten-free menus.
“If you go to a store and buy food that is labeled gluten free, it’s most likely fine to eat,” said Barry. “However, most restaurants don’t realize that they shouldn’t cook gluten-free dishes using the same pots, pans and utensils that they use to cook pasta or bake bread. That cross-contamination can make us pretty sick.” (Read more …)
Senior Lauren Tetrev has a passion for all things SI. Never was that more clear than one winter day in 2012 when SI played Bellarmine for the CCS Open Division Championship.
Tetrev, who played both oboe and English horn in SI’s orchestra, also served as manager of the football team. The night of the big game against Bellarmine also happened to be a performance of the Winter Concert.
“I couldn’t miss the game, and I couldn’t miss the concert,” said Tetrev, who worked with orchestra director Gillian Clements on a plan.
Clements arranged for all the pieces involving Tetrev to appear in the first half of the concert. “Once I was done, I ran off stage and handed someone my oboe to pack up and put away. I changed my clothes and raced outside to where my mother was waiting in our car to drive to San Jose.” (Read more …)
Students at SI got to know Eduardo Valencia ’14 thanks to his regular hosting of SITV, which launched this year.
Valencia’s deep and melodious voice made him the Walter Cronkite of SI, at least for teachers old enough to remember Cronkite from his days on CBS.
Few people, however, knew just what an accomplished student they were listening to. (Read more …)
Michael Dudum ’14, the recipient of the Father Thomas A. Reed, S.J., Christian Service Award, was surprised at the Awards Assembly to hear his name called in honor of the 300 hours of volunteer work he performed for Breakthrough San Francisco and for his church’s summer camp.
He was even more surprised to learn of his family’s connection to the man for whom his award is named, the late priest who had served as SI’s principal between 1957 and 1964.
Fr. Reed celebrated the marriage of his grandparents and had baptized both his mother and uncle. “It’s funny how things come full circle in life,” noted his mother, Randa Dudum. (Read more …)
Isabella “Beya” Alcaraz ’14 told herself that she would only stay a week at the Today’s Youth Matter camp two summers ago.
She loved the camp so much that after seven days, she decided to stay one more week, and then one more and one more after that.“Those kids changed my life,” said Alcaraz. She also helped many of the campers, including one 12-year-old who fought with camp counselors and other campers. “But she loved me and would come to me to tell me about the trouble she made for herself. By the end of her time at camp, she hugged me and cried that she didn’t want to leave. She told me that I was her only family.” (Read more …)