Principal’s Newsletter 6/12/20

Email blast

Dear St. Francis Families,

The past few weeks have been difficult for all of us as we confront the violence against Black people, racism, and systemic injustices in our world.

It is our responsibility as a community to have intentional conversations and recognize our personal and collective role in this trauma, as challenging and uncomfortable as it may be. While we have yet to break down the injustices that we, as a society, have thrust upon communities of color, we must listen, reflect, and correct inequities within our own school community. We cannot stop at mere acknowledgment of these injustices through public statements alone. There is work to be done. 

As such, this past week, we held a second Listening Session focusing on the Black student experience at St. Francis. It was facilitated by Dr. Kelsey Jones, Assistant Professor in the Human Development Department at California State University, San Marcos, who has expertise in racial literacy and helping schools empower their communities to address race issues. This session was again moderated by alumna, Destinee Dickerson ‘10.

These listening sessions were the first steps in the change process, rebuilding trust, and healing hurts and injustices of the past. Many feelings, stories, and experiences were shared by students, alumnae, and family members. These sessions also brought forward ideas for implementing change. Our alumnae community worked together on a petition of well thought out, tangible, and measurable changes for consideration.

The petition, as well as all of the feedback and input from the Listening Sessions, and the follow-up calls with all who have requested, will be reviewed over the next 45 days as we create a comprehensive Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Implementation Plan with actionable steps and timelines. We will also work with the Diocese to explore and implement concrete solutions to address the racism that still pervades our society and work in collaborative ways to strengthen the response of all people to this evil.

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan will be housed on the St. Francis website to ensure accountability to the broader community. The plan will incorporate lessons learned from stories shared, recommendations from students and student leadership, alumnae, parents, SFHS faculty and staff, and best practices learned from schools and organizations, who are committed to these priorities.

We believe and know that we can change as we’ve seen incredible involvement from students, alumnae, families, and our faculty and staff. More than 250 alumnae responded to post-listening session surveys saying they wanted to further the conversation and help make meaningful change. Our students, alumnae and families, as well as our faith, require us to do better to eradicate racism and injustice. 

These conversations are not easy, and they should not be. Admitting mistakes, missteps, and biases takes humility. There is trust that needs rebuilding. Topics of racism, social justice, and equity are complex and can be uncomfortable; but, we have to commit to continuing these conversations. We owe it to our community, our students, and ourselves.

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!

In the spirit of Pax et Bonum (peace and goodness),

Elias Mendoza