Principal Newsletter Archives

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Principal’s Newsletter 6/19/20

Dear St. Francis Families,

Although it feels different this year, summer is here (well, officially tomorrow) and with that, we move closer to the start of the 2020-21 school year. A dedicated cadre of staff has been working diligently to ensure a safe return to our campus, keeping in mind the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff. I will keep you informed along the way, as we finalize our return-to-school plan. 

Like many other educational institutions in the region, we’ve received guidance from the California Department of Education, the California Department of Public Health, and the Sacramento Office of Education, and we have consulted with local authorities to ensure that we implement their guidelines as recommended. They have confirmed that we have clearance to proceed with reopening our school in August, as well as customizing a plan that fits the physical footprint of St. Francis Catholic High School, and the needs of our community.

St. Francis is committed to creating a plan that will afford each student an optimal learning environment, while ensuring that we follow the social distancing guidelines as prescribed by state and local agencies. Relationships and community are a core part of the St. Francis experience for both students and their families. Our plan for this uncertain time will be to try to maximize opportunities to strengthen relationships and support our community whether virtually or in person. 

The St. Francis Safety Team has made arrangements to allow the return of some staff members to campus and begin preparations for the eventual return of all employees in August. Hygiene, sanitizing, cleaning, and safety supplies are currently being identified and ordered in preparation for the fall. As you can imagine, this is no small task, as there are many moving pieces to this plan. The St. Francis Safety Team appreciates your patience while we finalize our plans. Rest assured that we are committed to reopening our school in the safest manner possible and maintaining the sense of community that makes us unique.

We are also interacting with the Diocese, Sacramento County, local school districts, CIF, the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA), and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) to determine when to begin summer conditioning in a safe manner following the guidelines published by these organizations. Student-athletes and their families should expect to hear from our Athletic Director with more details in the coming week. 

Again, St. Francis Catholic High School intends to return to in-person instruction in August as planned, beginning with our Freshman Student Orientation as usual. More specific information will be shared later this summer. 

Please continue to pray that the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, so we can return to a sense of normalcy, albeit, a new normal.  I look forward to seeing you all again soon. 

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!

St. Clare of Assisi, pray for us!

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

Elias Mendoza
Principal

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Principal’s Newsletter 6/12/20

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
Principal

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Principal’s Newsletter 6/05/20

Dear St. Francis Families,

For the past week, I’ve heard from many students, parents, alumnae, and members of my faculty and staff regarding the conversation taking place on social media. Needless to say, my heart is heavy and sorrowful for the pain expressed by so many current and former students. 

This watershed moment, propelled by the killing of George Floyd, has shined a light on a long-standing social issue that has never been fully addressed in our country. As a society, we should be outraged by the death of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others. While this may be perceived as a political statement, it is not. The truth is we have to do more than acknowledge the dignity of every human life. As a devout Catholic, I honor the sanctity of life and stand with those that are fighting for justice and peace across our country, and the rest of the world. 

The events of this past week have rocked the foundations of government and many social institutions. We are not alone in the call to own our shortcomings, past and present, and make holistic and systemic change. Today, we take another step in the process of listening to our students of color and the larger school community in our first-ever SFHS Zoom Listening Session. I am humbled by the number of people that have registered for this event (we reached our 1,000 maximum capacity at 2:30 p.m. this afternoon), and we look forward to listening to the voices of our students, alumnae, and parents. 

As a community of faith, I ask you to join me in saying the following prayer:

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view. 
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own. 

- Cardinal Dearden in 1979, USCCB

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!

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

Elias Mendoza
Principal

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Principal’s Newsletter 5/29/20

Dear St. Francis Families,

As we end the month of May, I want to congratulate our graduating Class of 2020. On behalf of the entire St. Francis faculty and staff, I want to say congratulations on your four years of achievements.  You’ve been exceptional and persevered through a multitude of experiences that you will carry with you as you embark on a new journey.  

Yesterday evening we celebrated Senior Sunset, a special day that coincided with what would have been graduation day.  Our seniors drove onto our soccer field and spent one last evening together on our beautiful campus. While the sun may have set on the class of 2020 last night, they will always be Pearls!

I also formally welcome the graduating Class of 2020 to the 11,000 strong SFHS alumnae community. Wherever life takes you from this day forward, know that you are members of a long and distinguished legacy spanning 79 years. May God continue to bless you and watch over you as you begin your post-secondary adventures.   

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!

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

Elias Mendoza
Principal

Email blast

Principal’s Newsletter 5/22/20

Dear St. Francis Families,

While this would typically be my last newsletter for the academic year, I know there are a lot of unknowns about what next fall may look like. In order to keep you apprised of any changes,  I will continue to publish a weekly (or should I say “routine”) newsletter throughout the coming summer break in order to provide you with updates as they become available from federal, state, and local agencies.  I know we’re all ready to return to a sense of normalcy but we have no idea what that may look like as we emerge from the state-mandated quarantine.  In the meantime, please know the entire St. Francis faculty and staff look forward to welcoming your daughters to our beloved campus in the fall. 

I hope you’re able to “tune in” for our Senior Awards Ceremony at 5:00 p.m. this evening. We certainly graduate some impressive young women. The video will be available on our website and will also remain there for a few weeks. 

Whatever your summer plans may be, I pray that God watches over you and brings you back safely to our school community in August.

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!

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

Elias Mendoza
Principal

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Principal’s Newsletter 5/15/20

Dear St. Francis Families,

This week marks the last official week of instruction for the 2019-2020 school year. No one could have conceived back in August that we would be dealing with a world-wide pandemic and finishing the school year virtually.  Nonetheless, I am so proud of the perseverance and commitment our Troubies have demonstrated throughout the course of the past seven weeks of Distance Learning. 

As we begin to wrap-up this school year, I want to thank you, parents, for your patience and continued support of St. Francis and all of our faculty and staff, as we transitioned from face-to-face instruction to a synchronous teaching model. We made the transition in a short period of time and ensured the continuity of instruction and advancement of curriculum. We made it through this together, as a community, and I am grateful for your collective sacrifice of time, talent, and treasure. We could not do what we do without your assistance and support. 

I hope you can all “tune in” for the Farewell Prayer Service at 5:00 p.m. this evening. It is accessible on our website and will remain there for a few weeks: https://www.stfrancishs.org/farewell-service. Ms. Tina Harris, and her talented choral singers, will close out this service with the legendary St. Francis version of “At the Beginning.” This song captures the deep sisterhood at St. Francis. The line, “never dreaming, what we’d have to go through,” resonates even more this year, and like our Troubies, “In the end I wanna be standing at the beginning with you.”

We were strangers, starting out on a journey
Never dreaming, what we’d have to go through
Now here we are, I’m suddenly standing
At the beginning with you  

I hope your daughters enjoy some time to rest and detox from their digital devices.

May you have a safe, healthy and relaxing summer, and I look forward to seeing you all in August. 

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!

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

Elias Mendoza
Principal