Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hot topic: Catholic schools

An SF K Files visitor asked me to post a thread on Catholic schools. Also, here's a link to a past post on the topic:
I am interested in getting some insight into the catholic school kindergarten process.

The rumor that I heard was you need to have been a parishioner for atleast two years prior to kindergarten process in order to be considered as well as "monthly" offering.

We are catholic but not affiliated with a parish. Our son is 3 in May so I am two years out for kindergarten. I am thinking this is perfect timing to find a parish if we have to.
I would prefer to wait til next year when church won't be so painful with 2 kids.

If waiting a year to find a parish hurts our chances of getting into kindergarten, we will join a parish and get involved on the sooner side.

The closest two are St Brendan's and St Cecilia. Any preference between the two?


  1. I know lots of people who are not even Catholics who send their children to Catholic School ... so I don't think having to be part of any parish is true.

    But it may be for some of the most coveted catholic schools.

    I have no idea why anyone who is NOT Catholic would subject their children to Catholic Schools. This is not a put-down of Catholic Schools, just a matter of wondering why people would expose their children to such a strong ideology they do not believe in.

  2. I can only speak to St. Brendan's. If you think that it's a school that you would like to send your child to, join now. And if it's someplace that you really really want to go, then start volunteering AND donating. We were there for almost two years and donating (regularly but paltry amounts), and still didn't get a spot. There were quite a few families who were registered parishioners this year who didn't get in and I imagine that the numbers won't change much.

    Personally I don't think that the school is all that it thinks it is. I live in the City for a reason and I want my children to experience its full color.

    The church is awesome though. There are a ton of kids, which makes wrangling temperamental little ones a million times easier because many people are in the same boat. It took us a long time to find an active church community here that had people here younger than the dinosaurs.

    However, there are plenty of Catholic schools in the City that are good and don't require dog and pony show antics.

  3. I have no idea why anyone who is NOT Catholic would subject their children to Catholic Schools.

    My parents were non-believers in any form of organized religion (not atheists though) and sent me to Catholic school. They were an ordered, functional alternative to urban public schools in the 70s/80s (textbooks? - kids don't need no stinkin' textbooks). The ideology component widely varies from school to school - some are dogmatic and strict, some just emphasize the core values of Catholicism (the social justice message of caring for the little and the weak). I went to one of those Catholic lite places...

  4. Um, all I can say is that I pulled my kid out of public school to go to Catholic school...because the academics were consistently better, and the community was much, much nicer. We were at one of the "coveted" public schools, and I felt that the social agenda of the parents was the biggest turn-off...a lot of trust-fund, non-working parents making some sort of statement by sending their kids to public schools...totally excluding the kids of color/kids from lower socioeconomic classes. Our school was homogenized within two years. Blech.

    I'll take our very sweet little school with a nice blend of color and class any day of the week...

  5. 10:05

    Let me know which public school this was so I can avoid it.

  6. We are not Catholic nor practicing any religion at this point, but are strongly considering Catholic schools (we were accepted) in order to escape the zoo that is SFUSD.

  7. To the original poster, my advice is that you tour several of the Catholic schools this fall, and then make a decision as soon as possible in regards to joining a parish. From a probability standpoint, even joining the parish at St. Brendan's doesn't guarantee you a spot. At St. Cecilia's, since there are two grades per class, the school is able to accept a lot more people. We got into St Cecilia's as Catholic non-parishioners and have been wait-listed at St Brendan's. ( I am not expecting the wl to clear - I know there are a lot of parishioners ahead of us). From an academic standpoint, I think the schools are REALLY similar - both having top notch academics. Some of the things that stood out for us at St Cecilia's were amazing music program (10 musical instruments -- even a jazz quartet in middle school); strong parental involvement/community; great extended care (including flexibility to set it up exactly the way you want). For St. Brendan's, the Principal impressed me very much and I am sure the parent community is amazing as well.

    I would also encourage you to look at St. Gabriel's, St. Stephen's, and NDV to cast a wider net.

  8. Does anyone have info on Saint Anne's?

  9. Isn't NDV a long shot, as well? I thought it was tough to get in, but I don't have any first-hand experience or evidence.

  10. It's not tough to get in if you are a member of the parish- if you plan more than 2 years out, you can join the parish and then it will be easy to get in. The parish at NDV is pretty small. I think you can't get away with joining the parish the fall you are applying to kindergarten- but if you do it a couple of years in advance, it should be fine.

  11. I wonder if it is suspect to join a parish that is not in your own neighborhood, especially if that parish has a well-regarded school!

  12. NDV parish has some kind of unusual status because of the French connection that keeps it a bit separate from the SF Archdiocese - I am not well equipped to explain it. From what I understand, there are no geographic parish boundaries that apply to NDV. As for other parishes, it is very common to join a parish if you want your kids to go to the parish school, even if you don't live in the parish. What the schools want to see is committed and involved parents (regardless of where you live). Some parish schools will also give you an advantage as a nonparishioner kindergarten applicant if you live in a parish that has no school.

  13. One thing you should bear in mind is that Catholic schools tend to have larger classes, so if your child functions better in small classes, these schools may not be right for you.

    Order is far more necessary for the large class size, so discipline is swifter and harsher.

  14. I don't have a child at St. Anne's but I know someone who works there. I think it's on the larger side, 2 classes per grade. The K classes at least all have a teacher and an aide. Don't know about the upper grades. Class size fluctuates greatly. Some years it's well over 30 kids per class, other its in the mid-20s. I think it's relatively easy to get into. The teachers seem pretty experienced. The facility is well-located. Parents seem pretty involved. They do a nice international food night that is well attended. Pretty heavy dose of religion. Kinders go to the full mass for holidays if not more often and there is a religion componenet to the curriculum. Curiculum seems very traditional and the art seemed pretty cookie cutter, but they also have music and other enrichment stuff going on. School population is heavily Asian, probably a reflection of the neighborhood. Overall, I'd say worth checking out if you're in the market for a solid back-up plan.

  15. I really like St. Philip. It is considered more of a "neighborhood" school, but you do have more of a chance of being accepted than say, St. Brendan--even if you're not Catholic or are a parish member.

    St. Brendan, you better be ready to WORK, VOLUNTEER, JUMP OVER HOOPS AND KISS SOME BUTT, if you really want to get your child in. You also should know the pastor well. If not, then bust out the $$$$ and shine it in their face during the usual money contribution. Then fling around a check book as if it were candy right around application and testing time! That will get their attention!!!

    St. Cecilia's you do have a better chance of getting in because of the two classes.

    St. Gabriel is a good school as well. More parish members get in.

    NDV is an amazing school. Hard to get in, but amazing!

    Finn Barr- disappointment! Why bother paying for school if you get "middle of the road." It's a good back up if public school doesn't come through.

    Sorry, I am a catholic and did apply to several catholic schools. In the end, I have a coveted spot in public.

    I think I'll keep my check book for regular Sunday offerings and enjoy being a Catholic!

  16. NDV is very tough to get in. There is only one kinder with approx 20 kids and half are usually taken by siblings. Also, I heard this year, there where 17 siblings making up the class leaving only a handful of seats for over 400 applicants to fight over.

    St. Brendan and St. Vincent de Paul you will have to donate your next of kin and be a devote follower of the prist. The Prist must know your name, your family and remember you come application time in order to have any sort of advantage.

    St. Cecilia likes their kids on the older side. This school has the reputation of red shirting its students. Very strict and highly diciplined, these students generally are well prepared for high school.

    St. Gabriel's (where I went to school) use to be very oppressive and ridgid. I have heard that they are the top performing school academically and recently just won an academic award between all the City Catholic schools (St. Gab's #1, NDV #2, Our lady of mercy #3, in Daly City and Good Shepard #4, in Pacifica)

    St. Stephen's is a sweet school with a cute uniform behind Stownstown. Students are generally well prepared upon graduation but I hear there is a lot of turn-over in the staff.

    Sts. Peter & Paul seemed to have a great community and the principal was fantastic. Only problem I have with this school is the facilites seem small for the amount of students. Great school, though.

    Regarding being a parishner, it could give you a boost if it came down to between you and another applicant who is not a parishner but ultimately, it will never guarantee you a spot.

  17. 2:25pm-

    Do you know what website people can visit to get more info on ranking of SF catholic schools (if it exists). Or if you know the websites that sites the schools you named in ranking order for the academic awards, it would be useful.


  18. The schools don't follow a parish/neighborhood model anymore. At one time there was an in parish and out of parish designation and tution difference. Now the tuition differences are catholic/parish participating and non catholic rates. That is many years ago. As an example I know that St Cecilia's draws parents from Millbrae and Daly City

    It is mandatory if you want to get into St. Brendans to register and donate regulary via the weekly church envelops. St. Brendans and St. Stephans cater to more stay at home/one working parent families. St. Stephans is in the process of a capital improvement project building a gym I belive, so be ready to write some checks if you want to get in. They are tough to get into if you aren't alumi or registered and donating heavily. Both St. Brendans and St. Stephans draw more one stay at home parent families. The after school program for kindergarten is spotty is both parents work full time. After grade K its better. Years ago when I toured at St. Stephans and asked to see the after school facility - and it seemed like the tour would not have time for it - the principle responded to my question to see it with "we don't have latch key kids are at our school" Needless to say, we did not apply. Such a turnoff.

  19. When I toured, I found the extended care programs at St. Brendan's and St. Stephan's to be totally lacking. On the other hand, I think the programs at St. Cecilia's and St. Gabrial's are fantastic.

  20. St. Brendan's after school program consists of an older woman who has been there for a long time. I heard she's great. Very true, St. Brendan's caters more to a stay at home parent.

    Next year St. Brendan will be tougher to get into- this year, 2/3 of parish members where left without a kinder spot.

  21. Does St. Brendan's have after Kinder care for every day of the week? Last year it was only 4 days a week if you have the morning K class - there was no after care coverage for 2-3 hours one of the day's of the week and no explaination as to why.

  22. 3:18pm-

    Going back, St. Brendan's after school care consists of an older woman and someone else. It's probably why they don't really have a big after school program. On top of that, kinder is only about 3-4 hours each-- one am class and one pm class. It's up to the school to decide which you will end up in.

  23. Regarding the academic awards rank, there is no website that I'm aware of that has this info. I randomly came across this info in a Catholic monthly newspaper that gets mailed to my house. I believe you can find this newspaper at your local church. It's this months edition.

  24. 5:01 What is the name of the publication ? Is it online?

  25. Sorry, I normally don't read it and it's already been sent out with the recycling...

  26. What about Star of the Sea? How is it academically and what is the community like (mostly two-working parent families?) Is admission there as tough as St. Brendan's and NDV?

  27. If I wanted large class sizes and rote learning I'd stick to public.

  28. Catholic schools have large class sizes and very rote teaching, compared to public, so I think you are terribly confused.

  29. It sounds like some of these schools don't take anyone but Catholics, then. Right? St. Brendan's, for one?

  30. St. Brendan's web site states that they give priority first to parish members, then to Catholics who are not parish members, then to everyone else. Catholic schools are open to everyone, but it sounds like St. Brendan's is swamped with applications from the parish, so it would be tough for non-Catholics to get in.

  31. Its all a trade off when looking at schools and I find that no school is perfect. All the Catholic schools have the same curriculum, NDV to St. Brendans to St. Finn Barrs. Its the same content, just the methods can vary greatly even within the school. The math curriculum at St Cecilia's is new and uses lots of manipulatives. It meets the standards put forth by the Catholic School board and California standards, yet the school has a choice in how to implement it and how to teach it. So check out the schools and ask lots of questions. They vary greatly and be sure to ask to see the upper grades and their work. Art is an area of weakness within the schools mentioned here - St. Brendans, St. Stephans, St Cecilias. Not sure about NDV. The art work is very crafts oriented and no background to art history etc. The trade off in some of the schools can be the music programs. Also at the price of the Catholic school tuitions compared with the independent privates, that allows for some extra art classes outside of the school etc.

    Class size also varies greatly. (This is like the fine print in a weight loss program ad- results vary) St. Finn Barrs has less then 20 in some of their grades. St. Monica's which was reviewed on this blog has small class sizes as well. Class size is this touted ideal which shows benefit to children who come from disadvantaged backgrounds - such as no pre school, poverty etc. Or in the case of learning disabilities class size is a big factor for future success. Class size when the student population is mainly middle class and I'm not factoring in learning disabilities - does not make a hugh impact on a childs ability to learn. If your child can focus iwthin a small group they can also focus in a larger setting and learn. If you want one on one learning and focus, that won't happen in the Catholic schools and not sure if it happens in the public either. Within the larger classes many of these Catholic schools will break out into smaller work groups through out the day and they have aids in the primary grade classrooms as well.

    Just ask lots of questions when you tour as each school varies quite a bit. If one school really interests you then register with that school parish and send in your weekly envelopes.

  32. Regarding size… I would just reiterate that it does seem to depend on the school, the grade and the year. (And can vary widely on all those counts.) When we toured Star of the Sea, there was another parent visiting from Saint Monica. She loved Saint Monica, but her son’s grade (1st, maybe?) was way undersubscribed (lots of kids had moved/were moving), so it was going to be down to just a handful of kids next year, and she was worried that was too small. On the other hand, we couldn’t even get a tour of Saint Monica for an entering 6th grader because that class was already filled up. (Don’t know how many kids constituted “filled,” though.) The current 5th grade class at Star of the Sea has 18 students, so not large at all compared to public schools- or most independents- but that will go up (not sure how much) for the 6th grade.

  33. We only actually visited two Catholic schools- Star of the Sea and Holy Name- but this was for sixth grade not KG. Non-Catholics are willing to give Catholic schools a shot for various reasons, but the reasons that attracted us the most were: K-8 (I think that’s a major attraction for many families who choose either parochial or independent); Mandarin after school; low cost compared to independents; and (fairly) reasonable proximity. (Uniforms are a minor “plus” to me, too… though not sure my son would see it that way.) The two schools we visited also had a great sense of community and many other attributes, but those can also be found at many publics (if you can get in) and independents (if you can get in and afford the tuition).

    My 5th grader attends (and loves) CAIS, but we didn’t think we could afford it, anymore (we later received additional financial aid), so we were looking at publics and Catholics where we thought he could get at least some Mandarin instruction before or after school. For publics, that meant Giannini (3 levels of Mandarin every day for an hour before school) and Lawton (only one or two days a week after school, but one of the Mandarin teachers at Giannini has a private program in her home right across the street from Lawton). For Catholic schools, we think that mainly means Saint Monica (4 days a week after-school), Star of the Sea (5 days a week after school), Saint Anne’s (or are the Chinese classes just on Saturdays?) and Saint Mary’s in Chinatown. Holy Name has an afterschool Chinese program, but only two days a week. (As I recall…) And I think there are other Catholic schools with one or two days a week of Mandarin.

    Nobody seems to be talking about Holy Name, but it’s in the Sunset, and not that far from Saint Anne’s and others being mentioned. Even though we wanted more Mandarin, I toured Holy Name, anyway, since my son has soccer teammates there. (Very nice kids.) I really liked the principal, a very engaging woman who has worked there for years (first as a teacher) and lives nearby... and who seems to have a real passion for the school and the students. My tour guides were two very articulate and personable 8th graders, and I must say, they were the best possible "ambassadors" for the school. Nice school!

    My son did two “shadow” days at Star of the Sea, and liked the school a lot. Everyone was very welcoming (and quite happy to have a potential basketball player for the team!)… and he made friends and “fit in” right away. (He would have had to cut his hair, though…) But, of course, his history (and community) has been with CAIS and he really wanted to stay, since he loves it there.

    The one thing that surprised me (and made me wonder if this would work) was that assignments were supposed to be done in cursive- in pen. Do most schools require this? (Public, private, independents?) I realize (if I’m remembering correctly), that my public school also required assignments in pen in 5th grade… and I (apparently) survived… but at CAIS, my son uses pencils or (more and more) word processing. I think the pen thing might be needlessly frustrating since my son is a “writer,” and always editing (adding to, etc.) his stories and poems…. plus his handwriting really deteriorates when he is “inspired” and writing quickly. (Word processing is a wonderful thing!) Of course, I just realized there are pens with erasers these days, so he wouldn’t just be stuck with “White Out”! And the students at Star of the Sea can check out laptops in middle school, so maybe there are alternatives to the pen requirement. (We didn’t end up asking that question, since we decided not to enroll after receiving word of the increased assistance from CAIS.) It was kind of a funny requirement for me to get hung up on, though…

  34. Anyone have experience @ St. Paul Parish School in Noe? Seems to have good facilities, they have a pretty strong community, but I don't know much about the school. Thx.

  35. 12:34pm- I know what you mean about getting hung up on cursive with a pen. I'm actually opposite from your point of view. I prefer cursive and did ask the Catholic schools if they were teaching it in 5th grade.
    Yes, I do believe a computer is wonderful, but I do believe that
    a child should know how to write in cursive. I guess once the child masters it, I'm pretty much over cursive, as long as it mastered.

  36. I disagree with 10:28 that class size doesn't matter for kids coming from a middle-class background. Kids who are in the middle of the pack are that much more likely to get lost in the shuffle and fall through the cracks when the teacher has that many more kids to pay attention to - regardless of their background.

    As for writing in pen, at my kids' school they do draft and final versions of their writing work, so they can cross out as much as they need to during the draft stage.

  37. here is the link I think the person refered to about academic rankings.. its academic decatholon competition

  38. "It sounds like some of these schools don't take anyone but Catholics, then. Right? St. Brendan's, for one?"

    Varies from school to school. St. Philip's gives preference to parishoners, then non-Catholics in the neighbourhood, then everybody else; being a non-parishoner Catholic is no advantage. IIRC, St. Finn Barr's, NDV, St. Paul's, St. Brendan's, after parishoners, do give preference to Catholics *active in their own parishes* (just a baptismal certificate isn't enough). Don't remember what St. Cecilia's policy was. [But hey, if you're not a parishoner, chances are 95% certain you're not going to get into either St. Brendan's or St. Cecilia's.]

    For undersubscribed schools (like the ones in/near the mission itself, like St. Charles, Mission Dolores, St. James, St. Anthony's/Immaculate Conception) it's not an issue, obviously.

    Anyone know anything about Epiphany or Corpus Christi in the SE of the city?

    Religious element seemed to vary from school to school. Having experienced Irish Catholic education, it all seemed pretty mild to me.

    The schools near the mission (including St. Finn Barr and St. Philip's and St. Paul's) have banded together to do collective bargaining on supplies and lobbying the archdiocese, which has resulted in them gettin gmore bang for their buck on the textbook front.

    Costs are low relative to the independents because of the lower teacher/pupil ratio, lower pay prevalent in the Catholic schools, some subsidies from either the archdiocese or certain Holy Orders, and also lower overhead (buildings are fully depreciated, some admin costs borne by the archdiocese, etc.)

  39. "The trade off in some of the schools can be the music programs."

    Should also be pointed out that the athletics organized by CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) means sports normally strong in the parochials.

  40. Also, St. Brigid is a nice school in a great location with no church affiliation required and excellent after school care (ballet, languages, music, art). Principal doesn't do a great job on selling the school to prospective parents but if you do all the comparisons yourself and ask the questions that are important to you, you will find this school to be a great option.

  41. 12:34

    I think we actually agree about mastering cursive. My son was very excited to learn cursive in 3rd grade and had absolutely beautiful handwriting that year… but his interest in legibility diminished considerably once that skill had been mastered. He can still manage to write neatly in cursive, though (if his long suffering mother is available to constantly nag him)… and his school requires cursive or word processing for “finished” products. (Not sure about the journal…) In reality, he does only the bigger/longer projects on the computer, but the word processing is definitely a godsend for those!

    It was the “in pen” thing that threw me. (I had repressed my own long ago memories, I guess!) I was just wondering if this was a parochial thing… or if most schools still require it. At my kids’ school, (CAIS) there is a LOT of writing of Chinese characters, so they are getting quite a handwriting workout as it is. And then there is the long process of learning to use the computer to write in Chinese… which involves pinyin, the phonetic version of Mandarin, since you can’t fit a gazillion characters on a keyboard! (Also…maybe my son’s teacher does require pen for the bigger/longer projects unless the kid uses a computer… and maybe my son just always chooses the computer, so I never see anything in pen?)

    In terms of writing vs. computer, my adult daughter has a disability that made it very difficult for her to learn to write… and the occupational therapist just wanted her to turn to typing. I could see, though, that she had the ability (with much more work), to eventually be able to write legibly… so I worked with her a LOT on that, and insisted that be a goal for OT, too, because I thought it was so important. (This was before laptops… and I thought she should always have the ability to communicate in writing, no matter where she was.) My daughter also has perceptual problems (as a result of her disability) that made reading a huge challenge--- and almost a seeming impossibility. But once she managed to write on her own (and in her case, I was satisfied with printing, except for her signature!), it seemed to help everything else fall into place, and reading finally “clicked” for her. (She was almost ten.) In my opinion, the writing provided an additional way for the info to get to her brain besides just seeing it (sight reading) or hearing it (phonics), and it seemed to be the crucial (and previously missing) piece that helped her to “get” reading. (She immediately became a huge bookworm and spent a lot of her teenaged years hanging out at Cody’s in Berkeley.) I think the current thinking in literacy education favors the multi-modal approach, but that perspective was less known, back in the day.

    My son was initially a horrible printer, in that way many kids (especially boys) can be--- when their fine motor skills may lag behind those of others (especially the girls) in the class. (Plus my son has a late August birthday at a school with a Sept. 1st cut-off, so is also young for his grade.) Midway through 1st grade, I discovered a writing program that has the kid practice doing loops and other shapes/writing movements while listening to classical music. The woman who developed the program feels it helps train the brain in ways that can improve not only writing, but certain behaviors. (Like, it can help some boys behave in less ADHD-ish ways.) At any rate, my son’s handwriting improved significantly- to the point where it wasn’t really an issue, anymore- so the first grade teacher considered the program a big success. (Not sure how much it improved his behavior, though!)

    In the “old days” (even before I was young!), much more class time was spent on handwriting. Teachers received more training in how to teach it, and some teachers even specialized in it. But that could also come at the expense of other subjects- like science! So… I think handwriting is still an important skill (that may even have benefits beyond legible handwriting), but the computer (and its ever smaller, ever more portable incarnations) is here to stay. Once the voice recognition programs are perfected, I guess we won’t even need to learn the keyboard!

  42. Thanks for the link to the academic decathalon. From what I can tell there is no way to do a real comparision of how the various Catholic schools rank academically as not all schools participate in the academic decathalon. St. Cecilia's doesn't not sure about St. Brendans or St. Stephans and not sure why some schools decide to partipate and others dont.

  43. 3:08, please note the Academic Decathlon isn't a good indicator of the quality of the schools.

    It's just a contest between a really small group of self-selected kids from each school.

  44. St Cecila’s and NDV give preference to Catholic non-parishioners (requires only baptismal certificate). From a supply/demand standpoint, even if you are Catholic, it’s extremely difficult to get into NDV. But I think it’s not so hard to get into St. Cecila’s if you are Catholic (they have 2 grades per class); even if you aren’t in the parish (expectation that you will become involved in the parish and the school.) St. Gabriel’s (also 2 grades per class) operates on a first-come, first-served admissions policy – if you get your application in early – ie on the first day they distribute applications, then you will get in the first round of assessments and will likely get a spot, but if you turn in application late – chances of getting a spot are much less – being Catholic has no advantage.

  45. At Star of the Sea, half the kids are non-Catholics. (I can’t remember, but think there may be a similar situation at Holy Name.) Star of the Sea doesn’t mention any preference for Catholics or parish members in admissions, but I would assume that could give some advantage if spots were scarce. In terms of tuition, they don’t give a break for parish members (as some schools do), but instead take off $1000 for “Participating Tuition” vs. “Non-Participating tuition. “The participating family rate requires that a family perform a minimum of 30 hours of service during the school year.”

  46. 2:48,

    This list doesn’t answer your question, but gives you an idea of which schools are underrepresented at Lowell. (While realizing that many parochial school families want to stay parochial for high school… and many independent private school families want to stay private.) None of the schools in which we were interested- Holy Name, Giannini, Lawton, Saint Monica and Star of the Sea- is on the Band Three list (and neither is the school my kids actually attend- CAIS), but based on the demographics of those schools, this list might just be indicating schools without a big Asian population! (Though I know that doesn’t account for Roosevelt being on it…) If you want your kids to go to Lowell, of course, being in a Band 3 school can be helpful. (But Band 3 status can change…)

    The following schools have been determined to be under-represented (Band 3) for the 2008-2009 school year. (List may change for 09-10)

    Aptos Middle
    James Denman Middle
    St. Cecilia Elementary
    Bessie Carmichael
    James Lick Middle
    St. Charles Elementary
    Children's Day School
    Bayview Academy
    St. Elizabeth's Elementary
    Convent of the Sacred Heart Elementary
    KIPP SF Bay Academy
    St. Gabriel Elementary
    Cornerstone Academy
    Lycee Francais La Perouse
    St. James
    Corpus Christi
    Marina Middle
    St. John's Elementary
    Creative Arts Charter
    Dr Martin Luther King Jr Middle
    St. Paul's School
    Ecole Notre Dame Des Victoires
    Mission Dolores Elementary
    St. Peter's School
    Edison Charter
    Our Lady of the Visitacion Elementary
    St. Thomas More
    Epiphany Elementary
    Paul Revere
    Stuart Hall For Boys
    Everett Middle
    Presidio Middle
    The Hamlin School
    Excelsior Middle
    Roosevelt Middle
    Visitacion Valley Middle
    Francisco Middle
    San Francisco Christian Elementary
    Willie Brown Academy
    French-American International
    St. Anthony-Immaculate Conception
    Horace Mann Middle
    St. Brendan Elementary

    San Francisco Unified School District Board Approval 10/23/01
    New Lowell High School Admissions Policy Revised 7/1/08
    Page. 1

    Band Three – Criteria for Principals of Underrepresented Schools

    Admission offers yielding to 15% of available seats will be extended based on the following

    • Using the SFUSD developed formula for Band Three, a specific number of Lowell
    admission seats will be allocated to public and private schools that were underrepresented
    in the students admitted to Lowell the preceding year(s) and that have eighth grade
    students residing within San Francisco.

    San Francisco Unified School District Board Approval 10/23/01
    New Lowell High School Admissions Policy Revised 7/1/08

    Page. 4
    • Upon receipt from the District’s Educational Placement Center of the names of Lowell
    applicants from that school, the principal will rank all student applicants from that school
    based on the personal statement and the criteria below. Principals will use the District’s
    Standardized Scoring Sheet for Bands Two and Three when making these rankings.
    • GPA and test scores (not a point value)
    • Extenuating circumstances
    • Socioeconomic status
    • School leadership/service
    • Demonstrated ability to overcome hardship
    • Extracurricular activities (school based)
    • Community service

  47. Okay, the Band3 list for Lowell is pretty darn funny... (in a histerical laughter of what have I gotten my child into?)

    almost every school I can think of is on there (except for the one's listed by the original poster)

    First how would a Catholic school with 30, maybe 60 students get to be represented?
    Second shame on those public middle schools that are on there....

    Giannini, Lawton and Hoover are the big feeder schools for Lowell?

  48. I thought it was the K-8 schools like Claire Lillienthal that were largely Lowell feeder schools...

  49. Thanks for everyone's input.

    I am sure I am in the minority to say this. I feel that if parents pay something for their children's education then they are more likely to be involved.

    We can't afford 25,000-30,000 for a private school. I don't mind going public if I am in a school with parents who want to be involved with their children and their education. I don't think this exists in San Francisco because the kids don't go to their neighborhood schools. Kids are bused from all over which does not present itself with the opportunity for parents to get involved with their children's education.

    Truth be told, I think everyone should have to pay for education on a sliding scale. Alot more respect is given to things that are paid for than those that is given for free.

  50. 8:42, I wholeheartedly agree. We can't afford private schools either but can just manage parochial and assume that the environment will be better and more stimulating than public simply because we expect a larger community of parents to be actively involved.

  51. Are there any children with gay parents in the Catholic schools? How are they treated and are they taught being gay is intrinsically disordered?

    (btw, raised catholic, went to 9 years of catholic school and for the most part liked it)

  52. Sorry to tag on to the last post but I would also love to hear from parents who are not Catholic, who are not religious and have raised their child not to believe in a god and their experience in Catholic School. Too confusing for the kid? Felt left-out of the community? or everyone, including the school, supportive of your choice?

  53. 8:42 -- there are many SF public schools with major parent participation. Did you go on any of the tours?

    For some people it is very satisfying to volunteer in public schools, maybe more so than in privates: it isn't just about "my child and my child's friends", it's also about "my community", "my city" and even "my country". People do it because it feels right.

    If parental participation is truly your number one criteria, ask around. SFSV (San Francisco School Volunteers) is a great resource.

  54. This is 8:42


  55. 6:05, it's not fair to say shame on those schools on the Lowell Band 3 list. Yeah, Giannini, Hoover, Presidio and a few of the K-8 schools are feeders. They also have very different demographics than some of the other schools. Remember that API *really* stands for either Affluent Parent Index or Asian Parent Index (take your pick). Band 3 is not a judgment on those schools, but a reflection of demographics.

    I would actually expect to see both Aptos and Roosevelt off that list, eventually, as their stars are rising and they are attracting more honors, affluent, and Asian kids; honors kids there now are in GREAT shape to get into Lowell given their combination of good grades/test scores and Band 3! James Lick will stay on the list for awhile, but does a great job of serving its kids despite very challenging demographics (high free lunch, ELLs), including serving its GATE it could be a great feeder option for GATE kids hoping for Lowell, esp those coming from SI programs who want to continue with the Spanish.

    Different topic--I concur that some of the most dedicated volunteers are in public schools--not only, of course, but there is a passion there. That's one reason our schools are improving.

  56. " St. Gabriel’s (also 2 grades per class) operates on a first-come, first-served admissions policy."

    Just to point out that St. Finn Barr's also uses a first-come, first served admissions policy. If you have your act together, it means you can know you have a parochial school place in mid-December, which means you can use a riskier, shoot-for-the-moon strategy for the SFUSD lottery, as even if you go 0/7, you'll know you have a place in an acceptable school.

    "3:08, please note the Academic Decathlon isn't a good indicator of the quality of the schools.

    It's just a contest between a really small group of self-selected kids from each school."

    True, but it was interesting that Epiphany down in the Excelsior/Crocker-Amazon, about which I've heard no buzz at all, had several pupils doing well against NDV, St.Gabriel's, and St. Brendan's kids.

  57. "t's not fair to say shame on those schools on the Lowell Band 3 list. Yeah, Giannini, Hoover, Presidio and a few of the K-8 schools are feeders. "

    What surprised me is that Presidio is a Band 3 school. (At least for 2008-2009.) So, I think proximity to Lowell must play a role, too. (Maybe kids want to stay with their friends going to Washington?)

    Is Band 3 based on kids applying and not getting in... plus kids not applying much at all from certain schools? Or just one of those?

  58. "Truth be told, I think everyone should have to pay for education on a sliding scale. Alot [sic] more respect is given to things that are paid for than those that is [sic] given for free."

    I thought that's why some of the coveted public schools are so desireable -- parents are donating lots and lots of $$ to pay for "extras" that used to be provided for free. I have no firsthand knowledge of this (my child will start K next year), but that's definitely the sense I've gotten.

  59. "Truth be told, I think everyone should have to pay for education on a sliding scale. Alot more respect is given to things that are paid for than those that is given for free."

    I think your comment is rather cynical. Some of us (like my family) cannot afford to pay for education, but put in plenty of time volunteering in the classroom, helping with fundraisers, helping with school plays, baking, etc. My time is valuable.
    Any and all parental involvement helps build community. It cannot be "bought".

  60. "Truth be told, I think everyone should have to pay for education on a sliding scale. Alot [sic] more respect is given to things that are paid for than those that is [sic] given for free."

    I thought that's why some of the coveted public schools are so desireable -- parents are donating lots and lots of $$ to pay for "extras" that used to be provided for free. I have no firsthand knowledge of this (my child will start K next year), but that's definitely the sense I've gotten.

    April 15, 2009 8:58 AM

    I would like to respectfully suggest that if you are going to "sic" another poster's message (which, IMHO, is not very polite in this type of forum), you should probably spell check your own message: "desireable" [sic]. (Mind you, I don't actually agree with the point of view expressed in the original poster's message.) My posts certainly have their share of errors since I am writing "on the fly," between other tasks... and most of the time without my glasses! (BIG mistake on my part, as I too often belatedly realize...)

  61. We all make spelling mistakes. So what?

  62. "I have no idea why anyone who is NOT Catholic would subject their children to Catholic Schools. This is not a put-down of Catholic Schools, just a matter of wondering why people would expose their children to such a strong ideology they do not believe in."

    Because many parents educated in the 1970s and 1980s, especially those who went to both Catholic and public, even in affluent suburbs, remember that the Catholic schools provided a significantly superior education at an affordable price. I doubt that's nearly so true today as it was back then but we are all products of our experiences.

    As for "exposure to ideology," obviously that varies a great deal from school to school. It's not as if Catholic schoolchildren spend their days memorizing papal encyclicals, mass is generally infrequent, and catechism participation is generally optional. Presumably parents would ask lots of questions and not enroll in a Catholic school where they are uncomfortable with the content of the school days or if they fear the school will try to ensnare their non-Catholic child into the church. Some non-Catholics may feel more secure than others, because of who they are or how they view their children or both, about whether they can expose their children to ideas with which they disagree without fearing that their children will subscribe to those ideas.

  63. This earlier thread has more discussion about various schools, including the situation for LGBT and single parent families, the situation for non-Catholics, etc.:

    TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2008
    Hot topic: Catholic schools

  64. 8:58 here. Point taken, M. That was pretty obnoxious. Note to self: don't comment before morning cup of coffee.

  65. I thought that's why some of the coveted public schools are so desireable -- parents are donating lots and lots of $$ to pay for "extras" that used to be provided for free.Yes, the coveted public schools are the ones that are semi-privatized.

  66. Catholic schools


    Higher quality than the 0 to 7 assigned option. Case in point the catholic school we are considering has kids building robots in the 8th grade. My assigned school doesn't have a computer lab period. I wish so much I could do public...cry over it...but until there are comparable choices...have to do catholic

  67. Re. gay parents in Catholic schools -- try NDV.

  68. "Higher quality than the 0 to 7 assigned option. Case in point the catholic school we are considering has kids building robots in the 8th grade. My assigned school doesn't have a computer lab period. I wish so much I could do public...cry over it...but until there are comparable choices...have to do catholic"

    Yup, the parochial schools are a good "safety option" if you're really inclined towards public but nervous about being one of the 30% that go 0/7.

    Better chance of getting in than the privates (we got in both the parochials we applied to), plus less $$$ and no onerous contracts in advance [like certain of the privates impose, where you think you're just putting down a deposit but are in fact on the hook for a whole year's tuition: e.g. Children's Day School].

    Plus, $5K/year is a lot cheaper than the $20-25K for the independent privates.

    Even if you're inclined to the independent privates, applying to a couple of parochials is a good Plan B: I've heard of folks applying to 7+ privates and getting nothing.

  69. Though this year, there was no guarantee one could even get into a parochial school so they're not sure bets as "safety" schools anymore....

  70. "Though this year, there was no guarantee one could even get into a parochial school so they're not sure bets as "safety" schools anymore...."

    I'd disagree, at least for the Kinder level. At NDV or St. Brendan's you'd be SOL, but not at, say, St. Paul's, St. Philip's, St. Finn Barr's, Epiphany, or Mission Dolores in the East of the city. Remember, this is safety schools, not trophy.

  71. I am agnostic at best and went to 6 years of Catholic school in Chicago. I thought it was a great education with a strong belief in core curriculum. They also seem to have the behavior thing under control which is much more than I can say for lot of the SFUSD schools. There is a lot to be said for that.

  72. I bet more than 30% went 0/7 for kindergarten when you take sibling preferences out of the calculations. SFUSD said 80% got 1/7 for kindergarten in Round 1 but that number includes siblings.

  73. It's really interesting to read these comments. I am a Catholic school teacher and my daughter is in a well-respected independent school (St. Paul's Episcopal School in Oakland). My own observations is that the quality of education that kids get at my school,at least in the middle school, is at least as good in most areas as St Paul's for $3900 a year (as opposed to almost 21k). The teaching is equally creative and very engaged.
    One thing that is true is that Catholic schools nearly all offer two periods of English/Language Arts a day to middle school students, thus can cover far more material and really teach four-five books a year, as well as short fiction. Another entire period is devoted to writing, grammar, vocabulary and the like. The ELA teacher at my school has kids constantly writing.
    What my school does not offer is the arts and PE in the same way. PE is twice a week only(but kids can participate in CYO)and music (once a week).
    My principal is a sister of the Sacred Heart and is herself a graduate of Convent and on the board there. Her sense is that we offer the same high quality education as CSH without the extras and the beautiful surrounding (Which are important!)
    We are not displeased with St. Paul's at all: My daughter is doing well there and has great teachers and lots of collaborative learning.

  74. 1:04, why? My kids asked me why they have to learn cursive at all, and I really didn't have an answer. Tradition?

  75. "I bet more than 30% went 0/7 for kindergarten when you take sibling preferences out of the calculations."

    Actually, no. Folks forget to adjust the nominator and denominator when doing their calculations. Assuming one-third were sibling preferences, this year ~70% of first-time non-sib applicants got one of their picks.

  76. " I am a Catholic school teacher and my daughter is in a well-respected independent school (St. Paul's Episcopal School in Oakland)."

    You're a Catholic school teacher and allowing your daughter to be taught by Godless heretics like Episcopalians? Five decades of the rosary as penance for you.

  77. 1:04pm here-
    Cursive is an art form with a great history. If you really look at history, Abe Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address in cursive. It be sad one day if my kids didn't know cursive and couldn't really read the Gettysburg Address or the Dec. of Independence if they saw it.

    I believe history has rich value of lessons and it's important to learn from those lessons.
    Cursive is full of history it be sad to see it diminish.

    I understand it's a personal thing, but going back, it be sad if my children couldn't read/write cursive.

  78. " am agnostic at best and went to 6 years of Catholic school in Chicago. I thought it was a great education with a strong belief in core curriculum. They also seem to have the behavior thing under control which is much more than I can say for lot of the SFUSD schools. There is a lot to be said for that."

    I like Catholic education, but gotta say that:

    1. Behavioral issues are gonna vary radically from school to school. I visited more than 25 SFUSD schools, and I'd say I didn't see much behavioral issues at all. Some (like SF Community) had remarkably peaceful playgrounds, despite being K-8.

    2. Although $5K/year is a lot cheaper than the independent privates, it is going to cause soem self selection of low SES kids out of their cohort. If you've got low SES (public housing or other public assistance) in excess of 50%-60% of the class, there's going to be
    3+ kids in the class with some really Bad Shit going on in their lives at any one time, and that is just too many for a teacher to cope with at once. That's part of the reason why the district uses the diversity index, as academics go up sharply once the low SES fraction goes below 40-50%.

  79. Parochial schools are very much like regular private schools- selective.
    It's their right to choose what families go in and who doesn't.
    Hey, my kid was rejected from our parish school, got over it and moved on to a public school.
    Yes, this is the school that 2/3 of it's parish members were left out in the cold. We knew it was a gamble, there were only about 20 seats to begin with and with over 80 parish members applying.
    Get over it and apply to other private, parochial and public schools. Don't lay your eggs in one basket!!

  80. 1:29 here- last thing, we are happy with our public and will do whatever it takes to support it as we would have done in a parochial school.

  81. One last call (plead, really): does anyone have any insights about Star of the Sea? Is it one of the more academically rigorous parochial schools?

  82. "Parochial schools are very much like regular private schools- selective."

    You can only as as selective if you're getting many more applications than you have slots. St. Brendan's had a 3-to-1 applicant/slot kill ratio for its parishoners; don't know how many non-parishoners applied, but even if it were double the number of parishoners, that's still a lower applicant/slot ratio than getting into Rooftop or AFY or SF Friends. And St. Brendan's is probably the most popular parochial in the city. Odds of getting into St. Paul's, St. Philip's, Star of the Sea, etc. are much better, even for non-parishoners.

    But you're right: don't put your eggs in one basket.

  83. 1:10, sure, cursive is nice and has a rich history. But I couldn't come up with a compelling reason why my kids really NEEDED to learn it, when asked.

  84. "8:58 here. Point taken, M. That was pretty obnoxious. Note to self: don't comment before morning cup of coffee."

    I understand since my mornings have been pretty foggy this week, too. I’m still trying to get back into the swing of things after spring break (though it didn’t feel like much of a “break” with the kids out of school!)… when the kids were going to bed late and waking up late. (My preferred lifestyle… oh, well.)

  85. 3:56,
    I think the most compelling reason is that many people still write in cursive… so it can be helpful to know how to read it. Also, I would think the kids would need to know how to write their own signatures, at least. Both of my younger children actually pushed to learn cursive. My 6-year-old kept asking us to show her the various letters in cursive form, and can write them pretty well, now. (I don’t remember being that interested in learning cursive when it was my turn, so don’t know what’s up with them.) Once my (now 10-year-old) son mastered cursive, he pretty much lost interest, though…

    In addition to teaching us cursive, my 3rd grade teacher had us write to 1000 in Roman numerals!!!! Now that, to me (even back then), seemed a waste of time. (Although I am very good at figuring out the year an old movie was made once the Roman numerals show up on the screen!)

  86. 1:10 here- If you don't want your child to learn cursive, then don't!
    That's all I can really say about it.
    If you don't want your child to learn how to play an instrument, then don't! If you don't want your child to learn how to play soccer, then don't...
    I guess if your child's school is teaching cursive, go complain to your child's teacher. I feel sorry for that teacher....

  87. St. Cecilia, St. Brendan and St. Gabriel are selective, seems as though NDV is as well. St. Philip includes non-parish members/non catholics, but prefers people from the neighborhood. Sounds selective to me....

    Then you have the high schools- yeah, pretty selective, my neighbors just went through the process and told me their story...PRETTY SELECTIVE...

  88. When I was in school, we learned cursive starting in K and the reason was that kids can't reverse letters in cursive the way they can in print.

    At my daughter's school, the reason for teaching printing, cursive, and typing is that they want kids to have the mechanical skills that they need for writing in whatever way is easiest for them, to keep the mechanical issues from being an obstacle to writing.

  89. "One last call (plead, really): does anyone have any insights about Star of the Sea? Is it one of the more academically rigorous parochial schools?"

    Here are my insights, but we were looking for 6th, not KG... I think the principal said they score in the top 25-30% on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. (Or whatever the test is the Catholic school kids take.) But as people have often mentioned here, how kids score on achievement tests is strongly correlated with family characteristics, so not a reliable indicator of academic rigor. In the Lowell Band 3 list I posted earlier, Star of the Sea is not listed, so a fair percentage of its students must make it into Lowell. The school informational material says that middle schools kids who need acceleration are assisted in taking advanced long-distance learning courses through John Hopkins, Stanford... and Berkeley? My son was really interested in that possibility, and also very much enjoyed his two “shadow” days (including his teacher, the principal and especially the other kids), but did say he felt the work was less challenging than at CAIS. However, he REALLY wanted to stay at CAIS, so he could have been trying to “persuade” us using the argument he thought we would find most compelling…. plus, I think CAIS actually does have a reputation for being one of the more challenging schools in San Francisco, and, of course, the regular school day at CAIS includes half the day in Chinese! (A challenging language…) So, all that should be taken into consideration when evaluating his perceptions (based on his limited time there).

    Star of the Sea has 5 days a week of after-school Cantonese and Mandarin (one hour a day each… but the kids don’t have to go every day). There are other after-school options, too, and this school would work for families without any stay-at-home parents.

    The third grade teacher spontaneously volunteered how much she LOVES the school, the kids, the families and her colleagues. She seemed extraordinarily passionate and committed, and was a great “advertisement” for the school since her enthusiasm was infectious.

    I also e-mailed with the president (or maybe she was co-president) of the PTA (or equivalent), and she responded right away and was very helpful and welcoming. (I found that contact info on the school website, and it might be helpful for you, too, if you'd like the point of view of other families.)

    I think Star of the Sea is a great school, well worth checking out. We were fortunate enough to receive additional financial assistance at CAIS, so are staying put, but I think my son could also have flourished at Star of the Sea... or our public school option, Giannini MS. (Prefer K-8, though.)

  90. Star of the Sea seems like a wonderful parochial school. We didn't look into the school because it's a little too far for us. If it were closer, I'd would have.

    I think it's important to also seek other schools and not just some of the same parochial schools mentioned.

    It's also important to know, just like Star of the Sea, there are other Catholic schools that ACCEPT NON Catholic families. It's about finding them and visiting them to see if it's well worth your time.

    As a Catholic, I do believe parochial schools have many things to offer. I also believe non Catholics should seek some of these schools, you just never know...
    besides, parochial schools don't make you recite everything the Pope says or believes in. Frankly, I'm not one to believe EVERYTHING the Catholic church preaches!

  91. "St. Cecilia, St. Brendan and St. Gabriel are selective, seems as though NDV is as well."

    You're the same person that is going on about how West Portal's principal sending his kid to is an indication of something sinister, right?

    Yup, the most popular Catholic schools are hard to get into. But that's not true of all parochial schools, many of which are in the same band as the above schools. And none of the above schools are as hard to get into as SF Friends or MCDS, frankly. SI is tough to get into, but not as tough as Lowell, and solid parochial High Schools like Sacred Heart are a lot easier to get into than SI. Yes, the parochial schools don't take in everybody, but they're a lot less oversubscribed than SFUSD's trophy schools or most independent private schools.

    Also, we got into every parochial school we applied to. So they ain't that selective.

  92. 7:26am- no I'm not the same poster being sinister about WP principle not sending in their child to WP- sorry!

    I agree with many of the things you have stated. I am a true believer in the SF parochials-all of them.

    I certainly didn't get into all the parochial schools that I applied to but was accepted after the privates came out with letters. St. Philip was very straight with me and told me I was on a wait list due to the fact that I wasn't in the neighborhood and wasn't a parish member but was ahead of the pack because I was Catholic. Going back, once the privates came out with acceptances, I was on top of the wait list and was called.

    I also know a handful of other families that are parish members that were not accepted to St. Gabriel, St. Cecilia, St. Brendan and NDV. At the same time, there are less spots than applicant parish members for those schools.
    I do feel as though a person has better odds at being accepted to a parochial than a top tier public school. An frankly, there are MANY wonderful parochials to choose from.

    I actually don't care where parents send their child as long as they are comfortable and their child is thriving. WP principle has every right to send their child to a parochial or any other private--WHO CARES! As another posted stated, maybe WP principle is a staunch Catholic, good for him!

  93. "And frankly, there are MANY wonderful parochials to choose from."

    Well, we're in agreement then. Agree with you that St. Gabriels, NDV, St. Brendan's are unlikely to have places for non-parishoners: don't know about St. Cecilia's. But, as you say, there's lots of other great parochials around.

  94. Does anyone have any insights about St. Vincent de Paul?

  95. I hope this question doesn't upset people, but when posters say there are lots of other great parochial schools (other than NDV, St. Brendan's and St. Gabriel's), which schools are you referring to? In terms of academics, I only hear the schools above cited and since the parochial schools don't publish their test scores, it's hard to evaluate them (not that test scores are the definitive indicator). Are there any parochial "hidden gems"?

  96. Regarding St. VdeP, I personally found the school too ridgid...I have a problem with mandatory "donations" and being evaluated on a weekly basis to see how much I've donated in my little emvelope and how often I show up to church.

    As far as hidden gems....I found both St. Brigit and Sts Peter & Paul to be wonderful undersubscribed schools.

    St. B has innovated technology into the classroom with white boards and online curriculum check so that parents know what's being tought on a daily basis. Principal is a little dull but I see future great potential for this school.

    Sts P & P has a dynamic principal and great afterschool programs. I see great potential for this school as well.

  97. "Are there any parochial "hidden gems"?"

    Some have already been mentioned above in the thread. I liked St. Finn Barr's [despite what others think, who I think are mostly reacting to the butt-ugly nature of the facility], and it has first-come first-served admissions policy, so you can know in early December that you've a place there, which is handy to know when you're filling out the SFUSD application. St. Paul's, St. Philip's are good, Epiphany and Corpus Christi may be though I only know that by hearsay. In the Mission, Mission Dolores and St. Charles may be the best of those schools.

  98. RE: St. Vincent De Paul

    I have heard that it is considered one of the best Catholic Schools in SF. No info on the basis behind that reputation, though.

  99. RE: St. Vincent De Paul

    I have heard that it is considered one of the best Catholic Schools in SF. No info on the basis behind that reputation, though.

  100. I notice that the sacred heart schools (convent, stuart hall) are not mentioned in these discussions. I thought these were the hardest to get into in the city. Are they pretty much kept out of the catholic school bucket b/c it is independent from the Archdiocese?

  101. I think that Stuart Hall and Convent are not being discussed much on this thread is that they have lots of discussion on the earlier private school threads. They are also more in keeping with the independent private schools in that they are less tied to the archidiocesis - and they have much bigger price tag for tuition.

    Where is all the buzz coming from St. Vincent de Paul? Where do their graduates go on to highschool? Just curious as to what is driving that?

  102. I'm not sure whether the buzz about St. Vincent de Paul is based on academics but I think the student body is considerably more affluent than those at the other parochial schools.

  103. This thread has been focused on the relatively modestly-priced K-8 schools associated with individual Catholic parishes ("parochial" schools). Stuart Hall and Convent are Catholic schools but not associated with individual parishes. They are run by the international Order of the Sacred Heart. Stuart Hall and Convent are high-end, with steep tuition (which may be offset by financial aid), small classes and lots of bells and whistles. If you're looking at Town or Hamlin, you may well be looking at Stuart Hall or Convent also. Parochial schools may have up to 30 kids in the elementary school classes, including kindergarten.

  104. Disclaimer: I live in another city but before you throw rotten tomatoes, I'm a native SF'an (St. Gabriel's, Hoover, etc) so I am addicted to this site...

    Anyhow, we got into our Catholic of choice (still waiting on our public of choice)- we are non-parishioners b/c we don't go anywhere...and we didn't get finanical aid (not surprised). Due to the economy, this school which is usually over subscribed still has K openings (2 classes per grade)-- soooo, do you think it'd be in bad form to go for a visit (haven't done a formal tour yet, just the generic open house)- and say if we were given the in-parish rate we'd commit, otherwises we'll go public for a year until we're "parishioners" [which is true, plus we can then "try out" the public school for a year]. At this school, you are a parishioner if you donate $ regularly. Just curious....

  105. If you think there will be room in First grade next year and want to wait for the parishionare rate then go and risk it. If you feel comfortable asking for the in parish rate this year I would come right out and say that you will committe to participate in the parish to come close to the difference in the in parish vs non parishioner tuition.

  106. We got into St. John's and are very happy! I think this school might be considered a "hidden gem". It's in Glen Park and is small and sweet. Very down to earth and diverse. The principal has started a fine arts program and it really into technology. The academics are strong and yet the school is very nurturing. 30% of the families are non catholic. I love the way they do their tours. They have 2 students (8th graders) give you the initial tour and then you meet with the principal or vice principal. I was able to ask these students all kinds of questions. One of the students had transferred to St. John's in the 6th grade after attending Clarendon. She said she was well received at St. John's and felt welcomed by the other students. They have this whole emphasis on respect and community. We're excited for the Fall! We also applied to public and got 0/7. For us this was meant to be.

  107. With regard to St. Stephen's, it is a wonderful school with a close community. We chose this school over St. Brendans and St. Gabriels. St. Brendans did not have enough diversity, and St. Gabriels was just to far for us. Don't get me wrong, I think SB, and SG are both great schools.

    St. Stephen's was just the perfect fit. We're excited about our new gym and hall being built, the academics are excellent, and we are most impressed with the principal. She runs a tight ship, and her expectations of parents and students are high. Our family finds this very refreshing.

    With regard to the comments made about the after school program above, it is true that there is no a lot of emphasis on that program. It is well run, and the children are safe. However, there just isn't a big demand for a large scale after school program. There are several stay at home parents, and because the community is so close knit, playdates and activities create less of a demand for extended care.

    I work full time, and this has been my experience. St. Stephen's is an outstanding school.

  108. Where would schools prioritize Catholic parent with unbaptized (non-Catholic) child?

    (Schools say priority order is parishoners, non-parishoner Catholics, non-Catholics.)

  109. In regards to where SVDP students go to high school, this years 8th grade class even though was small (16 I believe)was accepted to the following High Schools:
    University, Lowell, SI, SH, CSH, Stuart Hall High School, With over half of the student body being accepted to SI. A lot of the students where accepted with honors.

  110. Does anyone know which of the Catholic Schools in the City are the "feeder" schools for SI - Are most of them in the sunset or richmond i.e. St Brendan's, St Gabriel's or St Monica's. Where do the kids at St James, St. Paul, St John's and St. Phillip's end up??

  111. I enjoyed reading thru the comments here, but I didn't see any info on St. Thomas the Apostle. Considering transferring our daughter for 6th grade. Good academic reputation, Principal seems very engaged, Small school, seems to be thriving, sends its grads to elite private HS as well as SI, SH, etc. Any info would be appreciated.