Students in 1910–11 took a familiar course of studies that included religion, Latin, Greek, English, German, Spanish, French, mathematics, civics, elocution, freehand and modern drawing, physical geography, astronomy, physiology, botany, zoology, stenography and bookkeeping, taught by 11 priests and three laymen.
Admission to the high school seems to have been a rather informal affair. According to the Catalogue, “every candidate for admission, who is not personally known to some member of the Faculty, must present testimonials of his good moral character. If he come from another college, he will be required to bring a certificate of good standing from the institution which he has left. Students not of the Catholic faith are expected to conform respectfully to the religious exercises of the College…. For admission into the High School Course a knowledge of English Grammar, Analysis and Composition, of Geography and United States History, and of Arithmetic, is necessary.”
The Catalogue went on to urge parents to have their sons perform two hours of homework each night and insisted that the following pattern “be exactly followed: Monday — English Composition, Mathematics, Modern Language. Tuesday — Latin Theme, Mathematics, English Exercise. Wednesday — Latin Theme, Mathematics, Modern Language. Friday — Latin Theme, Mathematics, Modern Language. Saturday — Latin Theme, Mathematics, English Exercise.”
The Catalogue warned that “students who come unprepared to recite, or without having their written exercises ready, are looked upon as morally absent, and like absentees, they must bring satisfactory written excuses from their parents to the Prefect of Studies to avoid censure.”
Fr. Charles B. Largan, SJ ’14, began his freshman year at SI in 1910 and, as a young man, was an altar server at the dedication of St. Ignatius Church. In an interview published in 1977 in The 2001 (SI’s student newspaper), Fr. Largan recalled that “the only social events were the occasional fistfights, which were a little more grandiose than today’s pugilistic contests. The fights would start in the schoolyard and make their way to Golden Gate Park after school. They were terminated by the police. No one (well, almost no one) knew how to dance in those days so there was no prom. But there was a vote in class to have a dance.… Instead of a dance, the class had a feast at a downtown café. The logic behind this was expressed by … one boy who said, ‘Not all of us can dance, but we all can sure eat.’”
(Fr. Largan taught at SI from 1944 to 1961 and continued living in the Jesuit community, serving as a substitute teacher, unofficial school historian and minister to the sick until his death in 1982. He taught thousands of students, many of whom returned to teach at SI. He also taught Merv Griffin, Sr., the father of the former TV talk show host and producer Merv Griffin. He celebrated his diamond jubilee at SI in 1974, marking the 60-year anniversary of his entry into the Society of Jesus.)
In all, high school life in 1910 and 1911 at 2211 Hayes Street probably didn’t seem much different from the school days students experienced at the Market Street or the Van Ness Avenue campuses.