New Opportunities to be Part of SI

In 1995, Principal Steve Nejasmich, SJ, asked English teacher Simon Chiu ’88 to resurrect the Uplift Program that Steve Phelps had created in the 1970s to encourage students from underrepresented areas of the city to apply to SI by offering them a summer school program in their 7th and 8th grade years. That program’s goals shifted in the 1980s when it became Summer Prep. Chiu brought back the name and the original purpose. Dozens of students from this program matriculated to SI as this program continued to grow and succeed.

In 2000, Principal Charlie Dullea hired Emily Behr ’93 to head the program, now called Magis. It continues to work with low-income and first-generation college bound middle-school students to provide year-round support and preparation for a college prep high school. It supports Magis graduates who attend SI, providing them with tutoring, social and cultural events, positive mentors and role models and individual advocacy. The program helps SI achieve its goal of offering “a preferential option for the poor,” which is an intrinsic goal of the Society of Jesus. It also helps provide SI with a richness that comes from ethnic and socio-economic diversity.

As a way of reaching out to SI grads who work downtown, the school’s Development Office began sponsoring the Annual Downtown Business Lunchon September 26, 1990. State Court of Appeals Judge William Newsom ’51 spoke before 130 alumni and friends in the Bank of America building. Later speakers included Wells Fargo President Paul Hazen, author Jerry Posner ’72, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (then a supervisor) and NFL Hall of Famer Dan Fouts ’69.

On June 21, 1996, the Alumni Association, under the leadership of John Christen, turned its annual golf tournament into an All-Class Reunion and Sports Day. About 170 alumni took part in golf, tennis, basketball or swimming and came to a dinner at the SI Commons. The event has grown each year, with the 2004 event drawing more than 400 for golf, basketball and dinner and the annual bestowing of the “honorary alumnus” status to a worthy recipient.

Alumni and parents also could take part in the school in a new way by visiting SI’s Prep Shop, inaugurated in 1996 by the Ignatian Guild. The shop offers clothing, buttons, water bottles and decals with SI insignia, and the operation, run entirely by Guild volunteers, has grown over the years. It now sells through the SI bookstore and website and at the various Ignatian Guild and school functions.

That same year, SI launched the Heritage Society, made up of individuals who have named the school as a beneficiary in their wills or estates. SI honored the first 30 members of this group with a reception at the Pacific Heights home of Dorothy and Ted Kitt ’50 on June 9, 1996. At the gathering, Steve Lovette thanked the members for “discovering dynamic ways to memorialize family members or to perpetuate their own memories. These people, rather than building monuments to themselves, offer the gift of education to others — one that endures like no other gift and is passed on through the families. Education is the best preventative medicine for society’s ills, and these generous people understand that.” The group has grown since then and now includes more than 80 families and individuals.

The International Food Faire, sponsored by the Ignatian Guild, has, since 1993, become one of the most popular events of the year. More than 1,000 students, parents and siblings attend this celebration of the diverse cultures of SI with food and entertainment. Each year young Irish dancers perform jigs and reels, Chinese lion dancers amaze audiences with intricate costumes and choreography, and many other performers celebrate their cultures through dance and song.

The PAAAS (the Parents of the Association of African American Students) began in early 1990s as a way of helping SI better support African American students. The group exists to assist SI in recruiting students of color and to help them stay and succeed at SI once they enroll. In 2002, under the leadership of executive board members Carmen Jordan-Cox, Anthony Rawls, Lynetta Johnson and Manny Fortes, the group began holding monthly meetings for parents and students to hear speakers, discuss issues or just have fun.