SF Day Community Celebrates Being Together In-person
The SF Day community has been buzzing with excitement and joy with the return of in-person connection opportunities, including beloved and new traditions. Since returning from winter break and in response to an increased ability to gather safely, SF Day has prioritized bringing the community back with the return of in-person events and programs. Peter McCormack, Interim Head of School at SF Day, shares why bringing community back was a prime focus for our learning community:
"Great schools are intentionally and intensely relationship-based. Those relationships became harder to maintain during more than two years of Zoom and not allowing parents, guardians, caregivers, or visitors on campus. What a relief, then, to be building or rebuilding these relationships in person, many for the first time, now that restrictions are lifting.”
Traditions & Celebrations
In 2022 we marked the return of many in-person traditions that the SF Day community holds dear. The new year kicked off with the exciting Ribbon Cutting and 40th Anniversary Celebration, commemorating the opening of SF Day’s newest spaces. Since the opening, students have been making use of the new spaces for a range of learning opportunities spanning art, innovation, performances, robotics, and more. First graders launched their annual school-wide post office with global reach for the first time in-person since going virtual during remote instruction, and students joyfully united across grade levels with the return of the Buddy Day program. Pocket Poetry Day also made a comeback, giving students, faculty, and staff a chance to connect with one another over poetry.
This was closely followed by a new tradition celebrating poetry—the Upper School had its first-ever Poetry in the Park featuring poetry readings from our own Dr. Ruth Bissell and Dean Rader, visiting poet Azure Antoinette, and San Francisco Poet Laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin at the SF Botanical Gardens.
“When we talk about poetry in the classroom, we talk about our rights and responsibilities as readers and writers,” shared Tristen Chang, Upper School Learning Specialist and one of the lead organizers for Poetry in the Park. “Poetry in the Park was a meaningful learning experience because it gave students the right to have their voices heard, and the responsibility to listen to the voices of others.”
In early March, we celebrated the in-person return of SF Day Fest, our community’s annual fundraiser to support Discounted Tuition and diversity, equity, and inclusion programming at SF Day. Families, teachers, and staff gathered at the Mission Rock Resort with the theme “Set Sail!” and together, the community raised over $275,000 and enjoyed a joyful evening of community building. The night will be remembered as one full of joy and reconnection. “After nearly two years apart, it was wonderful to be able to gather our largest crowd in SF Day Fest history at this year's Set Sail at Mission Rock Resort!” said Erin Wright, Director of Advancement. “Getting to share an evening with our community and reconnect in person after so long apart filled our hearts with immense joy and gratitude for the SF Day community.”
Spring brought more opportunities for community connection, including the return of Outdoor Education trips, in-person Upper School assemblies, an in-person 8th Grade and Jazz Band Soiree featuring music from West Side Story, the week-long Copa soccer tournament on the rooftop, and 8th Grade culminating project shares. Student artists across all grades participated in a new take on our annual art show, the “Imagine That!” parade, a collaboration between the Innovation Lab, Music, and Visual Arts Departments to celebrate the theme "Be Who You Are."
Other beloved year-end traditions, like the Fourth Grade Play and Concert for Community, also made an in-person comeback this year, showcasing our talented student musicians and performers. The community came together at the end of the term for a celebration and fond farewell for all those leaving San Francisco Day School, and, as with 2021, the school year culminated with our joyous 8th Grade Graduation at Fort Scott Field in the Presidio.
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
This semester also brought expanded in-person opportunities for the SF Day community to engage with our shared value of diversity that is broad, evolving, and enriches everyone, including but not limited to the following highlights.
Student and faculty Affinity Groups were able to gather in-person again, bringing back important spaces to support and celebrate our community’s diversity. Some groups hosted community initiatives, including the AAPI Affinity Group’s Stop Asian Hate origami project and the Jewish Affinity Group’s Passover Celebration in the Library.
“Affinity groups allow our students to reflect on school experiences with peers who look like them and/or share similar identities,” said Betsy Brody, Co-Director of Diversity and Director of High School Counseling. “The adult facilitators serve as mirrors for the various identities. By meeting in person, students can begin to develop relationships that enhance their sense of belonging.”
The SF Day community engaged with Black History Month in a number of ways, including our first-ever Black Lives Matter march, a Week of Action, and curricular connections across all grades. Soon after Black History Month, 6th graders hosted their first ChangeMaker Exhibition in our new Lower School play yard. This was an in-person opportunity for fellow Upper School students, faculty, staff, and families to learn about inspiring projects focused on modern civil rights issues that are important to our students.
LaurenCombs, Innovation & Design Teacher and one of the lead organizers for the ChangeMaker Exhibition, shared, “We knew that, given COVID, it was time that students had an authentic audience tied to big ideas and issues that they can relate to."
For the first time in two years, SF Day was able to host Breakthrough SF’s annual fundraiser, Raise Your Hand, featuring keynote speaker Dr. Andrew Jolivette, Chair of the Ethnic Studies Department at UC San Diego, as well as Breakthrough Class of 2022 student speakers DeVanee and Evonne. “I was so excited to have our Raise Your Hand event back in-person this year,” said Andy Shin, Executive Director of Breakthrough SF. “Zoom is doable, but it doesn't compare as far as connecting with people and having meaningful conversations. There was also the aspect of celebration that came with being in-person, like food, drinks, music, lights, and just the energy of the group. It was windy on the roof, but totally worth it.”
SF Day looks forward to continued opportunities to gather as a community around diversity, equity, and inclusion, including our plans to march as a contingent at the 2022 San Francisco Pride Parade this summer.
In-person service learning opportunities made their way back to SF Day this term, teaching our students what it means to be active citizens within our community. The Dolphin Lunchmakers program launched in March, delivering hundreds of sandwiches to GLIDE Memorial Church in the Tenderloin to benefit people in the community, most of whom are living without housing and access to regular meals. Families recently volunteered together in support of the local Haight Ashbury Food Program, which provides supplemental groceries to hundreds of people in need.
An essential component of the SF Day experience, engaging with service learning in-person supports student growth. “In-person service learning helps students develop empathy and shows them that they make a difference in the world,” said Renée Otero, Service Learning Coordinator, and Library Director.
During Earth Week, families and students could be spotted in the neighborhood surrounding campus picking up litter and taking care of our community and our planet. Later that week, families and students participated in the Bike and Roll to School initiative, a week for students city-wide to celebrate getting around using their own power. Families and students also volunteered to take care of other community spaces during the term, including the Panhandle Park and Ocean Beach.
Our student athletes had a remarkable return to playing a range of sports together and with neighboring schools. Earlier in the semester, 4th grade girls and boys basketball teams got the opportunity to scrimmage during halftime at the Chase Center during a Golden State Warriors game. On the court, our students represented the SF Day well, displaying confidence, respect, and showing great sportsmanship.
‘Phins have celebrated multiple championship wins since the semester began. In April, the boys varsity basketball team won the championship in an undefeated season, marking their first championship win since 2008. On May 12, the boys varsity volleyball team won the championship game in two sets, marking the first time in 10 years that SF Day has taken home the title. The next day, on May 13, the girls junior varsity soccer team also won their championship game, making for two SF Day championship wins in one week! In an email sent to the Upper School, Jason Tognetti, Director of Athletics, wrote, “This JV team is made up of seventeen tough (in a good way) minded SF Day Upper School students who will forever have this shared experience. It’s an experience that is steeped in hard work, teamwork, grit, hustle and joy.”
Read Jason’s detailed summary emails to the community about these incredible championship wins here.
We were thrilled to be able to bring back events celebrating our vibrant alumni community with the return of in-person gatherings. In May, we hosted our first alumni event since 2019, featuring joyful reunions, a self-guided tour of our new building, and a social at the Rooftop Garden.
On May 20, we hosted a breakfast to welcome our graduating 8th Graders to the Alumni Association, and this June, we look forward to hosting a brunch for SF Day alumni graduating from high school.
With so many long-awaited events and reunions, this year will be remembered as one marked by the importance of community. As we make plans for next year, we look forward to a new year full of opportunities for community connection at SF Day.