View Full Version : Sunset Notes from Our St. Cecilia Tour

10-12-2010, 12:44 PM
Our notes and impressions from the St. Cecilia tour:

St. Cecilia is a coed Catholic K-8 elementary school located in the Sunset on Vicente and 18th Ave. We didn't know much about the school other than its academic reputation so we were curious to see the school for ourselves.

The principal Sister Marilyn clearly emphasized that religion is a key component of the program at St. Cecilia. Only 10% of the students are non-Catholic, with admission preference given to (1) parishioners, (2) Catholic non-parishioners and then (3) the rest. Students take religion everyday to discover their relationship between themselves and Jesus. Grades 6-8 also have a retreat program where they have the opportunity to further develop their relationship with each other and God.

Class sizes seem to be pretty consistent across Catholic schools. St. Cecilia, however, has two classes per grade, which I guess would make them one of the larger schools. Each class has 2 full-time teachers and up to 4 aides. To help students with minor special needs, the school has a learning specialist on staff for K-5. The kindergarten classes are split into a morning and an afternoon program, each lasting about 2.5 hours.

The school contracts with Rhythm and Moves to provide a FT PE teacher and ensure that the units are fresh every 4-6 weeks (self defense, gymnastics, dance, etc). The science resoruce teacher offers science program support to the regular teachers. In addition, the FT tech coordinator tries to integrate what goes on in the classroom into technology. One claim to fame for the school is its music conservatory, where it has 10 instrumental teachers on staff (piano, strings, woodwinds, etc). Students have the opportunity to perform in Christmas concerts and many recitals.

Applications are available from the school on January 4th. The school historically receives 100-120 applications for 70 spots, but when factoring in siblings, only half those spots are actually available. The school performs the applicant screenings in January, 8 children at a time.

Three student representatives described how they loved the school (not surprising) and the extracurricular activities they participate in. The one actvity that stood out was the SC Streamers, where the students learn to stream the monthly mass online. Sports and children's choir are offered in third grade and beyond while drama club starts in fourth grade.

In the tour portion, we observed one of the first grade classes. As large as the classes seemed, it was split into four or five smaller groups, each with a teacher or an aide supervising. The children were working enthusiastically on different aspects of the same subject, providing a positive buzz in the classroom. We also saw fourth grade students working away on math problems in the computer lab. The other building we saw was the relatively new gym, which was quite impressive.

The two aspects that really stood out for us from the tour were (1) how big a role religion played in the daily curriculum and (2) how tightly knit the community was. Parents actively volunteer their time to the school because the school finds ways to utilize them productively rather than just give them busy work. If religion and community are two of the key criteria in your search, then St. Cecilia would be a great school for your family.