Sharing Our First Half-Century
LAURA HEFFRON, 50TH ANNIVERSARY PRODUCER
In the 1960s, the United States lost John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. to assassinations and an unwinnable war in Vietnam; witnessed the bravery of the Freedom Riders who risked their lives for desegregation in the South, and the launch of the Apollo Program that landed men on the moon and returned them safely back to Earth. At the same time, San Francisco represented the counter culture of the 60s and was the incubator to other movements that eventually became national: Free Speech, Black Power and Hippies. During this time of change and unrest, a group of visionaries were meeting to create a bilingual immersion school at a time when being bilingual wasn’t fashionable. This school, our school, became a reality 50 years ago.
When our community came together last spring to begin planning
our first half-century, we knew we wanted to produce a different kind
of event from a typical institutional anniversary gala. We wanted to
spotlight our founding principles (academic excellence, diversity, critical
thinking, communicating across cultures and a global perspective) in
creative ways and at unique venues.
From this motivation, the i-SPEAK series was created. As a nod to
“i” words that we find meaningful – immersion, innovation, individuality,
internationalism, ideas, inspiration and imagination, to name just a few
– three days of seven events were produced. These events welcomed
members across our entire community for free or at very low cost,
focusing on the school’s original values and showcasing the school’s
past, present and future.
To make this happen, it took a dedicated team of faculty to work
with the students on special projects dedicated to our 50th. Third grade
students practiced for months Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind in French
and English, and were selected to open our Signature i-SPEAK event at
the Castro Theatre. Students in the middle and high schools auditioned
to be part of the Student i-SPEAK at the SF Conservatory of Music with
great energy, courage, passion and original materials. Faculty came
together from different sections and levels to mentor those who were
not their students. Early February hummed with rehearsals and last-minute planning so that we could welcome our families, faculty and
alumni to a memorable celebration.
In this special issue of La Lettre, we have compiled some of our
favorite photos from across the 50th Anniversary festivities. We hope
you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed producing them. And for those
of you who attended some or all of the events, we thank you for paying
homage to our very special community.