20 years of friends
San Francisco Friends School is founded by first Head of School Cathy Hunter and a small group of devoted and determined parents, making it one of just a handful of West Coast Friends schools.
San Francisco Friends School welcomes its first class of Kindergarteners—the Pioneer Class of 2011!—at 117 Diamond in the Castro District.
Also in 2002, Levi Strauss and Company closes sewing operations at its factory at 250 Valencia Street. The Levi Strauss and Company had run the factory at Valencia Street since re-building after the 1906 earthquake.
Celebrated labor and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta visits SFFS in celebration of César Chávez Day on Tuesday, March 30, 2004.
San Francisco Friends School purchases the building at 250 Valencia Street from Levi Strauss & Co.
After years of fundraising via the Light the Way capital campaign, much careful planning, and designing with Pfau Long Architecture, SFFS begins construction at 250 Valencia to retrofit the building for student use. The school partners with San Francisco’s Plant Construction to preserve many of the historic and industrial elements of the structure.
September 8, 2008: SFFS re-opens at 250 Valencia Street, utilizing the first and parts of the second floor of the building, Founding Lower School Head Jennifer Arnest and founding Middle School Head Andrew Salverda were appointed later that year, and both division heads would stay at Friends for over a decade, guiding the Lower and Middle Schools as they expanded and evolved.
October 24, 2008: San Francisco Friends School holds an official ribbon-cutting ceremony at 250 Valencia, and Robert D. Haas, Chairman Emeritus of Levi Strauss & Co. shares a memorable speech to be read at the event. The new campus of SFFS includes two floors of classrooms, a Meeting Room, and a library.
Though since the founding of Friends there had been an annual gathering of parents, families, and Friends to celebrate the community that SFFS was building (we have records of bowling parties and fundraisers held at Fort Mason, among other events), the first official Blue Party was held at Valencia Street in 2008. The families of Friends decided to name the Blue Party in honor of the Levi’s Building and the history of denim manufacturing here. And of course, the theme of the first Blue Party was denim!
The Building Friends capital campaign to build out the third floor of 250 Valencia begins; fundraising for this project will continue for the next three years.
The 7th Grade embarks upon the school’s first trip to Nicaragua. While there, students stayed with host families, learning about the culture and helping out with local community projects.
The Pioneer Class of 2011 graduated from San Francisco Friends School in a beautifully renovated and historic building after they and their families made the school a reality, when they started as Kindergartners in a rented space on Diamond Street nine years prior.
Construction of the third floor of 250 Valencia is completed, resulting in the creation of beautiful new art studios, music rooms, a black box theater, the Middle School Learning Commons, and a full-size gym.
The Horizons at San Francisco Friends School program begins at SFFS. This summer enrichment program for students attending public schools in the Mission is located on our campus, and our communities remain closely connected.
After 14 years at the helm, Cathy Hunter retires as the founding Head of School. Mike Hanas, formerly the Head of Carolina Friends School, steps into the role as the second-ever head of SFFS.
As 2018 comes to a close, SFFS purchases the building next door (formerly the home of Pauline’s Pizza) at 260 Valencia Street.
8th Grade Science students and their Kindergarten Buddies launch a specially designed (by the students themselves) weather balloon at USF campus in partnership with Magnitude.io, an organization dedicated to inspiring the next generation of STEM leaders and problem-solvers.
Friends closes its campus with the unprecedented onset and rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, we planned for a two-week closure.
In the Fall of 2020, the Kindergarten and 1st Grade classes begin a staggered grade-by-grade re-entry to regular (masked!) school days on campus after remote learning for the past several months. While the pandemic continued on, Friends did, too, with more and more people and events together on our campus.
Mike Hanas retires as Head of School and Pankti Sevak, a longtime administrator at Friends Seminary in New York, moves cross-country to become the third Head of School at SFFS. We celebrate 20 years of San Francisco Friends School!