Head of School Welcome & Helpful Information
Resources For New Families
- From the Dean of Student Life
- From the Dean of Teaching and Learning
- From the Director of Learning Services
- From the Arts Department
- From the Athletics Department
From the Dean of Student Life
Dear Class of 2027,
I am thrilled to welcome you to UHS! You have made it through quite a wild ride in middle school, and I’m so proud of each of you for the work it took to do so: staying engaged in challenging classes, staying connected to your family and friends, and pouring yourselves into the hobbies and activities that bring you joy. I look forward to the ways you’ll bring your experiences and lessons learned to the UHS student community in the fall. The next four years will prove to be transformational, enlightening, and enriching.
One of the first things you’ll get to experience is your cluster. At UHS, your cluster is like a little family. You will be thoughtfully grouped with students from various backgrounds, and you will be paired with a mentor who will guide you–emotionally, socially, and academically–through the next four years. This mentor will serve as your “big red help button,” as we like to say. Whenever you have a question or need help on something, your mentor is the person with the answer or the ability to point you in the right direction. I can’t wait for you to meet each other!
Something I’ve heard UHS graduates say year after year is that they feel like every space at UHS is an educational space. Whether in the classroom, at lunch, in office hours, on the sports field, or in a club or affinity group, there is always something new to explore or dig deeper into. My favorite thing about our students is that when they see a space that deserves to exist, they just make it. Every year, UHS students and their adult sponsors run 50+ clubs and affinity groups catering to a wide variety of interests and identifiers, from the Black Student Union to the Committee on Sustainability to Trader Joe’s Appreciation Club. I hope you take advantage of these opportunities during your time at UHS.
Lastly, our Institute for Responsive Education, or REd, programming will provide even more opportunities to dive into topics and community engagement projects related to health, wellness, equity, community, and identity development. Through weekly classes, day-long symposiums, workshops, guest speakers, and hands-on projects, you’ll continue to better understand yourself and the world around you as you move through UHS.
I can’t wait for you all to begin this journey. To restate some mantras I shared in my first letter to UHS families when I joined the community: Be open to new experiences and challenges. Be adaptive when collaborating and learning. Be willing to dive in. You’ve shown that you’re up for the challenge, and I look forward to seeing each and every one of you engage deeply and inquisitively.
Dean of Student Life
From the Dean of Teaching and Learning
Dear Class of 2027,
Congratulations on your acceptance to San Francisco University High School! The not-so-secret ingredient of our school is our students who, like you, have demonstrated the capacity to engage in the meaningful, invigorating academic experience our outstanding faculty is proud to facilitate. I’m very much looking forward to meeting you in person at New Families Saturday next month, and I wish you all the best as you finish up your 8th grade year strong.
As your Dean of Teaching and Learning, my goal is to ensure that we are all learning together as a community, students and adults. This means engaging with and adapting to the changing world around us. It also means staying true to our core values of inquiry, care, integrity, agency and interconnection. I’d like to take this opportunity to share a few reasons why I have come to love this school community, and why I personally continue to find UHS such an inspiring place to learn and grow.
I was first drawn to UHS as a physics teacher because of its orientation toward student-centered inquiry. Our 9th grade physics classrooms are built around shared tables with whiteboards for student use. There is little infrastructure for, or interest in, long lectures; rather, students are expected to engage in their own investigations in a guided, hands-on way, and to discuss their findings together. I see little point, particularly in the age of COVID, in going through all the trouble of bringing everyone together in a room if we aren’t then interactively learning alongside one another most of that time.
I have come to find that UHS is a place for kids who love school, who are invested in building a kind and thoughtful place to learn and take action toward making the world a better place. I was privileged to watch UHS live out its values of care and integrity when I joined the school as a member of the first team of mentors over a decade ago. Our mentoring program has since gained national recognition for its innovative and strongly-resourced approach to student support. As a mentor, I act as the point-person for each student in my cluster; we meet weekly and stay together for four years. I serve as a big red “HELP” button, answering but also asking questions: how are you enjoying your experience here? What types of support do you need? Time is a valuable commodity in a school. Your 9th grade mentor receives a full course release to make sure they have the time and energy to make a meaningful connection to you.
Our students routinely surprise me in how they search for meaning and relevance in their coursework. From the amazing Student Drama Series - a series of one-acts written, produced, and directed by seniors in our Advanced Projects in Theater course - to our junior/senior English Seminar courses like Afrofuturism, Greek Tragedy, Remaking Masculinity, and Latin American Literature, to our accelerated, group-work based Precalculus and DIfferential Calculus course, to our required 9th grade Mexican History course - our students learn from each other as much as from their teachers and textbooks. These interconnections form the heart of our school and set us up to make profound and positive change in an increasingly integrated world.
I know you’ll come to love UHS in your own way. I look forward to meeting you and your family soon! In the meantime, finish strong at your school and enjoy these last few months of school.
Byron Philhour, Ph.D.
Dean of Teaching and Learning
From the Director of Learning Services
Greetings New Families!
Welcome to UHS! I’m De Shan Lett, Director of Learning Services here at UHS! As part of the support team, I work with students, families, mentors, and faculty to support the academic and social-emotional well-being of students, particularly as they transition to UHS. The Learning Services Director is also a member of the Human Development department and leads workshops around learning and metacognition strategies for all 9th graders. One aspect of the Learning Services Director’s role is to determine a student’s need for academic accommodations such as extended time and computer use for test-taking. I highly recommend openly communicating these needs early on so that the necessary accommodations can be in place for your student’s UHS placement exams.
To be considered for accommodations, please submit a copy of a recent psycho-educational or neuropsychological evaluation to me (hard copy or electronic) no later than Monday, April 10th. If available, send a copy of a previous learning support plan or IEP as well. For more information on the process and documentation guidelines, see the “Learning Services” tab on our school website under “School Life”. If additional testing or information is needed to support your request, I will contact you before the end of the school year so that you can make further testing arrangements over the summer. Please note, a record of accommodations received on the SSAT alone is not sufficient documentation to secure accommodations on our placement exams.
In mid-August families who submitted documentation will be contacted to schedule an initial meeting to discuss your child’s learning needs and how we will provide the necessary support during the coming school year. Please note that these meetings will occur during the last two weeks in August.
In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about this process or about learning services at UHS.
I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 415.447.5821. I look forward to meeting you and your family in August!
De Shan A. Lett
Director of Learning Services & 11th Grade Mentor
From the Arts Department
Dear Class of 2027,
On behalf of the Arts Department, welcome to UHS, where the arts are an integral part of the student experience.
UHS’s arts program is a vibrant and essential part of our school’s community. The skills of creativity, imagination, collaboration, and critical thinking are relevant not only to the world of the arts, but also to other disciplines like science and literature as well as our 21st century world.
While attending UHS, you will be expected to take two semesters of performing and/or studio arts classes. You may choose to immerse yourself in the world of photography, play an instrument that inspires you, learn how to use cutting-edge electronic music software, create your own masterpiece, write and direct a short play, or design and build a stage set that would rival those seen in our local professional theaters!
Each of our disciplines offers an entry-level course, as well as upper division courses that allow students to explore a particular art form in greater depth. This means that you can follow your journey into the arts well after you have completed your two required semesters. As a matter of fact, over 80% of our student body does just that! By mastering the fundamental skills of the discipline, they mature into more confident and creative actors, visual artists, singers, theater designers, songwriters and musicians. It is also common for students to pursue more than one arts discipline.
An important offering in our program is Civilization and the Arts: A Transcultural History of the West and the World . This is a full year interdisciplinary course that examines the relationship between art, music, and history. All sophomores are required to take this course, which is an important part of our shared goal as a department to help students not only develop their artistic skills, but also their understanding of the arts.
Our arts faculty is passionate about and professionally engaged with their respective disciplines. We can be found in the concert halls, galleries, theaters, and jazz venues throughout the Bay Area. We do what we teach and with two major theater productions, a student-driven drama series, six art openings, and four concerts each year, the arts are always present in our school culture.
If you’d like to attend one of our art openings, theater productions or concerts, please check the calendar of arts events on our website. This is a great way to see first-hand the depth of our programs and a fantastic opportunity to meet and speak with our arts faculty. If you are unable to make one of our events and/or if you have further questions about our arts program, you can always feel free to contact me. Warmest regards,
James K. Faerron
Arts Department Chair and Instructor of Technical Theater email@example.com
Arts Department Values Statements
We value creativity and imagination as skills relevant to all UHS curricula and our 21st century world. We strive for students to become innovators who seek solutions from multiple approaches. We believe that purposeful risk-taking cultivates independent and critical thinking pertinent to all fields.
We value the process of creating. We teach students to build resiliency while they are developing their skills in our classes. When challenged by setbacks and ambiguities, we encourage students to learn to trust themselves, and to persevere.
We value teaching the arts as a language. We empower students to use the arts as a lens to analyze, decode, interpret, and communicate with the world around them.
We value a collaborative experience in our classrooms. Our arts spaces are supportive environments where students work together, respect multiple perspectives, and incorporate the critique process into their practice.
We value connecting the physical and intellectual aspects of creating. Hands-on engagement with the discipline enhances cognitive development. By mastering and manipulating the foundational and technical elements of a discipline, students are better able to conceptually engage with the art form.
We value inspiring passion for the discipline by exposing our students to the professional world of the arts. We work with specialists in the classrooms and take field trips to arts organizations, festivals, and events. We model passion for the arts through our own ongoing participation in our respective professional fields.
From the Athletics Department
Dear Future Red Devil,
Congratulations on your acceptance to San Francisco University High School!
We are certain that your time here will be one of the most amazing periods of your life — full of great achievements, life-long friendships, and personal development that will prepare you wonderfully for college and beyond.
We especially hope that you will choose to be a part of Red Devil athletics. Our program has a great reputation and a long track record of success, and we encourage you to join us. In fact, in a typical year about 95% of the ninth-grade class chooses to play on one or more of our teams. Across the entire student body, that participation rate is at 85%. In large part this is because UHS student-athletes consistently report their experience to be positive—the #1 goal for our program.
Here are ten reasons that we hope you will become a student-athlete at UHS:
The balance your life will have between academics, athletics, and other UHS activities
The thrill of pursuing league, section, and state titles (across every one of our athletic programs, our teams routinely qualify for league, section and state playoffs and this past Winter all four of our varsity teams hosted the Section Championship game).
The fun you will have during team trips, events, and just hanging out together
The leadership skills you will develop as a senior member of the team or a captain (40% of the senior class serve as team captains)
The preparation you will receive for college athletics (about 15% of each class makes a varsity team in college, most as a recruited athlete)
The confidence you will gain from competing with your teammates and experiencing both adversity and success
The excitement of Big Red Fridays and Chase Day, being a part of or playing in front of a sea of Red Devil fans and representing University with pride and passion
The value of learning through personal experience the “focus + effort + teamwork = success” model
The amazing coaches you will love playing for and who will be important to you long past graduation
The friends and experiences that will provide you with memories to last a lifetime
Our athletic program is structured to make broad student participation possible. We offer 15 sports, and many athletes go out for sports they never played before entering UHS. We also form JV or freshmen teams whenever our numbers make that possible and hire coaches who strive to make your athletic experience positive, constructive, and memorable.
The Athletic Staff including our 60+ coaches, trainers, and strength and conditioning staff look forward to meeting you and learning about your athletic background. We are happy to answer your questions, explain how athletics work at UHS, and explore what choices might make sense for you.
Again, congratulations on your acceptance to San Francisco University High School and the exciting world of Red Devil athletics!
UHS Athletic Department
Associate Athletic Director
Assistant Athletic Director