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Immaculate Conception Academy
Dominican School Becomes First Cristo Rey Member
in San Francisco

Sister Janice Therese Wellington, O.P., Principal, and Sister Mary Virginia Leach, O.P., President, look forward to working together during the year of transition.

SAN FRANCISCO – August 25, 2008 – Immaculate Conception Academy, (ICA)  a 125-year-old Catholic high school for girls in the city’s Mission District, has been accepted as an Associate Member of the Cristo Rey Network of Schools.  The Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose sponsor the school.

“This is a proud day for ICA and the Dominican Sisters.” exclaimed Sister Gloria Marie Jones,  OP, congregational prioress.   “We believe all that the Cristo Rey Network stands for strongly resonates with our Dominican commitment to Catholic education.  We are confident that our participation will benefit our students and their families, the City of San Francisco as well as the Network itself.”

A Cristo Rey high school provides students with a unique Corporate Internship Program by which businesses employ the young adult in entry-level positions and, in turn, the salary becomes a substantial portion of the student’s tuition. Participants attend classes four days a week (a somewhat lengthened school day) and work five days a month. Through this partnership between school and business, students benefit from acquiring valuable job skills, growing in self-confidence, and realizing the real-world application of their learning while completing a rigorous course of college-preparatory studies.

Stephen Lanctot, partner at Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP, and Beverly Sackrider, ICA student. Lanctot’s firm looks forward to participating in the Cristo Rey Corporate Internship Program.

Chairman of the Board of Directors of Immaculate Conception Academy, Stephen Lanctot, said, “Participation in the Cristo Rey Network will enhance and strengthen ICA by aligning us with a broad network of affiliated schools with their respective talents and resources. The establishment of the unique work-study program will provide our students with invaluable experiences and life lessons that will heighten their sense of self confidence.”

Jeff Thielman, Vice President for New Initiatives of the Cristo Rey Network, said recently, “We are ecstatic that the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose and Immaculate Conception Academy will be joining our Cristo Rey Network next year.  We have been looking for a school in the San Francisco Bay Area, and we’re excited that it is ICA.

This is a first for San Francisco.  There are two other California Catholic high schools --- in Sacramento and Los Angeles --- currently in the National Cristo Rey Network of 19 schools.  ICA holds the unique distinction of being the first all-girls’ school in the Network..  In this coming academic year, Immaculate Conception Academy will transition by completing certain benchmarks in readiness for full incorporation into the Cristo Rey Network slated for the 2009-2010 school year.

According to Sister Mary Virginia Leach, a graduate of ICA, ’68, and newly named President of the Academy, “One benefit of becoming a Cristo Rey School is the value of being part of a supportive network that shares our mission --- to provide a quality, college-prep high school experience for young women who otherwise might not have the option of a Catholic education.  This was the vision of our foundress, Mother Maria Pia Backes, first principal, who opened the doors of ICA in 1883.  Partnering with the corporate world to make a difference for the future is exciting!”

Alum and member of ICA’s Board of Directors, Sally Mahoney gave leadership to the feasibility study for membership in the Cristo Rey Network. She stated, “Families we talked with were quick to see the educational opportunity of work site learning carefully integrated with their academic courses. They saw for their daughters an expanded perspective about the varieties of work made possible by education, heightened aspiration caused by the interest of business professionals in their progress, and sharpened focus on the importance of the school work at hand.”

 “Parents saw an enriched Catholic college preparatory experience they might be able to afford. They were excited and appreciative,” Ms. Mahoney commented.

Barbara Larner
Director of Communications
Mission San Jose Dominicans


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