Academic excellence requires not just knowledge, but also meaning
At San Domenico, we guide each other in building more purpose-driven lives. Living with purpose starts with identifying your own beliefs and your own values. It requires mastering new skills and working diligently to accomplish personal goals—goals that often serve a greater good. It continues by inviting others to complement and magnify your strengths.
Learn more about how our shared values light a fire in our hearts and minds, propelling each of us forward:
We start with exceptional academics
“San Domenico saw a future for me. It’s changed my life.”
– Lulu Bernstein, ALUM
Academic excellence is at the heart of a San Domenico education. Here, education doesn’t stop at simple acquisition of facts and figures. In pursuit of excellence and in support of academic curiosity, we encourage students to consider how diverse academic subjects offer distinct perspectives. It’s in this exploration and in this questioning that we find purpose and meaning.
We seek to inspire and equip students for excellence in life—not just at school. Our measure of academic success goes beyond grades and test scores. When students themselves lead their own learning—when their curiosity and passions take over and they claim ownership of the person they are to become—we know we have achieved our goal.
Confident in their abilities and undeterred by challenge, our graduates boldly cultivate an intellectual life. By practicing habits of study, debate, and questioning, our students can better consider and respond to the diverse challenges of their time.
Explore more about academic excellence at San Domenico:
Develop the best self
“The dedication here amazes me. We don’t falter when things get tough.”— Brad Jackson, College Counselor
At San Domenico, we make the time and create the space to explore our learning and ourselves. Both inside and outside of the classroom, we practice and encourage questioning—always probing to discover what is right and true for each person. This reflection can take many shapes—from blogging about a class, to a moment of silence after a recital, to a meditation in the garden.
Quieter moments—when we pause, listen, and examine—show us how we can look forward. Reflection encourages us to be more mindful and to think more critically. It fosters greater self-awareness, stronger communication skills, and an inner drive to never stop growing. Reflection develops learners with more flexibility and more integrity, because it invites us to more fully articulate our beliefs.
Through reflection, we also reveal hidden observations and successes. It’s reflection that prompts us to celebrate our shared accomplishments. It revives our optimism and buoys our spirits. Reflection refreshes our purpose and emboldens us to continue.
“San Domenico asks students to look at the world and see how they can make it better.” — Kathleen Weinstein, Parent
Just as St. Dominic addressed the issues of his day, we too must engage with the realities of our world. Our values demand congruence between what is inside our minds and what we cultivate in our world. Through service, we deepen our connection to our community—from helping a new student settle into the community to organizing a fundraiser around emergency housing for local families.
Students begin in Lower School with group service-learning experiences, which might include planting daffodils beautify our campus or exchanging gifts with our sister school in Tijuana. By Middle School, students develop personal service-learning interests through clubs and participate in school-improvement projects such as composting and recycling.
By the time they graduate from Upper School, students create a deeply personal service-learning project. They identify a critical issue of concern, study it, compile an action plan, and document their engagement. Upon completion, they reflect on what they've done to advance social justice. The projects culminate in school-wide presentations so that the entire community can grow and benefit from the wide variety of service experiences.
“There’s so much trust in students here. They know we can get the job done. — Maddie Murphy, Alum
Many schools talk about community, but at San Domenico community is a key tenet of our Dominican heritage. St. Dominic attracted his first followers precisely because they wanted to study, work, learn, and celebrate in community. Through study, discussion, and example, Dominicans confidently and fluidly crossed intellectual, spiritual, and cultural borders.
From an athletics team meeting to regroup after a tough loss to our youngest students gathering each morning to share their hopes for the school day, we understand that opening ourselves to others is a skill that must be constantly practiced and refined. Healthy debate, thought-provoking conversations, and lively exchanges among students, coaches, and teachers spur our community to greater success and growth. Whether we talk things out and come to consensus or reason together yet still disagree, we are always acting in a true spirit of community, as true Dominicans.
Enduring values, proven traditions
As California's oldest independent school we provide innovative and progressive education anchored by our 167-year old history and the Dominican spirit of inquiry. We evolve to meet the changing needs of the times, providing students with a living, breathing example of creativity, flexibility, and innovation, balanced with the strength of tradition.
Our community is comprised of families of many faiths including Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc., as well as families who do not follow any particular faith but appreciate the value of discovering a sense of the sacred in its many manifestations.
“I don’t feel like I left San Domenico when I moved on. It’s still part of me and helped me become who I am—not just academically, but in all of the extracurricular areas.
— Matt Geffen, alum
"At San Domenico, teachers praise individuality. You’re encouraged to find out what you’re really good at and discover your passions.” — Hannah Puckett, Alum
“San Domenico helped me find my voice. Now I have this drive to make an impact.”
— Daria Jackson, Alum
“The scariest thing I’ve ever had to do was sing in front of an audience in the musical. But we worked the whole year on the show, and it turned out to be the best experience that I’ve ever had at school. I didn’t know I was capable!”
— Will Martel, alum