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“We are standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before us."- Sister M. Gervaise Valpey O.P.

In September, 2015 we launched San Domenico’s Anniversary Year, celebrating 50 years on our Sleepy Hollow campus and 165 years since our founding as California's first independent and Dominican school. Throughout the year students, parents, alumni, grandparents, Dominican Sisters, Board members, neighbors, and other community members came together for a wide range of activities and events honoring the momentous time in our history.

Fall, 2015

Mass of The Holy Spirit and Time Capsule Unveiling

On Thursday, September 24, 2015 we celebrated the Mass of the Holy Spirit. This gathering was a joyful celebration of the beginning of the school year with SD community members of all religious and spiritual beliefs.

"Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful and kindle in them the fire of thy love. Send forth thy Spirit, O Lord, and they shall be created. And thou shalt renew the face of the earth."

In keeping with a long tradition dating from the founding of the great European universities in the Middle Ages, San Domenico celebrates the Mass of the Holy Spirit at the start of each academic year. During the liturgy we ask for the inspiration, guidance, and presence of God's Spirit on all of our campus activities. This festive event gathers the entire school together to rededicate our community to San Domenico’s values of study, reflection, community, and service.

After the mass, we unveiled the contents of the time capsule buried 25 years ago!

View photos from the Mass of The Holy Spirit & Time Capsule Unveiling

Founders Day

On December 4 we launched San Domenico’s Anniversary Year with our inaugural Founders Day celebration. The entire school community gathered with parents, alumni, and Dominican Sisters to honor the founders who brought Dominican education to California 165 years ago. The commitment, passion, and inquisitive spirit of the School’s founders is woven into the fabric of our community today. As Sister Gervaise reflected at the morning assembly, “We are standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before us.”

Dressed in San Domenico spirit wear, students arrived to find the SD panther handing out high-fives and Anniversary stickers. In recognition of how the Dominican Sisters traveled in 1850, a donkey and a miniature horse also greeted the students. We kicked off the day with an All-School assembly in the Tamara A. Valley Athletic Center, where we acknowledged the Dominican Sisters for their service and commitment to the school. Alumni Council member Katie Abbott Horn ’71, who was a Dominican Convent student in 1965 for the School’s Moving Day from San Rafael to San Anselmo, narrated the commemorative presentation and slideshow.

In the assembly, students, faculty and staff played the roles of some especially significant figures in Dominican and San Domenico history: Sister Mary Goemaere, Bishop Alemany, Sister Mercedes, Mother Louisa, and Sister Maurice dressed in historical costumes and reenacted moments of history and tradition from each of the four campus sites.

For many, the highlight of the day was the celebratory Founders Day cake. A sculpted model of San Domenico’s Sleepy Hollow campus was fashioned by San Francisco based Cake Coquette. The incredibly detailed cake included representations of campus buildings and incorporated many beloved San Domenico icons including the tradition of soup, the Garden of Hope, solar panels, hiking trails, Dominican Hall, and so much more.

In conjunction with our Founders Day celebration, the Advancement and Archives Departments unveiled two new installations. A Commemorative Anniversary Timeline on display in the Carol Franc Buck Hall of the Arts captures the 165 year history of San Domenico. The Timeline features photos, quotes, and historical events that illustrate our School’s rich history. A collection of framed archival pictures was installed in the Patricia Tobin Cooper Dining Hall to display special moments in Dominican Convent/San Domenico history. We encourage all students, parents, alumni, and visitors to view the many Anniversary exhibits on campus.

View photos from Founders Day 2015

Winter, 2015


Thank you to our graceful, San Domenico students for their moving portrayal of the Nativity, in Friday night’s production of Tableaux. Families, faculty, and community members filled the theater to take in the sights and sounds of the Fra Angelico reproductions. Even the tiniest audience members sat, wide-eyed and silent, as the students seemingly danced across the stage.

Many thanks to our students, Sister Gervaise, our Theater and Advancement Departments, and our San Domenico families for helping us celebrate the true spirit of the holiday season.

View photos from Tableaux 2015

Timeline Unveiling

Click the above timeline panel to view the full timeline.

School Ties - Winter 2016

The first in a three-part Anniversary series of School Ties Magazine

Spring, 2016

School Ties - Spring 2016

The second in a three-part Anniversary series of School Ties Magazine

Fall, 2016

Anniversary Party / All Alumni Reunion

Thank you to our amazing community of Dominican Sisters, faculty, staff, graduates, current families, past families, and friends of the School, who came together this past weekend in celebration of our 50th Anniversary and Reunion Weekend. The many festivities, including Friday night's grand party, were a poignant and exciting way to honor our past, celebrate our present, and toast to our future!

We are already looking forward to next year!

View photos from The Anniversary Party
View photos from All Alumni Weekend

Veritas Dinner Honoring The Dominican Sisters

The October 29 evening gathering for the annual Veritas dinner was a tremendous experience on so many levels. It was deeply touching and meaningful for every San Rafael Dominican Sister, especially the 33 sisters who were able to attend. San Domenico honored the Sisters with the Veritas Award as part of the anniversary year of the School's relocation to the beautiful San Anselmo campus. Prioress General, Sister Maureen McInerney accepted it on behalf of all the Sisters who ministered at San Domenico as principals and teachers, and especially on behalf of the Sisters whose vision brought forth the reality of the campus.

The evening was also a true testimony to a community with deep and enduring roots as well as fresh energy! The enthusiasm, the laughter, and the tears in Dominican Hall throughout the evening spoke to the importance of relationships, of connection to one another, to God, and to the earth.

How special it was to celebrate with so many people! Some have been our friends and colleagues since the days when the campus in San Rafael was overflowing with students from Pre-Kindergarten to college levels! Sister Catherine Browne, 95 years old this month, clearly recalls the students and staff she knew during her ministry in education, and her years as a volunteer in the Alumni Office. How meaningful it is for us to know today that a firm Dominican-educated hand is leading San Domenico with Cecily O'Byrne Stock Upper School '77 as Head of School.

What a breathtaking moment it was as Frederica von Stade engaged with children from all levels of the school in singing Do-Re-Mi from The Sound of Music. Yes, the hills at the end of Butterfield Road have always been alive with sounds that are part of a living, breathing commitment to families and education.

People spoke in such heart-felt ways about how the Sisters and their dedication have shaped their lives. This was not merely a nostalgic look back, it was also a celebration of confidence in the future of what is being carried forward: Dominican values of life and education that have endured for 800 years.

View photos from the Veritas Dinner

Tableaux, Featuring Alum Singers

On Friday night our students performed another beautiful Tableaux, a San Domenico tradition that dates back over 110 years. Tableaux tells the story of the birth of Christ through movement and song. Each tableau is designed to imitate the Italian frescoes created in the 15th century by Dominican Master and painter Fra Angelico. Over the years Tableaux has evolved from an outdoor production at Dominican University's campus, to the stage production we have today in Hall of the Arts. Each year Mary and Joseph are carefully chosen by the senior class as representations of their qualities and characteristics. This year Ellie C. was chosen to represent Mary, and Ugochi E. to represent Joseph.

Director Jennifer Grimes and San Domenico Singers director Michael Mello created an exquisite production, introducing some new elements, repairing and updating costumes and props, and including alumnae in the choir as part of the culmination of our 50-year anniversary on our San Anselmo campus. Tableaux is one of our oldest traditions, and it is especially moving to see the ardent faces of our students each year as they take their turns playing the parts that have been played before them, and will continue to be played into the future. As Michael Mello noted, "I love seeing the earnestness with which the young people speak their lines and do their movements on stage: this year, the twinkle in Ogechi's eyes, Michela's unceasing smile, Ellie's serenity, Ugochi's paternal care, Milo's child-like recitation of the shepherd's story, the twinkle in Ross's smile and the earnestness of his speaking."

Thank you to the many people involved in creating this year's Tableaux. For many in the San Domenico community, it marks the official beginning and sets the tone of the Christmas season. Please follow this link to experience the beauty of the 2016 Tableaux performance.

View photos from Tableaux 2016

School Ties - Fall 2016

The final in a three-part Anniversary series of School Ties Magazine

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