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Making the Cut!

On Monday, June 5, De Marillac Academy hosted its long awaited DMA Saints Hair Donating Rally.  Over the past nine months, 14 of students and teachers have been growing out their hair for one single purpose – let their hair and be of service! These 14 donors had eight inches of their hair cut to selflessly provide wigs for women suffering with hair loss from chemotherapy used to treat cancer.  The Lasallian tradition fueled these 14 donors; they felt a deep responsibility to improve the lives of women who have been diagnosed with cancer. Please join us in congratulating these 14 Saints who have given so generously!

Posted on: June 5th, 2017



Black Days and Nights:The Story of Leon Rajninger as a Holocaust Survivor


Friday May 12th, our eighth grade class hosted a very special guest, Leon Rajninger who shared his story as a Holocaust Survivor. Over winter, the eighth grade studied the book Night by Elie Weisel over the course of six weeks. They also had to complete individual book reports on stories they selected covering the Holocaust. A big thanks to the Jewish Family and Children’s Services Speakers Bureau for helping make this experience possible. This is something we (students, faculty, &  staff) will never forget.

Leon was born in Bukovina, Romania and was eight years old when the Second World War started. His Holocaust story is one of the Romanian Holocaust, also known as, The Forgotten Cemetery. He shared the extended version of his book, which is pictured below; and  answered a few questions in the end.

In the early morning, we were lined up for the march into the Mogilev-Podolsk camp. As we started marching with many armed Romanian soldiers guarding us, our family was the last in line. A young Ukrainian boy passed us polling an empty two-wheeled cart. My mother asked the soldier guarding us if we could put our backpacks on the cart. He agreed. With many packs, the cart was heavy to pull. We dropped behind and soon there was only one soldier guarding us. We were about fifty feet behind the rest of the group. The Mogilev- Podolsk Jews were standing by the roadside, warning us not to continue our journey. My mother gave the soldier some money as a bribe. Bless him, he looked the other way, and we grabbed all the bags from the card and escaped into the crowd.

We lived up on a hill and the only water pump was by the river. It was very hard to get water up in winter. By the time we reached the top of the hill there was very little water left in the bucket. So for most of the winter we just opened the door and scooped up a bucket full of snow. If we had some wood, we would boil whatever we had, like sweet beets or a potato. The first winter of 1941 was the worst for us, sitting in the dark with only one small window that was covered with ice and snow. In addition, we had a big problem with lice in the winter. My parents and I slept on a few boards elevated from the floor. We had only one blanket and my father’s coat, which was warm but had a lot of lice and was difficult to clean. Unfortunately there was no choice, because it was very cold, especially at night.

Leon wanted us to make sure we walked away with three very important lessons:

  1. Take care of your family, especially your parents when they get older. Do everything you can for them.
  2. Finish the highest level of education possible.
  3. Never lose control over your life.


Posted on: May 15th, 2017



Where are they now? A look at our Featured Artists

We are excited to announce this year’s featured artist for our 11th Annual Scholarship Benefit – Oliver Chanax, class of 2012. Oliver has circled back to De Marillac as a volunteer assistant teacher for the art enrichment class. He is currently studying Graphic Design at City College of San Francisco and hopes to gain professional experience in a number of arenas, with sights on working in animation for a major company such as Pixar.

At De Marillac, we emphasize this notion of community and family that takes on many forms of support beyond graduating. Being a featured artist is an honor that has helped our Alumni advance their career in the arts; and we are thrilled to have this opportunity to reconnect with them. In the spirit of celebrating another year of partnered success in providing opportunity for De Marillac’s students and families; here are the featured artists from the previous years, and a glimpse of what they are up to now.

Ana Karen, class of 2004, is a studio artist making appearances in art galleries throughout the bay area. Her latest appearance was at the Purple Waves Art Show, a music and art show featuring Silicon Valley Artists. Ana Karen has graced us again with her unique, vibrant art available at this year’s art auction.

Kimberly Pirring, class of 2005 has been pursuing her career as both a free- lance graphic designer and contributor towards big brand names such as Walmart, Benefit Cosmetics, and currently Charlotte Russe. You can catch Kimberly’s portforlio on her website at

Josephine Alonzo, Class of 2007, started her own business, Radiant Azaela, which is rooted in her passion for designing children’s clothing and accessories. She is driven by her desire to build an empowering future for her daughter. You can follow her work on Etsy: RadiantAzalea

We hope to see you at this year’s Annual Scholarship Benefit, you won’t want to miss out on the growing talent! RSVP HERE.


Posted on: February 24th, 2017



ASB Choir Performance

Our choir has been working hard these past few months for their performance at this year’s Annual Scholarship Benefit! They have 3 songs lined up and 5 solo performances. They will be singing songs from the Peanut’s soundtrack, Moana soundtrack, and Stevie Wonder, with lyrics arranged by Choir Director Benjamin Mertz. They have been practicing twice a week, under the radar, so it will be a surprise to us all when we see the final product. Can’t wait! RSVP HERE


Posted on: February 24th, 2017



6th Graders Walk to Asian Art Museum for Social Studies Lesson

On Wednesday, January 25, the 6th grade walked around the corner and down the street to the Asian Art Museum on 200 Larkin Street.  6th Grade Teacher, Ms. Mary Gerlomes, explained, “The students were excited to walk to the museum and have exposure to cultural and religious practices in India…Buddhism in particular.  They learned about the life and moral teachings of the Buddha, and it allowed them to connect moral teachings that they are learning about at De Marillac Academy with an ancient civilization.  Students were so intrigued about the stories behind the statues of the deities.  This field trip is linked to our Schoolwide Learning Expectations because this is an opportunity to, ‘display gratitude by respecting the diversity of individuals of all cultures and backgrounds.'”


Posted on: January 25th, 2017



Save The Date – 11th Annual Scholarship Benefit

The 11th Annual Scholarship Benefit, themed  “It Begins With a Dream”, is on March 16, 2017 at the Westin St. Francis Hotel on Union Square.  The event started eleven years ago and was known as, “A Gift of a Day.” In this event’s initial year, a group of supporters hosted a cocktail reception in our school hall to sponsor the gift of a day’s education for the students of De Marillac Academy. Over the years, the Gift of a Day event evolved into the Annual Scholarship Benefit. This event has grown from 150 attendees to over 750 individuals who celebrate De Marillac Academy’s mission each year.

Join us for this special evening where the community comes together to celebrate the success and future of our unique school.  More information to come, with registration beginning in early February.

Posted on: January 25th, 2017



5th Graders Create Air Cannon to Launch a Pom-Pom

De Marillac Academy 5th graders took on a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Challenge in Science class.  Students worked in small groups to create their very own “Pom-Pom Blaster.”  The blaster had to launch a pom-pom into the air and had to travel at least two feet to qualify.  The groups could only use the materials that were given to them, which included:

  • 3-4 pom-poms
  • cardstock paper
  • 5 straws
  • 5 craft sticks
  • 5 rubber bands
  • 2 Styrofoam cups
  • scissors and tape

Students had to brainstorm, design, and build their contraptions in less than fifty minutes.  Students created Pom-Pom Blasters that ranged in style from catapults to sling-shots.  The room was filled with lots of laughter, excited discussion, and not to mention, flying pom-poms!  It was truly incredible to see the creativity, teamwork, and engineering minds of fifth graders!  As Ms. Meaghan Osborne, 5th Grade Teacher, shared, “There are definitely future engineers in the fifth grade class!”  Click here to watch a video of one pom-pom blaster in action!

Posted on: January 12th, 2017



De Marillac Academy President Theresa Flynn Houghton Meets Bianca Rojo ’04

When was the last time you were in awe of someone or something?  Since joining De Marillac Academy in July, I have experienced an overwhelming feeling of admiration for the students, graduates,  families, faculty, staff and partners of De Marillac. I am truly in awe.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Bianca Rojo ’04, who shared how she overcame challenges beyond her socio-economic status, including being separated from her parents since her junior year of high school due to immigration issues. Working full-time throughout high school and college to help support herself and her younger sibling, Bianca has persevered and triumphed. As a college graduate, Bianca now works downtown as a legal assistant and is also applying to law school!  Bianca is an inspiration, not only for her gritty resolve, but because she recently made a commitment to supporting future generations of De Marillac Academy students—with an unprompted donation to De Marillac!  When I asked Bianca, the first alum to donate, why she decided to give, she replied that she wants to pay forward the gift she received as a student at De Marillac Academy.  Incredible!

I hope you will be inspired by Bianca’s first gift and make yours by December 31, 2016.

Theresa Flynn Houghton
President & CEO




Posted on: November 17th, 2016



Feature Article About De Marillac Academy in Saint Mary’s College Annual Report

The success of De Marillac Academy students and graduates is the subject of Lasallian research conducted by a Saint Mary’s College team, led by Educational Leadership Professor Rebecca Proehl.  In an 80-page paper, “De Marillac Academy: Perseverance, Purpose, and Promise,” the researchers document the school’s use of the concept of grit, measured by student traits like curiosity, character, perseverance, and interest in long-term goals. The two most outstanding factors, said Proehl, are the school’s focus on perseverance and the student’s tendency to persevere.  Proehl plans to continue her research, and will write a book about the school that is known as “a miracle in the Tenderloin.”

Click here to read more about this story on the Saint Mary’s College of California website.


Posted on: October 24th, 2016



Corporate Volunteer Day Ends with a Culturally Significant Gift


One Zendesk volunteer, software engineer Carl Goldberg, was so moved and inspired at the conclusion of the program, that he made a gift of $108….108 is a significant number in various backgrounds.  In Jewish culture, charitable donations are often made in multiples of the number 18, associated with the Hebrew word ‘chai(חי)’, meaning ‘alive’, ‘living’, or ‘life’.  In Hinduism and Buddhism, there are 108 prayer beads on a mala.


On Friday, September 30, four employees from De Marillac Academy’s neighbor and Corporate Partner, Zendesk, arrived to participate in De Marillac Academy’s “Corporate Day of Service”.  Through this volunteer program, De Marillac Academy hopes to educate individuals from local corporations about the neighborhood in which they work, to grow their awareness of the transformative education De Marillac  provides to low-income families in the Tenderloin/Central Market/SoMa, and to identify long-term volunteers and donors.

The day begins with an orientation that exposes volunteers to the challenges the students and families face while living in the neighborhood.  This is followed by the most exciting part of the day for our volunteers–an hour of getting to know our amazing students!  The first activity is 1-on-1 reading with a student during “DEAR” time (Drop Everything And Read).  This encounter usually begins with an anxious volunteer being introduced to a welcoming, engaging and inquisitive student.  By the time the activity concludes, there is always an enthusiastic “high-five!” and best wishes in the hopes of seeing one another again.   Volunteers are then proudly paraded around the school by two Student Ambassadors who have earned the privilege to showcase their school to visitors.  During the tour, in between meeting students and seeing our dynamic teachers in action, the ambassadors highlight important historical events in school history and walk by walls festooned with incredible artwork created by the students.

On this particular day, one Zendesk volunteer, software engineer Carl Goldberg, was so moved at the conclusion of the program, that he made a gift of $108.  The gift amount was significant, not only because all gifts to De Marillac Academy are significant, but because, as Carl shared, “I was truly inspired walking through the halls and meeting students; I felt I ought to give…. 108 is a significant number from various backgrounds.  In Judaism, it is a traditional charitable donation.”  According to wikipedia, in Jewish culture, charitable donations are often made in multiples of the number 18, associated with the Hebrew word ‘chai(חי)’, meaning ‘alive’, ‘living’, or ‘life’.  A Japa mala or mala (Sanskrit:माला; mālā) is a string of prayer beads commonly used by Hindus, Buddhists and some Sikhs for the spiritual practice known in Sanskrit as japa. It is usually made from 108 beads.”  Additionally, as Carl shared, “I like this derivation: 11 * 22 * 33 = 108.”  I am sure our 8th grade math students would enjoy that, too!

Thank you, Carl, for your thoughtful and benevolent gift. And thank you, Zendesk, for your responsible hiring of mission-minded employees like Carl that highlight the power of our partnership!



– Hebrew symbol for “chai”… when giving gifts and donations in multiples of 18, which is called “giving chai”


– 108 Hindu mala prayer beads


Posted on: October 19th, 2016