In the Middle School and High School, student involvement in academic teams begins as an extension of the curricular learning students do every day. Middle School students compete in MathCounts, Science Olympiad, Lego Robotics, and Governor’s Cup. At the High School level, St. Francis academic competitions include two math contests (Math League, a local competition, and the AMC Math Competition), Science Olympiad, Quick Recall, Governor’s Cup, Kentucky Youth Assembly, and Kentucky United Nations Assembly.
Recent successes include:
- The 2013 individual Kentucky State Chess Champion.
- Quick Recall teams in 2014-15 and 2015-16 were undefeated in the league and tournament play.
- In the 2019 State Governor’s Cup Tournament, three Middle School students took five different subject-area tests, two High School students took subject-area tests, and the High School Quick Recall team competed.
- 2017 KUNA delegation honored as Delegation of Excellence with a Summit President recognition for one student and another named editor-in-chief of the media corps for 2017-18.
- 2017 Math League individual finishes first place, second place, and fifth place in the yearlong district competition.
- 2017 Science Olympiad team placed second at Regionals and moved on to the State competition, where they finished 14th.
Preschool – Middle School Theatre
High School Theatre
Goshen Main Amp, Theater & Lobby Renovation a $3.4 million-dollar project completed in the Fall of 2019 provides St. Francis’ Preschool through eighth-grade students with a completely updated and much larger theater space to support their National Youth Arts award-winning performing arts program. The 4,000-square-foot addition and renovation includes seating for 400 in the new theater, an outdoor amphitheater classroom space and a revamped main entryway with a new modern canopy. Design features include the use of natural wood throughout and a large southern canopy and tall glass walls framing the campus’ verdant rear fields while keeping light and heat and heat levels manageable within the theater. The theater is outfitted with a modern digital lighting and audio system, new mechanical system and fixed seating for the upper half of the theater, allowing for greater comfort for the audience while maintaining the child-oriented open-tiered seating for the lower half of the theater. Click here to see more about the first production in the new theater.
The aim of our theatre program to elicit creative expression, social awareness, critical thinking, and artistry through our productions. We are committed to producing relevant works that allow our students to grow as performers, directors, and stage technicians. Our aim is to provide an engaging and vital theatre experience for students and audience alike.
Students have the opportunity to participate in two productions every year. The first is our December Showcase of Plays. This longtime SFS tradition “showcases” student-written and student-directed plays, giving students the opportunity to create their own artistic visions, collaborate with their peers, and share their work with the school and the larger community. Plays for the Showcase are generally written in the Playwriting elective course led by Janelle-Renee Dunn, Learning and Creative Engagement Associate at the nationally renowned Actors Theatre of Louisville.
Our second production of the year alternates between a contemporary comedy or drama and a musical. In 2017, we staged 1984, in 2018, we produced the musical the Little Shop of Horrors, and in 2019, we performed a site-specific theatrical adaption of the works of Edgar Allan Poe titled Fancy Me Mad — all three were nominated for a National Youth Arts Award. This year we will be producing the musical Chicago.
A final opportunity for students is the yearly English-Speaking Union’s Shakespeare Competition. Interested students memorize a monologue and compete at the school level, with one winner moving on to the regional level with a chance to advance to state and national competition.
High School Improv
This student ensemble performs regularly in the city and at the High School. Students work together to create the structure of their performances, incorporating short- and long-form improv with dynamic comedy exercises.
Middle School Drama Project
The St. Francis Drama Project was founded by St. Francis School French teacher and Drama legend Ed Gupton in 1970. He was the Director of the Drama Project until 2003. In 1993, he named Reed Gabhart as Associate Director of the Drama Project, and the two collaborated until Ed handed over the reins in 2003.
The Drama Project’s purpose is to provide Middle School students with the opportunity to participate in full-length adult productions of works of depth from the past and present. Thought is given to the four-year cycle of works so that every Middle School student will have the opportunity to experience comedies, dramas, musicals, and the classics, such as Shakespeare. Students are expected to rise to the challenge and take part in every aspect of theater: acting, directing, stagecraft, set and lighting design, etc.
• 2019-20: Our Town
• 2018-19: The Odd Couple, The Sound of Music
• 2017-18: You Can’t Beat the House, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
• 2016-17: Anne Frank & Me, Anything Goes
• 2015-16: The Importance of Being Earnest, The Birds
• 2014-15: Fools, Oliver!
• 2013-14: Harvey, A Comedy of Errors
• 2012-13: John Lennon and Me, Bye Bye Birdie
• 2011-12: Our Town, Cyrano de Bergerac, Godspell
Beginning in 2012, a new tradition has developed: biannual summer SFS Alumni productions, which merge the alumni of the two campuses.
• 2018: Getting Out
• 2016: The Breakfast Club
• 2014: Almost, Maine
• 2012: Godspell
The High School offers several ensembles for instrumentalists and singers.
In the Music Performance and Advanced Music Performance course, students form large and small ensembles, learn aspects of music history and theory, and become familiar with various styles of music. A particular emphasis is given to American music, such as jazz, blues, and rock.
The High School also offers a Jazz Ensemble, open to all instrumentalists and vocalists and held during a Project period so that it is accessible to all students. Depending on the size of the group, there may also be smaller ensembles formed within the group. Over the last several years, this ensemble has performed at regional jazz festivals and worked with guest artists. Students also have the option to audition for the KMEA All-State Jazz band, as well as regional honors ensembles.
A Vocal Ensemble group meets after school and focuses on contemporary music. Recent performances were inspired by such artists as Pentatonix and Ben Folds. These students also have the opportunity to audition for regional and national honor choirs.
For students interested in both music and drama, the High School presents a musical production semi-annually. Recent productions include Little Shop of Horrors and Avenue Q (school edition).
The Middle School music curriculum includes studies of choral music, songwriting, music history and theory, and instrumental performance. Students gain experience with a variety of instruments, with a particular emphasis on ukulele. Interested students have the opportunity to audition for state, regional, and national honor choirs, as well as regional instrumental honors ensembles.
The Middle School Jazz Band is open to all Middle School students and meets after school. The Jazz Band emphasizes performance of American jazz standards and encourages students to experiment with improvisation. Like its High School counterpart, over the last several years, this group has performed at regional jazz festivals and worked with guest artists.
For students interested in both music and drama, the Middle School presents a musical production semi-annually. Recent productions include The Sound of Music and Anything Goes.
Lower School students participate in various musical activities designed to teach music theory, history, and performance. Students gain experience in choral singing and on a variety of instruments such as recorder, drums, and melodic percussion, with a particular emphasis on Orff percussion instruments.
The Lower School Choir, which consists of interested students, focuses on more challenging choral repertoire.
St. Francis School Preschoolers experience music and movement through singing, dancing, and musical games. Students experiment with musical instruments and learn both new and classic children’s songs.
Interested high school students, often but not always currently taking a creative-writing elective, create the SFS Literary Magazine at the end of each year and submit work to the Literary LEO competition each fall. Students’ success in the annual LEO competition is particularly noteworthy because it is an adult competition, not one aimed at students.
Additionally, middle and high students have the opportunity to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NatNoWriMo). During the month of November, they write original novels which are then printed and bound.
At St. Francis, clubs are created by and run by students – some are serious, some fun, some goofy, some small and some huge. If a student wants to start a club, that’s all it takes.
Groups operating in 2019-20 include:
- Black Student Association (MS and HS)
- Affinity Group: AFRO – African Americans Fighting Racism and Oppression (HS)
- Multicultural Student Association (HS)
- Diversity Committee (MS)
- Dragon Boat Race (MS and HS)
- Sacred Space Committee (HS)
- Yearbook (MS and HS)
- Gender Rights and Equity Club (HS)
- Queer Students Association (MS and HS)
- Affinity Group: Q-Club (HS)
- Mental Health Advocacy Club (HS)
- Encouragement Club (HS)
- Crochet Club (HS)
- Climate Club (HS)
- Outdoor Activities Club (HS)
- ULS – Underground Lifting Society (HS)
Student voice is an essential aspect of progressive education, and while this exists in numerous informal ways throughout St. Francis School, it is codified by student government in 2nd – 12th grades.
2nd, 3rd and 4th graders are elected as representatives of their classes and form the Lower School Student Council. They meet weekly to discuss student concerns and run the weekly Lower School Morning Meeting.
The Middle School Student Council (6th – 8th grader) meets weekly, runs the Middle School Morning Meeting three times a week, makes plans for school dances, and brainstorms ways to raise money for their annual Class Gift.
9th through 12th graders are elected as class representatives and form the School Committee, which has an annual start-of-school retreat followed by monthly meetings with the Head of School and Head of Campus at which reps plan events and weigh in on school policies. Class reps also lead fundraising for their grades each year, with proceeds going toward prom in their senior year.
Community service has been an essential component of the High School experience since its inception. We devote six half-days per year to sending students out to various non-profit sites (most of them in or near our downtown Louisville neighborhood) to perform service.
Service sites run the gamut of missions, falling into the categories of environmental stewardship, human services, and civic literacy.
We organize partnerships yearly with 15-20 sites. All groups strive to include an educational component that will accent their students’ service work. The service sites at which St. Francis students are volunteering in 2019-20 include Louisville Nature Center, Louisville Free Public Library, Gilda’s Club, Project Warm, Chestnut Street YMCA, Kentucky Science Center, Center for Women and Families, Dare to Care, Kentucky Refugee Ministries, Olmsted Parks Conservancy, YouthBuild, Heuser Hearing Institute, Louisville Grows, Boys and Girls Clubs of Kentuckiana, New Directions Housing, We Act, and our Goshen Campus.
Lower and Middle School
Lower and Middle Schoolers participate in Service Learning. Service Learning delineates the difference between a day of service and a service-learning project: the former accomplishes a set task, while the latter engages students in choosing an organization to help, based on their interests. We host a Philanthropy Fair each fall, at which organizations come and share information with students. Teachers then guide students through a weeks- or months-long process, during which students learn about their chosen organization, do research on why and who they helped, and craft a plan to aid their particular group.
We Act Club
Both Middle and High Schoolers take part in an additional service group which falls under the auspices of the We Act program. The We Act Club develops its own projects that focus on at least one global and one local initiative each year. In fall 2016 they completed three years of work toward a $10,000 goal to build a school in Haiti. They are currently developing a partnership with the Offin Children’s Center in Ghana and hope to both support the Center financially and get more personally involved with some of its residents.
Since its inception, the Preschool has collected and distributed essential items for area families. Our focus is on fulfilling the needs of families with small children in the community. St. Francis Preschool families donate items to match the wish lists provided by area social-service agencies. Once these are gathered together, parent volunteers transport the contributions to the agencies. Our annual contributions to the community include the coat drive for Wayside Christian Mission, the Holiday Helping Hands program, and providing filled plastic eggs for spring hunts to the California Area Child Development Center. As animals are a common interest of our Preschoolers, we also collect food and supplies for area animal rescues.