Star of the Sea Parish has announced the re-opening of the parish elementary school as Stella Maris Academy in fall 2021.

“We are currently in the process of marketing the school and recruiting prospective families,” the academy’s head of school, San Francisco native Gavin Colvert, told Catholic San Francisco.

The academy will start with early childhood education and the primary grades, Colvert said. It will be a parochial school of the Archdiocese of San Francisco’s school system in partnership with the Catholic Institute for Liberal Education.

Almost 100 people registered to learn more about the new school and the classical education movement during a Zoom information night in December 2020, he said.

The school’s new website at describes its mission as one of “cultivating wonder and wisdom in pursuit of excellence” through an integrated classical curriculum.

Stella Maris (“Star of the Sea” in Latin) Academy is a revival of the Richmond District parish’s ambition to open a classical K-8 academy in 2019. In a parish blog post in April of that year, pastor Father Joseph Illo announced that the school would close at the end of the 2018/2019 school year to refine and “re-boot” the concept for a relaunch at a future date.

Colvert said what will be most distinctive about the curriculum is not just the subjects students will learn — classical languages including Latin, the sciences, mathematics, music, the arts and literature — but the integration of subjects with theology at the center of them all.

“The integrated approach helps students to make connections between the things they are studying and see them as an integrated whole,” he said. “We believe that a Catholic school where our faith is an organizing principle at the center of curriculum will help serve their development as young people.”

The website addresses some of the misconceptions about classical education being “out of touch” with modern knowledge and contemporary needs.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” it reads. “Classical educators follow our best understanding of the natural development of the human person and they prepare students to enter fields like science and engineering, as well as law, business, medicine, theology and the arts.”

In a promotional video for Stella Maris Academy Father Illo talks about the difference between knowledge and wisdom.

“Children today know a lot of things,” he said. “But I’m not sure how well they can put those things to the service of a flourishing life, to integrate what we know now with the wisdom of the ages.”

Father Iilo has long been a proponent of the beauty and benefits of a classical Catholic education and has remained committed to offering it at Star of the Sea.

By chance, he met Colvert, who grew up in San Francisco in an Irish-Catholic family that belonged to St. Monica Parish and later, to St. Dominic Parish.

“This very special opportunity came up in the middle of a pandemic,” he said of his serendipitous introduction to Father Illo through mutual friends. The pastor’s dream to open a classical academy at Star of the Sea coincided with Colvert’s decision to move back to California with his wife Danielle, to be closer to their children in Los Angeles.

A self-described “product of classical education,” Colvert received a philosophy degree from Santa Clara University and his doctorate from the University of Toronto. He taught at the College of the Holy Cross and chaired the philosophy department at Assumption College (now University) in Worcester, Mass.

Stella Maris Academy is now accepting enrollments for the coming school year. Base tuition is $10,000, and active parishioners in any Catholic parish (based on their pastor’s recommendation) will receive an “active parishioner discount” of $1,000.” Second child is discounted 15%, and a third child discounted 25%. The Academy also is able to offer significant scholarships and tuition assistance to qualified families.

The Stella Maris Academy website can be found here, or you may contact the school office at 415-745-2474.

Most of the above comes from a Dec. 21 story by Christina Gray in Catholic San Francisco.