San Domenico School recently caused controversy with their decision to take down a number of religious statues on campus. Located in San Anselmo, San Domenico is a K-12 private school with an international boarding program for students in grades 9-12.
The statue of Saint Dominic, the school’s father figure, sits at the front of the 515-acre campus, welcoming students. The statue was placed at the San Anselmo school location in 1962, when the school opened, alongside many other saints and Catholic icons. The most glorified statue, a figure of Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus, was also taken down.
“In middle school and elementary [school] we would place flowers on the statue during an annual ceremony, so it was a big deal that certain statue moved because it was the main statue for our school and represented Mary and Baby Jesus,” said junior Kelsey Peltz, who transferred to Redwood this year.
According to Peltz, the school has gradually changed their teachings, removing second grade First Reconciliation and First Communion. However, critics of the altered curriculum argue that the changes which are making the school more independent take away from the original rooting of the school.
Peltz explained the evolving curriculum further.
“We didn’t really learn about Christianity so I don’t know why it was called a Catholic school. We studied different religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism at school and there wasn’t a strong Catholic pressure,” Peltz said.
With 660 students, San Domenico is ranked the 25th K-12 school in California, according to Niche Rankings.
“I was one of the only Jewish kids, so they used me as their token Jew. Most people were Christian or semi-Christian and there was a few people who were strongly religious, but other than that it was like any other school and there wasn’t too much religious influence,” Peltz said.
Head of School Cecily Stock said that her goal is to make it apparent that San Domenico is not only Catholic-based and welcomes students of all religions, according to the Marin Independent Journal.
“They try not to force any beliefs upon you; it being a Catholic school does not affect your personal beliefs,” said junior Julian Haggard, who previously went to Saint Patrick’s, a private Catholic school.
According to Amy Skewes-Cox, a member of the San Domenico’s board of trustees, 80 percent of San Domenico families do not identify as Catholic. Skewes-Cox said that the school is open to changing their school academic curriculum to include all regions, according to the Marin Independent Journal.
On the other hand, because the school was founded as a Catholic institution, the religious statues continue to hold deep importance.
“I had one girlfriend who is very Catholic. All over her dorm room are quotes from Jesus and Psalms. I know she was really upset about the situation and was hurt by it. She claimed that she signed up for a Catholic school, and the school isn’t representing the Catholic community,” Peltz said.
Peltz and Haggard though have not been offended by the removal. They claim that especially since neither attend Catholic schools anymore, it didn’t impact them.
“The statues were more of a representation of the church and school you attend,” Haggard said. “So usually when you are at a Catholic school it is a part of the archdiocese, so you have maybe one statue of a historical figure which represents all Catholicism and is more unique to your school and may coordinate with your school name.”