The Bay School of San Francisco

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The Bay School of San Francisco
Bay School Logo.jpg
35 Keyes Ave.
San Francisco, California

United States
Coordinates 37°48′02″N 122°27′21″W / 37.80045°N 122.45597°W / 37.80045; -122.45597
Type Private
Established 2004
Head of school Timothy W. Johnson
Faculty 38
Grades 9-12
Number of students 312
Color(s) Blue, white
Athletics Soccer, volleyball, baseball, lacrosse, softball, basketball, golf, cross-country, track, rock climbing, sailing, tennis
Mascot Breakers

The Bay School of San Francisco is an independent, coeducational, college preparatory high school that opened in 2004. The school moved into its current location in the Presidio of San Francisco in 2005. Its stated mission is to balance challenging academics with a mindful approach to learning and life.


In 1992, Malcolm Manson, a former headmaster of Marin Country Day School and the Cathedral School for Boys, conceived of the idea of a new high school. In 1996, the school became incorporated.[1]

The school opened in 2004; at that time, a single class of freshman made up the student body. During the first school year, students attended classes in a temporary building, a "long, majestic white building on Schofield Road facing the bay".[1] In August 2005, the school moved to its current (permanent) location on 35 Keyes Avenue.


The Bay School of San Francisco utilizes "one of the largest and most historic buildings on the Presidio's Main Post."[2] Building 35 was built in 1912, initially to be used as cavalry barracks, and later as bakers' and cooks' barracks, before becoming the headquarters for the U.S. IX Corps, which was responsible for all U.S. Army facilities within the Western United States. After major renovation, Building 35 reopened as the Bay School's new campus in August 2005.[3]

The building contains 62,000 square feet (5,800 m2) of space, and features high ceilings, large spaces, and natural light and ventilation. Among other things, it houses a 3,000-square-foot (300 m2) library/media center and 4,500-square-foot (420 m2) student center on the ground floor. There are 21 classrooms on the second and third floors. Bay School offers state-of-the-art science laboratory classrooms (for physics, biology, and chemistry), a computer lab, and facilities for the school's music program.[3]


The 2012-2013 academic year sees the student body grow to approximately 312 freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Students come not only from San Francisco, but also from other parts of the Bay Area, including Marin County, the Peninsula, and the East Bay.

Primarily through daily all-school gatherings called "Morning Meetings," the school promotes their own set of "guiding precepts," or principles by which the school community strives to live.

Curriculum and activities[edit]

The Bay School offers a college preparatory curriculum designed to prepare students for the 21st century. In spite of this goal The Bay School does not offer any AP classes. The Bay School is one of the few independent high schools in the Bay Area to offer a comprehensive 4-year program in Mandarin Chinese.

Among the distinguishing features of the school is the laptop program. Every student and teacher is given a Hewlett-Packard laptop, and a significant percentage of classwork and homework is done electronically and submitted online. In 2008, the Bay School Math Department abandoned whiteboard lectures in favor of tablet PCs and projectors. This change did not last; the Bay School Math Department stopped using electronic resources in lectures by 2010. The other departments have continued to use projectors and laptops during lectures.

The math program also utilizes "investigations," in which students work in groups taking turns writing on the white board. Textbooks are not used, and tests are rarely given. Instead students are required to write verbal explanations of mathematical concepts in "take home tests" in which the students are expected not to cheat by using any resources apart from lecture notes, such as textbooks or tutors.

Another distinctive program the school offers is the Senior Signature Project Program. This senior project differs from similarly named programs at many other schools in both depth and duration; a minimum of 65 hours of field work is expected of all seniors in a topic of their choice, and a formal presentation and/or paper is expected at the end of the project. In the first year of the program (2008), topics of focus have ranged from engineering and particle physics to music production and fashion design.[4]

The school also offers students a variety of athletic, arts, service learning, and internship opportunities. Among other things, it fields teams in boys and girls soccer, boys and girls basketball, volleyball, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls golf, baseball, softball, and lacrosse. In addition, activities such as yoga, dance, martial arts, rock climbing at Planet Granite, physical conditioning and sailing are offered.

Precepts and meditation[edit]

One well-known feature of the Bay School is a collection of "precepts" that are indicative of various ethical areas students and other members of the community should be mindful of (including relationships with others, the best ways to learn, and how to treat the earth).

Complementing the precepts is group meditation, which usually occurs daily during morning gatherings. Typical morning meetings including ten minutes of a presentation or artistic performance (by students, faculty, staff, parents, or an outside speaker), followed by five minutes of meditation, and then the remaining time for all-school announcements. The school extols the value of meditation, citing that meditation has been demonstrated to improve the mental fitness and behavior of students. For instance, college undergraduates who practiced 20 minutes of meditation over a period of 5 days "showed greater improvement in conflict scores on the Attention Network Test, lower anxiety, depression, anger, and fatigue, and higher vigor on the Profile of Mood States scale, a significant decrease in stress-related cortisol, and an increase in immunoreactivity" when compared to students who spent the same time just relaxing.[5]


  1. ^ a b Millard, Max. "Presidio's new Bay School welcomes first freshman class", Marina Times, September, 2004. Accessed April 7, 2008.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "The Bay School Campus at 35 Keyes Avenue". The Bay School. Accessed April 8, 2008.
  4. ^ "Senior Projects & Field-Based Learning". The Bay School. Accessed April 8, 2008.
  5. ^ Posner, Michael et al. (2007) "Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. October 23, 2007 vol. 104 no. 43 17152-17156

External links[edit]