St. James high school
San Francisco, CA Biographies

The city of San Francisco is justifiably proud of the St. James high school, one of the leading Catholic educational institutions of California, and which celebrated in 1931 the twenty fifth anniversary of its existence, a period of accomplishment and development worthy of the inspired labors of those holy men who have guided its destinies.

On August 15, 1905, the Rev. Father Patrick R. Lynch, then pastor of St. James Church in San Francisco, made overtures in regard to the securing of the Brothers of Mary to teach in the school which he contemplated to establish. His negotiations were with Brother George, then principal of St. Joseph's School, and in reply, Rev. George Meyer, provincial of the Society of Mary, promised to send Brothers here by the year 1907. With this assurance Father Lynch forthwith began the construction of the school.

In April, 1906, occurred the devastating earthquake and fire which laid waste the city of San Francisco, and in the conflagration St. Joseph's School was completely consumed, thus depriving the Brothers of that school of their scene of labor. Father Meyer was then requested to place the Brothers at St. James one year sooner than planned, and accordingly on August 8, 1906, Brother Bernard was appointed as the first principal, to be assisted by Brothers Paul, Thomas and Alexander. Through the cooperation of the Dominican Sisters, a temporary school and a residence were given to them, the residence at 3631 Twenty fourth street and the school at Twenty fourth and Guerrero streets. There were one hundred and ten pupils in attendance when the classes were started, grouped from the fourth grade to the so called high class, the latter having been a combined first high and commercial course. During the ensuing year, the numbers in enrollment increased, and at the close of school in June there were one hundred and forty.

The cornerstone for the permanent school at Twenty third and Fair Oaks streets was laid November 4, 1907, and on March 15, 1908, the auditorium was used for the first time, the occasion having been the honor paid to Father Lynch on his patronal feast.

The new school was officially opened, at which time the enrollment had increased to two hundred and thirty three, and two members had been added to the faculty. Prior to the third year of the school's existence, the Brothers moved into their permanent residence at 180 Fair Oaks street, and at the opening of the new term there were three hundred and forty two pupils in the eight grades and two years of high school. A Sodality was formed by the Brothers shortly after the establishment of the school, a junior and senior branch were formed, and by September 27, 1908, one hundred and four members were in the work.

On account of ill health, Brother Bernard gave up his place as principal of the school on November 1, 1908, and he was succeeded by Brother John, who remained only one term, and was in turn succeeded by Brother Joseph. About this time, the school first participated in athletics through the championship track team.

In 1911, fire again destroyed the St. James Church, but within a year, on March 31, 1912, a new building was dedicated, and in the same year the silver jubilee of the parish was celebrated. An alumni association was formed about this time, shortly before the fire, and during this period an annex was constructed to accommodate the increasing student body. On August 3, 1918, Brother Joseph relinquished his post as principal to Brother Walter. A military training course and the literary circle were established in August, 1918. Then, on July 7, 1920, Brother Peter assumed the office of principal in place of Brother Walter. Under Brother Peter's able leadership the school won academic honors and became accredited to the University of California.

On November 7, 1926, occurred the death of the beloved Father Lynch, founder of the St. James high school. To succeed him there was appointed Father Patrick J. Quinn, from St. Anthony's in Oakland, where he had been for a period of fourteen years. Brother Adam P. Seyfried, S. M., the present principal of the school, arrived here August 17, 1929, to replace Brother Peter, who had held the position since 1920. One of the new principal's first acts was to establish the Chaminade Club, fashioned after the Parent Teacher Association, and named in honor of the founder of the Society of Mary. Many and diverse improvements have been made in the conduct of the school, to keep pace with the steady growth of the enrollment and the increasing importance of the institution. A very comprehensive statement regarding the school was published on the occasion of the twenty fifth anniversary of the school's founding; this follows:

"The aims and principles of a school are best shown by the extent to which its scholars attain the high ideals she sets before them. St. James strives to graduate young men well educated both in mind and in body. It is her object to instill into the hearts of the students true loyalty to God and Country; love of all that is Good, Beautiful and True; to excel, therefore, not only in things earthly, but also and especially in things spiritual. She places at their disposal subjects most used in later life, and by which they may be able to reach their ideals. A variety of selected athletic activities allows for the physical education which should accompany the mental and moral training. In short, she trains the mind, the body and the heart. The success which has attended her graduates testifies to the value of her work. She can point with pride to her sons who have obtained prominence in the many and different pathways of this life to the clergy, lawyers, doctors, who are proud to claim her as their Alma Mater. A short span of life just completed a mere quarter of a century -but what a splendid accomplishment.

"1906 - Historic numerals in the life of San Francisco. Undismayed by the terrible havoc wrought by earthquake and fire, it immediately began rebuilding. In that same year, St. James started out on its career of character building, of training youth, and preparing it for life's struggles. Hundreds of students have since passed through its corridors, and have achieved success in later years. Situated in the heart of the Mission district it became the pride of that locality. Decidedly, the outstanding characteristic of the school is its unity and compactness of arrangement. Classrooms, library, gymnasium and faculty building are easily accessible to each other; while just around the corner, so to say, stands the Parish Church, where during these twenty five years the boys have brought their troubles and triumphs to the feet of Our Savior and His blessed Mother. Its influence, however, has not been restricted to this district. The attendance is city wide. Pupils are attracted from Marin county, to the north, as well as from peninsular cities to the south."

Brother Adam P. Seyfnied, S. M., McS., Ph. D., principal of St. James high school, was born in Brooklyn, New York, and there received his early education, then attended high school and St. Mary's University in Dayton, Ohio. After his graduation from the latter, he completed a course in the normal school in Dayton, and then became a teacher in St. Joseph's high school in San Jose, California. Next he was transferred to a teaching position at the Holy Name Institute in Detroit, Michigan, then taught at the Normal School of the University of Dayton, in Dayton, Ohio. Following this, he studied at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, the years being 1924-28, and from this institution he received his master's degree and doctorate. He then returned and taught for one year at the Normal School at the University of Dayton, from which position he was transferred to St. James high school in San Francisco as principal, where he has accomplished work which has attracted city wide attention and approbation, and has created a place of respect and affection for him in the citizenship of the bay district.

The History of San Francisco, California
Lewis Francis Byington, Supervising Editor
Oscar Lewis, Associate Editor
The S. J. Clark Publishing Company
Chicago-San Francisco 1931

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