Coed changes focus on curriculum, activities, athletics


Benny Willers ’08

Gigi DiGiulio ’21 and JT Torrea ’21 are history makers as the School Co-Captains for the 2020-2021 school year.

This year at Riordan marks the first year that the school will have a co-ed student body rather than all boys. This significant change to the school has led to many smaller changes such as curriculum in the classrooms, the facilities, co-curricular activities, and sports.

This year, some teachers changed up their curriculum now that the classes are no longer all boys. Some of the English teachers have revised their reading lists for the year. English Department Chair Mary Dalton as of now has no coed classes, but next semester she will be teaching a coed World Literature Honors class in which she will make slight changes to her curriculum.

“Once I have co-ed classes, I plan to change my curriculum slightly in order to include more books that both the male and female students would enjoy,” said Dalton.

In Student Activities, Student Activities Directors Benny Willers ’08 and Jené Morris have been making sure the new female students have been incorporated into Student Parliament and making them feel a part of the Riordan community even while away from campus.

“They have had opportunities to participate in our on campus activities for the rallies and now Frosh Olympics. I also make sure they feel heard and have a voice in our virtual zoom meetings. We made sure that girls had an equal opportunity to pursue leadership roles in parliament,” said Willers.

“That being said, we created girl positions for all of our executive positions. For example, not only do we have a boy school body president, but now we have a girl school body president.”

Speaking of student body leaders, for the first time in Archbishop Riordan history, there is a female school co captain, Gigi DiGiulio ’21. Willers also touched upon how DiGulio became the school co-captain.

“She had to submit an application, a three to five minute speech, and then go through an interview with both myself and Jené (Morris). We were looking for someone willing to take on the challenge that this year was going to give us, while being someone that was inspiring and full of positive energy,” said Willers.

The sports and facilities have had many changes to accommodate the new students. Although many people are eager to get back on the field, there are concerns of how people will maintain their distance and keep from spreading the virus.

There will be new protocols and safety precautions taken if students and teachers return to campus but also, everything is looking ready as for the physical changes to the school. Starting online instead of in-person has given the construction workers more time to finish up the new locker rooms and updated weight room. President Dr. Andrew Currier said he is excited for the new facilities for the students and how it can help ease the transition for new students.

“The boys locker room, the girls locker room, the entire exercise facility are completely new and renovated, which is spectacular. I was really happy and encouraged by the fact that everyone wins on the exercise and locker room facilities. This should help ease the transition,” Currier said.

Athletic Director Bob Greene said the new sports for girls that were chosen were based on how many people would most likely be interested in joining them.

Generally, students are cautiously excited to get back on campus, but are aware of the potential dangers COVID-19 present.

Faculty and staff have also tried their best to help new students feel welcomed to Riordan even though they are at home learning. Currier also touched upon the benefits that distance learning has had for the new students.

He stated, “While the pandemic has been difficult for everyone, teachers, students, parents, administrators, I believe the move to virtual learning has helped our new students including transfers and freshmen, acclimate to knowing the school’s teachers, counselors, coaches and administrators virtually without the acute pressures of being new to a campus.”

Stefanie Lopez ’22 said the transition from Mercy has been smooth and welcoming.

Lopez said, “To be in a coed environment from a single gender high school doesn’t feel too different because I grew up going to a coed school.”

Currier said students should feel safe upon return and it takes everyone to ensure everyone in the community stays healthy.

He said, “Our parents, teachers, and students should feel reassured by the great building safety preparations being made in partnership with the City of San Francisco’s Department of Public Health. There are distancing measures, sanitizing stations, smaller groups. . . This is going to take everybody agreeing to help keep each other safe.”