Coed Crusaders



On Feb. 20 and 24, Riordan students welcomed girls to campus who are considering Riordan as an option for the 2020-2021 school year.

By Antonio Maffei ’20 and Steven Rissotto

After weeks of discussions and meetings, on Jan. 29, President Dr. Andrew Currier announced Archbishop Riordan High School would become a co-educational institution starting in the fall of 2020.

Riordan is San Francisco’s oldest all-boys school and was established in 1949. After one final meeting with the faculty and staff, then the Board of Trustees on the evening of Jan. 28, the decision was nearly final with two final approvals still needed: the Moderator of the Curia, Fr. Piderit, SJ, and Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Cordileone.

The final approval from Archbishop Cordileone was received at 2:10 p.m. The announcement was made an hour and 20 minutes later by Currier. At 5:00 p.m, the applications opened up on the Riordan website to accept young women.

In the weeks leading up to the decision, students, teachers, alumni, and parents were all asked for feedback in the form of online surveys used to assist in the decision to accept girls.

According to the official results, 758 alumni took the survey, and 57.9 percent of them were in favor of Riordan making the change for the next school year. About 74.9 percent of former Crusaders were in favor of a five-year strategic plan to accept girls.

Joe Shasky, current sports radio host for 95.7 The Game and former Crusader, sent out a tweet in support of the change.

“I’m happy for Riordan. It’s about the greater good evolving and fostering community,” the tweet read. “The core values can can still be intact. I will embrace the change and look forward to a new chapter to the long, proud Crusader legacy.

Meanwhile, Keith Leveroni ’92 said, “I truly feel such a big decision like this was rushed. They should have taken another school year to really do some research and alumni input.”

There were 72 total surveys recorded between the faculty and staff, divided into three categories. For next fall, they voted 40.3 percent in favor, 20.8 percent neutral, and 38.9 percent opposed to it, while 90.3 percent were for the five-year strategic plan to include coeducation.

Social Science Department Chair Chris Fern said, “It will allow Riordan to deepen persepctives. More voices mean more opportunity to empathize and grow.”

Across two surveys for current students, the majority was supportive of the change for this this fall. The most significant opposition is parents of current students, 60.2 percent of which were opposed to the change.

Alec Douglas ’21 said, “I don’t agree with it. I believe it was too rushed and not enough student input was considered in making the decision, but if the decision is final, I have faith in my school to handle this with class.”

The move came after Riordan’s sister school, Mercy High School, announced they would be shutting down after this current school year due to lingering financial and enrollment issues. Now that Riordan will accept girls, a new alternative is presented to Mercy students from the classes of 2021, 2022, 2023, and even the incoming freshman class of 2024.

All prospective students had the opportunity to visit Riordan on Feb. 20 and 24. A few weeks earlier, on Feb. 6, an open house was held.

“Well, I’m not against it,” said student Hayden Peregrino ’21. “I don’t mind, but the only thing I’m worried about is the possible lack of facilities and making sure we have things for girls. Other than those concerns, the change makes sense for the future.”

Riordan is a possible employment option for a few teachers from Mercy, according to Principal Tim Reardon.

He said, “Once we know exactly which departments will need additional staffing, we will post all positions, and we hope to bring some Mercy teachers over to Riordan.”

According to Currier, roughly 150 girls will attend Riordan next school year.

It won’t just be Mercy students, either. Riordan plans on accepting girls, in general, to expand their “brotherhood” slogan to more of a family approach and feel.

Many changes will take place over the summer to facilities to accommodate incoming girls. According to Currier, the administration is examining what restrooms will be converted, as well as plans and designs to accommodate an athletic and changing space within the existing complex.

Currier said, “The hope is that everyone wins. By that, I mean, the boys will have a better, improved locker room, and the girls will have what they need.”

On Feb. 21, Archbishop Riordan was given $500,000 from the Archdiocese of San Francisco toward remodeling the school. Currier estimated the transition would cost around $2 million.

“This change makes a stronger Riordan,” said Currier.

As for athletics, Reardon stated, “The plan right now is to keep them [girls] in their current league, the WBAL.”

The new sports offered for girls might include cross-country, volleyball, soccer, basketball, track, and swimming. Reardon said there could be more.

“While I am saddened by the loss of the brotherhood tradition, I understand the financial need for Riordan to go coed,” said Theo Reese ’20. “This decision will only better the school in the long run.”

This story was originally published on The Crusader on February 28, 2020.