The inspiration for San Francisco Waldorf came in 1978 when a small group of parents and friends envisioned a local school based on Rudolf Steiner’s educational philosophy and modeled after Waldorf schools around the world. In 1979, the school was officially formed and soon settled at its present grade school location in the quiet residential neighborhood of Pacific Heights. The grade school campus was expanded in 1989, with the addition of six classrooms, Dakin Hall, the Eurythmy room, several offices and significant storage.
In 1997, the community realized its long held plans for a Waldorf high school, and in 2006, purchased permanent property at 470 West Portal Avenue near Stern Grove. The location in the dynamic West Portal neighborhood is prime for a high school, as most of our students arrive by public transportation located adjacent to the school and frequent businesses nearby for lunch and other needs. Adjacent to the north of the property lies Arden Wood, a Christian Science nursing facility, where our students volunteer for habitat restoration projects on a weekly basis.
The state-of-the art high school, completed in 2007, is the first in San Francisco to be awarded the prestigious LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. SFWS now enrolls more than 450 students (Nursery – Grade 12) from around the Bay Area and across the world, making it the largest Waldorf school in North America.
Although many schools have moved away from physical and arts education, San Francisco Waldorf High School believes that they are essential to a happy and healthy student. To this end, physical education/movement and art classes, including theater, are an integral part of our curriculum. While our high school is fully equipped with art studios, our theater performances often require rental of an outside theater space.
Our physical education classes currently take place in the high school parking lot, which is not ideal for anyone. Students face a sloped playing surface for many of the games they learn, and weather can often be an issue. Our neighbors near the parking lot experience heightened noise during these PE classes and may also find stray balls in their back yards.
To support team athletics, the high school rents a gym for practices and home games at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in San Francisco (former home of the high school). This facility, while currently acceptable, presents distinct challenges to the athletic program. The location across town from the high school requires teams to spend valuable time traveling to and from practice. Many prospective families have noted lack of a gym and our reputation as a truly competitive high school option for student-athletes could be strengthened with a new, on-site facility.
Over the past nine years, coinciding with the high school move to West Portal, the school’s finances have improved significantly and enrollment continues to grow as new families are drawn to Waldorf education. The school recently refinanced the previous building bond, effectively saving the school more than $4.5 million in the next seven years.
With demonstrated financial strength and early philanthropic commitments to a silent capital campaign, this is the perfect moment for the school to realize the dream of building a multi-purpose gymnasium. The space will help unify the school community, providing space for theater performances, lectures, and athletics.
Architecturally, this space would reflect the school values of community and sustainability, and be fully integrated with the existing LEED-certified school structure. Plans include water conservation through rain harvesting, a cistern system to support a living wall, and Zero Net Energy through solar, natural daylighting, and high efficiency systems. The West Portal location is easily accessed by public transportation, a block of existing parking spaces will be retained, and provisions made for off-site special event parking.
Realization of a multi-purpose gymnasium will enhance San Francisco Waldorf School and the West Portal neighborhood, and serve to express the school’s values of sustainability, community, and a holistic education for our young people.
View of the courtyard between new Gymnasium and existing building
Inside the new Gym
Nestled at the end of West Portal
Below are some documents that you may find useful as you consider the impact of this new facility on the community.