Student Projects

At Starr King, students acquire foundational skills for religious leadership. In keeping with the school’s longstanding philosophy, they’re also encouraged to practice these skills, creating and completing projects, both volunteer and course-related, that focus on social justice, scholarship and research. A sampling of student work:

Mark Armen, a third-year student, is working on a charter for an elementary/middle school he hopes will eventually be accepted by a San Francisco Bay Area school district. He said Satish Kumar, founder of the Small School and Schumacher College in England, which are based on ecological and spiritual values, is the main inspiration for this project. Armen views his school as a learning community or ashram.

"The organizing principle of the school is 'Membership,'" Armen said, "a place where students belong, not a place they merely come to each day. I plan to build a family enclosure of emotional intimacy and use the land around the school as a farm where students can work several times each week. The crops from the farm will be the basis of weekly feast nights, with meals the students prepare themselves. I hope the entire surrounding community will be a part of these nights and our students will take part in community-based projects, such as neighborhood renovation, assisting the ill and elderly, working with the homeless. It is my conviction that the path towards authentic self-esteem is through authentic achievement."

Wendy Bartel, a second-year student, coordinated the production of a children's songbook, debuted at General Assembly '06. Titled "May This Light Shine," the songbook was already headed for its second printing just over a month after it was released. The book included the work of 20 composters and was commissioned by the Unitarian Universalist Musician's Network. Click to purchase a copy.

Third-year student Carol Bodeau is serving as co-director of Religious Education for the Unitarian Universalists of San Mateo, Calif. She creates curriculum plans, runs classes and youth programs, leads intergenerational worship, interacts with the board of trustees and serves on the executive committee for the Pacific Central District chapter of LREDA (the Liberal Religious Educators Association). She says that working as a DRE allows her to be fully involved in the life of a growing, changing congregation and work closely with other ministers and religious educators throughout the district and nation.

Sherrie Connelly, a fourth-year student, is training to become a United Church of Christ minister. She says she's deeply committed to helping churches, organizations and people discover what brings them alive in their work.

Fifth-year student Theadora Davitt-Cornyn continues her participation in the First Unitarian Church of San Jose, Calif., and their Spanish-speaking ministry while in her last year at SKSM.

Becky Johnson, a third-year student, is volunteering weekly for At The Crossroads, a non-profit organization that provides services and counseling to homeless youth and young adults in San Francisco. During the 2005-2006 academic year, she has been working as Dr. Rebecca Parker's teaching assistant for ECO/ Threshold seminars.

Suzanne Semmes, a fourth-year student, was a volunteer chaplain in summer '06 and taught mindfulness-based stress reduction to veterans, most from the Vietnam War who were in treatment for depression and substance abuse. Semmes said the veterans appreciated learning a spiritual activity they could practice on their own as well as in a group and easily adopt as they progressed in their recovery.

Third-year student Justin Waters is engaged in a photographic project called, "Signs of Oppression," in which he's exploring the meaning and power certain signs in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco have to people in poverty. "For those of us with houses to go home to -- places for privacy, respite, and protection -- many of these signs do not have any real power, or indeed any real meaning, because they do not intend universality," Justin says. "For people without the privilege of having a home to sleep in, these signs have an extremely oppressive power that clinically marginalizes to push poverty and, therefore, people, out of conscious and conscience." Justin hopes to show the signs' effective meaning and remove our privilege to ignore them.

International Projects

Starr King students have traveled to Transylvania with Project Harvest Hope, a UUA-affiliated, non-profit organization that promotes sustainable agriculture and rural development in a Unitarian region of Romania. While visiting the villages, SKSM students meet ethnic Hungarians, who trace their Unitarian heritage back more than four centuries, and tour Project Harvest Hope enterprises that include a mill, a bakery and a model dairy.

Starr King’s Student Affairs Committee awards scholarships to students who wish to spend two to six weeks living and learning with the Shinto community at Tsubaki Grand Shrine, established in 3 B.C. and one of the oldest shrines in Japan.

Starr King School internship sites

local Unitarian Universalist communities

Pacific Region of the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education


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