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Stella Maris Academy marks 75 years by asking students for 75 acts of kindness

Stella Maris Principal Francie Moss challenges students to perform 75 acts of kindness for the school's 75th anniversary.
Stella Maris Academy Principal Francie Moss challenges students to perform 75 acts of kindness as she speaks at the school’s 75th-anniversary kickoff assembly Sept. 17.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

To celebrate 75 years, Stella Maris Academy in La Jolla is challenging each of its 170 students to perform 75 acts of kindness.

Stella Maris Principal Francie Moss issued the challenge at the private school’s anniversary kickoff assembly Sept. 17, saying: “Today is a day we are choosing joy. We are choosing to look forward.”

She told the transitional kindergartners through eighth-graders that she hopes the acts of kindness they perform for others will be paid forward. “That person will do something nice for someone, and then the person that they do something nice for might do something nice, and then it goes like wildfire,” she said.

“Then we have tons of kind, thoughtful people, and that makes the world a better place,” Moss said.

The acts of kindness can be anything from a “beach cleanup to opening the door for someone to taking someone’s shopping cart back,” she said.

The Rev. Patrick Mulcahy of Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Church stands with Francie Moss of Stella Maris Academy.
The Rev. Patrick Mulcahy of Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Church stands with Stella Maris Academy Principal Francie Moss before the school’s 75th-anniversary kickoff assembly.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Moss said TK through fifth grades will perform three acts of kindness as a class; the upper grades will perform 10 as a class, with students taking on the remainder themselves by Monday, Nov. 1 — All Saints Day on the Catholic calendar.

She said students will receive a list of 100 ideas.

Moss also will give each student a shirt reading “Celebrating 75 years with 75 acts of kindness,” with the Stella Maris logo.

Students will keep track of their good deeds, Moss said. There will be another assembly Nov. 1 to celebrate their completion.

Ava Grace Nichols, a seventh-grader at Stella Maris and president of its student council, said the 75 acts of kindness will benefit “the whole community; we’re going to try to help everybody.”

She said she plans to take flowers to nurses in hospitals and participate in her class’s project to bake cookies for students’ families.

Ava Grace is involved in charity work outside school, as she believes “it’s really important to help the people that need the help,” she said.

Fellow seventh-grader Cielo Bartos, the student council vice president, said she’s “proud to be such an important part of history” at Stella Maris and plans to visit retirement homes and feed homeless people as part of her good deeds.

“I think it’s going to be really cool to have different representatives of Stella Maris go out and help the community,” Cielo said.

“This is the best way to change the world. One small act at a time.”

Francie Moss

The idea to celebrate the 75th year with 75 acts of kindness came from Jennifer Brown, a Stella Maris board member and mother of a third-grader at the school. She said she wanted to “do something to give back to the community, to have more interaction with our community members.”

With 170 students performing 75 acts of kindness each, Moss said, “I’m hoping people ... when they think of Stella Maris, they think that’s the kind of student that comes out of this school.”

“This is the best way to change the world,” she said. “One small act at a time.”

Stella Maris Academy occupies three corners at the intersection of Herschel Avenue and Kline Street in La Jolla.
Stella Maris Academy occupies three corners at the intersection of Herschel Avenue and Kline Street in La Jolla.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Stella Maris Academy began in 1947 as the parochial school for Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Church. The school’s first buildings were constructed behind the Girard Avenue church and remain the “junior yard,” Moss said, containing TK through second grades.

Over the decades, more buildings were added, and Stella Maris now occupies three of the four corners at Herschel Avenue and Kline Street.

Moss said Stella Maris’ success lies in its students’ pride. “We’re not just amazing academics, but we teach … love of God, love of country, love of self. And then we live a virtuous life.” ◆