The Bay School Blog

The Bay School of San Francisco

Acre Gourmet: Bay’s Lunch Program Partner

The food at Bay is delicious. There is absolutely no denying it. We are extremely fortunate to have our meals prepared by Acre Gourmet, a local catering company that creates meals for our community such as sriracha-lime chicken with broccoli and coconut rice, 3 cheese & bacon mac with tomato basil soup and roasted rainbow carrots, or Marin Sun Farms pulled pork taco salad with Massa Organics brown rice… and that is just this week alone! Not to mention the daily salad bar and soup station, as well as all-day toast and tea, fresh fruit and bagels! Acre definitely spoils the Bay community but it’s not just the food that makes Acre so special. It is also the philosophy behind the company that aligns with Bay’s precepts and the level of care and dedication to the craft that make us so lucky to call them our partner.

We sat down with Head Chef Marisa diGirolamo to learn more about Acre and how our food gets to us from concept to cafeteria.

What is your role with Acre?

I am the new Head Chef for The Bay School lunch program with Acre. I design the menu, do the ordering, and prepare the meals for the community each day.

What is Acre Gourmet’s catering philosophy?

Our core philosophy is that our food must be local, fresh and organic. This is a passion of everyone in the company from the owner to the kitchen staff. Our managing partner and operations manager are heavily involved with the local food production scene and they have great relationships with local farmers in the North Bay and surrounding areas. This allows us to source beautiful produce and meat to serve to the Bay community. Plus we are always connecting with different producers and trying new products to introduce to the menu.

Another big part of our philosophy is cooking everything from scratch. Aside from the bread, which is Acre’s recipe but baked off-site by a local baker, everything that is served is made from scratch in the kitchen on campus. Our ingredients are delivered to the school daily and everything- salsas, sauces, salad dressings, soups – everything – is made from scratch so we exactly what is going into each meal.

How do you decide what is going to be on the menu?

We have a 10-week rotation, so there is a set menu every week for 10 weeks and then it repeats throughout the year. There are several recipes that have been around for a long time that have proven popular, so we keep those. Every 10-week rotation, we test 6 or 7 new meals to see how they go over. Part of my plan for next school year is to revamp the 10-week program. That will be the big task for us over the summer: to try new recipes and menu items. Everyone in the company will be very involved with the process, from me to the operating manager to the managing partner. Everyone is very involved and invested in thinking about how to serve tasty and nutritious meals to Bay students and staffulty.

How do you like working with Bay students?

I LOVE IT!! I love it and I love this community. I have worked in schools before but never a school lunch program. I love the energy of the students, that’s why I really love working here.

How have students influenced the menu? 

We are always trying to adjust the menu to suit the students (and staffulty!) tastes. We are especially aware of ever changing dietary requirements and trends. I LOVE when the kids give us feedback on things they really like or are getting tired of. We really try to incorporate all of the feedback we get to improve the menu as the year goes on. And I am always open to requests for new items so I would love to encourage the community to come visit us in the kitchen and tell us what they think.

Acre is great at accommodating menu items to dietary restrictions. Can you explain why this is so important?

Yes, it is very important to us. We have people in the company that have very specific dietary needs and food allergies. It’s something that we are very aware of and something we are all trained on extensively; we are really happy to cater to those special needs. We always, no matter what, offer gluten free, dairy free and vegan options. We always have gluten free bread at the toast station. We also support how different people choose to manage their diet and health and want to make sure that everyone has something delicious to choose from.

How does Acre educate students on food?

Part of what we really enjoy is introducing foods the students might not have had a chance to try before. We are especially proud of the local farmers and producers we are lucky enough to work with. They often have specialty heirloom items in season. The seasonal produce tastings are a great way to showcase this and give the students a chance to taste a variety of fresh, local, organic produce that is new to them. It’s interesting to hear what of these items they particularly like so we can make sure to incorporate those into the seasonal menus.

What happens with excess food we may have left over?

We work with a service called Food Runners that comes to the school every Friday to pick up any leftover food from the week, which we store in the walk-in freezer. They are a group that goes around to restaurants and food service providers to pick up food and distributes it to local food kitchens and various different charitable organizations like homeless shelters. All of the food is repurposed through their organization to eliminate food waste.

What are some of the students’ favorite lunches? 
Some of the most popular items are the baked pasta dishes. Everyone always requests them. We have a few different versions depending on the season but it is always popular. Enchilada Day is always a big hit. We have been making a lot of different salsas and homemade hot sauces on our Mexican themed days and they are going over really well! Caesar Salad is another frequent request as is pizza.

What would you want an incoming freshman to know about the food?

We would want them to know that we take a lot of pride in our food and we care a lot about them eating fresh and delicious meals! We love feedback and if they have favorites to let us know so we can make it again. We also love requests. We are always looking for new recipes to make. All students are welcome in the kitchen at any time to ask questions and introduce themselves. We love interacting with students and they are always welcome to stop by and hang out!


Astronomy At Bay

At 6’6”, with a basso-profundo voice, booming laugh and ever-present bow tie, science faculty member David Friedlander-Holm is hard to miss in the hallways of Bay. Beyond his height and sartorial choices, Mr. Friedlander-Holm is known for his love of the cosmos. Not only does he share interesting astronomy facts with the school community during Morning Meeting, he also shares his passion for discovery with the students in his physics and astrophysics courses. Last week we talked with David a bit about “Astro” at Bay.

Let’s start with a basic question: why teach astronomy/astrophysics to high school students?

I always answer this question with a story. When I was studying astronomy in college, one of the first things my professor did was have us go outside and watch the sunset–not through a telescope but just by looking. I saw all 5 planets [that were] visible to the naked eye. In that moment, I felt both my smallness and my connectedness with everything. That feeling is uniquely accessible through the study of astronomy. Even when I take students up to the observatory, we spend time lying on our backs on the driveway to look at the dark sky. The immensity is so physical when you experience the sky that way. It’s really the thing that hooks the students into astronomy. It hooked me.

Bay is extremely fortunate to have exclusive school use of Tuolumne Skies Observatory, a private observatory in the Sierra Foothills. What does it mean for Bay students to have regular access to an observatory?

It’s amazing. Bay students can have more direct experience with an observatory telescope than I did as a physics/astronomy major in college! The Keck Observatory [on Mauna Kea], which has the world’s largest telescopes, is using equipment to run those telescopes that are only one step above what Bay students are using. When I went to UC Berkeley last month to observe what equipment they were using at Keck, I was shocked to see how similar it is to our equipment. We are incredibly, incredibly lucky to be able to work with the 20” Ritchey-Chretien telescope at Tuolumne Observatory. We have our class computers hooked up to it and can get data at any time we like.

Having this constant access means we’re doing real science. Often in a science classroom, the teacher is manipulating variables to show a principle at work. Having access to the telescope means students are able to do bench science [i.e. real research]. Students, of course, have to learn what they are looking at and looking for. Then they practice the skills of observation, confirmation, perseverance (you have to look and look and look), and problem-solving. There is so much to take into account when using a telescope to collect data: when to take data based on weather conditions and the moon’s phases, how to use the equipment, how to fix the equipment, and, of course, the human factor.  What’s so great is that I am working WITH the students. When there is a problem with the equipment, together we figure out how to solve it. I don’t have all the answers. And these are real-world, not created or simulated, problems.

What are your students working on?

Learning to use this telescope and the computers /software that are tracking the data; learning to do astrophotography. There are some students who are building a weather station at the observatory so we can quickly determine when it starts raining so we can shut the domes to protect the equipment from rain. Ultimately, we hope we can make discoveries. Right now we are looking for an exoplanet [a planet outside of our solar system]. We’ll start by identifying a variable star since the techniques required to analyze variable stars is similar to approaches to identifying exoplanets.  Then we’ll confirm a known exoplanet before starting to look for an exoplanet that is as yet undiscovered.

What’s next for astro at Bay?

Besides discovering an exoplanet?!?! Well, on my wish list is a spectrometer. Teaching students spectroscopy will allow them to be able to classify stars by measuring gas clouds and light curves. They’ll learn what stars are made of! We’ll also be able to determine the velocity of objects which can help us find extra-galactic distances and which will help build our students’ understanding of the universe as a whole system.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

SEID Members Attend The Student Diversity Leadership Conference

“SDLC is a multiracial, multicultural gathering of upper school student leaders (grades 9–12) from across the U.S. SDLC focuses on self-reflecting, forming allies, and building community. Led by a diverse team of trained adult and peer facilitators, participants will develop effective cross-cultural communication skills and better understand the nature and development of effective strategies for social justice.” – National Association of Independent Schools

Last month, members of Bay’s student leadership group SEID (Student Equity Inclusion and Diversity) attended the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) in Atlanta, GA. After their return, we caught up with Makayla ‘18 and Boris ‘19 to ask about their experience and what they took away from the conference.

Why was it important for you to attend SDLC?

Makayla: This conference was important to me because I like working with social justice/DEI issues around the Bay community. Also, it’s really hard being an African American student in a predominantly white school. I feel that sometimes some race issues are pushed aside in our community and I wanted to be able to talk comfortably with people like me who share the same conflicts/issues within their school. I wanted to experience this new community and accept the guidance they have given me so that I can help resolve these issues that I am facing within my school.

Boris: For me, I identify as a Latino and I felt like this conference was the perfect place for me to share my experience being a part of a minority group at a predominantly white private school. I think I was also hoping to meet other Latino students who are in my position and to hear their personal experiences. I also wanted a place where I could feel safe talking with other students of color who go to private schools and the different ways we could work through racism at our schools.

What did you learn? What was your biggest takeaway from the conference?

Makayla: The main thing I learned during the conference was to STAY WOKE. What I mean by that is I need to be able to identify these issues and stand up for what I believe in no matter what the obstacles are. I also learned that you can’t do it alone and I need a strong support system when trying to resolve DEI issues around a particular community, especially a predominantly white community.

Boris:  I honestly learned a lot from both the counselors and the students that attended SDLC. Knowing that there are thousands of other students of color going to private schools and facing similar challenges really empowered me and made me realize that in the end, all of the hardships are worth it. I learned about the power of storytelling and sharing our cultures so that people can better understand our background.

Now that you have all of this knowledge, how do you plan to use it?

Makayla: The biggest goal I hope to accomplish at my time here at Bay is supporting the students of color and making them feel comfortable and supported in the Bay community at all times. I want to serve as a support system to people who don’t know how to handle these DEI issues so that they can better understand and comprehend what’s going on while feeling supported.

Boris: I am hoping to reopen the HOLA (Hispanic/Latino Alliance) Club next year and I am hoping for more people to come. I think it is important for our Hispanic community to get together and offer our culture to the rest of the community. I am also hoping to continue working with SEID to make Bay a safer and more open place for students of color.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Evening

By. Brooke Wilson, Asst. Director of Admission
Community is a word that often conjures images of rainbows, hand-holding, and puppies. What we acknowledge at Bay is that community does include warmth and positivity, sometimes even an impromptu Hamilton sing-along in the dining hall — but community is also forged and strengthened by challenge. Creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community in multiple dimensions is a challenge for most independent schools. The same is true for Bay.
Bay Admissions hosts two Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Evenings each year. These events offer an opportunity for prospective students and parents/guardians, to talk in small groups with current Bay students, parents/guardians, faculty and staff. In December the discussion was lively, honest and deeply engaging. We ask prospective families to bring their most challenging questions and their deepest concerns. Our community representatives responded to these questions with thoughtful examples from their personal experiences of Bay.
Some of the questions families asked in December were:
“How do students who receive Tuition Assistance experience Bay?”
“What was the school’s official response to the recent presidential election and how are current events addressed in the classroom?”
“What are the affinity groups? What does the White Students Unlearning Racism group do?
When preparing to participate in these evenings our families and students aren’t provided with talking points or scripts. There’s no rehearsal. They are simply told this: “Our goal is to be authentic — not perfect. Tell your truth, and work in service of families trying to make a really important decision about where they will spend the next four years.”
Tonight, we will host our final DEI Night of the season. We look forward to more challenging questions and to sharing more of what it means to be a part of the Bay community.

Meet Bay’s New Boys Varsity Basketball Coach

An old proverb once said, “He who refreshes others will himself feel refreshed.” This is the motto that motivates Bay’s new Boys Varsity Head Basketball Coach, Nicholas Ellsworth, to continue coaching and give back to students year after year. Although his initial motivation to begin coaching high school basketball was staying connected to the game after playing in college, Nicholas now says coaching is his “opportunity to give more purpose to his life and in turn be a positive influence in the lives of others.”

Nicholas shares, “I remember being a high school basketball player and there were coaches that had a huge influence on me and there were coaches that didn’t. For me, coaching is an opportunity for the players who are going to remember these experiences for the rest of their lives, to not only remember the experiences but to look back and think, ‘wow, I really learned something from that man, he made me a better person and a better basketball player.’’’

How does he plan to accomplish making the players better people? Well, for starters he has established three main principles for the team to focus on: work ethic, respect and self-respect, and doing more for others than you do for yourself. He says, “we pride ourselves on our work ethic!”

These philosophies were derived from Nicholas’ experiences both playing and coaching over the years.  Before landing at Bay, Nicholas coached high school basketball for Mercy High School in Burlingame and Burlingame High School. He himself played basketball at Shasta College and was later recruited to play at Chico State before an injury ended his playing days.

As for how he’s getting along with the boys this year? He loves it! “There are so many different personalities. On van rides everyone is making jokes and giving each other a hard time, it’s like a big family. It makes me feel young again.” And  Nicholas’ goal for the boy’s team this season… “To win a championship!”

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑