As the youngest of nine siblings to attend Convent & Stuart Hall, Geoffrey Applegarth SHB'80 and his family have deep roots at the school. He reflects on his time here, the significance of the school to his family and why he continues to give back to numerous San Francisco organizations.
If you attended Convent & Stuart Hall in the mid-1950s through 1980, there is a good chance you crossed paths with one particular family. Geoffrey Applegarth SHB'80 and his eight older siblings all attended the school, creating a web of alumni and a legacy that lives on through Geoffrey's niece and goddaughter, Annabelle Applegarth, a current Convent High School sophomore.
Geoffrey credits his time at Stuart Hall with nurturing his interpersonal skills, which he says have played an important role in his life. He remains close to the school through his work as Director of Business Development for Paula LeDuc Fine Catering, which will provide delicious food for Celebrate Spring, the biggest annual fundraiser organized by the Parents Association at Convent & Stuart Hall, on March 23 and 24.
How did the school meet your individual needs and interests?
Being the last of such a big, diverse family it was a challenge to be seen individually, but a clear strength of Convent & Stuart Hall's is their focus on the individual and educating the whole person. After all, the school had done this for my previous eight siblings! While I wasn't a top scholar, the faculty did recognize my clear abilities in relationship-building and working well with others — areas which have greatly enhanced my later life.
When you and your siblings reflect on your time in school, what stands out?
The relationships I developed at Stuart Hall are lifelong and vital to me. Not only are the school's values foundational, they've also been practical as these friends support each other through life's different turns. Also I'm aware that the Convent & Stuart Hall family goes well beyond San Francisco, and I'm very grateful for this sense of community, both here and abroad.
How would you describe what you do at Paula LeDuc Fine Catering to current students?
My work at Paula LeDuc Fine Catering and Events is focused on creating meaningful celebrations for clients, many of whom become good friends. I spend a lot of my time and energy listening so as to understand the importance of these events to them — each event is entirely unique and special, so while many celebrations have some elements in common (food, beverages, decor, entertainment) — the basic ingredients of a good party need to enhance the sense of community, whether they're for corporations, social gatherings (graduations, birthdays), weddings or philanthropic events such as galas and fundraisers, like Celebrate Spring. These occasions are highlights in people's lives and therefore very gratifying.
What inspired you to do the AIDS/Lifecycle Ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles for 12 years?
The challenge of the ride motivated me at first: being on a bike for seven days, long distances and various terrain, but the chance to raise money for the SF AIDS Foundation spoke to my sense of community responsibility. Growing up we were taught that it's not only about you, it's about all of us, and this ride has been an annual commitment to give back in a very meaningful way.
Briefly describe how you are involved with other local community organizations?
Like many alumni, my personal and professional life are intertwined so I am proud to support a variety of organizations, such as Juvenile Diabetes, Toys for Tots, Meals on Wheels, Susan G Komen, Suicide Prevention, the SF AIDS Foundation and The National AIDS Memorial Grove.
How is Stuart Hall a part of your life today?
The values instilled from the early days at Stuart Hall inform my life daily. Whenever I can promote Convent & Stuart Hall, I do. I am proud to have my goddaughter, Annabelle Applegarth, attending Convent (Class of 2020). This continuity of family legacy is a tribute to our parents, Isabel and Jerry Applegarth, and a reminder of the school's great work in the development of future San Francisco leaders.