Mission High’s Dante Club, 8 years and many successes later

Photo: Liz Hafalia / The ChronicleDesigner Khiem Vo (left) and graphic designer Diem Nguyen
(right) work on logos for their 3-D architectural renderings and
design company at La Boulange in San Francisco, Calif.,
on Monday, November 24, 2014.
Eight years ago, they were high school students who spent every Saturday morning together trying to gain a foothold in their adopted country by drinking coffee, eating bagels and studying one of literature’s most revered and difficult masterpieces.

Now, they’re busy professionals — some starting companies, some raising children — who, like most adults, catch up with each other now and then. But they say they credit their beloved high school social studies teacher and her unlikely Dante Club with paving their paths to success.

On March 20, 2006, The Chronicle featured an article about the Dante Club, a group of a dozen students from San Francisco’s Mission High who got together each Saturday at the Morning Due Cafe to read Dante Alighieri’s “The Divine Comedy” together over breakfast.

The teenagers, mostly impoverished students who were new arrivals from Mexico, Central America and Asia, were still learning English and finding their way in a big, daunting, urban high school.
Their social studies teacher, Callen Taylor, believed they lacked “cultural currency” compared with their wealthier peers and persuaded them to bring their dictionaries and highlighter pens to puzzle over the difficult work with her every week — just for fun.

Read more at www.sfusd.edu