| What is your school proud of?
The Catholic Voice asked each of the nine high schools: What's a project or program you point to when a prospective student comes to your campus?
De La Salle High School helps its students to develop a true brotherhood in the light of Christian faith.
J.A. GRAY/DE LA SALLE HIGH SCHOOL
De La Salle High School
Where the life of the spirit comes first
A De La Salle High School graduate is a Man of Faith, who prays and integrates Gospel values, serves others, especially the poor and the marginalized and appreciates our Catholic, Lasallian tradition. Faith comes first among the school's core commitments, which are to Faith, Integrity and Scholarship. Principal Brother Robert J. Wickman, FSC, says, "Our Campus Ministry program and our Religious Studies classes engage both the head and the heart, developing both intelligent believers and servant-leaders."
Religious Studies: Forty credits are required for graduation; the faculty consists of a dozen teachers teaching seven distinctive courses.
Prayer: Prayer is daily, and all-school liturgies are frequent. There is also a Freshman Family liturgy, a Sophomore Family liturgy, a Junior Ring Mass and Celebration of Unity, and a Mother/Son liturgy for seniors.
Chaplain: Rev. LaSalle Hallissey, OP, an alumnus of 1969, is on campus daily as chaplain, and regularly offers the sacraments.
Actions: Classes raise donations through the "Spartan Charity Challenge" in Lent; and each January students can take part in the Walk for Life.
Service: Visits to San Francisco, Salinas and San Diego bring students into contact with people on society's margins; and closer to home students contribute many hours of service to people in need.
Retreats: In addition to two Parent/Son Retreats, there is a Freshman Retreat, a Sophomore Retreat focused on social justice, and Junior Retreats focusing on values and decision-making.
Kairos: Seniors can choose among seven Kairos Retreats offered throughout the year. Roger Hassett, director of campus ministry, explains, "We call Kairos a gift to our seniors — a time to take a deep, honest look at yourself and your relationships with God and others. Barriers and defenses are gently lowered, masks are put aside, and young men see themselves as they really are — loved by God, their friends, and their families. This experience helps them develop in faith, and they see that true vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness, a lesson that so many men learn way too late in life."
At De La Salle High School, life and learning are spiritual journeys illumined by the light of faith.
A creek clean-up at Hillcrest Park raised awareness and money to protect children and families from malaria-carrying mosquitos in Africa, as well reduced mosquitoes here at home that carry the West Nile Virus.
CARONDELET HIGH SCHOOL/COURTESY PHOTO
Carondelet High School
Service to the dear neighbor
With a mission founded on service to the dear neighbor, Carondelet has deeply embedded community service in the curriculum, co-curricular programs and religious practice, making it, for many, a part of everyday life.
It is worth noting that Carondelet does not have a community service requirement for graduation, yet more than 90 percent of Carondelet students participate in some form of community service. This year's graduating class has, in four years, completed a total of 62,488 hours of community service.
This past March, Shelby Smith '14 came up with the idea for the "Trashing Malaria" Lenten project that served people both locally and globally. This student-driven project was led by Spiritual Life Council and Jefferson Award-Students in Action who thought it was important for the project to be comprehensive, enriching the students' spiritual, intellectual, emotional, social and physical development.
Rather than just asking for money, students were challenged to get involved, do something for others, give of themselves and make a personal connection. The goal? 100 percent participation to purchase 100 nets and save 100 lives.
In working toward this goal, everyone at Carondelet participated in some way — big or small. Many students and faculty participated in the project to buy a "Sweats for Nets" pass for Zumba Day during Sisterhood week, which not only helped buy life-saving mosquito nets, but also encouraged students to have fun with their classmates while doing something good for themselves.
Locally, businesses sponsored students in a creek clean-up at Hillcrest Park and made donations for the 40 bags of trash collected. In addition to raising awareness and money to protect children and families from malaria-carrying mosquitos in Africa, the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District applauded the students for the creek clean-up, which helped reduce disease-transmitting mosquitos here at home that carry the potentially fatal West Nile Virus. In all the hard work to educate the public about the most devastating global health issue of our day, Carondelet students raised $4,000, which allowed them to purchase 400 bed nets and save at least 400 lives!
Holy Names High School
College planning starts early — and pays off
Holy Names High School counselor Lesley Garcia works with members of the Class of 2014 during this year's Project Chrysalis Career Exploration Unit.
HOLY NAMES HIGH SCHOOL/COURTESY PHOTO
When Holy Names High School student Ana Ascencio '13 opened her email in March and saw a message announcing her acceptance to Amherst College in Massachusetts, her first reaction was disbelief.
"This was one of my reach schools and it was an amazing feeling to know that, yes, I got accepted into a really great college," said Ana. "Then, it just clicked to me that this was all my hard work at Holy Names coming to fruition."
Ana attributes a great deal of her success to the college prep support she received at Holy Names. Holy Names provides services to ensure that each student has exciting college options and to help alleviate some of the stress that is often associated with college admissions.
Beginning in freshman year, counselors meet individually with students each semester to discuss her academic record, interests and goals. This process continues through sophomore year as students begin to outline their hopes for the future. The process intensifies come junior year as every student participates in Project Chrysalis. Project Chrysalis is a College Exploration Unit in which students spend two weeks researching colleges, identifying good matches and possible scholarship opportunities and creating a resume. Finally, seniors use skills they learned in previous years to complete their applications. Many choose to participate in optional UC, Cal State, Common Application and SAT/ACT focused workshops through the counseling office.
In addition to the dedicated college prep focus, HNHS's English department works with students on their college essays and counselors serve as a liaison between students and colleges, as needed. Realizing that parents play a critical role in the college search and application process, the counseling office offers workshops for parents from all grade levels to educate about the current college admission landscape and to keep parents informed about where their students should be in the overall process.
"Planning for college is an extremely exciting process and we are here to help," says Juliet Arechiga, counselor and learning disabilities coordinator at HNHS. "It is truly rewarding to see students complete this process and find their perfect college match — just like Ana and Amherst."
Moreau Catholic High School
Arts education in the Holy Cross tradition
Richard Philbin '05 received his master's in jazz composition from Manhattan School of Music.
Moreau Catholic High School is committed to providing opportunities for self-expression, development of the imagination, personal confidence and critical thinking skills through its robust arts program.
The talented arts faculty has cultivated award-winning visual and performing artists and has garnered statewide accolades for its music, choir, dance and theater performances. For the fifth year in a row, the MCHS Jazz Ensemble took the first place award at the Chabot Jazz Festival. The Chamber and Honors Choirs brought back awards for their superior performances at Disneyland.
Surpassing its already excellent reputation, the theatre department staged a vibrant rendition of the musical "Hairspray," which played to sold-out audiences this spring. Visual artist Catherine Farinas '13, was recognized as a 2013 National Young Arts Foundation Winner and will be attending the Ringling College of Art and Design in Florida. Moreau Catholic also has the only UC-recognized honors dance program in the state and has added classes to fulfill a growing demand. Many Moreau arts alumni have earned scholarships to prestigious schools and have gone on to professional or teaching careers in their fields.
In an era of ever-shrinking school budgets, Moreau Catholic is committed to funding a wide array of offerings in the visual and performing arts as part of its Holy Cross mission to fulfill Blessed Basil Moreau's belief that "the mind should not be cultivated at the expense of the heart."
Students staged an enthusiastic production of "Grease" on the Alameda campus this spring.
ST. JOSEPH NOTRE DAME HIGH SCHOOL/COURTESY
St. Joseph Notre Dame High School
Arts enliven student life
Students who like to write, compose music or perform on stage have found a place at St. Joseph Notre Dame High School, where there is a strong arts culture on campus and the award-winning student literary magazine Prisms features published student poetry, art and music.
New this fall, SJND introduces a complement of musical theater classes for students to explore their passions on stage, through acting and singing. An advanced musical theater class promises the opportunity to engage in professional actor-training systems and gain the tools needed to master acting techniques and develop directorial vision.
"I'm really excited to take musical theater," said junior Alexa Martinez of Hayward. She has been in three student musicals while at SJND and plans to go to college in New York to study theater.
The strong tradition of arts at SJND includes a dynamic music program that encourages students to create and perform. They graduate with a deep, abiding love for music, as well as a commitment to the school and its music students.
Alumni like Dave Dupart '03, musical director for the renowned Latin musician Rene Escovedo, return to SJND to teach masters classes on specific musical topics.
"Music was certainly a big part of my experience while at SJND," said Dupart. "Music at SJND was the first step for me in emerging from being a piano player to being a musician."
Like Dupart, Jon Siapno '06 was able to explore music and theater at SJND, and he has turned those musical beginnings into a career. After graduating from New York University, he was apprentice conductor of "Wicked" on Broadway and in San Francisco.
While at SJND, Siapno co-wrote with another student a musical that was performed by student actors. It's an experience he'll never forget.
The school "worked very hard to nurture my creativity and inner-self while I was at St. Joe's," he said. "As a result, I've always dreamed big and have grown tremendously as an artist."
Students test the water in the school's Living Lab, a 4.5-acre certified wildlife habitat, ecological study area and garden.
DONOVAN RITTENBACH/BISHOP O'DOWD HIGH SCHOOL
Bishop O'Dowd High School
Commitment to leadership in environmental studies
With construction of the state-of-the-art Center for Environmental Studies underway, the administration at Bishop O'Dowd High School is now focused on creating rich and challenging curriculum to inspire students in all areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.
Curriculum developments will include collaboration with Stanford and Berkeley in scientific research projects, work in hydrology, evolutionary comparisons, biotechnology, weather and climate study, practical approaches to engineering, zoological explorations in partnership with the Oakland Zoo and developing more content provided through online learning, which will give students more time for hands-on experiences.
Other disciplines, like religion, English, social studies, the arts and math, will join the science department in developing interdisciplinary curriculum.
A second exciting addition that will broaden O'Dowd's commitment to the environment outside the walls of the center is the hiring of a director of sustainability, who will be charged with creating a strategic program that will lead a community-wide participatory effort in the "greening" of O'Dowd.
Never before has the world been so complex and science knowledge so critical to making sense of it all. O'Dowd remains at the forefront, providing its students the type of science education that will not only marry content with practice, but will also open doors of opportunity and promise.
The center is the crowning achievement of 40 years of environmental science programs at O'Dowd and 12 years of student activism in the campus Living Lab — a 4.5-acre certified wildlife habitat, ecological study area and garden.
Associated Student Body President Sophie Vaughan '13 says her O'Dowd environmental science experiences opened her eyes to issues such as global climate change and land degradation. "Their severity was overwhelming," Vaughan said. "Working in the Living Lab during this critical time alleviated my sense of helplessness and empowered me to believe that I could act positively on these issues."
Adds Vaughan, "Our job is not just to help renew the earth, but to build a sustainable world. For me, the Center for Environmental Studies embodies this sustainable world and I will take its vision with me and work to help sustain our planet."
President/Principal Martin Procaccio speaks at the rededication of the St. Elizabeth High School Chapel.
ST. ELIZABETH HIGH SCHOOL/COURTESY PHOTO
St. Elizabeth High School
A place of peaceful prayer is renovated
The St. Elizabeth High School Chapel is a place of peaceful prayer and reflection amidst the hustle and bustle of an active high school campus. The Chapel was established in the mid-1980s by then-Principal Barry Breen. Over the years, Campus Ministry and other groups have made it home. Although it has moved locations and changed over the years, the Chapel has always remained an important part of the school.
After nearly 30 years, the Chapel was in need of repair. Last fall, President/Principal Martin Procaccio sought out assistance to make the renovations possible. Friend of St. Elizabeth High School, Michelle Egan, answered our call and made a generous donation in memory of her brother, Thomas M. Egan '68.
One of the most notable changes to the Chapel is the addition of glass doors, making the sanctuary more visible. In addition, we were able to expand the Chapel; The Knights Armor graciously contributed Stations of the Cross that are on display in the hallway leading up to the Chapel. The Knights Armor also gave to the Chapel Fund over and above the Stations of the Cross.
The renovations enhance the presence of the Chapel on campus and have even increased the use of the space. "It's a nice place to center yourself," commented Aaron Nicholson, a senior who regularly visits the Chapel. Jazmin Flores '14 agrees, "It is very relaxing." Spanish teacher Giancarlo Cafaro hosts a weekly Bible study in the Chapel: "It has been a great place for students and teachers to interact and talk about the lessons from the Bible." In addition to class use, Bernadette Brehm, religion teacher, uses the Chapel for staff spiritual meetings. Cafaro notes that Brehm has facilitated "some great activities that allow us to reflect and be reenergized in our mission to help the students."
In May, St. Elizabeth hosted a Chapel rededication to honor the new sanctuary. In attendance were staff members, students, community members, clergy, and special guests Michelle Egan and members of The Knights Armor.
The students and staff members of St. Elizabeth are most grateful to everyone who contributed to the renovations. Without their thoughtful donations, The Chapel would not be the vibrant spiritual center of the school that it is today.
Saint Mary's High Librarian Brian Thomas, left, and Library Assistant Nancy Anderson. The library, which features a display of the school's historical photos and documents, proudly displays the sesquicentennial banner.
JEANNE LOUGHMAN/SAINT MARY'S COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL
Saint Mary's College High School
Library is a vibrant part of campus life
Once taken for granted as a refuge for quiet study, a school library today is truly a vibrant hub of activity, chatter, news and learning. That's certainly true at Saint Mary's College High School in Berkeley. Today's library, housed in the same location since 1956, serves as a computer lab, classroom, movie theater, presentation venue, newsstand, study hall and much more for the 630 students on campus. The library is directed by 15-year faculty veteran Brian Thomas with library assistant Nancy Anderson.
Its expansive collection of resources supports the needs of the faculty and student body and also serves as the campus archive. An exceptional compilation of materials about St. John Baptist de La Salle and the Christian Brothers is available to the school community.
Students in the Panther Book Club meet every Thursday in the library and the Anime Club meets on Fridays. A visiting speakers' series has included Berkeley Public Library staff members, Holocaust survivor Susan Greenwald and renowned Berkeley author, poet and lecturer Adam David Miller. A student art gallery rotates drawings, paintings and sculpture. "Picturing America" artwork from the National Endowment for the Humanities is on permanent display. The front counter features daily newspapers and a selection of books reflective of current events and relevant topics, such as the 2012 presidential election during November, Black History Month in February, a popular zombie literature theme last October, and a recent display about the Catholic papacy. Historic school photos and documents celebrate Saint Mary's 150th anniversary.
The library's annual read-a-thon raises money for the school's Social Action Lasallian Team (SALT) that supports Lasallian efforts. A SALT book collection during May brought in hundreds of books to share, in part, with the LEO Center in Oakland and the De La Salle Blackfeet School in Montana. In the true Saint Mary's spirit, Thomas offered students with overdue book fines a chance for redemption through donation of a book for the project.
Beginning this fall, Salesian High School will provide each student with an Apple iPad to use at school and at home.
SALESIAN HIGH SCHOOL/COURTESY PHOTO
Salesian High School
Leading the way in one-to-one computing
Salesian High School has taken a major step to enhance its educational program and offer a unique learning experience. Next year, Salesian will implement its new iPad Program for all students. The program will provide every student with a 32GB Apple iPad to use both at school and home.
In addition to its well-known music, photo and app offerings, the iPad will host interactive textbooks for students, provide word-processing and data storage, graph mathematical functions, and support engaging classroom activities. Additionally, Salesian's secure campuswide wireless network will allow all our students to access classroom materials and research tools online.
Parents and families will benefit from reduced costs associated with conventional textbooks. And Salesian students are excited to ditch the heavy backpacks for such a lightweight alternative.
Today's students are a digital generation and realize the potential for this tool to empower them to learn. That's why Salesian leadership took every measure possible to ensure the program's success. Throughout the year, the faculty partnered with Raina Leon, professor of instructional technology at Saint Mary's College in Moraga, to develop engaging classroom techniques and review best practices. Now, our faculty are not only prepared but excited to lead the way in one-to-one computing!
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