Archive for General

Six Verb frosh scale 9,399′ Mt. Baden Powell

Verbum Dei High School freshmen and their intrepid leaders pose atop 9,399′ Mount Baden Powell in the Angeles National Forest near Wrightwood.  (from left to right) Victor Apolinar, Adrian Pasillas, Joshua Lozano, Kenneth Reyes, John Stradley, Ana de Castro, Anthony Aguirre, and Jose Gutierrez climbed the rugged peak Saturday, May 17.  Image by Mercedes Castro.

By John Stradley, Moderator, The Present Dei

Eight freshmen students and two teachers, some of whom had never experienced a wilderness hike, scaled the heights of Mt. Baden Powell, the fourth highest peak in the San Gabriel range of the Angeles National Forest on Saturday, May 17.  The eight-mile hike traverses the northern facing slope of the rugged mountain through a series of lengthy switchbacks.  All but two students hiked to the summit; one student strained his ankle within a mile and a half of the summit while yielding the right of way to hikers going uphill.  He was aided in his descent by Alexis Maldonado, one of his classmates.

The hike rewarded the students and their leaders with inspiring views of the vast deserts to the north and northeast.  Upon reaching the exposed ridgeline, hikers were treated to a dramatic vista of wilderness: the watershed formed by Mount Baldy (Mt. San Antonio) and other high ridgelines.  Unfortunately, a haze covered much of the Los Angeles basin, so the urban sprawl and distant Catalina Island were obscured from view.

The view eastward from the exposed 9,000′ ridge of Mt. Baden Powell.  Limber pines, which are estimated to be 1,500 years old, cling to existence at this windswept location.  Students encountered a remnant of winter nearby with the discovery of a sliver of snow just off the main trail.  Image by John Stradley, Moderator, The Present Dei

Leave me alone: Why a loner is no one to fear

OPINION

by John Peeples, Guest Columnist

You all know that kid who seems a little off: that guy that sits alone in his own corner of the cafeteria, that girl who seems not to have any friends, or that co-worker who resists most attempts to socialize or bond or do any of the things normal people do. They’re freaks and losers, of course. What sort of moron doesn’t have friends? You’ve also heard about the serial killer, the mass murderer, the cold sociopath who wants nothing more than to kill people for seemingly no reason. Weren’t many of them loners too? Jared Loughner is an example of a withdrawn man who went on a shooting spree a few years ago. Even his last name looks like “Loner,” a clear expression of guilt on the part of the introverted. This trend only continues with James Holmes, Adam Lanza, Dylan Klebold, and Eric Harris. What we need is to do is to reach out to these people and get them some friends, and, maybe, this will prevent such tragedies.

This sort of stereotyping and pandering is not true in any circumstance. There isn’t a “lonely and deadly” person. There is no romanticism in going solo or being alone. There isn’t anything special to being introverted or even alone. Being a loner is a lifestyle, a personal philosophy which only about 25% of the world holds common. It isn’t something that signals mental illness or future murderous intent. Being introverted isn’t a signal to “break someone out of his or her shell”. Despite his overall sociopathic nature, Eric Harris was considered rather charismatic and friendly. It also doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with being a loner.

The last point is present in a lot of stories meant for children and adults alike. Children’s stories e.g. Harry Potter generally show the hero as some sort of outgoing, friendly person (who may have come out of an introverted lifestyle or have been extroverted from birth) fights against the evil, condescending (loner) villain. The antihero can also be this sort of loner type, but then the antihero gets some friends and beats the (loner) bad guy. Congratulations, having friends makes you a force for good, and not having them means you’re doomed to fail miserably. This sort of generalized and farcical nonsense can be found in many different works of art, from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s storied Crime and Punishment and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby to the less-storied works of Final Fantasy, Avatar, The Last Airbender, and the Harry Potter series.

What needs to be understood is how the introverted/loner mind works. Introverts and loners in general aren’t there because they think they’re better than you or because they’re stupid, smart, shy, or mentally ill. Some loners are bullied, and they want to create a smaller target for bullies. Some are not very outgoing in general and prefer pursuing other interests that don’t necessarily involve other people. This doesn’t mean that they are intentionally avoiding you. They may have their own friends, but they may crave alone time and do better alone.

I’m an introvert, and I have been for many years. Only recently have I exited my “loner” phase, but I still may prefer being alone. When I ask someone how they’re doing or what they’re doing, it’s sometimes to keep up the illusion that I am outgoing; other times, it’s to see how a person is actually doing. I sit near people to satisfy the extroverted side of me and to pretend that I am “normal.”  I’m not the type of person to go to huge parties to be around lots of people. Even going to Homecoming was a stretch for me, and I definitely couldn’t build the energy to go to the dance the next day. I don’t need to hold or to attend social events to feel accomplished. I am fine sitting at home working on my constructed language or playing with my dog Charlotte. That is what I did for several years, especially due to a crippling shyness (whether this is from the Asperger’s or my introverted nature I shall never know). I’ll admit, I do get lonely at times, but I have an extroverted side as well. It’s difficult to balance my need for social interaction and my need to get away from people, but I manage it.  I have survived several years while maintaining only one friendship per school year.

Something I’ve had to learn is that loners aren’t necessarily freaks of nature or super-intelligent trend-buckers. Introverts and their companions the loners have their own cycles and differences, and not all Introverts are created alike. We the Introverts are not to be feared or hated, but we simply want to be left alone, understood, and loved as God’s children. And to those of you who love being alone, but are too afraid to understand why, I understand your need. Don’t be afraid to express your desire to be alone, and don’t be afraid to be alone.

I don’t believe that things will get better for the loners overnight or even in the next hundred years. We all need to work together to stop this unspoken discrimination. However, if anything, there doesn’t need to be an aggressive effort to break Introverts “out of their shells before they go insane”, but instead to push for better mental health services and better identification of mental illnesses. We need to understand what makes each other tick and not let possible problems go unnoticed before it’s too late.

             

Present Dei Puzzler offers a Lenten challenge

Current Verbum Dei gentleman and staff are encouraged to demonstrate their logical prowess in this latest contest.  “These are problems anyone can solve,” say the Whites.  “They do not require any particular level of mathematics or other knowledge.”

Rules:  Answers must be submitted to Mr. White, Mrs. White or Mr. Stradley by the end of the school day, April 11, 2014.

Prizes:  There will be a $5 award per problem to the first student with the correct answer.  Additionally, there will be a $1 award given per problem to a student whose name is drawn from the pool of correct answers.

Note to faculty and staff:  Feel free to enter to win bragging rights.  If no correct student answer is submitted, you will become eligible for the cash prize.

Problem 1:  What number am I?

What is the smallest whole number that:

when divided by 2, leaves a remainder of 1;

when divided by 3, leaves a remainder of 2;

when divided by 4, leaves a remainder of 3;

when divided by 5, leaves a remainder of 4;

when divided by 6, leaves a remainder of 5;

when divided by 7, leaves a remainder of 6;

when divided by 8, leaves a remainder of 7;

when divided by 9, leaves a remainder of 8;

and when divided by 10, leaves a remainder of 9.

Problem 2:  In honor of Lent

Each one-word answer to the eight clues listed ends in “lent.”  Each of the answer words begins with a different letter of the alphabet.

1.  Natural ability

2.  Kindly and charitable

3.  Excessively fat

4.  Cactus, for one

5.  Audaciously rude

6.  Lavish

7.  Highly infectious

8.  Well done!

Problem 3:  Magic Square

In this magic square, every row, every column, and both main diagonals add up to the same value, which you must determine.  There is only one way to complete the square.

December Winners

Student winners:

Brandon Williams/Nathan Mendoza (team):  split $5 for problem 1 and $1 for problem 2

Jon Parra:  $1 for problem 1

Faculty/staff winners:

Dr. O’Connell: problems 1 and 2

Fr. Michael Mandela: problems 1 and 2

Mr. Galloway: problems 1, 2 and 3

Ms. Cuellar-Villanueva: problems 1 and 2

Mr. Viens: problems 1, 2 and 3

Ms. Jimenez:  problem 1

 

 

 

Verb’s Interact Club assists Rotarians with holiday celebration for LA’s marginalized

Sixteen (Rotary) Interact Club members and VDHS President Fr. Muller lived up to the Rotary Club motto of “Service Above Self” on a very chilly December 14th morning.  The group met at school between 5:30 and 6:00 A.M., filled two vans, and headed over to the annual Angel City Celebration & Giveaway hosted by Mayor Garcetti and the Rotary Club of Los Angeles.  The Saturday morning event offered  snow, a free pancake breakfast, toys for all the kids, arts and crafts, rock climbing, singing, and face painting for the youthful and adult participants.  Of course, Santa, the jolly man in the red suit, made an appearance. This celebration provided camaraderie and a little Christmas spirit for hundreds of our city’s neediest families.  Our Verb gentlemen were right there in the mix being Men For Others.  Photo by Marcel Viens, Staff Photographer

Present Dei Puzzler warms minds in chilly air

Current Verbum Dei gentleman and staff are encouraged to demonstrate their logical prowess in this latest contest.  “These are problems anyone can solve,” say the Whites.  “They do not require any particular level of mathematics or other knowledge.”

Rules:  Answers must be submitted to Mr. White, Mrs. White or Mr. Stradley by Friday, December 19.

Prizes:  There will be a $5 award per problem to the first student with the correct answer.  Additionally, there will be a $1 award given per problem to a student whose name is drawn from the pool of correct answers.

Note to faculty and staff:  Feel free to enter to win bragging rights.  If no correct student answer is submitted, you will become eligible for the cash prize.

Problem 1:

The digits 1, 2, 3, and 4 can be arranged to form
many different four-digit numbers.  If these numbers are listed from least
to greatest, in what position is 3214?  (Note:  the least value is in
the first position; the next least is in the second position, etc.)

Problem 2:

Dr. O’Connell rolls a pair of dice and remembers the number. Then he
performs the following sequence of operations on that number, in this order:

Add 3.

Square the result.

Subtract 12.

Divide by 4.

Add 4.

Dr. O’Connell ends up with the number 50. What number did he roll on the dice?

Problem 3:

BEFORE
AND AFTER

Fill in the blank in each row with a word to form a common
phrase, name, or compound word with the word preceding and following it. For
example, given DANCE _____ WAX, the missing word is FLOOR, forming DANCE FLOOR
and FLOOR WAX. Moreover, the five missing words when considered together lead
to something famous. What are the words and what do they clue?

1. FIRE __________ WRESTLE

2. TRIPLE __________ PRINCE

3. BLOW __________ SONG

4. CLEANING __________ GAGA

5. PEARL __________ MASTER

November winners:

Congratulations students!  Student entries won all of the available money leaving the faculty and staff with only bragging rights.  “Keep up the good work!” say contest sponsors Mr. and Mrs. White.

Brian Martinez:  $5
each for problems 1 and 2

Brandon Williams/Nathan Mendoza (team), who split $5 for problem 3 and $1 for
problem 1

Miguel Gil:  $1 for
problem 1

Angel Mendoza:  $1
each for problems 1 and 2

Kevin Metelus:  $1
form problem 1

Christopher Clarkston:
$1 each for problems 1 and 2

Faculty/staff winners:

Dr. O’Connell: problems 1, 2 and 3

Fr. Michael Mandela: problem 1

Mr. Galloway: problems 1, 2 and 3

Annual CWSP luncheon brings students and corporate partners together in the Eagle’s Nest

California Science Center interns Jabril Frazier, Rylon Beard, and Dion Henderson (front row, left to right) join their supervisors Katharine Mendivil and Juanita Juarez (back row, left to right) for the annual Corporate Work Study Program Appreciation Luncheon, where student-workers and corporate partners enjoyed fellowship and entertainment, Thursday, November 7. Image by Marcel Viens, Staff Photographer, The Present Dei.

The celebratory luncheon, which featured a meal catered by 40 VDHS parents and volunteers, was attended by 420 students and corporate partners from their respective worksites.  Image by Marcel Viens, Staff Photographer, The Present Dei.

Present Dei Puzzler returns with 3 conundrums

Current Verbum Dei gentleman and staff are encouraged to demonstrate their logical prowess in this latest contest.  “These are problems anyone can solve,” say the Whites.  “They do not require any particular level of mathematics or other knowledge.”

Rules:  Answers must be submitted to Mr. White, Mrs. White or Mr. Stradley by Friday, November 15.

Prizes:  There will be a $5 award per problem to the first student with the correct answer.  Additionally, there will be a $1 award given per problem to a student whose name is drawn from the pool of correct answers.

Note to faculty and staff:  Feel free to enter to win bragging rights.  If no correct student answer is submitted, you will become eligible for the cash prize.

Problem 1:

Determine the logical number missing in each sequence. When you’ve finished, convert each of the six final numbers to a letter (1 = A, 2 = B, etc.) to form a six-letter word
reading down. What is this word?

 1 1 2 3 5 8 ___
169 121 81 49 25 9 ___
0 2 8 __ 32 50
14 15 13 16 12 17 ___
44 51 17 24 8 15 ___
2 5 8 11 14 17 ___

Problem 2:

How many numbers from 1 through 100 have names that contain at least one T when spelled out?

Problem 3:

There are three parts to this answer:

1.  Determine the least positive integer by which 2376 can be multiplied so that the product is a perfect square.

2.  Determine the least positive integer by which 2376 can be multiplied so that the product is a perfect cube.

3.  What is the difference of the values in parts 1 and 2?

The sole student $5 winner of the last contest was senior David Castillo, who answered one question correctly.  Staff winners included: Dr. O’Connell, Fr. Mandala, Mr. Viens, and Mr. Baez.

 

Present Dei Puzzler contest returns with a brain-teasing trio of mind-benders

Current Verbum Dei gentleman and staff are encouraged to demonstrate their logical prowess in this latest contest.  “These are problems anyone can solve,” say the Whites.  “They do not require any particular level of mathematics or other knowledge.”

Rules:  Answers must be submitted to Mr. White, Mrs. White or Mr. Stradley by Friday, October 25.

Prizes:  There will be a $5 award per problem to the first student with the correct answer.  Additionally, there will be a $1 award given per problem to a student whose name is drawn from the pool of correct answers.

Note to faculty and staff:  Feel free to enter to win bragging rights.  If no correct student answer is submitted, you will become eligible for the cash prize.

Problem 1:

Ms. Odom painted each rung of her
ladder a different color and leaned the ladder against a wall. The middle rung
is blue, the yellow rung is 3 rungs above the blue rung, the green rung is 7
rungs below the yellow rung, and the red rung is 11 rungs above the green rung.
The red rung is also 3 rungs from the top rung. How many rungs are there on Ms.
Odom’s ladder?

Problem 2:

Suppose the positive even numbers
are grouped in the following way:

{2}, {4,6}, {8,10,12},
{14,16,18,20}, …

What is the sum of the numbers in
the 15th group?

Problem 3:

Form six 9-letter words by combining two 3-letter blocks below with the endings in the
grid.  All blocks will be used.  If you do it correctly, two of the vertical columns will spell a common two-word phrase.

 

Present Dei online news source seeks student writers / photographers for 2013-2014 year

By John Stradley, Moderator, The Present Dei

The Present Dei, Verbum Dei High School’s online news source, is seeking student journalists, photographers, and interested parties to join the staff of this fledgling publication. Whether one’s interest lay in athletics, politics, the arts, personalities, or graphic design in the electronic age, The Present Dei is a venue to explore electronic journalism.

Student staffers will serve as editors, staff writers, copy editors, photographers, and graphic designers. Present Dei staff attend and report upon campus and off-campus events of interest to the Verbum Dei community.

Contact Mr. John Stradley, Room 103, for more information. Look for The Present Dei table on Activities Day.

Verb delegation to attend national social justice conference Nov. 16-18 in Washington, D.C.

Press release from the Ignatian Solidarity Network

A delegation of 12 students and three staff from Verbum Dei High School will join nearly 1,000 other attendees at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (IFTJ), a national conference for those passionate about social justice grounded in the Catholic Social Teaching and the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

The 12 students engaged in a competetive selection process that considered their leadership qualities, their passion for social justice, and their willingness to share what they learn from the experience.

The 15th annual Teach-In will take place in Washington, D.C., from November 16-18, 2012.The program is sponsored by the Ignatian Solidarity Network.

The Teach-In is an opportunity for members of the Ignatian family (those connected with Jesuit institutions and the larger church) to come together in the context of social justice to learn, network, reflect, and act for justice. Teach-In attendees represent twenty-eight Jesuit universities, over twenty-five Jesuit high schools, Jesuit parishes, Jesuit volunteer communities, and many other Catholic institutions and organizations.

Started in 1997, in Columbus, Georgia, the IFTJ takes place in mid-November to commemorate the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador.  The six Jesuit priests and two companions were murdered on November 16, 1989, in El Salvador for their work advocating on behalf of the economically poor in that country. The IFTJ moved from Georgia to Washington, DC, in 2010, to respond to the growing interest in integrating educational opportunities and legislative advocacy into the Teach-in experience.

When asked about the Verbum Dei High School delegation’s presence, Christopher Kerr, ISN executive director said, “We are grateful to have the Verbum Dei High School delegation at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice. The annual Teach-In is such a unique place to explore the relationship between faith and social justice while networking with others who share the same passion. We are also hopeful that the issue education and advocacy training the Verbum Dei High School participants receive at the Teach-In will prepare them to be effective advocates during Ignatian Family Advocacy Month in February 2013.” Ignatian Family Advocacy Month (IFAM) is a national effort initiated by ISN to build on the experiences at the Teach-In.

Keynote speakers at the IFTJ include: Rev. Fred Kammer, S.J., director of the Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola University New Orleans; Merlys Mosquera Chamat, regional director of Jesuit Refugee Services-Latin America and Caribbean; Gabriel Bol Deng,founding director of Hope for Ariang, and former Lost Boy of Sudan; Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS,executive director of NETWORK Catholic Social Justice Lobby.

The Teach-In also offers 50+ breakout sessions presented by national and international speakers.

On Saturday evening, attendees will gather at Lower Senate Park (adjacent to Capitol Hill) for a public vigil to call attention to the importance of legislative advocacy in working for social justice.

The Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice is sponsored by the University of San Francisco,  the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkley, America Magazine, the Appalachian Institute at Wheeling Jesuit University, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, and Loyola Press.

The Ignatian Solidarity Network promotes leadership and advocacy among students, alumni, and other emerging leaders from Jesuit schools, parishes, and ministries by educating its members on social justice issues, by mobilizing a national network to address those issues, and by encouraging a life-long commitment to the service of faith and the promotion of justice.