Administration digital message board installation completed

By Tyon James, Staff Writer

As we in an ever-evolving era of technological advancement and digitized information, Verbum Dei High School has installed a digital board in the Administration Office.  This initiative was spearheaded by John Galloway, Director of Information Technology Services. This implementation of the digital board takes the form of a digital “smart” television, and the device will display prevalent news and information in digital form to alleviate the printing of ample announcements in paper form.

The project was carried out around Christmas break and is currently functional.  Additions to content will continue in second semester of the 2019-2020 academic year and beyond.

“I appreciate the thoughtfulness going into the installation of the digital board,” said Melissa Flores, Receptionist/Administrative Assistant.  “There is a consistent traffic rush in the front office and announcements can be out-rightly displayed in a digital form to all Verbum Dei visitors.”

The screen has been mounted on the wall above and behind Flores’ cubicle.

“In talking to Dr. Odom [Chief Academic Officer], she envisioned that the screen will not be updated daily,” said Galloway.

In order to stay consistent and on top of what is being displayed to members of the Verb community, Odom and her administrative team will forward the desired information to the technology team for preparation for display.

“It is not up for tech to decide the content,” said Galloway. “We’re just responsible for delivering the content.”

Galloway said a media server will be used to upload announcements and will be connected via HDMI.

“This is a great installation that will add to the front office,” said senior Drake Pearson. “[It will] assist in delivering announcements.”

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Ash Wednesday liturgy to be celebrated by Bishop Servilez, SJ

By Robert Turner, Staff Writer

Ash Wednesday is a spiritual time: a time for repentance.  The Ash Wednesday liturgy is set for February 26, from 8:30 A.M. to 9:45 A.M. in the Verbum Dei High School gym.

Bishop Carlos Servilez, SJ will be the guest celebrant for the  liturgy; he will be assisted by “Brother Fred”  Giannelli, SJ, and the JEDIS of Campus Ministry. Ash Wednesday is a day where sins are reconciled and new life begins, leading to a rebirth of one’s faith.

“During church services, a cross is marked on the foreheads of worshipers to symbolize repentance,” said Giannelli.  “Ash Wednesday is a significant day on the Christian calendar, denoting the beginning of the repentant period of Lent which precedes Easter.”

The ash marking on the forehead represents the submission of humankind to God, not in the sense of him demanding it, but it’s more of of a recognition of faith in Him. The ashes used on Ash Wednesday are sacred; they are blessed and placed on the foreheads of believers during mass.  The Jesuit Educated Disciples in Service (JEDIS) will help with the distribution of ashes.

On Ash Wednesday meat is given up, according to the Catholic law of abstinence.  Catholics “can not eat meat on Ash Wednesday, which marks 40 days before Easter and the beginning of Lent”( huff, 3).

“Giving up meat is a hard transition for me,” said senior Aaman Pinchem.  “I don’t have  energy and [the best] attitude during the 40-day period, but it’s worth it for the repentance and the sacrifice of God.”

Ash Wednesday is a time where we recognize the struggles Jesus went through. During Lent we are challenged to display gratitude and  perform acts of faith everyday including prayer and alms-giving. Ash Wednesday at Verbum Dei is treated with the utmost respect as its focus is aligned with the Jesuit desire to develop men and women with and for others.

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Admission Interviews set for early to mid-February, 2020

By Jacob Salgado,  Staff Writer

Although Verbum Dei High School is a tight-knit community, the institution is always looking to add new members. In the same spirit, for the first two weeks of February, Verb staff will be conducting interviews of potential freshmen for the coming school year.

“We are expecting about 70 students to come to these interviews,” said Dean of Enrollment Management William Liu.

“We hope to see students practice some of the professional skills taught at Verb,” Pablo Zapoteca, Director of Admissions added.  “They should be able to expand upon an answer – not just give a yes or no – but being able to give a full response.”

During these interviews, it is common to see the parents of these potential students on campus.  Chief Academic Officer Brandi Odom Lucas wants the parents to be comfortable sending their sons to Verb.

“We want them to know we will take care of each and every student,” said Odom.

In an attempt to make the parents feel more comfortable, Verb has given its ambassadors the important role of greeting and talking to the families.

“I want to give the parents a different perspective from a student rather than a teacher or staff member,” said senior ambassador Brian Diaz.

The interview process itself is an event that many interviewers enjoy for a variety of reasons.

“I enjoy learning about the students’ middle school experiences as well as getting to meet them in person,” said  Myra Rodriguez, personal counselor.  Rodriguez has interviewed students in the past.

“I take into consideration how they are performing academically,” said Rodriguez.  “If I learn a student is having academic challenges, we discuss how they can improve their current grades to better prepare them for high school.”

Some VDHS students look back upon that interview as the start of their Verb experience.  Senior ambassador Jayden Brownlee reminisces fondly upon his freshmen interview and is hopeful that the incoming freshmen might eventually fill his shoes as an ambassador.

“When I came in to do my interview, I remember being nervous, but the ambassadors before me helped me and gave me some tips,” said Brownlee.  “I remember looking up to them, and I was happy when I became an ambassador.”

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Top academic performers rewarded with Google Campus Tour

Verbum Dei High School students enjoyed a first-of-its-kind event, the Google Campus Tour, on Friday, November 15.  During the two-hour visit, Google was happy enough to bring students of Verb to look around their company and to provide opportunities to interact with Google employees.

The purpose of the visit was “so that Google and Verbum Dei know one another,” said Joe Anlauf, Vice President of Corporate Recruiting.

Certain students were nominated by Dr. Brandi Odom, Chief Academic Officer, to go to the Google Campus Tour based on their grades.  She felt they would represent the school well, and this trip is a reward for their strong academic performance.

Verb students were accompanied by VDHS faculty, administration, and staff including Fr. Stephen Privett, SJ, VDHS President, Paul Hosch, Senior Vice President of Development, Lorenz Willis, Dean, Associate Director of Corporate Work Study Program, and Francis Argueta, Jesuit Service Corps volunteer.

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Verbum Dei Eagles soccer continues PMA rivalry, January 8

By Kevin Parada, Staff Writer

Verbum Dei will play St. Pius X – St. Matthias Academy on January 8, at their rival’s home field, 7851 Gardendale Street, Downey, CA. The times are yet to be determined with both junior varsity and varsity playing on the same day. The rivalry between the two teams has been simmering since the last time the teams competed. Verb beat PMA two years ago in both games, and last year PMA won both games making them league champs and Verb took second in league while playing at home.

PMA has obtained over the years some of the Eagles valuable players including Daniel Avina, who played left back in for the VDHS varsity team, before transferring to the rival school.  The games are very physical as well with words being exchanged between the players.  Additionally, the jam-packed stadium makes the players lose focus; they can feel what the big leagues go through and their dreams of playing pro are fulfilled during those 90+ minutes.

“We expect to continue to be reigning league champs and go undefeated in league for the second year and break the PMA 2nd round curse in the playoff,” stated Victor Silva, the captain of the PMA team.  “The game itself is special: the game can either make us or break us, it can reveal many things. There’s no greater feeling than going on the pitch and playing with your brothers especially when they all got the same determination to win even though we show envy at times.”

The VDHS squad has its eyes set on a league championship, and this game is just part of that season long road.

“I will take this game like a regular game as they all are for the final goal we want, which is winning league as well as CIF,” senior and Captain Justin Funez said.

“I was impressed by the amazing show of perseverance during these two teams’ last meeting,” said John Stradley, VDHS English teacher. “The teams played in a torrential downpour for the entire game, yet the weather did not dampen their spirits or their enthusiasm.”

A tragedy occured in this game: Jose Guiterrez, a VDHS junior at that time and varsity goalie,  shattered his fibula in a bad dive on the slick turf. This injury put him on the disabled list for one year.

“I will finally be able to finish the game that took me out, and I will prove what I still have left in me after my injury,” said Guiterrez.

The whole Verb campus was sad as the Varsity players played their hearts out and lost the game to tie for champions. The fans applauded their efforts as the team headed to the locker room with their heads down while PMA fans cheered with joy in the victory won at home.  The Eagles’ revenge will be sought January 8, and this time it will take place on PMA’s campus.

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E-Doc signatures to be implemented for required forms

By Alessandro Leon, Staff Writer

Verbum Dei High School’s Information and Technology Department, has made various advancements throughout the year. One such advancement is the implementation of E-Doc signatures sent via email.

“We are about to start this new method of electronic communication with the parents for future occasions,” said John Galloway, Director of Information and Technology at VDHS.

“We would eliminate paper all together and make it easier for parents and students to sign the permission forms” said Oscar Rosa, Tech Coordinator.

The elimination of paper would demonstrate a more environmentally conscious side of Verbum Dei, plus it would eliminate printing-related costs.

The IT Department has ran into a couple of problems in regards to this new way of making sure that the students get their signatures in. In order to get the E-Doc, the parents need an email address.

“I know that most parents do not have emails,” explained Rosa, “and that is a challenge for us, because we cannot text them the E-Doc.”

“In order for me to send these E-Docs,” said Galloway, “I need the email of the parent(s) and all of them, I download them from the RenWeb database.” “There is a lot of emails on that database, and I am not sure if the emails are updated, but I have to trust that they are.”

This new form of signature is still in process, and was planned to have a test run for the St. Mary’s Academy and Verbum Dei’s All Saints Day mass. Unfortunately, it was not possible for the E-Doc to be sent.

“This would really help me,” said senior Vidal Zavala, “because this senior year for me is really hectic. I don’t have time to be thinking about getting a paper signed, but if my mom could just receive it and sign it electronically, that would be great!”’

The IT Department is still working on this project, and other innovations that are designed to help the school improve communication with parents and students.

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Urban Compass 15th Anniversary Gala honors Kathy Walton

By Jose Lopez, Staff Writer

The Mission Advancement team has gone out to support Kathy Walton, a long time Verbum Dei donor and founding board member of Urban Compass, during the Urban Compass 15th Anniversary Gala. The event was held in Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 North Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, on November 2, 2019.

Annie Levine, Individual Giving Officer, and Paul Hosch, Senior Vice President, both Mission Advancement staff attended the Urban Compass 15th Anniversary Gala. The fundraising goal for this event was $50,000, and the expected attendance was 250 people that night.

“I thought the Gala was fantastic,” said Levine. “Beyond honoring Kathy, it did a great job showcasing the amazing work that Urban Compass does – plus the food was delicious!”

“She has been an incredible asset to Urban Compass and so deserving of this honor,” said Levine.  “Kathy is also a Verb volunteer at our annual galas and also a donor since 2008.”

“The event was great, wonderful celebration of her accomplishments” said Hosch.

Money was raised in both a live and silent auction, and many other nonprofit organizations were present as well.

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LA’s Central Avenue renovation to enhance access to VDHS

By Eduardo Landa, Staff Writer

The City of Los Angeles and development corporations are renovating Central Avenue in order to not only make it safer, but also to make it more beautiful. This project has been an idea for decades, but it is finally coming to fruition now.

It was not possible before due to the lack of money, but now the City of Los Angeles has secured funding for this community enhancement project.

“I believe it is a great way to beautify Watts, and it all starts by taking the first step with Central Avenue,” said Jeff Bonino-Britsch, Vice President of Operations.

Another concern of the city is the narrow entrance that allows vehicle access to Verbum Dei High School from Central Avenue. This narrow entrance causes increased congestion during times of high traffic volume.

“This [situation] is very dangerous because if there are any parents or visitors trying to enter the school, they can get struck by a car,” said Bonino-Britsch. “The city is trying to incorporate a right turn lane in order to have cars wait instead of going straight and possibly hitting a car.”

“Turning left into [Verbum Dei] is dangerous because at the start and [at the end] of dismissal time there is a lot of traffic,” said Ruth Frias, mother of sophomore Axcell Frias.

“Cars are always speeding going towards Imperial trying to beat the light,”said Maria Ramirez, mother of junior Jesus Gutierrez.  “Cars will never give you the chance to make a left turn and block the school entrance.”

“It is just a little bit of traffic; it just takes me a little longer to get [my son] to school, but it is fine. I mean what am I gonna do?” said Socorro Estrada, mother of senior Jesus Estrada.

Ensuring that Verbum Dei provides a safe environment for all students and parents is a shared goal of the school and the City of Los Angeles.

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LMU masters student Mangar serves Verb scholars as tutor

By Jacob Salgado, Staff Writer

Verbum Dei High School’s legacy in academics remains among the most elite; This is due to the fact the college preparatory institution is deeply invested in the education of its students. In that same spirit,  Loyola Marymount University Master’s student Anthony Mangar felt the drive to devote his free time to tutoring Verb underclassmen.

“I teach Algebra 1 to both freshmen and sophomores every Friday,” said Mangar.

His drive to volunteer at Verb came from his love for the culture and people surrounding it.

“Although Verb is located in a socioeconomic disadvantaged area of Los Angeles, I believe that the boys have a lot of potential for growth,” said Mangar.

His character and genuine love for teaching are apparent though his mentor-like care for Verb students.

“I am a servant leader, and I enjoy guiding students to their utmost potential,” said Mangar.

In one of his tutoring sessions during a HERO period, Mangar flaunted a graphic tee that read, “Super teacher by day super tired by night.”

His presence on Verb’s campus has brought nothing but goodness for both staff and students alike. Maribel Andrade, Student Resource Center Coordinator, is, “thankful that Mangar is taking the time on his day off to come to Verbum Dei and share his talents with us.”

“I really appreciate him taking time out of his day to come and tutor us because it shows that he is a man of character,” says Alejandro Rodrigues, Class of 2022. Being an underclassmen, Rodriguez benefits from having Mangar tutor during his HERO period.

Mangar is unlike any other tutor Verb has allowed on campus because unlike the tutors of MAGIS, a Loyola Marymount University service organization, he came to Verb on his own accord and decision.  Mangar said that he “saw Verb’s mission and knew instantly that [he] wanted to be a part of it.”

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Department of Labor training mandated for younger workers

By Douglas Granados, Staff Writer

Verbum Dei High School’s sustainability model requires that all students contribute to the cost of their education through compensation for their work in the offices of the school’s corporate partners. All students are required to work, but those students who are under the age of 16 must complete a Department of Labor training to be eligible for employment.

Every year the Corporate Work Study Program holds two Department of Labor training sessions for all students of under the age of 16.   The first is scheduled during the summer for incoming freshmen students as part of their readiness program.  A second training is generally set for early January;  sophomore and junior students who are not yet 16 years old are required to attend. The second training is held on campus the day before the remainder of the student body returns from Christmas break.  It is typically scheduled on a Monday.

“The federal law changed the training a little bit,” said Cristina Cuellar, Vice President of Programming for the Corporate Work Study Program.   “The reason they changed the training a little bit is so that it can become accustomed to CWSP.”

In this training required by the Federal Department of Labor, students learn about what to do at work, what not to do at work, and they learn about office safety procedures.  Additionally, they learn of harassment in the workplace, the development of a work ethic, and basic office procedures.

“The training is not boring, but at the same time, it is,” said senior Erik Rodriguez, who is quite grounded in his workplace after three and a half years.  “The reason it’s not boring is because we are with our friends, but the stuff we learn is mostly basic material that we should know already.”

The training usually lasts for about four hours, beginning at 8:00 A.M. and ending at 12:00 P.M.  Students are dismissed at the conclusion of the session.

A number of students are required to attend the training session for two or three consecutive years, and some find the repetition is bothersome.

“I feel like it should not be a mandatory thing,” said senior Kenneth Martinez.  “Well, at least for the students who have done it because it’s literally to reviewing the same material that we all know, which kind of gets boring because we have seen it before.”

In order for students to be exempted from this training, they must be 16 years old or older.

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