Updates to alarm systems brings Verb into code compliance

By Daniel Garrido, Staff Writer  

Verbum Dei High School is replacing its outdated, decades-old fire alarms.  The newly updated fire alarms are equipped with smoke detectors and new alarms. This project was assigned to Jeff Bonino-Britsch, Vice President of Operations, and the upgrade project was called “Code project,” as the preexisting fire alarm system was no longer up to city code. 

The fire alarm systems are being installed in every classroom, the gym, and the Multi-Purpose Room. The new fire alarms are currently still being set up, but they will be up and running by the beginning of November. Initially, the updated fire alarms were supposed to be operational in late August, but according to Bonino-Britsch pricing concerns and vendors made updated fire alarm installation lag. The new, updated fire alarms are expected to bring the Verbum Dei High School community an enhanced feeling of safety. 

“I did not know that the fire alarms were not up to code,” said senior Brian Cisneros.  Every student of Verb didn’t realize that these vintage walls also contained outdated fire alarms.  The updated fire alarms will bring another layer of safety to the Verbum Dei High School campus,” Cisneros conceded

In the days leading up to November, the campus will witness many people coming in and out of Verb, and it will not the students leaving but the technicians who are setting up the fire alarms system.

The downside to this installation affects Fr. Stephen Privett, SJ, President of VDHS.  He will be withstanding the loud alarms sounding in his office, as everything links up near his office in the Administration Building. 

The updated fire alarm system is not the only thing that is under renovation. There will be be renovations to other things including new safety systems and fresh paint in affected areas.

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Mission Advancement Development Plan assures continuity

By Jose Lopez, Staff Writer

Verbum Dei High School’s Mission Advancement Department is charged with seeking funding for the school by developing relationships with donors.  In addition to performing one of the most important tasks that keep the school running, Mission Advancement has been working on a particular and very important plan: The Development Plan or the so-called “Bible of Mission Advancement.”

The staff in this critical department are Paul Hosch, Senior Vice President of Mission Advancement, Stephanie Andrade, Associate Director of Mission Advancement, Michelle Cordova, Advancement Services Associate, and Annie Levine, Individual Giving Officer. Each employee contributes to the fundraising needed for the school’s financial stability.

“It [the Development Plan] lays out everything we need to accomplish for the year,” Levine stated.

The preparation of this plan has been in the works since before September 17, 2017. The plan was completed in 2018, but the Development Plan is now being updated by the Mission Advancement.  This plan is essential to maintain the success of Mission Advancement and its employees, present and future.  The document serves as a guide for everyone and details everything that employees must do.

“If all of us were to leave, the new recruits would have everything they would need to have,” said Andrade.  This development plan was created to help ensure the growth of the school’s funding.  It details every category, goal, list, event, and marketing tool that is needed and how to accomplish or produce these aspects of Mission Advancement’s work.

If everyone in Mission Advancement would leave, there would be a big gap, so staff was very diligent when creating this project.

Special events as the Gala, Major giving, Salons, and the Adopt a Student program have very specific steps, and all of this information is covered in this plan. All of these events create income streams to provide services to students and the fulfillment of the school’s mission.

As a means of showing appreciation to benefactors,  Mission Advancement also coordinates phone calls to the school’s financial supporters; these phone calls are also made by senior students. Without Mission Advancement, the school would not survive.  This development plan assures a stable future for the department and its crucial work.

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ReVerb mentoring organization seeks VDHS juniors to guide 8th grade students of neighboring Resolute Academy

By Douglas Granados, Staff Writer

ReVerb is a service organization open to junior students.   Eight juniors from Verbum Dei High School are to be selected, and they are trained to assist students who are enrolled in Resolute Academy, the charter middle school on the 112th Street School campus.

The teachers that help plan this service organization are Karen Chambers, Director of Campus Ministry, Molly Fruland, Christian Service/College Guidance Assistant, Federico Gianelle, Adult Faith Formation Director and Christian Services and Campus Ministry Assistant, and Natasha Barriga, Director at Resolute Academy.

The Juniors from Verb, and the 8th graders from Resolute Academy, meet every Thursday, and they switch locations every week; they alternately meet at Verbum Dei High School and at Resolute Academy.

“ReVerb is a great organization, the students taught me a lot,” said senior Jason Guardado, former member of ReVerb.   “I’m glad I got the chance to help [the eighth graders] learn some things about high school.”

ReVerb was created and organized so that eighth graders from Resolute Academy could learn what it means to be a responsible high school student from Verbum Dei High School.

Based on the mentoring offered by ReVerb, some graduates of Resolute Academy have decided to enroll at Verbum Dei High School; they see the greatness that Verb fosters in its students, and they want to be part of the Verb legacy.

“ReVerb is one of the best service organizations I have joined,” said senior Emilio Hernandez, former member of ReVerb.  “I recommend that juniors at Verb join because they will enjoy ReVerb.”

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Verb underclassmen sought for service trip with Cathedral HS

By Brian Diaz, Staff Writer

Verbum Dei High School’s Campus Ministry Department is looking for 12 students, underclassmen specifically, to participate in a new service weekend opportunity at Verbum Dei and the neighboring community.  Students from Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego will be coming to Verbum Dei October 25-27, in a service trip that is reminiscent of the Xavier Service Plunge, a recurrent partnership-in-service trip that has students from each high school collaborating to address needs within their communities.

This will also be the first time Verb associates with students from Cathedral High School in a service trip. They will be performing service in South Los Angeles.  Participating students will earn five service hours.

“This is a service weekend that is specifically for freshman and sophomore in order for them to feel a sense of belonging and learn the purpose of service,”said said Karen Chambers, Campus Ministry Coordinator.

“Cathedral was looking to do a new type of immersion trip and observed what other schools did,” said Chambers.  “They then heard that Verbum Dei also does the Dine (Navajo) Service Immersion Trip.”

Eventually they contacted Chambers last year to year to see if they could send two of their adults to witness the benefits such an experience provides for the students, said Chambers.

“They soon realized that it was an amazing opportunity for their students and realized how powerful the community of Verb truly is, and we soon created a relationship with them,” said Chambers.

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Eagles cross country starts season strong despite key injury

By Brian Diaz, Staff Writer

As the fall season arrives, the Verbum Dei High School Cross Country team begins to shift into gear. The runners have been preparing since their first day back to school in August. This school year has seen the development one of the largest cross-country teams that Verb has fielded in a long time.

On September 25, at La Mirada Park, the cross-country team participated in its first league meet. The meet participants included St. Anthony, Cantwell Sacred Heart, Mary Star of the Sea, and St. Bernard’s high schools. Fortunately, our Verb Eagles won by a landslide. Coming in at first place, our cross-country runners started the season triumphantly.

“So far we are off to a great start,” said cross country coach, Mashanda Finn.  “First place is definitely not a bad position to be in. We have a strong advantage for winning Santa Fe League this year; our ultimate goal is to win league. The only threat on the horizon seems to be St. Anthony since they beat us last year; however, we managed to defeat them and place first this first meet,”

“I feel excited for this season,” said Ricardo Sierra, former Santa Fe League Champion.  “We have started off with a lot of momentum, and we have a big chance of winning league this year. Our team is more polished and dominant than ever. This is our year.”

The Verbum Dei Cross Country team has not had much luck placing first in league for the past couple of years. It is extraordinary to witness the remarkable team Coach Finn has been able to assemble.   Former runners have returned and are faster than ever.

“All year I have anticipated the arrival of cross-country season – a season full of hard work and many rewards,” Jesus Estrada, former and current cross-country runner, stated. “Rewards that are gained through blood, sweat, and tears; this year the team is hungry, and I can envision us doing great things.”

Although the cross-country Eagles started off well, there was quite a setback at their second meet at Griffith Park. Unfortunately, Alessandro Leon, the second fastest runner on the team, experienced an injury and his ankle was sprained.

“Well it was definitely hard to face, and in that moment I felt weak,” Leon said.  “I will be back and ready for the team. I will have to keep on going and use that as a learning experience. I still hope to PR.”

Verb’s next meet is scheduled for October 16. They will once again face St. Anthony, Cantwell-Sacred Heart, Mary Star of the Sea, and St. Bernard’s.  What remains to be decided is the race to win Santa Fe League.

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School wide Windows 10 upgrade tedious, but with benefits

By Benjamin Rivera, Staff Writer

After years of running the outdated Windows 7, John Galloway, Verbum Dei’s Director of Information Technology, has been working diligently to upgrade all computers on campus to the latest Microsoft Windows 10 operating system.

The upgrade is being realized as a result of Microsoft, creators of the Windows operating system, decision to discontinue all updates of Windows 7 in January of 2020.

“This calls for a very near deadline of around Christmas time,” Galloway said.

The problem with this mass upgrade; however, is that the software has to be installed manually on each device, and with about 300 machines on campus, it is a long, tedious process.

“We have to go through every single machine and update each one,” said Galloway.  “We had all of the faculty computers done during the summer.”

Windows 7 was very good – I would say legendary,” said Galloway. “However, I will say this, Windows 10 is just as good, and [Microsoft] made many improvements overall from previous versions of the OS [operating system].

“They came out with something good here, and I’m glad we can finally take advantage of it,” said Galloway. His praise for the OS continued, “These machines are some of the oldest on campus,” he said, referring to the computers he was working on in Computer Lab II. “Despite their age, they run Windows 10 incredibly smooth.”

Galloway was also ecstatic about noting that Verb computers will also get the latest version of Microsoft Office.

“A huge part of this update is the changes made to Office, which all Verb students have as a resource through their Outlook email addresses,” Galloway said. “The school pays about $18,000 annually which is a rough figure of the student body so that the students can have access to all of the Microsoft services like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, even after they graduate.”

Gloria Rivera, a Verb senior parent, expressed her approval of the updates.

“I’m glad they’re finally making this happen,” said Rivera.  “Through this, there will be no excuses when it comes to schoolwork; the kids have access to the latest technology [that] they may not have at home, and the fast nature of Windows 10 promotes productivity.  I hope they finish soon so that everyone can take advantage of it.”

In the meantime, a large number of the machines on campus are up and running Windows 10 for students who want to try the new OS.

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VDHS/SMA students to celebrate mass at SMA November 1

By Eduardo Landa, Staff Writer

As the school year progresses, Verbum Dei High School approaches one of the most anticipated days in the life of a Verb gentlemen. Some may view it as a simple mass, but others truly understand the significance of the annual social with St. Mary’s Academy (SMA). This year’s combined mass is set for Friday, November 1. A special schedule will permit students to leave campus early in the school day on buses, celebrate the mass on the SMA campus, and enjoy lunch and fellowship before returning to Verb.  Seniors, juniors, and sophomores will all able to socialize and celebrate mass with students at their sister school; the freshman class will be at their Corporate Study Work Program job sites.

“I think the Saint Mary’s mass gives Verb the opportunity to create a bond and grow closer with our sister school as well as meet people of the opposite gender” said senior Jayden Brownlee.   Brownlee, being generally prideful about his school, responded with such passion that truly brought out his sense of school pride.

“I’m looking forward to the beautiful moment we’ll both share as we take body and blood Christ and embrace the loving arms God has opened for us for the forgiveness of our sins,” said Nowhale Mendoza, sophomore and ASB member.

Being an ASB member also encourages Mendoza to reach out to our sister school and plan future events. Without events like these The Verb wouldn’t be able to interact with its sister school to create a unique bond.

“I’m excited to reconnect with some of my friends at Saint Mary’s,”  said senior Justin Funez.  “It’s been a while since we saw our sister school, and I believe it will be nice to celebrate mass, especially considering it’ll be during Dia de los Muertos.”

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Video conference system donated by Hotchkis and Wiley

By Alessandro Leon, Staff Writer

The partnership between corporate entities and Verbum Dei High School marks 17 years of collaboration and strong ties.  As a result of one of these strong ties, Hotchkis and Wiley, an investment company, donated a brand new video conference system to VDHS, said Jeff Bonino-Britsch, Vice President of Operations.

“This video conference system will be able to hook up to the network; it came with a T.V. screen and a camera,” said John Galloway, Director of Information Technology.

“This video conference system will give [Verbum Dei] the ability to have conference calls with board members, donors, or even other Jesuit schools,” Galloway added. This opportunity of virtual contact will permit the school to enhance relationships between the Verb and its corporate partners. This could lead to future collaborations on any events that will be helpful to the school and the greater Jesuit community.

“We are planning on installing the video conference system in the Administration Conference Room since that is where we have our meetings,” said Galloway. “It will be like having people with us – but virtually.”  Galloway did not have a time frame for  installation; however, he believes it should be up and running soon.

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Video security enhancements add additional safety to campus

By Tyon James, Staff Writer

The physical frontier of Verbum Dei High School is taking on some alterations from a security standpoint. The department spearheaded by Jeff Bonino-Britsch, Vice President of Operations, is working diligently to implement a complete video security system which will serve as a point of identification for those entering and leaving the Verb campus.

This security system will be similar to the ring systems that have become popular for residential use. Those systems have the appearance of a doorbell; however, they function as a camera, giving individuals access to the camera via phone 24/7. Verb is pushing a security camera initiative forward which will essentially mock this ring system allowing those within the school to see the faces of individuals attempting to enter the campus. Ultimately, this system set to be in place in the very near future will ensure cautionary safety measures.

Despite, urgent precautionary measures that will be taken through these cameras at the entrance and drive-in gate, the process seems to be taking longer than expected. Although, there is a slight delay, the cameras are still set in place to be fully functional sometime in the near future.

“The idea of having these cameras on campus makes me feel very safe, especially with the occurrence of many dangers within the community,” said senior Drake Pearson. Pearson and other students are privy to the many lock-downs and events throughout the community and deem this an overall enhancement of the school that is long overdue.

Maintaining the evolving technological and security measures, the school is pushing this initiative forward. With many tragic events happening on school campuses throughout the area Verb is going forward with an initiative that other schools have yet attempted to explore. This puts VDHS at the forefront of precautionary measures – making the safety of students, faculty, staff, and visitors  of the upmost  importance.

“I think this extra security measure is a very good addition to the school security. With increasing violence in our community and school shootings across the nation, the addition of cameras makes me feel safer,” said senior Justin Funez.

Many may wonder the significance of two additional cameras and how that has the power to ensure the safety of students. This goes beyond that, this is a way to limit granted access of individuals who have ill intent. Those that are granted access to enter the school campus should be of the Verb community or possess well intent regarding the safety and well- being of everyone on campus.

“I feel that the school is trying to make our environment safer through installing these cameras, and it allows us to see who comes to our campus and see any potential threats,” says senior Carlos DeLeon. Through these cameras it becomes apparent to students that possible threats would be handled in advance. The safety that parents and guardians expect for their sons is something VDHS takes very seriously, and the installation of these cameras are only a testament to that.

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New clubs offer students time and context to explore interests

By Robert Turner, Staff Writer

New clubs are providing more options for students of every grade level at Verbum Dei High School to explore interests beyond the classroom.  Additional clubs were brought forth to the existing array for the 2019-2020 school year.  There are six completely new clubs this school year: Fame, the Spanish Honor Society, Math Honor Society, E-Sports, Audio Visual Club, and Project Litt. These clubs represent new opportunities for Verbum Dei students. Teachers and staff members serve as moderators to assist students in the responsibility of running their clubs.

“It’s going to be a fun experience,” the coordinator of Verb clubs Maribel Andrade stated, referring to the new clubs.  The students are going to have a variety of options from which to choose, said Andrade.   With a greater number of options, there will be fewer students in each club, which can help create a deeper bond among the student club members, said Andrade.

Clubs meet throughout the campus of Verbum Dei during Friday’s co-curricular period and occasionally after school dismissal.   Fame meets in Room 307, Spanish Honor Society in 205, Math Honor Society in 306, E-sports in Computer Lab 1, Audio Visual Club in 401, and Project Lit in 304.

“The Club destinations are at a distance to give each unique club a proper amount of privacy,” said Andrade.  Clubs help students to become more open with one another, to form friendships and bonds, and they ensures them that they will always have someone to talk to, said Andrade.

Senior Massai Walker, a member of the Black Student Union stated that over his years at Verb, he has always felt comfortable in his clubs by just being in a environment where all the club members are engaged in what is being discussed during their session.

“With the new club Fame, I feel at home; it’s fun and educating at the same time,” said senior Jacob Salgado.  “I never felt like I was welcomed in other clubs – not because they didn’t accept me but because I wasn’t really interested in what was going on.”

Clubs help the students to find themselves and to figure out what their passion and desires are, and club membership affords a distinct community within the greater VDHS community.  When participating in one’s club, one focus is on the club, not on the many distractions outside of it.  Choosing among the new clubs help the students recognize how to make the proper decisions in their best interest, and, in a way, picking a club gives the students a responsibility for what they are committing themselves for the school year.

During the week of October 7-11, 2019, the clubs will be participating in various activities for Homecoming’s Spirit Week. There will be club competitions such as mini basketball tournaments. Some on the clubs are planning to all dress the same for “Twin Day,” Monday, October 7.

“I’m excited for the club activities,” said senior Amaan Pinchem.  “BSU is going to win all the [Spirit Week] activities.”

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