Verbum Dei High School Admissions First Round Down!

We are currently at the mid-point of the Admissions Season and are yet looking for outstanding candidates!

At Verbum Dei High School our Admissions Department and the stakeholders who serve on the Admissions Committee have prudently appraised each application to identify the students and their families we believe will be an ideal fit for “The Verb”. We consider personal circumstances, academic performance and special achievements, including: the rigor of the Middle School curriculum, grades, High School Placement Test, standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, leadership and interview results to make our determinations. However, we expect that all prospective students will complete the Corporate Work-study Readiness Program successfully before the fall enrollment. This year one hundred forty-nine Applications were reviewed in the first round, eighty-five Freshmen Students were Accepted, six Transfer Students Accepted, six Freshman Students “Waitlisted” Moved into the Second Round, fifty-two applications were Not Accepted.


We welcome the prospective students to identify the values they possess by expressing their interest in the area of study and the college they hope to attend as they begin to focus on the goal of transitioning from Middle School, into High School and on to a four year College. We enjoy examining the key issues of what it takes to gain Verbum Dei High School acceptance through a multifaceted perspective. Our most successful students are able to demonstrate prudent, well thought-out preparations for an intended transition into High School.  Additionally, openness to growth, new ideas and a willingness to explore subjects beyond their comfort zone is truly beneficial. Our students are typically gaining the exposure to make informed decisions about their intended pursuits for college. Ideal students are also intellectually motivated, loving, work experienced and committed to doing justice.

Personal Attributes

We are looking for prospective students and their families who possess the potential to contribute to our campus community and want to demonstrate an array of interests and passions. Individuals who are leaders and unafraid to speak up in class or take on the challenge to make a difference by leading a cause. We value the students who challenge themselves and make us think outside the box; those that like to get involved in student life and join the organizations on our campus. We value students who can and want to contribute to the campus community.

Our student’s financial needs do not affect an admission decision

The Admissions Deadline is April 12th we exclusively serve the working class community and every family receives financial aid to satisfy the tuition requirement. All of the students enrolled receive tuition assistance; one hundred percent of the students gain valuable work experience in our Corporate Work Study Program. The Cooperate Work Study Model covers a portion of the cost, the parents are responsible for a portion of the tuition fees annually, and the assistance they require is then covered in Scholarship. There is no early action or early decision program in our admission process. We do maintain an admissions waitlist when necessary. Students who apply for fall admission must successfully complete the CWSP Readiness Program during the summer to enroll in the fall semester. This experience has revealed that students starting in the fall transition easily into the Verbum Dei community and continue to perform well academically.


Happy Halloween from…The Verb, no Trick, all Treat!

There is no trick to identifying prospective students that are Verbum Dei eligible and Verbum Dei equipped! The treat is in our discovery when we find the students and their families that are willing to commit one hundred percent of their effort to the transition and transformation that takes place as our students become Verbum Dei Gentlemen. During this journey into the Harvest Season Verbum Dei High School has certainly planted the seed to reap the harvest. The Admissions Department is currently involved in the most important period of the year, the months October/November mark the time to identify prospective students. We call this, our priority round and this year we have identified an additional partner for the arduous task of recruiting the best candidates and their families.

Eliselda Gonzalez serves the Verbum Dei Community as our newly appointed Admissions Associate joining Admissions Coordinator, Monica Gonzales (no relation) in the remodeled Admissions Suite located in the administrative corridor, room 405. Ms. Ely is a welcome addition, particularly during this time as it is also the most hectic period of the school year for our department. This year, however we have prepared strategically detailed plans, divided our target communities and made a few more power moves to expand our coverage areas. We have included the additional eastern communities Downey and South Gate. We also have included the southern communities Rancho Dominguez and Paramount as part of our recruitment territory. With these strategies in place our expectation is for Verb’s enrollment to continue to increase as it has every year for the past six years. Within this growth of our territory our goals do not change we will continue to prepare our students to step into their college bound destiny identifying themselves as achievers.


“There Is a Miracle on the Other Side of Your Storm”!

There are several who may be aware, that this is the busiest time of the school year for me. We are currently in the midst of the new student recruitment season. My responsibilities serving as Verbum Dei High School’s Dean of Admissions, requires my exclusive attention and some very long work days. I enjoy the work! Until recently, I never imagined myself in another position. However I see myself working here in the same capacity as that of a weather newscaster and think of the Verbum Dei experience as having the same characteristics as those that could be described in a perfect storm. A few weeks ago while attending church I focused deeply on the Pastoral presentation extended to the congregation, “There Is a Miracle on the Other Side of Your Storm”! As the minister offered the message I began to reflect on the Verbum Dei experience from a multidimensional perspective. The work for which I am accountable, my vocation, the other duties expected of me as a student advocate, mentor and one of those on campus who offers the “encouragement” our boys require. By continuously holding myself accountable to these responsibilities I experienced extreme mental and physical exhaustion. Although, there are those of you who are reading this composition and sincerely appreciate the expression, I want to be clear, my goal is simple. I am using this Leadership Blog contribution to take the necessary time to self-medicate, to encourage myself and extend encouragement to you for the effort that you all produce.

Faithfully, we have genuinely served as agents of change. We each have placed both hands to the plow. Accurately, we have produced an exceptional effort to change the status quo of this community for our students and their families. We certainly have gained the knowledge that many of our boys would not have had these opportunities without the agreement that is stimulated on our campus. In consideration of the manner in which all of our boys can claim educational triumph, there is no reason for regret. Yes, it is exhausting work. The pressure we feel may be similar to, or can be compared to the characteristics of a storm, but with all of our collective effort we will continue to succeed. Whether the weather is clear or stormy we all can lay claim to victory. Please do not allow the storms you experience overcast your greatness. Our boys are watching and need positive examples from which they can learn. Weathering storms are normal in the occurrence of our lives. It is our responsibility that our boys grasp this understanding so as they encounter the challenges life offers they each have a skill set which includes an umbrella, raincoat and boots to move beyond the storms. Our collective goal is to assist our boys with an ability to reflect on the effort required to get to higher ground. Let me remind you “There Is a Miracle on the Other Side of Your Storm”!


Lorenz B. Willis, M.S.

Dean, Admissions, Outreach and Recruitment

Incipient Leaders Emerge

After being reminded about the responsibility to compose this month’s article it did not take long to reflect on the huge responsibility we now have in the Admissions Department. The goal of identifying new Student Ambassadors to succeed the Graduating Seniors, a group of very distinguished young men!  The Student Ambassador Program is an independently organized effort of the Admissions Department for Verbum Dei High School. It is an exclusive opportunity! All Student Ambassadors report directly to the Dean of Admissions, with responsibility for providing admissions intelligence and assessment to senior administrators. Admissions Intelligence-gathering is performed by the Student Ambassadors, many of whom are trained to speak to prospective students and their families. Student Ambassadors are encouraged to share their stories, testimonies about the experiences they have encountered. The VDHS Student Ambassador is also engaged in activities at the request of the Principal and President of Verbum Dei High School.

Many of this year’s Graduating Seniors were included in the initial cast of Student Ambassadors that was assembled through a process of auditions and mock presentations. Each of the Graduating Seniors has mastered this unusual obligation; through their efforts they have transcended the issues of how failing institutions and poverty have a negative effect on individuals, particularly the Black and Brown “boys in the hood.” Each Student Ambassador has learned to circumvent the negative consequences of poor decision-making and much of the testimony they share is confirmation of their success highlighting their acceptances to several of the finest Colleges and Universities in the Nation! They present themselves in a manner in which they may have never before considered. They are recognized for their courage, their ability to be open, semi-vulnerable, sharing the realistic portrayal of their lives as Urban Youth.

Uncommonly, each of these young men through deep exploration of sociopolitical themes refuses to allow themselves to become associated with the groups of young men who are commonly considered when the reports of negative statistics are presented coming from within their communities. The exceptional sense of purpose that this program requires has always assured the conviction, confidence and certitude that Verbum Dei High School is a training ground for the individual success and leadership that can change the world. These young men will complete their course of study and become Verbum Dei Gentlemen on Thursday, June 11, 2015 at 7 p.m. during the 50th Commencement Exercises assembled in Our Lady of the Angeles Cathedral located in Downtown Los Angeles.

We proudly recognize:

Nigel Beckles- Dakota State University, Zachary Byrge- College of the Holy Cross, Daniel Felix- Loyola Marymount University, William King- El Camino College, Jacob La Rue- West LA College, Anthony Little- Lincoln University, Ignacio Molina- UC Merced, Chase Moore- College of the Holy Cross, Jon Parra- Long Beach State, Clifford Peeples- Boston University, Andrew Ramirez- CSU Dominguez Hills, Micah Smith- UCLA, Emmanuel Soto- San Francisco State, Nicholas Spates- Georgetown University, Nicholas Stenson- Lincoln University

One Sheep Lost

Whenever an organization encounters a shift in leadership, the stakeholders, the senior leadership must evolve a new mindset. In Admissions this is exactly what we are doing. We are excited and have implemented a new system for evaluating prospective students and their families seeking enrollment into Verbum Dei High School. The new evaluative formula ensures that all students admitted to Verbum Dei exemplify the school’s mission and will be appropriately served by the resources that we provide.  Transitional experiences are often the most important developmental aspects of any new structure; as such, stakeholders must remain dedicated to the mission. We have a significant responsibility to follow the metamorphosis closely and monitor the change as we evolve.

In my observation, this period of change has afforded an opportunity of analysis which allows a boundless level of appreciation. The security I describe is in the way we have worked together to do the things we needed to do and how we have done them. Father Michael Mandala, SJ and Dr. Brandi Odom-Lucas Interim Principal have pulled things together, assumed their leadership positions and have guided the Faculty and Staff well during this challenge. This certainly can be recognized by measuring the agreement shared throughout the room most recently during our in-service following the revelation of our new Integral Student Outcomes.

The goal of the perceptible transformation we stimulate in the students we serve does not change. As we are seeking to adapt and serve more students and their families during these turbulent times we cannot forget that the change we seek for them must also be reflected in us. Essentially, when we pursue professional approaches to restructuring and replacing stakeholders and humility, empathy and moral courage is not the procedural pursuit, we lose part of the ministry for which I consider to be my most valuable quality and the most valuable part of what we do here. There are always opportunities to reframe problems, reinterpret alternatives and reform strategies and to do so continuously. The goal of this expression, the point of the message, is within the challenge to operate differently in our behavior, in our response. Our continuous challenge is to be merciful, kind, generous, loving and willing to do all that it takes, even at one’s own expense, to help another (‘the least’) in true need.

If a man has 100 sheep, but one of the sheep becomes lost, then the man will leave the other 99 sheep on the hill. He will go to look for the lost sheep. Right? And if the man finds the lost sheep, the man is happier about that one sheep than about the 99 sheep that were never lost. I tell you the truth. In the same way, your Father in heaven does not want any of these little children to be lost. — Matthew 18:12-14

Verbum Dei High School Has Growing Pains

As Dean of Admissions it pleases me to report that Verbum Dei High School is growing! We are in our twelfth year after joining the Cristo Rey Network. There are twenty-six Cristo Rey schools in 17 states and the District of Columbia each of us provide a quality, Catholic, college preparatory education to 8,000 young people who live in urban communities with limited educational options. Verbum Dei is the only school within the network that exclusively provides an educational experience to High School aged boys. Emphatically, as many of our young men are experiencing a metamorphic, transitional change identified as puberty; the process of physical changes through which a boy’s body matures into an adult body, the Administration, Faculty and Staff members are experiencing growing pains too. We are at a place in our development as a school where our community of educators, innovators, and problem solvers are working together to expand the threshold of academic change as we know it.

Our goals have not changed, however our approach is the area where we are experiencing the most challenge. We are successful! And successfully addressing issues to promote and sustain the academic behavior of our students in a manner that leads to success while attending college and beyond. Within the past twelve years we have experienced a tremendous amount of success by achieving 100% college acceptance. Recently, we have had an increase in our student population as well as an increase in the need to remediate educational deficiencies. Over the past twelve years we took an aggressive approach to unwarranted student behavior in our classrooms and on our school campus. We are categorically pleased with the cultural transformation in the student behavior that is presented on our school campus. Now, we look forward to stimulating consistency in the academic behavior of our students.

This is what we do. Together, all of our efforts produce a platform for effecting remarkable young men displaying an unbelievable ability for breakthrough. By sharing ideas from a wide variety of sources, we convert our student’s intelligence into a capacity for a remarkable outcome. Our students are people growing into leaders capable of enduring the challenge associated with transformation and positive change. We have established a community of young men that are making a real impact in the world. We invite you to join us in our growth!

Last Friday, July 20, 2012, the administrators of Verbum Dei High School were witness to an awesome culmination of the 2012 Summer Orientation for Academic & Employment Readiness program (S.O.A.R):

The Almond Joy award is an honor which is to be bestowed upon the best performing student during the full four weeks of the S.O.A.R. Program. It is typically extended to the student who actively participates in class to the highest measure and shares their knowledge with other students. The Almond Joy Award is awarded to the quintessential S.O.A.R. student who is a joy to have in class.

~ Ms. Brandi Odom-Lucas, S.O.A.R. Principal and Verbum Dei High School Dean of Students

Affectionately referred around campus as The S.O.A.R. Kids, these young men have now transitioned to being identified as the Gentlemen of Verbum Dei High School. Four years from now upon graduation they will be known as Verbum Dei Gentlemen. Their awards ceremony was truly a celebratory experience only to be surpassed by the tremendous display of maturity demonstrated by the newly crowned Gentlemen of Verbum Dei High School as they presented themselves to the Corporate Work Study Program’s (CWSP) corporate partners at the job fair. Each of the CWSP Partners was seated behind their stations about the Eagles Nest, our gymnasium, prepared to listen to every one of our new students highlight their intelligence, their capabilities, and eagerness to work. The entire Verbum Dei High School community is extremely excited as the summer activities come to an end and we prepare for the upcoming 2012-2013 school year. Extra special kudos is extended to Monica Gonzalez, Admissions Coordinator, and Joanne Flynn, Admissions Data Entry Specialist, for their outstanding service during the 2012- 2013 prospective student recruitment campaign. Without their sweet symphony of combined effort we certainly would not be able to consider ourselves successful in identifying and recruiting these outstanding Gentlemen of Verbum Dei High School.

These young men are prepared! They are ready to achieve all, which “The Verb” experience provides: A resume detailing four years corporate work study experience; a high school diploma; and, college acceptance. As stated by Christopher Lewis, ’09, who served as a teacher in the S.O.A.R. program this summer home from successfully completing his junior year at Amherst College:

As you move forward I want you to accomplish two things: (1) Identify and articulate those experiences which are essential to your story here at Verbum Dei High School. (2) Identify and articulate the experiences that will prepare you to change the perspective of how Black and Brown Boys from inner city communities like South L.A., Watts, Compton, and the surrounding communities are perceived when they present themselves on College Campuses across the nation. This is the foundation of all the young men that follow this path.

If we are to appreciate the truth about ourselves as educators, we need to reflect upon our own educational experiences and continue to serve in a greater capacity. The young men we are serving are encountering experiences from which they are now unsheathing the conclusions of life. It is natural for them to do so. Nevertheless, without careful reflection, the skill that should be refined and exercised regularly, our suppositions about the best practices to follow when teaching them will at best be inadequate, and at worst invalid.

Remember, our goal is to reach them and teach them. To be educated is better than the alternative. If our students are to truly learn, they need to rely on our knowledge, wisdom, understanding, and insight. The process of discerning and identifying truth is the mechanism that works best when the process is stimulated through careful instruction.

I believe this is the process that is essential for developing men of conscience and reliability, leading to choices for positive change. Ultimately we want to graduate these young men to a level of leadership, character and integrity, so that they can become people who will change the world, and change it for the better.


Lorenz B. Willis

Verb’s Getting It Right

It pleases me greatly that during a time that African American and Latino American inner city young men are being described as confused and spiritually ill, we are getting it right. I am proud to illustrate the relevance to the relationships we have cultivated. This blog is representative of our effort. It hopefully will provide an explanation and offer greater understanding of our collective accomplishment. In this account, hopefully you are apprised of what you have done to assist our young men to enter an experience that is certainly not promised. I have chronicled this for you to continue to work toward our goal of changing lives. The major theme is that we are winning and it strongly implies that the events evidenced are written and designed as examples to observe and continue.

I have had the distinct pleasure of serving in several capacities here at “The Verb” over the course of my tenure and one-thing remains constant; our young men are focused and, in most cases, well prepared to accept the challenges that lie beyond Verbum Dei High School when they graduate. This observation comes to mind by way of a recent visit to Cal State University Dominguez Hills (CSUDH). Verbum Dei High School College Guidance Coordinator Mrs. Bowie and I served as chaperones for several Verb Gentlemen who were identified as campus leaders and were invited to participate in The Third Annual Male Success Alliance Spring Summit: Saving Lives and Salvaging Dreams. As soon as we arrived on the campus we were greeted by two Verb Graduates working as CSUDH student advisers for the conference. The Male Success Alliance Founder and President David Lopez 06’ and Mariano Rojo 11’ stepped on board our bus and welcomed us.

The goal of the conference was to partner with local high schools to raise awareness and promote success. We spent most of the day finding out how to improve our educational experiences and reach our goals in life. We were encouraged to connect with other students who shared our common goals and to build a support system that will be a part of our success in the future. This was the start to believing differently about ourselves so that we can reach our full potential. We encountered people from other schools who were totally excited and motivated. Although I was truly delighted and inspired by the presentation I spent a great deal of the time throughout the day making observations, drawing suppositions, doing comparison and contrast exercises. This all lead me to the same understanding… Damn We’re Good! The whole of the Verbum Dei community would have been equally proud of the way our young men presented themselves while representing The Verb. As a result of the experiences and the influence The Verb offers, our young men set themselves apart. They were distinguished, well dressed, well educated, well spoken, and extremely mature. Several of the other partner school representatives approached me asking, “From what school are your boys?” “Oh… Verbum Dei… they are so well behaved and attentive too!” “I knew they were students from a private school.”

I encourage everyone (students, faculty, staff, donors, board members, volunteers, etc.) to reflect on your Verbum Dei experiences and think about what they mean to you, perhaps there are a number of ways in which you can consider yourself to be ultimately blessed, and in some situations having the opportunity to bless others through your blessings. I truly believe God has an out of this world blessing in store for me! A universal blessing, that is inclusive with the effort and energy that each of us within the Verbum Dei High School community can share. I want each of you to know that we have gotten the chance to witness the transition and transformation of our young men and I am truly grateful for all of those who have contributed to the goal of getting our boys ready for greater understanding. We in our own unique way have asked God to reveal to us in detail the signs of the increased growth of his kingdom. Although it is not always evident to me when I am self-reflecting it is truly a blessing to witness our collective effort and the evidence that God is moving, in the manifestation of our boys. Keep up the good work! Peace…