Connecting Verbum Dei’s Past and Present

It is with great pleasure that I get to interact with alumni from time to time. The history and tradition of Verbum Dei High School is fascinating…and often heart-warming.  Please enjoy the recent interaction between the son of Claude Child, a Chemistry & Physics teacher from 1963 – 1979, and Steve Wellington, one of Claude’s students from the Class of 1972:

Dear Verbum Dei,

It is with great fondness that I recall Fr. Francis visiting our home after Sunday Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary in Paramount, California during the sixties.  He did so often, creating a strong friendship with my dad, Claude H. Child.

In those days my Dad worked as a staff scientist with North American Aviation in Downey, California.  Fr. Francis had plans for an all-boys high school in Watts.  He would talk about these plans with my Dad, asking if he would teach Chemistry and Physics when the campus was built.  To my recollection, the campus was completed mid-summer 1963 with its first classes starting in the Fall of 1963.   I know this because I helped my dad set up Verbum Dei’s Chemistry class room.   I must have been 10 or 11 years of age. 

Bishop Francis, my Dad and many years have since passed away. I read the legacy of Bishop Francis. It warms my heart.  Like any son, I wonder if my Dad’s efforts made a difference.  I read on your web site that Verbum Dei has gained recognition for its sports program.  Did any of Verbum Dei’s students from the sixties go on to careers in the science fields? 

The men my dad taught would be in their mid-sixties to seventy years of age by now.   Like me, they’d probably have grandchildren, possibly even grandchildren soon to be attending Verbum Dei.

It would be a blessing to know this legacy story, so that I may pass along a more complete history to my grandchildren.  Does Verbum Dei’s Alumni have active members that might remember my Dad?

Having written to you about a year ago, and receiving no reply, I had given up hope of following up on these legacy thoughts.  This evening, at a fund raiser for Mother Teresa Maternity Home here in Placerville, a chance conversation with a priest named Fr. James sparked a renewed interest.  Fr. James taught at Verbum Dei before leaving to teach in China.  He is now a pastor here in Eldorado County.  I was encouraged to try contacting you again.

May God Bless You,  

John J. Child

Response…

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Hello John,

I was one of your father’s physics student’s during the 1971 – 72 school year. He was a great influence on me as I pursued a biology degree from UCSD and a Master’s degree in Business Administration and Technology from the University of Phoenix. I spent most of my career in science and seven years ago I managed a state-accredited laboratory, which supported a major utility, nuclear and non-nuclear, water plant operations.

I am grateful he devoted his time and knowledge of physics to students wanting to realize their full potential in life. Some of us held to the sciences while others led fulfilling and meaningful lives elsewhere.

Thank you for reaching out; your father was a great teacher and wonderful person to have known.

Steve Wellington

(Verbum Dei Class of 1972)

What’s New at Verbum Dei in 2016?

The end of the 1st Quarter is just around the corner and yet school really has just started.  Here’s what you might have missed in the last several weeks.

Office Furniture Donation 

A major tax and audit firm, KPMG, consolidated their Beverly Hills Office to downtown LA.  Thanks to their generosity, Verb was the recipient of three truckloads of desks, chairs, modular offices and other furniture valued anywhere from $10 – 20 K.  This equipment helped us to upgrade 10 office spaces and renovate our faculty/staff lounge.

Film Project

From August 27 – 30, the Divide & Conquer Production Company rented the Verb Gym and Team Room to film a short basketball movie.  While over 50 members of their cast and crew, including former Laker Rick Fox, walked the allowed halls of Verb, the school earned an unexpected $12,000.

New Food Service on Campus

Looking to the needs of a growing campus, Bevaris Alliance was selected as the new food service vendor at Verbum Dei.  Bevaris serves 40 schools around the Archdiocese and coincidentally, is also starting at our sister school, St. Mary’s, this year as well.  Junior McFarland and team served the school for 15 years and we wish him well in his new adventures.  Key elements involved in the decision include legal and insurance requirements, proof of “worker’s comp” for vendor employees, variety of food selections and pre-purchase, card-based payment methods.  In October, you will be able to purchase gift cards that your son can use to purchase food at the Verb Café

New Marquee and Digital Signage 

By the middle of October, a new full color digital Marquee will replace the outdoor sign posted by the vehicle entrance into Verbum Dei.  Soon you will be able to get up to the minute information as you drive into or by the campus.  On top of that, a scrolling digital sign will be installed in senior square so that students and guests can enjoy the latest news or stay informed on clubs and activities, sporting events and schedule changes.

As the Operations team continues to create a friendly, safe, and clean environment that inspires creativity and learning, we hope your son finds academic achievement and excellence in all his endeavors.

 

Lenten Challenge

During this past Ash Wednesday mass, Deacon George Teodoro had a simple, yet effective message: 

Remember when you were little during soccer…how the little kids just follow the ball like a flock of bees?  Deacon George said he was about five years old during a soccer match and at some point, the ball popped out and landed at his feet.  He was so excited that he had a free lane to the goal and he drilled it for a score.  But his teammates weren’t so excited…and suddenly he realized that he had put the ball in his own net.  In his excitement, he didn’t hear the coach yelling at him to, “Stop…turn around…go the other way!”

He used this story to remind us about all the little things we do that practice us to be less than we are called to be.  So why not practice to be the best we can be?  After each example of things we all struggle with, like being messy, or addictive, or eating too much, or procrastinating…he would exclaim the admonition, “Stop…turn around…go the other way!” 

The rest of the day, I found myself repeating this simple, yet amazing “meaning of Lent” story to folks that I bumped into.  I guess it was so profound that it is now my mantra for the rest of Lent.  But it also served as a reminder to me of the wisdom and insight that my colleagues at Verbum Dei offer every day to the young men of this community.  So, please share this story with those you meet to help them find their direction if they lose their way.

 

GOD’S HOUSE

I recently attended the Archdiocesan Catholic Prayer Breakfast at the Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral.  Lou Holtz, former head coach of Notre Dame’s 1988 national championship football team relayed the following story:

As Lou drove up to his home, he remarked to his wife of over 50 years, “Did you ever imagine we would live in such a beautiful house.”  She responded humbly, “Well…it isn’t our house…it is God’s house.”  Fast forward to August of 2015, when the Holtz family home was struck by lightning and burned to the ground.  Coach Holtz turned to his wife and said, “You think God would take better care of his house!”

Like the Holtz family, Verbum Dei High School is God’s house, and we are just temporary stewards.  Figuratively speaking, sometimes lightning strikes here as well.  Even though this 50 year old institution undergoes continuous upgrades and renovations to provide a safe and comfortable environment conducive to learning and achievement, there are challenges presented to us almost on a daily basis.  Roofs leak after getting sunbaked in the Los Angeles summer heat.  Our fleet of 12 vans require regular maintenance to safely transport Verbum Dei gentlemen to their CWSP worksites, field trips, Christian Service and athletic contests. On occasion, we have to rescue students whose van’s transmission has failed or the battery has died.  Sometimes, we battle fire alarms that mysteriously go off for no apparent reason or discover that a power outage has disabled the air conditioning that keeps the school’s information technology infrastructure from collapsing.

These challenges, daunting as they sometime seem, are an opportunity to serve the gentlemen of Verb and its tremendously gifted faculty and staff.  We are truly grateful to all who work and volunteer to make Verbum Dei High School…God’s House…a home for our community.