Work Hard, Play Hard!

Freshmen racing to the finish!
The freshmen class went on a recent field trip to the land before High School. This place is magical, where you worry about getting tickets for rides and getting tickets for prizes. This place has games, rides, music and food. Golf N’ Stuff – as featured in the original Karate Kid movie, has the makings of a destination all on its own.

I was lucky to be part of the adult contingent that included veteran teacher and golf moderator Nicolas Hogan and theology teacher Ms. Jazmin Jimenez. It was at this magical place that I was also transformed into a pre high school kid. It was halfway through the trip that I started to think about how these Verbum Dei Freshmen are now embarking into the true and rough waters of manhood. They are stepping into the place where they will soon start to develop as men and no longer boys. It was such a revealing trip to see them enjoy their last few days as freshmen and also kids. They had worked hard during the year so now it was time to see them loosen up and play hard.

These boys had a great time. From the start, they ate pizza, drank soda, and got more sugar fuel by sampling some good old ice cream. We played an hour of miniature golf in which everybody knows that boys will climb, kick and hit anything that has moving parts. You also know that you don’t let the ball go at the 18th hole because then your game is over. We skipped from course to course on the 4 course park. We definitely had our fill by the time it was announced that the Lil’ Indy car racing track was open for us. I don’t think that Mr. Hogan has seen these boys run as fast as they ran to the open cars waiting at the starting lines in any of his Physical Education classes. I mean, the race started as soon as you passed the turnstile.

I raced a few races but quit as soon as everyone wanted to crash and spin my car around. It didn’t help that I ended up with the slowest cars on the track. The boys on the other hand, had a blast racing around and around. This was also true in the bumper boats. At the end of the day, it was great to see the boys really enjoy themselves and play without care. It was great to see them just be themselves and have a blast.

What a strenuous year this has been! I am not sure how I make it through each year, but I thank God every day for keeping me, if only just a half step ahead.

This year there were so many changes to the college application process that I thought I had perfected. From changes to the financial aid application, to the different way for students to register for placement testing, this year was full of changes that impacted the way that we do things here in College Guidance. Through it all, we were able to send our students to college, in a system that was designed to keep them out.

In an effort to keep from being too militant, offensive, or politically incorrect, I will try to express my true feelings. I have a serious concern about how many of these changes are communicated. For example, this year, California State University (CSU) system has decided not to accept paper and online payless registrations for their placement tests. These tests are required for all students who are planning on attending a CSU. I typically have all students take the test, even if their plans do not include a CSU, just as a back-up. It is just a way for students to be on the safe side since there is a window for students to take these tests that usually closes around the first week in May. Originally, students just needed to register for the test by mailing in a form or registering for a place online. Students would pay with a check or money order when they arrive on campus for the test. This year, the way students register, changed. This change was not discussed at the annual CSU conference, which is designed to update counselors on changes for the new year. This change was discovered when the class of 2012 was trying to register for placement testing.

The way the new registrations works is as follows: Students go online to ETS (Educational Testing Service), the same organization that works with the College Board and the SAT. Students have to register online only and they must use a credit card at the time of registration. I can understand the changes, I mean, I am sure that had plenty of no-shows with the old system which would result in spaces being reserved and not used. I understand the benefits of a more streamlined process that would allow for universities in the system to be able to seamlessly retrieve registrations. I truly understand how this helps the CSU system but how does it help the student?

How does this system help the student who does not have access to internet at home? Or a computer? Or better yet, how does this system help the student who does not have access to a credit card? Many would argue, there is access to internet everywhere, and a credit card, who doesn’t have a credit card these days??? The truth is that there are many luxuries, or even things that we would consider basic, that thousands of people do not have access to, including a credit card.

So finding a way to help my students navigate this system is rewarding even if I have to collect cash from a student and use my credit card to pay for a mom does not have a credit card. Unethical? Not in the least. I like to think that it is the price that we pay to have a future of leaders who represent the true America. I know that I will be ok. I am here to make sure that each and every young man who walks these halls will be. And I believe, with the dedicated souls who come to work here every day, they will.