The Beauty of Art

     This is an exciting time for the art department at “The Verb.”  This year we are blessed to have a new member in our department, Mr. Alejandro Baez S.J. Mr. Baez was given the task of leading the first ever Senior Music Appreciation class with a choral emphasis. His exuberance for the choral and pedagogical arts have led to a great choral group that, at this early juncture, has performed to the lauds of the entire school. Bravo to Mr. Baez.

     As the year slowly unfolds, I look forward to the Christmas Concert/ Art Show on December 5th which will showcase the works of our choral and our visual artists. This should be a superb event that will display the talent and hard work of our students.

     A personal highlight of the year so far took place a few weeks ago. The Verb Teacher Band gave its first official performance at this year’s Back-to-School night. The band made up of John Stradley, George and Ken Favell, Billy Traber, Max Olmedo, and yours truly, rocked out to an audience of teachers and students. Each teacher showed off their musical prowess and proclivity for rocking out!

     I am proud to be part of a school that embraces the artistic talents of all of its members from faculty/staff to its youngest freshman. My hope is that, as the year progresses, the arts will become an even more prevalent part of the culture giving way to various ways in which all members of our community can express who they are through their art.

The Physics in Sports

   If you are wondering what high school students do in a science class, here is a good example – freshmen students, under the direction of Mr. Traber, are making sense of the world around them by investigating physics phenomena in their everyday life with an emphasis on sports. Sports and Physics? Correct. In fact, physics plays a dominant role in the way athletes perform.  Here is how Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots, describes football in Football Physics: The Science of the Game by Timothy Gay, “While some observers see only carnage and chaos, brilliant athletic performances and bone jarring collisions, the science-minded see the field as a working laboratory”.

   Mr. Traber’s terrific past experience as a professional baseball player allows him to engage students and relate every physics topic to sports! Real data and scenarios from track and field, baseball, basketball, soccer and many other sports are the context in which students develop skills, demonstrate their understanding of physics laws and discuss physics concepts.

   A couple of weeks ago, freshmen students played the role of a football analyst. Their job consisted of providing the team manager with a graphic display of football players’ speeds. By analyzing players’ 40 yard dash time, students were able to apply their knowledge of motion, calculate the speed of each player and represent the data on Microsoft Excel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freshmen students graph their results on football players’ speed on Microsoft Excel

Timothy, Gay. Football Physics: The Science of the Game. Emmaus: Rodale Press, Inc., 2004.

Updates from the Social Science Department

   My role at the Verb has taken on several forms: from Freshman Writing and English, to US History, to Economics and Government, Senior English, Social Science Chair and New Teacher Instructional Coach – I have truly enjoyed serving in each of these capacities.

   This year is already shaping up to be quite busy and interesting. With regard to the National Honor Society, my co-advisor, Jesse Jovel, and I, are currently vetting a new crop of members for the Verbum Dei chapter.  Once selected, these gentlemen will be inducted into the chapter with a candle lighting ceremony.

   This is my 6th year serving as coordinator of the Student Poll Worker Program. Approximately 30 Verbum Dei gentlemen have signed up to participate in the program whereby they will be working in their local election precincts as volunteers, assisting their neighbors with the voting process this November 4th. Not only is this a great way to be a “Man for Others” by giving of their time to the community, but students can also include this service on their college applications.

   I am also happy to report that four seniors, Daquan Bass, Nicholas Spates, Zachary Byrge, and Jon Parra, and I, will be attending the World Affairs Council luncheon on November 10th to hear Mr. Bill Clinton speak. The Verb students, along with other area high school students will have an opportunity to speak with Mr. Clinton in a Q&A prior to the luncheon after which he will address the entire body of guests. This is quite a unique experience for these students who will prepare their questions ahead of time in order to make the most of the opportunity.

   The Social Science Department welcomes its newest member this year; Ms. Lizette Bernal of the CWSP is teaching US History as she pursues a Master’s Degree in Education.  Our department has embraced Verb’s emphasis on literacy and is implementing strategies to develop and improve our students’ reading and writing skills.  Mr. George Favell (World History), and I attended a writing literacy workshop at our network headquarters in Chicago this summer and returned with a bounty of ideas and strategies to implement in our classrooms. And in the true “Verb” spirit, we are sharing these with other teachers in all departments.

New Beginnings

NEW BEGINNINGS –

Greetings Verbum Dei Family,

On September 18, I was given the honor and the responsibility of being inaugurated as President of Verbum Dei High School.  What follows are the thoughts that I expressed at the installation ceremony.

I have great appreciation for the community of the Verb, and I hope my words can help you understand the reason that I am committed to the success of the school.

Thank you.

    Friends, Benefactors, Corporate Partners, Students, and the most wonderful faculty and staff with whom anyone could hope to work – Thank you for coming this morning.

    I want to especially thank Mr. Rick Caruso (brilliant entrepreneur, and a focused philanthropist) and Mayor Garcetti (represented by his Chief of Staff, Ana Guerrero), who are the principal supporters of this event.  It was actually Mayor Garcetti’s idea to have some event that would focus on Verbum Dei and the wealth of untapped potential that exists is South Los Angeles. I want to thank Fr. Michael Gilson, Assistant to the Jesuit Provincial for Pre-secondary and Secondary Education for being here for this installation.

    I could not be a prouder than to be the fourth Jesuit president of this amazing high school. I would like to briefly reflect on the history of Verbum Dei High School and then offer a few comments about my vision for the future.

    1962 – The Society of the Divine Word (Societatis Verbum Dei) was given permission by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to found a high school in Watts. They did a tremendous job to educate generations of fine young men – surviving a number of challenges including the riots in both 1965 and 1992.

    Same book, different chapter.

    2000 – The Divine Word fathers and brothers had to withdraw from the school because of lack of personnel and because the financial picture had changed. That year, Cardinal Mahony offered the school to the Society of Jesus and suggested that the Jesuits explore the new Work-Study, College Prep model of Catholic School that had been founded by the Jesuits in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago.

    Verbum Dei became the third school in what is today known as the Cristo Rey Network which is made up of 28 secondary schools across the country.  These schools are staffed by a variety of religious orders of men and women, and all operate on the same model of education. It took some years to implement the model completely at the Verb, but under the leadership of Fr. Bill Muller for the last six years – 100% of the graduates of Verbum Dei have had both corporate work experience and have been accepted to college.  Amazing!

    With the advent of the Jesuits, Verbum Dei continued as a school of the Archdiocese with the addition of Two Key Networks:

    First, Cristo Rey Network (28 schools growing at the rate of two a year) – It provides our model of education:

    Serving the underserved – if the student and his guardian want to be here, we will find a way to make it happen

    College Prep – academically rigorous to prepare young men for post-secondary education

    Work Study – professionally focused to prepare young men to take their place in future careers.

    Accountability – requiring all students to perform to the absolute best of their ability

Second, The Jesuit Network – an international family which has various institutions in the Los Angeles area that include:

    Loyola High School

    Loyola Marymount University

    Blessed Sacrament Parish

    Dolores Mission Parishes

    Proyecto Pastoral

    Homeboy Industries,

    The Novitiate of the Three Companions

    The Loyola Institute for Spirituality

    The Jesuit effort with its many distinct but mutually supportive ministries provides the guiding values for Verbum Dei High School

    What do we hope to accomplish?

    For the School:

    We want to be not only a safe harbor for our students, but also a good neighbor in the Watts community,

    Partnering with Urban Compass, LAPD, Operation Progress, the office of Council Member Buscaino, and with the many civic and non-profit organizations in the community – to create a better future for all our children and all our people

    In addition, we want all Los Angeles to see the Verb as the most unique and innovative secondary educational institution in Southern California.

    For the Students:

    Guided by the Jesuit vision for the Graduate at Graduation we challenge the students to be:

    Open to Growth (open and reflective to a variety of perspectives and experiences)

    Spiritual (aware of God’s unconditional love, who feels free to profess that faith in his own religious tradition)

    Intellectually motivated (a life-long learner)

    Loving (committed to being a man “with and for others”)

    Work Experienced (who has learned the value and importance of being dependable and responsible in the work place.)

    Committed to doing Justice (confident that he can make a difference in the world through his life)

    In a word – to be all that we know that he can be

    Bottom line: What is my vision for Verbum Dei and our students:

    In 10 to 12 years I want the students that are seated in the bleachers today to join with the friends, benefactors and corporate sponsors that are sitting in the chairs in this gym.

    I want them to be the civic leaders, the business people, the clergy, the teachers, the police officers, the corporate sponsors and benefactors for future generations of Verbum Dei Students.

    I want these students to join with you – our valued guests – to make a difference in this world; that is,

    People who take seriously the prophetic words of Fredrick Douglass, former slave turned orator, statesman and abolitionist, who said that “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

    People who instead of complaining about the problems with the youth of today are insightful and committed to challenge and support our youth to live up to their full potential

    That is my vision for the school, for the students, and for our partnering community.

Many Blessings to the readers of these words and to all the members of the wonderful community of Verbum Dei.