Four Verbum Dei students joined other high schools students from across the country in Los Gatos, CA for the Arrupe Leadership Summit from February 13-15. Our student leaders attended the summit, which focused on strengthening their capacities to effect positive social change while deepening their understanding of the relationship between faith and justice, as emphasized in the life of Fr. Pedro Arrupe.
Juniors Andy Marquez, Daniel Herrera, Elijah McClucas and senior Edgar Rivera, along with CWSP Program Coordinator Mashanda Finn and Dean of 9th and 10th, Jesse Jovel represented ‘The Verb’. Throughout the three-day program, students explored The Student Leadership Challenge: Five Practices for Exemplary Leaders through the lens of Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J.’s life. Arrupe, a former Superior General of the Society of Jesus, is known for his strong leadership of the Jesuits during a tumultuous period in global history and a time of great transition for the Catholic Church and the Jesuits. The sessions including topics such as Modeling the Way, Inspiring a Share Vision, Challenging the Process, and Enabling Others to Act.
The leadership summit was filled with transformative moments. Amongst those special memories is the presentation the students made on a potential community garden where they created a 30 second pitch to a group of mock investors. The Verb group famously named their community garden ‘The Garden of Eaten’! It was one of the crowd favorites. The opportunity to connect with other social justice minded students from other Jesuit schools proved to be the best part of our leaders’ weekend. The social justice flame was definitely lit, as could be seen by the groups scheming of bringing a social justice club on campus. It will be exciting to see the results of this transformative weekend!
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.
We are entering our last week of league play in anticipation of CIF Playoff Berths in both Basketball and Soccer. Our soccer program, led by Coach Rosa is tied for 3rd Place in the Del Rey League Standings. The finale against St. Anthony on Wednesday, February 10th may well determine whether the Soccer team makes the playoffs. Our basketball program has made strides from last year and has won more games than previously. Our boys are sitting in 4th place in the Del Rey League. With the new playoff formats, both basketball and soccer may still get either a 3rd place berth or a wild card berth to the CIF Playoffs!
This new academic year has seen a few transitions and developments indicating the exciting direction taken by Verbum Dei. I have been a part of one of these transitions. As the Writing teacher for freshmen, my new classroom is one of the computer labs on campus. This new environment has afforded the students and me many new opportunities to utilize our school’s technology and develop traditional writing skills. Thanks to the daily presence in the computer lab, the freshmen have gained a quicker and more seamless acclimation of online tools and software used by various teachers and needed for assignments. While not surprising considering they are Verb students, their focus and quality of work reflect the advantages of the computer lab in their every day schedule.
In addition to freshmen Writing, I have the pleasure of teaching the senior elective Ethnic Studies course. This week the students are presenting their masks. This project functions as an investigation to the formation of identity and the fluidity present between external and internal perspectives of the self and the impact one has on the other. The students consistently share their appreciation for the class and perspectives of culture, history, and art forms from those individuals who inhabit the multicultural fabric of our local and global community.