The most meaningful aspect of consideration we can offer a prospective Verbum Dei High School student and his family is an opportunity of exposure to gain a quality educational experience, incorporating the Corporate Work Study Program and a successful transition from High School into a four year College or University. It is our goal to promote the awareness that inner-city students deserve exposure opportunities as much as their counterparts living in affluent communities, academically thriving in the educational experiences specifically designed with them in mind. Within our community and throughout our Nation Black and Brown Boys living in inner-city communities are expected to be abysmal failures. At a time when inner-city students now more than ever skip class and drop-out to engage themselves in the traditionally negative pastimes of drug usage, drug trade, gang banging and pre-mature sexual activity, Verbum Dei has created an alternative affording escape. The controversy over why inner-city students demonstrate such low educational enthusiasm, we believe is a direct result of their inability to educationally transcend the negative obstacles that exist within the community even after graduating High School.
By offering educational experiences and incorporating exposure opportunities for participation and observation in real life activities the greatest challenge to our enrollment then becomes ignorance, lack of understanding, accepted unawareness, disbelief that a program designed with you in mind really does exist for the underserved family. At Verbum Dei we produce a type of access to an unknown reality that there is a place, a High School focused on changing the normal expectations for inner-city boys. Seeing is believing! It is our goal to have as many people interested in ensuring that there are resources for underserved students visit our campus and learn how they may become involved in this tremendous opportunity to affect positive change! Verbum Dei is one school within a network of 32 schools across the Nation specifically designated to serve in communities traditionally known to be on the downward trend, deteriorating, due to lack of resources.
Verbum Dei High School students attend class four days a week, “skip” one day of school sometimes two and participate in a Corporate Work-Study Program working five days a month. The students gain valuable “white collar” Corporate Work-Study Experience. We want to stimulate an empathetic introduction to a group of young men rarely appreciated for their understanding of purpose, resilience, fortitude and perseverance. Verbum Dei High School is an extremely useful example, a powerful tool of evidence offering greater understanding for examining the issues as to why inner-city students and schools are experiencing difficulty.
On the Tech front, Verbum Dei has completed its strategic goal to move our staff and faculty email off a local Exchange server model to the Office365 platform. This deployment serves three main purposes. First, it increases access reliability to our staff – cloud platforms are redundant and for the most part accessible at all times. Second, the databases have built-in backup services, thus ensuring mail is never lost. Lastly, the elimination of an Exchange mail server paradigm closes several security vulnerabilities. The data no longer sits behind a local firewall, thus eliminating the need for VPN needs. IIS accessibility – a massively-hacked feature of Microsoft Web Services – is no longer necessary for web-access. Closing the IIS service is of great relief to this IT Director.
We have also recently adopted Microsoft’s Volume Licensing Software Program for our MS Office products. The school benefits from significant educational discounts with this program and allows us to deploy – and maintain – the latest Office 2016 product for all of our staff, faculty and students. This deployment allows us to take advantage of all of the email and calendaring features offered in Outlook 2016 and Office365.
Looking forward, we are in the design phases of an initiative to ensure VDHS students have access to online lessons and curriculum. We clearly foresee the need for teachers to maximum the collaborative benefits of class time, while at the same time feel confident their students can complete off-hour assignments 24/7/365. Teachers need to be confident their students can stay paced in the classroom. As we said repeatedly, access is an issue with some VDHS students. We need to have a plan in place to ensure 100% of our students have access to assignments at all times.
On Wednesday September 27, 2017, Verbum Dei hosted the California Jesuit Excellence Tour (JET). The JET is a traveling college fair of 17 Jesuit colleges and universities from across the nation. Universities such as Gonzaga, College of the Holy Cross, Santa Clara, Fairfield and Seattle came to speak to our students about their respective campuses and the resources they offer students.
While research tells us that students should visit colleges before applying in order to get a feel for the campus and its resources, for many of our students traveling across the country to visit a college is simply not feasible. Touring college fairs such as the JET are a great resource for our students and in return an opportunity for Verbum Dei to develop relationships with great colleges and universities that may not be as familiar with our school and our driven students. Furthermore, while many of our students know our local postsecondary institutions, we aim to expose them to colleges they may not have heard of but can offer them great educational experiences and excellent financial aid packages.
As a college prep high school, Verbum Dei acknowledges the importance of making sure that the JET was available to not only seniors, who are in the middle the college application season, but to all grade levels as well. Therefore the event happened during school hours in order to make sure that all students could attend. In the end, our gym was bustling with college representatives and curious eagles, which came in with note pads to take notes and a list of questions to ask 17 college representatives. Prior to heading back to their campuses, many of the representatives shared just how impressed they were with Verbum Dei students, noting their politeness, insightful questions and overall preparedness. One representative even mentioned that Verb was one of the most impressive schools she had ever visited!
And the college visits to Verb don’t stop here! Just about every week during the fall, there is a college visiting The Verb. Just recently, Bowdoin College, University of Notre Dame, University of California, Merced and Georgetown University, amongst several others have presented to our students with many more to come! Lastly, this year, under the coordination of the College Guidance Department, each grade level will participate in a college visit field trip to at least one local college campus.
After a long and competitive process, Verbum Dei has been selected as one of the schools in Los Angeles who will experience the magic of Hamilton the musical! Through a partnership between Hamilton and local donors, the Gilder Lehrman Institute is able to offer our eleventh grade American history classes’ exclusive participation in the program, which combines Founding Era classroom resources developed by the Institute, document-based student projects, and a special student matinee at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre.
Led by Mr. Jovel and Ms. Bernal, the juniors at Verbum Dei have spent weeks learning about one of the most influential historical figures in our nation’s history. Through the hip-hop, rhythm and blues and pop music beats found in the Grammy winning soundtrack of Hamilton, students have been able to enhance their analytical and research skills, all while studying the story of our founding father, Alexander Hamilton. Students have created poems, scenes, raps, and monologues inspired by other founding fathers, historical/founding documents, or historical events that they were able to connect with during research through the Hamilton education curriculum.
One of the most popular songs in the hallways of Verbum Dei is “My Shot” , a song written by the gifted and mastermind that is Lin-Manuel Miranda. The song describes Hamilton’s journey from being an orphan to his rise as a prominent revolutionary in the colonies, while highlighting Hamilton’s ambition and fearless character. In the song, Miranda writes through the voice of Hamilton, “I’m a diamond in the rough, a shiny piece of coal…Try’ to reach my goal my power of speech, unimpeachable.” These lyrics have not only captured the ears of our Eagles, but also their hearts. The grit, intelligence, and fearlessness that are found in the lyrics of Hamilton have inspired our Verbum Dei gentlemen to step up and take their shot.