SAT preparation course contributes to college admission rates

By Uriel Molina, Staff Writer

The SAT Prep program at Verbum Dei started in the 2016-2017 school year, and it has found a permanent position in the Verbum Dei scholastic junior schedule. Besides the sacrifice of adding a extra period to the entire school’s schedule, the program has shown some positive outcomes of improved student SAT scores for Verbum Dei students.

The SAT program originated back when Verbum Dei worked with Kaiser Permanente Watts, 1465 E 103rd St, Los Angeles, to allow students to take SAT classes after school to enhance their SAT scores. Verbum Dei was aware of universities and colleges admissions becoming more selective with admission. Students with higher SAT scores generally have a higher acceptance rate into such institutions.

“When universities get more selective, it affects students from the inner city,” said Dr. Brandi Odom, VDHS Chief Adcemic Officer.

Inner-city students face some barriers and obstacles to their participation in such preparation programs:  not being accepted into the Kaiser Watts SAT preparation program, having to pick up a sibling, to not having sufficient funds; consequently, Verbum Dei administration decided to bring the SAT prep program into the school.

At Verbum Dei, the SAT prep program is known as an equity opportunity for the students.

“Equality is us saying, ‘Everybody should have the opportunity to take the SAT prep program’ …Equity is saying,  ‘Everybody should take the SAT prep course because that’s what we know that’s going to get them into college,” said Odom.

The program, which was introduced to Verb in the 2016-2017 school year, was barely beginning and slowly setting itself in as a class. By the 2017-2018 school year, the SAT prep program was officially a 7th period class for the juniors, introducing the 7th-period school wide, expanding the original 6th-period schedule.

Some students were furious with the and made some comments about the new schedule.

“It was unnecessary for them to add another period” said senior Carlos Mejia.”   Fellow senior Juan Marroquin added, “They could adjust the extra 7th period just for the juniors.”

However, Odom responded to the complaints.

“I hear my students saying that the day feels longer,” said Odom.  “I really do hear it, but I ask myself, so do I cut the SAT program just because the day is shorter and hope everybody gets SAT preparation on his own.”

Furthermore, said Odom, some universities are abandoning or reconsidering the significance of SAT scores because of more universities have proven that SAT results often correspond with income levels and not academic advances.

“University of San Francisco (USF ) has dropped SAT test scores, test scores are optional, more and more university are not requiring test score because the SAT most directly correlates with income, not with academic success,” said Fr. Steven Privett, SJ, VDHS President and former USF President.

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Verb summer athletic programs build brotherhood and bodies

By Khalid Nelms, Staff Writer

The athletic program at the Verb has been soaring to greater heights year after year, and with each year comes a different program that supports the Verb athletes. The Athletics Department plans to offer a summer program to give new students an opportunity to play different sports and to socialize with other incoming students who have completed the workplace readiness program.

This program provides worthy Verb students a chance to get out and to compete with other schools that also have similar programs for athletics.

“The significance of the summer programs for the coaches to teach fundamentals and techniques and to build a brotherhood amongst their teams,” said Ken Stevenson, Athletic Director.  “The coaches also use the summer program for conditioning.”

“Through this program, upperclassmen also show their brotherhood to the incoming freshmen,” said Stevenson.  “Our veteran Verbum Dei student-athletes get an opportunity to show their leadership and be mentors to our incoming freshmen who are getting a taste of what high school sports are about.  They take the new guys under their wings and help them to navigate and to understand what it is to be a Verbum Dei athlete,”said Stevenson.

“It’s all about being a great teammate and brother,” said Stevenson.  “When it comes to sports, all you have is each other: your coaches and brothers. They have to trust and believe in the process and each other. That’s the beauty of sports; it brings everyone together – especially during the tough times.”

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AP course offerings and examinations challenge students

By Khalid Nelms, Staff Writer

At the Verb, certain students go above and beyond to achieve academic excellence, and part of that striving toward excellence means enrolling in Advanced Placement (AP) classes.  As it is almost the end of the school year, AP Exams are coming up, in fact they are scheduled in the week of May 6-10; Monday, May 6, is AP Government, Tuesday, May 7, is AP Spanish Language, Wednesday, May 8, is AP English Literature, and Friday, May 10, is AP US History.  Additional examinations for AP Calculus are scheduled for Tuesday, May 14, and AP English Language and Composition on Wednesday, May 15.

Some notable seniors are enrolled in AP classes, so they have the pressure of finishing AP classes and graduating to finish off the school year. The AP classes for seniors include Calculus, Government, and English Literature.   The classes are taught by Dan and Sue White, Maria McDonald and Ken Favell respectively.  Junior AP classes include English Language and Composition, Spanish Language, and US History.  These classes are taught by John Stradley, Eduardo Magana, and McDonald respectively.

Senior Anthony Ramos takes AP classes and will be taking exams this week. He said, “I lacked the vice of nervousness due to my academic ego. Even though people didn’t expect me to earn a top score like 5, I held the highest grade throughout both semesters in which I easily got a score of 4 by not finishing the multiple choice and rushing my essays. You need confidence going into the test, and there’s no true reason to feel nervous. No one is relying on you, it’s anxiety that people feel that they can’t meet their standards.”

“Looking to the exams, I don’t expect them to help [my college prospects] at all,” said Ramos.  “Unless it’s for your major, an AP Class is used to boost your GPA. An AP course is great to show colleges, but they’re not that necessary.”

Brian Diaz, a notable junior and future leader for Verb,  has three AP classes  that include AP US History, AP English Language and Composition, and AP Spanish – all of the AP classes that are available for the juniors.

“I [was] nervous,” said Diaz, after completing exams early in the week.  “I didn’t know what to expect. We went over content of these exams, but not really practice questions.”

Diaz has many other campus involvements (he is a member of the JEDIS and a student ambassador), but he is not shaken.

“I liked taking the AP Exams, but they were extremely difficult and challenging,” said Diaz.

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Annual Faculty/Staff Appreciation Week set for May 6-10

By Nicolas Cortez, Staff Writer

The annual Verbum Dei High School Faculty/Staff Appreciation Week will take place on May 6-10, 2019.  Also known as Teacher Appreciation Week, the series of events provides social activities and offers students a means of expressing their feelings of gratitude to their teachers and staff members.

The VDHS Administrative Team and office staff organize a number of activities for the week; however, the theme and events are generally a closely guarded secret until the start of the week.  Traditionally, the events allow for social interaction between the faculty and staff in casual atmospheres.

“I always participate in teacher appreciation week and encourage others to do the same because our teachers deserve it,” said senior Brandon Bello.

During Faculty/Staff Appreciation Week, students can write teachers messages on cards, send an emails of gratitude, and other things of that nature to recognize their teachers.

“I participate in teacher appreciation week because I know that without my teachers I would not be where I am today because knowledge is power,” said senior Isaac Munoz.

“I participate in teacher appreciation week because teachers work hard all throughout the year in order to help us students succeed,” said senior Joshua Aguilar.  “[Offering them a] thank you for once is the least I can do.”

Coveted free dress is afforded the faculty and staff throughout the week.  The school also plans to recognize the teachers by providing them with gift baskets assembled from parent donations‍.

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CWSP jobsites offer summer work to some VDHS students

By Gerardo Leon, Staff Writer

As the school year comes to an end, some Verbum Dei High School students will have the option to work at their jobsites and earn for themselves over the summer break. However not all jobsites offer this opportunity.

There are two ways a student can have the option of working over the break.

“Any student who is interested in working over the summer can tell his supervisor that the they are prepping their summer plans and they want to know whether or not there is an opportunity for them to work in the summer to earn money,”  said Cristina Cuellar, Vice President of Programming, Corporate Work Study Program.

“Sometimes the supervisors will let them, but they think that it is volunteer work or additional make up days,” said Cuellar.  “[Our] students expect to get paid and then there [can be] a misunderstanding.”

“The second way is when the supervisor will say I would love for the student to work this summer and we should create a schedule,” said Cuellar.

Although this is a wonderful opportunity, every student does not get the chance to work over the break.

“If a student has to make up classes, he may not be able to work; if the student is not returning to the company next year or if the company does not want the student to return he can’t work; if a student is not returning to Verbum Dei, he can’t work, and seniors can work if they are on the company’s payroll, not Verbum Dei’s payroll,” said Cuellar.

The students that have to make up classes still have the option to go because they do not have to work an eight-hour shift; they can work for half a day.

The students that do decide to work will get paid $14.25 an hour. However, there are often times where students can get confused on how much they get paid.

“Students will see the addendum that the supervisors complete and the students will ask, ‘How come on the addendum it says that I am making $15.50, and I only get $13?’ ” said Cuellar.  “This is because part of that money is used to pay for taxes and pay for payroll and administrative fees the finance office have.”

To avoid this confusion, Cuellar recommends that students and parents carefully read the contract they receive that details how much the student will be earning.

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Last blood drive of 18-19 to be supported by seniors and others

By Brian Hernandez, Staff Writer

Verbum Dei High School will host its third and final blood drive of the school year for students, faculty, and staff who wish to donate blood on Friday, May 17, between 8:30 A.M. and 2:30 P.M.

“During the blood drive there will be snacks and drinks provided to keep blood donation participants hydrated and also to help them get their energy back after the process,” said Jeff Bonino-Britsch, Vice President of Operations.  Bonino-Britsch has coordinated many blood drives in his association with the Social Justice Club on campus.

“The [donors of the] class which donates the most blood will receive free dress along with a choice of a free t-shirt or pint of ice cream coupon [from Cedars-Sinai Blood Services],” said Bonino-Britsch.  “There will also be a raffle going on for every person who donates; each donor will get a raffle ticket with his or her specific number on it, and there will be two $25 raffle prizes.”

“[In the student population,] only sophomores, juniors, and seniors will be donating; they are the only students who can donate because of the age requirements,” said Bonino-Britsch.  If parents and family members donate they will receive one hour of service per donation, said Bonino-Britsch.

There is also a weight minimum of 136 pounds, and those who plan of donating have to bring their ID, said Bonino-Britsch.  Sixteen year olds need completed permission slips; however, students 17 and older may donate without permission slips.

The senior class, likely still stinging from its loss to the junior class for the coveted free-dress prize for the most pints donated, has a new resolve to have a strong showing.

“I plan on donating because it’s an easy way to save lives, and all I have to do is lay down,” said senior (and frequent donor) Shawn Loera.

“I want to donate to save lives, plus I have plenty of blood, so giving one pint won’t hurt me,” said senior Kaleb Dean.

“I have always donated blood everytime there’s a blood drive,” said senior (and frequent donor) Khalid Nelms.  “I want to help those who are in need of it, and possibly save lives.”

“The goal for the upcoming blood drive is to get over 60 pints of blood,” said Bonino-Britsch.  “We always get close to our set goals but never meet them; however, our original goal is to hit 100 pints per year, and this last blood drive should get us to that goal.”

UPDATE:  As of May 7, sign-ups for blood donation have been numerous: 12 seniors, 35 juniors, five sophomores, and two faculty/staff.

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VDHS soccer banquet recognizes scholar athletes and qualities of commitment, excellence, grit, spirit, and sportsmanship

By Rafael Villalobos, Staff Writer

To celebrate the 2018-2019 season, Verbum Dei’s soccer teams held their annual soccer banquet on Thursday, March 28, in the Multi Purpose Room (MPR).

Head coach Oscar Rosa, designs and plans the soccer banquet every year to give seniors and families a great and memorable experience.

The annual event is held in the MPR most every year; however, last year it was held in the gym because basketball and soccer both collaborated on the event. This year it was no longer a joint event because too much time was spent in setting up the event and cleaning up after the event.

This year, Rosa, made sure both coach, Edwin Suro, and the nine varsity senior were dismissed with honor.  As in years past, all-you-can-eat tacos were served to players and families prior to the award and highlight ceremony.

Suro received a framed picture of the 2018-2019 roster while seniors received Gatorade bottles with their names and signatures of the team players.

Verbum Dei Soccer awards included:

MVP- OVERALL FOR THE PROGRAM – Anthony Valentin

Varsity

Eagle Award- Represents Verb’s best – Brandon Bello

Leadership Award – Daniel Hernandez

Verb Scholar Award – Justin Funez Oyuela

Coaches Award – Uriel Molina

Rookie of the Year – Salvador Cisneros

Junior Varsity

MVP- OVERALL – Danniel Rivera De Mata

Eagle Award – Jesus Estrada

Spirit Award – Alan Rios

Leadership – Adrian Ramirez

Verb Scholar – Jonathan Ayala

Coaches Award – Alejandro Soto

First team all league:

Rafael Villalobos

Uriel Molina

Ricardo Guevara

Anthony valentin

Second team all league

Brandon Bello

Alessandro Leon

Justin Funez

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NCAA tourney has VDHS bracket; free shoe day for Sigma

By Khalid Nelms and Brian Hernandez, Staff Writers

As March Madness college basketball season approached, the campus of Verbum Dei wanted to do something to participate, thus a bracket was made for students to take a shot at guessing what college teams were going to win. The student or faculty member with the bracket completely correct, won not only free shoe day for himself or herself, but for the house they are a part of during community Fridays.

Sigma, the house that ultimately won the free shoe day, was able to show off its house pride on April 12th, 2019.

“All members of the house Sigma are able to have a free shoe day in which they are able to wear whatever shoes they’d like, as long as they are not sandals,” said Maribel Andrade, ASB moderator.

“The win for Sigma would not have been possible if we didn’t have Andrade, for it was thanks to her that we won,” said senior Christopher Poz.  “I feel amazing because I’ll be able to use regular shoes and not dress shoes.”

In order for students from Sigma to enjoy their free shoe day without complications, said Andrade, they must pick up a wristband on Friday, in front of the chapel,  as a voucher showing that they are a part of Sigma.

“It feels cool being able to provide students in Sigma house the opportunity to have a free shoe day,” Andrade said.  “I hope they enjoy it!”

This bracket competition was held for those who love college basketball and enjoy the thrill of a slam-dunk, alley-oop, or plethora of three-pointers. The March Madness Bracket was held as soon as the college basketball tournament started.  The competitors were members of the student body, as well as the faculty and staff. The bracket competition was held at Verbum Dei and was one to remember. This tournament was held from March 19 to April 8, and it ended with the championship game between the Virginia Cavaliers and the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

Many competitors had top-tier teams like Duke or Gonzaga or even Kentucky making it to the final four or on to the championship game, but because this is March Madness, there has to be a twist and a lot of shock right? Duke lost to Michigan State by one point by the missed free throw of R.J Barrett and had been struggling with free throws the whole tournament. Gonzaga lost to Texas Tech in the Sweet 16 moving the Red Raiders into the Final Four while the Kentucky Wildcats lost to Auburn moving them into the Final Four as well.

The ending of this tournament is what nobody expected to happen with the Texas Tech Red Raiders and Virginia Cavaliers moving ahead into rather one of the most non-exciting games of all time because the star power of Duke was absent.

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REVIEW: Twilight Zone reboot shows potential in first episode

By Hector Arrieta, Editor in Chief

The original Twilight Zone, created and narrated by Rod Serling, first aired in 1958 and ran until 1964. The show was an episodic series that tackled the dimensions of morality through the lens of science fiction and psychological horror. The series’ structure typically followed one of two main paths. On one hand, one of the main characters of the episode committed a sin and the forces of the “twilight zone” punish the character for his or her sins. On the other hand, an episode can revolve around one premise, but then a twist at the end reveals the irony of a situation.

While the original series ended in 1964, The Twilight Zone has been revived two other times, once in the 1980s and again in the 2000s. Also, the series spawned a movie in 1983 by the name Twilight Zone: The Movie. Yet most recently, the 2019 Super Bowl brought hope to fans of the series. A commercial advertised the revival of The Twilight Zone with Jordan Peele as the new narrator. Although the series will air on CBS All Access – meaning all of the access for those who make monthly payments – the first episode, “The Comedian,” was posted in its entirety on YouTube.

The entire premise of “The Comedian” is basically a Faustian Legend. The episode revolves around the actions of Samir Wassan, a failing comedian, whose moral code in comedy is to provide insight. After another poor stand up comedy set, Wassan alights at the bar and meets JC Wheeler, a famous comedian who embodies the devil. Wassan asks Wheeler for notes. Wheeler tells him to put himself out there, but that “once you put it out there, the audience will take it in and will connect, and once they connect to it, it’s theirs, and once it’s theirs, that sh*t is gone forever.”

The two clink their glasses, a symbolic sealing of the deal. After the encounter, Wassan realizes that when he mentions a person’s name in his routine, that person ceases to exist, and all evidence of his or her existence is erased. Wassan uses this power to erase people he dislikes until he eventually erased his girlfriend’s law mentor. This results in the destruction of his girlfriend’s life, the end of their relationship, and the beginning of Wassan’s downfall. After his girlfriend finds his notebook filled with names of people he dislikes, she confronts him during his set. As a result, Wassan caves under the pressure and begins joking about himself, causing him to cease to exist.

How does the first original episode of the revival compare to episodes of the original series? “The Comedian” performs well in terms of the story structure of a Twilight Zone episode. The structure revolves around a person (Wassan) committing a sin (basically selling his soul to the devil and erasing people) and paying the price (falling to insanity and erasing himself). In terms of camera work, the revival Twilight Zone stands in stark contrast to the original. The new series features a lot more close up shots and the camera switches to different shots more often. Also, unlike the original that was in black and white, the revival is in color. As a whole, the new Twilight Zone gives off more of a Black Mirror feel and aesthetic. Lastly, the revival episode features interesting stylistic choices. At the start of the episode, there is a shot of a wall with a large picture of people in an audience. After Wassan disappears, at the final moments of the episode, he can be seen sitting in the audience. Also, throughout the episode, with each of Wassan’s sets, his clothing becomes darker which marks the corruption of his morality.

Overall, the new Twilight Zone has a lot of potential. While the premise of “The Comedian” is rather unoriginal and the dialogue is pretty weak, the aesthetic and stylistic choices make it worth watching. As a whole, “The Comedian” earns a B+ grade.

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Concordia University and CSULB host VDHS sophomore class

By Randdy De Paz, Staff Writer

The Verbum Dei High School sophomore class visited Concordia University in Irvine and California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) on Friday, March 29, 2019. The visits took the entirety of a school day, from 7:30 A.M. to 3:30 P.M.   Students first visited Concordia University and finished their day a the California State University’s Long Beach campus.

During the Concordia visit, the students enjoyed a presentation by professor Dr. John Kenny. Then, the presentation was followed by a student panel where sophomores had an opportunity to ask questions of students who are attending Concordia University.

By 12:30 P.M., the students were heading for their CSULB tour that began at 1:15. The CSULB tour ended at around 2:30 P.M., and the students returned to VDHS from their college visit adventures.

“The schedule for the college visit was precise and on time,” said sophomore Luis De Paz. “There were no complications during the trip, and everything was seamless.”

These two college visits were juxtoposed to show the major differences between a small private college and a large public university.  Many of the Sophomores on the trip enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the CSULB atmosphere.

“I enjoyed visiting both campuses,” said sophomore Jonathan Soto. “Both universities had great student diversity, programs, and services.”

“I personally thought that the trip was very successful because the sophomores got exposed to both a small and large college, and it helps keep college in mind for them to start preparing,” said Shannon Slade, college counselor.

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