Verb Department of Labor training fosters workplace awareness

By Rafael Villalobos, Staff Writer

Verbum Dei High School hosts a mandatory Department of Labor (DOL) workshop for sophomores and fifteen-year-old juniors every January 7, to educate students on the importance of office safety.

Verbum Dei High School provides every fourteen-year-old student a corporate internship, which pays approximately $6,000 of his tuition. Freshmen, sophomores, and fifteen-year-old junior students are required to participate in the workshop mandated by the DOL for all workers of ages of 14 and 15.

The five-hour workshop features training in office safety, awareness of sexual harassment, and workplace ethics. Freshmen are taught these subjects during Corporate Work Study Program Readiness training; however, since it is difficult for students to grasp the material at an early age, the DOL made it mandatory to reteach it to all fifteen year olds.

The workshop is presented to the students on the Verbum Dei campus.  If students do not present themselves at the workshop, there is mandatory make up work. Students must research the topics covered in the workshop, create a presentation for each subject, and present it to Cristina Cuellar, Vice President of Programming for CWSP.

“When I first heard of the DOL, I thought that it was going to be a waste of time,” said junior Daniel Avina. “Yet, during the five-hour workshop, I began to realize that this workshop is helping me learn how to be a mature and much-improved intern.”

“Throughout the workshop, we were taught how to behave at work and things we shouldn’t do like carrying more boxes [than is safe],” said sophomore Rolando Raygoza. “We also learned about harassment and what actions we should take if we are being harassed.”

“I didn’t mind attending the workshop,” confessed Raygoza.  “It was more like a learning experience for what to do at work.”

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Senior tardiness and absenteeism put senior privileges at risk

By Christopher Poz, Profiles/Features Editor

Shortly before the Christmas break began, the senior class was reminded  of Verbum Dei High School policies that could result in the revocation of their senior privileges.

The policies are as follows:

Prom: Have no more than 10 absences or 10 tardies in any one class per semester. No serious or chronic disciplinary problems during the school year and/or 30 or more demerits. No truancy from school or work throughout the year. No unexcused absence from school or work. No termination from CWSP job placement. G.P.A. above 2.0. No more than one violation of academic integrity. No behavior or academic probation.

Grad Night: Have no more than 10 absences or 10 tardies in any one class per semester. No truancy from school or work throughout the year. No serious or chronic disciplinary problems during the school year. No more than 30 demerits. No termination from CWSP job placement. No more than once incident of academic integrity. Lastly, student must meet all academic graduation requirements. G.P.A. above 2.0. No more than one incident of academic integrity. No behavior or academic probation.

The policies have long been in place; however, not many students were aware of them.

“I know that seniors are surprised when they hear about it the first time because it happened last year as well and the year before that,” said Maria McDonald, Dean of Students and Academics.

“Fourteen seniors have lost their privileges – all but three were due to tardies in excess of 10 in the first semester,” said McDonald.

Seniors have the option to appeal the decision and save their privileges.

“There is the opportunity to appeal the decision, and that goes directly to Dr. Odom,” said McDonald.  “She [Odom] made it very clear that you can’t keep doing the same thing and then come to her in May and say you want to go to prom.”  McDonald said seniors, particularly those with poor attendance history, should be consistent in their second semester attendance and punctuality.

As might be expected, some seniors have expressed strong feelings about the loss of privileges.

“Losing senior privileges over being only a couple minutes late every day is unreasonable,” said senior Omar Garcia. “A privilege is something that is earned over a period of time.  After almost four years at Verbum Dei, working extremely hard and being determined and focused on my studies [is what should earn the] privilege.”

“Taking away senior privileges over being tardy is unfair, especially when the majority of the time, it is not one’s fault,” said a senior who wished to remain anonymous and was warned about excessive tardiness.  “Some consequence should be put in place, but not something that seniors worked hard for [to earn] over four years.”

The end of the year is approaching, and those seniors who are personally affected by this policy have to start coming to school consistently and on time to have a chance for a favorable appeal, said McDonald.

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Cross country banquet recognizes achievement during season

By Joshua Papaqui, Staff Writer

The Verbum Dei cross country team finished its season with an annual sports recognition banquet, January 17 in the Student Success Center.  Parents of cross country runners were in attendance to cheer on their sons as they received their awards.  Food was provided by team parents and Mashanda Finn, Head Cross Country coach.

The following recognitions were awarded:

Ricardo Sierra: MVP (team); MVR (League); Scholar Athlete; League 1st Team.  Alessandro Leon: Performance; Benjamin Rivera: Reliability; Geovanny Martinez: Reliability; Eagle Award; Osvaldo Paniagua: Improvement; Adrian Belisle: Dedication; Brian Diaz: Effort; Jesus Estrada: Consistency; Christopher Gil: Performance; Joshua Papaqui: Reliability; Samuel Canchola: Improvement; Hector Hernandez: Effort; Shawn Loera: Effort.

As Finn awarded each recipient, she explained why the runner won the particular award.  She also shared a memorable moment for each runner during the season.

“I was very excited to receive all these awards,” said sophomore Sierra.  “I worked really hard this season and was glad that all that hard work paid off.”

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Christopher “Big Chris” Clarkston ends 19-years of commitment to Verb’s students, faculty, and staff

By Oscar Herrera, Columns/Opinion Editor

After entering Room 302, he sits on the chair. Although this room belongs to Physics teacher Carolyn Westdal during the school day, after 3:25 P.M. this is his home.  With a Bluetooth earpiece residing in his ear, he takes off his hat, and states with his characteristically deep voice, “Alright fellas, let’s get some work done.”

This man is no other than Christopher Clarkston, or “Big Chris,” as he is called by the Verb family.  Clarkston has been a part of the Verbum Dei High School community since before the Class of 2019 seniors were born.

Clarkston is leaving Verbum Dei after nearly 19 years in order to fulfill a dream of working in law enforcement for the City of Los Angeles as a traffic officer.

“I’ve been at Verb for about 19 years, and it’s time for change,” Clarkston commented.  “I’ve done all I think I could do here, and I love it here, but I think it’s time for change.”

He first started working for Verbum Dei as an employee of a security firm contracted for the campus. Unfortunately, the company went “bankrupt,” according to Jeff Bonino-Britsch, Vice President of Operations.   Clarkston started to work on other things as the staff and administration “valued him so much from security and his relationships with the kids to the faculty,” said Bonino-Britsch.

Clarkston has fostered long-term relationships with many current students and alumni.

“He knows tons of the alumni, so if anybody ever calls, they call Big Chris,” said Bonino-Britsch.  “When everybody visits, they come see Big Chris – it’s a big loss for us.”

Clarkston’s departure has been met with his joy, but at the same time his departure is met with sorrow from both faculty and students.

“Chris is an amazing colleague and friend who has contributed significantly to the culture [culture of respect, following rules, and doing what is right] of Verbum Dei,” said Cristina Cuellar, Vice President of Programming for the Corporate Work Study Program.

“He was always there for us,” freshman Derek Carrera said.  “He was one of the staff who always wanted the best for us. He always pushed beyond the limits because he wanted us to succeed in life and school.”

“He was one of the best staff members that one could’ve asked for,” said senior Joshua Aguilar.  “He was a friend and someone you could ask for advice when needed.”

Clarkston’s new road ahead is one of good hope, but it is met with difficulty – difficult in that someone like Clarkston with as much experience and years under his belt leaves a hole in the fabric of the community.  With two sons applying to VDHS soon, Clarkston is likely to be seen about the campus in his role as a school parent.  His eldest son Christopher “Little Chris” Clarkston graduated from Verb in 2016.

Clarkston was honored for his commitment during a ceremony between the junior varsity and varsity basketball home games on Wednesday, January 16.  A notable number of alumni were on hand to congratulate Clarkston.  He was also feted at a faculty/staff gathering on Friday, January 18.

“I’m proud of him,” said Cuellar.  Verbum Dei is proud of Clarkston’s service and members of the community hope and pray he finds great success and happiness in his future endeavors.

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Movie Night set for the Eagles’ Nest, February 15, 6-10 P.M.

By Brian Hernandez, Staff Writer

Verbum Dei High School’s Associated Student Body is hosting a Movie Night, on February 15, 2019, in the gym, from 6:00 to 10:00 P.M.   Admission for the event is $5, and students and their guests are encouraged to bring blankets and pillows.

ASB is allowing VDHS clubs the opportunity to participate through selling snacks and drinks during the event.

“ASB is going to take care of the admission and the popcorn,” Maribel Andrade, ASB moderator, said.  “We’re just asking that other clubs, if they’re willing, sell other things.”

“This is going to give clubs the opportunity to sell something and make money for whatever it is that they are trying to accomplish, like field trips or food during club meetings,” said Andrade.

“I am going to send out a survey to students regarding the movie that we should show on movie night; one idea was Creed, but we want to be open to more suggestions,” said Andrade.

“I think that it is good that there is an opportunity for other clubs,” said Fr. George Teodoro, SJ, Anime Club moderator.  “I think the movie night will be ultimately good for Anime Club. It’s a lot cheaper than going to AMC theaters, and it’s a way to get students out of the house to do something which isn’t too expensive.”

The gym’s recently installed video projector and state of the art sound system will be utilized for the event.  Provisions for the mounting of a projection screen on the gym’s exterior were made last year for Movie Nights to be scheduled during the warmer weather of fall and spring.

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Verb students to visit Getty Center and LACMA for art field trips

By Randdy De Paz, Staff Writer

Verb students will be taking trips to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, and The Getty Museum, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles.  The first trip is scheduled for Saturday, January 26, 2019, to the Getty Museum. The transportation for this trip will be provided by Verbum Dei vans, and the students will depart from Verbum Dei.

Allison Kennedy, Verbum Dei art teacher, planned the free field trips to art museums.  Kennedy’s art students have priority for the field trip; however, in the event that there is available space, the trip will be open to any student who wishes to attend.

The first trip was initially supposed to be to LACMA, but due to scheduling issues with exhibits, it was delayed to March.  Another trip is scheduled for April, yet that trip is reserved for the senior art class.

“Initially, I wanted to do these field trips because it’s important for students to get the experience of seeing art in the creative environments that they are meant to be seen in,” says Kennedy, Verbum Dei art teacher. “An art gallery provides lighting, as well as descriptions, and just an overall feel of celebration and appreciation of art that is important for everyone to experience.”

“After hearing about these scheduled art trips,” said senior Omar Garcia.  “I feel that it is necessary, in order to understand the true meaning behind real art.”

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Student speakers at Mission Advancement’s “Friendrasing” event inform benefactors in Pacific Palisades, January 25

By George Rosales, Staff Writer

On Friday, January 25, 2019, Mission Advancement will host an evening event at a donor’s home in the Pacific Palisades.  Donors Linda and Jim Scilaggi were kind enough to open up their home and to invite their friends to a “friendrasing” event for Verbum Dei High School.

Dr. Brandi Odom Lucas, Chief Academic Officer, and Fr. Stephen Privett, SJ, our newest president of the Verbum Dei community, are to attend the event, to build relations with the guests, and provide information about Verb’s mission.

“Dr. Odom usually doesn’t go to these events,” Andrade said.  “It will be great to have her there.”

Junior Deonte Harrison and senior Christian Aguilar will speak to the attendees of their experience at Verbum Dei.  They will introduce the school and its mission from their perspectives.

“When Mrs. Andrade told me about the event,” said Aguilar.  “I was eager to go – knowing that this is a great opportunity for Verbum Dei.”

At Verbum Dei High School, the students and faculty appreciate the generous donations of benefactors. The Mission Advancement team, consisting of Paul Hosch, Vice President of Advancement, Stephanie Andrade, Mission Advancement Associate, and Mission Advancement Assistants Michelle Cordova and Annie Levine, promote VDHS and provide benefactors myriad programs to financially support the school’s mission.

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“The Verb Way” and “The strongest shall survive” – mantras play role in athletic and academic motivation and excellence

By Khalid Nelms, Staff Writer

At Verbum Dei, many of the sports teams have their own mini-traditions and sayings that get passed from upperclassmen to the next class of talented and promising athletes. Some of these traditions have been at the Verb for a long time, and even recently there are notable additions.

In particular, the baseball team, since returning as a sport last year, has revived the mantra: “The strongest shall survive.” This mantra has been with Verb athletics for a long time, in fact, since the mid-1960s – only a few years away from the year of Verbum Dei High School’s inception. Two more sports that have had mantras  – different from baseball – are football and basketball, who share the saying: “The Verb Way.”  This saying has been commonly used to motivate and to inspire athletes in both sports, who understand it to mean the maintenance of a balance of excellence in academics and athletics.

“What I like about is that it describes us as a school, we are normally short on players and usually when we play it’s about survival,” said Junior Jayden Brownlee, who has played football for the last two years at Verb.  “For example in football, we lost people, and we had injuries.”  This reality has had athletes “playing both sides of the ball” rather than specializing on offense or defense, which makes Verb football all the more physically demanding.

This particular mantra has a significant impact, even beyond athletics.  It is used more commonly by seniors; nonetheless, it is promising that juniors have taken notice, or at least one of their best students.

“I feel proud when I say it knowing that me and my teammates are in this fight for survival together,” said Brownlee.  “We need to have each other’s back and look out for one another.”

Such mantras carry meaning and have become a legendary piece of the Verb’s puzzle. Certainly these mantras, that are commonly used to motivate students, are doing so.

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Boating at the Verb? Water woes when rain wets the southland

By Hector Arrieta, Editor in Chief

Row, Row, Row Your Boat Gently Down the Square …

The month of January in the Los Angeles metropolitan area typically features rain…and lots of it. On a very rainy day, the streets can flood and cause additional traffic congestion. In the past, Verbum Dei High School has also fallen victim to the rain. Verbum Dei’s Senior Square has flooded, rendering the square unusable.

“Yeah, I remember that time last year when the Senior Square looked like a swamp,” said senior Anthony Valentin. “There was so much water that it was even coming out of the square onto the corridors.”

However, steps have been taken to prevent the flooding as much as possible.

“Some of my guys are out there to dig out the grass that grows over the irrigation pipes, that keeps it from draining properly,” said Jeff Bonino-Britsch, Vice President of Operations.

However, in the case of the flooding of Senior Square, those “guys” must work under pressure to unclog the drainage system in the square.

“The thing is, the school pays me to work wherever there is an issue,” said long-time custodian Manuel Sanchez. “If something like the Senior Square were to flood because of a clogged drain, then I work there. But I feel good working wherever there is an issue to keep everything working.”

Aside from managing and preventing the occasional flooding of Senior Square, Bonino-Britsch is also in charge of other waterworks within the campus. On multiple occasions, the pipes under the campus have burst, causing noticeable leaks. These leaks become apparent when the water breaks through the concrete slabs and results in a geyser. One area most subject to this danger are the pipes near the blue arches and lunch tables on campus. While the pipes have burst below on many occasions, Verbum Dei has promptly repaired the pipes.

“Sometimes we have a big shock to the system,” said Bonino-Britsch. “When that pipe bursts multiple times, I had to throw away the pipe. The pipe houses such high pressured water, and when it hits a ninety-degree angle that water has to go somewhere, and it doesn’t always like to go left or right, it just goes straight, so it pounds on that joint.”

While the waterworks of Verbum Dei have presented themselves as an issue, Verbum Dei has other pressing issues.

“We have so many other things: the gym floor needs to be resurfaced, the roofing projects, the safety stuff,” said Bonino-Britsch. “We’ve been looking into putting up gates across in front of the campus, separating us from the parking lot.  Water, obviously, presents itself as an immediate need when it leaks.”

Nonetheless, the next time it rains, and the Senior Square begins to overflow with water, students might use the opportunity to test out their new canoes.

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Varsity soccer victorious over Cantwell 5-0 in league opener

By Nathaniel Zelada, Photo Editor

Verbum Dei varsity soccer played its league opener against Cantwell Wednesday, January 16, at Verbum Dei High School. It saw our own Eagles take down Cantwell in a 5-0 win.

In a long awaited game, the Verb squad made sure to not let the first opportunity go to waste. As the Eagles took the field, seniors Ricardo Guevara and Rafael Villalobos served as co-captains of the varsity team for the last time in a season opener.

“Although, it’s my last first-season game, and I am genuinely devastated and very excited at the same time. It’s my last year of high school soccer, and I’m planning to ball out,” said  Villalobos.

The other senior players on the team made sure to get off on the right foot. The game started off quick with Verb scoring minutes into the game.

“Scoring the first goal of the 2018-2019 soccer season was a pleasure as it was the first goal for Verb this season and my first league goal,”  said senior defender Anthony Valentin. “It was also a pleasure as it was the first step in us taking the league title this season.”

At halftime, Verb enjoyed a 3-0 lead over Cantwell. By this time the Cantwell players and coaches lacked positive morale, looked defeated, and seemed completely out the match. On the other side of the field, Verb’s entire team was ecstatic and seemed ready to keep going.

The second half featured a similar performance with Verb dominating Cantwell and scoring two more goals against Cantwell. We will see what this season has in store for the team and their hopes in making the playoffs once again.

“It was the first game of the season, and I was very excited to be back and support the team again,” said Theology teacher and spectator Karen Luna.  “It was a pleasure to watch.”

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