Verb delegation to attend national social justice conference Nov. 16-18 in Washington, D.C.

Press release from the Ignatian Solidarity Network

A delegation of 12 students and three staff from Verbum Dei High School will join nearly 1,000 other attendees at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (IFTJ), a national conference for those passionate about social justice grounded in the Catholic Social Teaching and the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

The 12 students engaged in a competetive selection process that considered their leadership qualities, their passion for social justice, and their willingness to share what they learn from the experience.

The 15th annual Teach-In will take place in Washington, D.C., from November 16-18, 2012.The program is sponsored by the Ignatian Solidarity Network.

The Teach-In is an opportunity for members of the Ignatian family (those connected with Jesuit institutions and the larger church) to come together in the context of social justice to learn, network, reflect, and act for justice. Teach-In attendees represent twenty-eight Jesuit universities, over twenty-five Jesuit high schools, Jesuit parishes, Jesuit volunteer communities, and many other Catholic institutions and organizations.

Started in 1997, in Columbus, Georgia, the IFTJ takes place in mid-November to commemorate the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador.  The six Jesuit priests and two companions were murdered on November 16, 1989, in El Salvador for their work advocating on behalf of the economically poor in that country. The IFTJ moved from Georgia to Washington, DC, in 2010, to respond to the growing interest in integrating educational opportunities and legislative advocacy into the Teach-in experience.

When asked about the Verbum Dei High School delegation’s presence, Christopher Kerr, ISN executive director said, “We are grateful to have the Verbum Dei High School delegation at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice. The annual Teach-In is such a unique place to explore the relationship between faith and social justice while networking with others who share the same passion. We are also hopeful that the issue education and advocacy training the Verbum Dei High School participants receive at the Teach-In will prepare them to be effective advocates during Ignatian Family Advocacy Month in February 2013.” Ignatian Family Advocacy Month (IFAM) is a national effort initiated by ISN to build on the experiences at the Teach-In.

Keynote speakers at the IFTJ include: Rev. Fred Kammer, S.J., director of the Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola University New Orleans; Merlys Mosquera Chamat, regional director of Jesuit Refugee Services-Latin America and Caribbean; Gabriel Bol Deng,founding director of Hope for Ariang, and former Lost Boy of Sudan; Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS,executive director of NETWORK Catholic Social Justice Lobby.

The Teach-In also offers 50+ breakout sessions presented by national and international speakers.

On Saturday evening, attendees will gather at Lower Senate Park (adjacent to Capitol Hill) for a public vigil to call attention to the importance of legislative advocacy in working for social justice.

The Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice is sponsored by the University of San Francisco,  the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkley, America Magazine, the Appalachian Institute at Wheeling Jesuit University, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, and Loyola Press.

The Ignatian Solidarity Network promotes leadership and advocacy among students, alumni, and other emerging leaders from Jesuit schools, parishes, and ministries by educating its members on social justice issues, by mobilizing a national network to address those issues, and by encouraging a life-long commitment to the service of faith and the promotion of justice.

New face Machine Gun Kelly offers more inspiration than fright in his debut “Lace Up”


By Dylan Juarez, Staff Writer, Arts and Entertainment

When someone says the name Machine Gun Kelly, most people will have a confused face and ask, “Who?” Machine Gun Kelly also known as MGK is a Cleveland-bound rapper who signed with Bad Boy Records. The record label possibly sounds familiar because it is the record label that Notorious BIG was signed to and also is a label owned by Sean “P. Diddy” Combs.

Named “Lace Up,” this is MGK’s first studio album. The reason behind the name is the movement that he started. Now, do remember this is his first album. The first song in the album is “End of the Road,” and it is a story that the artist is pulling together of how he was before he came up and how it is different now. “On My Way” is such an inspirational song; it speaks of when MGK was kicked out, but he made the best out of it with his best friend and began to make music. The line that sticks out to me is when MGK says “My team throws up L’s, but now we just winning.”  In the middle of the song, he starts to talk about memories before all of the fame.

Another inspirational song is “Runnin.”  The vocals for the chorus are good and on-key and flow smoothly. “All We Have” features vocals from Anna Yvette. She helps the chorus run very smoothly. MGK speaks of overcoming problems, no matter how hard they are at the given time. “What I Do” blows away the inspirational feel and has a pumped up feeling; it gets a listener to do something. “Lace Up,” the album’s self-titled track, is an average one. It’s not his best, and I feel that the “Lace Up” from his mix tape was more to the meaning. However, the cut does fit with the hard feeling he had. The song, “Save me” is embellished by appearances of the guitarist and vocalist from the Avenged Sevenfold. The song is very inspirational, and Kelly talks about how his EST will still be together no matter what. “Invincible,” the album’s lead single, is so inspirational and just blows me away with the vocals of Ester Dean. “Edge of Darkness,” featuring Tech Nine and Twista, can get some one pumped and is inspirational – both elements that make up the album combined into a song.

“D3mons” is scary and is part of the hardcore rap. It sends me into the uncomfortable place that makes me want to stop the track but not enough to skip it or stop it. DMX is on the track, and it is a great add-on to the whole feel of the song. “See my Tears” is another inspirational song, but it was featured on one of his past mix tapes, which does confuse me a bit. “Stereo,” the final song, features Fitts of the Kickdrums. It is a heart lifter and is a good way to end the album. All around I feel in love with this album. I give it a 9 out of 10. People should listen to this album because it is a big up-lift for Hip-Hop.

LAPD officers teach Brazilian Jui Juitsu at Verb

Verbum Dei students watch a demonstration of a Brazilian Jui Juitsu technique by their instructor.  Photograph by John Stradley, Moderator, The Present Dei

By Bryan Moriera, Staff Writer

“Tap! Tap! Tap!” is a constant sound heard in the MPR after dismissal on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Since September 25, Los Angeles Police Department officer Pete Zarcone and a few of his fellow officers have come to the Verb to teach a class on Brazilian Jui Juitsu, a type of fighting done on the ground. Some of the techniques learned thus far include submissions such as the “Kimura,” “Triangle Choke,” and the “Arm bar” and sweeps and tosses such as the “Sit-up Sweep” and “Hip-Toss.”

In a confrontation, fighting may begin in a standing position; however, it can move to the ground. At one point during the first few classes, Officer Zarcone said that “…people may often panic in a fight if it goes to the ground.” Consequently, Jui Juitsu offers students an effective form of self defense. Officer Zarcone was asked about his hopes and goals in offering Jui Juitsu classes at Verb. “My goal is to get as many students interested and giving them a good and healthy physical activity to which they may grow a passion for as I did when I first started,” he replied after a moment of pondering.

To this point, the classes are still being held weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays. ”Everyone present has shown a good attitude and willingness to learn,” Zarcone said. Twice a week, groups of students on campus show up, are ready to learn new techniques, and are evidence to what Officer Zarcone observed. José Gasca, one of the assistants, commented, “Everyone is doing a good job and show open mindedness at a young age which is a very good thing.”

Students practice wearing gi, martial arts clothing similar to that worn by karate enthusiasts; the clothing is provided and is kept by the students until they stop attending classes. The students and teachers practice barefoot on mats set up in the MPR before practice and put away after the session has ended.

Zarcone plans to offer the classes at Verb ”as long as students are interested.” So as long as any students are interested in learning and make an effort to come out, the classes will continue to be held twice weekly.  Anyone interested is encouraged to come join the free classes.  The officers are encouraged to see students come out and show a willingness to learn.

Verb seniors Jorge Contreras (left) and Raul Erazo (center) practice martial arts techniques following instruction in Brazilian Jui Juitsu.  Photograph by John Stradley, Moderator, The Present Dei.

Present Dei Puzzler stumps all; new challenges

Verbum Dei students and staff were stumped by one of the two questions on last month’s Present Dei Puzzler, so that challenge along with the following two new offerings are available for the current contest.

Question 1:

In the given equation:

a and b represent integers. How many ordered pairs (a, b) satisfy this equation?

Question 2:

Five common five-letter words are hidden in the grid in a continuous closed path that does not cross itself. The five words begin with five consecutive letters of the alphabet. Go from letter to letter horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. What are the five words?

Bonus Carry-Over Question:

Question 2:  Form six 9-letter words by combining two 3-letter blocks below with the endings in the grid.  All blocks will be used.  If one does it correctly, two of the vertical columns will spell a common two-word phrase.

Entries must be submitted in writing to Mr. John Stradley, moderator of The Present Dei, or to Mr. Dan White or to Ms. Sue White, math teachers, by the close of the contest, Wednesday, November 21. Ms. White has assured us that all Verb students, regardless of their level, are prepared to take on this challenge. The first correct answer to each question is worth $2, first correct answer to both questions earns $5. Staff members are encouraged to participate and are eligible for $1 cash prizes.

The first place winner of the previous contest was senior William Cuevas and the runner up was Fr. Michael Mandela, SJ.  The question was: Suppose the positive even numbers are grouped in the following way: {2}, {4,6}, {8,10,12}, {14,16,18,20}, … What is the sum of the numbers in the 15th group?

Correct answer:  3,390