Congratulations & Thank You

I write these comments in the aftermath of the horrible massacre of 9 people of faith participating in a Bible Study in a church in Charleston, South Carolina.  I write also in the light of the encyclical letter, Lberato Si, of Pope Francis warning that we human beings are degrading the planet with pollution and putting future generations at risk. Given the challenges that humanity faces, I look for signs of hope.

One such sign of hope took place at the Cathedral of our Lady of the Angeles in Los Angeles on June 11, when the Senior Class of Verbum Dei High School graduated and stepped into the future. These young men from South Los Angeles have beaten the odds and mastered their fate.  They have proven themselves worthy, and they are now ready for the next step on their life’s path.  They prepared themselves not only academically, but also morally and spiritually.  Besides completing their course work, they recognize injustice in the world and want to take prophetic action to address it.  They have felt the love of God shown to them by their families, classmates and mentors, and they want to share that care for people and creation with the world. These young graduates of Verbum Dei are not our future, they are our present.  The will make a difference by making the world a more just and loving place for all to live.

I want to congratulate our graduates and to thank them for their hard work.  Congratulations also to the dedicated faculty and staff of the Verb and to the families of our graduates.  In addition, on behalf of the graduates, I want to thank the Benefactors and Corporate Sponsors of Verbum Dei High School.  Without you, these young graduates would not be where they are today.  We are all grateful.


Rev. Michael J. Mandala, S. J.


Principal’s Message

I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.-PHILIPPIANS 4:13

What an amazing year! We have grown so much as a community and our focus- to get Verb students in and through college- is stronger now than ever before. Below I’ve included an excerpt from a conversation I had with Nicholas Spates, Valedictorian for the Class of 2015. I am sure you will find his responses demonstrate both maturity and thoughtfulness.  As we move forward, please know Verbum Dei remains committed to ensuring college entrance and graduation for all its students. The faculty and staff recognize we cannot accomplish our goals without your help.  Students, we need your commitment. As Nicholas states in his reflection, you have to “work harder”.  Every year strive to have a BETTER GPA, complete MORE Christian Service hours, and STRENGTHEN your relationship with God.  Parents, we need your support. Students that have supportive parents are more successful. Email us, call us, stop by and visit us. You are important to us and we value our partnership!  Verbum Dei Community, we are unstoppable as long as we work together- Faculty/Staff, students, parents, corporate partners and supporters! Let’s continue to work together to set the world on fire!

In Him,

Dr. Odom Lucas

Senior Spotlight

Student Name: Nicholas Spates

City: Watts, California

Junior High School: The Accelerated School

College Destination: Georgetown University,

Washington, D.C.

How was Verb different than your junior high school?

Verb is far more structured.

What were your keys to success here at Verb?

Organization, teamwork, mentorship, and a flat out dedication to working hard every day until my work ethic became a habit.

How have you benefited from the CWSP program?

The CWSP program gave me insight on how to work in the workplace and gave me a taste of certain careers. I have connections I couldn’t have dreamed of before.

If you had to do your high school career all over again what, if anything, would you do differently?

I would make sure to balance work and play a bit more. At times I wish I could be less serious!

Which was the hardest year of high school? What did you learn from that year?

Sophomore year! I had to learn that it doesn’t matter how tough it gets you have to persevere!

What was your most favorite memory during your time here at Verb?

Playing basketball with my older brother (Verb alum Darrius Spates, c/o 2012)

We have no doubt you and the other members of the Class of 2015 will do amazing things. What message would you like to leave for the underclassmen?

Work harder. It doesn’t matter how hard you are working now, every last one of us can work harder, so do it!

What message would you like to leave for your Verb teachers?

I love you all for giving us your time and expertise because I know it’s not about the money at verb. You guys really love us.

What message would you like to leave for your CWSP supervisors and other supporters of Verbum Dei?

It just isn’t possible without you all. At the end of the day, I can go to school because of you. Thank you!

Finally, what would you like to say to your family who have supported you through your time at Verb?

The foundation is made at home and my foundation A1. I couldn’t be who I am with you all. Thank you!

Why Verb?

I have been a member of the Verbum Dei community for eight years, and in that time, I have come to understand how significant this work is.  Verbum Dei is preparing students to create the best life possible for themselves.  The task is arduous, as it is unreasonable to assume that we can tell our community members what is best for their lives, and they just accept it, as if receiving a holiday present or a phone call from an old friend.  In reality, families desire to understand how we plan to assist students in seeking and pursuing opportunities that will allow them to create a successful future, most specifically college graduation.  After all, there are many educational options, and some are tuition free.   We are asking these families to make financial sacrifices in extremely tight situations.

I would argue that this is the difference at Verbum Dei…

The characteristics of our school are quite unique and the student body is comprised of students with varying levels of skill and ability.  One of the most common threads possessed by our students that most of them come from households that have been economically underserved.  More importantly, however, is the combined desire for intellectual acumen and postsecondary success.  When students become seniors, upon reading their college essays, I have come to understand the struggle that they have had to overcome growing up.  These challenges have given them the type of character that is not often seen in people so young, yet, they do not use their circumstances as a crutch.  In fact, that they often fail to realize that their experiences are extraordinary and they must be reminded of what they have overcome, especially during the college application process.

In my opinion, it is the collection of these varying experiences that has created a sense of community that is not often seen in schools.  As students attending a Jesuit school, the young men embrace social justice principles, while collectively working to become proficient at corporate decorum through the Corporate Work Study Program and academically adept by way of a college preparatory education.

For these reasons, we are the best choice for students from underserved communities seeking an amazing opportunity and a worthy vehicle to carry our students to their future aspirations.