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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