“Advice to My High School Self” fosters curiosity and laughs

By Tamajai Dampeer, Staff Writer

On October 7, 2019, members of Verbum Dei High School’s senior class surrounded a bulletin board on the wall of the MPR hallway before entering the vast room to await their departures to work. All who surrounded this wall were either laughing in extreme amusement or quietly re-evaluating themselves and reconciling their long-term high school goals. Others, who would otherwise fight against this mighty current, stopped even for a second to capture quick glance at the bulletin board that was the source of much commotion: a wall featuring the heading “Advice to my High School Self,” filled with quotes accompanied by throwback pictures of staff and faculty.

“Oh man, I thought to myself, ‘I sure do hope that [Cristina] Cuellar stops them from taking pictures,” said Shannon Slade, college counselor, jokingly after being asked about his initial thoughts on being featured on the wall. “[As previously mentioned in a past story] sometimes you have to embarrass yourself to gain familiarity and respect with high school students. After the bulletin board was revealed, students that I don’t usually interact with on a daily basis approached me about my picture. It made it easier to start a conversation with them about something as sensitive as college.”

Many, if not the majority, of the students who encountered the wall saw it as a way to decompress with laughter and get an easy crack on one of their favorite teachers.

“I’m fine with it, as long as my young handsome face doesn’t end up in one of you guys’ social media accounts,” said Slade.

“It’s a small world,” said Brandi Odom Lucas, Chief Academic Officer, “and an even smaller school.” Verbum Dei is the home to 312 students with a student to teacher ratio of 12 to 1; meaning that a faculty or staff member has a very large chance of their information being accessed by a curious mind within the school.

“You guys are going to find [old pictures and information] any way, all you have to do is spell the name right,” said Odom.  “The internet has made it so that at the click of a button you can access a person’s entire life.”

Odom wanted to emphasize that the aim of the wall was not to make it easier for students to access and possibly exploit these pictures, but it was to convey advice to students who may feel at times that the teaching staff is “out to get them.”

Due to the strict grading system and intense curriculum, students may often resort to blaming a teacher’s personal preference for their poor grades rather than their subpar effort. Although this may be the case in certain situations, it is seldom the reality at Verbum Dei.

“We were high school students too, and we made the same exact mistakes some of you have and will,” said Odom.  “Some of those names on the wall have literally been in the same classrooms you go to everyday when they came to Verb.”

When asked if she thought posting rather sensitive photos for young and mischievous high school students to see would backfire, Odom quipped, “I know my boys, but I also know where their freshman year school ID pictures are.”

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