Archdiocesan Service Awards

March 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

More than six weeks into the renovation, the library is still closed. However, life at Cathedral goes on.

On Tuesday, March 20, a select group of seniors from fifty different Catholic high schools across the archdiocese assembled at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. They were being recognized for their volunteer service to their local parish church or school community. At the Archdiocesan Christian Service Award Mass held in their honor, each of these students received a medallion from Archbishop Gomez as an acknowledgment of their dedication.

Because of our large enrollment, Cathedral is able to select two students to receive this award. This year Principal Br. John Montgomery, in consultation with Lasallian Youth moderator Br. Chris Patiño and Campus Minister Sanford Jones, chose seniors Alejandro Toruno and Christian Chavez.

Christian Chavez

Like many other Phantoms, Christian Chavez takes the bus to school every morning. However, he rides about an hour and a half each way, boarding at 6:10 a.m. in Venice and arriving at CHS about 7:30. As a sign of the intensity of his commitment, that’s pretty convincing. And his service to St. Mark’s, his local church, is equally impressive.

Since his junior year he has served as leader for both introductory and advanced confirmation groups. As Youth Representative to his church’s Pastoral Council, Christian has worked on several service projects. He has organized, packaged and distributed food for St. Mark’s “Loaves and Fishes” food drive for the needy, and he sold tickets for their local Oktoberfest fundraiser, with the money going to help finance church programs.

But he has not ignored his school community. For the past two years he has participated as a peer minister at the freshman and sophomore retreats. And he has spent more than a few lunch periods making sandwiches with Lasallian Youth. As a junior, he spent his Thanksgiving holiday with Br. Chris and other Lasallian Youth on a service trip to Arizona for El Otro Lado [see Purple Letter of November 29, 2010].

Plans for college are still in flux. He applied to ten colleges and is still waiting for word from Loyola-Marymount, Seattle Pacific, and Azusa Pacific universities. He has already been accepted by the others, including St. Mary’s College of Moraga; Cal State campuses at Northridge, Los Angeles, and San Francisco; Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, and the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Asked which institution he plans to attend, Christian is “still torn.” Cost is a major issue he says, because “my mom can’t help.” He is grateful to Br. Chris who “helped me get a $20,000 scholarship to the University of Arizona [Br. Chris’s alma mater].” That may sound like a lot, but it amounts to $5,000 a year, and the annual cost is $40,000. Similarly, St. Mary’s offered him a Lasallian Service Award of $11,000, “but that school costs $50,000.” Not one to give up, Christian says he may go to Cal State for a few years and then transfer. He hopes to major in electrical engineering and work with computers.

Senior Alejandro Toruno has been active in Lasallian Youth projects since his sophomore year, when he tutored children once a week at Sacred Heart and St. Alphonsius elementary schools, distributed weekly meals at the Union Rescue Mission, and worked in the soup kitchen at the Midnight Mission. He continued his service at the Midnight Mission once a week during his junior and senior years and moved his weekly tutoring sessions to Dolores Mission.

Alejandro Toruno

As part of the Lasallian Leadership Team, Alejandro has traveled widely in his search for ways to ease the pain of the world. As a sophomore he participated in the service learning project El Otro Lado over semester break [see Purple Letter of February 10, 2010]. Then over Easter break he went to New York City for the Convocation on the Rights of the Child [see Purple Letter of May 10, 2010]. And he was one of eighteen youth who flew to Madrid last summer for World Youth Day [see Purple Letters of October 10, 2010, February 14, 2011, and October 3, 2011]. He also works closely with Campus Minister Sanford Jones to plan prayer services and Masses.

He has also found time to work stage crew for last fall’s play, Holes, and to be active in the Spanish Honor Society.

Asked about his future, Alejandro admits that he “loves the Lasallian mission.” He will attend La Salle University in Philadelphia on a Lasallian Community Service Scholarship. There he plans to major in history and education, because, he says, “The classroom is the ultimate service to young people.” He is guided by his senior quote from former President Ronald Reagan: “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.”

“If I can motivate others to service,” he explains, “I’ll do even more.”

Congratulations and thanks to Christian and Alejandro for their years of service and for receiving this year’s Archdiocesan Christian Service Award.

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A Week in Review and Coming Attractions

March 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

Last Tuesday’s even-bloc classes were modified so Dean of Studies Sulema Modesto and the academic counselors (Mr. Godoy, Mr. Lowdermilk, and Mr. Ryan) could explain to grade-level assemblies of freshmen, sophomores, and juniors how they will be registering for their fall classes. Each student had a copy of his transcript, which contained not only his coursework and grades through the first semester of this academic year, but also his contact information as contained in the school’s database. The Dean asked that each student verify the contact information and report to the Registrar, Mrs. Solis, if any of it needs to be updated.

Registration takes place in the computer lab this week (March 5 – 9) and will be entirely online, a new application of the technology everyone has been learning. Freshmen will register during their Spanish classes; sophomores during their English classes; and juniors during their U.S. History classes. Ms. Modesto also pointed out that registration will not include Honors or AP courses; placement tests for these classes will be administered through the departments after registration, and the final decision will be made by the Dean of Studies.

Students already enrolled in the second semester of an Honors or AP course will take the placement test for the next level in their current Honors or AP classes. Continued enrollment, however, is not guaranteed. Placement tests are scheduled for AFTER registration. Students who would like to enroll in an Honors or AP course in the fall but are not currently enrolled at that level should contact their teacher to discuss their readiness for an advanced class. Pre-requisites in addition to appropriate score on the placement test include a grade of “A” or “B” in the fall semester and the teacher’s recommendation. Individual departments may have additional requirements.

Last Friday 71 juniors returned from their overnight retreat to St. Mary’s Seminary in Santa Barbara. Guiding them in their reflections and spiritual development were Campus Minister Sanford Jones, Junior Class Moderator Jamie Murphy, Counselors Terry Catlin and Brady Lowdermilk, andStudent Life Moderators Br. Chris Patiño and Ryan Resurreccion. Friday was also Physics Day, and teachers Mike Trafecanty and Abel Gutierrez took their physics classes on the annual field trip to study the principles behind the rides at Knott’s Berry Farm.

Those of you who did not make it to at least one performance of Fiddler on the Roof [see February 19, 2012] have missed an event that will be recalled with pride for many years. This reporter saw the show twice (in order to see both Tevyes and both Perchiks) and came away more impressed each time. The lead performers were exciting, moving, and professional, but so were all the members of the ensemble. Each one was always “in the moment” ready with the appropriate response.  And there is more. The swirling backdrop, reminiscent of a work by Van Gogh, was painted by Cathedral alumnus Ixmal Rodriguez (Class of 2008). The sets, designed by architect Richard Olander, were constructed under the able direction of Walter Durham by the invaluable yet usually anonymous stage crew made up of seniors Michael Candaza, Luis Salcedo, & Cade Maldonado; juniors Christopher Lopez, Xavier Muñoz, & Christopher (or is it Cristian?) Rubalcaba; and alumni volunteers David Chavez (’09), Anthony Perez (’10), and Aaron Celaya & Christopher Garay (both ’11). How many high schools do you know that command such loyalty and service especially after graduation?

The sets fit together on stage like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, and they are moved seamlessly into place under the supervision of their crew chief, senior Adolfo Monroy. And it’s not just the buildings. In “Tevye’s Dream,” members of the aforementioned stage crew provide mobility for the ghost of Fruma-Sarah (Rebecca McDonald) as she enters to terrorize and threaten Tevye (seniors Eric Babb and Julio Ortiz, double-cast) and his wife Golde (Yvette Santos, a junior at Visual And Performing Arts High School). That took a lot of practice, as Rebecca notes in the program.

As if two weekends of sold-out performances of Cathedral’s smash hit production of Fiddler were not enough, the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival arrives on tour Tuesday, March 6, for its annual presentation. Last year it was The Tempest [see February 28, 2011]; this year it is Macbeth. Teachers throughout the English department are using journal assignments and discussion to prepare their classes to consider the way Shakespeare addresses such universal themes as ambition, power, success and the supernatural in this tragedy.

The odd-bloc schedule will be modified in that Period 1 will be only 25 minutes, and Period 3 will be extra long (8:45 – 11:20) to allow for two performances. Freshmen and sophomores will see the play first, followed by 75 minutes of instruction. Juniors and seniors will have instruction first, followed by the play. Everyone has a 25-minute break at approximately 11:20. Period 5 and Period 7 will each be 60 minutes, and lunch will also be only 25 minutes. Dismissal will be at the usual time.

Unfortunately, teachers in the Science and Math Departments will miss Macbeth because they will be at a STEM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Math) Conference. Next week four teachers will be attending the two-day CUE (Computer Using Educators) Conference in Palm Springs, and the following Friday (the pupil-free day after the Walkathon) each department will visit a different Catholic high school in the Los Angeles area to observe teachers in their own discipline. Their observations will be included in the WASC/WCEA document being prepared for the spring of 2013. Professional development never ceases at Cathedral.

Walkathon Kickoff

February 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

All Performances Sold Out

Labor continues on the library, and workers appear to be installing the air conditioning required to keep the computers happy. Meanwhile, as the 11-member construction crew (including four alumni volunteers) put the finishing touches on the set, and the cast of 39 prepared for opening night, and the six-man tech crew coordinated lights, sound, props and sets for what became a sold-out, two-weekend run for Fiddler on the Roof, Cathedral’s Director of Development, Oscar Leong, addressed the student body at a special assembly last Friday morning, February 17.

Instead of Homeroom, students filled the gymnasium at 8:00 a.m. for the annual Walkathon Kickoff. Marketed as a way to care for their brothers, those boys who will enroll at Cathedral in the future, the Walkathon is the major means by which students raise the funds used the financial aid. It is a way of giving back – and paying forward – so future Phantoms and their families can afford to come here. The premise is simple: each student is asked to find as many sponsors (parents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, etc.) who will contribute to the Scholarship Drive. A total of $100 per student is the goal, so the more sponsors a boy has, the less each sponsor has to contribute.

This year, Mr. Leong issued a special challenge to the senior class, already enjoying the reputation for being the first senior class to have 77 of its members  on the “A” Honor Roll. “I challenge you,” said Mr. Leong, “to be the first senior class with 100% participation in the Walkathon!”

Mr. Leong also provided some incentives for those who take part in the Walkathon, which will be Thursday, March 22 (not Friday, March 16, as listed in the calendar).

First, students who participate have only a half-day of school; they can go home after they return from the Walkathon. Non-participants have a full day of school.

Second, because the next day, Friday, is a pupil-free day (Teachers are preparing for WASC), Walkathon participants get a head start on a three-day weekend.

Third, because the Walkathon will be on Thursday, the free lunch provided to participants will be In-N-Out burgers rather than the usual Lenten burritos offered on Fridays past.

But wait! There’s more! As an incentive to early participation, Mr. Leong announced a weekly raffle for those who turn in their envelopes sooner. Gift cards will be awarded to two lucky winners each week for the month preceding the Walkathon.

Cathedral President Martin Farfan concluded the assembly by noting that of the 730 students enrolled at the school, 560 (fully 76%) receive some part of the $2.2 million Cathedral gives out in the form of scholarships or financial aid to help cover tuition. He urged students to “take responsibility to help us out.”

Finally, both Mr. Farfan and Mr. Leong urged students whose financial situations are precarious to speak personally with either of these men during the month-long campaign. “Don’t wait until the day of the Walkathon to ask Mom for $100,” they warned. “She won’t have it. And don’t wait until the last minute to tell me you can’t get the money. If you think getting enough sponsors will be too difficult, talk to me ahead of time, and I might be able to help.”

Mr. Leong  also pointed out that major donors are impressed when they learn that the students themselves raise money for scholarships. “This tells them that you students appreciate the education that Cathedral provides,” he explained, “and you want others to have this opportunity as well.”

Fiddler on the Roof

February 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

Marc Chagall's "Green Violinist"

“Without our traditions, our lives would be a shaky as a fiddler on the roof!” Indeed, tradition is the watchword of Tevye the Dairyman, whose faith is tested by a changing world in the musical, Fiddler on the Roof, coming this weekend to the Phantom Theater.

The show plays two weekends, opening Thursday, February 23, playing Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday afternoon at 2:00. VIP tickets are available for Saturday, Feb. 24, for $25. The second weekend opens Thursday, March 1, and plays Friday and Saturday evening, closing with Sunday’s 2:00 matinee. Regular tickets for adults at $16; students are $10.

The problems of Jews in turn-of-the-century Russia may seem an unlikely topic for a Catholic boys’ school to address effectively, but this year’s Core Principle, Signum Fidei, manifested itself in several ways. The first time was last December when Cathedral’s director extraordinaire, Joseph Walsh, found himself in conversation with two Jewish women hoping for cancellation tickets to a Broadway show. He mentioned that he was planning to do Fiddler on the Roof in the spring, and as they discussed the show, he remarked that he had heard of a documentary, Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness, by Joseph Dorman, about the author of the Yiddish stories on which Fiddler is based. “Unfortunately,” he concluded, “the film is not yet available for sale or rent, so I won’t be able to use it.”

“Joseph Dorman is a friend of mine,” replied one of the women. “Would you like a copy?” she asked. “Let me make a phone call.”

So it was that Mr. Walsh received from Mr. Dorman’s own hand a copy of his documentary before it was released to the general public. He showed it to the cast and crew to introduce them to what New York Times reviewer Stephen Holden called “the history and dissolution of Eastern European Jewish culture” so they could understand the characters. The film also describes “the conflicting desires of later generations to remember and to forget,” a conflict that is universal across generations and cultures. Like many minorities, Jews were frequent targets of violence and destruction when social or political issues arose, but unlike immigrants to America, who usually start assimilating by the second generation, regular pogroms crushed any attempt to disappear into Russian society.

From the documentary, cast and crew learned about “the tug of war between nostalgia for the past and the impulse to leave it behind,” and they began to appreciate and understand “generational conflict … from the parents’ point of view.” Fortunately, part of Sholem Aleichem’s genius turns “difficult situations into high comedy and farce,” and this is what makes Fiddler so enduring.

Another Sign of Faith appeared in the person of Mr. Gerardo Gancz, Spanish teacher, athletic coach, and now, consultant on all things Jewish for the production. Mr. Walsh explained, “He came in when we first started and spent a couple of hours answering all of our questions as well as sharing a wonderful sense of pride for his Jewish heritage and family history. He has come back several times to teach some Hebrew prayers, talk about the Sabbath prayer, the traditions at Jewish weddings and give advice on all matters large and small that might help us share the story with more authenticity. He really has been very helpful and generous with his time.”

With a cast of 39, the largest cast ever in the Phantom Theater, and the shortest rehearsal process of any show, Fiddler presented numerous challenges. However, both cast and crew, inspired by the documentary film and “impressed by the story,” as Mr. Walsh noted, “understand the gift to bring to life” not only “the characters so beautifully created” but also the world they lived in, “a world from another time.”

All Performances Sold Out

Tevye’s world, the little village of Anatevka, was designed by architect Richard Olander and constructed by the stage crew under the watchful eye of the formidable Walter Durham. Lighting designer Carol Doehring adds her talents for the tenth time to a Cathedral production. Mr. Walsh also commended Sony Studios, source of props and costumes. “We are fortunate for the generous deals we get from Sony,” he explained. “Not all schools get them.” Cathedral benefits from its reputation for returning everything in good shape and on time by being able to rent at a very affordable rate.

Broadway director and choreographer Jerome Robbins, whose original production in 1964 earned several Tony awards, once commented that, when the show was first getting started, it was difficult to find a focus for the stories. After the song “Tradition” was written, he realized “that was what the play was about.”

“Good people,” remarked Mr. Walsh, “know how to tell a story.” He described the hours professional choreographer Tracy Powell (Urinetown, the Wiz, and Bat Boy) and UCLA Professor of Musical Theater Dan Belzer (in his thirteenth Cathedral production!) spent breaking down the wedding scene for the cast, coordinating the dance steps, the lifting, and the patterns. Remember this when you watch the boys, many of them non-dancers before this production, perform the Russian dance, the toast “To Life,” and the wedding scenes, especially the bottle dance.  It all looks easy, natural, and joyful, just before reality, in the form of the local constable, intrudes.

Tevye (Eric Babb & Julio Ortiz, double-cast), faced with arranging a marriage for each of his five (!) daughters, does the best he can. First, he recognizes his eldest daughter’s preference for a young tailor rather than her father’s choice, the much older butcher. However, as love develops, the world expands and brings complex new challenges. The second daughter falls for a Jewish revolutionary, Perchik (Kyler Giles & Daniel Flores, also double-cast), and the third has met a Russian….

Schoolwide Writing Project

February 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

Once upon a time, Cathedral seniors graduated and went off to college. However, when they took the writing placement test (all colleges and universities have their students take such a test so they can be sure they have the writing skills necessary to succeed at their institution), they could not pass. Instead of enrolling in the usual freshman courses, these students found themselves in a remedial course that (1) cost money and (2) did not count for graduation. Even worse, a few weeks into the course (when it is too late to drop), instructors discovered that our students already had the ability to write at the college level! What they lacked was the ability to write in a timed environment, such as for a test or an in-class assignment. But that was then.

Given California’s current financial crisis, Cal State and UC campuses are likely to reduce or eliminate remedial writing courses, and unprepared students will find themselves out in the cold. Thus, the ability to develop appropriate writing skills in high school is more important than ever.

As explained in earlier articles [see March 22, 2010 and February 2, 2008], Cathedral is unique in administering this annual schoolwide, cross-curricular writing project. By participating in the Writing Project every year, students get the practice they need, and by early May, when seniors sit for the Writing Placement exam for UC, Cal State, or any other four-year institution, they will show that they are ready for college-level instruction in writing.

The Project begins on Monday, February 13, when freshmen read an article with their Spanish teachers, and sophomores go over a different article with their biology teachers. Then, on Tuesday and Wednesday during their bloc classes, freshmen and sophomores will discuss with their English teachers how to respond to the prompt, and they will make an outline of the points they intend to address. On Thursday there is a special schedule, and the entire student body participates in the “Schoolwide Writing Project.” In their homerooms, freshmen and sophomores will use their outlines to guide their responses. Juniors and seniors will see an article for the first time and have to organize and write their responses in the 80-minute period.

Freshmen and sophomores are entitled to more help, of course, than their upper division brothers, but it is essential that they be present at school every day so they can get the most benefit from this assistance. Another way that Cathedral emphasizes the importance of participating in this Project is that every student gets two grades for his writing: one from his English teacher and one from his subject-area teacher. Besides freshman Spanish and sophomore biology, junior religion and senior government teachers evaluate the students’ ability to understand and support their opinions in response to the article.

Using a six-point scoring guide, the subject-area teachers evaluate the compositions; then the English teachers do the same. The scores are kept confidential until both groups are finished. Then the two grades are recorded by the English Department on a cover sheet that also contains the scoring guide. The papers are distributed and the scores discussed in the English classes, and then everything is filed in the students’ English folders.

A few years ago, after the yearbook class had met its final deadline, it embarked upon a statistics project. Under the direction of their moderator, Dean of Services John Ferrante, they collated two years’ worth of scores by grade level, student number, English teacher, and subject area teacher. If they are able to continue collecting the data this year, we should have a linear record of each student’s progress from freshman through senior year. With the WASC/WCEA accreditation process getting underway again, Cathedral’s administration wants to be able to document an improvement in student writing over the years.

If students and teachers agreed to participate in a survey about the Writing Project experience, these results might also be compiled and studied in order to refine the Project and make it more effective. The best indication of success , of course, is that more seniors who are accepted to four-year institutions are passing the writing placement tests and enrolling in the freshman writing course required of all college students. This is now. And the Schoolwide Writing Project is why.

Teen Integrity Assembly

February 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

Elev8 Banner

The group is called “Elev8,” and it consists of a half dozen or so performers who testify to the power and importance of making the right choices, right decisions and even, in GPS terms, “recalculating” lives that have gone off track. Their testimonies are powerful because their stories are contemporary and resonate with today’s young people and their experiences.

The team includes the director, Anthony Preston (Days of our Lives); vocalist Alice Issac of Don’t Forget the Lyrics, Bridgett Bassa (Patient Zero), Tre Moye (Jumpits), Ironman triathlete Jon Hippensteel, motivational speaker Kevin Martin, vocalist Queen Kelli, and actor Cress Williams (Prison Break, Friday Night Lights, Hart of Dixie).

The assembly began with Alice (first names only, please) asking a couple of Phantoms what they wanted for their legacy. After such responses as “great basketball player,” and “sexy young brutha” came the more thoughtful “good father” and “family-oriented.” Indeed, commented Alice, legacy is not only “what you leave behind,” it depends on “how we treat ourselves and one another.” She mentioned several famous names – Chris Farley, Elvis, Jimi Hendrix, Len Bias – whose legacies in show business, music and sports were tarnished, overshadowed or even destroyed because of their early deaths from alcohol and drug abuse. She asked, “Is addiction a good legacy for your wife? For your children?”

Then the program moved on to a skit about Prom. Anthony played a high school senior, absorbed in a video game even as he lied to his offstage mom about the neatness of his room and the amount of homework he had finished. Interrupted by a call from a male friend, he discusses upcoming plans for Prom weekend. Meanwhile, his date (Bridgett) is on the phone with her girlfriend discussing the very same topic. He’s making plans for the expected sexual conquest because, after all, he “hasn’t used the ‘L’ word yet,” and she’s trying to figure out how to tell him she wants to wait until they are married. It was amusing to watch them say the same words even as the audience knew their expectations were radically different: “Of course, s/he knows how I feel, and s/he’s totally on board with the plan….” The skit ended with Anthony looking forward to “lots of cold showers and push-ups,” but he admits to his friend, “I think I’m in love….” And Alice sang a few bars of the Brooke Fraser song: “Love is waiting til we’re ready, til it’s right. Love is waiting.”

Testimony by Tre Moye began with the statement, “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” Attributed to Hitler, the technique poisoned the minds of his country’s citizens against Jews, Communists, Social Democrats, and others. For Tre, the lie was “You’re not a real man until you have sex.” He said, “The jails are full of boys who had sex but never raised a child, and most of them never knew their father. Not one made it out here because they got a girl pregnant. It stops your dreams,” he insisted. “How many of you,” he asked, “are ready to get married right now? Ready to be a father? To be divorced? To pay child support?” The last few questions sobered the crowd. He concluded his testimony by insisting, “I will not jeopardize HER future for my instant gratification.” It’s not easy, he admitted, but he encouraged the audience not to put their pleasure before their legacy.

Bridget played a game with Alice helping. She got the audience to chant the color of each item as Alice held it up: a tissue “White!” an envelope: “White!” a piece of paper: “White!” a folding chair: “White!” Then they went through the routine a second time, but faster, and the boys chanted, “White! White! White! White!” And a third time, with the same response: “White! White! White! White!” And then she asked, “What do cows drink?” and without even pausing, they shouted, “Milk!” And her response was telling. “Actually,” she pointed out, “cows drink water. But if you can make a mistake like that when you’re sober, imagine what mistakes can happen if you aren’t.”

Anthony presented some statistics: 54% of girls are virgins when they graduate high school; 46% of girls are involved in drugs, alcohol, or gangs. Then he added another: “48% of the women in your age group have HPV, the human papilloma virus.” According to the Center for Disease Control, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. “Hurting people, he observed, “hurt other people.” Anthony also said that at age 32, he is “still waiting” for his wife because she will ask, “How many women?” and he wants to give the right answer.

During a sleight-of-hand demonstration with two red tubes and what became a multiplicity of wine bottles, Anthony urged his audience pay attention. “If you don’t pay attention now,” he commented, “later you’ll pay – divorce attorneys, traffic tickets, doctors, and child support.” And where is the attention directed these days? “Ninety percent of colleges,” he declared, “use your Facebook page as part of the application process. What does your Facebook page say about your legacy digitally?

Triathlete Jon Hippensteel described the 146-mile Ironman competition: a 2.4-mile swim followed by a 112-mile bike ride and a 26-mile run. The first half of the race depends on the strength of the body, he said, but the second half, the finish, depends on the mind. For seven months he rose at 4:30 every morning to train for the bicycle and running components. Every evening at 7:30, after finishing his regular job, he swam 40 to 50 laps. He dedicated six, seven, sometimes eight hours a day to his training, but he did it because he knew “the race was long, and I wanted to finish.” He likened it to the Karate Kid, who promised to do what he was told, no matter how mindless or boring it seemed. When he had finished, he had learned the basics of defending against physical attack. “You,” he told the audience, “are getting homework assignments” that may seem mindless or boring, but they are leading to your goal, “college acceptance.”

Queen then warned against the addiction to pornography. “The pornography habit,” she said, “creates an image in your mind that reality can never satisfy, and you don’t get to wish it away; it chases after the next high.”

Kevin related from his own experience the consequences of disobedience. At the age of thirteen, he decided his mother didn’t know anything, and he sneaked out of his house to go to a party. By eighteen he was a dropout and “a full-fledged knucklehead.” After seven felony convictions, all of them violent, he found himself a veteran of every maximum security prison in California. When Governor Pete Wilson signed the three strikes law, Kevin was in Pelican Bay, 28 years old, with nineteen years of prison behind him. He didn’t know how he would stay out of prison when his term was up. Then like the GPS unit that will “recalculate the route” after a wrong turn, he began to study for his GED. He turned his life around and is now an ordained minister, married for six years. “God is good,” he concluded.

The final testimony came from Cress Williams, currently appearing in the CW series Hart of Dixie, and formerly of Prison Break and Friday Night Lights. He warned against marijuana addiction: “Even though people will tell you it’s not addictive, it is.” When he decided to kick the habit, he went through withdrawal. Four years clean, he urged the audience to “re-route” so they can “make God proud.”

Honor Roll Assembly

January 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

No sooner had the new semester begun than students assembled to pay their respects to 202 members of the “A” Honor Roll and 163 members of the “B” Honor Roll. Principal Br. John Montgomery observed that the students on the two Honor Rolls outnumber those in the bleachers (by three) for the first time.

Most exciting was the awarding of the “A” Honor Roll tie to those students who earned a GPA of 3.5 or higher (with no D or F grades) for the first time. For freshmen, it was an acknowledgment of their successful adjustment to the rigors of a college preparatory curriculum. These hardworking freshmen were Emilio Attica, Colin Averill-Murphy, Alejandro Barrios, Fabio Beltran, Marcus Chavez, Orion Ewell, Obed Figueroa, Marc Garcia, Joe Ibarra, Aaron Legaspi, Alexander Lopez, Vicente Miguel Mojares, Michael Nevarez, Alex Panetta, Arthur Ramirez, Ruben Randall, Ethan Rubio, Robert Serrano, and Daniel Vidaurri.

In addition to their ties, the following freshmen also received the Principal’s Award for achieving a GPA of 4.0 or higher: Kendrick Antenor-Cruz, Matthew Aquino, John Benn, Leonardo Berumen, Andre Bodden, Edward De Jesus, Daniel Garcia, Jeffrey Hernandez, Michael Lastra, Daniel Luna, Michael Rodriguez, Joey Sandoval, Kurt Tajaran, Juan Urbano, Diego Vera, Enrique Vera, and Jayson Viado.

In addition to earning a GPA of 4.0 or higher, the following freshmen received Purple Card privileges for being in the top 10% of the students in their class: Alexander Gonzales, Noah Kim, and Jason Pacheco. During the spring semester they get free admission to one dance (except Prom), one free treat and one free lunch per quarter.

Four students tied for the highest GPA in the freshman class, making them eligible for the Excellence Award in addition to all the aforementioned: Julio Gallegos, Justin Jitpatima, Andrew Lucero, and Sebastian Nicol Mirano. 

In the sophomore class, only one student, Paolo Arnel Joaquin, received the Excellence Award. Fourteen other students received Purple Card privileges for being in the top 10% of their class. They were Alberto Colin, Victor-Daniel Cruz, David Delgado, Joseph Tristan Gonzales, Marin Gonzalez, Gerardo Henriquez, Tristan Hom, Emmanuel Licup, Luis Llobrera, Mark Muñoz, Matthew Nuesca, Michael Palos, Earl John Reyes, and Mauricio Romero.

Sophomores who received the Principal’s Award for a 4.0 GPA or better included first-time members Neil Azul and Nicholas Ventigan, as well as Brian Cordova, Marcus Droz, Christopher Gonzalez, Alan Hodge, Joseph Lacson, Bobby Duong Luu, Gustavo Mexicano, Carlos Serna, Rosalio Vidaurri III, and Norman Zelada.

In addition to Franklin Anthony Littaua, who received his Honor Roll tie, twenty-two other sophomores made the “A” Honor Roll: Jonathan Alvarez, Jeremy Calleja, Christopher Conde, Oscar Cottez, Javier Del Real, Joseph Gonzalez, Elio Hernandez, Jonathan Llamas, Chidi Mbata, Silvio Miranda, Andrew Moya, Christopher Murillo, Jonathan Roewin Pagador, Timothy Patag, Alex Perez, José Sanchez, Steven Sosa, Nathaniel Sun, Daniel Talavera, Raul Torres, Alan Trejo, and David Velasquez II.

In the junior class, three students tied for the Excellence Award for the highest GPA in their class: Frank Gutierrez, Steven Hernandez, and Ryan Jay Sagucio. Three others received ties for making the “A” Honor Roll for the first time: Manuel Enriquez, Diego Gutierrez, and Kevin Morgan.

Four juniors in the top 10% of their class received Purple Card privileges: Armando Freire, Ian Gomez, Christopher Muñoz, and Yohanes Shimelis.

The Principal’s Award for having a GPA over 4.0 went to eleven juniors: Chris Argueta, Andrew Baxter, Steven Carino, Adrian Castillo, Oscar Cruz, Juan F. Hernandez, Adrian Jimenez, Francisco Lopez, Johnathan Luc, James Rodarte, and Patrick Vong.

Other juniors who qualified for the “A” Honor Roll were Giovanni Alvarado, Anthony Cardinal, Christian Gonzalez, Ernesto Morales III, Thomas Muñoz, Andres Ocon, Ricardo Olivares, Cristian Ramirez, Victor Randall, Cristian Rubalcaba, Xavier Smith, Ian Carmichael Tadeo, and Andrew Villalobos.

Two seniors, Matias Farfan and Mynor Franco, had the highest GPA at their grade level. Rounding out the top 10% of the senior class (with Purple Card privileges) were Justin Dominguez, Jesse Flores, Luis Garcia, Juan S. Hernandez, Steve Lee, Oscar Leong, and Daniel Salas.

Nine veteran “A” Honor Roll seniors also received the Principal’s Award for a GPA of 4.0 or higher: Christopher Hooks, Brian Jitpatima, Dong Hyoung Kim, Julio Ortiz, James Pineda, Geoffrey Tello, Julian Tolosa, Roberto Torres, and Sergio Torres.

In addition, four seniors reached “A” Honor Roll status for the first time in their high school careers and simultaneously achieved a GPA of 4.0 or higher: Seth Averill-Murphy, Jonathan Ortiz, Jafet Poot, and Alejandro Toruno.

More than thirty other seniors also earned a GPA of between 3.5 and 3.9 for at least the second time in their high school careers: Jaime Adame, Cristian Alegria, Carlos Aparicio, Aaron Bautista, Jonathan Calleja, Michael Candaza, Antonio Chavez, Christian Chavez, Kyle Edwards, Christopher Escobedo, Andrew Flores, Adrian Garcia, Kyler Giles, Mario Gonzalez, David Guerra, Ernest Gurule, Vincent Hemsley, Gerard Lin, Cade Maldonado, Edgar Maldonado, Matthew Malinoski, Edgar Medina, Justin Mercado, Isaac Montenegro, Ivan Palomera, Francisco Plancarte, Walter Ramirez, Elmer Renderos, John Reyes, Anthony Salvatierra, and Luis Saucedo.

And to finish the list, a surprising 25 seniors made the “A” Honor Roll for the very first time: Adrian Acosta, James Arce, Herbert Benitez, Ricardo Castellanos, Jorge Chavez, Edwin Corona, Damian Corrales, Joseph Diaz, Adrian Leal, Romario Leyva, Elliot Maldonado, David Margarito, Fabian Montoya, Michael Mora, Michael Morales, David Nuño, Nicholas Ochoa, Tyler Pool, Fernando Reyes, Matthew Reyes, Ramon Reyes, Diego Rivera, Oscar Sahagun, and Renzo Terraza.

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