Library Progress Report

April 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

Reference Shelves

Although it still lacks books, the newly refurbished Library Media Center was acknowledged with a reception last Wednesday, April 18, in the Brothers’ back yard, followed by a special naming ceremony outside the library and a brief tour of the interior.

In an interview with KCHS, President Martin Farfan estimated the total cost for the new air conditioning system, computers, bookshelves, tables, chairs, and Smart Board technology at approximately $240,000.  Funding was provided by the Shea Foundation. In January, Mr. Farfan indicated costs of roughly $200,000 for upgrades and another $200,000 for technology. [See Purple Letter of Jan. 16, 2012]

Photo by Abel Gutierrez

The back yard refreshments were tacos made fresh to order, accompanied by frijoles, salsa and assorted beverages. It was an opportunity for trustees, alumni, faculty and students to socialize.

Mr. Leong, Br. Lawrence, Br. John, Br. Chris, Br. James, Br. Paul, Br. LaSalle, Br. De Sales and Br. Roch. (Photo by Abel Gutierrez)

Afterwards, the group moved to the library. But before opening the door, Director of Development Oscar Leong and President Martin Farfan unrolled a blank scroll, and individual Brothers stood behind it, each holding a letter to spell out the identity of the person whose name is attached to the Library Media Center. This activity endorsed what the CHS Alumni Association had done several years earlier, and from the photo you can see that the honoree himself participated in the ceremony.

Br. James and Alumni Association plaque (Photo by Abel Gutierrez)

For those who do not know, James Meegan attended Cathedral as a student, left for college as a graduate, and returned as a lay teacher. A few years later he left again to become a Christian Brother, and returned as Br. James. He spent many years teaching, serving as (English) Department Chair, Principal, and eventually President of the school. Currently he teaches history and, as President Emeritus, is special advisor to President Martin Farfan.

Once inside the library, guests viewed a presentation on the SmartBoard and admired rows of computers, new study tables & hardwood chairs, and inviting upholstered furniture at the entrance. The additional tables and chairs mean students have more space to do their homework. There are also more computers, so once they are up and running, research will be easier. Rumor has it that there will be more online assignments next year, even in English, and that will keep the computers busy, too.

Photo by Abel Gutierrez

Loading all the applications onto the computers will take a while, and printers need to be installed as well. Then all of this has to be connected to the school network for access to the Internet. Moreover, because the books cannot be moved onto the shelves until the contractor finishes his work and signs off on the job, the library will not be open to students for several weeks yet.

Photo by Abel Gutierrez

Although her psychology classes are meeting in the library now, Librarian and Media Specialist Helen Moses indicates that “re-shelving the books will take weeks,” at least in part because she has to map out where the books go. The number of books was reduced by 60% to make room for the new computers and study tables, to the stacks (bookshelves) also have to be reconfigured. For example, fiction will now be up front, near the librarian’s desk, and Mrs. Moses invited “anyone who is reading a fiction book” to sit in the comfy upholstered sofas and chairs in this section.

Photo by Abel Gutierrez


Mock Trial and Academic Decathlon

April 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

We leave for Holy Week and Easter break with the celebratory banquet for Mock Trial and Academic Decathlon participants on Thursday, March 29, 2012.

The Mock Trial Competition is sponsored by the Constitutional Rights Foundation. According to its website <> the program was created “to help students acquire a working knowledge of [the] judicial system, develop analytical abilities and communication skills, and gain an understanding of their obligations and responsibilities as participating members of … society.” Each team receives “summaries of case law, witness statements, [and] official exhibits,” which they present at trial using “simplified rules of evidence.” Middle schools and high schools from 36 California counties compete each year.

Mr. Ryan addresses his audience. Photo by David Guerra

The cases are hypothetical, but based on topics of current interest complicated by Constitutional questions. Robert Ryan [See Purple Letter of March 29, 2010], the teacher-sponsor for Cathedral’s Mock Trial team, explained that “the case is unique to each year, and all schools try the same case.” This year the case was called People v. Buschell. Mr. Ryan  summarized the case: “Ryan Buschell was accused of murdering his friend Becca because she was going to turn him in for plagiarism and ruin his chances at inheriting millions of dollars worth of trust fund.”

The tournament, which took place last November at the Courthouse downtown, requires that each team prepare both prosecution and defense. Like over 8000 students across the state, Cathedral’s Mock Trial team worked with Mr. Ryan as their teacher-sponsor and an attorney-coach from the Los Angeles community to learn how to analyze, prepare, and present their case. They presented the prosecution’s case one week and the defense’s case the other.

The process begins with a pre-trial motion (presented by senior Cristian Alegria) that concerned the Second Amendment and “whether an individual has a Constitutional right to carry a concealed weapon.” Mr. Ryan was pleased to note that “as the prosecution, we won the motion, and the charge was allowed to stand.” However, as the defense, he confessed, “we lost [the motion], with the same result.”

Student attorneys (for both the defense and the prosecution) were Abraham Beltran, Jaycee Barajas, Michael Mora, and Anthony Cardinal, who received Honorable Mention for his work from the sponsor, the Constitutional Rights Foundation.

The witnesses were played by Cameron Payne, Jose Mares-Martinez, Yohanes Shimelis, Richard Kim, Benjamin Lopez, Rosario Leyva, Herbert Benitez, and Ivan Palomera. The court bailiff was played by Julio Priego, and the clerk/timekeeper was Fernando Reyes.

The team “won the verdict in both trials,” observed Mr. Ryan. As prosecutors, they convicted the defendant, and as defenders, they won his acquittal. If you are interested in being part of this challenging activity, see Mr. Ryan.

Mrs. Staveley & the 2012 Academic Decathlon Team. Photo by David Guerra.

Cathedral’s Academic Decathlon team celebrated their worthy accomplishments as well. Like the Mock Trial Competition, these decathletes prepare all year for a two-day competition. Each year the focus is a different historical era, and students undergo rigorous testing on two consecutive Saturdays. The three subjective events – the interview, the speeches (one memorized, one impromptu), and the timed writing (essay) – were tested first, on January 28. On the following Saturday, February 4, students faced a grueling series of Scantron tests in each of seven subject areas: literature & language, music, science, art, mathematics, economics, and social science. Four tests are administered before lunch and three more afterwards, including the written and oral Super Quiz. Each year since 2008 the teams have brought home more medals than the year before. In 2011 [see Purple Letter of February 14, 2011] the total was 34, up from 21 in 2010. With the redoubtable Mrs. Staveley [see Purple Letter of November 17, 2008] as their coach and moderator, two teams again competed in Division 2 and Division 3 at the Regional Private School Decathlon Competition at Bishop Alemany High School in Granada Hills.

Team One, consisting of Tom Bebing, Matias Farfan, David Guerra, Steve Lee, Emmanuel Licup, Edgar Maldonado, Earl John Reyes, Yohanes Shimelis, and Ian Tadeo, received a beautiful plaque for winning Team Gold in their division of the Oral  Super Quiz. Each young man received a gold medal for this accomplishment. In addition, Matias Farfan won a bronze medal in mathematics; David Guerra a bronze in language & literature, and Steve Lee a bronze in music. Edgar Maldonado won a gold medal in the interview, and Yohanes Shimelis took gold in economics. However, junior Ian Tadeo won an astonishing six medals! Besides the team gold for the Super Quiz, Ian also won the following individual medals: gold in art, silver in the Super Quiz, and bronze in science, economics, and decathlon. Counting nine golds for the team Super Quiz, Team One brought home eighteen medals!

Team Two did its part as well; every member of the team brought home at least one individual medal. John Severino took gold in the interview; Armando Freire won silver in science; Johnathan Llamas won bronze in music; Andrew Lucero and Diego Vera both took bronze in science.

With multiple medals, Matthew Nuesca brought home bronze in both music and mathematics, while Jonathan Pagador took bronze in science and gold in both art and economics. Bringing home four medals each were junior George Bebing (silver in science, and bronze in interview, music, and Super Quiz) and senior Anthony Javier (silver in interview, bronze in essay, language & literature, and Super Quiz). Total for Team Two: eighteen medals!

Total medal count for 2012: 36! Cathedral continues its impressive rate of acquisition. The subject of next year’s competition, Russia, was announced at the banquet. An important qualification for Academic Decathlon is grade point average (GPA). Each team of nine must have 3 “A” students, 3 “B” students, and 3 “C” students. If you are interested you can talk to either Mrs. Staveley or a team member. Be sure to stop by the senior building to view the team bulletin board. If you like a challenge, like learning new things, and are not afraid of commitment, consider becoming a member of the Academic Decathlon or the Mock Trial team (or both, like Yohanes Shimelis).

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.

Phantom Family Profile: Joseph Walsh

March 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

Readers of The Purple Letter will agree that since coming here in the fall of 1998, Mr. Walsh has built Cathedral’s reputation for straight plays, comedies and musical productions second to none. Who is the man behind all this success?

Joseph Walsh was born in a small town thirty miles west of Boston. He went to public school because his father died when little Joseph  was in eighth grade, and his mother could not afford to send all six of her children to Catholic school. She waited tables in an Italian restaurant and cleaned houses to support her family. When Joseph was a senior in high school, his mother married again, and together she and his stepfather sent all their children to college.

Like most high school seniors, Mr. Walsh applied to the best colleges and universities for his area of interest. Two of the most prestigious are NYU (New York University) and Emerson College. Even though he was accepted by NYU’s theater department, he confesses, “I did not get into NYU because my SAT math scores were too low.” (A word to the wise…)

At Emerson College in Boston, Mr. Walsh served as class president all four years and graduated with honors. He also participated in about thirty productions and received the Carol Burnett Award, presented to one actor in each graduating class in recognition of his talent and potential. Then it was off to the bright lights of New York City – where, he acknowledged with a laugh, “I discovered I was one of about a million others who also had ‘talent and potential,’ and who could sing and dance better than I.”

“New York forced me to grow up,” he continued. “I was on my own financially, and worked as a waiter before discovering Lambs Theater.” It was at this historic off-Broadway theater that such famous performers as Mark Twain, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Fred Astaire, and Marlon Brando made appearances during their celebrated careers. Mr. Walsh worked as an assistant stage manager, took classes, and auditioned for A Comedy of Errors, winning the role of Dromio. “That got me my equity card,” he concluded.

He also went to work as an assistant for the payroll company that had the accounts for all the Broadway shows and the touring companies. The connections he developed enabled him to see “every Broadway show for free” during the ten years he spent in New York. Moreover, he explained, “What I learned by seeing these shows and how they were put together – the composite of acting, directing, costuming, lighting, sets – all the collaboration” built upon and enhanced his formal education at Emerson. And whenever he returns to New York, he insists, “I continue to see productions – as many as I can fit in!”

(Recognizing the collaborative nature of theater has no doubt been responsible in large part for the success of the productions at Cathedral. But on with the story.)

His next big break came when he saw Amadeus and auditioned for the title role in the national tour. “I lost out to Mark Hamill,” he confessed, “and was cast as one of the valets.” However, he had a choice between playing the Broadway show and going on tour. He toured for a year, including two months in Los Angeles, and then returned to New York and the Broadway production. “That was also a life lesson,” he admitted. He made a lot of money and had virtually no expenses, but “spent it all, in just about the same amount of time it took to earn it.”

He continued his career with “a small part in a small play” at Lincoln Center, followed by the role of “Rosencrantz in the Classic Stage Company production of [Tom Stoppard’s] Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. ” Pleased with his good review, he showed it to his mother, who replied, “If you are going to read the good reviews, you must read the bad ones as well.”

Eventually he became frustrated with New York and decided to move to Los Angeles in late 1987. He auditioned at the Odyssey Theater in West Los Angeles for a company called LAAFO (Latin Actors and a Few Others). “There were about twenty in the company, and only three non-Latinos. I was one of those Few Others,” he explained.

But acting did not have the attraction it once did, so he decided to explore other ways to make a living. He worked at a drama camp in Tujunga one summer. (Perhaps his heart was telling him, as Mother Teresa is reported to have told St. Peter at the gate of Heaven, “What I really want to do is direct.”)

Then came “the most rewarding period of [his] life” up to that point – a drama therapy program financed with grant money from the Mark Taper Forum. For five years he worked with chronically and terminally ill children, producing theater and improvisation at Children’s Hospital on Friday afternoons. They worked conferences for the American Cancer Society, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and even a hospital in Orange County. He acknowledges he still has “memories of children who have passed away, [of] the bravery and courage of their families.”

He met the principal at St. Thomas the Apostle, Dan Horn, who introduced him to substitute teaching, but he refused to take a full-time position until the kindergarten teacher went on maternity leave. “I agreed to take over the kindergarten class for the remainder of the semester,” recalled Mr. Walsh. He stayed for five and a half years.

At the end of Mr. Walsh’s first full year of teaching, the principal nominated him for the “First Year Teacher” award. It is a national competition, with one winner from each state. Modestly, Mr. Walsh concedes that “Dan Horn’s letter was instrumental in my becoming the California winner, the only one in the nation from a Catholic school.” After that, he felt called “to teach long enough” to consider himself deserving of this recognition.

Working with children in fourth through eighth grade, Mr. Walsh produced several plays at St. Thomas, including The Wiz; Bye, Bye, Birdie; Our Town; and Godspell. Sam Robles, a teacher at Cathedral at the time, saw a show and asked the Cathedral administration, “Why aren’t we doing this?”

The Principal and the President of Cathedral invited Mr. Walsh to come for an interview, but he replied that he had “no desire” to leave St. Thomas. Dan Horn, however,  “understood what God might have had in mind for me,” concedes Mr. Walsh,  “even though I didn’t know it at the time.” Unselfishly he persuaded Mr. Walsh to talk with Br. John and Br. James. The rest is Cathedral history.

After fourteen years, Mr. Walsh recognizes that his time at Cathedral has been “incredibly rewarding.” The students, he says, “are amazing. Every time I set expectations, the students exceed them.” And he is extremely grateful for “administrative support other schools don’t get,” and for the work of his producer, Br. Roch Dufresne, who takes care of such essential behind-the-scenes details as tickets, programs, publicity, videography, etc.

Building on what he learned from Broadway productions, Mr. Walsh insists that “success is collaboration.” To realize his vision, he brings in the people – the musical director, the choreographer, the lighting director, the set designer, the set builder, and the producer – who will help him achieve it.

While he plans to be at Cathedral “forever,” with characteristic self-effacement, Mr. Walsh’s long-term goal is to make sure that “the arts education program essential, not the teacher.” He hopes that the next phase of development at Cathedral includes “a performing arts facility that will guarantee [the school] never has another 25-year absence of theater.”

Justin Robinson: Entrepreneur

March 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

When computer graphics teacher Jena Wilson went on maternity leave at the end of last semester, Justin Robinson stepped in as her long-term substitute.

He was born in Los Angeles, but moved to Pomona when he was about five years old. He played football and ran track before graduating from Diamond Ranch High School. He continued football at Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC), where he received his Associate of Arts degree. Then he enrolled at the University of Redlands to pursue his Bachelor of Arts degree in Graphic Design as well as playing football and running track.

Before coming to Cathedral, Mr. Robinson was employed by GEAR-UP, a federally funded program to help inner-city youth prepare for college. At Garey High School he worked as a tutor in a ninth-grade English class, helping students plan their A-G requirements, work on raising their GPA, and prepare for SAT and ACT exams. However, he discovered that students did not really have college on their minds. They much preferred talking about local events: games, fights, girls, parties, and who was in what kind of trouble. They appeared to have, as Mr. Robinson put it, “little or no interest in developing college aspirations or careers.”

This problem seemed tailor-made for a graphic designer. Because Garey was a public school, there were no uniforms, but graphic T-shirts were worn by almost every student on campus. As his senior project at the University of Redlands, Mr. Robinson had developed a fictional clothing line, so he knew how to build a website, create logos, and design T-shirts and jeans layouts. He began to brainstorm possibilities to see what would appeal to his potential market. He came up with a slogan: “Educate to elevate,” and designed a logo to go with it.

In an interview with Monica Rodriguez of the Inland Valley Bulletin, Mr. Robinson related the support he received from both his mother and Mary Lou Ortiz-Jamieson, his former fourth-grade teacher, known affectionately as “Mrs. O.J.”

Angela Robinson, according to the article, told her son about Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana, former superintendent of Pomona Unified School District, whose high school counselor had told her “she had no chance of attending UCLA”; nevertheless, she enrolled at the university, “graduated cum laude,” and subsequently earned both a Master’s and a Ph.D. Moreover, Ms. Melendez not only became Pomona Unified’s superintendent, but currently serves as “Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education for the U.S. Department of Education.” Not bad for a kid who, as Mr. Robinson tells it, “was told she wasn’t college material. That just blew me away,” he concluded.

Recognizing the importance of developing college as an educational goal, Mr. Robinson turned to “the teacher that made the biggest impact” on him and paid a visit to Montvue Elementary School, where he found “Mrs. O.J.” teaching a combined class of fifth and sixth graders. Mr. Robinson said she always “encouraged her students to embrace learning and strive for academic excellence.”
She was his mentor, the one who told him reading was not enough; he had to learn how to write, too. Even though he didn’t like writing, she assured him he’d “use it later.” And he has. All through college – “in English, psychology, philosophy classes – everything [he] wrote” he discovered, “followed the same format. The paragraph breakdown is the same,” he pointed out, “even if the layout is different.”

When he learned from the school’s principal, Alejandro Villa, that “Montvue’s culture is one where students are being exposed to the idea of attending college,” he decided to give “every student in [Mrs. O.J.’s] class a shirt.” One of Mrs. O.J.’s co-workers also bought several T-shirts for her class, but she also bought an adult’s T-shirt for her husband, who taught at a different school, and the idea spread.

As sales of the T-shirts increase, Mr. Robinson is learning the business aspects with the help of his roommate, a business major.  “Nick is teaching me about copyrights and trademarks,” he explained. Meanwhile marketing continues, and he even has a Facebook fan page. Eventually Mr. Robinson wants to be able to award scholarships to high school graduates to “show them we take them seriously, and they should take college seriously. With a little push,” he insists, “every child is college material. Don’t let your present limit you.”

If you are interested in purchasing a “College Material” T-shirt, contact Mr. Robinson online at <>.  Ms. English returns to Cathedral on Monday, March 26.

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.”

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