Volume 3, 2009-2010

Graduation

May 31, 2010

It has been a week for celebrating the end of high school and recognizing
the academic accomplishments of this, the largest graduating class in
Cathedral’s history. By now, exams are over, and graduation is one of
many treasured memories. Here are a few more.

 

One of the first issues of Volume III of The Purple Letter concerned Edgar Beltran,
Class of 2004, the first recipient of the Catalina Galaz Family
Scholarship, which is awarded to a graduate of the Morning Program. This
year’s recipient, Jake Tijerina, exemplifies the qualities of Catalina Galaz, a single parent whose understanding of the importance of education, discipline, and example enabled her five sons (Edmundo, 1968; Ralph, 1972, currently CHS Business Manager; Robert, 1977; Victor, 1982; and David, 1985, currently Chair of the Science Department) to graduate from Cathedral with the opportunity to pursue higher education.

 

Like all Morning Program students, Jake faced conditional acceptance to Cathedral as a freshman, and had to attend summer school for four weeks before he could enroll.  As part of his acceptance contract, Jake started school at 7:00 a.m. for his first two years, but he managed to participate in cross-country and volleyball as a freshman, and played football as a sophomore.  As a junior he began putting other people’s needs ahead of his own, working with the football team as their manager when he could not be a player. He developed a reputation among faculty, staff, and classmates as a “hard-working, fun-loving kid,” according to Mr. David Galaz, who announced the award.

 

As a senior Jake not only returned to the football team as a player, but re-joined the Morning Program – as a tutor.  Knowing what freshmen needed from their tutors, he provided advice based on his experience and a place on the “B” Honor Roll as his example.

 

He also spread his wings, so to speak, and began investigating career possibilities. As he graduates from Cathedral, he has already completed a training program in wildland fire fighting at the Little Tujunga ranger station. He has been accepted to the California State University system, but is considering Santa Ana Community College because of its more specific program focused on wildland firefighting and forest management.

 

“This was an easy speech to write,” said Mr. Galaz of his announcement. Everyone he talked to had only good things to say about Jake. “I love that kid,” was a common expression. “He has the biggest heart” was a close second. It is fitting that Volume III of The Purple Letter close as it began, with an acknowledgment of the contributions of the Morning Program to the non-traditional student.

 

But there are the traditional awards as well.  This year valedictorian William Velazquez received the De La Salle General Academic Excellence Award for his cumulative GPA of 4.37.  One of twelve members of the Student Senate, chosen at the end of their junior year (based on their cumulative GPA at that time), he graduates summa cum laude, with highest departmental honors in Social Studies and Spanish, and honors in English. He is a life and 100% member of the California Scholarship Federation (CSF), entitling him to wear the gold tassel on his mortarboard and the gold stole around his shoulders. He was also awarded the National Honor Society (NHS) medallion, a red honor stole and pin as a member of the National Spanish Honor Society (HHS), and the Tri-M medallion for membership in the national music honor society.

 

This year four salutatorians were chosen to speak on behalf of their class.  First was Aaron Sandoval, who addressed the school at the presentation assembly. Aaron is a magna cum laude
graduate, having earned a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher from his
freshman year through the first semester of his senior year, an honor
that entitles him to wear a gold cord at graduation. In addition, he has
received merit recognition from the Visual and Performing Arts
Department for his participation in the theater arts program including
his role in Godspell as a sophomore and as the Tin Man in The Wiz last fall.

 

The Baccalaureate Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Mahony at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. As usual, he asked parents and others who contributed to the education costs of the seniors to stand and be recognized. After considerable applause, the Cardinal added another request.  He gave the seniors “two minutes” to find the people they most needed to thank for their education: parents, grandparents, and guardians. It was an emotional moment, even for those without sons in the Class of 2010. The Mass also included two more speakers, Joel Solis and David-Ren Tababa. Both are members of the Student Senate, summa cum laude graduates, CSF life and 100% members, and recipients of the NHS medallion for scholarship and service.  Joel also received recognition from Mathematics (highest honors), Social Studies (achievement), and Science (merit) Departments, as well as the red honor stole and pin from the Spanish Honor Society (HHS).  David was awarded honors at graduation from the Religion Department.

 

The salutatorian at graduation at the Church of the Nazarene in Pasadena was John Castellanos, member of the Student Senate, summa cum laude graduate, CSF life and 100% member, recipient of the NHS medallion, the HHS red stole and pin, the music honor society (Tri-M) medallion, and departmental recognition of highest honors in English and Science, plus honors in Spanish.

 

The remaining nine members of the Student Senate, twenty honor graduates (summa and magna cum laude), recipients of departmental recognition (highest honors, honors, merit, and achievement), and members of honor societies (CSF, NHS, HHS, and Tri-M) are listed below in alphabetical order:

 

Kevin Aguilar, summa cum laude, merit in English, CSF life member, NHS medallion; Jose Alcantar, CSF life member, HHS stole and pin; Jorge Bojorkez, CSF life member, HHS stole and pin, bronze medal from the National Spanish Examination; Cesar Camacho, magna cum laude; Stephen Castillo, achievement in Visual and Performing Arts; Christopher Centeno, Student Senate, summa cum laude, CSF life member, HHS stole and pin; Justin Corona, Tri-M Medallion; Mike Fernandez, Student Senate, summa cum laude, merit in Spanish, CSF life and 100% member, NHS Medallion, HHS stole; Jean-Luc Flores, HHS stole and pin; Steve Flores, Student Senate, summa cum laude, honors in Science and Visual & Performing Arts, merit in Religion, HHS stole; Daniel Franco, magna cum laude, Tri-M Medallion; Shawn Franco, Tri-M Medallion; Brandon Garcia, magna cum laude, highest honors in Computer Media Design; Daniel Garcia, Student Senate, summa cum laude, achievement in English, Science, and Spanish, CSF Life & 100% member, NHS Medallion, HHS stole and pin; Nicholas Gatti, achievement in Computer Media Design; Daniel Gonzalez-Martinez, merit in Social Studies, HHS pin and stole; Dennis Gutierrez, merit in Mathematics, CSF Life & 100% member; Erick Guzman, magna cum laude; Joseph Guzman, Student Senate, summa cum laude, highest honors in Visual and Performing Arts, honors in Social Studies and Mathematics, CSF life member, Tri-M Medallion;

 

Miguel Jacome, magna cum laude, merit in Computer Media Design, CSF life member; Abraham Jurado, magna cum laude, honors in Computer Media Design; Efrain Mercado, HHS pin and stole; Matthew Mojica, Tri-M Medallion; Armando Morales, CSF life member; Albert Nyssen, silver medal in the National Spanish Examination; Joseph Pineda, HHS stole; Justin Pomar, magna cum laude, achievement in Religion; Roman Ponce, magna cum laude; Ronald Reyes, Tri-M Medallion; Alejandro Rodriguez, HHS pin and stole; Emmanuel Rodriguez, HHS stole; Eric Rodriguez, HHS stole; Allen Salgado, magna cum laude, highest honors in Religion, CSF life member, HHS pin and stole; Nathan Salgado, Tri-M Medallion; Bryan Sanchez, magna cum laude, HHS stole; Thomas Santiago, Tri-M Medallion; Sergio Segura, Tri-M Medallion; Christian Tolosa, Student Senate, summa cum laude, CSF life & 100% member, HHS stole; Vincent Uy, Student Senate, summa cum laude, achievement in Mathematics, CSF life & 100% member, NHS Medallion; Andres Valdez, magna cum laude; Benjamin Velasquez, CSF life member, HHS pin and stole; Moises Venegas, Student Senate, summa cum laude.

 

Service Awards

The Archdiocesan Service Awards went to Edward Resendiz and Allen Salgado for their generous service to others. School service was recognized with the Br. James Meegan Dedication and Service Award, which went to David Leon; the Vic Balzano Award for voluntary participation in student activities to Martin Farfan; Br. John Montgomery Principal’s Award for outstanding leadership and service to the school community to Jose Alcantar; the Dominic Puglisi Award for outstanding service to our school community to Alejandro Rodriguez; and the Br. Bertram Coleman Memorial Award to junior James Esparza to recognize and encourage volunteer service to the junior class.

 

Athletic Awards

The Scholar-Athlete was Moises Venegas, who maintained a 3.78 GPA while participating in two varsity sports, track and cross country.  Athlete of the Year was Aaron Almario, who played on three varsity teams: football, basketball, and volleyball.  Sportsman of the Year (and winner of a Division I college scholarship to UCLA) was Anthony Jefferson.  And Robert Morales Athletic Dedication Award went to Kyle Merrill, [Nov. 16, 2009] a Rudy Award semi-finalist.

 

Endowment Fund

Parents
of the following students made contributions to the Endowment Fund,
which will make possible scholarships and financial aid for future
Phantoms:

Isaac
Chavez, Frankie Eteuati, Martin Farfan, Daniel Garcia, Nicholas Gatti,
Erick Guzman, Jeremy Joaquin, Sergio Martinez, Alexander Mayagoitia,
Armando Padilla, Philip Perez, Santiago Perez, Michael Quijada, Edward
Resendiz, Aaron Sandoval, Joseph Sistona, Andres Valdez, Kevin Vasquez,
Benjamin Velasquez, Moises Venegas, Brandon Villalobos, Jairo Zelaya,
Ismael Zepeda.

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org.

 


 

Founder’s Week

and Convocation II

May 24, 2010

 

This year Founder’s Week took on a different tone.  Just as the faculty retreat in January included a community service component, so Founder’s Week focused each
day on a different aspect of our Lasallian heritage.  Br. Chris and the Lasallian Youth led the charge by distributing flyers to the student body through their
homeroom teachers.  On the front was a traditional representation
of St. LaSalle in the classroom; on the back was a schedule with the
daily Lasallian core value, activities designed to highlight that core
value, and dress options for those who want to participate.

 

Monday showed “respect for all persons.” Students wearing the “Respect Yourself” wristband or
the “Respect” button had permission to wear modified dress. Each period
began with a prayer over the intercom. Slogans featuring respect were
posted around campus.

 

Tuesday focused on “concern for the poor and social justice.” Modified dress was available for
$2.00, and all money went to St. Mary’s High School, as part of a
campaign to raise $3000 our sister school in Nairobi, Kenya. The
following students were selected to participate in service projects
Tuesday morning at various sites around the city. Volunteers included
seniors, juniors, sophomores, and freshmen, and four adult moderators, Mrs. McNeal, Ms. E. Edwards, Mr. Bertolone, and Mr. Matteson.  Three groups worked from 8:00 to 10:30 a.m., and the last worked from 1:00 to 2:45 p.m.

 

Mrs. McNealaccompanied seniors John
Castellanos, Dennis Gutierrez, Jonathan Hernandez, Allen Salgado, Joel
Solis, David Tababa, Benjamin Velasquez, William Velazquez
, and junior James Manahan to  Our Lady Help of Christians.

 

Ms. E. Edwards took juniors Edward Espinosa, Joel Guevara, Lawrence Jolon, Alex Rodriguez, Eric Tavera; and freshmen Hassan Allison, Sergio Arias, Justin Escalante, and Ralph Martinez to the Cathedral Outreach Center.

 

Mr. Bertolone drove seniors Jonathan Adelman, Cruz Garcia, Joshua Perez, and Mario Velis; sophomores Chris Flores and Timothy Shiba; and freshmen Oscar Cruz, Cesar Esquivel, and Andrew Salinas to the Downtown Women’s Center.

 

Finally, Mr. Matteson drove sophomores Daniel Salas, Jaime Adame, Edgar Medina, Julio Ortiz, and freshmen Blake Martin, John Severino, and Xavier Smith to the Cathedral Outreach Center for afternoon service.

 

For those not lucky enough to be chosen for service off campus, Br. Chris organized sandwich-making during lunch.  The sandwiches were to be
distributed to the homeless through a special program because Cathedral
students are not allowed to go to Skid Row themselves.

 

Also
during lunch, the scoreboard on the athletic field presented slides
from the Convocation on the Rights of the Child, sponsored by the
Christian Brothers, and which was held last April at the United Nations.

 

Jessie Castelan, Elijah Hrnandez, Br. Chris, James Esparza, Mr. Lowdermilk, Alejandro Toruno, Mr. Walsh, Cristian Alegria.

Br. Chris Patino, who attended the Convocation along with sophomores Cristian Alegria and Alejandro Toruno, juniors Jessie Castelan, James Esparza, and Elijah Hernandez, and adult moderator Joseph Walsh, said it was “a
great opportunity for the Lasallian world in the U.S. to become aware
of the Rights of the Child Convention signed by the United Nations in
1989.” The convention lists a number of human rights that children
should not be denied, but unfortunately, “the United States of America
and Somalia remain the only two nations not to ratify this convention.”

 

The
three main purposes of the Convocation were to recognize what the
Rights of the Child Convention means; to find out why the U.S. has not
yet signed it; and to determine what Lasallians can do, through our
schools, to push our government to ratify the Convention.

Br. Chris says
the Cathedral delegation will put together a plan of action for the
2010 – 2011 academic year in hopes of involving the entire school
community at various levels.

 

“Our
hope,” he concluded, “is to do the same as the convocation did for us:
1) educate the school community on the Rights of the Child, 2) explain
why the U.S. hasn’t signed it, and 3) unite as a school community to
have our voices heard and encourage our government to ratify the Rights
of the Child convention.”

 

But Founder’s Week continued!  On Wednesday we celebrated “quality education
(education is one of the rights of a child).  Modified dress was
available for those who paid $2.00 to support education in Kenya. Honor Roll students got a free snack and a drink from the administration during break.  Teachers received morning coffee and a continental breakfast, plus a free lunch
in the Brothers’ back yard.  Teacher profiles were featured on the
scoreboard of the athletic field as well as posted on the wall opposite
the Administration Building. And student-made cards of appreciation
appeared in teachers’ boxes as an additional surprise.

 

Then on Thursday, a dress-up day, students celebrated “faith in the presence of God” with Mass including our Founder’s Day Liturgy and witnessing Br. Chris renew his vows
for another year as a Christian Brother. Images of the Brother Saints
were displayed around campus, and the Brothers participated in a
question and answer session during lunch in the sophomore eating area.

 

On Friday the focus was “Brotherhood.”
It was Purple Pride Day, and a Cathedral logo or t-shirt was all that
was needed for modified dress. After three shortened periods of class, Br. John dismissed
students to the Founder’s Day carnival. Free opportunities for water
play, tests of strength, balance, and coordination, plus food and snacks
for under a dollar made it fun for all.  And ASB officers had
tickets on sale for the Farewell Dance that night.

 

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org.

 


 

Spring Band Concert

May 17, 2010

 

The Spring Band Concert under the direction of Dr. Brian Bartel takes place this Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. in the gym. Free to
the public, it is the culminating semester project for all Band students
and also documents some remarkable accomplishments in the field of
instrumental music.

 

As veteran Phantom Gary Bertolone observed a few weeks ago, the concert is one more opportunity to
celebrate Cathedral High School. Unlike our athletes, who come to the
program already knowing the game, most of our musicians pick up a
musical instrument for the first time in Band I.  Dr. Bartel
coaches these “rookies,” teaching them such fundamentals as how to hold
the instrument, how to create sound, and how to translate notes on the
page into music to the ear. By graduation, declares Mr. Bertolone, “they
know how to play an instrument!”

 

This year’s concert is one of the most ambitious programs Dr. Bartel has undertaken in his eleven years at Cathedral and the audience will enjoy the variety of music.

 

The Program

As usual, Band I students play first, and their portion includes Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, plus such traditional pieces as “La Cucaracha,” “America the Beautiful,” and the more modern “La Bamba.”

 

After
the intermission, the Advanced Band (Band II, III, and IV students)
take their places for a mix of ancient and modern, popular and
classical, traditional and contemporary music. A suite by Giovanni da Palestrina,
who predates even Bach, offers chorale-like long tones, blending sounds
in different textures. His music was one of the elements that “saved”
harmony for use in Catholic Mass. Dr. Bartel can tell you more (and he
will during the concert), but for now, let it be known that without
Palestrina, the Mass might be all unison chants and plainsong.

 

A mix of old and new is The Cowboys Overture, one of John Williams
first sound tracks, written for one of John Wayne’s last films.
Williams, of course, is famous for writing the themes from Jaws, Star Wars, Superman, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. And
John Wayne is legendary for his portrayals of the hero in American
Westerns. In this piece, listen for both the typically “American”
musical style of Aaron Copland, which influenced Williams, and the
action motifs that later became his trademark.

 

Dr. Bartel explains that there are two musical forms called “bolero,” one Cuban and one Spanish, and they have nothing in common. Maurice Ravel’s
“Bolero,” which the Advanced Band will be playing, is in the Spanish
tradition. When Ravel wrote this piece, the saxophone, which carries the
melody, was a brand-new instrument.  It was very daring of him to
write music for an instrument that might disappear in twenty-five years.
(These days not many composers write for the sackbut or the
clavichord.)

 

The audience will also recognize Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, used by The Simpsons,
among others, to add dignity and importance to lesser events. It sounds
like a Mass because of the grand chords and Latin text (words).
Although there will be no choir on Wednesday night, the joke is that the
piece is really about wine, women and springtime, but it sounds much
more serious. Because it is built around medieval music and ideas, Orff
tries to embody “the music of the spheres,” reflecting the heavenly
order of the universe. There is “almost mechanical beauty” in the
locking into place of Fate and order.

 

This year a video game called Beatles Rock Band hit the market, so Dr. Bartel decided to capitalize on the event by offering a Beatles medley featuring  three Beatles songs: “I Want to Hold Your Hand,”
“And I Love Her,” and “Twist and Shout.” It includes solos for
clarinet, saxophone and bongos. Medleys require special skill because
the musicians need to move through each tempo – usually fast to slow and
back to fast – seamlessly and without apparent effort. Everyone has to
work together, listening to the music and following the conductor
without losing his place in the music.

 

“Mexican
Fiesta,” which closes the concert, is also a medley with the same
“fast-slow-fast” format. The traditional Mexican folksongs, “Sombrero
Nuevo,” La Rosa Montana,” and “Fiesta Verano,” include one mariachi
style melody.

 

Activities

Besides
the two concerts, the band students have an annual service project to
play a Christmas concert at the Fairview Developmental Center in Costa
Mesa. Participation is one of the criteria for membership in the Music
Honor Society.

 

This
year the band students also hosted the band from the Christian Brothers
high school in Yakima, Washington, on the last day before Easter
break.  Dr. Bartel was pleased to have almost 100% attendance at
the informal concert. The Advanced Band played Carmina Burana,
“Bolero,” and a jazz band number for them; then the Yakima band took
their places and played a mini-concert for the Phantoms. It was not a
competition, but a mutual appreciation of each band’s abilities and
musical choices.

 

Music Honor Society

Beginning
in the fall of the next academic year, Dr. Bartel will induct eligible
Band II, III, and IV students into Tri-M (Modern Music Masters), the
Music Honor Society, for a year at a time. Students will receive both a
pin and a membership card, valid for one year. Multi-year membership is
possible, and life members are seniors who have participated for four
years.

 

At
graduation in a few weeks, about a dozen seniors will wear the red and
white medallions certifying them as life members of Tri-M. By learning
the music well, playing in the concerts, and participating in the
community service project for four years, these young men demonstrate
the dedication to excellence and service that has become Cathedral’s
hallmark.

 

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org.

 


 

Lasallian Convocation

May 10, 2010

Last October at the Lasallian Principles assembly, Br. Chris Patino and Lasallian Youth presented a program on the difficult lives of
children throughout the world, but particularly at Bahay Pag-asa, a
youth detention center in the Philippines.  Br. Dan Fenton, FSC,
told “some terrible stories about some heroic people,” and Cathedral
Phantoms were challenged to participate in “Change Wars.”

 

But
there were two other calls to action. Cathedral students were invited
to learn more about the issue of children’s rights at a monthly workshop
sponsored by Lasallian Youth. The second opportunity was for four
Cathedral students to attend the Lasallian Convocation at the United
Nations on the Rights of the Child in April, 2010, sponsored by the
United States Region of the Lasallian Christian Brothers.

 

Mr. Lowdermilk conducted the workshops to educate interested boys on the issues and
prepare them for what would happen in New York.  Although
originally only four boys were to be selected, five Phantoms completed
the workshop requirements and agreed to travel to the United Nations as
representatives of Cathedral High School.

 

On Saturday afternoon, April 24, Br. Chris Patino and theater arts teacher Mr. Walsh accompanied sophomores Cristian Alegria and Alejandro Toruno, and juniors Jessie Castelan, James Esparza, and Elijah Hernandez to New York City for the three-day convocation, returning on Thursday afternoon, April 29.

 

On
Wednesday, May 5, the group met during lunch in Mr. Lowdermilk’s
classroom to share with him what they had learned. They slept Saturday
night (and most of Sunday) at the Holiday Inn Express, and then on
Sunday about 4:30 p.m. drove past Rockefeller Plaza and St. Patrick’s
Cathedral on their way to Holy Family Church near the United Nations for
the opening assembly and welcome. About 140 students including two from
Canada participated. San Francisco District (ours!) had the biggest
contingent: twenty students plus six moderators! As part of the
ceremonies, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Apostolic Nuncio and
permanent observer of the Holy See, was presented with a “World Appeal
to a New Mobilization for Childhood” containing signatures from
supporters all over the world. In his closing remarks, Br. Robert
Schieler, FSC, General Councilor, related a story that the boys found
meaningful.

 

After the parents had ordered their meal at a restaurant,
the waiter asked their daughter what she wanted.  She replied, “A
hot dog,” but her parents overruled her and changed the order to
something else.  When they were finished, the waiter turned again
to the little girl and asked, “Do you want catsup or mustard with your
hot dog?”

Even in New York City, children are not always treated like the human beings they are.

 

Many
of the attendees stayed at the Grand Hyatt Hotel next to Grand Central
Station, but Cathedral’s group chose to save money by commuting from the
Brothers’ House in the Bronx near Fordham Road and 205th Street.

 

On Monday, keynote speaker Jimmie Briggs, former UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and writer for Time magazine, related anecdotes based on his world travels.  In the
Democratic Republic of Congo, he discovered it costs $30 to go to school
but only $10 to buy a weapon. Is it any wonder that child soldiers go
to war instead of to school? In Colombia, a twelve-year-old can (and
does) kill people for the drug cartels, but he cannot leave even if he
wants to. Mr. Briggs admitted it was difficult for him as a journalist
to maintain objectivity when he watched killing happen before his eyes. A
reporter is not supposed to interfere with what he reports on, but
rather to get the word out, and that is what he is doing. A related
interest of Mr. Briggs is the Man Up Campaign “to activate young people
to stop violence against women and girls in their communities through
music, sports and technology.” This will be formally launched during the
2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

 

One
of the conference presentations was “Living Faithjustice: Advocacy as
Social Transformation” by Lucreda Cobbs, Director of Advocacy &
Civic Engagement Catholic Charities USA. She explained how the
government works, how a bill becomes law, and specifically, what it will
take for the United States to become a party to the declaration and
sign it. She recommended that the boys write their Senators once a week
and urge them to support the bill. Back at Holy Family church, there was
role-playing activity – how to address a senator, pretending to be the
senator. The boys saw how important it was for them to be organized and
well-rehearsed when they speak to government officials. Mr. Lowdermilk
asked if Ms. Cobbs was as organized as other presenters, and the boys
all agreed she was. In fact, she even passed out quizzes to be sure
everyone was paying attention!

 

But
it was not all work and no play.  The boys also described their
tour of the United Nations. Their Iranian guide had lived in Iran,
Egypt, and France and spoke three of the five official languages of the
United Nations: French, Arabic, English (but not Chinese or Russian).

 

Security
was less than at LAX, they agreed, and at the cafeteria they gravitated
toward the usual – burgers, salads, and sodas.  Each boy had one
$12.00 coupon to use for lunch, and none had any difficulty using it up!

 

They
saw the General Assembly room, with murals by a French painter
depicting war by the entrance to the room and peace by the only
exit.  They also saw some of the gifts presented to the United
Nations from various member countries, including an elephant tusk from
China with detailed carvings. On the wall was a plaque reading, “The United Nations was created not to take humanity to heaven, but to save humanity from Hell.”

 

Tuesday’s
activities included an address by Ann Veneman, Executive Director of
the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), followed by Teach-ins on
Fair Trade; Countering Human Trafficking; Child Poverty in America; and
the Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict. The
afternoon concerned mobilizing Lasallians for the social transformation
that will make the Rights of the Child a reality, and the day (and the
Convocation) concluded with a Eucharistic Liturgy and a closing dinner
at the Church of the Holy Family.

 

Br. Chris asked the Cathedral community to pray for the participants, that they
would be safe and their hearts touched by the experience.  When
they make their presentation to the Cathedral community during Founder’s
Week, we will see how our prayers have been answered.

 

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org.

 


 

Star Scholar Night

May 3, 2010

 

For
many years, May at Cathedral High School has signaled exams and the end
of the school year. April, however, is for celebrating.  The Academic Decathlon and Mock Trial banquet, Cultural Appreciation lunch and assembly, the Math Club Awards Ceremony, and now Star Scholar Night
are ways the Cathedral community recognizes the accomplishments of its
diverse student body. This year we have a new logo by a designer who
will, no doubt, make himself known when he sees his work above.

 

Shortly after mid-semester grades were recorded, teachers turned in their nomination forms to Registrar Aurora Soliz.
Teachers chose two students in each class, one for excellence in
academics (highest grade), and the other for dedication and commitment
(enthusiastic effort). Of course, teachers are free to give the
dedication award to the student with the second-highest grade in the
class, and often they do. But this honor is particularly gratifying for
students whose best efforts do not quite reach the academic heights of
the “A” Honor Roll. Invitations to Star Scholar Night go out to the
families of the honorees, and parents, siblings, friends and relatives
are welcome attend the festivities.  This year’s program listed 166 names of those receiving tributes, 31% of 537 eligible freshmen, sophomores, and juniors.  The particular
class or award, however, is deliberately omitted to maintain the
suspense. Seniors are not included in this event because their
recognition comes at the Senior Presentation Assembly before graduation.

 

The twenty-second annual Star Scholar Award Ceremony, held Thursday, April 29, opened with a prayer by Campus Minister Sanford Jones. Then, in his opening remarks, Principal Br. John Montgomery reported on the seniors
and the most recent statistics on their acceptance to college. Parents
of freshmen, sophomores and juniors were pleased hear that 25 seniors,
or 14% of the class, have a GPA of 3.5 or higher.
Moreover, 99% expect to enroll in college in the fall (One is enlisting
in the U.S. Army), and 78% have been accepted to a
four-year college or university!  Of public school graduates, he
noted, only 33% go on to college.

 

The numbers change every time a senior shows College Counselor Terry Catlin a new acceptance letter, but as of Thursday, more than 220 letters have been received by 178 seniors, the largest graduating class in
Cathedral history.  Letters from all nine campuses of the University of California accounted for 28%
of the total, with three each coming from UCLA, Berkeley, and Santa
Cruz; eight from Santa Barbara; five from Merced; four each from Davis,
Irvine, and San Diego; and fourteen from Riverside.

 

California State Universities provided 44%
of the acceptances, with 72 coming from CSULA; 34 from Northridge;
eight each from Dominguez Hills and San Francisco; three each from
Fullerton and Long Beach; two each from Cal Poly Pomona, Humboldt,
Monterey Bay, and San Diego; and one each from six other CSU campuses.

 

And the list goes on. Thirty letters of acceptance came from private institutions in California,
including ten from St. Mary’s College, the Brothers’ school in Moraga;
six from Santa Clara; three from La Verne; two from Cal Lutheran; two
from Pepperdine; three from Concordia; and one each from five other
private California colleges.

 

Out-of-state acceptances accounted for a quarter (25%)
of the letters, and Br. John pointed out that in 2009, only 9% of the
seniors were accepted to an out-of-state college. Institutions included
Dartmouth (1); Cornell (1); Northern Arizona (12); St. John’s
University, New York (8); Arizona State (4); Oregon State (2); and one
each to 15 other universities outside California.

 

Br. John closed with the observation that approximately 24%
of the class are expected to enroll in a community college (Pasadena,
Glendale, Rio Hondo, Santa Monica, or ELAC). This will help some by
saving them money and others by developing their writing and math
skills, so they can transfer to a four-year institution at a later date.
With these statistics in mind, and recognizing the exciting choices a
good education will offer them, students prepared to receive their
classroom achievement awards.

 

Beginning with the freshmen, Master of Ceremonies Gary Bertolone read the names of the honorees in the Computer Science Department, and each student came forward to shake hands with the
teachers in that department, including the one who nominated him, and
receive his certificate from the department Chair. Then the sophomores
were recognized, followed by the juniors.  After all honorees had
been recognized, the audience responded with applause. Then faculty in
the English Department took their places in the receiving line, and the ritual continued through the Spanish, Math, Religion, Science, Social Studies, and Visual & Performing Arts departments until all the students have had their moment to shine.

While the
teachers take delight in watching the freshmen make their first trip to
the front, they also share a special joy when sophomores and juniors
participate for the first time. Of course, some students (including at
least one freshman on Thursday who was working on an assignment between
trips to the front) come forward more than once, and teachers are
pleased to notice the new scholars, whose efforts are laying the
groundwork for a future of choices.

 

But
it is a disappointment that so many honorees do not attend. Over
refreshments, administrators discussed how to motivate students and
their families to make the effort to come to the awards ceremony.
Perhaps parking is the problem; is afternoon more convenient than
evening? Should teachers offer extra credit those whose names are in the
program, whether or not they are nominated by that teacher? Should we
focus only on freshmen, to motivate them to continue their good work,
and let the sophomores and juniors wait a few years for recognition?
Should we abandon a twenty-two year tradition because Honor Roll
recognition is sufficient now? If you have comments or suggestions,
please respond to email address below.

 

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org.

 


 

Phantom Family:

Terry Catlin

April 26, 2010

 

Born and raised in upstate New York, Terry Catlin attended Syracuse University, graduating with two bachelor’s degrees,
one in Spanish and one in English. He also has two graduate degrees,
both Master of Science in Education, from the State University of New
York. At the Binghamton campus, he focused on reading and learning
disabilities; at Cortland, on educational administration.  The
graduate schools at SUNY, especially Cortland, specialize in educating
teachers.

 

He
taught in Catholic schools back East, but saw them “faltering” and
decided to try California because he was ready for warm weather and mild
winters. Even though at the time many Catholic schools in California
were also in financial trouble, Cathedral was the exception. Mr. Catlin
came to Los Angeles in July, 2000, interviewed with Br. John over
the July Fourth weekend, and accepted the job offer. Then he drove
cross-country and moved into his sister’s vacant condominium in time to
start work in August.

 

Although
the usual contract is for five classes, Mr. Catlin taught six,
including the Morning Program, Genre Literature, Speech, and freshman
sections of English and Spanish. Behind the scenes, Mr. Catlin worked as
freshman academic counselor for four years, and two years ago he became
Director of the Morning Program.

 

He has been head of the Guidance and Counseling Department since 2007, and this year he and Dean of Students Wendy Ruiz are sharing senior academic & college counseling responsibilities.

 

He
started teaching English III Honors in 2008, upgrading it the following
year to AP English Language. Mr. Catlin enjoys the diversity of
teaching all four grade levels. His current teaching assignment includes
the sophomores and juniors enrolled in the Morning Program, one section
of juniors in AP English Language, one of freshman Genre Literature,
and one of Latino/Sports Literature, a two-semester elective for juniors
and seniors.

 

Asked
what he likes about Cathedral, Mr. Catlin pointed to the appreciation
shown by the boys and their parents, even though they may have
difficulty putting it into words.  Ours
are not the most privileged students,” he notes. In fact, Cathedral
students are “pretty amazing” considering they are essentially the same
population as the public schools. He explained that Cathedral has begun
to “cultivate a culture of gratitude” whereas at some public schools an
atmosphere of fear or intimida-tion pervades the campus. He is pleased
that both students and parents value the efforts of admini- stration,
faculty, and support staff in preparing them for college and the world
beyond high school. On the whole, he notes, “most of the world would be
surprised at what this inner city school is accomplishing.

 

There
has also been an improvement in the attitude towards college among the
students.  It used to be that a college counselor was successful if
he persuaded a student to apply to even one college, so he could choose
to continue his education if he wanted. Now, because so many have been
accepted by more than one institution, their choices have multiplied. As
Mr. Catlin put it, “They get to decide where to go, not if they go.”

 

Invited
to suggest changes or improvements for Cathedral, Mr. Catlin’s first
concern was the students. Developing a program for students with special
needs is high on his list. Currently the school is not equipped to
provide the kind of help necessary for such students to succeed. He
would also like to expand Morning Program to all four years. As it
stands, the Program helps freshmen adjust to the requirements of high
school, but it can also prepare juniors and seniors for the kinds of
responsibilities they will face in college.

 

But
there’s more. He would like to start working with the community
colleges, so that CHS teachers could bring some of that curriculum to
high school students. This is part of a larger plan to expose the boys
to more “real world situations” so they can get a glimpse of their
future. “Career Day,” he admitted, “doesn’t do it,” and field trips are
limited. Summer internships work toward instilling the responsibility
and sense of urgency he feels they need, but there are not enough of
those.  Too many boys think their desired future will “just happen,
no matter what,” and Mr. Catlin fears they don’t understand the need to
take charge and make decisions that will guide them to the future they
want. An important part of that is teaching students how to make good
decisions, so they will know which college environment to choose. He
would like to see more conscious development of critical thinking skills
across the curriculum.

 

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org.

 


 

Math Club Awards

April 19, 2010

 

With
the coming of spring, the Math Club Awards Ceremony was held in the MHR
Conference Room on Friday afternoon beginning at 3:00.  Last year
the ceremony was held in the gym as part of its 25-year anniversary, but
this year they were back in the MHR Conference Room, and it was
standing room only in spite of the 140 or so folding chairs filled with
students, parents, grandparents and siblings.

 

Following the opening prayer, Vice President Alvin Fong
read a statement summarizing the activities of the club throughout the
year. Then two members of the Math Club Board of Representatives invited
a faculty member to join them in presenting awards to the winners and
runners-up in each category of competition.

 

Creativity in Math was demonstrated by dozens of decorated origami airplanes, which faculty judged on authenticity and imagination.  Senior Joseph Guzman and sophomore Matias Farfan, together with Mr. Sanford Jones, Director of Campus Ministry, presented the awards.

 

Sophomores Henry Garcia and Jesse Flores invited Mr. Terry Catlin, Director of Guidance and Counseling, to present awards for the Crossmatics
competition. Two teams of runners-up and a grade-level champion were
recognized. Then grade-level champions competed against one another, and
the grand champions, Juniors Alvin Fong and Christopher Soriano, competed (successfully) against the faculty team of Mr. Abel Gutierrez and Mr. Sal Lopez.

 

Junior Angelo Aglipay and senior Vincent Uy, together with Ms. Wendy Ruiz, Dean of Students, recognized winners in the 24-game competition.  Grade-level champions competed against one another for the grand championship, and grand champions, seniors Jeremy Joaquin and Jorge Bojorkez, competed (unsuccessfully) against the faculty team of Mr. John Ferrante and Br. Chris Patino.

 

Senior Daniel Garcia and sophomore Viktor Gatdula joined Ms. Martha Lira, Spanish Department Chair, to present awards for Krypto,
a competition with teams from mixed grade levels: seniors &
freshmen vs. juniors & sophomores. The two team champions competed
against each other, and the grand champions were senior Jeremy Joaquin and freshman Xavier Smith. The faculty team of Mr. Robert Ryan and Ms. Hilary Aguirre managed a tie in the competition with the grand champions.

 

Math Club Secretary, senior Joel Solis, introduced the guest speaker, Br. Chris Patino,a
summa cum laude graduate of Cathedral from the Class of 2002.  Br.
Chris opened by remarking that Mrs. Salas’s invitation to him must be
an indication that she no longer remembered what kind of student he had
been in her geometry and pre-calculus classes.  However, he pointed
out that he learned to use common sense in both classes.  “Common
sense,” he pointed out, “does not mean the path is easy, but it gets you
through.” Then he continued, “It also gets you through life. It’s
common sense, for example, to do your homework.” Doing homework teaches
skills, responsibility, discipline, and time management.  Doing
homework also leads to better grades and an appreciation for
education.  This leads to college, graduation, and a career.
It’s all a result of common sense.

 

Similarly,
a faith-filled life is also common sense: the Golden Rule says, “Do
unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Jesus says the
greatest commandment is to love God, and the second is to love your
neighbor as yourself. “And yet,” Br. Chris acknowledged, “one of the toughest tasks is to make time for God and get to know others.”

 

“You
reach your manhood,” he concluded, “when you are able to do the right
thing because it is the right thing to do.” The culture needs men and
women to use common sense as St. LaSalle did, who used his common sense
for the common good.

 

The
ceremony concluded with the presentation of academic excellence awards
to students in each math class offered at Cathedral.  Junior Chris Soriano and sophomore Julian Tolosa joined Dean of Students Mr. Mike Trafecanty to present the freshman awards in Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Algebra I Honors, and Geometry Honors.

 

Freshmen Sebastian Hernandez and Xavier Smith invited Ms. Nancy Price, English Department Chair to present awards to sophomores in geometry, Geometry Honors, Algebra II Honors, and AP Calculus.

 

Then freshman Ian Gomez and sophomore Jonathan Calleja joined Ms. Sulema Modesto,
Dean of Studies, to present awards to the juniors in Algebra II,
Algebra II Honors, Statistics, and Pre-Calculus Honors.

 

Finally, freshmen Steven Hernandez and Patrick Vong asked Ms. Loren Martinez, math teacher, to present awards to seniors in Statistics, Pre-Calculus, Pre-Calculus Honors, and AP Calculus.

 

In closing, Mrs. Salas asked Principal Br. John Montgomery to help her present service awards to 32 students, members of the Math
Club Executive Officers, Board of Representatives, and members at large
who helped supervise the games and competitions. Four seniors – David Tababa, Joel Solis, John Castellanos, and Christian Tolosa – received plaques for four years of service and dedication to the Math Club. Eight others – Julian Tolosa, Jesus Martinez, Matias Farfan, Jeremy Joaquin, Henry Garcia, Steven Hernandez, Alvin Fong, and Francisco Lopez – received recognition for their service as tutors at least two days a week during the year.

 

Mathematician of the Year was William Velazquez
for maintaining the highest GPA in mathematics for four years,
continuously earning medals for excellence in math and for dedication to
the Math Club through his service in all activities.

 

Mrs. Salas also recognized the services of several parents, including Mrs. Ethel Daisen-Uy, mother of senior Vincent Uy, for four years of dedication to the Math Club, California Scholarship Federation, and National Honors Society; Ms. Divine Tababa, mother of David Tababa, for four years of providing food for whatever event Mrs. Salas asked of her for the past four years; and Ms. Gayle Marcale Alburo, who has continued to work for the Math Club even though her son Alton (Class of 2007) is currently a junior at New York University!

 

Mrs. Encarnacion Tolosa, mother of senior Christian Tolosa, was warned she could not retire because her son Julian is only a sophomore, so she has two more years to go. She has been helping since the time of her older sons Martin (Class of 2001) and Nick (Class of 2002), so you math types can calculate just how long Mrs. Salas has been depending on her participation!

 

In his closing remarks, Math Club President David Tababa observed  that by participating in events and taking advantage of
the opportunity to join the Board of Representatives as a freshman, he
worked his way up to President of the club. By working closely with Mrs.
Salas, he overcame his initial shyness, performed his duties to the
best of his abilities, and, as he leaves, encourages the freshmen,
sophomores, and juniors to lead it in positive directions.

 

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org.

 


 

Summer Reading Project

April 12, 2010

 

For some time Dean of Studies Sulema Modesto and the Curriculum Committee have been looking at ways to introduce a summer reading program for the Cathedral community.

 

Library-media specialist Helen Moses suggested
“one book, one school” as a way to begin.  In this way, she
explained, everyone at school will be reading the same book, and
teachers can help students see its relevance across the curriculum. A
novel might be too close to an English assignment, so she recommended Three Cups of Tea,
by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. It is a true account of “one
man’s mission to promote peace… one school at a time.”

 

The man is a mountain climber, Greg Mortenson.
In 1993 he was an adventurer on his way to the top of K2, the
second-highest peak in the Himalayas.  His failure to reach the
summit is the beginning of this remarkable story.

 

All
readers can contemplate questions about what constitutes education and
what is important to learn.  They can discuss how Mortenson manages
to show respect for a culture, provide education to the children, and
avoid implying that the native culture is somehow deficient.

People magazine calls him “one protagonist who clearly deserves to be called a hero.”

 

Religion classes can look at Mortenson’s faith and the ways it has shaped his
life. Is Mortenson a committed Christian? How can you tell? How does he
show respect for a religion different from his own? How does he show
respect for the different branches of Islam – Sunni, Shia, Wahhabi, even
Taliban? How closely connected is the culture of Central Asia to its
religion, Islam? How does Islam affect the curriculum in Mortenson’s
schools?

 

Mary Bono, U. S. Representative from California, says, “Greg Mortenson represents the best of America.”

Seniors can use the book as an introduction to U.S. Government.
What does it mean for one government to make promises to another
country’s government? What promises did the U.S. Government make to the
people/government of Pakistan? How have they been kept?

U.S. History students
can look at the last ten years of American involvement in Central Asia
(although this is still a “current events” category). How is the “war on
terror” progressing?

World History
students can examine the European influence on Central Asia as well as
the effect of recent world events. Has Central Asia benefited from
European influence/ colonization?

Diane Sawyer of Good Morning America says, “If we Americans are to learn from our mistakes … we need to listen to Greg Mortenson.”

P.E.
classes can discuss the kind of physical conditioning required for
climbing a mountain. What muscle groups need to be strengthened?

How much weight does a climber carry?  What skills does a climber need to develop and practice to stay in condition?

 

Mountain
climbing, however, is not a “coached” sport. Climbers go in teams, but
they must depend on themselves. How does a climber recognize the need to
stop and rest? What is the endurance limit for cold? What does oxygen
deprivation feel like? How is it treated? How do climbers keep from
freezing? What if they break a bone? Why is descent more dangerous than
ascent?

 

How
is the training for a climber different from the training for a bearer?
How much weight does a bearer carry? What other skills must a bearer
have besides the ability to carry supplies?

 

Games are played according to rules.  What rules does Mortenson
acknowledge as he plays the “game” of getting his first school built?
Who is his “coach” for this game? How do the rules change? Who changes
the rules? Who is the referee?

Science students can look at sports medicine as well as biology and physics
questions. What is pulmonary edema?  What are the symptoms of
pulmonary edema? Why is it a serious condition for climbers?

How
does the climate/weather affect the work that needs to be done? How do
the villagers heat their homes in winter? What crops do they grow during
the summer?

How does Mortenson design and construct a bridge across the Baldrus River chasm? How does he bring water to a refugee camp?

 

Students in Spanish
class can think about the number of languages that exist in Central
Asia and the way Mortenson uses them to communicate with the people he
wants to help (or whose help he needs). How many languages does he
speak? How does he learn them?

 

VPA classes can look at the developing role of technology. What instruments
produce music in this region? Which media are used to create art? What
experience do these people have with theater or drama? Would you
consider music, art, and drama as part of the basic “traditional”
curriculum?

 

Math
students can calculate the cost of building a school in Pakistan, and
then compare that to the cost of our new gymnasium/science complex.

Then
they can calculate the cost of school supplies once the building is
finished. What do the students write with? What do they write on?

Compare this with the cost of the computers in the computer lab, or the technological devices students use at home.

How does the annual cost of supplies for a Cathedral student compare to the annual cost for a Pakistani student?

 

The Washington Post calls Mortenson’s mission “admirable, his conviction unassailable, his territory exotic and his timing excellent.”

 

Such elegant parallel structure leads directly to English classes, which have discussed literature – novels, plays, poems – at
every level. Although this is not fiction, the authors need the language
of literature to make the story come alive.  There are similes,
metaphors, even invented words to describe the indescribable. How does
Mortenson convey his story to the people who can help him? He uses words
and pictures.  But without the words, the pictures have no
meaning.  And without the pictures, the words have no reality.

 

As more information about this reading project becomes available, The Purple Letter will
provide it. If the project works well, we can look forward to another
book next year.  What a concept! The whole school reads and talks
about the same book! Students and teachers have an experience in common
that they can share and discuss outside the classroom.

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org.

 


 

Phantom Family:

Robert Ryan

March 29, 2010

 

 

On Monday, March 22, Mrs. Staveley’s Academic Decathlon team joined Mr. Ryan’s Mock Trial
team as both celebrated their season with a banquet in the MHR
Conference Room. The banquet was an opportunity to recognize students in
both groups for their hard work.

 

Like the Academic Decathlon last year, the Mock Trial is an extra-curricular activity.
Unfortunately, students have difficulty getting together regularly after
school because of sports and other demands on their time. “We like to
have attorneys come in and work with the students,” explained moderator Robert Ryan. However, the rotating schedule made it hard for them to meet with students except after school.

 

Mr.
Ryan explained a little about this competition: “The judges and
attorneys who judge each mock trial [acknowledge noteworthy performance
by] students for their conduct, lines of questioning, objections raised,
etc.” The idea is to learn how the judicial system works by
participating in simulated trials and taking on the roles of plaintiff,
defendant, prosecutor, defense attorney, and witnesses. This year two
members of Cathedral’s mock trial team were recognized by the
Constitutional Rights Foundation, which, according to Mr. Ryan, “runs
the competition for the county.”  Senior Justin Corona,
who last year played a cult leader (the defendant), received honorable
mention this year for his role as an attorney.  Senior Chris Centeno,
the second student, won county-wide recognition as the “outstanding
witness” in the competition. Observed Mr. Ryan, “Everybody enjoyed
[watching] him” and listening to him testify.

 

To
increase student participation, Mr. Ryan is submitting Mock Trial to UC
for approval as an elective.  “Having a class” he points out,
“would … enhance the experience.” If he is successful, “students could
take it multiple years and then do all the work in class.”
If he does not get UC approval, Mr. Ryan plans to use his
law class to prepare for the Mock Trial competition.  Students will
study criminal and Constitutional law during the fall semester, and in
the spring, “the law class will be the mock trial team.”

 

Mr.
Ryan, who also serves as Chair of the Social Studies Department, added
the law class elective to the social studies curriculum and the mock
trial team to Cathedral’s extensive list of extra-curricular activities.

 

Born
in New York City and growing up in Queens, Mr. Ryan later attended
Boston University, where he graduated with a degree in history.  He
started teaching in the Boston suburb of Mansfield, and “hated it” so
much he “swore [he] would never be a teacher.”  When some friends
mentioned they were moving to California, he decided to pick up stakes
and go with them.  He worked in a bookstore while he dreamed of
writing “the great American screenplay.”

 

After
a few years, he began to get bored with this job. He looked at his
options, but “the only thing I could prove I could do,” he conceded,
“was teaching. I had a license for that.” But he had hated teaching, so
resisted.  Then one day he read in a Chinese fortune cookie, “You
will soon change your line of work.”  He took that as a sign and
applied for a position at Our Mother of Good Counsel. During the
interview, the principal asked if he was a practicing Catholic, and Mr.
Ryan recognized there was “no way” he could be hired. Except for
weddings of friends and baptisms of their children, he “hadn’t been to
church in ten years.” Then the principal’s cat jumped into his lap, and
the principal took that as a sign that he should be hired.

 

He
started his new job by going to confession.  He told the priest he
“wanted to come back” to the church, and the priest told him to “stay
at mass” for his penance. While Mr. Ryan continued to learn about his
faith and what it means to be a Catholic, the principal taught Mr.
Ryan’s pupils their religion class. Then in November he met the school’s
music teacher. They fell in love and were married the following
August.

 

Mr.
Ryan and his wife now have four children, two boys and two girls, ages
4, 6, 8, and 10.  The youngest, Patrick, was excited to turn
four.  “I can go to school now, right?” he asked.  “I have
jeans now, so I can go to school!”  Ted, the ten-year-old, wears a
CHS sweatshirt and looks forward to coming to Cathedral when he is old
enough, though he asks if he “will have to write poems” when he gets
there.

 

When
after three years he began to get restless at Our Mother of Good
Counsel, Mr. Ryan responded to a Cathedral ad for a “band/history
teacher” although he could meet only part of the requirement. Dr. Bartel
was hired that year, but Mr. Ryan did not give up. In 2000 he wrote
again, Br. John responded, and he was hired for the fall semester.

 

Asked
how he likes it here, Mr. Ryan grinned.  “My dad worked for forty
years in the same building,” he recalled. Until he came to Cathedral,
Mr. Ryan “had never worked anywhere more than three years.”  He
found the faculty to be very welcoming and did not feel like an
outsider. Now, after ten years on the job, he hopes he will not ever
have to leave.

 

Mr. Ryan joined the faculty just before the science-gymnasium building project; so of course, he has seen physical changes in the
campus. However, the student body has grown by over one hundred
students, and he finds that they are more pro-active regarding college
rather than just “letting it happen to them.” The school has made a
concerted effort to become “more professional,” too, as evidenced by the
requirement for Minutes of Department meetings and improved WASC evaluations.

 

As
Chair of the Social Studies Department, Mr. Ryan has tried to align the
curriculum to the California state standards.  To that end the
department has adopted two new textbooks, one for U.S. History and the
other for World History. In aligning the curriculum to the CLEOs
(Cathedral Lasallian Educational Outcomes) as well, the Department
members have developed projects that all the classes are expected to do,
so that no matter which teacher students are assigned, they will all
have the same learning experience. For example, currently the juniors
are researching U.S. Presidents and evaluating them.  After Easter
they will bracket them (like the NCAA basketball tournament teams) and
debate each one to choose a “Presidential Final Four.”

 

One
of his ideas for improving the academic ranking of the school would be
for the sports teams to employ an academic coach for their athletes.
This would enable athletic coaches to focus on sports skills, while
another adult would help the team with their academics.

 

It
comes as no surprise that he enjoys the challenge of working with
students. “The intellectual curiosity of some, the resistance of others –
is a good thing,” he points out.  He likes to hear what students
say when they come back a few years after graduation.

 

Asked
what changes he would make if he were in charge, Mr. Ryan demurred. “I
think everybody’s in the right job,” he said.  “I would alienate
too many people [because] I want everything to be consistent, but other
teachers need flexibility.  I don’t think I could create a policy”
that would satisfy everybody.  Then he conceded, “I have changed in
this job, because when I came, I was going to change the world.”
He jokes that in the classroom, “the names change, but the faces remain
the same.”

 

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org.

 


 

Schoolwide Writing Project

March 22, 2010

 

As
anyone knows who has been to college, or who has worked for more than
five years, writing is a key skill.  The Schoolwide Writing Project
is designed to help Cathedral students develop this skill by focusing
on writing outside the English curriculum.

 

The
writing part took place, as scheduled, during the second week of
February.  A dozen students, absent on the writing day, made up the
assignment in the library at a later date.

 

The
subject area teachers (Spanish, biology, religion, and U.S. Government)
have scored all the essays, and in fact, if your son is a senior, he
already has the scores for his timed writing, and they should be entered
in PowerSchool in both classes. Soon English teachers at the freshman,
sophomore, and junior grade levels will be turning in their scores as
well.

 

As explained in earlier articles,
Cathedral is unique in administering this annual cross-curricular
writing project. In past years, before the school instituted this
project, many Cathedral graduates, accepted to UC campuses, were unable
to pass the UC Writing Placement exam. Graduates enrolling at Cal State
faced a similar problem. As a result, they had to take a class in basic
writing skills, which (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 had the
ability to write at the college level, but they lacked practice writing
under the pressure of time. 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 has become more important than ever.

 

By
participating in the Writing Project, students get the practice they
need, and by early May of their senior year, when they sit for the
Writing Placement exam for UC, Cal State, or any other college or
university, they will show that they are ready for college level
instruction in writing.

 

This year an additional report will be added to the scoring records. The yearbook class, having met their final deadline, will embark this week on a statistics project.  Under the direction of their moderator, Dean of Services John Ferrante, they will collate two years’ worth of scores by grade level, student number, English teacher, and subject area teacher.

 

Eventually
there will be a linear record of each student’s progress from freshman
through senior year, and Cathedral’s administration wants to find out if
there is, indeed, an improvement in student writing over the years.

 

Besides
scoring statistics, the yearbook class will also compile survey
responses from students and teachers about the Writing Project
experience.  These responses, together with the correlation between
practice and proficiency, will help refine the project and make it more
effective.

 

The
best indication of the success of the Project, of course, will be that
more seniors who are accepted to four-year institutions will pass the
writing placement tests and enroll in the freshman writing course
required of all college students.

 

For information on how the Schoolwide Writing Project works, click here.

UPDATE: Zack Gonzalez says his fund-raiser, “Play Now for Autism” is coming up March 28. He sent this video link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUD8V3BQTJk

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org.

 


 

The Crucible

March 15, 2010.

 

John and Elizabeth Proctor, Judge
Danforth, Rev. Hale, Rev. Parris, and Abigail Williams confront one
another in this play about fear and conscience.

 

Just as the witch trials began in Salem on a March day over three centuries ago, so Cathedral’s production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible opens on March 19 in the Annex Theater for seven performances. Evening performances are at 7:30 p.m. on two successive weekends: Friday, March 19, Saturday, March 20, and then Thursday, March 25, Friday March 26, and Saturday, March 27. Two Sunday matinees on March 21 and March 28 begin at 2:30 p.m.

 

When
the play opened on Broadway in January of 1953, the parallels between
the 1692 witch trials and Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s search for Communists
were deliberate and unmistakable. Many critics expected the play to lose
its relevance once the “Red scare” was past, but they were wrong.
Even though Death of a Salesman is arguably Arthur Miller’s masterpiece, The Crucible remains the one most often produced.

 

In an interview, Director Joseph Walsh finds himself “excited by the challenge” helping his cast “to fully
imagine the kind of … public hysteria” that arises “when lives are
taken away because [people] are accused of something they are not guilty
of.”

 

For
today’s generation, history begins with the events of 9/11. It is not
such a stretch to imagine what it is like when the cloud of suspicion
spreads from a minority to larger and larger groups until it extends to
the whole community – to everyone.

 

And
suspicion grows in strange places.  “Even in a Catholic school
with its dedication to the Catholic faith,” says Mr. Walsh, it is
difficult for students to understand that seventeenth-century Puritans
required such “strict adherence to what the Bible says, [that]
expressing a difference of opinion” could lead to excommunication,
expulsion from civilized society, and even death.

 

As
an analogy, Mr. Walsh suggested imagining that “witch” means
“terrorist” and “witchcraft” is a plan or program “in your computer”
that will “blow up the White House.” Do you think you would be able to keep any electronic devices or communications private after such an accusation?

And what if conviction meant you had to forfeit all your possessions and your family had no property or means of support? There
might be greedy and unscrupulous folks who decide to enrich themselves
by buying the forfeited property at closeout prices (and paying the
government, not the original owner).

Do
you think a greedy and unscrupulous person might be motivated to make
an accusation in order to increase his personal wealth?

 

Students
can find this drama in the English III textbook, but plays were meant
to be seen, not read. “The play requires a certain adult maturity on the
part of the actors,” Mr. Walsh noted, and he is pleased with the large
number of seniors in the cast, among them Justin Rodriguez, who was cast as John Proctor even though he had never before auditioned.

 

Another
issue raised by the play is the lack of personal privacy. Mr. Walsh
points out that in the first scene, “people simply walk in [to Betty’s
room] without permission.” In scene two, when Rev. Hale (Jorge Bojorkez)
calls on the Proctors, he does not even knock; he just “appears in the
doorway.” According to Mr. Walsh, the playwright uses this “invasion of
privacy [to express] a need for privacy of thoughts.”

 

Changes
in lighting also affect the mood, as does the size of the set. Act II,
for example, opens in the vestry (an outer room) of the church where the
trial is being held.  It is small room, indicating that events are
closing in, and the disembodied voice of the judge represents the
individual’s loss of control.

 

The first character on stage is Rev. Parris, played by senior Steve Flores.
Parris is a hard man to like, according to Steve. “He is the third
minister in seven years at this church,” Steve explains. He was “a
businessman in Barbados” before he became a minister, but he also
“graduated from Harvard,” which adds a certain arrogance to his
character. “He is scared that the town might throw him out if they
discover [his daughter] Betty was doing witchcraft.” He is worried about
this particularly because “he saw the girls dancing” and that is a sign
of the devil for this community. At the end of the play, however, he
wants to save the convicted witches by persuading them to confess.
(Confessed witches can be saved; the unconfessed are unrepentant, and
must die.)

 

Another character who faces charges of witchcraft is Giles Corey, played by Roberto Valerin.
For Roberto, the play is about “what can happen when people are taken
over by fear,” and it becomes “the law of the land.”  He admires
Corey because he “doesn’t know fear.” Like Proctor, he is a voice
against the majority, but unlike Proctor, his past means “he is not
taken seriously.” Nonetheless, Roberto finds it “amazing” that “someone
as old as he is” is willing to clash with Deputy Governor Danforth even
though he knows he is “fighting a losing battle.”

 

Stephen Castillo likes
playing Deputy Governor Danforth because “he commands silence when he
walks into a room.” In a way, Danforth is “an allegory of the Devil”
Stephen observes.  At the beginning of the play, the expert, Rev.
Hale, explains that “the Devil wants your name in his book,” and at the
end, Danforth is demanding that “Proctor sign his name in the book.”
Even though “he knows he’s wrong,” Stephen continues, Danforth “wants
off the hook” so he cannot be blamed for the deaths.

 

The
actors were quick to praise the rest of the cast, too, including girls
from Ramona, Sacred Heart, Notre Dame, and Immaculate Heart.
“Every day a new person leads the group, raising the stakes,” says
Stephen. He mentioned Jazmin De La Torre, who plays Ann Putnam, mother of one of the girls, and Sally Arias, who plays Mercy Lewis, one of the girls who cry out against the “witches.”  Other actresses worth noting are Hazel Cortez, who plays the wily Abigail; and Jasminae Edwards as Tituba, the slave from Barbados, who brings new knowledge to Salem.

 

UPDATE: Zack Gonzalez says his fund-raiser, “Play Now for Autism” is coming up March 28. Watch for details.

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org.

 


 

Phantom Family:

A Conversation with

Gary Bertolone, Part II

March 8, 2010

 

Man and boy, Gary Bertolone has
been affiliated with Cathedral High School since 1969 – over 40 years!
His name is on the wall of Phantoms for Life between the Senior Building
and the new Keck Science Building, and it is inscribed on plaques in
the reception area of the school. This week we continue with our
interview from Feb. 22.

 

Asked what he likes best about Cathedral, his first response is “the students.” But then he modifies it: “the opportunities for the students.” Cathedral, he maintains, “opens doors. There is no
reason [Phantoms] cannot graduate and have choices [especially because]
other schools don’t offer these opportunities.” A few minutes later he
continues: “It’s hard to say what I like the most, but it’s the faculty.”

 

He mentioned the many Christian Brothers who have worked here.  Although Br. LaSalle and the late Br. Bede were never his teachers, he did work with them when they returned to Cathedral later. “Br. Martin [Yribarren], Br. Edmond [LaRouche], and Br. Xavier [now Fr. Lavagetto] all started their careers here.”  He praised
them not only for their strength and commitment, but also because unlike
some other orders, the Brothers have always acknowledged lay faculty
and staff who “buy into the Lasallian philosophy.” He is pleased that
“they accept us as individuals.”

 

Then he commented on the lay faculty.
Years ago there was “a small core” of the faithful with lots of
“revolving-door” teachers. “Even the Brothers,” he said, were not
allowed to stay for too long before they were transferred elsewhere.
Today the faculty is very stable in spite of finances and the
frustrations that come with the territory. This line of thought brought
up a related issue: “Why do we continue to go crazy here?” he asked
rhetorically. “Why do we stay?” Then he answered his own question.
“We’re driven, motivated by the things that these guys [students] get
from us.” And he recognizes this drive in all of the faculty and staff,
whether they are experts in their field or non-experts, no matter their
personalities. “There are days I don’t care,” he admitted. “But the next
day [I] come back. Frustration is part of the mix.”

 

Asked to recall how his alma mater has changed over the years, Mr. Bertolone said, “It’s all for the better.” When he
started working here, the school “was only a few years removed from not
even having bells!”  He recalled that “the Archdiocese almost
closed the school” in 1984, and “we almost closed ourselves” in
difficult financial times, but “we survived even the 1992 riots.”
Cathedral, he says, “continues to reflect the times,” yet “the character
… is the same.”  Back in the early days when there was “a lot of
social outcry and disorder,” he points out, “the school still had a lot
of potential.”  Today much more of that potential is being
realized.  Cathedral is “more directed, more serious,”
even though “the kids are the same.” For evidence he pointed to the
Honor Roll assembly.  “Twenty-five years ago,” he laughed, “no way”
would there have been so many students proud of their academic
achievement.  “It’s really hip now to get good grades,” he
observed.

 

And it is not just academic attitudes that have improved. Program opportunities have increased as well. “Twenty years ago we dreamt of having [a
variety of athletic] programs.” Now Cathedral has not only football,
basketball, baseball, soccer, track, and cross country, but golf,
tennis, water polo, and swimming. “We’ve always been competitive,” he
pointed out, “but now we are competitors. That’s really something.”

 

What about other extra-curricular activities?

Although Cathedral’s drama program experienced a break of several years, Mr. Bertolone recalls
that even when he was a student, the theater arts department “was
outstanding.” The school “always had high quality” productions.
Audiences who have attended plays and musicals over the past eleven
years will agree that Cathedral’s reputation for excellence in theater
arts is in good hands with Mr. Walsh. (And next week’s article on The Crucible will demonstrate that this tradition continues.)

 

Mr. Bertolone also enthusiastically endorses the music program under Dr. Bartel,
also in its eleventh year. “I love it because our kids come in not
knowing an instrument,” and they learn to play. He acknowledges that
Cathedral’s football and basketball players “come in knowing how to play
the game.” By contrast, he explains, “Our musicians are rookies, just
learning it. I don’t know of any other schools that [teach so many
beginners] annually. Look at how many kids graduate, and they know how
to play an instrument!” These electives, he believes, are opportunities
to explore career possibilities.

 

After so many years, what is the most difficult part of your job?  He laughed again. “The most difficult part is
waking up in the morning.” Recalling his former L.A. County employer, Mr. Bertolone said, “He used to come to the games I coached. He envied me because [he could tell] I really enjoyed my work.”

 

And that brings up a final question: If he could do something to make Cathedral better, what would Mr. Bertolone do?

 

Although
it was hard at first to think of anything, Mr. Bertolone responded by
relating an experience that occurred during his commute to work.
Recently a fellow passenger, who knew of his connection to Cathedral,
asked him about an incident at another school where a student had
attacked the principal. The passenger remarked, “I never would have
thought it would happen there. Maybe at Cathedral a few years ago.” The
passenger “wasn’t trying to be cute” with this comment, Mr. Bertolone
pointed out, even though it was, in a sense, offensive.  “Not once
did I ever feel threatened – as a student, as Dean, as a teacher, or
anything,” he declared unequivocally. And what’s more, “I never heard a
teacher talk about being scared.”

 

The story, however, represents a real but erroneous perception of our school. So his answer is to “develop a way to communicate
to each of the different committed factions (academics, activities,
administration, admissions, arts, athletics, development, faculty,
parents, staff, students, etc.) just how the other factions contribute
to the good of the school.  “Everyone’s committed,” he insists,
“but, I’m ashamed to say, in a selfish way.” Perhaps because they lack
Mr. Bertolone’s extensive history with the school, many people “don’t
quite understand why things are the way they are.” Now that he is
no longer in administration and “in the thick of deciding,” he can look
“at the grand scheme of things,” and see that “the picture is great.”
It bothers him when members of one group “don’t respect” what members of
another group are doing.  “They don’t have to agree,” he conceded,
but they need to “respect it.”

 

Whether
it is misinformation (as with the commuter on the train) or a lack of
consensus, he says, such factionalism hurts the school. Instead, let us
follow Mr. Bertolone’s own example: “I’m having the time of my life. I
enjoy the classroom and the camaraderie. And I’m getting paid for it.”

UPDATE: Zack Gonzalez says his fund-raiser, “Play Now for Autism” is coming up March 28. Watch for details.

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org.

 


 

Hamlet comes to Cathedral

March 1, 2010

 

Once
again the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival is bringing a troupe of
players to Cathedral.  This year the production is Hamlet, Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy.  There will be a special schedule on Tuesday, March 2, for two performances.

 

Rebecca
J. Ennals, now in her sixth year as director of Shakespeare on Tour,
“believes that arts education can inspire children and teens to achieve
at every level.” She is well qualified for her position, with an MFA in
performance from UC Davis and a BA from Scripps College. She also has
experience in education, having worked as an Artist in Residence at
various school districts around the Bay area, and developed several
programs to serve at-risk youth.

 

This
is the first time Shakespeare on Tour has attempted the full plot of
Hamlet.  The script began in “a Teen Camp production” and Ms.
Ennals says she “went through about six drafts, doing readings with
actors along the way to make sure it was about an hour in length.”
Even though the text has been edited for time, the language is still
Shakespeare’s, and that is an advantage.  Students who have
difficulty with the vocabulary and syntax can learn from the actions and
inflections of the actors.

 

She
recommends that students be introduced to “the whole play, and discuss
the reasons for the cuts later when they’ve seen our version.” She also
recommends using an annotated text, one with notes and explanations,
rather than “a text-only version from the internet.”  A good
dictionary is also helpful.

 

Cathedral’s college preparatory curriculum also endorses these techniques for studying Shakespeare.  In fact, because Mr. Matteson’s
seniors have just finished reading the (annotated) Folger edition of
the play, they will probably have the best insights into
characterization and motivation. They will also know best which scenes
have been cut; this is, after all, Shakespeare’s longest play at over
1400 lines.  (Richard Attenborough’s film version starring Kenneth
Branagh contains every word and runs about four hours, not including
intermission.  That is handy for illustrating particular scenes,
but not many have time necessary to view the play in its entirety.)

 

Mr.
Matteson has assigned his students a one-page critique of Tuesday’s
production. They will examine “what was left out and why.”  The
boys are “already invested in it,” he explains, because their final
project was to produce their own version of the play. (In one
adaptation, Andrew Clark, as the ghost of Michael Jackson, asked his son to avenge his murder by the doctor. Anthony Jefferson played a supporting role.) Mr. Matteson looks forward to “a lively critical discussion.”

 

The
Shakespeare on Tour production uses the talents of several who have
worked on earlier Tours: composer Bill Walker, set designer Serina
Serjama, and fight choreographer Carla Pantoja, who choreographed the
duels in last year’s Romeo and Juliet. Unlike the Revolutionary
Mexican setting of last year’s show, director Ennals decided to go with
traditional sets and costumes for Hamlet.

 

Auditions
were held in June, and five full-time and five alternate actors were
hired.  You may recognize several of them from Romeo and Juliet. Between
June and September, the director, the composer and the set designer
worked on music, set, costumes and props, getting them ready for
rehearsals.

 

Rehearsals
began in late September, according to Director Ennals, “five days a
week, six hours a day.”  In addition to staging, language, props,
costumes and sets, they also learned the steps of the fight scene. The
fight director is called a “choreographer” because she directs the
movements of the fight scene as if it were a dance, with each player
moving in a particular direction and in a certain sequence.

 

It
is not enough to learn the roles they play; actors and their alternates
also were trained by Kirstin Clippard, the Festival’s education
associate, to teach the “Playshops,” special workshops to help students
learn about various aspects of theatrical production.

After a preview before a live audience, the cast received their final notes from the director, and the tour was underway.

 

The
San Francisco Shakespeare Festival is one of the Bay Area’s leading
providers of arts education for youth. It has three Bay Area programs:
(1) Free Shakespeare in the Park, which brings Shakespeare to
approximately 20,000 people in five Bay area communities every summer;
(2) Shakespeare camps, which Over 800 children and teens attend
throughout the Bay Area; and (3) Midnight Shakespeare, an after-school
program for children and teens in low-income areas of San Jose, Oakland,
and San Francisco.

 

Cathedral High School
is pleased to be included in the statewide Shakespeare on Tour, which
brings these excellent productions to 120,000 children every school
year.

For more information about SFSF and its programs, please visit Hyperlink http://www.sfshakes.org. www.sfshakes.org.

 

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org.

 


 

The Phantom Family:

Gary Bertolone

Feb. 22, 2010

 

Gary
Bertolone epitomizes Cathedral and has dedicated his life to making his
alma mater a worthy educational institution. Growing up in El Sereno,
he enrolled at Cathedral as a freshman in 1969, and, in his own words,
“I had the time of my life.” An admittedly “lazy student,” he
nonetheless maintained a 2.8 GPA, served as student body president his
senior year, was class salutatorian, speaking at his graduation in 1973,
and received the James Meegan award for outstanding dedication to the
school.

 

For
college he first went north to St. Mary’s, the Brothers’ school in
Moraga, and then transferred to Whittier College. It was at Whittier
that he learned to take academics seriously.  “They had a 3-1-3
system,” he said, which meant he took two classes for six weeks, took a
final, and then took two more classes for six weeks, followed by another
final.  There was no time to catch up if he fell behind.  He
quickly realized, “I’ve got to learn how to study!” And he did,
graduating in 1978 with a major in sociology and a minor in English.

 

That
was the year Proposition 13 passed, and jobs were hard to find. He
started as a part-time messenger for Los Angeles County and dropped by
Cathedral looking for a teaching position, but there were no openings.
He had just about decided to go back to school for a graduate degree
when a miracle happened. “Two or three days before school started,” he
recalled, “a Spanish teacher quit,” and the English Department Chair,
Rich Weldon, suggested to Principal Br. James Meegan that Mr. Bertolone
be hired to fill the vacancy.

 

No,
he did not become a Spanish teacher.  The rest of the faculty got
shuffled a bit, and Mr. Bertolone found himself teaching four sections
of English (one at each grade level – freshman, sophomore, junior, and
senior) plus a PE class.  He also coached “baseball and a little
bit of football.”

 

In
his willingness to serve Cathedral in whatever capacity he could,
however, Mr. Bertolone also served for twelve years in the
administration, and his coaching responsibilities were passed on to
others.

 

During
his administrative career, Mr. Bertolone held many positions, including
Director of Student Activities, Dean of Students, Assistant Principal,
and unofficial Dean of Services (before that position was
created).  He was Summer School Principal for six or eight years,
arranging for teachers, setting up both makeup and enrichment classes,
and keeping track of attendance and curriculum requirements.
Several years ago, Principal Br. Michael Saggau’s health deteriorated
because of severe back trouble. His surgery and recovery took about six
months, during which time Mr. Bertolone was Cathedral’s Acting
Principal.

 

Although
he likes teaching best, he says “Being Dean of Students comes close.
That was a job I thoroughly enjoyed.” He wanted to do more than correct;
he wanted students to see the “why” behind the correction. There have
always been kids at Cathedral who, some think, “do not belong,” as he
put it.  And it is true that the Dean usually gets to see students
only when they are in trouble. And yet, says Mr. Bertolone, “in my years
as Dean I was able to meet and help a majority of the students.” He
feels fortunate that he was able to connect with them “through the
heart,” and that made his job “a lot easier.”  Even when he failed –
“and we failed together, these students and I” – those who left the
school did so “with a good taste in their mouth.” Years later, he says,
these men have “nothing but good things to say about this school.”

 

Over
the years, in addition to his past English classes and his current four
sections of U.S. Government, he has also taught Geography, U.S.
History, Health, PE, Typing (before computers), Psychology, Sociology,
Economics, Driver’s Education, Current Events, and “Independent Study.”
This last brought a smile to his face as he reminisced about “seniors
who hadn’t learned” what they should have in their classes. Mr.
Bertolone’s job was to help them make up the units they were missing so
they could graduate. “Lou Parlapiano called it ‘The Birdwatchers
Club,’” he laughed.

 

No
matter the occasion, Mr. Bertolone finds the right words to describe
the situation, explain the options, synthesize the many opinions on the
subject, and encourage and inspire the appropriate response.  He
has even been known to offer the occasional rebuke when he feels it is
necessary.

Even
now, Mr. Bertolone is the all-purpose “go-to” guy to get things done.
He supervises setting up the gym for rallies, assemblies, Masses, and
other special events and looks after the equipment when it gets put
away.

 

We
will return to Mr. Bertolone and find out how he thinks Cathedral has
changed since he graduated over thirty-five years ago.  Those who
care about the school can learn from the perspective of someone who has
been around long enough to see the “big picture.”

 

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org.

 


 

Academic Decathletes

Take Honors

Feb. 15, 2010

 

Under the capable guidance of moderator Beverly Staveley and with the encouragement of Team Captain Chris Soriano,
the Cathedral’s two Academic Decathlon teams participated in Divisions 2
and 3 at the Regional Private School Decathlon Competition at Bishop
Alemany High School in Granada Hills.  This year the eleven-hour
competition was split between two Saturdays. Seven one-hour Scantron
tests in seven subject areas (literature & language, music, science,
art, mathematics, economics, and social science) were administered on
January 30, and testing of the three subjective events (interviews,
speeches, timed writings) and the Super Quiz took place on February
6.

 

Each
team is made up of three students at the Honors level (GPA 3.6 and
above); three at the Scholastic level (GPA 3.0 to 3.5); three at the
Varsity level (GPA of 2.99 or below), plus one alternate. Medals are
awarded at each level for each subject area.

 

Competing in Division 2 were veterans of last year’s competition, beginning with junior Chris Soriano, Team Captain; junior Erick Linares, co-captain; seniors Steve Flores and Jeremy Joaquin; juniors Gabriel Gutierrez, Eddie Franco, Alvin Fong, Robert Martinez, and Luis Isidro. One newcomer who made the first team was junior Quinton Hom.

 

The Division 3 competitors were led by three veterans of last year’s Decathlon: juniors Henry Garcia and Alex Rodriguez; and sophomore Edgar Maldonado. Rounding out the team were rookies Justin Pasion, Amiresh Patel, Giovanni Ugalde, and Carlos Zamudio, all juniors; plus sophomores Matias Farfan, David Guerra, and Bernardo Delgado (alternate).

 

Moral support and cheerleading was provided by parents, Moderator Beverly Staveley, Dean of Studies Sulema Modesto, Dean of Students Wendy Ruiz, and Mr. Walter Durham,
who took time out from constructing the sets for the spring play to
provide transportation for the teams. In addition, former Academic
Decathlon coach Bruce Matteson helped score the essays.

 

Phantoms
competed with over 300 students from several dozen private and Catholic
schools from as far away as Paraclete (Lancaster), Mater Dei (Santa
Ana), Whittier Christian, and Santa Clara (Oxnard), as well as
traditional rivals in the greater Los Angeles area: Serra, St. Francis,
Notre Dame, Bishop Alemany, Flintridge Sacred Heart,
Bellarmine-Jefferson, St. Joseph, and St. Monica, to name a few.

 

Last year’s story pointed out the advantages of Academic Decathlon as an elective rather than an extra-curricular activity.  Mrs. Staveley, as well as parents who read and responded to the Purple Letter,
persuaded the Administration to make Academic Decathlon an elective
with scheduled class time for preparation. Last year’s teams won
fourteen medals. This year Mrs. Staveley said she wanted “at least twenty medals,” and the Phantoms did not let her down.  They came home with twenty-one!

 

As
followers of this activity are aware, the theme changes from year to
year. Last year it was Mexico; this year it was the French Revolution,
including the novel A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens.
The boys received their notebooks of information last March, so they
have been preparing for a year to meet the requirements of the
competition.

 

In Division 2, Phantoms took both gold (junior Erick Linares) and silver (junior Gabriel Gutierrez)
medals in Language & Literature, which included questions on the
subject novel, additional selections from the Study Guide, and an
impromptu reading of an excerpt from Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God to test reading comprehension. In addition, senior Steve Flores won gold for music. Bronze medals went to Erick Linares for science; Gabriel Gutierrez for the essay (timed writing); and Robert Martinez for his individual score on the Super Quiz.

 

The
mathematics competition, which was only the second of seven objective
tests, left the two teams stunned. Leaving the testing room, they
“looked like they’d been hit by a bus,” said Mrs. Staveley later. Junior Robert Martinez asked if anyone had (calculus teacher) Mike Trafecanty’s home phone number. Luis Isidro,
a veteran of last year’s competition, was ready to concede
defeat.  “Get the van,” he said. “We’re going home.” Asked what
made the subject so difficult for them, junior Eddie Franco replied, “It was all A & B calculus,” and he is only in Pre-Cal Honors.  On the other hand, junior Erick Linares is “barely into Algebra II.” Of course, it didn’t help that Erick and Robert had forgotten to bring their calculators. Nonetheless, the two teams won a total of SEVEN medals in mathematics! Juniors Eddie Franco and Alvin Fong used their trusty calculators to take silver in this event, and Robert Martinez, Luis Isidro, and Erick Linares took bronze. In Division 3, sophomores Matias Farfan and David Guerra took gold and bronze, respectively.  How did they do it? Erick said he “tried to find connections to the answers” and eliminate
obvious “distracters” (test maker’s lingo for wrong answers). Many of
his answers were really educated guesses.  [Note to future
decathletes: Bring your calculators!]

 

The interviews were less stressful because they were based on the students’ own resumes.  At different levels, juniors Eddie Franco and Alvin Fong won silver medals for their interviews. Eddie began by saying his first experience with Academic Decathlon was “as
somebody else” last year. (He was an alternate who found himself
involved in the competition because one of the team members did not
attend.) Alvin talked about his parents, both of whom
emigrated as teenagers from Vietnam with their parents. Both boys said
they were able to relax and make the judges laugh, and, as Alvin put it,
“that made it more like a conversation.” [Note to future decathletes:
Judges have a sense of humor!]

 

In Division 3, veteran Alex Rodriguez, a junior, won a silver medal in music. But four rookies, Carlos Zamudio and Giovanni Ubalde (juniors); Matias Farfan and David Guerra (sophomores), accounted for the team’s SEVEN other medals. Carlos
took gold in economics, using information on supply-and-demand gleaned
from his sophomore World History class because CHS currently does not
offer an elective in economics. Giovanni won silver for his individual score on the Super Quiz and took a bronze in art; Matias achieved gold in mathematics and silver in art; and David won two bronze medals, one in math and the other in economics.

 

Twenty-one medals for eighteen participants! An outstanding accomplishment by any standard, but their goal for next year is to win
even more!  Stay tuned. The new packet arrives in a few weeks, and
the training begins anew.

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org.

 


 

El Otro Lado

February 8, 2010

Service trip participants Dec. 26-30, 2009. Photo by Abel Gutierrez

 

On Thursday, February 4, students filed into the gym to music obtained for the occasion by freshman Christopher Lopez,
the Staple Singers’ “Respect Yourself.” It was the second annual
Lasallian Core Principles Assembly, focusing on the humanitarian aspects
of the immigration issue.

The assembly was organized by the nine students who participated in the service trip during Christmas break, with help from Br. Chris Patino. After freshman Nickolas Leguizamon opened with a prayer, junior Andres Hernandez,
Master of Ceremonies, indicated the five lit candles on the altar and
explained that they symbolized commitment of each class and the school
as a whole to show respect for ourselves and our neighbors. This respect
is the focus of the assembly. Having respect for yourself, he pointed
out, means you have the integrity of a true man, and you can make the
right choices.

The guest speaker, Mr. Eli Handy,
works at the Midnight Mission, a Lasallian youth service site, as a
case manager and medical specialist. Located on Skid Row, the Mission
serves the homeless popu-lation by providing meals, social services, and
a rehabilitation program for addicts. He concluded his remarks on
respect and character by noting, “Failing is not the worst thing in the
world. Hurting is.”

Andres
then returned to invoke Black History Month, which recalls the
contributions of black Americans to our society, and their struggle for
respect and human rights. Yet the struggle for justice goes on, and he
introduced senior Jose Gonzalez, who confessed that
last year’s assembly had “ignited a passion” in him, and he had “made a
secret vow” to participate in the experience known as “El Otro Lado,”
a firsthand look at the journey of the immigrant. His powerful
descriptions were borne out by a slide show produced by freshman Blake Martin, showing each step of the boys’ journey to “The Other Side.” Blake used pictures taken by Abel Gutierrez and backed up the images with words from such diverse sources as
“Hello, Bonjour” by Michael Franti and Spearhead; “Can’t Stop” by
Ozomatli; “One Day” by Matisyahu; and “Tie My Hands” by Lil Wayne. As
emcee Andres Hernandez said, “We hope the images give
you a glimpse of the great impact made on us and inspire you to join
Lasallian Youth in its efforts to serve others.”

At 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, December 26, nine Phantoms left with Br. Chris Patino and photographer Abel Gutierrez for San Miguel High School in Tucson, Arizona, where they met members
of that student body who would join them for the week’s activities. The
following day at Mass, the priest acknowledged their presence and their
goals.  On Monday they drove 60 miles to Nogales, a border town
between Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. Crossing the boundary to look at the
other side of the wall, they noticed border patrol agents watching
them. Back in town, their next task was to ask inhabitants for their
opinions on the immigration issue, but most respondents were hesitant,
giving only very short answers. Then they returned to Tucson to prepare
for the third day.

On
December 28 they arose before dawn to meet members of “Los
Samaritanos,” an organization of humanitarian volunteers who served as
their guides in “the desert of lost souls.” Forty miles north of the
border, they went to collect the “pieces of people’s lives” that had
been left behind on their journey. They also saw tanks of potable water
(kept filled by Los Samaritanos) for the travelers to drink – if they
get this far. Blake’s slide show also included some heart-breaking
statistics: The bodies of 125 immigrants were recovered in Pima County
between 1990 and 1999. In the next five years (2000 – 2005), 802 bodies
were recovered. The group collected over 65 thirty-gallon bags of
belongings – shoes, both individual and pairs, empty water bottles,
empty food containers, children’s clothing, and children’s toys. There
is no one to tell their story, so the boys brought back some examples,
which lay on the tables in front of the altar.

The
next day they went to the courthouse to see “Operation Streamline,” a
legal process designed during the Bush Administration to discourage
illegal immigration from Mexico. First offenders are charged with a
misdemeanor and can receive up to six months in jail before being sent
back to Mexico.  Second offenders are charged with a felony and can
serve up to twenty years in prison (at U.S. taxpayer expense).
After watching five cases at a time run through the system, one of the
boys described the courthouse as “a factory” and the immigrants as
“meat” that is “butchered and sorted.”  Noting that “Operation
Streamline” diverts resources from prosecution of violent crime and puts
undue strain on the court calendar, the boys concluded that the system
is inhumane and violates basic human rights.

On
their visit to a Border Patrol station, they anticipated a different
perspective with information about how illegal immigrants are caught.
“We expected them to be aware of what we had just gone through the
past 3 days and to actually counter some of the arguments we heard
against the Border Patrol,” Jose said. “Our tour guide said he had a
Power point presentation ready along with a demonstration by one of the
K-9 units. None of this happened….and we got the feeling he didn’t
care.” There were no demonstrations or explanations, so they left,
disappointed and irritated, without asking very many questions.

Jose
concluded that the trip helped them understand a little bit about “how
hard it is to emigrate from one country you have called your home to
another that you know very little about. We … realize that
[immigrants] are people too. We also found out that outside information
is nothing” compared to actual experience.

During
a moment of silence at the end of the slide show, a number of students
walked out of the gym and returned bearing votive candles. Led by the
remaining participants – sophomore Cristian Alegria, freshman Christopher Lopez, senior Armando Morales, and sophomore Alejandro Toruno – they set their candles on the tables on either side of the altar,
flanking the representative pieces of the lives of those who crossed the
desert.

“These 191 candles,” said freshman Franklin Munoz, “represent the number of immigrants who lost their lives last year as they journeyed to America for a better life.”

He
then reminded the audience that “respect for all persons is a Lasallian
Core Principle” and invited the student body to “create a brotherhood
built on respect for all persons and thus possess true Phantom
pride.”

Rudy Award Update: We regret that Kyle Merrill did not win a scholarship from the Rudy Foundation, but he is still a winner to us!

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org.

 


 

Junior Honors: Pin Assembly and Ring Mass

February 1, 2010

 

Last
Thursday was a dress-up day, with the entire student body in dress
shirts, ties, slacks and dress shoes. The occasion was Cathedral High
School’s recognition of the junior class.

 

Of
the nearly 200 freshmen who enrolled in the fall of 2007, one quarter
did not make it to junior year. Every spring Cathedral accepts many
eighth-graders who are at risk of not completing the requirements for
graduation, so it is not unusual for class size to decline from year to
year. Reasons vary from academics to finances to (rarely) discipline
issues. However, those who remain are here because they want to stay.
Strong in character, they know what it takes to reach their goal. The
Junior Pin Ceremony honors the Class of 2011 and initiates them into
upper division status.

 

With
the junior class seated in the gym facing the seniors, and with
freshmen and sophomores looking on from the bleachers, Junior Class
Moderator Jamie Murphy recalled receiving his own
junior class ring “shortly after the Ice Age.” Sitting at a card table,
an administrator handed him a small paper envelope, and inside was his
ring. And that was the extent of his school’s recognition of the junior
class.  “This celebration,” he pointed out, “is the first of the
Big Three occasions in your high school career. Next is the
Baccalaureate Mass, and the last is graduation.” Then, as Mr. Gary Bertolone, dean of the faculty, called the students’ names, Principal Br. John Montgomery and Mr. Murphy presented each junior with his class pin.

 

At
one time, both the Pin Ceremony and Ring Mass took place during the
school day, but at some point, the Mass moved to the evening so that
invited friends and family might bear witness as the juniors formally
recognized their relationship with God, with the school, and with CHS
history. According to Mr. Murphy, “Very few students choose not to attend.”

 

Tradition
calls this a “Ring” Mass, but buying a ring is not necessary to
participate. The Mass was organized, prepared and led by the junior
religion classes with help from the Office of Campus Ministry. The
students quoted in this article are from Br. Lawrence’s sixth period
junior religion class. The boys themselves chose the Scripture readings
and wrote the intentions (Prayers of the Faithful). In fact, Saul Loera insisted, “We created it, [including the] PowerPoint

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songs.” Ed Resendiz and his keyboard provided music for hymns and responses, and his classmates commended his dedication and talent. Justin Pasion was “thankful [Ed] played at our Mass.” Alvin Fong gave credit to Br. Lawrence, who “did a great job of preparing us” for the Mass.

 

The
readings from Isaiah and Luke announced, “The Spirit of the Lord is
upon me,” and the reading from I Corinthians 12 described the Body of
Christ as having many members. Father Paul Henson, a
Carmelite priest from Crespi, tied his homily to the readings. The
blessing (anointing) by God is a responsibility that requires maturity
and dedication to carry out. But just like the Body of Christ, the
individual members of junior class will carry out their
responsibilities, or make use of their blessings, in different ways. Edward Espinosa “loved
the part where he compared [the homily] to a speech in one of William
Shakespeare’s plays,” referring to the “St. Crispin’s Day” monologue
from Henry V. Jonathan Leyva “didn’t expect
[the] homily [to connect] the reading to our brothers.” For him and for
many others, the priest’s words made the readings “come alive.” Isaac Garcia commented, “I have seen [Fr. Henson] do homilies before, and he is
always [delivering] the right message. [He] knew what he was talking
about.”

 

A
major focus of the Mass is the priest’s blessing of the tokens
representing the junior class. For many, the object presented was his
new class ring, but others offered family heirlooms, such as crucifixes,
or class rings from fathers, grandfathers, or uncles. Thus the CHS
legacy is passed along to son, grandson or nephew.

 

According
to Mr. Murphy, the Mass “celebrates the juniors at a crucial time in
their high school careers.” The hope is that the ceremony will “inspire
them to finish well and see them through graduation and into college.”

 

In
the fall of 2007, the freshmen numbered 199; as sophomores 178. Now at a
lean, mean 148, they are like the U.S. Marine Corps: “the proud, the
few.” More closely knit than ever, they are ready for the challenges
that lie ahead.

Photo by David Martinez, Class of 2011

 

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org.

 


 

It is still not too late to cast your vote(s) for Kyle Merrill for the High School Rudy Award! The deadline in January 31, and
you can vote as often as you like between now and then.  Here’s
the link:

http://www.highschoolrudyawards.com/Nominees/115/Kyle_Merrill.aspx

 

Phantom Family:

Abel Gutierrez

 

If you watched KCHS last week, you saw the story on teaching as a vocation featuring Mrs. Aguirre
and Mr. Abel Gutierrez. Mr. Gutierrez is a 1990 graduate of Cathedral,
and received a degree in Chicano Studies from UC Santa Barbara in 1996.

Growing
up in Boyle Heights, the youngest of nine children, he had a lot of
role models. He followed his three older brothers from St. Isabel School
to CHS, and like most of his siblings, he left Los Angeles to pursue
his college education, taking advantage of the opportunity to get out of
the neighborhood, see another part of the world, and build his career
path.

 

Although
his favorite subjects were always math and science, in college he was
drawn to Chicano Studies because of its focus on education and its
interdisciplinary nature. He took many courses in education, as well as
in art and art history.

 

After
college, however, he taught at the middle school level, working with
multiple grade levels in a bilingual program that included ESL, English,
math and science.  That program was eliminated about the same time
he got the call from CHS.

 

Like
six of his college-educated siblings, Mr. Gutierrez chooses to live
once more in the Los Angeles area, bringing his family (he has two
daughters) back to Boyle Heights. His sixteen-year-old, who is
interested in drama, attends LA County High School for the Arts; the
twelve-year-old is at Eagle Rock Junior/Senior High School.

 

His
return to Cathedral in 2000 was an easy one, he says, because
“Cathedral has always been home.”  In his first year he taught
religion to freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, but he has also taught
math (Algebra I and II) and English (electives in Creative Writing,
Latino Literature, and Contemporary Urban Literature). Currently he
teaches physics, assists the Director of Student Activities, and serves
as the school’s official photographer.  In fact, it was his ability
with the camera (demonstrated in the article on the faculty service day) that suggested this story.

 

His
interest in photography started in college with his courses in art and
art history. Photography is an art form, of course, but it is also a way
of documenting more ephemeral art, such as murals. Ten years ago when
he returned to Cathedral to teach, Mr. Gutierrez started taking pictures
of his students at work. He started by using the library’s camera (and
floppy disks!) as an extension of his teaching, he says, “because I had
no pictures of me” doing work in high school. As he recorded the
activities of his classes, interested students talked him into starting a
Photography Club, which now has pictures on Facebook and MySpace, as
well as some available on the CHS website through smugmug.  Some of
the photos on smugmug are accessible to all; some, such as graduation
photos and sports pictures, are available only to subscribers or for
purchase (by proud parents, for example) as a fund-raising activity for
the Photography Club.

Not
only is he the official photographer of Cathedral, but he also works
for the Autry Center and recently covered a Power 106 concert.  He
is available for weddings, too, and took photos for Mr. Lowdermilk’s
wedding a few years ago.

Smile!

Photo by Jon Sumera, ’10

 

As
a teacher, Mr. Gutierrez sees himself in his students and uses
techniques that appeal to the high school student he used to be. Maybe
being the youngest of nine had something to do with it, but as an
educator, he likes the idea of relating to his students as “an older
brother” rather than as a disciplinarian. This idea, of course, is
fostered at Cathedral and other Christian Brothers schools, and Mr.
Gutierrez “bought into” that concept even when he was a student.
However, he also points out, “I teach as an older brother, not as a best
friend.”

 

Mr. Lowdermilk says Mr. Gutierrez “is great on retreats. The boys respond well to him
because he’s [an alumnus] and he speaks their language.” Mr. Gutierrez
explains that “it’s not what I say, but how I say it.  I talk to
them the way I would expect to be talked to. My directness might be
offensive to some, but they [the students] like someone who tells the
truth.” As Mr. Lowdermilk remarked, the boys think that “their parents
sugarcoat the truth,” and believe that “even their teachers don’t always
tell the truth.”

 

In
an ideal world, Mr. Gutierrez would also teach a course in photography,
but at present there are issues of funding and resources that make such
a class difficult. He is pleased with the expanding role of Lasallian
Youth in service to others, and would like to see student activities and
community service integrated in a more official capacity.

 

As
the student body grows, he regrets that the school seems to become more
“traditional” – that is, like other schools – in that he sees students
developing exclusionary cliques instead of Cathedral’s historically more
inclusive and eclectic groups. In his day “it was okay” for students to
participate in many different kinds of activities; they were not “put
in boxes and labeled,” so to speak. He would like to see a change in the
traditions – either to establish new ones or bring back old ones – but
with the students (not alumni or administration) taking ownership of
them. Students “should feel proud of the school,” he insists. “They should feel that it’s theirs.”

 

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org.

 


 

Class Meetings:

The Coach’s View

January 18, 2010

It is still not too late to cast your vote(s) for Kyle Merrill for the High School Rudy Award! The deadline in January 31, and
you can vote as often as you like between now and then.  Here’s
the link:

http://www.highschoolrudyawards.com/Nominees/115/Kyle_Merrill.aspx

 

Last Thursday, January 14, Principal Br. John Montgomery and Dean of Students Mike Trafecanty met with the four classes, seniors, juniors, sophomores, and freshmen,
to provide information about semester grades, including a comparison
with the class’s performance last year at this time. They mentioned the
consequences of low grades and GPAs, and made recommendations to improve
the spring report.

 

Honor Roll

Each
year the size of the class changes (diminishes) as students leave or
are dismissed for failure to maintain their grades or for more serious
infractions of the rules. It is not, therefore, surprising that Honor
Roll membership is made up primarily of seniors and juniors.

 

The
class of 2010, with 180 seniors, is the largest in school history!
(This reporter can remember not too long ago when the first graduating
class numbering over 100 was an event to celebrate.) Moreover, 62 of
these seniors (34%) earned a place on the “A” Honor Roll, and 64 (36%)
made the “B” Honor Roll.  This scholastic record, 70% of the class,
is the best in the school. Br. John also pointed out that, of last
year’s seniors, only 68% had made the fall semester’s Honor Roll.

 

The
juniors made the biggest improvement academically.  Last year, as
sophomores, only 30% of the class made honor roll.  This year, with
a smaller, more focused group of 148, each Honor Roll list has 34
juniors for a total of 68, or 46% of the class.

 

The
Class of 2012, who, until this year, had been (at 205) the largest
freshman class ever, now numbers 173.  They, too, made a big
improvement in their grades.  As freshmen, only 36% had made the
Honor Roll, but as sophomores 46 made the “A” Honor Roll and 35 made the
“B” Honor Roll, for a total of 81, or 47%, an increase of ten
percentage points.

 

At
224 students, the freshmen are the largest class by far.  High
school is a big transition, but nonetheless, 43 freshmen earned a place
on the “A” Honor Roll and 55 made the “B” Honor Roll, for a total of 98,
or 44%.  This is a significant improvement over last year’s
freshman class (see above) with only 36%.

 

Academic Focus

However,
not all is sweetness and light in the Groves of Academe. Looking at the
other end of the spectrum, Br. John noted that several students had
received D grades and others were below a 2.0 GPA.  He pointed out
that Ds are not accepted by four-year colleges and universities, and
such poor academic performance runs counter to the mission of a college
preparatory school.  Although these grades can be made up in summer
school, this costs parents additional money, especially because budget
cuts mean the public schools are not likely to be offering free summer
school in the foreseeable future.

 

Nine
seniors, for example, will not be receiving diplomas because they
received a semester grade of F in one or more classes.  This also
means they will not be permitted to participate in Prom, Grad Nite, or
graduation ceremonies unless they make up each F grade with a night
school class by March 26. While a semester grade of D does not impinge
on a senior’s graduation activities, 26 students (14% of the class) are
now potentially ineligible for admission to a four-year college.
“All college acceptances are conditional,” Br. John explained. “That
means you need to maintain the same GPA this year [senior] as last.”

 

Among
the juniors, 58 students, or 48%, received a semester D grade, and 25
have less than 2.0 GPA. While 17% is better than their sophomore year’s
29%, it is still too many for a college preparatory school like
Cathedral.  Inability to maintain a 2.0 for two consecutive
semesters, he reminded them, is grounds for dismissal.

 

Even
with the dismissals at the end of freshman year, 62 sophomores (more
than a third of the class) received a semester D grade in January, and
16% of the class (28 students) are under 2.0 GPA.  Last year as
freshmen, 20% of the class (41 of 205) had a GPA under 2.0. These
sophomores are now ineligible for admission to four-year college senior
year unless they retake the class in summer school. Br. John reminded
students that grades are the result of their choices, but their poor
decisions also affect their parents, who must pay for the additional
classes. He warned them not to make the same mistake this semester.

 

The
largest class of freshmen also had the largest number of students with D
grades (83), and with 38 freshmen below 2.0 GPA, they have “the poorest
record in the school.” Br. John noted that only three seniors have a
GPA below 2.0, but he pointed out that just last week “three freshmen
were dismissed for poor grades.” As he told the sophomores, their poor
choices affect their parents at a time when money is in short supply. He
urged them to learn from their mistakes and not repeat them.

 

Pep Talk

Dean of Students Mike Trafecanty then addressed the classes regarding “school issues that seem to have
no bearing on real life: How we treat each other, the rules, and our
general lifestyle.”

 

“You can believe everything is important or nothing is important and you’d be right,” he began.  Admitting that he is an
“everything is important” person, Mr. Trafecanty examined the
connections between justice issues and student behavior.

“Who
is more likely to work for justice in the world?” he asked.  “A
student who sneaks his cell phone and texts while fully knowing it is
inappropriate in the [classroom] environment…or the student who,
unnoticed, always turns off his phone?

“Who
is going to seek peace?  A student who challenges the teacher any
time his behavior is questioned or a student who does not need to be
corrected?

“Which
student is more likely to feed the poor?”  he inquired
rhetorically. One who “steals or gambles for” someone else’s property or
one who “returns property” he knows is not his?

 

“In
sports,” he continued, “I know a winner when I see one.  They are
easy to spot.  They are not always the most talented, nor are they
necessarily the fans’ favorite.  They are the ones who know the
rules, follow the rules and, when they are fouled by an opposing player –
if it is not called by the official – they are scrambling for the ball
because it is in play.  The losers are the ones who want the rules
bent for them, think they deserve better than the rest, and believe that
the ball should always be in their hands.  Foul the loser in a
game and watch the drama begin!”

 

To
seniors and future seniors, he said, “Your [future employers] and
future schools are asking for recommendations about who you are.
They [will be making] the choice to hire you or take you as a
student.  They want a winner!  Are you one?  Make the
right choices in the small things you do and you will be a world
changer!”

 

Okay, Phantoms.  Half time is over.  Let’s get to work!

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org.

 


 

Teacher Service Day

January 11, 2010

The previous Purple Letter focused on the concept of “Half-time,” when athletes look at their game
and make adjustments to improve their performance.  For many
years, Cathedral faculty have begun the second semester with a faculty
retreat.  Usually it is a series PowerPoint slides followed by
silent meditation and self-examination in light of Lasallian principles
or Gospel values.

 

After last year’s retreat, however, Mr. Brady Lowdermilk
suggested to Principal Br. John Montgomery that teachers try something
different, and he agreed. This year after turning in their grades,
teachers met at 7:30 a.m. in the MHR Conference Room for a brief prayer
service before setting out in five vans and the bus for a morning spent
in service to others.

 

While
it is true that teaching is a Christian service of its own, it is
equally important that teachers model the behavior (or “walk the walk,”
as Mr. Lowdermilk put it) they encourage in their students by performing
service to others outside their regular duties.

Administrators wrap presents. Photo by

Abel Gutierrez

To
this end, Mr. Lowdermilk began looking at charities in need of
volunteer help.  Beginning with a list of about twenty
organizations, he called each one to see what kind of opportunities it
had to offer. He needed places that did not require much training, and
that could benefit from a single morning of work by a group of six to
ten volunteers. Eventually he lined up six sites, and Br. John asked
teachers and staff to sign up according to preference.  At the last
faculty meeting in December, teachers and staff learned which sites
they would be serving in January.

 

Any
first-time event is a learning experience, and some sites were better
prepared for the volunteers than others.  Expectations varied as
well, and some volunteers came away disappointed while others felt
rewarded. Mr. Lowdermilk conceded that he learned several things about
how to improve the Service Day next year. But this article is about this
year’s opportunity.

 

Mr. Bartel packs oranges. Photo by Abel Gutierrez

The
first group went to Project Angel Food in Hollywood.  Its staff
and volunteers prepare and deliver 1600 meals a day to home-bound
clients with cancer, HIV-AIDS and other serious, life-threatening
conditions that prevent them from providing their own meals. The
Cathedral workers were expected to report at 8:00 a.m. (which explains
the early meeting time for the rest of the faculty).  On arrival
they were greeted by the volunteer coordinator, who gave a brief
orientation and showed a video demonstrating the tasks that might be
expected.  All of the workers had to cover their hair – even
beards! – with nets, wash their hands (up to the elbows), and put on
disposable latex gloves and aprons before starting work.  Once in
the kitchen, everybody was put to work.  Some filled plastic bags
with oranges; some mixed and bagged granola; some broke cooked chicken
into bite-sized pieces and mixed in tomato sauce and spices with large
paddles to make immense batches chicken cacciatore. Tubs of the main
dish then moved to an assembly line where volunteers ladled servings
into individual plastic containers and added sides of rice and
broccoli.  Then they placed the containers on a conveyor belt for
sealing. At 11:30 almost all the meals were ready for delivery, but by
then the morning was over, and the volunteers returned to school for
Mass and lunch.

 

At the Country Villa Rehabilitation Center,

Mr. Walsh talks with a patient. Photo by Abel Gutierrez

volunteers
received an orientation talk, which explained that the four-story
building is divided by the degree of rehabilitation each patient
requires.  Their focus is on stroke and accident victims, and on
those convalescing from surgery, helping them to regain a measure of
independence. Volunteers were invited to walk down the halls, look in on
a patient, and say “Hi.”  Some patients responded with a smile and
a welcome; others were asleep or unresponsive.  Volunteers chatted
longer with those who could respond, sometimes reading the newspaper to
them or listening to their stories.  Mr. Gary Bertolone told of
being greeted grumpily with “I don’t like to talk!” But this remark
developed into a discussion of football that lasted several minutes!

 

Mr. Gancz and Mr. Pelayo undo a Christmas tree.

Photo by Abel Gutierrez

At
the Los Angeles Mission, volunteers helped with taking down Christmas
decorations and preparing the noon meal.  There was not as much
interaction with clients, but Mr. Gerardo Gancz said he took apart an (artificial) Christmas tree for the first time,
and the second time, and the third – probably enough to last him a
lifetime!

 

At St. Francis Center, volunteers wrapped Christmas presents for belated giving,

Mrs. Zaragoza wraps a Christmas present.

Photo by Abel Gutierrez

and at Los Angeles Pregnancy Services, after a tour of the facilities,
they folded layettes (baby clothes) to prepare donations for new
mothers.

Ms. Preciado, Mrs. Edwards, and Mrs. Griego fold baby clothes. Photo by Abel Gutierrez

 

The
last site was the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, but the
volunteer service activities had been scheduled for Tuesday rather than
Monday.  Instead, the teachers took a tour of the sanctuary and
environs.  Those who went on the tour thought it would be of value
to our freshmen, as they will be visiting the Cathedral regularly during
their four years before graduation.

 

When they returned to the school, Br. Chris Patino had prepared Mass with Fr. Ted Ley of Chaminade High School as
celebrant.  The Communion meditation was a slide show of the
morning’s volunteer activities as recorded by Mr. Abel Gutierrez,
photographer extraordinaire.  The photos accompanying this article
are his, of course, only a few of the many he took.

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org.

 


 

Update: Halftime

December 14, 2009

 

First, some good news:  Kyle Merrill is one of thirty semi-finalists for the high school Rudy award!  You can vote for him frequently from Dec. 10 through Jan. 31, 2010. Every hour you can vote again. Show your support!

 

How about you? The semester is over, all but the finals. What is there to look forward to in January?

 

Will you be recognized with the Honor Roll
at the assembly in January? Senior awards will be presented in late
May at the Senior Presentations. Will you be part of that?

 

Is College Visit Day going
to be your introduction to a life of possibilities, or will that school
field trip be as close as you get to higher education?

 

How is your system working for you?

 

In the sports section of last Thursday’s LA Times, columnist Chris Erskine wrote
of former Laker A.C. Green, who “won three championship rings with the
Lakers, and became known as the NBA’s iron man, playing in a record
1,192 straight games. He didn’t miss a basketball game for almost 15
years.”

 

“Green,
who majored in speech communication at Oregon State, speaks carefully
and well. He doesn’t scold or proselytize. Through his youth foundation,
he … has reached 100,000 adolescents, he said, through lectures,
videos and various camps.”

 

According to Erskine, when Green talks to “at-risk kids,” he tells
them, “Your future is yours to define.” That means it is not defined by
your family, your friends, your test scores, or even by what’s
popular.  “It’s defined by you.”

 

“For
kids who’ve made bad choices,” Erskine points out, “he brings up the
concept of ‘halftime.’”  As Green reminds his audience, “At
halftime, sports teams gather and figure out what they’re doing wrong.”

 

Take
a page from A.C. Green’s book.  You can have a “halftime” too. You
can “stop, change [your] patterns of behavior, and make [your life]
better.”

 

This
semester break can be your “halftime.” Look at your results.  Is
this what you wanted?  If not, what can you do to improve your
results next semester?

 

Look again at the story of Edgar Beltran,
Class of 2004. He learned that the techniques taught in the Morning
Program helped him keep up with his assignments, and if he worked
consistently to complete them, he could not only pass but develop skills
to take him even further.

 

For seniors, the deadlines for college applications and scholarships for fall 2010 have passed. It is not too late, however, for juniors to look at what is available.

 

For
you freshmen and sophomores, next semester will be election of club,
class and ASB officers (see Sept. 28). Would you like to be eligible to
run for office? That’s the kind of activity college admissions officers
like to see.

 

How
do you want to be known? What do you want to accomplish (what would you
like to say about yourself) by the end of next semester? It’s halftime.
What needs to be changed?

 

As football coach Eddie Robinson of Grambling State University says, “Look for a way to succeed, not a reason to fail.”

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org.

 


 

Band Concert

December 9th

Dec. 7, 2009

 

The
annual winter band concert will be this Wednesday, Dec. 9, in the
gymnasium.  It is free to the public, including parents and friends
of Cathedral, and begins at 7:00 p.m.  For about an hour, students
in Band I, II, III, and IV will show off the technical dexterity they
have achieved since the beginning of the semester. As a special added
attraction, students from the Studio Art I ceramics classes will display
their work, too.

 

Band
I consists of approximately forty first-year musicians from three class
sections, and their pieces include some lively tunes: “Bandroom
Boogie,” “High Adventure,” “Rock ‘n’ Roll, Part II”; some classical
music from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and two traditional Christmas songs, “Up on the Housetop” and “Jolly Old St. Nicholas.”

 

The concert represents the combination of their talents for these pieces for the first time. By way of explanation, Dr. Brian Bartel points out that not all instruments are represented in each section of
Band I.  One section, for example, is all clarinets while another
has none. Similarly, one section has several percussionists; another has
only two. To cover for the absent instruments, Dr. Bartel says, “I
often have to sing the missing line.”

 

In
the second half of the concert the more advanced students get to shine.
As expected, music will be more complex, with a wider variety of
composers.

 

The
Advanced Band is made up of students in Band II, Band III, and Band IV.
They have had a very busy weekend in addition to their preparation for
the concert.  On Saturday afternoon they played at the Christmas
party for a state mental health facility in Costa Mesa.  Saturday
night they played for the football game against Oaks Christian, and
Sunday they demonstrated their expertise for the parents of prospective
students at Open House.

 

Their
part of the concert will include such classical pieces as Mozart’s
“Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,” Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade” and one of
Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suites. This latter is incidental
music composed for the play by Henrik Ibsen.  There will also be a
selection of Christmas music, and “Hymn to Red October” from the film The Hunt for Red October, and “Frankenstein” as popularized by the Edgar Winter Group.

 

At
the dress rehearsal, student musicians are surprised when they hear the
music for the first time with all the parts together.  Even though
the band room has better acoustics than a regular classroom, the sound
is still different in the gym because it is a bigger venue, but that,
too, is part of the learning experience.

 

Like
most of us, student musicians prefer familiar success to an unknown
challenge.  Dr. Bartel, however, understands that “we have to do
new things, and have a positive experience with new things. If a
musician learns one lick, that’s not the same as being fluent.”
It’s okay to have a favorite composer, for instance, or a favorite
group, but “that’s not enough.  There is more music in the world
than that.” Wednesday’s band concert will show off some musicians who
have learned something this semester that they did not know
before.  And the spring concert will offer new music and more
experienced musicians to play it.

 

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org.

 


 

Webpage Update

Nov. 30, 2009

 

Back
in the Stone Age, when Baby Boomers watched black-and-white television
by candlelight, computer technology was a far-off dream, akin to Tivo
and digital photography. Adding strands to the world-wide web is a
mystery to many chalkboard and textbook teachers, now hopelessly behind
their technology-savvy students, who use Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter
to tell everyone everything, sometimes even during class….

 

My,
how times change! The week before Thanksgiving, Cathedral faculty had a
special workshop during which they learned how to create and use their
own web pages on the Cathedral website. Teachers had three assignments
to complete:  First, they had to upload an image (usually a
photo).  Second, they had to create a link to Powerschool, the
grading program. And third, they had to upload a syllabus or course
outline for each of the classes they teach.

 

The
directions were somewhat incomplete, but several more experienced
faculty members (Mrs. Moses, Mrs. Aguirre, Br. Lawrence, and others)
circulated among the teachers, answering questions and occasionally
helping them with their assignments. Image uploading was particularly
challenging although Br. Lawrence had added pictures to most teachers’
websites before the workshop began.  It was easier once the html
language was explained.

 

While
some of the pages are less developed than others, each one now has an
image of the teacher, a list of the classes, and copies of each syllabus
or course description. The more enterprising among the faculty, looking
for more to do, created separate folders for each class (or each class
preparation) and then uploaded files (course outline, assignments,
notes, etc.) for each class, making the information accessible to
parents and students even if they are home sick. There may be a class
schedule or calendar for assignments and due dates (although the due
date is published automatically on the Powerschool website whenever an
assignment is entered on that site). Each new page was chosen from a
dozen or so templates, courtesy of campusgrid, the source of our
website. Some teachers have additional information pertaining to their
other responsibilities, such as Academic Decathlon, Student Government,
clubs or coaching.

 

Over Thanksgiving weekend, this reporter toured the faculty websites, and found the following of particular interest.  Mrs. Aguirre’s
algebra page offers several links to sites that offer practice
problems, help with algebra homework (Click on your algebra text), and
free graph paper!  Mr. Bartel, the band teacher,
created a cardinal and gold web page with links to sources for renting
band instruments, an online textbook, such concert venues as Zipper Hall
at the Colburn School, and his alma maters (USC, Oberlin, and
Interlochen), Both Mr. Galaz and Mrs. M Edwards
have several Powerpoint presentations on their pages, but Mrs. Edwards
includes a calendar that lists all assignments and due dates. Ms. English, who teaches media graphics and web design, has weekly instruction, plus links and contacts. Mr. Ferrante provides an outline for the speech students to use as they prepare each assignment. Mr. Lee has extra credit opportunities available for the enterprising student
who knows how to seek out his teacher’s web page. It will come as no
surprise that Br. Roch’s web page allows users to view episodes of KCHS-LA television broadcasts. Ms. Ruiz has several interesting links to issues relating to her Honors Biology course. Mr. Ryan posts key terms for each chapter of his history texts. Mr. Anthony Trafecanty also has key terms and study guides, plus links to lessons in computer technology.

 

If
you click on “Faculty Directory” on the left side of the home page, you
will find a list of faculty, staff and administration.  Faculty
members’ names are in blue; the others are in black. Clicking on a
teacher’s name will take you directly to that person’s web page, where
you can find contact information and connections to course requirements.

 

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org.

 


 

AP Theater Parties

November 23, 2009

The last progress reports go out this week, just in time for Thanksgiving. Where did the time go?

After
these two and a half days, we have just two weeks before finals, and
Mrs. Price’s AP English Literature class will be attending their last
two plays at A Noise Within, Glendale’s classical repertory theater
company.

 

The
theme this year is “On the Wings of Fate!” and the three plays this
season are an adaptation by Marilyn Campbell and Curt Colombus of Fyodor
Dostoevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment; Shakespeare’s Richard III; and  Michael Frayn’s hilarious farce Noises Off.

 

“Repertory”
means one large group of actors perform the three plays on a rotating
basis for the duration of the season. The students will have a chance to
see Deborah Strang, for example, in two very different roles, as Queen Margaret in Richard III and as Dottie Otley in Noises Off.

 

This year the boys voted to attend Friday evening performances, beginning with Crime and Punishment on October 16. The show was still in previews, and a review was not available. However, senior Aaron Sandoval, who had read the novel over the summer, was impressed with how effectively the action was portrayed on the stage.

 

A
single set depicted Raskolnikov’s small room, with different doors
representing the residences of the pawnbroker, Sonia, and Raskolnikov’s
mother. The cast was limited to three: Michael A. Newcomer played Raskolnikov; Robertson Dean played the other male roles: Porfiry the detective; the drunken Marmeladov; a mysterious stranger, and Koch, “an intruder.” Holly Hawkins played the female roles: the self-sacrificing Sonia; the pawnbroker and her sister, and Raskolnikov’s mother.

 

The
action begins with Raskolnikov telling his story to Porfiry, the
detective investigating the murders of a pawnbroker and her sister. The
approach is surreal, for the point of view is Raskolnikov’s – his
visions and his reality – and guilt is driving him to madness even
though he would like to believe he is above mere mortal laws. His recall
of the murder and the hallucinatory blood that bubbles up from the
floor were particularly effective, according to the students who
attended the performance. .

 

The second play, Richard III, presents one of Shakespeare’s most famous villains in what has been described by ANW co-founder Julia Rodriguez-Elliott as “a conversation with the audience interrupted by scenes.” Richard,
brother of the dying King Edward IV, is determined to be King, and
explains exactly how he intends to achieve his objective. The audience
watches in horrified fascination (and not a little black humor) as
Richard rids  himself of intermediate heirs; names himself guardian
of Edward’s two young sons, and wins the hand of the widowed Lady Anne,
whose husband Richard had killed in battle during the civil war that
put Edward on the throne. But Richard’s success is short-lived, and his
fall is precipitous.

 

The last production, Michael Frayn’s Noises Off,
takes its title from theater jargon. In a script, the phrase refers to
sounds that occur off stage rather than on, and the play depicts (and
reveals the sources of) such sounds during three performances of the
same comedy:  the first is opening night (from the audience’s point
of view); the second is a month later, but seen from backstage; and the
third is closing night, when character conflicts overwhelm the
production entirely and chaos reigns.  Director Geoff Elliott also plays the director of this farce within a farce, and the show is
rife with slamming doors, missed cues, and general hilarity.

 

Second semester again offers a one-week run of Waiting for Godot in January, and Mrs. Price hopes the class hopes will be able to take
advantage of this opportunity to see the play that introduced
Existentialism to the stage. As an initial theater experience it can be
somewhat confusing because the two main characters, Estragon and
Vladimir, spend the entire play waiting for a character that never
appears. “Existentialism is a difficult concept,” concedes Mrs. Price.
“When we read Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in the spring, students recognize some parallel themes. Tom Stoppard’s play owes a lot to Beckett’s.”

 

At the end of February comes Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, joined by Awake and Sing! by Clifford Odets in March; and Irish playwright John Millington Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World in April.

 

If you are interested in learning more about this excellent theater company, check out their website:  www.anoisewithin.org

Update on Rudy Award:
Kyle has a video and two stories from the LA Times on his web page now.
You can vote every HOUR (not every day, as previously reported). If you are interested in voting for Kyle, go to <www.highschoolrudyawards.com>
and click on “Nominees.” Then search under “Kyle Merrill Los
Angeles.”  Kyle’s page is under “Nominees/115/Kyle_Merrill.aspx.”
You may cast one vote per day until November 30.

 

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org.

 


 

Kyle Merrill: Rudy Award

November 16, 2009

 

Some readers may remember the movie Rudy from 1993. It tells the true story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, a high
school football player whose dream is to play for Notre Dame. Eventually
he realized his dream (27 seconds in all), and went on to become a
motivational speaker and author. In 1997 Ruettiger began the Rudy
Foundation, which awards scholarships at both the college and the high
school level to deserving football players. This year one of Cathedral’s
seniors, Kyle Merrill, has been nominated for the high school award by Carlos Carbajal, Vice President of the CHS Alumni Association.

 

The Purple Letter is not usually about athletics, but the Rudy award is based on “the four Cs”: courage, commitment, character, and contribution off the field as well as on. This story will look at Kyle off the field.

 

On
Kyle’s fifteenth birthday, Dec. 19, 2006, as family and friends were
returning home from the celebration, a single-car accident abruptly and
violently took the lives of three of the five young men inside. A
cousin, fourteen-year-old Stephen Castillo, was in a
body cast for months. Kyle, pulled from the car by the quick action of
his sister and his father, miraculously suffered only a broken wrist and
abrasions and contusions from the seatbelt, yet they were helpless to
save his brother. The story made the Los Angeles Times (Dec. 21) and the L.A. Daily News (Dec. 22).

 

Certainly it took courage to attend the Mass on December 27, just a week after his birthday, at
the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, where the two pall-draped
coffins represented the mortal remains of Kyle’s adored
eighteen-year-old brother and his brother’s best friend (both named
Matt). As friends, relatives and colleagues paid tribute to young lives
cut short, Kyle was there. The priest urged him to say a few words, and
he eventually stepped to the microphone. Faced with the sudden and
brutal loss of his brother and two close friends, however, Kyle can be
forgiven if he was less than composed at that moment. Through his tears
he expressed what was in his heart:  “I just miss him so much!”

 

When
the new semester began, Kyle returned to school, but he needed help to
cope with his loss. That he understood his problem speaks to his
maturity, but that he was not afraid to seek help from the school
counselor speaks to a kind of courage that is rarely recognized among the physically active adolescents who comprise Kyle’s peer group.

 

Kyle’s commitment to his education continued in spite of the tragedy of his freshman
year.  He maintained a solid B average both semesters while playing
JV football in the fall and baseball (his brother’s favorite sport) in
the spring.  As a sophomore, he continued his B average even though
he moved up to varsity, and played another season of baseball.  As
a junior, he enrolled in Interscholastic Sports as an elective to
offset the rigors of a college prep schedule filled with advanced math,
lab science, Spanish, English, U.S. history and his required religion
class. But he continued his commitment to football, and competed with
the track team in the spring. As a senior he has already met most of his
college requirements, so his current schedule includes Sports Medicine
and Studio Art as well as English, U.S. Government, Interscholastic
Sports, and World Religions.  Speaking of Kyle, his art teacher, Jamie Murphy,
observed that his work is exceptional because he consistently
demonstrates “his ability to work independently.” Although the semester
is not yet finished, interim progress reports indicate only honor grades
for this young man.

 

His English teacher sophomore year was Brady Lowdermilk, who had these observations about Kyle’s character. It comes as no surprise that he is impressed with Kyle’s maturity. “You
can have an adult conversation with him” even in non-academic settings,
he commented. “He is at ease with adults, and not every sophomore finds
it easy to talk to grownups.” Other teachers interviewed for this
article agreed with Mr. Lowdermilk that in class, “he conducts himself
very well. He is a great kid, and very honest. If he screws up, he
admits it.”

 

In
a school where football players can sometimes be isolated in their own
world, Kyle does not limit himself in his choice of friends.  Stephen Castillo (his cousin who was seriously injured in the fatal accident that took
three other lives) has been a friend for a long time even though Stephen
is not particularly inclined towards athletics.  “Stephen isn’t
the cool kid, or the popular kid,” Mr. Lowdermilk remarked, “but they’re
still close friends with no apologies.” In fact, Stephen may have
influenced Kyle’s decision to try Studio Art, and Kyle may have helped
Stephen become a manager of the football team.

 

Cathedral is a Christian Brothers school, and Kyle’s contributions to the Cathedral community are found in the five Lasallian core principles. First, he has faith in the presence of God and he has the courage
to say so. He is routinely chosen to lead prayer before football games
because the players trust him to talk to God for them. Second, he has respect for all persons.  He speaks as confidently to adults as to peers, and family loyalty means he is committed to helping his sister Nikki as well as his nephew Matt as they make their way through life.  Third, his characteristic integrity requires that he pursue a quality education by doing his best in all his courses, not just some.  Fourth, he believes in an inclusive community, choosing friends both inside and outside the football world. And last, he shows concern for the poor and social justice by making career plans to become a firefighter. As he told Times reporter Eric Sondheimer in an article dated November 13, 2009, “That
night I didn’t get a chance to help my brother, and maybe in the future I
can help someone in a similar situation.”

 

Kyle
Merrill is a credit to his family, to Cathedral High School and the
Christian Brothers, and a credit to the memories of his brother and his
friends. He is a worthy candidate for the high school Rudy
award.

 

If you are interested in voting for Kyle, go to <www.highschoolrudyawards.com>
and click on “Nominees.” Then search under “Kyle Merrill Los
Angeles.”  Kyle’s page is under “Nominees/115/Kyle_Merrill.aspx.”
You may cast one vote per day until November 30.

Questions? Comments? Write <Purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org>


 

The Wiz

November 9, 2009

Opening Thursday, November 12, at the Baldwin Park Performing Arts Center is Cathedral’s fall musical The Wiz.
It is family friendly, made for children as well as adults to
enjoy.  A lively and updated version of L. Frank Baum’s story The Wizard of Oz,
the original show, with words and music by Charlie Smalls and book by
William F. Brown, debuted on Broadway in 1974, and won seven Tony awards
in 1975 including Best Musical and Best Original Score. The core
philosophy of the show, and an important theme for young people to
appreciate, according to Mr. Walsh, is “Believe in what you are
doing.”

Followers of Cathedral Theater may recognize some of the players.  Natalie Paredes (Dorothy) was the Girl in the Tree from Once on This Island. (Natalie’s dog Sophie plays Toto.) Roberto Valerin, the Scarecrow, appeared as Bobby Strong in Urinetown. Aaron Sandoval, the Tin Man, also appeared in the Tenth Anniversary Retrospective. And senior Marquise Harris is irrepressible as – The Wiz.

Cristian Leon, a freshman, is making his Cathedral debut as the Lion, but he has been ill for several days.  Fortunately, senior Jeremy Joaquin (Mr. Cladwell from Urinetown)
undertook to learn the Lion’s role in addition to his own part as Uncle
Henry.  If necessary, he will perform in Baldwin Park because the
show, after all, must go on.

Senior Aaron Sandoval,
who plays the Tin Man, offered his perspective. The plot follows the
storyline of the original: A tornado leaves Dorothy and her dog Toto in
the Land of Oz, and she must overcome several obstacles before she can
return home. Of course, she gets help from some new friends – the
Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion – but they face danger
from a variety of sources, including a couple of witches, some
mysterious nighttime figures, a poppy field, and even the Wiz himself.
Unlike straight plays, which have “too many words,” Aaron prefers
musicals because there is always something entertaining to watch: a song
or a dance (a solo, a duet, a chorus, or an ensemble number).

Br. Roch Dufresne, producer, discussed the extensive preparations. He commended director Joseph Walsh for “selecting a color scheme” and spending countless hours to find the
right costumes and get them fitted for the 45 or so members of the
cast. In each scene the travelers meet a different group of characters
from Oz, and hence, each group requires a different kind of
costume.  That adds up to about “two hundred costumes,” making it a
very “costly production,” he pointed out.

Director Joseph Walsh’s production team includes Dan Belzer, musical director; Tracy Powell, choreographer; Mark McCandless, set designer; and Walter Durham and crew, set construction.  The show uses recognizable musical
styles from African-American sources: Motown, blues, jazz and even Louis
Armstrong’s gravelly voice. The Scarecrow, for example, is backed up by
four crows a la the Pointer Sisters or The Temptations.
Prizewinning choreographer Tracy Powell created dances, including some acrobatics by the Munchkins, which will amaze and delight.

It
comes as no surprise that the cast has been rehearsing for two months,
and the construction crew has been working in the Annex parking lot to
build and paint the set pieces. What is unusual, however, is the fact
that the production will not have access to the theater in Baldwin Park
until Tuesday morning.  Roberto Valerin, who plays
the Scarecrow, said the members of the stage crew have just “sixteen
hours” to reassemble the set pieces at the new location, suspend them in
the fly areas, and practice flying them in and out of the stage; hang
the lights, integrate the light cues with the set changes, and run the
cues until everything goes like clockwork and the audience does not see
anything but the show. The final dress rehearsal (before selected
elementary audience) is Thursday morning, and the first performance, to
which the school President Martin Farfan has invited his guests, is
Thursday evening.

 

Wags in the faculty room joked that Mr. Walsh plans to follow Urinetown and The Wiz with yet another pun: “The Princess and the Pea.”  Mr. Walsh’s comment: “That show is called Once Upon a Mattress.” Oh, wait. Maybe that’s not what they meant.

Nonetheless, coming in spring is Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, a “time-bound” drama that has never been out of production since its debut during the McCarthy era witch hunts.

Tickets are still available for The Wiz, playing this weekend at Baldwin Park Performing Arts Center. Come one, come all! And bring the children!

 

Post Script: the Change Wars

 

The net results of the Change Wars:

senior class: $4.67;

junior class $26.94;

sophomore class $40.40; and

freshman class $134.48.

Net amount to Bahay Pag-asa, the Philippine halfway house: $432.84.

Evidently
the freshmen took the challenge seriously and had fun with the
opportunity; the others, not so much. Br. Chris acknowledged that the
classes did not so much play against one another (by placing cash rather
than coins in the other jars) as neglect to participate. Good for the
freshmen! Br. John rewarded them by allowing them free food from the
multicultural booths set up on Friday for Cultural respect day.

 

 

Questions? Comments? Write <Purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org>


 

College Visit Day

November 2, 2009

 

The
College Fair last Monday is part of College Awareness Month. It was one
of a series of events the school provides to get students used to the
idea of preparing for college. It was an opportunity to learn about
colleges and universities from the recruiters who want your son to
prepare for his future at their institution. Less formal observances
include the privilege of wearing a college/university T-shirt or
sweatshirt and modified dress on the days the school administers two
sets of standardized tests (PSAT, Iowa Test of Basic Skills).

 

The centerpiece of College Awareness Month is College Visit Day,
October 28. Budget cutbacks this year have meant fewer campuses offer
tours to high school students, so the number of campuses students could
visit was, unfortunately, limited, and seniors were not required to
participate. However, senior class college counselor Wendy Ruiz had the event well in hand, using homeroom classes as the base for permissions slips, campus assignments and bus rosters.

 

Freshmen
visited University of California campuses in Riverside, Irvine, and Los
Angeles; sophomores went to private colleges – Pepperdine,
Loyola-Marymount, and USC; and juniors investigated California State
Universities at Los Angeles, Fullerton, and Northridge.  In
addition, fifty selected juniors rode a chartered bus to visit the
University of California, Santa Barbara, leaving at 7:30 a.m. and
returning to Cathedral after 5:00 p.m.

 

The
success of last year’s “College Visit Report” in the English classes
has encouraged the English Department to make this assignment a regular
part of College Visit Day. What follows are the reactions of some
freshmen to their first college visit, and some juniors to what may be
their last opportunity to visit a college campus before they apply for
admission themselves. The students’ comments are from their College Visit Reports.
While there are some surprising similarities in their observations,
there is also a growing maturity in their conclusions.

 

Without
exception, students were favorably impressed with the cleanliness of
every campus they visited. They noted the abundance of trash cans, even
re-cycling bins, on some campuses. They commented on the lawns and
trees, and observed college students quietly reading, studying, or
conversing with friends. Like most students, junior Gabriel Rafael found the college campus “quieter than [he] expected.” Between classes,
traffic increased noticeably and the food courts became really busy.
Students noticed a wider variety of brand-name food services, including
Starbucks, Panda Express, Sbarros, Carl’s Jr., and the like.  Some,
like junior Edward Espinosa, also observed that such food is more expensive than that available in our cafeteria.

 

When
students focused more particularly on their own interests, their
reports took on a different, more honest and less clinical tone.

 

Sports opportunities were a big interest for freshmen because, as Sergio Arias learned, “playing sports is an awesome way to stay away from doing bad things.” While Daniel Jacquez was disappointed that UCR has no football team, Sergio was impressed
that UC Irvine’s baseball team has gone to the College World Series
three years in a row. Similarly, Deandre Anderson learned that UC Irvine’s volleyball team had won the NCAA championship last year, and that Kobe (yes, that Kobe) frequently practices at the UCI gymnasium – at 5:00 in the morning.

 

Advice to freshmen addressed ways to improve their chances for admission by the time they become seniors. For example, Matthew Ramos learned that involvement in high school sports is not enough; he was
advised to “try to be captain because it shows leadership.” Sergio Arias noticed that college students “focused on what they had to do, not on bad things.” Franklin Munoz concluded at UCLA that “college isn’t this big scary thing that’s hard to get into.” Josue Galvez discovered that UCR, the most ethnically diverse student body of all
the UC campuses, will soon have a medical school. To help his chances
for admission, he has decided to “take all four years as if each one was
my senior year.”

 

Juniors learned about the kinds of help available at the state universities they visited. Rey Mesa pointed to ACE/PACE and Educational Opportunity Programs. Similarly, Jonathan Martinez “changed [his] mind about college” when he learned that with the right
grants and scholarships, he can afford to attend a Cal State instead of a
community college. Dominique Scott is grateful that
“if you have any trouble, you can ask almost anyone for help.” While Cal
State LA is just “too close to home” for potential engineering major Jonathan Lozoya, the State University also sponsors study abroad, and that is something Jonathan definitely finds appealing.

 

At UC Santa Barbara, Edward Espinosa liked the “random art sculptures.” Isaac Garcia was impressed with “seven miles of bike trails.” John Bernal noted
there are “17,000 registered bikes on campus and many bike racks,” but
he did not see any helmets. Santa Barbara students know biking is faster
than walking, but they have to arrive early to get a place on the bike
rack. Academically, John observed that UCSB has “two Nobel laureates” on
the faculty, one in physics and one in mathematics.

 

Kameron McClinton learned that the most popular majors at CSULA are criminal justice and
engineering. There is also a strong nursing program.  Joel Guevara learned that business administration is the “most selected” at Fullerton. Rey Mesa finds it interesting that CSULA has both “party dorms and regular dorms.” Sal Rivera and Joseph Gonzales liked that Fullerton has a Division I baseball team. Both are interested in finding out how to make the team.

 

Michael Fuentes
enjoyed seeing different ages and ethnicities throughout the CSUN
campus, and he liked the Creative Writing and Music programs. Christopher Sanchez noted at UCSB that freshmen use a card for their meals and it can be renewed each month. They don’t need cash.

 

There were also a few surprises. Geovanni Orozco was amazed at the number of smokers on the CSULA campus, and that “the teachers did not care.”  Edgar Barberi also saw a lot of smokers at CSUN even though smoking is “not healthy.” Jonathan Martinez walked
by a class that was actually outside instead of in a room. He noted
that they have to be “quiet and respectful so other students can study
or do work without any interruptions.”  Jimmy Lara and Lexicon Mendoza were impressed that students at CSULA had developed a “solar-powered car” as well as a “cement boat that floats.” Joseph Gonzales saw a Halloween costume contest at Fullerton, and Arthur Javier saw a fundraiser and a concert.

 

Advice on getting into college followed the usual pattern. Kameron McClinton learned that “the lower the GPA, the higher the [SAT] score needs to be.” Guadalupe Santiago was advised to “read” as much as he can. Amiresh Patel
was reminded he needs to be involved in his high school; the
universities are admitting well-rounded students, not just those with
good grades.

 

But there are limitations as well.  Freshman Steve Hernandez discovered UCR has no aerospace program, and Winston Rivas is looking for a college with a dental school. Juniors
also discovered that no school has everything. With a specific career
goal, it is important to choose a school with the program that meets
those needs. There is, as Eric Tavera learned, no law
school at UC Santa Barbara. Nonetheless, he says “That will not stop me
from attending this beautiful university.” Jonathan Lozoya missed seeing the NASA project beneath the baseball field at CSULA. David Martinez was disappointed that CSUN has “no class in alchemy.”

 

Juniors
are a little more focused on major fields. Their career goals range
from generalized majors such as history, biology, or anthropology to
marine biology, psychology, criminal justice and pre-med, to the more
specific nursing, orthopedic surgery, sports medicine, or forensic
science.  Business and investments have their supporters, though a
career may require a graduate degree. Students are looking at everything
from video game development to graphic design; art and animation to
computer engineering. Some juniors are investigating film careers at
either CSUN’s School of Cinema /Television Arts with its internship
possibilities at Warner Brothers, or UC Santa Barbara’s film school. For
engineering majors, at UCSB 90% of its courses are taught by professors
rather than graduate students. On-site training and laboratory
experiments are available, as are honors courses, industrial
internships, and international summer research opportunities.

 

The students reached a number of conclusions. Jeffrey Ramirez says his visit “really opened my mind about how things work in life.” Jonathan Erazo concluded, “I need to try harder to get better grades.” Learning that
the University admits people who “take the initiative and participate in
their community,” Alfred Medina observed, “I need to get involved in my school and my community.”

 

Others are ready for a different next step. Joel Guevara will concentrate on refining his top five choices, and Michael Fuentes says CSUN is now in his top five. On the other hand, Richard Miranda,
discovering that CSUN has one of the nation’s leading video production
programs, “loves” the idea of pursuing a degree here. “Not all great
colleges are UC and private colleges,” he decided.

 

Some students realize that a number of criteria need to be considered in choosing a college. Robert Barner sees college as “more than just classes or the library. It is where [he] will live for four years.” Similarly, Steve Avila’s choice will be based on” the environment, studies, people, classes, and extracurricular opportunities.”

 

Amiresh Patel recognized that the college experience will help him develop “character
and responsibility” because he will be away from home.  He looks
forward to the fun and the challenge. Miguel Quintero spoke for many when he observed, “College is going to be a great experience.”

 

Questions? Comments? Write <Purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org>


 

Basketball Coach

Sheldon McCorn:

AIDS Walk and

Community Service

October 26, 2009

 

Freshmen, junior varsity and varsity basketball players, 28 in all, plus their coaches – Gerardo Gancz, Anthony Tucker, and Sheldon McCorn – joined Br. Ricardo Palacio from the Brothers’ House, Br. Chris Patino
and members of Lasallian Youth to participate in the 25th annual AIDS
walk. Cathedral High raised $1,100 for research and treatment of persons
with HIV-AIDS. Spanish Department Chair Martha Lira, along with
department members Minerva Preciado, Elena Lira, and Gerardo Gancz (doing double duty), walked and acted as chaperones.

 

Five
vans (driven by Gary Bertolone, Br. Ricardo, and the three basketball
coaches) and a bus (driven by Campus Minister Sanford Jones) transported
Lasallian Youth, basketball players, and over 40 girls from Ramona
Convent to the Pacific Design Center in Hollywood, where the walk began
at 10:00 a.m. Looping through Hollywood the participants returned to the
intersection of Melrose and San Vicente by 12:30 p.m.

 

While it may be expected that Lasallian Youth would
participate in such community service events, the involve-ment of
basketball players is less likely.  But for varsity coach Sheldon McCorn, this is business as usual.  In an interview, he ex-plained his philosophy.

 

Community
service, he believes, “is an im-portant part” of the basketball team.
They regularly serve lunch at the Fred Jordan Mission at Thanksgiving,
and they take toys to Shriners Children’s Hospital at Christmas. But the
coach was looking for an October activity that would connect the team
to other Cathedral students. When he heard that Lasallian Youth planned
to participate in the AIDS walk, he wanted his teams to become attached
to this campus activity. Besides serving a good cause on the Walk, he
noted, the boys “didn’t have to follow as many rules.” For them it was
also an opportunity to “meet other [students] and learn about them.”

 

Varsity basketball coach Sheldon McCorn was born in Boston, where he graduated from an all-boys school (“kind
of like Cathedral”). He came out to California to visit an uncle who had
played basketball at USC.  His uncle gave him “the twenty-dollar
tour of USC and the two-dollar tour of UCLA” and urged him to “Fight
on!” at his alma mater.

 

Coach
McCorn ran cross country at USC and kept statistics for the Trojan
basketball team.  Originally he planned to major in chemistry, but
that did not last long.  When working the problem sets, he observed
that each problem was built on the one before; he could not move on to
problem seven if he did not understand problem six.

 

Then,
early in his undergraduate career, he took a general education course
in philosophy, and he “loved it.”  He found that he “liked
thinking.” He learned “how to formulate arguments using critical
thinking.”  In philosophy, he pointed out, “there is not a right or
wrong, but a weight of argument.”  He liked being able to build an
argument, examine both sides of an issue, and learn to “dissect where
[his] feelings are” on particular issues. When his advisor pointed out
that the analytical skills he developed would open the door to many
careers, the coach changed his major to philosophy.

 

After
graduation he went to work in the university library across town. He
became interested in library science and worked his way up to evening
supervisor while he pursued a Master’s degree in library and information
sciences at UCLA. Although he could see himself as the director of a
university research library, Coach McCorn said he went “where the breeze
blew” him and “sort of got pulled” in a different direction.

 

Because
his heart has always been in coaching, five years ago he responded to a
call for a walk-on basketball coach at Cathedral, and he has been here
ever since.  He likes the mission of the school and sees coaching
as one more way to “help the kids.”  In addition to basketball
skills, he wants to teach “life lessons,” including “structure,
discipline, respect for authority, and how to work within rules rather
than outside of them.” In his first year he even had to cut some players
from the team for failure to come to practice and failure to follow
instructions.  “Now,” he says, “they know what to expect.”

 

Team
study hall is every day in Room 401 from 3:00 to 5:00. If a student
needs to work with a particular teacher, that is, of course, allowed.
Using Powerschool he checks grades online once a week to find out where
the problems are and to see how his players are doing in their classes.
There he can see the assignments, so as he walks around the study hall
classroom, he knows what the boys are working on.

 

Team
response is “getting a lot better.”  In five years he has had only
three students become academically ineligible, and that includes one
“from one of the lower level programs” during the most recent grading
period. Of his current 45 basketball players, only one is on probation.
“We won’t lose any [of our fifteen] varsity players,” he said
confidently.

 

Practice
runs from 5:00 to 7:30. They have dinner after they get home although
they are free to eat before study hall begins. Asked how his players
cope with early outs, Coach smiled. “There are no early outs for
basketball.” He makes sure of this when the schedules are arranged. “We
don’t play in the 3:00 games because I don’t want to take the kids out
of school.” Nevertheless, he fully anticipates that his team will
contend for the division championship and the state playoffs.  He
has a good farm system, so Phantoms can expect a strong showing for
years to come. Coach McCorn hopes to continue as Cathedral’s basketball
coach whatever else happens.

 

Besides
his basketball responsibilities, Coach McCorn also teaches four
physical conditioning classes for juniors and seniors. If offered a
teaching contract, the he looks forward to the challenge of the
classroom. “I love reading books,” he confessed, “so English would be
great.” He is willing to teach math or science, too, and at “any grade
level. Kids are kids,” he notes, “and I can handle kids.”
Interestingly, he says he would “rather do something the kids don’t like
[so I can] turn them on to it.” It will be fascinating to see what happens next.

Questions? Comments? Write <Purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org>


 

Kristin McNeal, Director of Student Activities

October 19, 2009

 

There
is never a dull moment at Cathedral. Besides preparing for mid-semester
grades, taking the standardized tests (PSAT, Iowa), applying for
college, practicing for earthquakes, and waging “Change Wars” for the
rest of this month, students also celebrate Homecoming beginning today.

 

Kristin
McNeal, now in her second year as Director of Student Activities, has
Homecoming well in hand. Preliminary activities include the usual themed
dress days and poster contest leading up to the Homecoming Rally on
Friday.  The week culminates in two major events.  First is
the Homecoming Game Friday night when the Phantoms play the St. Bernard
Vikings under the lights, and the Homecoming Court is presented at
halftime.

 

Candidates
for the Queen and her Court are nominated by Cathedral students and
then interviewed by a committee made up of ASB officers and selected
faculty members. The committee’s choice determines the Queen, but there
will be also contributory votes at the dance.

 

The
second event is the dance in the gym on Saturday night when the
Homecoming Queen is announced. The Student Council is decorating the
gym, and to add a touch of elegance, the dance will be semi-formal. In
keeping with the refined character of the affair, the following dress
code will be expected: dress shirt, tie and dress shoes for the guys,
dresses or skirts for the girls.  NO Denim. The cost will be $15
per person or $25 per couple, and drinks and desserts will be included
in the cost.

 

The
Student Council’s decision to sponsor a more “upscale” event is,
according to Mrs. McNeal, at least “partly because there will be no
winter formal dance.”

 

Asked
how she manages to keep track of so many activities at once, Mrs.
McNeal conceded she is “a big fan of spreading the responsibility,” and
she commended both Abel Gutierrez (science teacher and photographer) and
John Ferrante (Dean of Services) for their help especially with
Homecoming.

 

Of
course, her standing committee to get things done is her homeroom, the
Student Council. Made up of ASB officers and class officers, they are
charged with organizing the lunchtime and other extra-curricular
activities at Cathedral. Currently they are helping Freshman Moderator
Mike Godoy with the intramural sports program. Because they have so much
to plan, they have agreed to an additional meeting on Wednesday
mornings at 7:30 for breakfast, taking turns bringing the food.
Seventeen in number, their total will grow to twenty when the freshmen
elect their officers.

 

Intramurals
cover three months of such lunchtime activities. The first round is
basketball in the gym (plus ping pong in Dr. Bartel’s classroom).
The next two rounds are outdoors:  Kickball and Dodgeball (or
ultimate Frisbee) on the field. If these tournaments are popular with
the students (as indicated by the level of participation and the number
of spectators), there will be a new ASB office, Intramural Coordinator,
next year. So show your support!

 

Additional lunchtime activities take place during Welcome Week, Homecoming, Multicultural Week, and Founders Week. In keeping with the desire to instill in the students respect for others and to show respect for the Founder, Founders Week activities will also include a service component under the leadership of Br. Chris and Lasallian Youth.

 

And
how does one prepare for such a demanding position? Mrs. McNeal has
worked her way up.  She has been at Cathedral for eight years and
has taught all four grade levels of English during her tenure.  She
taught freshmen her first year, sophomores for three years, and is now
in her third year of teaching seniors. She has taught juniors mostly,
but also had a turn teaching the elective Literature to Film and even a
senior religion course, Christian Lifestyles and World Religions.
She also served as Sophomore Moderator for several years, giving up that
position to become Director of Student Activities.

 

Mrs.
McNeal was born and reared in Pennsylvania, going to Clarion
University, just an hour north of Pittsburgh.  She is a Steelers
fan, of course, but finds baseball less compelling.

 

As
a child, she once complained to her father about a teacher, and he
replied, “The only way to fix it is to become a teacher yourself.” Her
original intention was to teach history and speech, but when she got to
college and saw 35 to 40 sections of remedial English, she switched her
major to English so she could “make a difference.” She briefly
considered physical therapy, but rejected it when she realized it
involved a course in “gross anatomy” – using real bodies (cadavers).

 

Her
first college-level English class was taught by a graduate student who
encouraged and challenged her to work harder and raise the bar. She
became more confident in her ability to write. Her love of literature is
vast; she loves to read, but since becoming a teacher, her time is
spent mostly reading student papers rather than Pulitzer Prize winners.

 

She
moved to California because her husband Jeff wanted to have a
restaurant business, and opportunities were not big in Pennsylvania. His
restaurant, Damon & Pythias, opened in Westwood near UCLA, but
running it took 100% of his time.  When he took advantage of its
success to sell it to a larger company, Mrs. McNeal was pleased, too.
Now he has time with their family, which includes daughter Abrielle and
son T.J. At present he works for Wedgewood Wedding and Banquets, a food
and beverage company that sells proms and weddings by renting facilities
at golf courses. (Golf courses rarely use their facilities in the
evening, and they get a percentage of the fee while WWB does the work.)

 

Although
initially Mrs. McNeal was not thrilled about moving to California
“because only movie stars and surfers” reside there, now she “can’t
think of another place” she’d rather live.  She likes working with
people, and teaching, she says, “is a social job. I could never work at a
desk in a cubicle.”  How fortunate we are that she decided to use
her energy to organize activities for Cathedral students!

 

Questions? Comments? Write <Purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org>

Change Wars!

October 12, 2009

 

This year’s Lasallian Principles Assembly opened with a prayer by sophomore Isaac Vigil. Then senior Allen Salgado introduced Mr. Lowdermilk, who explained through pictures he had taken on his trip to India (see Volume 2, Sept. 2, 2008), what deplorable conditions most children endure throughout the world,
and how many of them are affected by malnutrition, poverty, abuse
(physical, psychological, economic, etc.), and lack of access to a
quality education.

Allen then introduced the keynote speaker, Br. Dan Fenton, FSC, (seen at right with a young friend) currently teaching at San Miguel High School in Tucson, Arizona. He was greeted fondly by teachers (some of them his former students) who had known him when he taught science here at Cathedral from 1986 to 1993. When Allen mentioned that Br. Dan “has spent the last five summers traveling to the Philippines to work at a Youth Detention Center operated by the Brothers,” his relevance to the topic of children’s rights became evident.

 

Although his presentation included some beautiful scenery, Br. Dan’s real
purpose was to “tell some terrible stories [about] some heroic people.”
The problems he describes are not unique to the Philippines, but they
are the stories he knows.

 

These are heart-rending tales of children abandoned by their parents, adopted and then abused by their street-gang protectors. They turn to drugs to forget their hunger and to crime (stealing, robbery, and worse) for survival.  If they get arrested, however, they are housed with adults in overcrowded cells, and there are no laws to protect them from further abuse in prison.

 

In 2005 a new law was passed in the Philippines to establish rights for children in the justice system, but there are no funds to enforce it. With about one third of the population living in poverty ($1.35 per day), their homes have no electricity or running water, and they have no access to health care (or even funerals for their dead) because they cannot afford what it costs. Prison reform is a low priority, even with the best intentions. As Br. Dan reported, “A few years later … an overwhelmed staff with far too many kids and few resources found themselves running a veritable jail [at the Manila Youth Reception Center]. Physical and sexual assaults on kids continue.”

 

The Christian Brothers have responded by building Bahay Pag-asa,
a place for “kids who would otherwise be left in jails … or in
government-run youth centers.  There are guards and secure gates,
as are required, but the environment is safe, spiritual, educational and
hopeful.”

 

Here children can go to school and learn such basic skills as how to hold a pencil. Although they are “easily frustrated” because they have so much to learn, they are “the most cooperative, eager and dedicated students” Br. Dan has ever taught. However, Br. Dan also pointed out that “while education is widely accepted as a basic right of children, Lasallian philosophy insists that a quality education is the basic right.”  Hence the curriculum also includes working with computers, looking through telescopes, shooting hoops, and learning to play a musical instrument. You may recognize the Lasallian volunteer (Br. Chris Patino!) playing Scrabble with one of the residents.

Of course, continued Br. Dan, “at the heart of Lasallian education is the spiritual component. The residents … gather four times a day for prayer. Each meal and each class begin with a prayer. When I asked a resident what made Bahay Pag-asa different from a jail, he pointed to the chapel and said, ‘That makes it different.’”

 

But it’s not all fun and games. The residents know that they will have to earn a living when they leave, so they prepare by developing marketable skills.  They glaze hams; they grow their own vegetables; they mend their own clothes. They also learn animal husbandry (cattle, goats, rabbits, chickens, ducks and turkeys), and tilapia and catfish farming, in hopes of finding employment in agricultural or ranching businesses.  They also cut, split, and installed a bamboo fence to keep random carabao (a kind of domesticated water buffalo) from raiding their vegetable garden. The garden provides food for every meal, and if they have more than they can use, they sell the rest to help support the center.  They also sew pouches to hold rosaries, which they can sell also. They also do their own janitorial work, rising at 5:00 a.m.
to sweep rooms, clean the fountain, and keep the place spotless. Moreover, “with the help of a benefactor,” according to Br. Dan,“they are also starting a water purifying business.  They take tap water – of uncertain quality – and run it through a series of filters, then sell the purified water to students at the nearby Lasallian
campuses throughout the city.”

 

“Ultimately,” he concluded, “the rights of children and juveniles are not about trivial things. They are about the fundamental needs that all of us have for family, food, health care, education and happiness. Bahay Pag-asa is a Lasallian response to the needs of youth. It’s also a statement of our belief in the message of the Gospel. As children of God, these are our brothers.” Allen Salgado then returned to the microphone to enumerate three calls to action.

 

First, Cathedral students are invited to learn more about this issue.
“Beginning next month, LSY will sponsor a monthly workshop that will
discuss topics around “The Rights of the Child.” If you think you might
be interested in theses workshops, you may see Br. Chris or Mr.
Lowdermilk.

 

Second, the Lasallian United States Region of the Brothers will be sponsoring a
convocation at the United Nations in New York for students from
Lasallian schools around the U.S. Four Cathedral students will be
selected to attend this convocation in April. See Br. Chris or Mr.
Lowdermilk for more information.

 

Third, in order to show our solidarity, we will raise money during the rest of
the month of October for our Lasallian Brothers at Bahay Pag-asa
through “Change Wars.”

 

“Change Wars”

Junior James Esparza explained the rules for “Change Wars.” Competition takes place among the four grade levels, and students will bring change to deposit into their class jug, which will be outside the cafeteria near the lunch lines every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday until Friday, October 30. Standings will be announced twice a week, and the prize for the winning
class will be modified dress day and a pizza lunch.

 

Important Note:

Only coins count for your class’s competition.  Cash (paper money) counts against your class, so by all means, give cash, but deposit it in a different class’s jug, not yours. When class totals are announced, the cash amount will be subtracted from the total, and the standings determined on that basis.

 

Br. Dan urged the Phantoms of Cathedral to meet the Boys of Pag-asa.
“As Lasallian educators and students … we are called … to recognize
our brothers and sisters, and to give them every opportunity to become
educated, empowered, faith-filled and happy human beings.”

 

Go Phantoms! Bring change for change!  As Br. Dan said, “It’s what we do.”

 

Questions? Comments? Write <Purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org>


 

Author! Author!

Zack Gonzalez Writes a Book

October 5, 2009

 

“Enter
to learn, leave to serve,” reads one of the Signs of Faith hanging in
the corridors of our school. Zack Gonzalez, Class of 2011, plans to
serve the community of those affected by autism.

 

In
2005, when he was just three years old, Zack’s brother Ethan was
diagnosed with autism. The news was frightening to Zack and his family
because they did not know what it really meant.  Ethan was
excessively quiet, not making eye contact, not yet talking, not even
making noises. He was “zombie-like,” in Zack’s words.

 

Faced
with the reality of Ethan’s situation, Zack began to do research on
autism, his first thought to find a cure.  Then in the summer of
2006, he and his family went to the Rose Bowl for the “Walk Now for
Autism” fundraiser. Inspired by what he learned, Zack attended more
events and volunteered to help at them.

 

Then early this year he tried his hand at an event of his own. He contacted the Dodgers and with help from their public relations people, he organized a
baseball game for autistic children. Baseball is an everyday summer
activity for many youngsters, but a special opportunity for children
with autism, who do not usually participate in T-ball or Little League.
In March of 2009, joined by Dodger Legends Bobby Castillo and Jim Gott (pitchers from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s), Zack hosted his own fundraiser, “Play Now for Autism with the Dodgers,” at a baseball diamond in Elysian Park. The Dodgers also donated tickets
for a raffle, and as a result, over $2000 was raised for autism
research.

 

But that’s not all. While planning this event, he met Amalia Starr, whose book, Raising Brandon, recounts her experience as a mother with an autistic son. She
encouraged Zack to write about his experiences with his brother. Never
one to sit around and do nothing, Zack began to write, and he finished
the 200-page book over the summer. Then he began looking for a
publisher. His mentor suggested Zack begin by self-publishing, with
print copies available on demand. He found Trafford Publishing, an
online firm, and worked out an agreement by which Trafford has exclusive
rights to the book for its first three weeks, and then bookstores
worldwide have the opportunity to order copies. Readers are invited to
check out Zack’s work online at <www.Trafford.com>.  Click on “Bookstore” and type in the title, Saving Deets. (Deets is Ethan’s nickname.)

 

Deets
has improved since his original diagnosis, Zack reports. Now seven, he
is not as low-functioning as before. “He talks, he is starting to read,
and he is communicating better.” Zack attributes his brother’s progress,
at least in part, to diet therapy.

 

Asked
about diet, Zack explained the theory that certain toxins in the
environment and in processed foods can affect the way the brain works,
especially for those diagnosed with autism. Zack’s research suggested
that reducing intake of dairy products and wheat flour might help reduce
Deets’s symptoms. The particular ingredient in dairy products (casein)
and the particular ingredient in flour (gluten) are keys to the diet
therapy.  Zack believes the change in diet has helped Deets
improve.  Now he and his family are eating organic, shopping at
Whole Foods, and growing their own vegetables in a garden.

 

Some
researchers maintain that, because it does not work in all cases, diet
therapy is not effective. While he concedes there is some controversy,
Zack believes that long term, consistent adherence to the gluten-free,
casein-free diet will result in more advances than eating processed
foods or not following any dietary regimen.

 

Zack’s
goal is to start a non-profit to help families pay for medical
interventions and therapies, such as the GFCF (gluten free, casein free)
diet, which can be expensive. For example, Deets must take vitamin
supplements to replace the nutrients he loses from lack of wheat and
milk products.

 

Every other Saturday he also has an interview show, which publicizes activities about autism in the community. Check out <blogtalkradio.com/itsonwithzack>.

Not
one to rest on his laurels, Zack has begun a second book on recovery
methods.  He also has an organic clothing line designed to raise
awareness of autism, and it will be available online in November through
his website (see below).

 

He
is such a busy autism activist that I had to ask, “When do you have
time for schoolwork?” He did not seem too concerned:  “After
school, at break, and at lunch,” he replied with a smile.

 

His
ultimate goal is to find a way to provide more services and funding for
kids like Deets.  He wants them to have every opportunity that
other kids get. Not a bad goal for a Brothers’ boy.

 

Want to know more? Check his website, <zackgonzalez.com>.

 

Questions? Comments? Write

<purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org>


 

Math Club and

Honor Societies

Install Officers

September 28, 2009

A
fitting introduction to Cathedral’s academic elite for freshmen and
their parents took place a few hours before Back-to-School night on
September 24.

Parents,
siblings, teachers and administrators gathered in the Melvin
Henderson-Rubio Conference Room on Thursday afternoon for the ceremony
installing officers of the Mathematics Club, the California Scholarship Federation, and the National Honor Society. Under the watchful eye of Moderator Eve Salas, the ceremony began with the music of Josh Groban’s rendition of the National Anthem.  James Manahan, sophomore representative to the Math Club, led those present in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, and Angelo Aglipay, incoming secretary of the National Honor Society, read the opening prayer.

 

The first set of officers was for the Math Club.  Joel Solis,
incoming president of the California Scholarship Federation, introduced
Kristin McNeal, Director of Student Activities, who led the executive
officers in their pledge. The new officers are President David Tababa; Vice President Alvin Fong; Secretary Joel Solis; Assistant Secretary Daniel Salas; Treasurer William Velasquez; Assistant Treasurer Ray Lopez; Publisher John Castellanos; and Graphic Designer David Martinez.

 

The
Math Club Board of Representatives includes a student from each section
of each math class, and one representative in charge for each grade
level.  These representatives include Vincent Uy, senior in charge, with senior representatives Mike Fernandez, Christian Tolosa, Steve Flores, Martin Farfan, Jonathan Hernandez, Joseph Guzman, Kevin Aguilar, and Daniel Garcia. The junior representative in charge is Angelo Aglipay, with junior representatives Henry Garcia, Jimmy Aguirre, Isaac Garcia, James Manahan, Christopher Soriano, Christopher Arredondo, Christian Aguinaga, and Jonathan Leyva. Sophomores get their first taste of official responsibilities, with Julian Tolosa as sophomore in charge, and classroom representatives Jesse Flores, Justin Mercado, James Adame, Matias Farfan, Jonathan Calleja, Oscar Leong, Dong Hyoung Kim, and Michael Candaza. The
freshman representatives attend meetings to find out how the club
works; they get their chance to hold office next year.  Freshman
representatives are Rafael Rodriguez, Patrick Vong, Ian Gomez,
Ricardo Olivares, Juan Sebastian Hernandez, Michael Limon, Xavier Smith,
Ilan Alvarez, Thomas Munoz, Steven Hernandez,
and Cesar Esquivel. Any interested student is welcome to participate in the activities of the Math Club.

 

The second organization was the California Scholarship Federation.  Incoming NHS President William Velasquez introduced Sulema Modesto, Dean of Studies, who led the officers in their oath of office.  The new officers are President Joel Solis; Vice President Vincent Uy; Secretary Oscar Leong; Assistant Secretary Henry Garcia; Treasurer Christian Tolosa; Assistant Treasurer Julian Tolosa; Publisher David Tababa; Graphic Designer Ray Lopez; Senior-in-Charge Christopher Centeno; Junior-in-Charge Justin Pasion; and Sophomore-in-Charge Justin Mercado. Freshmen will be eligible for membership if they qualify by virtue of their first semester grades.

 

Then Math Club President David Tababa introduced Principal Br. John Montgomery, who led the 2009-2010 officers of the National Honor Society in their oath of office. The new officers are President William Velasquez; Vice President John Castellanos; Secretary Angelo Aglipay; Assistant Secretary Quinton Hom; Treasurer Isaac Garcia; Assistant Treasurer Steve Flores; Publisher Alvin Fong; Graphic Designer Alexander Rodriguez; Senior-in-Charge Joseph Guzman; Junior-in-Charge Christopher Soriano; and Sophomore-in-Charge Matias Farfan.
As with the California Scholarship Federation, freshmen will be
eligible for membership in the National Honor Society if they qualify by
virtue of their first semester grades.

Following the installation of officers, NHS Vice President John Castellanos read some closing remarks, thanking the parents who provided the
refreshments, the administrators who participated in the ceremonies and
all those family and faculty members who supported the ceremony by their
attendance.  He especially acknowledged the work of Moderator Eve Salas, whose artistic eye and sensitive concern for formal recognition of academic achievement made the event possible.

 

Closing the ceremony, Alvin Fong and Daniel Salas led the students in singing the Alma Mater, their index fingers pointing toward the cross in the gymnasium.

 

Questions? Comments? Write <Purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org>


 

Honor Roll Assembly

September 21, 2009

 

On
Wednesday, September 16, 2009, Cathedral recognized the scholastic
achievements of students who had earned places on the “A” and “B” Honor
Roll during the spring semester of 2009. The assembly celebrates
academic success and motivates students, especially freshmen, to earn a
place on the Honor Roll at the second Honors assembly in January.
Because last year’s seniors are no longer present, and this year’s
freshmen have yet to finish a semester, the number of honorees is
understandably small.  However, as a percentage of enrollment (a
total of 38% on a base of 544), the results are still impressive.

 

With
Mr. Gary Bertolone as Master of Ceremonies, Student Body President
Christopher Centeno opened the assembly with a prayer, and senior Martin
Farfan led the Pledge of Allegiance.

 

The “A” Honor Roll

This
year 98 students from three different classes are listed on the “A”
Honor Roll. This represents 18% of the student body (not counting over
200 freshmen).  These young men demonstrated excellent academic
merit and achieved a minimum 3.5 GPA with no D or F grade for the
previous semester.  As established last year, new members of the
“A” Honor Roll received their school tie (see picture) to complement the
usual Honor Roll certificate. “Like a letterman’s jacket or a varsity
letter,” Mr. Bertolone explained, it is “to be worn only by those who
have earned it by their hard work … in the field of academics.”
Expect to see Honor Roll students wearing these ties on dress-up days
for Mass and special assemblies.

 

Additional Honors

Excellence
Awards were given to those student (or students) in each class with the
highest GPA for the semester. If more than one student in a class
earned the same GPA, more than four students will be recognized. The Principal’s Award is an additional recognition for those who achieved a GPA of 4.0 or higher for the previous semester. The Purple Card is a further honor for each of the Principal’s Award winners.  It
goes to the top ten students by GPA at each grade level. The Purple Card
entitles students to one free admission to all dances (except
Homecoming and Prom); a free treat once a month; and one free lunch per
quarter (two per semester).

 

“B” Honor Roll

Students
who earned a GPA of 3.0 to 3.49 were also recognized with Honor Roll
certificates. These 112 young men represented 20% of the 544 students
eligible for this award. As an additional incentive to those watching
from the stands, Br John granted all Honor Roll students the privilege
of wearing modified dress on Thursday, September 17.

 

Special Guest

After the ceremony, special guest and Baseball Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda addressed the student body. He urged them to stay in school and prepare
for the careers of their dreams.  As a youth in Norristown,
Pennsylvania, Mr. Lasorda recalled, he dreamed of pitching in Yankee
Stadium; however, as a “third-string pitcher” for his high school team,
he was “nothing.” Nevertheless, he declared to his coach and to the two
pitchers ahead of him that one day they would pay to see him pitch in
the major leagues. He achieved both goals.

 

One
of only four managers in major league baseball history to manage the
same team for over twenty years, he also reminded students of the need
to be ready for opportunity by working hard.  He prepared to manage
the Dodgers, he told them, by learning his trade in Venezuela and the
Dominican Republic before assuming manager’s responsibilities for minor
league teams. And at the Summer Olympics in Sydney, he came out of
retirement to manage the U.S. baseball team to a gold medal. The student
body, prepared earlier by Br. John, sang “Happy Birthday” to him in
honor of his upcoming 82nd birthday.

 

Finally,
members of the California Scholarship Federation and the National Honor
Society were recognized by their moderator, Mrs. Salas. CSF membership
is based on and earned GPA (3.5 or above), plus character, and service.
NHS membership requires GPA of 3.29 or above, plus leadership
(involvement in clubs or sports), character and service.

Questions? Comments? Write <Purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org>


 

Power School and how it works

September 14, 2009

 

This year a new Pearson grading program, Power School, is helping Cathedral move to paperless recordkeeping.

 

What’s online?

The period for late enrollment and schedule changes has ended, but during those hectic days, Registrar Aurora Soliz and
Dean of Studies Sulema Modesto used Power School to update their
records, and teachers’ class lists were updated simultaneously.

 

The daily announcements are available although they continue to be read aloud over the public address system during Homeroom.

 

Teachers take attendance via computer during the first five minutes of each period. In seconds,
Mrs. Zaragoza in the Attendance Office has a record of who is absent
from every class.  If a parent calls to report her son’s illness,
for example, Mrs. Zaragoza can enter that information, and immediately
every one of the student’s teachers knows that he will be absent and
why.  (He still has to get an admit slip before he returns to
class, of course.)

 

Like the earlier program, Power School allows teachers to post assignments and record grades.
This year, however, Cathedral has instituted a schoolwide grading
policy: The percentage earned in any class will translate to the same
letter grade across the school. For example, 79% will be a C+ in every
class, not a C+ in some and a B- in others. Half-point (79.5%)
percentages will always round up.

 

Student Access

With a user name and a password (distributed in August) any student has access to his classes and his grades. He can check to see if an assignment
has been turned in and when the grade was re-corded. If he is absent,
he can see what assign-ment he missed and how to make it up. With his teacher’s email address, he can ask questions if there is part of the assignment he does not understand.

Parent/Guardian Access

Parents
and guardians have their own passwords (distributed at the General
Parent Meeting August 27), which gives them access to daily announce-ments, as well as their son’s assignments, grades, attendance records, and teachers’ comments.  They can set up email notification at chosen intervals to make it easier to keep track of their son’s
progress. If a grade is low, click on the class, and the individual
class assignments appear together with each grade.  At a glance
parents can see which assignments have been turned in and which not yet
graded. Moreover, parents can email teachers to arrange a meeting or ask
a question.  Instant access means there is no excuse for being in
the dark about how a student is doing in school, the classes where he
excels, and those he where he may need help.

Teacher Access

In
addition to the information teachers post (assignment descriptions, due
dates, grades), they also now have access to individual student files, which include the student’s picture, his address, and his parent or guardian’s contact information.
To the extent that accurate information is pro-vided, teachers can use
phone numbers or email for regular communication regarding students’
grades, behavior, and progress.

 

Moreover, with a click of the mouse, teachers now have access to a Quick Lookup of each student’s class schedule, including his teachers and his
current grades in other classes. This means Morn-ing Program teachers
can let tutors check up on their charges and get instant response.

 

There is also a teacher’s comment log that parents and guardians can read when they log on, so even without
phones or email, teachers can communi-cate with interested
parents/guardians.

 

Administrator Access

Power School also maintains confidential records of any meetings
with parents or between a student and an administrator such as the Dean
of Students (discipline issues), Dean of Studies (academics), or an
academic or personal counselor. Only adminis-trators and counselors have
access to this infor-mation. Mrs. Collier, the school secretary, finds
that recording parent service hours is much easier on the new program.

 

Student’s File

The individual student’s file contains more than just his picture and contact information.  Medical Alerts make teachers aware of a student’s need for regular medication, thus
enabling timely response before an incident becomes an emergency. Mr.
Trafecanty and Ms. Ruiz, the Deans of Students, issue a Discipline Alert if, for example, a student’s shirttail is regularly hanging out, or if
he is fre-quently using his phone at unauthorized times. Similarly, Ms.
Modesto, Dean of Studies, uses the program to record academic
information, such as eligibility for Honor Roll or Honor Society
member-ship. She expressed the hope that in the future, it will be
easier to keep track of student activities outside the classroom. Team rosters are also included, and absence for team events is easy to confirm by the attendance office.

 

What’s the Point?

Student
access means it is easier for them to take responsibility for their own
learning. Parents and guardians can take responsibility for knowing
what kind of progress their son is making.  Teachers are
responsible to both parents and students for the assignments they make
and timely recording of grades.

 

On
the other hand, access to the additional infor-mation in a student’s
file makes it easier for teachers and administrators to see the whole
student, rather than be limited to a single class-room experience.
When the time comes, teachers will be able to write more meaningful
letters of recommendation as students prepare for college. It’s win/win
all around!

 

Questions? Comments? Write <Purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org>


 

Scholarship Opportunities

September 7, 2009

 

If Edgar Beltran’s story sparked your interest in going to college, here’s some more information.  Last Tuesday Hispanic Scholarship Fund
representative Jesse Torres addressed seniors in religion, government,
and English classes, and then spoke after school with Principal Br. John
Montgomery, College Counselor Mr. Catlin, and several teachers.

 

He
had both good news and bad news.  First, the bad news: the high
school dropout rate for Hispanic males is higher than for any other
demographic. Now, the good news:  Mr. Torres has made it his
mission to increase the number of male Hispanic scholarship recipients
in 2010 by 25%.  That’s you, fellas.

 

Like the United Negro College Fund and the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund
is a clearing house for over 150 scholarship opportunities you can use
to help pay for your college education.  Since its beginning, HSF
has awarded over $250 million in scholarship money to more than 90,000
deserving students.

 

As
Mr. Matteson (English teacher, graduate student, and scholarship
recipient) pointed out to his class, “This is money that corporate
sponsors want to give away for the tax credit, and the job of HSF is to
give it away. If they don’t, they won’t get as much next year.” On the
other hand, he continued, a scholarship student is “walking money” for
the colleges; “they want the money you are bringing them, so why not?”
Moreover, “you owe it to all the future Phantoms” – to your brothers and
sisters, cousins, and eventually your sons and daughters – “to do your
part” to keep this money flowing.

 

Because
of its effectiveness in finding candidates, corporations come to HSF
with their offers of financial aid because it will screen applicants and
find the one(s) who qualify. For example, the PGA (Professional Golfers
Association) had a scholarship for someone, not necessarily Latino or
Hispanic, who had worked as a caddy (one who carries the clubs for
another golfer).

 

More
good news: it takes only ONE online application at HSF to apply for all
the scholarships they offer!  Check your eligibility as you go,
and HSF will send your online application to every scholarship
organization for which you are qualified.

 

There are a few general eligibility requirements, one of which is you must be a U.S. citizen (or legal resident). You need a solid (but not stratospheric) GPA: 3.0 on a 4.0 scale will do. You probably already know about FAFSA
(Free Applications for Federal Student Aid), and applying for federal
aid is also a pre-requisite for applying to the Hispanic Scholarship
Fund.

 

The Gates Millennium Scholarship is another opportunity.  It requires a separate application, but
it covers tuition at any of a number of prestigious (and expensive)
institutions of higher learning.  It requires a 3.2 GPA,
but as Mr. Matteson explained, “Even if you don’t get that scholarship,
your very eligibility puts you in a higher category than other
scholarship applicants, and you qualify for significant money in other
ways.” Gates Millennium also works with the United Negro College Fund, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, and the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund, so you can have access to financial aid no matter what your ethnic background.

 

What
if you’re “almost” qualified, but you lack an important
component?  That’s why it is important to look at the eligibility
requirements ahead of time, as Mr. Ryan, sophomore counselor,
emphasized. “The PGA scholarship,” he recalled, “went to a Cathedral
golfer who learned about the requirements as a junior. He spent his
summer at a golf course as a caddy so he could qualify.” And he got his
scholarship because, as Mr. Ryan pointed out, “he looked at the
requirements BEFORE his senior year.  He had time to make himself
eligible.”

 

The
lesson:  Start early!  Look at what is out there.  What
scholarships COULD you qualify for if you boost your academic effort a
little and participate in the right activities?

 

However,
the time for applying for many of these scholarships is limited. Some
are already closed for the class of 2010. Don’t wait! If you have
questions, talk with Mr. Catlin or use the link on the Counseling page
of the school website for more information. It would be a shame if you
missed out.

 

Questions? Comments? Write <Purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org>


 

Morning Program:

A Success Story

August 31, 2009

 

Cathedral’s
Morning Program is designed for those who need a little help adjusting
to academic life at the high school level.  Mr. Catlin and his team
of peer tutors show students how to prepare for the demands of a
college preparatory school.  Last week, the first full week of the
semester, parents of freshmen and sophomores in the Morning Program met
with Mr. Catlin to learn about their role in their son’s success.

 

Just how important is this program? Let me tell you a story. If you are an ordinary guy, this one’s for you.

 

Amid
all the recognition of academic achievement at the Senior Presentation
Assembly last spring, there was also heartfelt and eloquent testimony by
an ordinary student.  Teachers and administrators who remembered Edgar Beltran, Class of 04, as an at-risk freshman were impressed and moved by what he had to say.

 

Edgar
came to Cathedral in 1999 from a school not known (at that time) for
its academic strength. To pay his tuition, Edgar’s mother, a single
parent, worked two jobs, cleaning houses during the day and offices at
night. Unfortunately, this meant she did not have time to help with his
assignments or supervise his activities after school.

 

As
a freshman, Edgar lacked the discipline to do homework on his own. Even
though he never failed a class, his grades suffered, and in an effort
to help, his mother asked that he enroll in the Morning Program. He
signed a contract agreeing to be at school at 7:00 a.m., get his
assignment sheet signed by both his teachers and his mother, and get his
homework checked by his Morning Program tutor.  However, he was
embarrassed about being in the Morning Program, so he did not like
showing teachers his assignment sheet. As a result, he frequently did
not get it signed. On his own after school, he found other ways to spend
his time, and homework was a low priority.  By the end of his
second semester, Edgar found himself on Br. John’s list for dismissal.

 

This
crisis awoke Edgar’s motivation. He went to summer school to make up
his “D” grades. Then, recognizing the sacrifices his mother had been
making, and taking courage from his Morning Program counselor, he
promised (again) to keep his part of the bargain. He started paying
attention in class; he asked his teachers for help when he did not
understand. He reported regularly to Morning Program to meet with his
tutor; he found a place and a time for his homework.  He also
decided to hang out with winners rather than losers. By the end of his
sophomore year he had made the “B” Honor Roll! He kept working and made
the “A” Honor Roll his junior year. In summer school, he made up two
more Ds from his freshman year. He decided on a more challenging senior
schedule, including AP Spanish Literature and Honors Algebra II; and he
became a tutor in the Morning Program, encouraging others who were where
he had once been.  Before he knew it, he was graduating.

 

Financial Aid

Meanwhile,
Morning Program founder David Galaz (now Science Department Chair) and
his brother Ralph (Business Office Manager) had established the Catalina
Galaz Family Scholarship in honor of their mother. The money was to
reward a student from the Morning Program who went on to college, and
Edgar was its first recipient. He had been accepted to the University of
California, Santa Cruz, the first in his family to go to college.

 

On
his own, Edgar set up “[his] own little Morning Program in
college.”  Remembering the organization skills he learned, he began
applying them in his new circumstances: taking notes in class, writing
down assignments, and most important, networking (meeting with other
students outside of class for study or discussion). He checked with his
professors, and did some homework every day, keeping track of what he
had done and what still needed to be done.

 

Success

Four
years later, Edgar graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in
sociology and a GPA of 3.0, the first in his family to get a college
degree. And this fall he starts graduate school, pursuing an MBA in
Urban Planning at UCLA.

 

Last
spring Edgar returned to present the Catalina Galaz Family Scholarship
award to another product of the Morning Program at the Senior
Presentation ceremony (see Vol. 2, May 25, 2009). Demonstrating his
bilingual skills, Edgar related his story in both English and Spanish as
a means of encouraging others who face academic challenges.

 

His
message to undergraduates and to those “undecorated” seniors who wonder
if they can succeed in college, is to follow his example. “I was not a
great student,” he insisted, “but I did it, and you can, too.”

 

In short: Yes, you can! Are you ready for the challenge?

 

Questions? Comments? Write <Purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org>


 

Welcome Back!

August 24, 2009

“It’s
the most wonderful time of the year,” runs the melody for a
back-to-school commercial from Staples. And we are back! Last year’s
juniors are feeling a strange new power as they assume their place in
the designated senior area — namely, the cafeteria.  Last year’s
sophomores are flexing their junior-level muscles, and new sophomores
are relieved that they are no longer inexperienced freshmen. On the
other hand, incoming freshmen are getting a taste of a whole new world:
high school.

Some things remain the same:  For the
first time in recent memory, the faculty has no new members. While the
depressed economy has not affected enrollment — the freshman class at
235 is the largest in school history! — it has meant a reduction in
electives and an increase in class size.

Curriculum

On the other hand, some new classes have been established, many at the honors level. In the Math
Department, new classes include Statistics, a UC-approved math class
taught by Mr. Sal Lopez. Mrs. Salas continues with Algebra I Honors and
Geometry Honors; Mr. Gutierrez has Honors Algebra II, and Mr. M.
Trafecanty teaches both Honors Pre-Calculus and AP Calculus. In Social Studies, Dr. James has added World History Honors to his AP U.S. History, AP U.S. Government (and Genre Literature) courses. The Spanish
Department now offers Spanish III Honors, a challenging alternative for
non-native speakers to prepare them for AP Spanish Language and AP
Spanish Literature. In the English Department, Mrs. Price’s AP
English Literature continues; Mr. Catlin’s English III Honors has been
upgraded to AP English Language, and Mrs. Staveley is introducing
English II Honors.

Schedule

Some things have
changed:  For starters, Mr. Pelayo takes over as the new baseball
coach. After many years the rotating schedule has ended.  School
begins at 7:55 a.m. with the late bell for Homeroom at 8:00 o’clock
sharp.  Classes will meet in numerical order every Monday (1-7),
with Period 1 followed by bloc periods for even-numbered classes on
Tuesdays and Thursdays, and odd-numbered classes on Wednesdays and
Fridays.

Guidance and Counseling

There are also
some new developments in the Guidance and Counseling Department. Mr.
Godoy, assisted by Br. LaSalle, is now the freshman academic counselor;
Mr. Lowdermilk will be working with the sophomores; Mr. Ryan with the
juniors, and Mr. Catlin takes over as the senior academic and college
counselor.

As college counselor, Mr. Catlin announced that Cathedral now subscribes to Naviance,
“a new and exciting web-based tool that maintains records of
applications, sends transcripts, and provides databases of colleges and
scholarships.” For seniors and their parents there is also 50-page guide
that outlines the application process, types of colleges, testing and
how to obtain letters of recommendation.  Another addition is a
monthly Counseling Department newsletter. It will focus mainly on the
college application process, but will have tips and news for all grade
levels. To this end, Mr. Catlin expects all students to have an account
at collegeboard.com. This website will help them develop college-level
vocabulary and improve their test-taking skills in preparation for the
SAT.

Student Success Teams (SST) will continue
to meet monthly to assist students with learning challenges. In keeping
with this assistance, IEPs (Individualized Education Plans) are
available for identified students to help them succeed.

Lasallian Youth

Lasallian Youth
and the St. Benilde Vocation Ministry are alive and well under the
leadership of Br. Chris Patino.  A student leadership team has been
established to help promote involvement in service. Many service
activities are planned, including four presentations for the entire
student body.  First is a prayer service to open the school year,
then a fall assembly presenting the Lasallian Core Principles.
During the second semester they will present a follow-up assembly on the
Core Principles, and they are responsible for the annual Cultural
Appreciation Assembly in the spring.

New developments include the participation
of Vocation Directors in the College Fair this year, and Lasallian Youth
will go to the Religious Education Congress Youth Day on March 18. They
also plan to attend the first-ever Lasallian Students Convocation at
the United Nations in New York form April 25-29 in support of the Child
Rights Campaign.

Future plans include development of a more
formal voluntary service program at Cathedral. Beginning in January
students will be recognized for their service at the Honor Roll
Assembly. More on this at the September Honor Roll Assembly.

And finally, Mr. Walsh has announced that the fall musical, The Wiz, will be produced this fall at the Baldwin Park Performing Arts Center.  What an exciting year we have ahead of us!

 

Questions? Comments? Write

<purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org>

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