Volume I, 2007-2008

Dear Phantoms, Friends and Families,

This is the last Purple Letter unless there is a great outpouring of support, in written form (see below), for continuing it. It has been a pleasure for me to write this “blog” and I hope you enjoyed reading it. I had intended to write about graduation, but a family emergency prevented my attending any of the ceremonies this year.

The Purple Letter acknowledged several events this year. The new gymnasium-science complex was completed. Cardinal Mahony joined us in celebrating with a special Mass, and the Science Department moved its equipment to their new classrooms. Cathedral got a mention in Mike Ferraro’s column in the Los Angeles Downtown News, as the author of Numbelievable! gave credit to former student Gabriel Montes for writing one of the captions in the new book.

The Purple Letter noted many of the educational advantages Cathedral offers its students. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) awarded Cathedral a six-year clear accreditation. All our Advanced Placement courses are certified by the College Board and faculty participate in scoring the nationwide exams. In the fall, the Science Department began a new robotics program for students, and provided the entire faculty with laptops and instruction in Smart Board curriculum. The entire school took a day in October to visit college campuses, so over the course of four years students can see the differences among large private universities, small private colleges, Cal State universities, and the University of California. A schoolwide project in February provided practice in cross-curricular writing. All students participated, as did teachers of Spanish I, Biology, Religion, and U.S. Government, and English. The English Department sponsored The San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s annual visit. The troup of professional actors performed a 55-minute version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, offering students the enrichment of live theater.

The Purple Letter also recognized several of Cathedral’s extra-curricular activities. In January, the first official event held in the Melvin Henderson-Rubio Conference Center was the installation of officers for the Math Club, the National Honor Society and the California Scholarship Federation (even though they had taken up their responsibilities in the fall). Our Academic Decathlon team took several medals in the competition last February, and both students and teachers are interested in continuing this activity next year. Enrichment for the AP English Literature class included the option to attend six productions (including two Shakespeare plays) at A Noise Within, Glendale’s classical theater company. Live theater abounded at Cathedral, with a production each semester: Godspell in the fall in the Phantom Theater, and Playbill, a retrospective of musical numbers from the past ten years. The Math Club is one of the most active organizations on campus, and the awards ceremony recognized members for their participation in games and contests as well as for their accomplishments in the classroom. Cathedral celebrated the academic endeavors of students in every class on Star Scholar Night, an evening dedicated to acknowledging students for their hard work in the classroom.

Several faculty members were introduced in this column. Ms. (Elaine) Edwards, Mr. Lee, and Mr. Fernandez were experiencing their first year at Cathedral; Br. Roch Dufresne was making a return visit, and Mr. (Cesar) Garcia, an alumnus, came back in a new capacity.

That’s it for the Purple Letter. Perhaps it will reappear next year in a slightly different form, with more student participation – illustrations, interviews, suggestions for articles, perhaps even a guest column. There are more faculty to introduce, and farewells to say to those who are moving on to other challenges. There is also the possibility of an interview with author Michael X. Ferraro, who has promised to present a copy of his book to the Cathedral library.

Comments? Questions? Want to save the Purple Letter?

Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org.


Math Club Grade-level Awards

The second part of the Math Club awards ceremony was for achievement in each mathematics class. Winners were determined by a combination of 50% math GPA for the year and 50% for the results of the school-wide math placement test. Students at each level of math from pre-algebra through calculus were recognized with gold, silver, and bronze medals as well as certificates for fourth and fifth place.

David Cunanan introduced Br. LaSalle Bossong, religion teacher and freshman counselor, who presented medals and certificates to the freshmen. In Pre-algebra, the medalists were Steven Lay (gold), Nathaniel Ramsey (silver) and Hector Ruiz (bronze). In Algebra 1, gold went to Jonathan Leyva, silver (tie) to Alexander Rodriguez and Christopher Arredondo, and bronze to David Anthony Gonzalez. Algebra 1 Honors awarded gold to Christopher Soriano, silver to Angelo Aglipay, and bronze (a tie) to Quinton Hom and Kristaan Ivory.

Sophomores competed in Geometry and Algebra 2. Br. John Montgomery, Principal, presented Geometry awards to William Lopez (gold), Emmanuel Rodriguez and Alejandro Gonzalez (tie for silver), and Armando Morales and Andrew Dela Rosa (another tie for bronze). Additional medals went to Eric Guzman (silver) and John Castellanos (bronze) for Geometry Honors. In Algebra 2, a tie for gold went to two Honors students Vincent Uy and William Velasquez. Alejandro Castro took silver in the regular class, Joel Solis in honors. And bronze medals went to Dennis Gutierrez (honors) and Moises Venegas.

The juniors competed in Algebra 2, Algebra 3/Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus, and Pre-Calculus Honors. Ms. Modesto, Dean of Studies, presented medals to Edwin Leyva (gold) and Gabriel Guevara (silver) for Algebra 2. The gold medalist in Algebra 3/Trig was Daniel Garcia. Two students tied for the silver: Anthony Cisneros and Joemil Escario; and three students tied for the bronze: Richard Alfaro, David Mackabee, and Jon Zaragoza. In Pre-Calculus, gold went to Amar Vanmali (honors), silver to Francis Sy Su and James Reyes (honors, another tie), and bronze to Ronnel Puhawan.

Mr. Ureno, math teacher, presented awards to the seniors, who competed in Pre-Calculus, Pre-Calculus Honors, and AP Calculus. Gold medals went to Jesus Gonzalez and Angel Rodriguez (tie for Pre-Calculus); and Jerel Vega for AP Calculus. Silver medal winners were Christopher Flores and Aaron Taylor (tie for Pre-Calculus); and Michael Harmon, David Rodriguez, and Leyder Molina (three-way tie for AP Calculus). Bronze was awarded to Manuel Joseph Sanchez (Pre-Calculus), Guillermo Vasquez (Pre-Calculus Honors), and Rodney Bravo and Lawrence Vincent (AP Calculus).

Mrs. Salas herself asked Br. Jesus Lara, Director of Student Activities, to present 31 service award plaques to the Math Club executive officers, board of representatives and members who helped supervise the games. Then she presented plaques to five seniors in appreciation for their four years of service: David Cunanan, Randall Chan, Michael Harmon, Andrew Ortega, and Jerel Vega; and additional plaques to the tutors, David Tababa, Vincent Uy, and Jerel Vega.

The Math Club’s highest award, Mathematician of the Year, goes to “the student who has maintained a high GPA in mathematics for four years, has continuously earned medals for excellence in math, and has shown dedication to the Math Club through his service in all activities.” Last year that outstanding student was Dominic Barbusa; however, because he was only a junior, he had to wait until this year to receive the award. The Mathematician of the Year for 2008 is Jerel Boyd Vega. Both students received plaques for their accomplishment.

The event concluded with refreshments and appreciative comments for all who participated.

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org


Math Club Awards Ceremony

certAs the end of school approaches, students prepare for AP exams, semester exams, and summer vacation. However, spring is also a time for recognizing the accomplishments of the past year. On April 9, 2008, the Math Club held its annual awards ceremony in the Melvin Henderson-Rubio Conference Center.

Moderator Eve Salas organized the event, and club officers introduced the faculty members who presented the various awards. First were the awards for games and activities. Lawrence Vincent described the requirements for each one: Creativity in Math (origami airplane design and length of flight); Crossmatic, a contest of speed and accuracy for partners at each grade level; 24-Game, a mathematical version of the Jeopardy game show, also for grade-level partners; and Krypto, which is similar to the 24-Game but requires five numbers and partners from mixed grade levels (freshmen & seniors, sophomores & juniors). Teams tested their basic math skills by adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing the five numbers to reach the goal.

Mr. Catlin, Director of Counseling, presented first, second, and third place awards for Creativity in Math. First-place winners included Eric Rodriguez, for originality and artistic merit in portraying the authentic airplane; Eric Rodriguez and Alfred Medina (tie) for first place in artistic merit in depicting a future airplane; Christian Llerena for the farthest flying airplane in the lower division (57 feet); and David Cunanan, for the farthest flying airplane in the upper division (69 feet).

Each of the game sections had first and second runners-up and champions at each grade level. Then the grade-level champions competed for the title of Grand Champion. William Velasquez introduced Mr. Mike Trafecanty, Dean of Students, who presented awards for the Crossmatic game. Lower division grade-level champions were freshmen Alvin Fong and Daniel Jeon, and sophomores Joel Solis and Jonathan Hernandez. Among the juniors, Christopher Galeano and Cuauthemoc GutierRuiz tied for first place with Amar Vanmali and James Reyes. Senior champions were Michael Muranaga and Emmanuel Gonzalez, but the grand champions were the freshmen, Alvin Fong and Daniel Jeon!

To present awards for the 24-Game, Rick Lu introduced Mrs. Price, English Department Chair. Freshman champions were Justin Passion and Quinton Hom. Sophomore champions were tied: William Lopez and Andrew Moung, with Jonathan Hernandez and Jorge Bojorkez. Junior champions were Christopher Galeano and Maksim Tsybrivsky; senior champions were David Nevarez and Thomas Castro. Grand Championship went to juniors Christopher Galeano and Maksim Tsybrivsky.

Joel Solis then introduced Ms. Ruiz, College Counselor and Assistant Dean of Studies, who presented awards for Krypto, a more complicated version of the 24-Game. Teams for Krypto were made up of mixed grade-level partners: freshmen teamed with seniors; sophomores with juniors. First and second runners-up received recognition as well, but the junior-sophomore champions were Mark Aumentado and Andrew Moung; senior-freshman champions were Jerel Vega and Johnny Morales. The grand championship went to sophomore Andrew Moung and junior Mark Aumentado.

Deputy Sheriff Miguel Balderrama, Cathedral graduate and former member of the Math Club, addressed the members and their guests on the purpose of the Math Club as one of several extra-curricular activities to keep youth active and out of trouble. After his speech, the Club acknowledged the teachers and administrators who supported the organization, including two parents, Mr. Luisito Cunanan, father of David Cunanan; and Mr. Youlen Chan, father of Randall Chan; and to Ms. Gayle Alburo, mother of graduate Alton Alburo, for her dedication to the Math Club above and beyond the service hours she needed to fulfill.

Next week: Grade level awards and Mathematician of the Year

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org


Advanced Placement Exams

Beginning May 5 and continuing through May 16, juniors and seniors will be taking nationwide examinations administered by the College Board in hopes of qualifying for advanced placement in college. Cathedral High School offers Advanced Placement courses in seven subjects, and the culmination of all that hard work and study begins on Monday, May 5. AP Coordinator Helen Moses, who doubles as Cathedral’s library and information specialist, has arranged for the students to take five of the exams off campus. All but the literature exams will be administered at Casa Italiana beginning at 7:30 a.m. Exams for AP English Literature (on Thursday, May 8) and AP Spanish Literature (on Friday, May 16) will take place on campus, in the Melvin Henderson-Rubio Conference Room.

By reporting early (at 7:30) students have time to settle in, sharpen pencils, and be sure all the appropriate information is “bubbled in” on their answer sheets. For the writing sections, students are advised to bring pens with black or dark blue ink. The tests consist of 55 to 60 objective (multiple-choice) questions based on readings, plus a “free response” component, usually requiring written analysis of a variety of passages related to the subject area. The exam allows one hour for the multiple-choice (That’s about one minute per question) and two hours for the writing (or 40 minutes per essay topic). Students do not have much time for daydreaming, dozing, or even careful investigation of the possibilities. They must be well prepared and rested if they are to do their best on these demanding exams.

The first exam is for seniors: AP U.S. Government & Politics. On Tuesday the juniors take AP Spanish Language, an exam that also involves listening to passages being read in Spanish and responding appropriately on tape. For the AP Calculus exam, which seniors take on Wednesday, the multiple-choice section is based on a number of problems with several suggested answers. Students must work without calculators to determine each response. The “essay” section permits calculators, but students must show their work to achieve credit for each problem. Thursday is AP English Literature, with essays on a poem and a prose passage that students are seeing for the first time, plus a third on a novel or play of the student’s choice. Friday is AP U.S. History for juniors. It includes a component that requires students to respond to a prompt based on their evaluation of several primary documents. The AP English Language exam, taken by juniors mostly, will be May 14. This exam focuses on non-fiction, rhetorical techniques, and research methods. And the AP Spanish Literature exam is Friday, May 16. It is similar to the English Literature exam, but the essays must be written, of course, in Spanish. The good news is that once each exam is finished – between 11:00 and noon – students are free to go home, rest — and prepare for the next one.

Comments? Questions? Write to purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org


Star Scholar Nightcert

Mid-semester conferences between parents and teachers are a mixed blessing. Even though parents need to be aware of their sons’ academic difficulties, especially if they are in danger of failing a class, students who want to take responsibility for their own learning might resent what they see as interference.

Star Scholar Night, on the other hand, is a celebration of achievement. On Tuesday, April 30, selected students and their parents are invited to a special night to honor students in every class for diligence and excellence in their studies.

Before Easter break, teachers reviewed their records, looking not only for students with exceptional grades, but also for those whose grades improved over the course of the year, and for those whose desire to learn was expressed in a willingness to take on additional work. Each teacher chose two students from each class, one for excellence (accomplishment) and one for dedication (hard work).

Invitations have been mailed to parents of the honorees, but the program lists only the order of awards, not who gets them. Students sit by grade level in a special area apart from their parents. Principal Br. John Montgomery opens the event with a prayer and a brief introduction. Suspense increases as teachers in the first department line up to congratulate the winners. Beginning with the freshmen, Dean of Studies reads the names of those being recognized for excellence in that department. Each student comes forward when his name is called, shakes hands with the department chair as he receives his certificate, then receives a congratulatory handshake from each member of the department, including the one who nominated him for the award. Sophomore honorees are next, followed by juniors and seniors. After the audience has acknowledged these excellent students with their applause, the Dean reads the names of those recognized for dedication. Again, each student comes forward to receive his certificate and shake hands with the members of the department. After all the names have been read, the Dean again asks the audience of proud parents, siblings, friends, and teachers to show their appreciation.

Then the next department lines up to congratulate their star scholars, and so on, until all the departments have recognized their excellent and dedicated students. Since no one knows who has been chosen by other teachers, it is likely that excellence or dedication will be recognized in the same student by more than one teacher Teachers are pleased to see freshmen make more than one trip to the front, and it is exciting when students from other grades make their first appearance. After the ceremony, students, parents and teachers have the opportunity to socialize over cake and punch. It is an opportunity to chat informally in an atmosphere of success.

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


Academic Decathlon, Part II bruce

In the darkness before dawn on Saturday, February 2, nine intrepid Cathedral students (Aaron Taylor, Wisely Wang, James Reyes, Kevin Brenes, Josergio Zaragoza, Joseph Venegas, Bernardo Nuno, Jacob Rios, and Larry Ballestamon) left the comfort of their beds to travel at 6:30 a.m. with Mr. Matteson, their moderator/coach, to Bishop Alemany High School in the Valley. At 7:00 a.m. the grueling all-day Academic Decathlon competition began against all the other Catholic high schools in Los Angeles. And how well did Cathedral do in the competition? Check Academic Decathlon, Part I to find out!

What is an “academic” decathlon?

You probably have heard of decathlon as an Olympic event in which an athlete must compete in ten different track and field venues. High schools across the country have adapted that concept and developed an academic decathlon, in which teams of students compete on different levels in ten academic subjects, including literature & language; music; science; art; mathematics; economics; two speeches (one extemporaneous –prepared — and one impromptu); a timed writing; an oral interview based on the student’s resume; and the “Superquiz,” which includes both an individual written component and a team-based oral quiz.

Who gets to compete?

Just as high schools compete in different divisions according to the size of the school, and athletes compete at different skill levels (varsity, junior varsity, and freshman), so the Academic Decathlon has four divisions and three levels of competition. Because of our small student population, Cathedral is in Division IV; however, each school is required to participate at all three skill levels. Honors level is for students with GPA of 3.6 and above; Scholastic level requires a GPA of 3.0 to 3.5; and Varsity level is for those with GPA of 2.99 or below.

Some members of the team spoke with this reporter about the experience. Senior Joseph Venegas competed last year at the Varsity level and took home a gold medal. This year he qualified for the Scholastic level and won a silver. “The Academic Decathlon has made me a better student,” he notes proudly. Asked why he continues to participate, Joseph replied, “It’s a great way to interact with other students, especially girls.” First-time participant Josergio Zaragoza added, “It looks good on my transcript, too.” No argument there, Josergio!

What level of knowledge is required for the Academic Decathlon?

Each year the competition has a different theme. Last year it was China; this year it was the American Civil War. Testing in the subject areas focuses on the chosen theme or historical era. Literature and language, for instance, assigned Stephen Crane’s novel The Red Badge of Courage. (Last year it was Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth.)

The first event was a one-hour timed writing on one of three topics related to the theme. One topic related to Stephen Crane’s novel; another dealt with slavery as a cause of the war. Next came three one-hour Scantron tests, for three subject areas. After a short break, they continued with four more one-hour Scantron tests, then lunch. The written Superquiz, the interview, the two speech components, and the oral component of the Superquiz took place in the afternoon. It was an all-day affair, and they had to do it on their own – no coaches are allowed in the testing rooms.

What does the future hold?

Unfortunately, Mr. Matteson, the moderator, has to give up coaching because of outside commitments to his continuing education. Once he finishes his graduate degree, he hopes to have Academic Decathlon as a regular elective, just as many other top-ranking schools do. In the meantime, Mr. Lee has indicated an interest in coaching Cathedral’s team if Decathlon can become a class this fall.

What is your response, Dear Readers? Students, would you choose this as an elective? Parents, would you recommend that your son participate? Administration, what kind of response would make it possible to have this class available in the fall of 2008?

Comments? Questions? purpletter@cathedralhighschool.org


Theater Arts History

The success of the tenth anniversary retrospective at the Baldwin Hills Performing Arts Center was exciting. Once again, a cast of forty or more students amazed audiences with their astonishing display of singing, dancing and acting talents. But as depicted on the video screen, the theater arts department involves more than the musicals.

Beginning with Dracula, a one-set melodrama with a small, almost completely male cast, the program has grown remarkably. Over one thousand students have participated in CHS dramas, musicals, and comedies. Such impressive numbers indicate not only the continued high level of interest, but also the extraordinary degree of talent available at Cathedral and its neighboring schools. In addition, scenery has become more sophisticated and detailed, including the rotating set piece for The Importance of Being Earnest (2001), the walnut staircase for Arsenic and Old Lace (2004), and the marvelous revolving stage for Les Miserables (2005). The productions have covered a wide range as well, from classic Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet, 2000) and Bible-based religious fare (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, 1999; Godspell, 2007) to such lesser-known parables as Big Mary (2003) and The Diviners (2006); from the tragic dramas of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (2000) and West Side Story (2001), to the delightful song-and-dance of On the Town (1999) and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (2002).

In addition to the public performances, Mr. Walsh has also produced and directed plays for his advanced theater arts students. Sam Shepard’s True West and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) were performed before invited audiences in the Annex.

Until 2005, every show open to the public was produced in the gymnasium. For each production, in addition to constructing the sets, the stage crew also built the apparatus from which they hung the (rented) lights. The proscenium stage was created by hanging huge black curtains on either side to hide the backstage area, and the sound system needed to be set up as well. When the demolition of the old gym became a reality, Mr. Walsh persuaded the administration to remodel his classroom into the Phantom Theater. Since then, it has been home to straight plays (Enter Laughing, The Diviners) and last fall’s musical, Godspell.

Beginning with Grease (2005), and continuing with Once on This Island (2006), the spring musicals have been produced at the Baldwin Park Performing Arts Center. This year’s tenth anniversary retrospective was held there as well.

Like other departments at CHS, the theater arts program has contributed to well-rounded, educated graduates, inspiring them to pursue their interests in college: Anthony Guzman (Class of ’03, Jesus Christ Superstar) enrolled at USC’s Film School; Rene Jovel (’05, Wilder One-Acts, Superstar, Guys & Dolls, Les Miserables) continues to participate in theater productions at Northwestern University even though he is majoring in another field; Alton Alburo (’07, Once on This Island) is at NYU pursuing theater arts; Alfonso Marquez (’07, Grease, Enter Laughing, The Diviners, Once on This Island) at St. John’s University on Long Island is only a freshman and yet has won the lead in two main-stage productions at that institution. It is gratifying to watch the growth of so many of our alumni in this area.

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


Spring Musical: a Retrospective

A decade ago, after a break of twenty-five years, Cathedral High School’s administration decided to re-establish its theater arts program. Recognizing that California public universities had established new requirements for instruction in fine arts, they hired Joseph Walsh, a former professional actor who had already produced shows at the elementary school where he taught kindergarten.  He looked forward to working with high school students and embraced the challenge of starting a new program, virtually from scratch.

Now, beginning this Thursday, April 10, at the Baldwin Hills Performing Arts Center, Cathedral presents a retrospective – a look back at a decade of musical productions – celebrating the tenth anniversary of the theater arts program.  The cast of forty has more than enough talent to recreate twenty-two of the best numbers from all ten musicals, and there will also be picture and video memories of past productions.  Audiences who have supported the program and the alumni who have been involved will feel a sense of nostalgia and laughter seeing numbers from past years.

The show begins with the Prologue and Prelude “Any Dream Will Do” from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (1999) and “Why We Tell This Story” from Once on This Island (2007).  These numbers represent not only the first and the most recent musical productions, but their lyrics remind the audience of the importance of imagination and the value of storytelling for a compassionate and civilized society and hence, the role of theater arts in education. “The Brotherhood of Man” from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (2002) opens and closes the show.  Its purpose is to recall and celebrate the sense of community created by the theater arts program.

A number of adults have returned to CHS to take part in the production. Br. Roch Dufresne, has primary responsibility as producer. Carol Doehring is the lighting designer. Colleen Greenhaulch (who choreographed the first four shows) and Christine Kellogg (who designed the dances for the others) are returning to recreate their earlier work.  Dr. Brian Bartel is making the musical arrangements so the students can perform to musical accompaniment.  Richard Behrendt, AMDA, who was musical director for West Side Story (2001) and Les Miserables (2005) returns in that capacity.  He expects students to meet his high standards, and they recognize his talent and his gift to them even through three-hour rehearsals.  Sets designed by Mark McCandless will be recreated by construction supervisor Walter Durham, who continues to teach his student team how to create, assemble, disassemble, move and re-assemble and the many set pieces.  All are excited to celebrate their involvement with the school, and contribute to the success of this production.

Just as English, math, science, and athletics are required for a well-rounded education, so it is with the arts. Since his first year, when he directed Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Mr. Walsh discovered that Cathedral has many young men who are willing and able to sing. What do you think, Dear Reader?  Is Cathedral is ready for choir as a class?  Students, would you choose this as an elective?  Parents, would you recommend that your son participate?  Administration, what kind of response would make it possible to have this class available in the fall of 2008?

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


Academic Decathlon, Part I

In the darkness before dawn on Saturday, February 2, nine intrepid Cathedral students (Aaron Taylor, Wisely Wang, James Reyes, Kevin Brenes, Josergio Zaragoza, Joseph Venegas, Bernardo Nuno, Jacob Rios, and Larry Ballestamon) left the comfort of their beds to travel at 6:30 a.m. with Mr. Matteson, their moderator/coach, to Bishop Alemany High School in the Valley. At 7:00 a.m. the grueling all-day Academic Decathlon competition began against all the other Catholic high schools in Los Angeles. The winner of the Catholic school competition goes on to the Southern California regionals. There are also state and national finals.

How do the teams prepare?

Like the athletic teams, Academic Decathlon practice takes place after school with coach/moderator Mr. Bruce Matteson. Their first goal is to prepare for the “scrimmage” in November. The entire team competes in the scrimmage, but only nine (three at each level) get to go to the competition in February.

Their practices are every bit as demanding intellectually as any athletic “Hell Week” is physically.

They have to learn about all the subjects, not just the ones they like. They study theory as well as application in literature, music, science, art, mathematics and economics. They make flash cards, test one another, take practice tests, and some even study at home.

Concentrating specifically on the Civil War, they study (not just watch) the Ken Burns film of the same name, listen to and analyze the music of the period (mid-nineteenth century), read biographies of General Ulysses S. Grant and Abraham Lincoln as well as Stephen Crane’s novel The Red Badge of Courage.

They also read and analyze the prize-winning speech of a former decathlete, Nancy Fu. Then, as individuals, each person writes his own speech on a self-chosen topic. He presents the speech to his peers, first with note cards, then memorizing the statistics, the introduction and conclusion, and the order of presentation. With practice, each team member is able to deliver his own four-minute expository speech extemporaneously – without any notes.

And that’s not all. Each decathlete must also write his own resume, a list of his qualifications, accomplishments, interests, future plans – the sort of thing a college admissions officer or a future employer would want to see – in preparation for the interview segment of the Decathlon.

How competitive is Cathedral’s team?

I’m glad you asked. (Cue “Eye of the Tiger,” the theme from Rocky.) The eleven-hour ordeal on Saturday, February 2, culminated in a total of twenty medals for Cathedral’s team!

At the Honors level, senior Aaron Taylor collected four medals: a gold in speech and three silvers in economics, science, and literature & language; junior Wisely Wang won a silver in art and a bronze in math; and James Reyes took a bronze in music.

At the Scholastic level, junior Josergio Zaragoza, a candidate for “Rookie of the Year” (if Academic Decathlon recognized such students) came away with six medals! He won three golds: literature & language, economics, and the Superquiz; two silvers: the interview (based on his resume) and science (which he shared with senior Joseph Venegas); and a bronze in math. Junior Kevin Brenes, who persuaded Josergio to join the team, also won a bronze medal in music.

The Varsity team also achieved recognition, especially by rookie Larry Ballestamon, a senior who took the bronze in three categories: literature & language, music, and speech; and Jacob Rios who was awarded a bronze medal in economics.

What does the future hold?

Unfortunately, Mr. Matteson, the moderator, has to give up coaching because of outside commitments to his continuing education. Once he finishes his graduate degree, he hopes to have Academic Decathlon as a regular elective, just as many other top-ranking schools do. In the meantime, Mr. Lee has indicated an interest in coaching Cathedral’s team if Decathlon can become a class this fall.

What is your response, Dear Readers? Students, would you choose this as an elective? Parents, would you recommend that your son participate? Administration, what kind of response would make it possible to have this class available in the fall of 2008?

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



Painted by William Hamilton, R.A. Engraved by Francesco Bartolozzi, R.A.

Synopsis of Twelfth Night

For those of you unfamiliar with the play, here is a brief summary of the action. The first part of the story is the exposition. It tells us what has just happened to the characters and sets the plot in motion.

The Duke Orsino is hopelessly in love with the Countess Olivia, who is still grieving the deaths of her brother and father. Though it has been nearly a year, she refuses to end her mourning. Meanwhile, the shipwrecked Viola, finding herself alone in a strange country, does not know whether her twin brother Sebastian has survived or drowned. For her own protection, Viola decides to disguise herself as a boy and get a job working for the Duke.

A subplot concerns the Countess’ uncle, Sir Toby Belch, who wants his niece Olivia to get married, and his wealthy but somewhat foolish friend, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, another suitor for her hand. Sir Toby enjoys a good drink now and then, and he also likes to help spend Sir Andrew’s money.

Complications (also called the “rising action”) begin when Duke Orsino sends his new servant, Cesario (Viola in disguise) to continue courting the Countess Olivia for him. Viola obeys, even though she herself has already fallen in love with the Duke.

Meanwhile, Feste and Maria, servants of the Countess, play word games with one another until they learn that a messenger (Cesario) is at the gate. Olivia does not want to receive another servant of the Duke, and she certainly does not want to hear his message. However, her grumpy servant Malvolio wants to get rid of the young man, and for that reason (and to satisfy her curiosity) Olivia decides to let him in.

In Act II two new characters appear: Viola’s lost twin brother Sebastian, and Antonio, who has rescued him from drowning. Although the two are now friends, Antonio has enemies at the Duke’s court and prefers to stay out of sight. Sebastian, however, wants to know if his sister has survived the shipwreck, so he sets out for court on his own.

Malvolio brings Cesario (Viola) the ring that Olivia had given him earlier. When Viola denies that the ring is hers, Malvolio throws the ring on the ground. Viola picks it up and realizes Olivia is in love with “Cesario”!

When Malvolio scolds Sir Toby and Sir Andrew for making too much noise at night, the men plot revenge. They are offended by his arrogance in presuming to give orders to his employer’s uncle and his friends.

The Duke Orsino has not changed his desires; but he speaks with “Cesario” about the nature of love and then sings a sad song about death. Nevertheless, he refuses to concede that Olivia may really not be in love with him. He sends Cesario back to the Countess to continue his “courtship.”

At the end of Act II, Malvolio receives a letter that he thinks has been sent by the Countess Olivia. Maria, Olivia’s maid, is the true author, but she wants to help Sir Toby and Sir Andrew get even with this rude servant by making him think his employer is in love with him. Malvolio is easily convinced, for he, too, wants to marry Olivia. Talk about impertinence!

Will the letter teach Malvolio a lesson? Will the Duke persuade the Countess to marry him? If he does, how will Viola ever be able to tell the Duke she loves him? Will Sebastian and Viola be reunited? And what about the Countess, in love with a servant who is really a girl?

These complications should pique your interest in the performance coming this Thursday, March 13.

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


Shakespeare at Cathedralshakespeare

of the enrichment activities that had to be abandoned during the
construction of the new gym and science center was the annual visit of
the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s “Shakespeare on Tour.”
Each year this troupe of professional actors performed a 55-minute
version of such Shakespeare plays as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, Julius Caesar, and Macbeth.

the opening of the gym, we once again have a venue in which they can
perform.  This year they are bringing us a comedy, Twelfth Night, or What You Will. There will be a special schedule on Thursday, March 13, for two performances.

play takes its title from the twelfth day after Christmas (Epiphany)
which marks the official opening of festivities that last until Mardi
Gras (Shrove Tuesday), the day before Lent begins. Although usually
classified as a comedy, Twelfth Night presents the problems
of death and aging along with the more light-hearted issues of
unrequited love and pranks on the arrogant. Surprise visitors and
mistaken identities are also part of the mix.

music be the food of love, play on.” These opening lines indicate the
importance of music to the play.  In Shakespeare’s time, there was
no distinction between straight plays and musicals.  Music was
expected to be part of any live entertainment, and actors had to be
dancers, singers and musicians as well. The music from Shakespeare’s
time, however, has not survived; any production that uses Shakespeare’s
songs must use someone else’s melodies.

This production of Twelfth Night
uses original music by Randy Lancaster.  In fact, program director
Rebecca J. Ennals says that Lancaster’s music, written in the American
folk style, was the impetus for the 55-minute version we will see,
which is set in the America of the late 1800s. “The music is central to
this play, perhaps more than in any other Shakespeare comedy,” says
Ennals. “The songs have a strong influence on the characters’
emotions.”  Every story has some central themes that the author
wants to communicate to the audience.  In this play, the songs
explore both serious and light-hearted themes.

Twelfth Night
begins with a shipwreck, a catastrophe which separates a set of
fraternal twins, a brother and a sister.  The grief of the female
twin (Viola) when she fears the death of her brother (Sebastian) is
very real. Illyria, the country where she has landed, is ruled by Duke
Orsino, but he is in love with the Countess Olivia, who is still
mourning the deaths of her father and brother.  Not a very
promising beginning for a comedy, is it?

there are other characters: Sir Toby Belch, who enjoys a drink now and
then; Sir Andrew Aguecheek, a foolish suitor who needs help spending
his money; and the arrogant Malvolio, whose name reveals his
personality (not Benvolio, the goodwill boy of Romeo and Juliet, but Malvolio – ill-will).  Have no fear, however; he gets his comeuppance before the play is through.

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

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Producing the Play

any other event, producing a play takes a lot of time and
planning.  For production director Rebecca J. Ennals, the process
began over a year ago, when she first heard the music composed by Randy
Lancaster at a conference of the Shakespeare Theatre Association in
January of 2007.  The small cast and abundance of verbal humor
made the play attractive, but the new musical arrangement inspired her
to create a new production.

Once she had
permission to use Lancaster’s music, Ms. Ennals assembled the artistic
team:  Actor David Abad returned from a previous tour to play
Antonio and Malvolio.  Former tour actor Julie Kurtz took over as
music director, and composer Bill Walker wrote the musical
arrangements.  Scenic designer Serina Serjama and costume designer
Kary Rose Simola also returned to participate.

August of 2007, auditions began for the four remaining roles and
alternates.  Cassie Powell, Michael Abts, Erika Salazar and Jeremy
Vik were cast as principals; Kate McDowell, Sung Min Park, Tyler Kent,
Klahr Thorsen and Alan Bare are alternates.

the roles were being cast, the design process got underway.  In
keeping with the music, the play is set in the America of the late
1800s.  Costume sketches and set designs were submitted in
September.  Randy Lancaster sent CDs of the music, which Bill
Walker arranged to suit the production and the actors’ voices.

Rehearsals began in late September and went five days a week, six hours a day.

During the first week, actors worked with the text and decided on stage
movement. Musical director Julie Kurtz came in regularly to work with
the actors on their songs. The second week brought more in-depth work
on the characters and language and the incorporation of some props,
costumes, and set elements. Meanwhile, scenic designer Serina Serjama
painted the scenic backdrops for the set. During week three, the cast
worked on the set and incorporated all the music cues and costume

the show was ready, it was previewed before a live audience.  Then
the director gave them their final rehearsal notes and sent them off in
their van to locations all over the state!  Work is just beginning
for the alternates, however.  They now begin to rehearse the roles
in case one of the principal actors cannot perform.

We look forward to seeing this production at our school on March 13.

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


AP Grading

in May are the AP (Advanced Placement) tests, nationwide examinations
administered by the College Board in a variety of subjects.
Cathedral offers classes to help students prepare for several of these
exams:  Spanish Language; Spanish Literature; English Language;
English Literature; U.S. History; U.S. Government; and Calculus.
The courses are rigorous, as is evident from the detailed syllabi AP
teachers had to submit last spring (see Purple Letter of October 29,

Each year the AP Program, sponsored by
the College Board, gives more than one million capable high school
students an opportunity to take rigorous college-level courses and
examinations and, based on their exam performance, to receive credit
and/or advanced placement when they enter college.

teaching an AP course for at least three years, a teacher becomes
eligible to grade the written portion of the exam.  Many teachers,
of course, apply for this privilege. (Others might see it as more of a
burden:  who needs more papers to grade after school is
out?)  The College Board seeks a diverse community of graders from
around the country: high school teachers and college professors; men
and women; a variety of ethnic backgrounds; and from a variety of
institutions: private and public, large and small, urban, suburban, and

This year Nancy Price was selected
again to participate this coming June in the annual reading and scoring
of the College Board’s AP Examinations in English Literature and
Composition.  She will be flying to Louisville, Kentucky, with
like-minded educators to spend a week reading hundreds of student
essays on one of three topics written during the last two hours of the
three-hour exam.  She has had this experience before.  She
has scored essays on Thomas Hardy’s poem “The Convergence of the
Twain”; a prose passage by Henry James from his short story “The
Pupil”; and the third year she read for what is known as the “open”
question. “That one requires a vast reading background,” she says,
“because students can write about any work of recognized literary merit
if they think it applies to the prompt.”  Of course, many students
refer to works by Shakespeare, Dickens, Twain and Steinbeck, even works
in translation such as Greek tragedies or Russian novels.  Her
students report that the works they have read for her class have been
appropriate, but Mrs. Price says, “Reading essays from across the
country lets me see what other teachers are using.”

AP Reading is a unique forum in which academic dialogue between
secondary school and college educators is fostered and strongly
encouraged.  “The reading draws upon the talents of some of the
finest teachers and professors that the world has to offer,” said
Trevor Packer, Executive Director of the Advanced Placement Program at
the College Board.  “It fosters professionalism, allows for the
exchange of ideas, and strengthens the commitment to students and to
teaching.  We are very grateful for the contributions of talented
educators like Mrs. Price.”

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



Welcome Back, Mr. Garcia!

he is new to the faculty, math teacher and sophomore academic counselor
Cesar Garcia is hardly new to Cathedral.   In fact, his
Phantom pedigree includes both his father (who graduated in 1973 with
Mr. Bertolone) and his brother (also a CHS alumnus, who teaches Psychology, U.S. History, and Latino Literature).

After graduating from Cathedral in 1996, Mr. Garcia went north to college.  At UC Berkeley he started as a math major, intent on becoming a teacher.  However, his interests changed, and before getting his degree, he took a year off, left the university, and went to Europe.  For three months, he traveled to various cities in
Spain, France, Belgium, Germany, Eastern Europe, and Italy before
returning to Spain for the trip back to the United States.  Still
not satisfied, he took up residence in New York City, the Bronx, just
“five stops from Yankee Stadium.” Traveling to foreign countries aand
living away from home helped him understand how other people live and
gave him a perspective that renewed his interest in education.

Back at UC Berkeley, Mr. Garcia declared sociology as his new major.
He also worked for the Oakland Unified School District after-school
programs, providing enrichment and supplementary instruction for
at-risk students.  After graduating in 2002, he took his sociology
degree to Boston, where he worked in a pilot school in the suburb of
Dorchester.  A “pilot school” tries out new instructional
techniques in an attempt to reach those children who do not respond to
traditional methods.  This experience inspired him to enroll in
graduate school at San Francisco State University, where he sought a
master’s degree in equity and social justice in education.  At the
same time, he supported himself by getting a job working with the
juvenile court probation department in the community of Watsonville,
where he counseled young people “whose criminality was associated with
drug abuse.”  You can see that education is an important issue for
Mr. Garcia, especially for those who usually get left behind or left

Although he did not finish his advanced
degree, Mr. Garcia learned that he likes working with students more
than with adults.  However, he believes that everyone is a
student, and everyone is a teacher.  He supports co-operative
learning and uses collaborative techniques in the classroom.
“Students should have a voice in the classroom,” he insists. “I learn
as much from my students as they learn from me.”

how he integrates his sociology degree with the math classes he
teaches, Mr. Garcia says he encourages students to apply the “natural
laws of math” to their lives.  For example, he points out that “a
positive plus a positive always leads to a greater positive.”  If
students surround themselves with positive influences, good things will
happen.  When successful people work together, the outcome is
likely to be successful as well.  On the other hand, when negative
forces gather, the outcome is always a greater negative.  How can
a student reach a goal (acceptance to college, for instance), if he is
surrounded by people who tell him he’ll never make it?  The more
negative the influences, the less likely the goal will be

When asked what he does for fun,
meaning outside the classroom, Mr. Garcia replied that he considers his
classes his “fun.”  He enjoys being with his family – his brothers
and sisters – but Cathedral is also his family.  Five Cathedral
teachers, all of them still here, he says, have inspired his
teaching:  Mr. Leong, who was in his first year
of teaching, “taught me to relate to the students.  We believed he
was one of us.  He came from the neighborhood, and he understood
our lives.”  Mr. Trafecanty, “a great math teacher, taught me to love math.  He’s the reason I wanted to be a math teacher.”  Mrs. Salas
showed him that “students can teach one another.  She provided me
with an opportunity to teach at an early age (14).”  She also
empowered her students to “go beyond merely average to great
achievements.”  Mr. Bertolone is “blatantly honest. He knows all the tricks,” but he always has time for students who need someone to listen. Mrs. Price
– “I hated the work at the time because she wanted everything
perfect.  But when I got to college, I saw the value of insisting
on high standards.”  One of his goals in life is “to have a
student of mine come back to Cathedral to teach.”

Welcome home, Mr. Garcia!

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


Installation of Officers: 

Math Club California Scholarship Federation National Honor Society

On Thursday, January 24, the sound of Josh Groban’s

“Star-Spangled Banner” wafted down the hall from the Melvin Henderson
Rubio Conference Center.  Thus began an impressive new tradition,
the brainchild of Mrs. Salas. She had delayed the installation of
officers for three clubs until the Conference Center was completed so
that these prestigious organizations could be the first to use it for
their ceremony of induction.  She also found information on both
NHS and CSF to form the basis of the introductory remarks.  For
the Math Club, of course, she was “present at the creation,” so to
speak, as she has been the moderator of that club since its inception
in the early 1980s.

Jesus Gonzalez led fellow students, teachers, parents and friends in
the Pledge of Allegiance, and then, under the capable direction of
moderator Eve Salas, CSF vice president-elect Joel Solis provided
introductory remarks about the founding of the Math Club, its symbols
(sigma, theta, pi) and their meaning, and noted that currently the Math
Club has more members than any other organization on campus.  He
then introduced Br. Jesus Lara, FSC, Director of Student Activities,
who installed the following officers:  President, Andrew Ortega;
Vice President, Jerel Vega; Secretary, Rick Lu; Assistant Secretary,
Joel Solis; Treasurer, David Cunanan; Assistant Treasurer, Gabriel
Perez; Publisher, Rodney Bravo; and Graphic Designer, Francis Sy
Su.  Other students inducted included the class representatives
for each grade level, who promised to support the Math Club and its

Incoming NHS President Amar Vanmali’s
gave a short commentary on the California Scholarship Federation
followed by the introduction of Dean of Studies Sulema Modesto, who
administered the oath of office to the following CSF officers:
President, Jerel Vega; Vice President, Joel Solis; Secretary, Michael
Harmon; Assistant Secretary Andrew Ortega; Treasurer David Tababa;
Assistant Treasurer, William Velasquez; Publisher, Vincent Uy; Graphic
Designer, Rick Lu; Senior-in-charge Guillermo Vasquez; Junior-in-charge
James Reyes; and Sophomore-in-charge Christian Tolosa.

To round out the ceremony, newly installed Math Club President Andrew
Ortega made a short speech about the National Honor Society.  Then
he introduced Principal Br. John Montgomery, FSC, who presided over the
candle-lighting and oaths of office for President Amar Vanmali; Vice
President Wisely Wang; Secretary Jesus Gonzalez; Assistant Secretary
Christopher Galeano; Treasurer David Tababa; Assistant Treasurer Mark
Aumentado; Publisher Anthony Mejia; Senior-in-charge Mario Avila;
Junior-in-charge Alexander Nadal; and Sophomore-in-charge Daniel

CSF President Jerel Vega’s closing
remarks thanked the administrators who participated, the parents who
provided food for the reception, and the Phantoms, friends, faculty and
family who attended, with special thanks to the moderator of all three
(!) organizations, Mrs. Salas.  Following the Alma Mater, the
group adjourned to sample the delicious refreshments and to
congratulate the officers on their new honors and

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


Schoolwide Writing Project: 

Part 2

is a key skill for anyone who wants to go to college or who expects
work more than five years.  Cathedral has developed an annual
project that focuses on writing outside the English curriculum.
The project will be administered the week of

February 11 – 13, just before the

kick-off assembly for the Walk-a-thon.  Last week’s article
explained the steps involved in preparing students for the
writing.  This week we look at what happens next.

What happens to the essays after they are written?

The essays are sorted by class and delivered to the subject area
teachers for scoring. Spanish I teachers grade their own students, as
do biology, social studies, and religion teachers.

What do the subject area teachers do with the essays?

Each teacher has a copy of the rubric, or scoring guide, which is based
on the one used by the University of California to evaluate essays for
its Subject “A” exam.  Teachers give each essay a grade from 1 to
6 based on the level of maturity in such areas as thoughtfulness of
response, vocabulary, organization, and sentence structure.  They
make no marks on the papers because they do not want to prejudice the
grade of the second teacher.

The second teacher?  Who is that?

After each subject area class is graded, the papers are returned to the
faculty room, where they are re-sorted according to English
teacher.  The English teachers follow the same process, grading
each paper independently on the basis of the same UC rubric.  They
do not see the subject area teacher’s scores.  Again, no marks are
made on the paper.

Is that it?  Then what?

The papers are returned to the Chair of the English Department, who
records both scores on a color coded cover sheet and attaches them to
the writing packets.  Then the essays are returned to the
appropriate English teacher to distribute to students, discuss the
scores, and file in their folders.

What is the purpose of this exercise?

Before we instituted this project, many of our students were unable to
pass the UC Subject “A” exam, and as a result, had to enroll in a
writing course that (1) cost money and (2) did not count for
graduation.  What was worse, the instructors in these courses
discovered that our students already knew how to write well enough for
college, but they were unable to perform to that level in a timed
environment.  It is our hope that, each year, students will
improve their ability to write in a timed environment.  By the
time they sit for UC Subject “A” exam in early May, they will pass,
indicating they are ready for freshman level instruction in college.

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


Schoolwide Writing Project:  Part 1

is a key skill for anyone who wants to go to college or who expects
work more than five years.  Cathedral has developed an annual
project that focuses on writing outside the English curriculum.
The project will be administered the week of February 11 – 13, just
before the kickoff assembly for the Walk-a-thon.

How does the project work?
At each grade level, students read an article and respond to a prompt
based on that article.  The articles are opinion pieces, and they
come from current magazines and newspapers.  They are the kinds of
articles adults read every day.

What are the topics?
The topics vary at each grade level.  The freshmen read an article
related to their study of foreign language.  It might be about the
use of Spanish in the Los Angeles community; or it might be about the
value of studying a foreign language in a community where English
appears to be the language of the powerful.  Sophomores read an
article related to their biology class.  It might be about
evolution, or in vitro fertilization, or the perceived conflict between
science and religion.  Juniors and seniors read articles related
to either their religion class (lifestyles, morality) or their social
studies class (lessons from history, constitutional issues).

How can students prepare for the writing?
Both freshmen and sophomores read the article on Monday in their
subject area classes to be sure they understand the vocabulary and the
argument the writer is making.  Unlike the lower division
students, juniors and seniors do not get to see the article before the
day of the timed writing.

Do the freshmen and sophomores get any other help?
Yes.  In English I and II, the teachers review the article to make
sure the students understand the kind of response the prompt
requires.  They may even suggest ways to address the prompt.
The freshman and sophomore packets also include a shaping sheet for
students use in organizing their responses.  The teacher may
suggest a thesis, a response to the prompt, but the student is still
responsible for finding the concrete details to support it, and of
course, his commentary (explanation, analysis) must be his own.

What happens on the day of the writing?
Br. John has devised a special schedule to allow a bloc period just for
the writing.  This is when the juniors and seniors see their
article for the first time.   They must read the article
carefully to understand the argument, then read and understand the
prompt, and finally organize and write their response, all in only
eighty minutes.  The freshmen and sophomores will have the same
amount of time, but they have had two class periods (one in the subject
area and one in English) to read and understand the article and
organize their response to the prompt.  If they did not complete
the shaping sheet, they still have some time to finish an outline
before they write their response.  A finished outline is not
required, of course, but an organized response is always a good

What happens to the essays after they are written? That’s a good topic for next week’s Purple Letter!

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


Moving In

the last day of finals in December, students received their locator
cards for the second semester and learned that the new classrooms in
the Keck science building have received the 700 designation.

Sophomore biology classes meet in Room 702 for all seven periods; four freshman life science classes share Room 703 with three classes of senior physics.  Five junior chemistry classes and one geometry class meet in Room 704.

Ms. Wilson and Br. Roch keep Room 721 busy, too: six periods of media graphics and one of web design.

McNeal, who last fall voluntarily gave up Room 401 to become a
“floater,” now has her reward.  She can be found in Room 725
on the second floor of the new building.  Is the new location
worth the inconvenience of having to carry everything from room to room
for a full semester?  You bet!  She has an LED projector, a
SmartBoard, a whiteboard, and shelves and cupboards for storage.

McNeal, however, is not the only non-science teacher to find a new home
this semester.  Dr. Bartel’s band classes have left the narrow
confines of Room 601 for the spacious former biology classroom next
door in 602.  Mr. Lowdermilk, on the other hand,  is delighted to have all six of his classes meet in the former band room, 601.

Room 506,
the former chemistry lab, has become Mrs. Martinez’s classroom, where
she teaches both algebra and religion.  Mrs. Marisa Edwards is
there for one period to teach Sports Medicine, and Mr. Anthony
Trafecanty’s CIT class uses the remaining period.

Mr. Gancz’s and Mr. Trafecanty’s computer literacy classes have left the library and moved into the computer lab, Room 505.  Now the library is free every period for research and (freshmen, take note) library lessons!

The cafeteria, too, is no longer a classroom.  Mr. Ferrante’s speech class now meets down in the Annex’s Room 604, and Mr. Jones teaches his religion classes in Rooms 301 and 403.

Both of Mr. Cesar Garcia’s pre-calculus classes are now in the same room, 502, and his Algebra III class meets in 401.

Br. Jesus has moved his Spanish III speaker class to Room 501 in the senior building, and his Spanish III non-speaker to Room 304.

Lawrence is relieved that his three classes no longer make him trek
from the Annex to the senior building to Room 203.  Now he has two
classes in 203 and the third next door in 202.


Faculty Retreat

year the Mr. Sanford Jones, the Campus Minister, plans a retreat for
each class.  Freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors take time
out from academic and athletic obligations to examine on their
spiritual development.  Did you know that teachers do this, too?
While students were enjoying one last day of freedom from homework,
Cathedral’s faculty, staff, and administration met Monday morning at
St. Joseph’s Retreat House in Alhambra. Under the direction of Mr. Greg
Kopra, teachers reflected on the ministry of Lasallian education.
The opening prayer began with a reading from Jeremiah and the
acknowledgment, “We, the clay, you the potter, / We are all the works
of your hand.”

The first meditation focused on the
Lasallian phrase “together and by association.”  Participants
thought about their roles as “brothers,” both to one another and as
older brothers to the students confided to their care.  This was
followed by two readings from the Gospel of John.  The first
described the good shepherd, who “lays down his life for the sheep,”
and the second was the new commandment to “love one another as I love
you.”  After the readings came a period of silent meditation,
during which we recalled people in the CHS adult community who “meet
this challenge in an exemplary fashion.”  We were encouraged to
list concrete examples in our journals, so we could share them in
groups of three or four.  Following the small-group sharing,
individuals volunteered a more general description:  these actions
go beyond what is expected; they are often done quietly and without
fanfare; they reflect an understanding and a willingness to

The second meditation was based on
the parable “The Rabbi’s Gift,” by Francis Dorff.  The written
reflection asked teachers to call to mind “a person who recognized a
gift or talent in you and gave you the opportunity to use it.”
Again, we wrote down examples in our journals and shared them with two
or three others (not the same ones from the first meditation,
however).  When the whole group reconvened, we saw similarities in
our choices:  we had all had mentors or role models we admired.
Sometimes these persons encouraged us; “[believing] in me when I didn’t
believe in myself” as one participant put it.  Sometimes they
challenged us, making suggestions so progress came “little by little”
rather than all at once, but always their vision propelled our
response.  “We all have talent, a spark, and goodness within us,”
Greg noted.

The third meditation came from St. LaSalle’s Meditations for the Feast of the Epiphany,
appropriate not only for this time of year, but also because the
passage focused on the star, which is the emblem of the Christian
Brothers.  We were asked first to reflect privately on our
response to God’s inspiration in our lives, and second, to consider how
to look beyond everyday distractions to see God in the ordinary.
Like the Magi, who brought priceless gifts to Someone who, at first
glance, seemed to have little use for them, we bring our experiences,
gifts, and graces to students who also have a hard time believing they
will ever be relevant.

fourth meditation was a prayer of gratitude for blessings
received.  We read the prayer, then reflected on the past
semester.  We each wrote a prayer of thanksgiving for the ways God
has blessed us and the school during the year.  We were encouraged
to remember particular events, people, or situations – concrete
examples.  These were collected at the end of the retreat.
The last time we turned in written work to Greg, he published them in a
collection and gave them to us at a subsequent retreat.  It will
be interesting to see what happens this time.

is a time for new beginnings.  Before responsibilities and
homework become overwhelming, it is good to remember why we are here
and what we are supposed to accomplish.  Sometimes we get lost in
the everyday and forget that we are doing God’s work. We need to step
back and adjust our perspective.  The faculty retreat gives us
this opportunity. Have you thought about a retreat time to examine your
spiritual path?

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


Dear Phantoms, Fans and Families,

AP Theater Parties

semester exams begin, it is sometimes helpful to look back at
extra-curricular experiences, those that will be remembered long after
test material is forgotten.

of the advantages of enrolling in Mrs. Price’s AP English Literature
class is the opportunity for extra credit by attending live
performances of plays at A Noise Within, Glendale’s classical repertory
theater company.  The English Department advances money for group
tickets, and the students buy them at a discount.

means there is one large group of actors, and they perform three plays
on a rotating basis for the duration of the season. The theme this year
is “Destiny’s Embrace” and the three plays this season (which coincides
with our fall semester) are Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, J. M. Barrie’s Dear Brutus, and Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale.

Waiting for Godot
is very important in understanding the development of drama, but as an
initial theater experience it was somewhat confusing for many of the
students.  The two main characters, Estragon and Vladimir, spend
the entire play waiting for a character who never appears.  Mrs.
Price tried to explain that this play introduced Existentialism to the
stage, but Existentialism is a difficult concept, too.  “I hope,”
she said, “that when we read Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
next semester, students will remember some of what they have
seen.  Tom Stoppard’s play owes a lot to Beckett’s.”

The second play, Dear Brutus, is a lesser known work by the author of Peter Pan, and it contains some of that play’s whimsy and fantasy.  The title derives from a line in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar:
“The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, /But in
ourselves….”  The characters are given a magical opportunity to
see the results of their lives had they made different choices.
Students were able to follow the plot easily, and the actors added
substantial humor to enliven the action.

The third production, A Winter’s Tale, is
one of Shakespeare’s “problem” plays.  A king’s paranoia costs him
the lives of his wife and children, and he must live with that
knowledge when he regains his sanity.  Loyal servants work behind
the scenes so that the end of the play is happier than its
beginning.  The work is less frequently performed than the better
known plays, but it offers many opportunities for discussion.
Students found the plot surprisingly easy to follow and look forward to
attending more performances next semester.

Next season’s plays will be Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, about a prince who hangs out with the wrong crowd; Tennessee Williams’ Night of the Iguana, a tragedy with mature themes;  and Moliere’s hilarious comedy, Don Juan. If you are interested in learning more about this excellent theater company, check out their website:  www.anoisewithin.org

Be sure to look for new issues of “The Purple Letter” beginning in January, 2008.  Happy Holidays!

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


Dear Phantoms, Fans and Famlies,

Family-Oriented Teacher:  Elaine Edwards

many Cathedral students, Ms. Elaine Edwards places great importance on
her family. As a child she had to do household chores before she was
“allowed” to start her homework assignments.  And I have it on
personal authority that as an adult, she is one terrific cookie-baker!
(If she thinks her classes are particularly deserving, she might be
persuaded to reward them by sharing some of her tasty
fare.)   She still lives at home and, until recently, was the
youngest of five, including a step-sister, two half brothers, a
half-sister, and a brother.  Then just a few years ago, her
parents adopted an eighteen-month-old toddler, Seila, the daughter of a

lifelong resident of Long Beach, Ms. Edwards graduated from Cal State
Dominguez Hills and received her teaching credential from National
University. In high school she played volleyball in addition to her
regular academic work.  Although she has been interested in
biology her whole life, she got an extra boost from a summer session at
Harvard between her junior and senior year of high school.  There
she had the opportunity to examine first-hand a variety of specimens
(including cadavers!), and that experience helped her decide on a
career in life science.  If this brief account piques your
interest in the subject, Ms. Edwards will be happy to tell you more
about the program.

teaching biology to sophomores and life science to freshmen, Ms Edwards
is also taking care of her little sister, who is almost six now. Her
adoptive parents are getting on in years, so to ensure that Seila has a
parent who will to see her through to adulthood, Ms. Edwards has taken
steps to adopt the girl herself.  The adoption will be final
before Christmas.  Clearly she understands the term “blended”

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


Dear Phantoms, Fans and Families,

Cathedral in the News! Numbelievable!

In last Monday’s edition of Los Angeles Downtown News, columnist Michael X. Ferraro introduced his book, Numbelievable: The Dramatic Stories Behind the Most Memorable Numbers in Sports History, with a nod to Cathedral High School’s Career Day.

of you may remember Mr. Ferraro as the writer who, on Career Day last
February, invited students to write a caption for the photo of sumo
wrestler Akebono.  Gabriel Montes, Class of 2007, wrote the line
that was published in the book, and Mr. Ferraro mentioned both Gabriel
and Cathedral in his Acknowledgments.

You can read his complete column online at www.downtownnews.com,
and if you get to the end, you will see another challenge:  Mr.
Ferraro is inviting readers to send him their “nominee for the greatest
Los Angeles sports number.”  Of course, you also have to explain
“why the number is worthy” in “no more than 100 words.”  Students
of the Schaffer Writing Program will see that this is really more a
freshman-length paragraph, requiring at most two CD (examples) to
support your choice.  If you are interested and have a number in
mind, send your submission to Cliché Stadium (that’s the name of his
column) at numbelievable@sbcglobal.net.
Mr. Ferraro, who has always insisted that writers should be paid
for their work, has promised the winner “an autographed copy of [his] …
new book, Numbelievable.


Dear Phantoms, Fans and Families,

Robots at Cathedral: 

Phantom Engineeringrobot

upon a time there was a physics teacher who wanted has students to
learn about robots.  He knew how to build them, but programming
was a mystery.  Then one day (many years ago) he met a computer
science teacher.  This man knew programming, but he thought CHS
students were not capable of learning the technology.  Would there
ever be a robotics class at Cathedral?

Mr. Anthony Trafecanty, chair of the Computer Science Department.
He approached Mr. David Galaz, the former physics teacher mentioned
above and current Science Department chair, with the idea of developing
a programming component for computer science classes.  “Computers
can do more than word processing, web design and media graphics,” he

Mr. Galaz was delighted.  “This
is really all [Mr.] Anthony [Trafecanty]’s idea,” he told this
reporter.  “I just do my best to make it possible.”  Curious
to see what other high schools were doing with computer programming,
Mr. Trafecanty and Mr. Galaz went to Back-to-School Night at Chaminade
High School in the Valley, where they met Nancy McIntire, the moderator
of the school’s Robotics Club.  She provided details of how to get
started and what is involved.  Then together Mr. Trafecanty and
Mr. Galaz calculated the cost and, with additional funding from
Development Office, purchased enough kits to build eight robots.

kit includes a program, so it is primarily for “practitioners” (users)
rather than programmers.  But these programs can be modified, and
that means when the interest develops, the programming capabilities are

Mr. Trafecanty knew he wanted to build a
program, so he started at the beginning, with freshmen.  Of the
many students who came to summer school and either tested out or passed
the introductory keyboarding/word processing class, Mr. Trafecanty
chose only twenty-four.  They are the nucleus of the new program,
but two other students, junior Raymond Beaudoin and sophomore Victor
Alfaro provide essential support.  Raymond has taken the lead in
programming and is learning Photoshop to help publish the yearbook.
Victor leads the computer support team, taking charge of set-up,
repair, names & passwords, and acting as general trouble-shooter.

new course, called CIT (computer information technology), is a
cross-curricular collaboration between the Computer Science Department
and the Science Department.  Already the students are divided into
work teams and have given themselves a name: “Phantom

In mid-October Br.
John Montgomery and Mr. Ferrante joined the students for a
demonstration of what the class hopes to achieve.  First, they
watched a video from usfirst.org, which runs robotics competitions for
high schools.  They saw what other competitors have been able to
do.  Then Dr. Keith Price, a (retired) research associate
professor of computer science (and Mrs. Price’s husband), showed
students a working robot made from the kit.  In the beginning, the
robot stopped whenever it ran into an obstacle.  Dr. Price had to
use the controls to start it, back it up, turn it away from the
obstacle, and move it forward again.  Then he showed them a new
component:  an autonomous
program that he had added.  This time, when the robot hit
something, it immediately backed up and turned ninety degrees away from
the obstacle until a device on the top of the robot rotated far enough
for its “arm” to strike the stop switch (also situated on top of the
machine), and the robot stopped autonomously, without any
action by the user.  At that point, control was returned to the
user. To start it again, Dr. Price touched the control.  Students
crowded around the little machine, trying to obstruct the robot’s
progress, just to watch it react.

about the possibilities for their class, students also attended a
workshop at Cal State Northridge on November 3 (paid for by the
Computer Science Department).  They  learned more about
programming, design, and engineering.

Of course, there is more to this class than merely playing with toy robots.  The long-term goals include:

  1. Exposing
    the boys to such basic engineering concepts as how to read and follow
    instructions, and especially how to build something so it does not fall
  2. Learning CAD (computer assisted design),
    specifically, how to use the design included in the software to
    accomplish a task, and how to modify the program to improve its
  3. Introducing a math component
    into computer science.  Programming a robot is more interesting
    than programming on a screen.  The “hands-on” experience is
    invaluable.  Students will challenge each other to write the
    “best” program.  (How do you evaluate one program against another,
    if both achieve the same goal?)

Trafecanty hopes this class will lead to establishment of a Cathedral
Robotics Club that will participate in local competitions against other
high school robotics teams.

Another step is to hire
a programming teacher (with an educational background in mathematics,
because programming is math based).  Mr. Trafecanty has already
received UC approval for two additional semesters of computer science
courses (Programming 1 and 2).  Eventually, he wants to develop an
AP Computer Science course.  He sees himself as a facilitator
rather than the primary instructor.  If you are interested in
helping to develop this program, he welcomes your comments.

Galaz sees this class as a way to take a mechanically inclined student
and interest him in college.  There are careers out there in
engineering, CAD, programming, And there are scholarships from MIT and
JPL for students who do well.


For the Record

to the story on Br. Roch indicated a misinterpretation. While Ms. Soliz
indeed complimented the class on their professionalism, she did not
mean to imply that other CHS students are in any way impolite. The
editorial statement has been deleted, and I apologize to any who took


Laptops:  Part II

Dear Phantoms, Fans and Families,

November 1, Science Chair David Galaz and Computer Science Chair
Anthony Trafecanty led an elite group of volunteer teachers from both
the Mathematics (Eve Salas, Loren Martinez) and the English (Kristin
McNeal, Nancy Price) Departments to the library to meet during seventh
period with Jeff Smith from LAUSD Educational Technology for the first
on-site training session with the SMART Board.

watching a demonstration of some of its possibilities, algebra teacher
Loren Martinez went forward to try her hand at getting the board to do
what she wanted.

English teacher Kristin
McNeal practiced writing with the colored markers on the screen.
She used a background that gave the look of wide-spaced, blue-lined
binder paper, and used the colored pens to demonstrate the proper
placement for a paper heading.  She also showed how correctly
indented the beginning of a paragraph.  Her start-of-the-period
sentence exercises will take on a new look with the SMART

Meanwhile Nancy
Price, also an English teacher, checked out the tools available on her
laptop.  Every teacher has these tools, and becoming familiar with
them is one way to prepare for the big day when SMART Boards are in
every classroom.

Mrs. Price is looking
forward to being one of the first.  “We can’t get white chalk
anymore,” she observed.  “For me, it’s SMART Boards or
nothing.  If I can get an LCD projector, I can go directly to
SMART Board and be happy.” She demonstrated an animated Jeopardy-type review game for The Crucible
she had worked out during the training.  She created a banner with
text that crawls across the screen and several rotating squares with
statements on one side and questions on the other.  She also found
a way to present quick quizzes on the screen, revealing one question at
a time.  With a timer (also one of the tools) on the screen as
well, students can see how much time they have left before a bell rings
to signal the end of the quiz.

second training session was held the morning of November 15, beginning
at 8:00 a.m. and continued through seventh period (10:25 a.m.).
This reporter was prevented from attending because of jury duty.
If you, too, were unable to attend, ask a teacher who was there.

this space for more information about the new technology.
We are all excited and look forward to learning from one another!


Dedication of Gym and Science Building


Those of us who have experience with delayed gratification were highly
gratified on Thursday when, after two years of planning, demolition,
construction, crises and delays, Cardinal Roger Mahony celebrated the
first Mass in our new gymnasium in front of invited guests and – also
for the first time in two years – with the entire student body present.

John went to great lengths to prepare the students for this momentous
event. For days he advised them of the dress-up requirement: tie, dress
shirt, dress shoes, and long pants. The traditional
sweatshirt-over-the-tie would not be allowed, either. He brought each
class separately into the gym to show them where to sit and give
instruction about the Alma Mater: sing proudly, right hand raised,
pointing to the cross (made by the arrangement of acoustic tile against
the brick). He reminded students to be friendly and helpful to visitors
as they usually are, and urged them to thank donors for their
contribution if the opportunity arose.

the faculty meeting on Wednesday, Br. John distributed a floor plan for
the gym as laid out for the Mass, with seating arrangements for invited
guests, students and the teachers who accompanied them. Dean of
Services John Ferrante distributed the plan for Communion, so teachers
knew the expected traffic pattern ahead of time. Campus Minister
Sanford Jones practiced with the altar servers so the processional of
the crucifix, candles, priests and Cardinal was simple but impressive.
The Eucharistic ministers, four per class, knew where to stand so that
the elements were distributed smoothly and reverently.

and closing songs, plus lively arrangements of the choral responses
were provided by singers and instrumentalists under the direction of
Art Saranglao. Offertory anthems by cast members of Godspell and band
accompaniment of the Alma Mater completed the musical tributes.

Liturgy of the Word included a reading by Ernesto Marroquin from I
Corinthians, and a Gospel reading from St. Matthew (chosen by Br. John)
about the necessity of building on a firm foundation. In his homily,
the Cardinal noted that Daniel Murphy High School will be closing in
June. He asked each class to describe what they thought made Cathedral
a desirable school. Responses included, of course, the new gym and
science complex, the brotherhood of the Phantom family, the practice of
the presence of God, the LIFE motto (“Lasallians with integrity,
focused on education”), and a Catholic education founded on faith in
Jesus Christ. Prayers of the Faithful were read in seven languages:
Tagalog (by senior Jerel Vega); Ukrainian (junior Maksim Tsybriskiy);
French (Br. Roch Dufresne, FSC); Spanish (senior Dennis Valladares);
English (sophomore David Tababa); Burmese (sophomore Andrew Moung); and
German (teacher Mrs. Price).

Communion, Br. John invited Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and City Council
Member Ed Reyes to say a few celebratory words. Then President Martin
Farfan and Principal Br. John Montgomery expressed their gratitude to
donors Melvin Henderson-Rubio and John and Dorothy Shea by presenting
them with memorial shovels from the groundbreaking ceremony two years
earlier. The Cardinal got the last word, however, observing that,
traditionally, a visit by the bishop (or Cardinal) means a day off from

Br. John, bowing to tradition,
said that Dec. 3 would be that holiday. He also announced that Friday,
Nov. 9, would be a modified dress day (at no additional charge), and
then he told the students that free ice cream bars were available at
the cafeteria windows.

What a celebration!

because the event was expertly photographed by Abel Gutierrez, Br.
Lawrence Haley, and the new KCHS television class, we will be able to
see the pictures online, on closed-circuit television (when it begins
broadcasting) and in the yearbook.

the Mass, members of the Student Senate and the Student Council offered
tours of the building to donors and other invited guests. Although we
still await the certificate of occupancy, which allows us to move in
permanently, tour groups enjoyed observing high-tech science
classrooms, labs, the media graphics center and the athletic
facilities. The tours were followed by a catered reception in the new
Melvin Henderson-Rubio Conference Center.


Dear Phantoms, Fans, and Families, BrRoch

Ready to “Roch” Your World?

Returning to Cathedral after an absence of eight years, Br. Roch (“rock”) Dufresne (“du-frayn”) is back to take charge of the closed circuit television we used to call C-NET, but which now is KCHS.

enrolled in the television class got a big surprise this fall when Br.
Roch became their teacher.  Having had four different instructors
in the past three years, students can be forgiven if they did not know
what to expect.  However, it is fair to say they had no idea of
Br. Roch’s vision for their future.  First, he is creating a
program “figuratively and physically” from zero.  He must foster a
professional spirit, build a studio (which will be in the gym/science
complex), and purchase new television cameras equipped with high
definition capability (even though the broadcast will not be in hi-def
for a while yet).  “All the equipment will be state-of-the-art,”
he says.

New equipment + new vision = new rules.
Students have to learn how to use the new camera, for instance, in a
professional manner.  They must pass a test that demonstrates they
know how to take the camera properly from its case, assemble it, and
use it.  It will be late in the second semester before they are
ready to broadcast, according to Br. Roch, but once they do, it will be
five days a week.  Preparation, however, is essential.
“We’re not making home movies,” Br. Roch insists, “and this is not a
high school TV show.  Students must behave like professionals, and
the broadcast must be of the same professional quality.”

students are not used to being pushed to this level of excellence, but
progress is already apparent.  Registrar Aurora Soliz commended
the current class because they politely asked for permission before
filming in the reception area.  “I was impressed by their
professionalism,” she remarked.  Evidently previous classes were
not always so considerate.

How did Br. Roch get to be the expert?
After leaving Cathedral, Br. Roch worked at other Christian Brothers
schools and then in Rome.  At Christian Brothers Sacramento, he
founded KBFT (for “Brothers Falcon Television”) and coached it to
national recognition.  The Student Television Network is made up
of nearly 1000 schools with the same kind of closed-circuit television
system we have at Cathedral.  These high school television
stations enter a nationwide competition, which is judged by producers
from ABC, NBC, and CBS networks.  Under Br. Roch’s guidance, KBFT
placed first with the best high school news program in the
country!  “The week after we won,” relates Br. Roch, “every TV
station in the area came to do a story on us,” and students from the
class became minor celebrities in the community.

surprisingly, alumni from Br. Roch’s program have found work in
television news.  One nineteen-year-old graduate was producing the
5-6 a.m. local news program in San Diego. He was the youngest
television producer in the area until he left for college.
Another alumnus reports local stories for Channel 13 in
Sacramento.  “Of course,” says Br. Roch, “Los Angeles is the best
city in the world” for creating links to a broadcasting career.

he left Sacramento, Br. Roch went to Rome, where he was in charge of
the Brothers’ website and all communication for the Order.  He
organized communication for the Lasallian Youth Convocation in July,
2006, and for Lasallian Lay Partners in November of that same year.
Meeting and working with international youth and lay partners “already
connected with the Lasallian spirit” was a great experience, he
says.  The culmination of his communication work was General
Chapter last May, when Christian Brothers from around the world met to
discuss their vision and plan their future.  Although he really
enjoyed working with all the technology, Br. Roch “missed teaching”
–?? and that is why he is with us today.


Dear Phantoms, Fans, and Families,

College Board Certifies AP Courses 

Publish:  October 29, 2007collegeboard

What is Advanced Placement (AP)?
You may have heard of the many Advanced Placement courses offered
throughout the nation.  Students who pass the nationwide test
given in May receive “advanced placement” when they get to college.
This is not granting them college credit, but it does mean
students do not have to take the freshman-level class in that
subject.  Different colleges have different requirements for
“passing”:  For many, a score of 3 (qualified) out of 5 is
enough.  Other institutions require a score of 4 (very qualified)
or 5 (highly qualified) to permit enrollment beyond the basic freshman

What does the AP label mean on a transcript? A
high school transcript with a lot of courses labeled “AP” looks
impressive, but believe it or not, until recently there was no
nationwide standard for designing a course to prepare students for an
AP exam.  Some high schools might even allow the AP label for a
course without requiring a college-level standard of work.  The
College Board decided to address this problem by asking every high
school instructor who teaches an AP course to submit a syllabus, or
course outline, for review.  Each syllabus was examined by college
and university instructors (including professors) in the field to be
sure the requirements of a college-level course were being met.

at Cathedral began submitting their syllabi in early spring of 2007, as
soon as the College Board was set up to receive them.  The good
news is that all six AP courses have met the College Board criteria!  AP Spanish Language taught by Ms. Lira was the first to be approved, but Ms. Preciado’s AP Spanish Literature, Mr. Trafecanty’s AP Calculus AB, Mrs. Price’s AP English Literature, and Dr. James’s AP U.S. History and AP U.S. Government followed quickly.

Who should take an AP class?
When a student enrolls in an AP course at Cathedral, he knows that it
will prepare him for the nationwide AP exam he takes in May. When
colleges look at his transcript and see the AP designation, they will
know that these courses are indeed college-level and that the grades
are deserving of extra consideration.  Institutions that recognize
weighted grades give 5 points to an “A” in a college-level AP class, 4
points to a “B” and 3 points to a “C.”  However, a “D” is a “D” in
any course, and no college grants credit for that grade.


Dear Phantoms, Fans, and Families,

Godspell Comes to Cathedral

“Good News” is coming!  (That’s Old English for gospel, or
God-spell.)  Day by day the Phantom Theater is coming alive with
actors, stage hands, construction crew, lights, props, costumes, music
and dancing. Godspell, which originated as a thesis project
at Carnegie-Mellon University, focuses on playfulness and humor as a
means of exploring faith.

To director Joseph
Walsh, who is revisiting the show for the third time since 1977, it
seems as important a reminder as ever of the simple lessons Christ
taught, especially because he is looking at it with teenagers.
The new production, which opens November 8, is set in an urban
environment populated by despairing teens who have lost hope.
From the moment the house lights go down, the entire cast of 21, plus
the musicians, will be on stage.

Godspell is the first musical to be produced in the Phantom Theater, and audience members from earlier productions, notably Enter Laughing and The Diviners,
will be surprised at how the theater space is being used. Walter Durham
and his crew of students have constructed a number of storefronts that
will ring the seating area.  Mr. Durham noted that an additional
challenge has been completing set pieces to specific measurements
outside the theater (while rehearsals take place inside).  Then
during breaks, the stage crew workers move the pieces they have built
to the spaces they need to fill, discuss possible modifications, and
carry them back out again to make the necessary changes.  By the
production deadline, of course, the skilled artisans of Mr. Durham’s
construction crew will have everything in its proper place.

Mr. Walsh pointed out that a major difference between this show and Jesus Christ Superstar,
which has also been produced at Cathedral, is the playful structure of
Act One.  Because the audience is surrounded by the set, they
become part of the neighborhood.  As characters approach and talk
to members of the audience, they “break the fourth wall,” and the
audience then becomes part of the community of outsiders drawn in by
the story being told.

Regular theater-goers
will recognize the names of musical director Dan Belzer and
choreographer Christine Kellogg from previous CHS musicals.  Mr.
Walsh commended these two associate professors from the musical theater
department at UCLA for including Cathedral’s productions in their
schedules and continuing to work their magic.  Mr. Belzer has also
used his expertise to acquire a beautiful upright piano for this
production.  When the woman selling the piano asked how he planned
to use it, Mr. Belzer said it was for Cathedral High School.
Imagine his surprise to discover that the seller was Karen Platt-Novy,
a former English teacher right here at Cathedral!

go on sale October 29.  There will be eight performances over two
weekends, November 8-11 and November 15-18.  Curtain time on
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights is 7:30 p.m.; the Sunday
afternoon matinee is at 2:00. Because the theater holds only 100 seats,
there are only 800 tickets. Mr. Walsh recommends buying tickets early
because previous CHS musicals have normally sold 1200 to 1400 tickets
in larger venues. You won’t want to miss this show!


Dear Phantoms, Families and Fans,


Meet the New Teacher:  Bob Lee

middle child with both an older brother and a younger sister, English
teacher Bob Lee has a lot in common with the students at

Born in Zamora, Mexico, he
graduated from a Catholic high school (Bishop Montgomery) and attended
LA Harbor College before transferring to UCLA.  Although history
is his first academic love, he enjoys English because of its many
facets:  literature, language, vocabulary, and grammar, to name a
few.  “History,” he points out, “is mostly lecture.  But with
English there is always something else to look at or talk about.”

graduating from UCLA, Mr. Lee interviewed at several schools for a
teaching position.  At Cathedral, however, he was particularly
impressed with our principal.  Br. John emphasized education of
the whole person ??– not just academically, but spiritually,
socially, and personally as well.  This goal resonates with Mr.
Lee because he is interested in more than just academics.

the classroom, Mr. Lee is an avid sports and cinema enthusiast.
He regularly attends five professional baseball games, three pro and
six college football games every year!  And he plays golf — for
fun. “That means don’t ask me about my handicap,” he laughs.
Moreover, he likes watching such classic films as Casablanca and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  “They’re better than today’s movies,” he says, even though he goes to about two of those a week.

him company at home is his dog Duke, a golden retriever/German shepherd
mix.  Duke has one “broken” ear that does not stand up properly,
but according to Mr. Lee, it “gives him character.”


Dear Phantoms, Families and Fans,laptop

Laptops for Teachers

to the hard work and persistence of the CHS Science Department and the
Technology Committee, the Los Angeles Unified School District has
provided forty-five teachers at Cathedral with laptops to help them
enhance instruction.  These devices are equipped with Notebook and
Smartboard technology which will be implemented in the new gym/science
complex when it opens later this year.  Eventually, the
chalkboards and whiteboards in the classrooms throughout the campus
will be replaced with computerized Smartboards, which integrate
computer technology from the laptop with the visual immediacy of a
chalkboard.  Several teachers attended a demonstration of
Smartboard over the summer and were very impressed by the combination
of Powerpoint planning and on-the-spot teachable moments.

how they are using their laptops, several teachers responded.  CHS
alumnus Mike Godoy, who teaches speech, sport literature, and algebra,
expressed pleasure at the convenience.  “It is helpful to have
information with me when I am away from home or school.  I can
grade and record papers easily.”  He plans to add lessons and
assignments to his current files.

graphics instructor Jena Wilson uses computers in her classroom, of
course, but that is another story.  Her laptop is still the source
for grades and lessons.

I, too, am learning
to use the laptop.  So far I have loaded all my Cathedral files
onto it,   which gives me access to all my lessons, quizzes,
assignments, etc.  Having them at school is a convenience because
now I do not need to print at home first.  Moreover, this “Purple
Letter” is created entirely on the laptop, because the stories are at
school. All my other school documents are in Adobe Framemaker, so the
hardest part for me is learning to use Word.  I admit, however, my
laptop is primarily a word processor and record book.  I can
record grades much sooner with almost instant access to
mygradebook.com, but all the other bells and whistles are pretty much a

English teacher Brady Lowdermilk,
while delighted to have the new device, observed that there is
virtually no wireless access in the Annex, so he must come to the
faculty room for that service.  He is looking forward to the day
when he can prepare quizzes in his classroom, print wirelessly to the
faculty room, and make the copies for the next class.  “I would
use it constantly in the classroom if I had a projector,” he
said.  If a student emailed him an assignment, for example, he
“could project a student paper” on the board or screen, and the whole
class could participate in the revision and editing process.

teacher (and CHS alumnus) Abel Gutierrez uses his laptop every day in
the classroom.  “I have a digital textbook,” he explains, “and the
students by a CD.”  He projects the “textbook” on the screen and
uses its interactive programs with the class. Physics is one of the
classes that will convert to Smartboard technology one the new
gym/science complex is opened.


Dear Phantoms, Fans 

and Families, wasc

WASC Certification

six years, high schools and colleges undergo an investigation to be
sure they are meeting appropriate standards.  Cathedral has always
received the equivalent of an “A” grade, six years with a mid-term
report or visit after three years.  This was true in 2000, in
1994, and in 1988.

However, in 2006, we received an “A+”!  That is, we have a six-year certification with no
requirement for a mid-term report.  This is really exciting news
for those of us who have participated in the three WASC visits (and the
three WASC documents) over the past twenty years.  It means not
only that we are doing a great job educating your sons and preparing
them for college, but also that you can expect we will continue to
innovate and improve our curriculum just as we have our campus with the
new gym/science complex.

Every WASC document
includes an “Action Plan” developed by the school to indicate where and
how they plan to improve over the next six years.  These plans can
include updating textbooks; keeping up with developments in technology;
increasing communication with, and participation by, parents;
increasing the number of faculty to meet the demands of increasing
enrollment; and offering new courses to meet the needs of a changing
student population (or changing college admissions requirements).
It is important that the Plan be limited in scope so that it can be
researched, funded, implemented, assessed, and revised as needed.

Cathedral’s Action Plan has three parts:

  1. To
    help students achieve greater academic success, we want to provide
    additional assistance for the lowest performing academic
  2. Second, to increase learning
    and the school’s positive family atmosphere, we intend to continue to
    enhance communication among students, teachers, parents and
  3. Concern for the safety
    and well-being of our students motivates us to be more proactive
    regarding drug education and prevention as well as reducing theft of
    students’ personal property on campus.

Keep watching this space to see how we implement our Action Plan over the next six years.


Interview with Religion Teacher Rick Fernandez

By Nancy Price


has read all the Harry Potter books, and he lives with a witch and a
saint! Who is this new religion teacher? He is Rick Fernandez, whose
juniors are learning about the Sacraments this semester. (Next semester
he will be discussing Christian lifestyles with the seniors. He and Br.
Ricardo will trade classes.)

Mr. Fernandez was born
in the United States, but his family is from Spain, where he spent his
childhood before returning to Southern California at age thirteen. He
graduated from high school in Los Angeles and spent five years doing
missionary work in Central America. He originally went to seminary
intending to become a priest, but later discerned that his true
vocation was teaching. He earned the equivalent of a Master’s degree at
the Catholic Pontifical University in Madrid, and then returned to the
United States in 1997 to begin his teaching ministry.

experienced teacher at Holy Family High School before coming here, Mr.
Fernandez finds an interesting challenge in a student body that is all
boys. He enjoys using multimedia technology and expects his students to
use it for their projects as well. Before starting at CHS, for example,
he helped students create websites for social justice issues. By
posting new grades online and in the classroom every day, he makes sure
students always know how they are doing.

About the
witch and the saint: Mr. Fernandez shares his home with Salem, a black
cat, and Clare, a Corgi-Bassett mix. Salem is named for the site of the
witch trials in 1692, and Clare for the sister of St. Francis, founder
of the Poor Clares. Away from school, Mr. Fernandez finds time to go an
occasional movie and keep himself in good physical shape with regular
visits to the gym. He also — Mr. Matteson take note — plays the



College Visit Day

By Nancy Price

Visit Day is scheduled early this year, October 3, to be exact.
Nineteen buses will be leaving the school to take students to
institutions of higher learning from Malibu to Irvine.

slips must be signed by parents and returned no later than Monday,
Sept. 24.  (Permission slips will be distributed and collected in
class; however, extra permission slips are also available in the front
office and online.)  Students must be in uniform, of course, and
no electronic devices, backpacks, or bookbags are permitted on the
bus.  Students are asked to bring a sack lunch because food can be
expensive, and waiting in line behind crowds of hungry students can cut
into the time allotted for eating.

Why take a day of instruction and spend it visiting colleges?

counselor and academic advisor Wendy Ruiz explained:  “We want our
students to see what a college campus is like.  Such experiences
help motivate students to prepare themselves for life after high
school, and college should certainly be part of that future.”  To
that end, she has divided the colleges into groups, and each class
(freshman through senior) will visit a different kind of college.
Freshmen will see one of several UC campuses:  UC Riverside, UC
Irvine, and this year, UCLA!  (Fall tours fill up in January, so
we are lucky to have been able to reserve a place this year.)
Sophomores will visit larger private universities:  USC,
Loyola-Marymount, and Pepperdine.  Juniors will get to experience
such smaller private institutions as Occidental, Whittier College, and
Chapman University.  Seniors will visit Cal State campuses in
Northridge, Pomona, Fullerton, and Long Beach.  The goal is to
expose students to many different types of  colleges in their four
years, so they can make an informed choice when they apply as seniors.

What will students do once they arrive on the campus?

will meet a student guide who will walk them around the campus, and
show them some classrooms, labs, libraries and athletic resources
(gymnasium, fields, workout equipment, etc.).  The guide will also
answer questions students have about the school and its
facilities.  There will also be a presentation by an administrator
(usually the freshman counselor) to discuss admission requirements,
explain how to apply for financial aid, and answer other questions that
may have arisen in the course of the day.  Students will eat lunch
on campus and then meet at the buses for the return to Cathedral.

How can students prepare for this event?

One easy way is to check the website of the institutions they are going
to visit.  (Use .edu, not .com for best results.)  There are
virtual tours on line, and students can prepare questions before they
even get to the campus.

College Visit Day is
only one in a series “College Preparatory” special events Cathedral
provides for its students.  Be sure to attend Parent College Night
for your opportunity to learn how you can help Cathedral prepare your
son for an exciting future as a college student!


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