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Principal's Blog

In this blog, Principal Paul Hogan will regularly share with us his insights and observations during the school year. We hope you enjoy Paul's posts!

A Run of Retreats

Freshmen attended the annual Freshman Retreat, where they experienced fun bonding activities, non-stop laughter, and maybe even a "Let It Go" sing-along.

It seems like only yesterday that we were at Camp Solomon Schechter with 300 of our favorite freshman friends and 100 older student leaders (at least during the bus drop-off/switchover). Now, close to the same number of students are headed to Trout Creek Bible Camp in Corbett for this weekend's Sophomore Overnight, under the leadership of Athletic Director and youth minister extraordinaire Mike Hughes.

Don Clarke and students on the FME

The boys of the FME (February Men's Encounter) are still catching up on their sleep, and feeling the love that they discovered just last weekend. As I am writing this (February 12, night time), the leadership team of the FMCE (Feb-March Coed Encounter) is meeting at school to plan the next Encounter.

Did I mention that the entire JHS staff is going on retreat on Tuesday, February 17? We will fan out throughout Portland to do service projects, then gather back at school for Mass and fellowship.

Tis a season I like to call the "Run of Retreats—aka, Does Don Clarke's guitar ever sleep?, aka, Did God create several Fr. JK Adams impersonators?" By my tally, over 60% of the students and 100% of the staff will experience a retreat between the end of January and the start of March, and Mr. Clarke and Fr. Adams will have presided over all of them.

Billy Bigler, S.J., Fr. JK Adams, S.J., and Rob Van Alstyne, S.J. on the Freshman Retreat

Retreats make us who we are. There are plenty of great academic schools out there, and a number of athletic powerhouses, and a few really fine fine arts programs (though I would argue few schools combine excellence across the board as we do!). But those programs are not why Ignatius and his companions decided to create the Society of Jesus. Their mission, plain and simple, was to save souls.

And so is ours. Parents often wonder about the seemingly mysterious "secret sauce" of Jesuit retreats, which spills into our hallways and classrooms and is revivified every Friday at Mass, like some divine sourdough yeast that keeps on growing and giving, year after year.

While there are indeed sacred secrets on some of our retreats, I am now going to share the main ingredients for a Jesuit retreat:

  • Older students who wish to pass on what they have learned about self-respect, honesty, and most importantly the love of God to their younger brethren and sistren.
  • A most exquisite balance of clear Catholic, Christian spirituality, including the centrality of the Eucharist, with an Ignatian respect for God in all things, people, and especially faith traditions.
  • A less sacred but still artful balance of pop music by Maroon 5, Bill Withers, Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks, and favorites from the liturgical hymnal, all interpreted via Mr. Clarke's 12-string.
  • Some serious fun and games, often involving skits, ice-breakers, visual art, and physical play.
  • Some of the Northwest's most powerful natural settings.
  • An experience of creating community that does not happen by accident, but through very intentional steps that include young people putting aside their technology and actually talking to one another in an authentic way.
  • Finally, and most importantly, an invitation to recognize Jesus Christ and His love for each one of us. Sooner or later, students recognize Him. He may come as a whisper or a gale that knocks them over, but the gift of the Holy Spirit arrives. That is a guarantee on a Jesuit retreat.
  • A bus ride home, full of changed people, students who have discovered joy and the love of Christ on the road to salvation.

Hallelujah, people, we are on a run of retreats!!!

Paul Hogan



Posted by etuenge on Saturday February 14
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Visiting a Miracle

On January 10 sophomore Jax Garrett was thrown from a horse and suffered a traumatic brain injury. For a very scary ten days, Jax lay in a coma, having suffered a "shearing injury" to the white matter that lies between the hemispheres of her brain. It was unclear whether Jax would recover, or if she did, whether she would ever be the same.

Jax and her mom, Chris

Hundreds of folks in Milwaukie, at Jesuit, Santa Clara, and Seattle University prayed for a miracle—for full recovery for Jax. Despite the seriousness of her injury, within a few days, Jax was showing signs of responsiveness.

On January 20, Jax's twin sister Halle wrote with what she called "amazing news! Jax has started to speak a little, can write some, and somewhat read. But the best part is that it's still Jax. It's still the same stubborn, funny, caring girl we knew before the accident. I had a great conversation with her today by using a whiteboard for her to communicate because it is very difficult for her to speak.

"Jax understands what happened to her and where she is, and she has all of her memories intact. She has not forgotten any people, memories, events. It's an absolute miracle how fast she is recovering. The chance of her waking up and being the same person with the same personality was very low, but as she recovers we've concluded that she's still our Jax. She makes witty remarks and responses and even took a couple steps yesterday!

"The doctors say she will be back to 100% within six months. We are truly blessed that Jax is doing so well and it's absolutely incredible that she remembers everything."

Chris Garrett, mother of the twins as well as Sheridan '14, reports that it was really Halle who helped bring her sister back to consciousness. "It was that twin thing, you know," said Chris. "Halle just sat there with Jax, asking her to respond. When she did, Halle got a white board and used their special connection as her twin to slowly bring Jax back to us. The doctors say they have never seen anyone with such a traumatic injury come back so fast. It's really a miracle."

On January 25, Jax and Halle's dad Terrell shared another poignant, joyful note: "In addition to the blessing of getting to keep our daughter, we get to keep the same person. The wry personality is completely intact and wonderful to experience. While many may not be happy in a situation such as this, we are appreciative. All you have to do is look around a little and we are doing pretty well in comparison. For that we are thankful. We are also thankful for the support of the Jesuit community throughout this process."

On Wednesday, January 28, I had the privilege of visiting Jax at Randall Children's Hospital. While she has a very long road ahead, I was astonished at how alert, bright, funny, and confident Jax was. She was preparing for 5 ½ hours of really tough physical therapy later that day, and perhaps five months of intense work followed by necessary rest for her brain. But she is indeed the old Jax—the same girl who rode for three days on horseback into Hell's Canyon with her dad last spring, the same Jax who lights up our classrooms and hallways, the same Jax who is determined to visit her horse Oscar even before she is officially released from the hospital on February 12.

Yes, Jax has a long road ahead. But at this point, that road looks like it will turn back to Jesuit High much earlier than any of us had hoped or dared to dream, just 20 short days ago. For that, we can thank the remarkable health professionals caring for Jax, her amazing family (especially Halle her twin), and the power of prayer.

Paul Hogan



Posted by etuenge on Friday January 30
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