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Jesuit High School

Principal's Blog

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

Double Dig It

Just when we needed it most, some very good news came last week, from the usual source—Jesuit students—wrapped in wonder, hope, and some deep math deductive digging and scientific service.

So, sit back and prepare to feel some positive vibrations. Let me introduce you first to Mr. Chaitanya Karamchedu of the Jesuit Class of 2017 (pictured at right - at Intel's International Science and Engineering Fair this May). During his three years at Jesuit, Chai has tackled questions that perplex the scientific community and challenge humankind’s survival.

When I contemplate the paucity of clean, accessible water for millions around the world, I shake my head in despair and pray for a solution.

Not Chai. Chai set about figuring out a solution. Read this wonderful Valley Times article about Chai’s innovative approach to freeing the water molecules in the ocean in order to provide a low-cost method of creating fresh water.

On his way to India to visit family this summer, Chai was invited to an IEEE conference in Beijing to present a paper on a different topic: complex plant growth. Chai was the only high schooler invited to one of the world’s most important conferences for geoscience. Amazing!

Along with rising junior Arnob Das, Chai also earned high honors and rubbed elbows with Nobel laureates in science at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in May. ISEF is where Chai’s water desalination techniques turned heads across the globe.

Says Chai of his recent experiences: “While at ISEF, we spoke to professionals, but we were mainly with our peers—kids very interested in science. The IEEE experience was much more professional, with a different caliber of scientists. I felt like a muggle at Hogwarts!”

Speaking of global head-spinning, meet Ashwin Sah ’17 (second from left in photo above, taken at the International Math Olympiad in Hong Kong this summer). Those of us on campus know Ashwin as one of Dr. Gorman’s math whizzes—and a funny, caring, lovely young man. As a freshman, Ashwin moved immediately past Calculus BC into Dr. Gorman’s Discrete Mathematics class. Dr. Gorman has long regarded Ashwin as a special young man, with not only a head for mathematics, but the heart and fortitude to pursue his gift as far as it would take him.

Says Dr. Gorman of Ashwin, “I enjoying telling people about Ashwin because of the person he is, and not only because of his mathematical skills. I want other students to be inspired by Ashwin to develop their own unique talents.”

In early July, Ashwin’s math skills brought him to Hong Kong as one of the six members of the US Math Olympiad team. That means that Ashwin is one of the top six math students in the whole US (!). He was selected from the hundreds of thousands of secondary students who participate in high-level math competitions around the US each year—an already elite crew of mathematicians.

We hear with some frequency that America is way behind other nations in math. Good news: The US team WON the International Math Olympiad—the premier competition in the world—for the second consecutive year!! Here are a couple of articles from newspapers you may have heard of—the New York Times and Washington Post.

If Ashwin and Chai are the future (and they are!), we have plenty of room for hope. For now, let’s enjoy their present, and their presence among us, and the remarkable gifts they bring to our community and our planet.

Last school year’s theme had to do with digging deep to find meaning in our lives. This summer, Chai and Ashwin are giving us reason to double dig it. Thanks, lads, for giving us bright, shining hope in what has been a tough summer for our nation, and for allowing Jesuit High to bask in the reflected glow of your incandescent intellects.

Paul Hogan
Posted by etuenge on Thursday July 21
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Praying for Peace and Justice

In what should be a midsummer daydream period following the celebration of our nation's 240th birthday, the US is dealing with shockwaves of pain and disbelief. The ripples extend from Orlando to Baton Rouge to Dallas to Minnesota, to Portland, where a young man was arrested on Thursday night for waving a gun at protesters at a peaceful gathering downtown.

At a time when we should be curled up with a good book and hanging out with good friends, we find ourselves quaking in confusion and wondering where we go from here.

And I find myself thinking of Jesus, and wondering what He would do.

He would reach out a healing hand, and encourage us to love one another--especially those we may consider our "enemy." The true test of a Christian is not that we love one another as Jesus loved us--that seems eminently doable when we are talking about our friends, or even the "least of our neighbors."

Jesus's toughest and most radical commandment, by far, is "love thy enemy."

Many of us may believe that we don't really have "enemies." But just let a conversation begin about gun control, or race and the police, or the current Presidential election, and how long does it take for voices and adrenaline to rise, and for us to retreat to our respective corners?

Jesus exhorts us to seek peace, reconciliation, and justice. At Jesuit, that means remembering that "we ARE they," as Fr. Bill Hayes, SJ liked to say. Our community includes people of all kinds. Like America, Jesuit includes, as Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr reminded us, "All God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics."

We are women and men, gay and straight, rich and poor and middle class. We have many people of color whose lives are different than mine simply by virtue of the color of their skin. We have many police officers in our school family. Jesuit includes folks not specifically mentioned by Dr. King, including tremendously kind Muslims and thoughtful Hindus and prayerful Buddhists, priests and health professionals and business leaders and educators and parents and children.

At Jesuit, we claim to be a community, and I believe that we truly are. If, however, we are to be the city on the hill that a Jesuit school should be, we must remember that it is in the toughest of times that we have to come together.

As a Jesuit community, we must not retreat from the world, but enter it and be active in it, just as we find it. And then try to change it. Dr. King also taught us that "hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

We must resist the instinct to retreat behind the bunker, and practice St. Ignatius's Presupposition of Good Intent when we encounter someone with whom we do not agree, someone we may consider if not an enemy, then at least a fool. We must seek to love them, to understand them, to realize that we are all God's children.

Let us pray for peace and for justice for the victims of this recent paroxysm of violence that has shaken our nation--in Orlando and in Baton Rouge and in Dallas and in Minnesota, yes, but also in Portland.

God helps those who help themselves. So, we take active steps: prayer and peaceful protest, vigils and acts of kindness. Above all, let us engage in civil conversation to keep us from descending further into an uncivil, and deeply unChristian, cycle of violence. May the peace of Christ be with all of us.

Paul Hogan

Posted by etuenge on Sunday July 10
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