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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!

Friendships Forged in a Crucible

Two recent events have driven home to me the importance of “coaching for character.” One was joyful, one painful, but both were powerful, especially for the parents in attendance.

The first event occurred when a few of us parents recently found ourselves at an impromptu gathering of some of our daughters who grew up playing rec soccer together. For nine years, from kindergarten to eighth grade, the Rapids were a raggedy crew of pigtailed athletes. A couple of weeks ago, we parents noticed that our little girls, now seniors in high school, have grown into strong, confident young women.

The Rapids, the early years.And as high school seniors...

How did that happen? In the early years, the snacks were all that mattered. As the girls moved toward middle school, they started keeping score. Eventually, the Rapids learned to pass and dribble and throw and hustle. They learned to win and lose with grace and humility. They nursed hurt limbs and hurt feelings, and they became a team. In short, they developed character—as human beings as well as athletes.

The Rapids players knew that they had created not an athletic juggernaut, but a complex and rugged web of friendship, toughness, and joy. The parents beamed with pride as we watched our daughters grow from giggling small fry to strong, fierce competitors who cared about the game, and one another. Still, we knew that our team was not unique. There are millions of boys and girls chasing a ball all across America, having fun, and learning what it means to be a person of character and courage.

The Rapids reminded me that the old verities are still true. Love and effort and joy and friendship are really all that matter. Sacrificing for a team, for something bigger than oneself, is still virtuous (even if it means playing goalie!). And the girls learned that sometimes even dads can get choked up, as I did when I told my team at the end of 8th grade that coaching them was one of the greatest privileges of my life.

The Rapids who gathered last week attend four different high schools, and will move on to half a dozen colleges. But the steel that they forged in the crucible of rec soccer will forever make them one team, and will bind them as friends.

An even more poignant example of the ways that sports can shape character also occurred in the past fortnight. A Jesuit dad who had battled cancer heroically finally succumbed a couple of weeks ago. His oldest son Connor, a member of the JHS class of 2012, was at home, but a number of his pals had already left for college.

At the funeral, I was proud to see a whole lot of JHS students and parents in attendance. But I was especially moved to witness the way that Connor’s former teammates from his grade school CYO basketball team rallied around him. Two of them drove from college in Montana to be there for the funeral, and the others didn’t think twice—they had to have Connor’s back, because they were teammates.

It did not seem to matter whether these young men had been in touch with Connor recently or not. It did not matter that they had graduated from Jesuit and Central Catholic and Lake Oswego. The bond they had, the lessons they had learned about loyalty and about what really matters (not wins and losses, but friendship and fidelity), led them instinctively to their friend’s side when he needed them most. That is what one might call character, and it can be shaped powerfully by the emotional cauldron that is competitive athletics.

As I hope you know, “Coaching for Character” is the topic of the conference we are co-hosting with Central Catholic and UP at Jesuit on Saturday, October 4. All parents are invited, whether you are or ever were the coach of a team. If you are a parent, you are a coach, guiding your child(ren) through the treacherous terrain of adolescence.

So, come learn from folks who do this for a living how to help your student grow into people of competence, conscience, and compassion. You can register at www.jesuitportland.org/manresa.

Paul Hogan
Posted by etuenge on Thursday September 25
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A Moment of Grace

As students and staff jumped from the lazy pace of summer in Oregon to the full-speed rush of the start of school, images swirl: confident upperclassmen greeting each other with bearhugs and laughter at Registration; excited but slightly-lost freshmen looking hopefully around corners for their next classroom, anxious to beat the bell; students gathering in class meetings to learn about their new iPads and the ancient traditions of Mass at Jesuit; raucous cheers shaking down the thunder from the Knight Gym at the Welcome Back Assembly on Friday, August 29.

Amidst the delirium of week 1 at Jesuit, a note of grace was introduced by Theology teacher Cindy White. At the campus ministry meetings and the Welcome Back assembly on Friday, Sept 29, students and staff took the opportunity to write a note to and say a prayer for the student body of Reynolds High School, thanks to Mrs. White’s thoughtful suggestion.

As Mrs. White explains, “Jesuit’s prayers will contribute to a campaign started by Susan Bowker, the grandmother of a Reynolds student. Susan would like to share ‘Happy Thought Post Cards’ with the students and staff at Reynolds on the first day of school on Thursday, Sept. 4 These postcards provide words of encouragement for the year ahead after the shooting tragedy last June.”

This year we launched the good ship Jesuit with iPads and digital textbooks aboard. Regardless of the tools we use to deliver instruction, however, at our core we remain a Jesuit, Catholic school in the Ignatian tradition. That means we remember that the blessings we have been given are not for us alone, but to share. One of the greatest gifts we have is the gift of prayer.

Our sisters and brothers at Reynolds ended their school year with a nightmare no school wants to face. Now, it is a new morning in Troutdale, and we want Reynolds’ students and faculty to know that we are with them as they begin anew.

Yes, we have lots going on—classes, ballgames, tryouts, club meetings—but we always will take a moment to pray for our friends, for peace, for the world, for the right of students everywhere to go to school in safety and with grace amidst the turbulence that is high school in America.

Our theme for this year comes from Pope Francis’s first homily as Pontiff: “My wish is that all of us have the courage to walk in the presence of the Lord.” This week and next, we pray that our sisters and brothers at Reynolds know the peace that comes from walking with courage in God’s presence.

Peace to all of you as well. Thanks for your prayers for Reynolds, for Jesuit and for the young people of Portland and the world. 

Paul Hogan
Posted by etuenge on Friday August 29
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