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!
Summer: A time for sunshine, trips with family, jobs, rest, relaxation, and…service! Now that the hectic pace of the school year has given way to the glorious slowing down of summer, our students have found lots of opportunities to serve. If you happened to be at the last Friday Mass of the school year, you may have been as moved as I was to see almost 500 students stand for a blessing/missioning by Fr. Adams as Christian Service Director Scott Powers offered a litany of the types of service they will be doing this summer.
Among the programs Mr. Powers mentioned at Mass:
- Those working with people who are homeless or hungry in programs such as the Urban Day Immersions, Portland Plunge, Faith Café, St. Francis Dining Hall, and Blanchet House.
- Those working with survivors of domestic violence, such as at the West Raphael House, Women and Children’s Shelter, Rose Haven or others.
- Those working with elderly people at places like Marquis at Autumn Hills, , Maryville Nursing Home, Raleigh Hills Assisted Living Center, working with Hospice patients.
- Those tutoring Spanish speaking peoples, refugees or others in programs Jesuit’s Hurtado Center.
- Those assisting people with disabilities in programs such as Camp Easter Seal, Camp Rivendale, Providence Child Center, Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp, MDA Summer Camp, Upward Bound, L’Arche Immersion or other programs.
- Those working with youth in mentoring programs or educational programs such as Beaverton PAL, Boys and Girls Clubs, or others.
- Those working outside of Portland in places like California and Washington or other states.
- Those working in foreign countries like Nicaragua, Panama, and the Dominican Republic in programs such as Seeds of Learning and Courts for Kids, immersion trips with your church, or other international trips.
While the majority of our students complete their service in the metro area, below you will get a glimpse of the experience of students who leave town to live in solidarity with folks from Tacoma to Panama to the Dominican Republic.
Athletic Director Mike Hughes and “Trainer Jen” Adams accompanied a group of students to Nicaragua with the Seeds of Learning program. On June 12, Mr. Hughes reported, “We are having a wonderful trip so far in Nicaragua. Lots of hard work building a one-room school house in a very poor community. Our Jesuit students are also building lots of friends with the Nicaraguan people in the barrio of Miraluz, even as they haul and mix and lay hundreds of pounds of concrete and rebar. We have had some powerful discussions, sharing, and praying at night."
Selene Nesland of Courts for Kids sent updates to parents on the JHS delegation that journeyed to Panama with English teacher Emily (Casey) Keller ’03 and her husband Dan, who teaches at Edison HS.
"Your children are doing AWESOME!! The first day of work/being in the community was tough, as the students adjusted to the heat and humidity combined with very hard work. Still, they completed 1/3 of the court on the 1st day and then knocked off another third the second day. They are all working hard right alongside community members.
The daily highlight for the group is going to the river to bathe after working. The river is large and clean and the group just likes to hang out there, especially in a community without electricity or running water!
Each student is taking the time every night to journal and to share in a group reflection time about their experience. This is a time for them to process what they are seeing, hearing, and even smelling (!) in Panama.
The community has been wholeheartedly excited for this court. As soon as it was finished, it has been used non-stop. The community’s hospitality toward the group has been very warm.
I was surprised to hear that being without electricity (or electronics!) really hasn’t been a struggle for the students, thanks to their headlamps. “Always being dirty and never really getting clean” has been the bigger challenge.
On Tuesday, the students were rewarded with a beach day. The group took a long hike to a farm on Wednesday. The locals were a big help in helping the students navigate through obstacles such as the river crossings and all the mud. Thursday was a major highlight as the group held “opening ceremonies” on the court and presented jerseys to the townspeople. They were a HUGE hit and the members of the community wore them all day! About 125 folks from neighboring communities came to the opening ceremonies and everyone played friendly but competitive games on the new court all day long.
Nightly reflections on topics like perseverance and simplicity have gone very well. Emily remarked that the right topic always seemed to emerge on the right day. On Friday, June 19, the students make the 12+ hour bus ride back to Panama City. The plan is to visit the Panama Canal on Saturday morning before they head off to the airport for their flight.
Everyone is healthy and happy! I know that is always the most relieving news to hear. Thanks for entrusting your son/daughter on this exciting adventure!”
And thanks from Jesuit for entrusting your children to us, and to them for working so hard this summer as they seek to become men and women for, and with, others!
on Friday June 19
As Odysseus could tell you, it ain't easy getting to Ithaca, but it sure is worth it once you arrive.
Last weekend I set out for Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, to celebrate Jesuit alum Ankith Harathi of the Class of 2011. Ankith was being honored as a Merrill Scholar, which means he is one of top Cornell's graduates as selected by faculty in consideration of his commitment to academics, activities, leadership, and service to others. Ankith told me he sees a direct connection between what he learned at Jesuit and the values he brought to his college experience. (The photo above is of myself, Ankith, and Cornell's VP Susan Murphy.)
But there is no direct way to get to Ithaca from Portland (you really can't get there from here). So I decided to spend Sunday in the Berkshires, at my alma mater Williams College, before heading to Cornell.
My journey back to college brought to mind our soon-to-be-graduated seniors. On April 1 of this year, I posted a blog called "Letting Go," encouraging seniors and their parents to prepare for the great uncoupling that comes with the college experience.
Today's blog could be entitled "Digging In." At both Williams and Cornell, I was reminded how tough the transition to college can be, and how important it is that freshmen possess fortitude and adventurousness.
The first year of college will test our graduates in all sorts of ways. As Ankith reminded me, "It is really important that a college freshman has a strong sense of who they are, because they are going to get hit with all sorts of temptations and all sorts of opportunities. If they know their values and have an idea of their interests, they will probably be able to navigate."
In talking with Ankith's friends, fraternity brothers, and fellow Merrill Scholars, it was clear that students who "dug in" were the ones who survived and thrived. They dug in and hung in against homesickness and demanding professors and the brutal cold of the New York winters. They dug in to new experiences and found gold--Ankith in his frat, but also as a leader of the Formula Series Auto Engineering team at Cornell.
Whenever I encounter college students, especially JHS alums, I ask them what Jesuit can do to better prepare high schoolers for college. If they think I am asking purely about academic preparation, they will give me tips on curriculum and teaching methods. But when they realize I also want to know how to prepare students for the multitude of social and spiritual challenges that college presents, the answer is usually similar to the ones that Ankith and two of his friends gave me: The most important thing both parents and high school can instill in students heading to college is a strong value system and a strong sense of self. One of Ankith's pals named Andrew put it this way: "It is really hard to replicate the social freedom we have in college for high schoolers, and I don't think you would want to. You just have to keep instilling in your kids a respect for themselves and for others, and trust that they will choose the right path."
That is an act of faith for sure, but faith built on the foundation of values. Clearly, Ankith's parents did their job, and he credits Jesuit with instilling in him a tenacious work ethic and a commitment to service.
In bestowing his Merrill Scholarship on Ankith, Cornell's President David Skorton said of him, "After graduating as a valedictorian from Jesuit High School in Portland, OR, Ankith was named a Cornell Meinig National Scholar. This weekend, Ankith graduates Summa Cum Laude. Ankith was the Cooling Team Leader of Cornell's Formula Racing team. He also held the position of Scholarship Chair in his fraternity, Phi Kappa Tau, a position that reflects his commitment to service and scholarship."
Ankith introduced me to his fraternity brothers (as Scholarship Chair, he was responsible for keeping them focused on their studies). He also showed me the Formula Racing barn, where he and his teammates spent countless hours building and rebuilding innovative cars from scratch, using their engineering prowess to achieve lightweight, fuel-efficient cars that were fun to drive (see photo above). Ankith and his buddies certainly dug in to all that their school had to offer. Ankith is graduating with memories that will make him want to return to Ithaca years hence, just as I did in stopping by Williams on my odyssey to Ithaca.
on Friday May 22
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