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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!

Grateful for our Deans

Serving as a Dean of Students in a Jesuit school is a tough but vital job. It is not easy being the enforcer of the rules, even when we agree that clear boundaries are part of what makes a Jesuit school different.

Our Deans, Elaine Forde and Khalid Maxie, are indeed special, as we have been reminded again over the last week. On Thursday, February 16, Mr. Maxie offered the student body a brutally honest, challenging, and ultimately uplifting glimpse of his own high school experience.

On Friday, February 17, Mrs. Forde announced to the faculty and staff that after four decades as an educator, she plans to retire this June.

So let us take a moment to pay tribute to these two fine Ignatian educators.

Khalid Maxie escaped poverty in the North End of Palm Desert, using his own internal moral compass and intense will to climb out of a crack-riddled neighborhood to the University of San Diego and beyond. Khalid realized that education was the key to unlocking the cage of family addiction and dysfunction, and he found God along the way. After marrying Theresa Schommer (JHS ’97), Khalid was destined to bring his unique combination of high expectations and amazing empathy to Jesuit High. That he has become a father (twice!) and a Catholic during his 4 ½ years at Jesuit makes his story all the more compelling.

To get a glimpse of the gifts Khalid brings to our students every day, ask your child about Mr. Maxie’s presentation. My guess is that your student will remember several salient details, as well as Mr. Maxie’s main message. Ask your son or daughter if they remember anything specific about Mr. Maxie’s family, his neighborhood, his response to the crack epidemic, the color of his letterman’s jacket, or his first reaction to USD, and you will be sure to spur a response.

The other half of our Dynamic Dean Duo, Elaine Forde, was born into a German-Catholic family in the farmlands of St. Paul, Oregon. She grew up picking hops in the summer heat, driving tractors and shepherding wayward sheep (perhaps a metaphor for her current job??).

Elaine Forde has been an educator for 40 years, having spent her career in two very different educational worlds: 17 years in public schools and 23 years at Jesuit High. After graduating with a teaching license from Oregon State, Elaine started her career as a home economics and math teacher, before moving on to become a counselor at Clackamas High. In her pre-Jesuit years, Elaine coached volleyball, track, basketball and cheerleading. Elaine was even elected to the Oregon Cheerleading Hall of Fame as a coach! It took only three short years at Jesuit for Elaine to be named Educator of the Year at Jesuit High in 1997.

Over the past 23 years, Elaine has served Jesuit as a counselor, then Activities Director, then our first full-time Diversity Director, and finally in her current role as Dean of Students and Activities. She has led Encounters and organized Orientation days. Says Elaine, “The ride has been wild, bumpy, fulfilling, and one I have loved. I have no idea how many students I have taught, coached, or counseled along the way, or how many assemblies I have planned, or how many dances or diversity conferences I have organized and chaperoned.”

Having started my tenure at Jesuit High the same year as Elaine (1994-95), I can tell you how many JHS lives Elaine has touched: 6674. That is the number of students who have graduated during Elaine’s time here. Each of her jobs at Jesuit has allowed Elaine to positively impact every student’s experience. As our Activities Director, Diversity Director, and Dean of Students, Elaine has instituted programs that we now take for granted, including dances (can you say “Father-Daughter”?!), Coffeehouse, Robotics, Mock Trial, and dozens of clubs. There were no African-American, Asian, or Latino summits before Elaine. She was our Diversity Director when our first students from St. Andrew Nativity School arrived in 2004. With determination and grace, Elaine helped bend the arc of justice as Jesuit’s percentage of students of color climbed from 12% in 1995 to over 30% today.

As a colleague, Elaine has no peer. For many on our staff, Elaine is the member of the administrative team with whom they can keep it real. “Mama Forde" has been the listening ear not only to students who have found Jesuit a tough row to hoe, but also to generations of faculty who need a shoulder to lean on.

That Elaine willingly moved from positions where she was everyone’s friend to Dean of Students says much about her selfless devotion to Jesuit High. Her unique combination of experience, insight, steel, sugar, managerial skill and counselor’s compassion has raised the bar for all of us in administration.

By the way, we are opening the job of Dean of Students today, so if you know of any worthy candidates, please send them our way! We all know how important this position is to the students and staff of JHS. See the job posting here.

Mrs. Forde’s post-graduation plans include hanging out with husband Chuck, working on the family farm, becoming a master gardener, and studying viticulture. She promises to jump on an occasional midweek ski bus to the mountain. The Forde home is often filled with Elaine’s relatives from Germany; she plans to return to Germany so that her father’s side of the family can reciprocate. Having recently joined the board of her Breast Cancer Survivor’s Dragon Boat organization, Elaine is aiming for the International Breast Cancer Survivors competition in Florence, Italy in 2018!

Elaine Forde’s heroic journey will continue. Meanwhile, we pause to say thanks for your service, Queen Dean. We love you, we are deeply grateful, and we will forever be honored and humbled by your service.

Paul J. Hogan
Posted by Erika Tuenge on Friday February 24
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The Church, the Refugee Crisis, and JHS

Over the past two weeks, we have had plenty to talk about in our humanities classes. At Jesuit, we always have, and always will, teach our students the positions advanced by the Catholic Church, knowing that all students may not personally agree with those teachings.

These lessons are not about a particular party or President. For example, the March for Life in Washington DC on January 27 advanced a long-held position of the Catholic Church regarding the sanctity of all life (click here for a statement from the US Bishops) and featured Vice President Mike Pence as a keynoter.

On the same day, January 27, President Trump issued an Executive Order on immigration and refugees. This order is currently on hold, as it is being tested in the courts.

We have taught students about immigration and refugees for many years, both in classes and in optional discussion forums such as our brown bag lunch series. Our first job is simply to make sure that students understand the basic elements of these complex issues. What IS a refugee? What are the US laws regarding political or economic asylum? What is the difference between a documented and undocumented immigrant? What is a green card, and how does it differ from a temporary visa?

As a Catholic, Jesuit school, our mission statement compels us to show a “special concern for the poor” as well as a “sense of community”…based on “justice founded in love.” Our mission calls us to be a community, and also to stand with those who are not just economically poor, but also the powerless and disenfranchised. In response to the Executive Order, leaders of the US Catholic Church have taken a strong, clear, and consistent position. Again, we realize that some members of our community might not agree with this position.

During these complex conversations, we strive to ensure that ALL of our students know they are safe and loved at Jesuit, regardless of their political, economic, or cultural perspectives. After we offer the Church’s lessons, we respect the rights of our students and families to arrive at their own well-informed conclusions.

In order to educate our students, we are offering a series of workshops on immigration and refugees. These sessions are very similar to those we have offered in past years, and that we will continue to offer well into the future. Parents are always welcome at our brown bags. These sessions will occur during both lunches in the Choir Room.

Wednesday, Feb. 15

  • A presentation from Catholic Charities worker Amanuel Habtemariam, a refugee from Iraq.

Wednesday, Feb. 22

  • Understanding President Trump’s Executive Order on refugees and immigrants and the resulting challenges in court. Presented by Mr. Flamoe and Ms. Bernards.

Wednesday, March 8

  • Fr Gary Smith, SJ, formerly of Jesuit Refugee Service, will discuss his experiences in refugee camps in Greece and the Sudan.

Thursday, March 23

  • Walk a Mile in My Shoes: Through their World History classes, freshmen will experience what if feels like to live in a refugee camp through a program developed by the Jesuit Refugee Service. Click here for the complete lesson plan.

On April 11 at 7 pm, Jesuit is co-sponsoring with St. Mary’s Academy (at SMA) and Catholic Charities a viewing of “Salam, Neighbor,” a film about a refugee camp in Jordan. Following the film we will have a panel discussion. This event is open to all students and parents.

Please encourage your students to continue to engage with the issues of the day, to be informed, and to feel free to disagree with one another in vigorous debate based on sound facts, verifiable evidence, reason and logic—gifts given to us along with our faith by the Holy Spirit.

If you are seeking more information on statements by Church leaders on the recent Executive Order, see below:

Paul J. Hogan
Posted by Erika Tuenge on Wednesday February 15
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