Al Kato is retiring after 35 years at Jesuit High School, serving in myriad roles that touched every corner of campus.
Mr. Kato joined Jesuit’s fine arts department in 1988 as band director. For 27 years, he led the student band at games, concerts, and competitions. He also taught freshmen, introducing them to various instruments, musical history, and the art of reading music. He required all of his students to learn Jesuit’s alma mater and fight song.
In 2015, Mr. Kato transitioned to a new role assisting in the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office and Campus Ministry Office. His experience attending many Encounters and freshman retreats over the years was beneficial in procuring food and other necessities for Jesuit’s retreats. For the Senior Pilgrimage, Mr. Kato secured wheelchairs from Providence St. Vincent Hospital for injured students and modified them to fit the needs of students traveling the 12-mile journey.
Mr. Kato has served the school in countless other roles as well. He coached the chess team to a three-peat state championship in May 2023. He has also served as a photographer; recycling coordinator; varsity softball announcer; ticket taker; audio setup expert; and scoreboard operator for basketball, soccer, and football games.
One of Mr. Kato’s most visible roles at Jesuit has been trumpeter, joining the band for special performances and liturgies, including his annual rousing rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In” during All Saints Day Mass.
“There are so many things that Al takes care of behind the scenes that no one knows about,” said Campus Ministry Director Don Clarke. “We won’t know how many things he actually did until he’s no longer here.”
Throughout his time at Jesuit and various roles, Mr. Kato has been steadfast in his commitment to the students and staff.
When Carol Young joined Jesuit in 1993 as choir director, Mr. Kato mentored her – guiding her through the nuances of Catholic, Jesuit education and assisting her with technicalities of the newly digital world – with patience and understanding.
“We didn’t have a feeder program for band, so Al met kids where they were and turned them into the best musicians they could be,” said Ms. Young, who retired from Jesuit in 2018. “Kids found a home in the music program, often eating lunch in the band room. Al is one of the nicest, honest, and most helpful people I’ve ever met, and he is so quiet and unassuming about everything he does.”
Mr. Kato’s commitment to students has never wavered. The one time he had to leave Baccalaureate Mass early was when he was director of the One More Time Around Again Marching Band, which was serving as the Grand Marshal of the Rose Festival Starlight Parade that same evening.
“Mr. Kato has been an endearing and much-beloved fixture in the Jesuit community for the last three and a half decades,” said Jesuit High School President Thomas Arndorfer. “He will be remembered warmly for the goodness he extended to everyone on campus. Mr. Kato is the embodiment of a servant leader and a true Man for Others. We are extremely grateful to him for his remarkable impact on our students, our culture, and our mission.”
Mr. Kato’s last day at Jesuit High School is December 15, 2023. He plans to spend time fishing, gardening, playing in some adult bands, and working part-time at Beaverton Music. He will also be back on the Jesuit campus in the new year to run the clock at freshman basketball games.