The President’s Blog
In the realm of education we always associate baccalaureate with then end of the year and graduation ceremonies. It is Emily Dickinson who reverses our thoughts when she writes of September’s Baccalaureate. It is that moment when we move from the halcyon days of summer to the rigors of school and study.
So it is for us here at Christ the King Preparatory School, Newark’s Cristo Rey High School. We celebrated the summer of 2011 with some truly amazing happenings. Students had immersion experiences at several colleges. They attended intense summer programs at colleges and universities. Fifteen students spent a week of study and exploration with the Block Island Maritime Institute. Another group of students participated in the Nicaragua Mission Experience. Yes, summer 2011 has been a season of grace and blessings for many of our students.
Alas, the time has arrived “that makes the heart put up its fun”. We have welcomed our new freshmen students and our returning students back for another year of learning and working together.
The adult members of the school community are focused on our accreditation through the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges. We have been meeting throughout the summer and are poised to move into the data collection phases of our self-study. This is so important for us as we evaluate what are currently doing to meet our mission goals and also to set the course for the next years of our mission development. We are blessed to have such an engaged and committed planning committee.
The student members of the school community are looking forward to the new challenges and opportunities that await them this year. We have been able to introduce new technology into the school. Every department has been updated with new textbooks and supplementary materials. Of course, they are looking forward to the various athletic events and student activities that enrich and enhance school life. Our spring musical is going to be Grease and already there is a buzz around the school about that production.
We have received many visits these past weeks from our graduates. How proud all of us were on the morning of June 11th when our first class marched in their graduation procession. It was such a thrill to share in the accomplishments of this great class of graduates. They were the ones who took the chance and were the pioneers of this new venture in alternative high school education. And now they are off to their new schools. They carry with them that wonderful spirit of adventure that has marked them from the beginning. We wish all of them the very best of luck in college.
It is my hope that whatever your association with our school might be, you will know that we welcome your participation with us. This school is truly a gift to the greater Newark community and we are pleased to be a part of such an exciting, growing, developing community such as Newark. Your contribution to this project makes it possible for us to engage in the transformation that is at the heart of our mission. We live to transform urban America to make our urban centers desirable places to live and work. Education is a necessary part of that transformation. Please join with us in making this happen here in Newark.
Moving Toward Graduation
What a great time this is for us here at Christ the King Prep. One can feel the excitement in the corridors as senior students receive their letters of acceptance to college. This is such a moment of accomplishment. Our senior students took a huge risk when they “signed on” four years ago to give this new school in Newark a chance. They had no history. The school had no reputation. Cristo Rey was not a known entity. Yet, these boys and girls decided to give it a shot. And here we are now, four years later, and they are poised to graduate from this new high school.
Our seniors are in a place and have had an experience that no others will ever have in the history of this school. They are the trail-blazers. They are the pilgrims who have led the way in unchartered territory. This took courage and it was a risk. I know from their perspective today, they are glad that they did. They have known some dark days. They knew some challenges that made them wonder if they had the chutzpah to carry it off. I’m sure that many of them asked themselves on one or the other occasion: Do I have the ability to complete this academic program? Can I negotiate the work place sufficiently well to be a successful employee? Do I possess the quality of character and the value system to sustain me to reach the goals of the “Profile of the Cristo Rey Graduate at Graduation?”
And here we are today. They have almost achieved their goal. All of the staff and faculty are cheering them onward as they “run through the tape” and complete their course of study. Even the underclassmen can be seen staring in rapt amazement at the bulletin board where we post their acceptance letters and their notices of Scholarships. This first class has been awarded more than $1.3 million in scholarship awards.
While we as a faculty, staff and administration are thrilled with their accomplishments and the students, themselves, can take justifiable pride in their achievements, we cannot forget their parents. We are fully aware that the success that we have here in this school does not happen without the abiding care, concern and committed involvement of the parent or guardian. Learning does not happen only between 8 AM and 4 PM. Much of their academic work requires homework. This impacts family life. We are ever grateful to those parents and guardians who have been conscientious in their attention to the progress of their child. Little of what we do here on Woodside Avenue would be possible without the full cooperation from the home.
The Baccalaureate Mass and Awards Convocation will take place on Friday, June 10th at 4:00 PM at the Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel, located at 654 Summer Avenue. The Graduation will take place in the same location on Saturday morning, June 11th at 10 AM. Admission to Graduation is by ticket only.
What can I do?
It may be raised at a conference gathering. Someone may make the observation during a workshop. The sentiment may surface during a private conversation. It is always the same. The angst and frustration are palpable. Usually, the dismay is expressed in the question: “What can I do?”
World hunger? What can I do? Environmental degradation? What can I do? Terrorism? What can I do? The scope of these and many other concerns appear to be so overwhelming that the attention or action of one single person is perceived to be irrelevant. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. One person can have an enormous impact on solution building.
This awareness is critical for us in this mission of Transforming Urban America One Student at A Time. This is the motto of the Cristo Rey Network. One could face the staggering realities of urban education in America today, wring one’s hands, sighing: What can I do?
Members of the Cristo Rey Network know what to do. We are staring down the past academic performance records and saying: No more. This is unacceptable that young people of such vast capabilities are restrained from attaining their full potential. We are confronting the destructive behaviors and attitudes that have plagued urban youth and saying: No more. They can become the young people of promise that are a credit to our society.
We are able to do this magnificent project because, one person at a time, we engage individuals who believe they can change the world. One of the greatest resources for us in this mission is our Corporate Work Sponsors. These are corporations and businesses that partner with us, employing our students, and helping us to capture the unbelievable wealth of talent in the lives of urban youth. These young people are treasures not be lost or squandered. These are young people to be educated and nurtured to their fullest potential.
If you or someone you know is able to join with us in this mission by providing a work experience for our students, contact Mark Gleason here at the school at extension 317. When it comes to the crisis in urban education today you need never wonder: What can I do?
Welcome to our website!
We find ourselves now in the midst of the Easter Season. This is a blessed time for us as we contemplate the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ. Together we walked those Lenten days with Jesus and relived all of the moments of his passion and death. How dark are the days of Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Against all possible hopes, by the will of the Father and the work of the Holy Spirit Christ is raised from the dead. What an awesome event!
What we try to understand during this Eastertide is the reality that the events in the life of Christ are not his alone. That which has happened in and through the life of Christ is to be allowed to unfold in our lives as well. There is a parallel experience. When we list the events in the life of Jesus we can see exact parallels to the events in our lives, too.
How important that is for all of us. Sometimes the events of our lives can be quite devastating. We can imagine that there is no hope. This is the exact moment when you and I need to have access to our faith. We need to have an active memory of Christ: against all possible hopes, Christ is raised from the dead. Can you do this? Can you place your trust in the saving act of Christ? Can you believe?
You who are students know this feeling, too. Sometimes, in the course of our studies we feel overwhelmed. We feel that it is all too much. Just because you are young is no indication that your faith is not active. You should not conclude that because you are a young person that the saving power of Christ is somehow restricted from you. Not true. Remember faith. What seems impossible to us within the limitations of our humanity is no limitation to the infinite, loving power of God.
March 11, 2010
To all Christ the King Students:
It is the character known as Soothsayer in the play Julius Caesar (William Shakespeare) who utters the warning: “Beware of the ides of March.” The word “ides” was used to mark the middle of the month, generally the 15th. Of course, this reference is to the date that it is commonly held that Julius Caesar was assassinated.
One might also issue a warning about the ides of March this 2010. Certainly not for anything as nefarious as assassination would such a warning be issued. Rather, it would be issued to warn against complacency in study during this long month of March. This year March has no free days. We will not have a break until April 1st when we break for the Easter Recess. The Third Quarter of the academic year can be a real grind. Reading, studying, writing and reviewing seem especially difficult in the Third Quarter.
It may require a bit more effort to keep your focus and your persistence in study during this month. You don’t want to drop the ball. You’ve worked hard for this whole year; this is not the time to take a breather from the books. Make sure that you make use of your planner and be complete and on time with all of your assignments. Be prepared for all of your quizzes and tests. Participate in your classes in a positive and constructive manner in EVERY class. Do not let a single opportunity to learn and grow pass. Make sure that you optimize every chance for learning that comes your way.