Yesterday, at our Celebration for the Future event, Baltimore CEO’s, philanthropists, and civic leaders met Mason. We want you to meet Mason, too:
Mason is a Cristo Rey Jesuit graduate. He is wise beyond his years. He is outgoing—not afraid to share that wisdom with whomever he is speaking.
In the summer of 2012, Mason showed up as a freshman for CRJ orientation, better known to students as Prep for Success. He said, “I remember the start. I remember being 14, [going to my internship], and feeling like I didn’t belong. I don’t talk the language they talk I don’t look the way they look. It was intimidating.”
Mason interned at Kelly & Associates, where he met Bryan Kelly and the extended Kelly family. Mason remembers meeting Bryan: “That man, Mr. Bryan Kelly, he said, ‘we’re going to show you the ropes.’”
Bryan recognized a spark in Mason. He shared:
“There’s a lot of bright young men and women in Baltimore City and if you give them an opportunity, I’m confident that they’re going to take it and run with. It’s our obligation to give them that opportunity. To be able to be a little part of Mason’s success brings great joy to me, to our organization, and to our family.”
From there on out, Mason jumped into every activity and opportunity that he was presented with including STEP Team, Campus Ministry, and Student Government. During his time at Cristo Rey Jesuit, he made an indelible impression on his peers and his teachers.
When the streets of Baltimore made the national news in the spring and summer of 2015, Mason was entering his senior year of high school. In a reflection assignment he completed that fall, he said, “A lot of us are getting discouraged. It is hard to survive in our city, let alone be successful. We worry about being safe and protecting our families, so much we tend to bump school down to a third or fourth priority when, at our age, it should be first.”
But, in Mason’s words,
“Each student that walks through Cristo Rey’s door has the opportunity of a lifetime.”
Mason earned his high school diploma in June 2016.
Now, Mason is going to community college, where he is working toward earning a nursing degree. His former teacher and mentor, Christine Gallagher, shared that “Vocation is where your talent meets the needs of the world and Mason has so many talents and gifts. He cares enough about our world to put those gifts to work for Baltimore City.”
“I am not going to school to become a nurse so my friends and I can show off our degrees. I am doing it so I can show my future son or daughter that you can be a successful kid from the City of Baltimore,” said Mason. “The Kelly’s gave back to me. I feel like I have to give back to my community. To them. To Cristo Rey.”
The Cristo Rey Jesuit High School community unites people from across Baltimore City who have one thing in common: a commitment to the bright futures of our students. A group of advocates, dubbed the Leadership Advisory Council (LAC), join together each spring to plan the school’s signature event to raise scholarship funds for CRJ. We sat down with Frank McShalley, of Transamerica, to talk to him about his experience as a volunteer on the LAC.
How long have you been volunteering for Cristo Rey Jesuit and what is your role?
I’ve been doing this for four years on the Council. At first I was very intimidated. I thought the person sitting next to me [on the Council] is so well-connected and I thought, you know, what do I have to bring to this? I know some people and I can reach out…I have to ask [for support for CRJ] from now on. You just never know what will happen if you just pick up the phone.
This year it was personal. I felt like it was time to step up. Transamerica is a Corporate Internship Program Partner-we have student interns-and this year we wanted to do more.
“…you have to see what’s going on at Cristo Rey and what it’s doing for the community and the City of Baltimore.”
This year, Transamerica is a $10,000 Feature sponsor of Stand Up for Students. Why do you think this event is important to your organization and to the community?
Awareness. It is important to have an event to create awareness and let people know what’s going on [at CRJ]. People don’t know what’s going on – you just hear of the bad things going on in Baltimore and you just get tired of hearing about that. What I do is spread the word about the school and say ‘you have to see what’s going on at Cristo Rey and what it’s doing for the community and the City of Baltimore.’
It’s a wonderful thing. It’s an awesome place. When [students] graduate they’ve already got experience in the work place. They’ve met people, they have contacts, they have experience, they’re learning what [the workplace] is all about, and they’re helping us, which is huge.
What are you most looking forward to at the event on May 6th?
Just the excitement, seeing students there, and watching other people’s reactions to what a great place this is. For the folks at my table to see how incredible this is. Maybe for some people it’s their first time seeing what CRJ is all about. Just laughing and being with people and you know, an event in Baltimore that is a lot of fun.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Earlier this month, sophomore Riccy Amador received the Graduate at Graduation Award for her commitment to justice. This is Riccy’s first year at CRJ, and since she arrived, she has been involved in a number of projects that raise awareness about immigrant rights, violence in our city, and other causes. She believes every student should do what he or she can to make the world a better place.
What was the first social justice event that you attended? The first event that I attended was 100 Women, 100 Miles in Towson in September 2015. This event was amazing, because I got to understand how women are treated unfairly in the world today and what we can do to end it. This event left me wanting to be more active in making the world better for everyone.
So, what did you do next? I attended the Ignatian Family Teach in for Justice in November and we focused on immigration, protecting the environment, and marriage equality. Going to this event helped me understand what I wanted with my life and that was to help others who do not have the same opportunities as we do. I attended a peace walk in East Baltimore in December. We walked around the neighborhoods where people were murdered and we prayed for them and their families. It was emotional, because we learned about the victims and what happened to them.
Upcoming events? I will be attending the Arrupe Leadership Summit Feb. 26 to 28 and I’m looking forward to that. I will get to know more people involved in social justice. When I grow up, I want to work on immigration issues, and at the summit, I will get to express my opinion on this issue and hear others’ opinions, too.
Why should students get involved? We all have community service hours we need, but that should not be the reason we go to these events. We go because it is the right thing to do. If we all got involved in our world and helped it become a better place now, while we can, we are giving the future a better chance.
What’s it like having a teenager in the workplace? For the supervisors at ATAPCO, a Baltimore-based real estate development company, having a high school intern from Cristo Rey Jesuit has brought new energy and perspective to their team.
Since the 2014-2015 school year, ATAPCO has employed Cristo Rey Jesuit students as a sponsor in the school’s Corporate Internship Program.
Last year, senior Destiny Johnson worked with the acquisitions and development department and filled in over the summer for a full-time administrative employee while she was on maternity leave. This year, her internship assignment is with ATAPCO’s marketing department, writing her own article, “Intern Talk, in their employee newsletter. She also interviews employees for the newsletter’s Q &A segment, “Get to Know Your Teammates.”
ATAPCO launched a new website this fall, and Destiny helped to write the biographies for the executives and staff. Her projects for this semester include website maintenance, social media, photography editing, and learning to write press releases.
Cristo Rey Jesuit’s students “have goals and an open mind,” Jennifer Williams, an ATAPCO administrative assistant who works with CRJ students, said. “They are accepting of a wide range of challenges and/or tasks which I strongly believe will offer a wide range of opportunity in their future. I believe they are carving their own path, chipping away at each learning opportunity. They can be proud of themselves – after all it’s the choice they make every day.”
After Destiny mentioned that she was considering majoring in marketing in college, ATAPCO supervisors decided it was important for her to get involved in their marketing department.
“Five years ago, no one had even heard of “Pinterest” or “Houzz” or other social media forums that are now commonplace,” Amanda Reed, ATAPCO’s marketing and business development director, said. “As we move forward, things are only going to continue to change, and at a much faster pace. It is important for the tech savvy generation to understand the impact marketing has on their lives, their purchases, and their careers. There are jobs that will exist by the time they are out of college that don’t exist today, and because of that, it is helpful to get a solid foundation of marketing principles.”
For more information about Cristo Rey Jesuit High School’s Corporate Internship Program, visit the school’s website.
CRJ senior Neil Mattei spends some of his school days on Twitter. No, Neil isn’t parked in the back of a classroom somewhere, aimlessly scrolling on his phone – As an intern at Connections Education, his job is to learn as much as he can about marketing, from advertising to grass roots efforts to social media.
That includes crafting tweets that support Connections’ work. Connections, which is based in Baltimore, provides online learning resources for K-12 students and their families, as well for school systems. It is part of the global education company, Pearson and has been an internship sponsor since 2013.
The company’s reach has given Neil the chance to stretch his own skills – so far this year, he has developed Facebook posts, gathered data, and boosted campaigns.
“I like the diversity and the opportunity to work in different groups in marketing,” Neil said. “It helps me fine tune what it is I actually want for my own future.”
When Connections held a conference for school liaisons, Neil provided event support and got to sit in on some of the sessions. “The liaisons got a crash course in grass roots marketing,” he said. “I learned about it, too. I really liked the idea of being out in the field and talking and learning.”
In fact, his lessons in marketing have led him to consider majoring in business when he heads to college next year. He has already begun to receive college acceptances, including Lincoln and Morgan State universities, but has not made a choice yet about where he will attend.
LaWanda Stone, Neil’s supervisor, said it’s “an honor” to mentor him on his pathway to college and career. “The workplace skills that he learns today will make him that much more employable tomorrow,” Ms. Stone said. “I’m going to be cheering him onto future successes.”
Following Neil’s path is CRJ freshman Brayan Perez, who also is working in Connections marketing department. Recently, he had the chance to pen some commentary for the company’s e-magazine. The article was for National School Choice Week in January. Here’s what he wrote:
“In my opinion, school choice is very important and fun! Choosing a school that is the right fit is one of the first big decisions a student has the opportunity to make with the support of their family. National School Choice Week celebrates giving families the opportunity to find the school option that best fits their needs. My family and I chose Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Baltimore to meet my needs. As a freshman, discovering everything that high school has to offer is fun, especially with new friends. In addition to academics, my school choice gives me the opportunity to intern at Connections! As a Marketing Department intern, I have learned a lot this school year about the importance of school choice. Connections helps families better understand online learning through videos that show the benefits of virtual school, often from the perspective of enrolled students and families. School choice for students like me is a great way to instill confidence and encouragement to make the right choices throughout school and life.”
When asked recently why he likes working at Connections, Brayan said he enjoyed the flexibility and being treated as an employee, not a teenager. “They give me a task and a due date, and trust that I’ll be honest and do my work,” Brayan said. “If I ever need anything, they are always there to help.”
Our chemistry laboratory is a classroom on the fourth floor, at the end of the hallway, far removed from Healy Hall, the computer lab, and the other hubs of activity in our school. In some ways, the lab is a little world of its own where students conduct a wide range of experiments, like testing the reactivity of hydrochloric acid or examining the macro-molecular composition of various foods and cooking products.
Two seniors prepare insulating dough for an upcoming experiment.
A student drives a nail through a piece of lead, demonstrating that is a soft metal.
A student evaluates a circuit composed of two light-emitting diodes (LEDs), some conductive dough, and a 6V dry cell battery.
Two students prepare conductive dough.
But ask any high schooler how he or she feels about chemistry and that student will no doubt have something to share. For many it’s a love/hate relationship with this important science. Here are a few things our CRJ chemistry students said about the class and its impact on their future:
“Chemistry has influenced my college plans because it is giving me an intro of what I should expect in college. I am going to school to become a pediatrician, so I have to major in chemistry or biology.” Kaylin
“I know that I want to major in science and I thought that I would like chemistry, but when I took the class I realized that I should choose something else like biology or anatomy.” Cheykira
“Chemistry class has influenced me to study business in college, because chemistry is not for me.” Tatyana
In this experiment, students examine the macro-molecular composition of various foods and cooking products.
Hydrochloric acid completely dissolves the inner zinc core of these pennies, but does not react with their outer copper shell.
Copper and iron metal samples will be used to assess the reactivity of hydrochloric acid.
Students use balloons to monitor which types of sugar react most rapidly with bread yeast. Time elapsed: 90 minutes
Students demonstrate the surface tension of water by floating a paper clip.
Students use balloons to monitor which types of sugar react most rapidly with bread yeast. Time elapsed: 115 minutes
“It’s something I’ve always been interested in. I do plan on studying biochemistry and/or biotechnology. Chemistry has given me a brain rush of wonder of how I can improve the human body.” Tony
“I would love to be a mortician and majoring chemistry in college is just my first step to having a successful funeral home.” Jazmine
“Chemistry is a tough subject with a lot of concepts, but when I step back I see the connections.” Kevin
CRJ’s chemistry teacher, Dr. Joe Mitala, knows just the name of class alone can make high school students cringe. Often, it’s because they assume it will be a hard course. But even if someone doesn’t like the sciences, there is a lot he or she can learn in chemistry.
“There are a few things I hope every student can take away from chemistry. Aside from building an arsenal of new concepts and terminology that can be applied throughout the sciences, this chemistry course is intended to push students to think more deeply and develop adequate support for their answers, un-package complex problems, and become more familiar and comfortable with some of the different tools and techniques used in a scientific laboratory.”
“We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
On January 11, the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School community celebrated its Mass for Racial Justice and recognized the 344 people who were murdered in Baltimore during 2015. Before Mass, our peer ministers wrote each and every name of the people who lost their lives on a scroll of white paper that was then hung in Healy Hall.
Some of the names were familiar to us. Some of them caused tears. When senior Briahna Jackson, a peer minister, inscribed the name of someone she knew well, she realized that she was still in mourning and that many in our city still are. Here’s what she shared during Mass:
“There were 344 homicides in Baltimore in 2015. Three hundred and forty four families mourning, 344 lives lost, mostly young black men under the age of 50.
One of those people was someone I knew.
It is one thing to know that there is violence and killing in Baltimore; I knew that. But it is another thing to know someone who has lost his life to this violence, to mourn him. To worry that you’ll have to endure losing someone else that you care for, to worry if those you care for will ever have to mourn you.
It is real. This situation is dire, and it affects all of us, in ways that we realize and in ways that we do not.
Having to write the name of someone I knew was an emotionally awakening event for me. We are still mourning. The families of those people lost last year to the violence of this city are still mourning.
In all this, I continue to wish and pray that the violence and pain that we as people of Baltimore inflicted upon one another will just cease. However, I know it is not that easy; we must change the counterproductive mindsets and mentalities that our city has had for decades.
We must begin to rebuild ourselves and our communities, but it starts with us.”
These remarks were made at today’s Junior Ring Ceremony by junior class adviser, Ms. Jennifer Ewing.
We have come to a special time for the Class of 2017 at Cristo Rey. A time where you are granted the rite of passage as an upperclassman by receiving your class ring.
On its own, this ring is nothing but metal, but with the insignia of CRJ and the personal engraving on the inside band, it has now become a unique manifestation of a larger whole. It represents your ability to survive high school, your commitment to justice, your openness to personal and spiritual growth, your loving nature, your success in the workplace, and your intellectual competence.
A class ring is a sign of honor and achievement, given to juniors to signify that you are a part of something bigger. You are now bound to the CRJ family in a way that no one can ever take from you. By wearing this ring, all 91 of you are acknowledging this new bond you share with each other, and which each alumnus of the school passes down to you. The precious value of this ring comes from the hard work it took for you to reach this moment, and signifies what more you have to do as you continue on the path towards your college graduation.
This ring identifies your belonging to Cristo Rey, but it also comes with a responsibility to your classmates. It is a physical reminder to be kind to each other, and accept one another in your differences as well as your similarities. Each time you slip this ring on your finger, it may remind you of something different from your experiences. Perhaps it will be a joke you shared with someone during lunch, or the time you did something you thought you could never do.
If you are like me, you will wear your high school class ring for many years because it is a reminder of this special time. A time when your future is nothing but possibility. You are at the beginning of your story, one that gets written with each choice you make and each opportunity you grab hold of.
But never forget that your CRJ family is always here to support you, you have chosen a special high school that holds their alumni in the highest esteem. We work you hard here, because we know that you are capable and remarkable individuals.
So today and everyday, we celebrate you, the Class of 2017. We celebrate all that you have done to reach this moment and all that you will continue to achieve. We wish you the greatest blessings as you receive your rings, and remind you that your CRJ family loves you, today and forever.
Cristo Rey Jesuit was just an idea when Brian Reynolds first heard about it. Nine years later, it is not only an established school, but his alma mater, and a school the alumna visits frequently for his new job.
In July, Brian, a 2015 Messiah College graduate and former class president of CRJ ’11, started work as a public service fellow for Bridges, a mentoring program that supports middle and high school students from Baltimore City. He works with thirty 10th and 11th graders who go to a wide range of schools, including Poly, City, Mergenthaler, Boys’ Latin, and CRJ. His goal is to help the students be successful in and out of the classroom.
“In middle school and high school, the wheels begin to turn and a lot falls into place for students,” Brian said. “Everybody needs someone to process that with. I like being part of that.”
Brian Reynolds talks with a CRJ junior.
Brian’s yearbook from senior year.
Brian found picture of himself in CRJ’s hallways.
As a student in CRJ’s pioneering class, Brian was involved in a wide range of activities – from student government to gospel choir to soccer and lacrosse. “Anything I could be a part of, I joined,” he said. “I loved the opportunity to make friends. And we were so small. To make things work, we all had to participate.”
Our corporate internship program drew him to the school – “That was different than anything I had heard about before” – and he tried to learn as much as he could by interning for a different company each year. He worked for Allegis Group, MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, WYPR, and Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). CIP is another way for students to be successful outside the classroom, Brian said, and he uses those experiences to inform the students he mentors.
Brian recalled that one day in Spanish class, Ms. Daniela Amzel, who is now part of CRJ’s admissions team, shared that she had been a lawyer before she became a teacher. Her varied background got Brian thinking. “I understood that I really could be part of something. I could give back in the way I was given.”
He majored in social work at Messiah College, but had no plans to get involved in education or with students – until his junior internship. Which, as it turned out, was shadowing a high school social worker.
“Even though I said I didn’t want to work with students, I loved it,” Brian said. “I like the paying-it-forward aspect to working with students. And t
o be honest, a lot of that comes from my time at Cristo Rey.”
Remarks made by Dr. William L. Heiser during his installation as Cristo Rey Jesuit High School’s second president, September 25, 2015
Good morning. I would like to begin by expressing my appreciation to all of you here today. I am humbled and honored for the opportunity to serve as the second president of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. I would like to thank Fr. Provincial Robert Hussey, Wayne Gioioso, and the entire board of trustees for their confidence and trust in my leadership.
I am so grateful that my family is here this morning to celebrate this special day. Thank you to my wonderful wife, Tracy, for her love and support as I take on this new exciting role. Tracy and I met at Loyola University Maryland during our freshman year in 1991 and were married 17 years ago in the Loyola chapel. There is no question that God was watching over me when we met so many years ago.
I’m happy that our two sons, Caden and Conlan, are here this morning. I am so proud of both of you and love you very much. Thank you also to my dad, my brother, Karl, other family members, and my close friends and colleagues from surrounding area Catholic and independent schools for being here to celebrate this special occasion.
Special thanks to the Installation Planning Committee for coordinating a beautiful celebration today. And to the entire faculty and staff,please know how much I appreciate your supporting my transition to Cristo Rey. I am inspired by the love and compassion you show each day for our students and each other. It is an honor to have the opportunity to work with all of you.
Cristo Rey Jesuit High School is built on the strongest of foundations. We are grateful to be sponsored by the Maryland Province of Jesuits. The Jesuits have been internationally recognized educators for more than 450 years, and have been engaged in education in Baltimore since 1852. Thank you to our Jesuit partners around the country, especially here in Baltimore with St. Ignatius Church, Saint Ignatius Loyola Academy, Loyola Blakefield, and Loyola University Maryland. At this time, please join me in thanking the entire Jesuit community, particularly the Jesuits that are celebrating Mass with us this morning.
Students, it is a privilege to serve each of you. Together, we will continue to build a great Jesuit school that you can take pride in while at CRJ and beyond. I encourage you to remember the Latin word “Magis,” meaning “more” or “better.” Christ calls us to do more for him, and therefore doing more for others. May your daily actions and decisions be guided by this one important word. Thank you for all that you do, each and every day. All of our guests today are inspired by your shining example of what is possible in cities across our country.
I would like to congratulate our freshmen from the Class of 2019. You received a cross today to carry with you during your journey while attending Cristo Rey Jesuit and the years that will follow. The cross is a symbol of Christ’s presence in our lives. Through all the highs and lows you experience, Christ will be with you. Cristo Rey is not just a Catholic school, it is a Jesuit School. For all of our students, when you graduate from Cristo Rey Jesuit you will leave as men and women for others. Your education will be rooted in service, justice, and the expectation that you will continue to strengthen your mind, body, and character. Remember that whatever you go through, God is always with you.
Today, gives us an opportunity to look back at past accomplishments, take review of where we are, and look forward to a new path for an inspiring future. In the year ahead, Cristo Rey Jesuit will develop an ambitious strategic plan that will guide our school for the next five years. We will continue to provide a quality, Catholic college preparatory education. Our students will acquire business and leadership skills as they work in corporations and non-profits across the Baltimore region through our innovative Corporate Internship Program. CRJ is so fortunate to have the support of so many people. Thank you to our benefactors and corporate partners – we are so grateful for your generosity and commitment to our school.
There is no doubt that Cristo Rey Jesuit High School has had an incredible impact on so many lives in such a short period of time. The Cristo Rey Jesuit experience is transformational in every sense of the word. From preparing and inspiring 100% of our graduates to be accepted to college, to building a leadership pipeline for 360 students each year in various jobs and industries, to opening a dialogue between diverse communities, to deepening the faith of our students, faculty and staff.
Cristo Rey Jesuit will continue to build bridges across Baltimore to connect students, families, business leaders, universities, and community members. Every bridge we build will lead to a brighter future for our students and the city of Baltimore. Cristo Rey Jesuit will continue to lead from the front and we are grateful for those who are inspired by our mission and will join us on this journey.
As a community, we will focus on the valuable roles of service, justice and solidarity. Pope Francis encourages us to follow Christ’s example, and go beyond our comfort zones. We are called to be men and women for others, and in the words and actions of St. Ignatius of Loyola, “Go forth and set the world on fire.”
“Act as if everything depended on you; and trust as if everything depended on God.”
Thank you and may God bless the entire Cristo Rey Jesuit High School community.