April 22, 2016

Assemblymember Rob Bonta Shares His Passion for Government


State Assemblymember Rob Bonta, the first Filipino American state legislator in the history of California, met with AP Human Geography students on April 15 to discuss city planning, urban geography and more.

Elected to the Assembly’s 18th District in 2012, Bonta represents the cities of Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro. His daughter, Reina, is a junior at O’Dowd.

Bonta talked with students about his efforts to increase California’s minimum wage, first to $10 an hour, and then last month to $15 an hour – the highest in the nation until New York followed suit hours after California’s bill passed.

“Today, we passed a transformational measure that reflects a core value I believe all in this chamber can agree with: If you work hard, and play by the rules, you should be able to take care of yourself and your family,” he said after the bill was passed.

Other topics he touched on included the environment, affordable housing, immigration, and racial discrimination and profiling.

Kameela Hall ’18 said Bonta addressed many important and eye opening topics throughout his discussion, and was very keen to share the solutions and positive future for the Bay Area. “Mr. Bonta’s key points encouraged me to become more involved in the creation of solutions and new ideas for our community,” she said.


Last year, Bonta co-authored a bill (AB 953) with Assemblymember Shirley Weber that seeks to eliminate racial profiling by requiring the establishment of a uniform system for collecting and analyzing data on law enforcement-community interactions, and establishing an advisory board to investigate profiling patterns and practices and provide recommendations on how to curb its harmful impact.

Controversy comes with the territory. It’s a place I’m happy to be if it’s doing the right thing

He is currently working on a bill that would require the state to come up with a plan to provide free, universal higher education to all Californians “just as we do at the K-12 level.”

Bonta acknowledges his efforts aren’t always embraced by all. “Controversy comes with the territory. It’s a place I’m happy to be if it’s doing the right thing,” he said.

Bonta said he always had a desire to serve due, in large, part, to his parents’ commitment to social justice. His father was involved in the Civil Rights Movement and stood with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., marching for equality and justice in Selman. His mother was and continues to be a long-time leader in the Filipino social justice movement.

Bonta grew up in a trailer just a few hundred yards from César Chávez’s home and watched as his parents organized Filipino and Mexican American farm workers.

As a result, one of the first bills Bonta introduced upon being elected to the Assembly required the contributions of Filipinos to the farm labor movement – which have been historically underemphasized – to be taught in schools.

Prior to being elected to the Assembly, Bonta worked as a Deputy City Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco, and served on the Alameda City Council and as Vice Mayor of the City of Alameda.

Bonta currently serves as Chair of the Assembly Health Committee, the Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security Committee, and the Co-Chair of the Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color in California. He is also a member of the following committees: Appropriations, Budget, Budget Subcommittee No. 1 on Health and Human Services, Joint Legislative Budget, and Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management.

April 14, 2016

Students Participate in Civil Rights Sojourn to the Past

Last month, members of O’Dowd’s Black Student Union (BSU) including Clayton Crowell ’16, Michaela Guinn ’17, Isabel Hallock ’17, Sydney Lewis ’17, Nia Moten ’17, Payton Silket ’16 and Bri’Aun Randolph ’18, along with Hailey Tom ’19 and teacher Mary Kamian departed SFO on a trip with Sojourn to the Past, a unique, transformative academic immersion program that takes students on a moving journey along the path of the civil rights movement. The students toured historic sites and battlegrounds along with other middle and high school students from all over the United States. Moving parts of the experience were face-to-face meetings with Elizabeth Eckford, a member of the Little Rock Nine, the family of Vernon Dahmer, a member of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Simeon Wright, Emmett Till’s cousin, and Minnijean Brown Trickey, an environmentalist and civil rights activist whose message to the students was strong but simple; young people have the power to make a difference in the world.


This is the second time Payton has attended Sojourn. Last year, he was the only O’Dowd student to take the journey and his experience was limited to his knowledge of Black history. This year, he said the teachings of the trip made him realize that the Civil Rights movement was not just about Black history but everyone’s history and included people from all walks of life and color who worked to change the face of history.

The 2017 trip will be scheduled during our spring break. Look for announcements in the next school year. Read more about Sojourn to the Past and if you have any questions, please feel free to contact Mr. Turner or Mrs. Green.

April 7, 2016

Adam Grant: The surprising habits of original thinkers

How do creative people come up with great ideas? Organizational psychologist Adam Grant studies “originals”: thinkers who dream up new ideas and take action to put them into the world. In this talk, learn three unexpected habits of originals — including embracing failure. “The greatest originals are the ones who fail the most, because they’re the ones who try the most,” Grant says. “You need a lot of bad ideas in order to get a few good ones.”

April 4, 2016

Vote for O’Dowd as Best Private High School!

Bishop O’Dowd High School is one of the nominees on the ballot in Oakland Magazine’s Best of Oakland and the East Bay contest for Best Private High School. Voting runs through May 31. Vote for O’Dowd now (under Lifestyle & Leisure category) towards the very bottom of the form. Click to vote »

Power user shortcut: Use CTL+F or CMD+F bring up your browser’s page search function. Type in “Bishop” then press enter to jump directly to our location in the ballot.

Charity By Design Event Supports Potters for Peace

The student activities department is hosting an evening at Alex and Ani in
Emeryville on Wednesday April 20 in support of Potters for Peace. Parents,
staff and students can shop this evening and mention Bishop O’dowd and a portion of the sale will be donated.


March 16, 2016

Judson Brewer: A simple way to break a bad habit

Can we break bad habits by being more curious about them? Psychiatrist Judson Brewer studies the relationship between mindfulness and addiction — from smoking to overeating to all those other things we do even though we know they’re bad for us. Learn more about the mechanism of habit development and discover a simple but profound tactic that might help you beat your next urge to smoke, snack or check a text while driving.

March 10, 2016

Thomas Peschak:Dive into an ocean photographer’s world

Somersaulting manta rays, dashing dolphins, swarming schools of fish and munching sharks inhabit a world beneath the ocean’s surface that few get a chance to see. “You can’t love something and become a champion for it if you don’t know it exists,” he says. Join Peschak in a new, immersive TED Talk format as he shares his stunning work and his dream for a future of respectful coexistence with the ocean.

March 4, 2016

$7,136 Raised for Potters for Peace


Here are the final standings for the Mission Drive 2016:

In 5th Place having raised $322 in positive change, and attracting $57 in sabotage are the Faculty for a total of $265

In 4th Place having raised $1,203 in positive change, and attracting $187 in sabotage are the Seniors for a total of $1,016

In 3th Place having raised $1,120 in positive change, and attracting $45 in sabotage are the Sophomores for a total of $1,075

In 2nd Place having raised $1,812 in positive change, and attracting $192 in sabotage are the Freshman for a total of $1,620

In 1st Place having raised $1,747 in positive change, and attracting $73 in sabotage are the Juniors for a total of $1,674! who in the last minutes of 2nd lunch on Friday took the lead from the freshman!

In TOTAL as a school – counting both positive and sabotage together – we have raised $7,136

 Thank you to everyone for your generosity! We hope you had fun this week – and we are so glad that we could support the work of Potter for Peace to get clean water to people who need. With O’Dowd’s help Potters for Peace plans to help local potters set up 20 new water filter manufacturing plants around the world.


March 1, 2016

O’Dowd’s Next Principal Selected

J.D. Childs Succeeds Retiring Pam Shay

A collaborative leader and forward-thinking educator with strong roots in Catholic education has been selected as the next principal of Bishop O’Dowd High School.

President Steve Phelps announced on March 1 that James “J.D.” Childs has been named principal effective July 1, 2016. Childs will be the 13th principal to lead O’Dowd since the school’s opening in 1951.

Childs was selected after a comprehensive search process involving a committee comprised of Board of Regents, administration, faculty, parents, and Diocesan and community representatives, and with the approval of Bishop Michael Barber, S.J. He succeeds Pam Shay who announced her retirement last November.

“The Principal Search Committee was impressed with J.D.’s extraordinary track record of success and impact in Catholic education through his over 20 years of service as a teacher, spiritual leader, author and principal,” committee chair and O’Dowd Board of Regents chairperson Kim Walsh said. “He is a proven leader in a Catholic high school setting with a strong commitment to academic and operational excellence and a culture of inclusion and compassion. We enthusiastically welcome J.D. to the O’Dowd community!”

Childs has served as principal of Mission Prep High School in San Luis Obispo since 2007, and was appointed president of the school in 2014. He’s led and directed all aspects of the school, including curriculum and instruction; Catholic mission and vision; student counseling and support; finance and development; admissions; campus culture and leadership; technology leadership; pastoral guidance and community partnerships; personnel management; alumni partnerships and volunteerism; strategic planning; facilities innovations and faculty empowerment.

He previously served as both the Campus Minister and a theology and philosophy teacher at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, North Carolina, and as a religion teacher at Marian High School in Mishawaka, Indiana, where he was recognized as Teacher of the Year and coached the school’s mock trial team to an Indiana state championship.

Childs said he was compelled to pursue the opportunity at O’Dowd because of the inspiring vision articulated and enacted by school leadership, faculty and staff, and the student and parent community. “Bishop O’Dowd High School is a vibrant, creative, diverse community that presents exciting challenges and opportunities for Catholic school educators. I want to be a part of the O’Dowd team and to play a role in continuing the momentum and enthusiasm enjoyed by the school,” he said.

And he’s excited to become a student of O’Dowd’s culture. “Coming from afar, I’ll have the unique opportunity to see things with fresh eyes, helping community members identify what the school does best and where its aspirations point. With that insider information, I will pursue a collaborative approach to creating the conditions in which it’s easiest for people to be good – to each other and for the world in which we live. Ours is a formative task in Catholic education and Bishop O’Dowd High School represents the kind of community where education of the heart, mind, and soul can best occur. I’m thrilled to partner with O’Dowd’s leadership, teachers, coaches, staff, parents and students to lead with love,” he said.

Childs earned both a bachelor’s degree (triple major in English, Theology and Philosophy) and master’s degree (Theological Studies, with a specialization in Systematic Theology) from the University of Notre Dame. He also holds a master’s degree in Catholic School Leadership.

He is the co-author and co-editor of The Catholic Spirit, Discovering Faith through Literature, Art, Film, and Music (2010) and Great Catholic Writings (2006), and has taught and delivered speeches at various workshops and conferences throughout the country.

Childs and his wife, Kate, have four children, ages 14, 11, 8 and 3. The oldest will be a member of O’Dowd’s class of 2020.

Kai Morton ’17 Wins Computing Award


As a youngster, Kai (Ayanna) Morton was obsessed with video games.

Annoyed that her daughter was spending so much time gaming, Kai’s mom, Kimberley Bryant, sought to expand her daughter’s horizons by encouraging her interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). So she enrolled Kai in a weeklong summer Tech Camp at Stanford University, where Kai got a taste of programming, game design, robotics and more.

The experience was life-changing for both mother and daughter. Kai discovered a new passion – computer science. And Bryant, upon noticing the lack of girls and people of color in the camp, founded the non-profit BlackGirlsCode to teach girls of color computer coding and promote STEM education. Bryant recently won a TechCrunch Include Diversity Award for her work as CEO and founder of the company.

And Kai recently won a National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Affiliate Award for Aspirations in Computing. She will be presented her award at a ceremony that will be held on Saturday, April 30, at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.

These awards seek to build a talent pool for the growing technical workforce and help academic and corporate organizations celebrate diversity in computing by honoring young women at the high-school level for their computing-related achievements and interests.

Award recipients are selected based on their aptitude and aspirations in technology and computing; leadership ability; academic history; and plans for post-secondary education. Winners and runners-up of the award get exclusive access to opportunities, such as jobs and scholarships, from NCWIT members.

In her application for the award, Kai had to write an essay describing an invention that would change the world for the better. She proposed the creation of an app that would protect girls and women from sexual assault. “There would be a sensor connected to your phone and if you felt like you were in danger you could click on the sensor and it would alert the authorities or your ICE (in case of emergency) contacts,” she said. “There are so many wearables today, so it makes sense to incorporate safety aspects in them.”


Pursuing Her Passion

Kai is a member of the Robotics Team at O’Dowd, participating with her teammates in various competitions including the Pioneers in Engineering (PiE) Robotics Competition at UC Berkeley. She took computer programming as a sophomore and is enrolled in AP computer science this year.

Away from school, Kai works as an intern at the California Academy of Sciences. As a member of the TechTeens team last fall she worked with Academy experts to explore current science issues, learned how to design science games, and created games to share with the public. This semester she’s a member of the Science Game Team that is working to develop and prototype science games to educate the public about the research done by Academy scientists.

Kai acknowledges that when she was younger it was hard to find role models in the computer science field that looked like her, and it was sometimes hard to keep plugging away.

“There are programs and organizations now that are creating a pipeline for people of color and women in the tech industry,” she said.

Her advice to young girls who have an interest in computer science? “Go for it! When I was 10, I didn’t think I’d like programming. But when I saw I could create things I loved with computer science I changed my mind. And the field is so versatile – biologists, chemists, and people working in so many other fields use computer science. There will always be an opportunity for you to use those skills,” she said.

Looking ahead, Kai hopes to attend MIT and major in computer science, with a minor in video game or web design. Ultimately, she hopes to work in the video game industry as the CEO of her own company.

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Finding God in All Things

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