July 22, 2014

O’Dowd Delivers Mission Drive Funds to Typhoon Haiyan Victims

Campus Chaplain Fr. Gerald Pedrera hand-delivered a check for more than $9,000 to Fr. Francisco and Ms. Maricel in the Philippines recently. These funds were raised during the 2014 Mission Drive for Typhoon Haiyan victims, and will allow for the purchase of fishing boats and nets. Fr. Gerald also brought them a T-shirt that the Filipino Club sold to raise funds during the Mission Drive.

July 17, 2014

“Speak Up!” Summer Debate Program Wraps Up with Awards Ceremony

Caitlin Walsh ’14, Sean Walsh ’16, and Nathan Woods ’15 hosted “Speak Up!”, a free summer debate program for middle school students in Oakland Diocese schools including St. Liz, St. Jarlath and St. Anthony. At the end of the camp, students received an encouraging critique and awards for their work.

Photo by Lisa Coffey-Mahoney

Photo by Lisa Coffey-Mahoney

Photo by Donovan Rittenbach

Photo by Donovan Rittenbach

Photo by Donovan Rittenbach

Photo by Donovan Rittenbach

Photo by Donovan Rittenbach

Photo by Donovan Rittenbach

July 8, 2014

Western Catholic Education Association Official Letter

Dear Parents, 

We have good news!  After our 18-month accreditation process, we have received our full six-year term of accreditation from the Western Catholic Education Association (WCEA).   A six-year term is granted when a school earns high marks in the areas for academic excellence, Catholic identity, co-curricular programs, student support, and effective strategic planning and fund raising.

The attached letter, which is also posted on our website, affirms the professionalism, care, and commitment to moral and spiritual education of our faculty, staff and school leaders. This six-year term is further supported by outstanding student achievement and the support of our parents. 

Thank you!

Pam and Steve

Download the WCEA Accreditation Letter »

June 30, 2014

AP Psych Students at Major Conference

by Sarah Bremer

A group of AP Psychology students recently attended the American Psychological Science Convention in San Francisco.  There, they listened to lectures on cutting-edge research and engaged in conversation with graduate students presenting their work at poster sessions.   Several students also had the opportunity to participate in round-table discussions with world-renowned psychologists.  Lisette Manriquez, a graduating senior planning to study psychology at UC Merced, talked to Stanford Professor Carol Dweck about her experiences with high school teachers with various types of mindsets.  Meanwhile, junior Latrel Powell joined graduate students in a discussion with UC Berkeley’s Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Claude Steele and junior Natalie Stroud learned about emotion expert Paul Ekman’s recent research on compassion.  

Visit APS convention website »

June 29, 2014

All Updates Regarding Diocesan Teacher Contracts

SF Gate – Oakland bishop puts morality clause thoughts in writing

Read the SF Gate’s assessment of the contract situation »

June 30, 2014

Dear Community members,
After Bishop Barber met with representatives of our faculty, administration and students at the end of May, we committed to send you the Bishop’s promised letter clarifying the intent of new language in the Diocese of Oakland employee contract.  The letter below is the result of a three-week collaborative and pastoral process in which the Bishop sought feedback and advice from people in our community and elsewhere in the Diocese. There is also a letter from our school leadership that provides context and additional information about the contract, our support for it, and the need to devote our full attention to the education of our students.
We sincerely hope that these letters reassure you that the O’Dowd you know and love will continue to serve the educational, personal and spiritual needs of our students.  Please call or e-mail us if you have any questions.
Steve Phelps and Pam Shay

Statement from the Bishop June 27, 2014

Download the Bishop’s Letter to the community »

Statement from O’Dowd Administration June 30, 2014

Dear Parents,

As promised last month, we are providing clarification, sent to us today by Bishop Barber S.J., of the intent of the new language in the Diocese of Oakland employee contract. When he met with representative groups of O’Dowd faculty and staff and students on May 27, the Bishop promised to issue the attached letter to relieve any anxiety caused by the revised contract language and to reaffirm his commitment to a conversation that could refine the language for the 2015-16 contract.

Bishop Barber was quite clear in his discussion with us that his intent is not to scrutinize the private lives of Catholic school employees nor is he asking Catholic school administrators to do so.Instead, he is introducing language that asks employees who share in the teaching ministry of the Church to reflect on how they can best be role models to students, and how their respect for and alignment with Catholic teachings can be a credible witness to our mission.

He is concerned that no one in service to Catholic education compromises the right of the Church to proclaim its teachings to our students and families by publicly promoting views or taking actions inconsistent with those teachings. As senior leaders of Bishop O’Dowd High School, we understand and support Bishop Barber’s desire for our instruction to reflect our Catholic identity and uphold the teachings of the Church in matters of faith and morals.

The Bishop understands that individuals may have differing views about the language used in the contract. He simply wants those who are in the employ of the Church to showrespect for the

Church’s traditions and be prudent in the conduct of their lives so that they not bring discredit to our school community or the Diocese of Oakland.

For many years, we have included language in our employee handbook that is very specific in this regard. Our faculty and staff havelong understood that their private lives should not intrude in the classroom and that their behavior outside the classroom should not reflect poorly on Bishop O’Dowd HighSchool. For this reason, we can assure you that our school community will not fundamentally change because of the new contract language.

We appreciate and support Bishop Barber’s attached letter and welcome his commitment to take this ongoing conversation into account in refining the contract language for the 2015-16 contract.

We are proud that O’Dowd is a dynamic and exciting Catholic college preparatory community of faith. We have a new strategic plan to implement and nearly 1,200 wonderful students and their families to serve. We are focused on fulfilling our mission of providing an excellent Catholic education, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with the Bishop in the spirit of Christ, which is the spirit

of love for each student and all in our community.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can provide additional clarification for you on this matter.

May you find God and joy in all that you do this summer!

Steve Phelps Pam Shay Glen Hentges Kim Walsh
President Principal Board Chair Board Vice Chair

June 16, 2014

One Book, One Community – The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, a country where magic ruled and modern science was mystery. It was also a land withered by drought and hunger. But William had read about windmills, and he dreamed of building one that would bring to his small village a set of luxuries that only 2 percent of Malawians could enjoy: electricity and running water.

In 2002, his country was stricken with a famine that left his family’s farm devastated and his parents destitute. Unable to pay the $80-a-year tuition for his education, William was forced to drop out and help his family forage for food as thousands across the country starved and died.

His neighbors called him misala-crazy-but William refused to let go of his dreams. With a small pile of once-forgotten science textbooks, some scrap metal, tractor parts, bicycle halves, and an armory of curiosity and determination, he embarked on a daring plan to forge an unlikely contraption and small miracle that would change the lives around him.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a remarkable true story about human inventiveness and its power to overcome crippling adversity. It will inspire anyone who doubts the power of one individual’s ability to change his community and better the lives of those around him.

Watch his popular TED Talks

2007 TED Talk by William Kamkwamba: How I Built a Windmill

2009 TED Talk by William Kamkwamba: How I Harnessed the Wind

Info for Students – Student Reading Assignment

One Book, One Community Project
Bishop O’Dowd High School

What’s the assignment?

All students are expected to have read The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind before arriving on campus for the fall 2014 semester. There is no written assignment during the summer, although you may want to research the author to provoke your thinking about the book.

How will I use this book?

You will be involved in classroom discussions about the book in your classes as well as have the opportunity to attend theme-related events on campus. You will be tested in your Religion class on the first day of school to make sure that you read the book. The test will consist of straightforward objective questions on significant events from the book.

How do I obtain a copy of the book?

The book will be available through www.bishopodowd.bkstr.com. You are welcome to purchase the book through a bookstore of your choice.
A Great Good Place for Books in Montclair will provide a 20% discount for the Bishop O’Dowd High School community.

6120 La Salle Avenue
Oakland, CA. 94611

What are the product details?

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
ISBN: 978-0-06-173032-0
Subtitle: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope
Author: William Kamkwamba
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 266

June 3, 2014

Ray Kurzweil: Get ready for hybrid thinking

This man is a MAJOR thinker out of MIT.

Two hundred million years ago, our mammal ancestors developed a new brain feature: the neocortex. This stamp-sized piece of tissue (wrapped around a brain the size of a walnut) is the key to what humanity has become. Now, futurist Ray Kurzweil suggests, we should get ready for the next big leap in brain power, as we tap into the computing power in the cloud.

Commencement 2014

Bishop O’Dowd High School’s 60th Commencement was held on Sunday, June 1, at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre of the Arts.

On May 30, members of the Class of 2014 and their families gathered in the large gymnasium for the Baccalaureate Mass, concelebrated by Fr. Jay Matthews, a member of the O’Dowd Board of Regents, O’Dowd Chaplain Fr. Gerald Pedrera and Fr. Steve Dos Santos, the uncle of Maddi Dos Santos ’14.

At the Commencement, Olivia Bernadel-Huey delivered the valedictory address, while Yishan “Ethan” Wang gave the salutatory address.

Former Vice President for Advancement Michael Petrini was presented with a Cor Unum Award, and made brief remarks.

Named for the school’s motto, “One Heart in Christ,” the Cor Unum Award is Bishop O’Dowd High School’s highest honor. It is presented each year to select members of the O’Dowd community whose lives and work embody the core values of leadership, service, social justice and intellectual competence expressed in the school’s mission.

Several students received special awards during the Commencement Exercises.

Olivia Bernadel-Huey and Dominic Drury received the General Activity awards, presented to students who are distinguished by scholarship, excellence in conduct and outstanding devotion to Bishop O’Dowd High School through participation and demonstrated leadership in extra-curricular and co-curricular activities.

Lucas Cortez, Polina Goncharova and Shelley Valdez received the Loyalty awards, presented in recognition of their consistent support to the student body, staff and parents in carrying out activities, and their willingness to give of self in terms of service.

Scholar-Athlete awards went to Bakare Awakoaiye and Caroline Dessler for distinguishing themselves through consistent excellence in academics and athletics, and demonstrated good sportsmanship on the athletic field.

Bakare Awakoaiye and Haily Peters received the Regents’ Award, given to the seniors who most exemplify the mission of Bishop O’ Dowd High School.

The members of the Class of 2014 will soon be headed to colleges and universities throughout the country. A complete listing will be included in the fall 2014 issue of The Dragon alumni magazine.


Click to download photos of diploma reception »

Click to download photos of taken in Paramount Theater Alley »

Click to download photos used in commencement slideshow »

Click to download Baccalaureate event photos by Lisa Coffey Mahoney »

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Creative Commons License

7 Things about Sondra Arnsdorf

What inspired you to do this kind of work?
My father was instrumental in guiding me into a rewarding career in education where we have the opportunity to teach, inspire, guide and support others. His career as a teacher began in Minneapolis. In the 60s, our family moved to Berkeley when he joined the faculty at Cal. After five years we moved East where he taught at the University of Delaware. Being part of a teaching family and community for that length of time had a positive impact on me.

What is your position here and how long have you worked at O’Dowd?
After working in Diocesan schools as a teacher (at St. Mary School in Walnut Creek and St. Anthony School Oakland), counselor (at St. Benedict School, St. Patrick School and St. Anthony School, all in Oakland), and principal (Our Lady of the Rosary in Union City and St. Leo School in Oakland), I joined O’Dowd in 1994 as an assistant principal. I’m now completing my 10th year as a dean.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received (generally – it doesn’t have to be related to O’Dowd)?
Work hard, do your best and be honest.

What is your favorite thing about your job?
Having students and staff tell us when they appreciate or are helped by our work.

What about your field or position do you think would surprise people the most?
Inevitably a situation arises that is new or not predicted.

What is the most interesting or surprising thing about you?
My bachelor’s degree was in Anthropology, followed by credentials/degrees in Education, Educational Psychology/Counseling and School Administration.

If you could rescue only one thing from your burning office, what would it be?
The pictures of students on the walls.

Bonus questions:
What is your favorite kind of music/what are your favorite bands?
I like classical, “oldies” and some jazz.

What is your favorite sports team or who is your favorite individual athlete?
Knowing very little about sports, I enjoy hearing about our O’Dowd graduates who are athletes.

Baccalaureate Event Photos

Click photo thumbnail to view full size. Full size images can be right clicked and downloaded.

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Finding God in All Things

9500 Stearns Ave | Oakland, CA 94605 | Phone: (510) 577-9100 | Fax: (510) 638-3259