August 26, 2014

Richard St. John: 8 secrets of success

Why do people succeed? Is it because they’re smart? Or are they just lucky? Neither. Analyst Richard St. John condenses years of interviews into an unmissable 3-minute slideshow on the real secrets of success.

Watch on

Honoring O’Dowd’s Top Supporters

Contributed by Caroline Desler ’14

O’Dowd parents, alums and others spent a lovely evening on the quad Aug. 24 in honor of their generosity and financial support of Bishop O’Dowd High School. All of the attendees enjoyed tasty food and drinks, wonderful company and beautiful weather while mingling with one another throughout the evening. Strategically located near the steps of the main lobby in Hurley Hall, home to the library and administrative offices, the event highlighted one specific aspect of O’Dowd made possible through philanthropy-the library.

President Steve Phelps began by welcoming the group, stressing the crucial role each person’s support plays in ensuring the maintenance and improvement of the school community-from the programs offered by O’Dowd to its various facilities. He was followed by O’Dowd librarian Annette Counts, who shared her excitement about the ever-changing and improving world of the modern library. “For kids today, the burden of research has shifted from getting their hands on the information to the more complex tasks of evaluating and organizing the flood of information,” Counts said. The Library, open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day of the school week, offers not only 13,000 books available to students, but subscriptions to dozens of online databases and periodicals as well.

Caroline Desler ’14 offered a student perspective, detailing the many projects she took part in throughout her four years that required the resources offered by the Library. From completing the animal project her freshman year to the infamous Junior Research Paper (JRP) as an upperclassman, Caroline explored the wide array of databases, periodicals and online programs that students are encouraged to take advantage of throughout their four year experience.

Of the knowledge that she has acquired from her time spent in the Library, Caroline said, “Mrs. Counts shared invaluable insight and skills with me that I will definitely use in college. I learned how to identify which sources were most reliable to use in my research, along with the best ways to maneuver the online databases and analyze different types of works.”

In addition, for Caroline and many other O’Dowd students, the physical space provided by the Library is just as important as the virtual dimension. “The Library is like a sacred sanctuary for students to de-stress and get away from the distractions presented by technology and social life. It’s a place of peace for quiet studying and learning, as well as a spot for group collaboration in the separate meeting rooms located toward the back of the space,” she explained. “The Library at O’Dowd is far from a thing of the past…both its physical and virtual presence is appreciated by all students.”

Lastly, Chief Advancement Officer Jeanne Jenkins announced O’Dowd’s new annual giving campaign “Transforming Lives.” She urged attendees to attend the Transforming Lives Dinner, set for Thursday, Nov. 13.

The night was a great success and wonderful tribute to many of those who support our community!

O’Dowd Students Participate in Community Service in Ghana

“This trip has truly changed our lives. It has opened our eyes to the importance of helping others and giving back.”

O’Dowd varsity soccer players Claire Attias ’16 and Alexa Hanson ’16 traveled to Takoradi, Ghana, over the summer, where they used their academic and athletic talents to help others.

Attias and Hanson, along with 10 teammates from the U17 ACC (Alameda-Contra Costa) Mavericks girls’ soccer team, volunteered at Basic Services Primary School, helping teach language and math classes, spent time with children at the Egyam Orphanage and promoted soccer in the local community.

The trip was organized by the Mavericks soccer club’s technical director and U17 head coach, Robert Sackey, a native of Ghana and the founder of Sabisoccer, an organization that provides soccer opportunities for underprivileged girls in Ghana. This was the fifth such goodwill trip he’s led to the country.

Sackey is the former head coach for Ghana’s U20 women’s soccer team, The Black Princesses, which qualified for the 2012 World Cup.

“This trip has truly changed our lives. It has opened our eyes to the importance of helping others and giving back,” Attias and Hanson said. “The children we met on this trip, who had close to nothing, were always full of joy and great appreciation for our visits. It has truly given us the gift of knowing how blessed we are for all we have. We feel we made a difference in Ghana and hope to go back.”

Attias and Hanson enjoyed experiencing the community’s rich history and vibrant culture, including traditional cooking, dance and drumming. “We ate a traditional dish called ‘fufu,’ which was vigorously mashed plantains and yucca plants. It was interesting,” Hanson said.

The girls participated in a year-long fundraising effort in which cash donations, soccer equipment and school supplies were collected for Basic Services Primary School.

The O’Dowd community joined in the effort by providing many pairs of cleats, jerseys and shorts, and the athletics department generously donated full sets of old soccer uniforms.

Prior to going to Ghana, Hanson partnered with Amelia Earhart Elementary School in Alameda to begin a pen pal project with the children at Basic Services Primary School. She worked with 50 first graders to write letters to the children in Takoradi and handcraft bracelets and book marks to be taken to Ghana.

Once in Ghana, Hanson and Attias assisted the Primary School students with reply letters to bring back to Amelia Earhart. Hanson is hoping this can be an ongoing project between the two schools.

Reflecting on her experience in Ghana, Hanson said, “It was so rewarding to be able to help others. It wasn’t just the donations – the children so appreciated our being there. You could tell it made their day.”

Added Attias, “It was a great experience all around. And I’m now so much more appreciative of everything I have.”

While in Ghana, the Mavericks played a friendly match with a local club team and participated in practices with local players.

August 21, 2014

Bishop of Sacramento Addresses Faith and Science Leaders

Bishop of Sacramento Addresses Faith and Science Leaders
On Wednesday, August 13, key leaders of the Ecological Society of America and faith leaders sat down to a Catholic Climate Covenant sponsored dinner, to explore ways in which faith and science can collaborate better to share the urgency of environmental problems—especially in light of the upcoming papal encyclical on the environment.

Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento offered a stirring talk outlining the intimate links between the Catholic faith, our natural world, and cosmological cycles. Although he acknowledged that advanced technology has done wonders for human thriving in many ways, Bishop Soto wondered: Have we become strangers to the planetary home that whirls around the sun as part of the galactic symphony God has orchestrated for his glory and our well-being? Read his full reflection here…

Check out past Sustainability News here

August 15, 2014

New Faculty and Staff for 2014-15

Bishop O’Dowd High School welcomed several new faculty and staff members in August, each of them bringing special talents and skills to share with our students. The increased number of new employees is due to several reasons – faculty and staff members retiring, moving out of state, going back to school, and becoming a stay at home mom.

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Zoey Adam ’09 joins the Science Department. Zoey earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Occidental College and is currently pursuing a teaching credential. She has served as a substitute teacher, tutor, water polo and lacrosse coach at O’Dowd during the past year. Zoey’s dad, Kip Adam, works in O’Dowd’s building operations department.


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Edmund Ankamah joins the Math Department. A native of Ghana, Edmund earned a bachelor’s degree in math, with a minor in economics, from U.C. Davis and a master’s degree in mathematics education from Columbia University. Most recently Edmund worked as a student teacher in New York and as an SAT math and algebra teacher at Fremont’s Elite Educational Institute. He previously worked as a math teacher at Envision School of Art and Technology in Oakland and at Making Waves Education Program in Richmond. In his free time Edmund enjoys playing and watching soccer.

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Juliet Arechiga ’93 joins the Counseling Department as a learning differences specialist. She was a triple major in Spanish language, history and comparative area studies at Duke University, and earned a master’s degree in school counseling from Trinity College in Washington, D.C. She completed additional coursework in special education at The American University and Johns Hopkins University. Most recently Juliet served as a counselor/learning disabilities coordinator at Holy Names High School. Her responsibilities included providing comprehensive personal, academic and college counseling services, creating individualized educational care plans for students with learning disabilities and developing and implementing study skills-intensive academic support programs. Prior to Holy Names, Juliet exclusively worked at specialized schools serving high school students with learning differences. Juliet was previously dean of students at Bayhill High School in Oakland, an assistant director/lead teacher at Raskob Day School in Oakland, and a high school teacher and college counselor at The Lab School of Washington, in Washington, D.C. Juliet’s mom, Ginny Arechiga, is the library assistant.

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Moire Bruin assumes the Admissions Associate position. Moire earned a bachelor’s degree in communication theory, and completed graduate coursework in human resources and organizational development, at the University of San Francisco. She also holds a certificate in parent educator training from the Center for Human Development. Most recently, Moire served as a staff assistant in O’Dowd’s Advancement Department. Previously, she held several roles at Mills College, including judicial coordinator, associate dean of students, and director of residential and commuting life, and served as a residence director at San Francisco State University and Northern Arizona University. She also worked as a co-instructor for a counseling and student development course at NAU.

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Molleen Dupree-Dominguez joins the Religion Department as an online course teacher. Molleen earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism, with minors in economics and political science, from University of Missouri. She holds a master of divinity from Berkeley’s Jesuit School of Theology. Most recently Molleen served as a campus minister and religious studies department chairperson at Holy Names High School. She previously served as an assistant director for residential service learning at St. Mary’s College of California, and as a youth minister and pastoral associate for St. Mary-St. Francis deSales Church in Oakland. Married to counselor Marc Dominguez, Molleen is also the web administrator for Holy Spirit Parish-Newman Hall in Berkeley.

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Sarah Durantini joins the Academic Support Department. Sarah earned a bachelor’s degree in communication, with a minor in special education and rehabilitation, from the University of Arizona. She holds a multiple subject teaching credential from San Francisco State University’s Bay Area Teaching Training Institute. Most recently Sarah served as a 6th grade math and science teacher and middle school advisor at Redwood Day School. She previously worked as an associate kindergarten teacher at Katherine Delmar Burke School in San Francisco.

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Tere Gallarreta joins the Campus Ministry and Religion Departments as a retreat coordinator. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Florida International University, and a master’s in theological studies from the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University (JST). She also holds a certificate in youth ministry studies. Teresa has more than 10 years of experience in ministry, including teaching high school students, planning and coordinating retreats, liturgies and service projects. Most recently Tere served as a senior administrative assistant for student life at the JST, and as a website administrator for Newman Hall Holy Spirit Parish in Berkeley. She previously worked as a director of youth and family ministry at a Catholic church in Florida and as a Hispanic outreach specialist for a Florida diocese.

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Leah Guillory joins the English Department. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature from University of Houston, and has more than 10 years of experience teaching various levels of English, as well as speech and debate, at the high school level. She’s halfway through a master’s degree in Literature, having completed 18 hours of graduate work from University of Houston as well. Leah holds a Pre-AP certification from Rice University, and is eager to pursue a doctoral degree in Rhetoric/Humanities with capstones in women’s studies in 2015 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Under her direction, a number of students have won many University Interscholastic League and Private Schools Interscholastic Association (Texas academic competition organizations) academic writing and speaking events.

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John Kohler joins the World Language Department as a Spanish teacher. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, with a minor in Latin American studies, at Lewis & Clark College, and holds a master’s degree in teaching from University of San Francisco. He also has a single subject clear credential in social studies and Spanish. Most recently John was a class dean and head of the foreign language department (middle school) and K-8 service learning director at Redwood Day School. He previously served as a district education manager for Sylvan Learning Centers and was the founder and director of a student summer abroad culture and language immersion program in Barcelona, Spain. He also worked as a Spanish teacher at The Menlo School in Atherton and The Athenian School in Danville.

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Kris Koller joins the Religion Department. Kris earned a bachelor’s degree in theology and philosophy at Boston College, and holds a master’s in systematic theology from the University of Notre Dame. Most recently Kris was the director of programs, services and volunteers at Trinity Church of Asbury Park in New Jersey. He has also worked as a high school English and religion teacher at Catholic high schools in New York, and completed an AmeriCorps Urban Teaching Fellowship at a charter public high school in Boston.

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Tom Kosic joins the Science Department. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from U.C. San Diego and holds a doctoral degree in chemistry from the University of Illinois. He has a single subject (chemistry and physics) teaching credential. Tom has more than 25 years experience in the aerospace and semiconductor industries, including working at Hughes Aircraft Co., and recently taught chemistry and chemistry fundamentals at James Logan High School.

Robin Lau is the new International Program Coordinator. Robin earned a bachelor’s degree in history from University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from the University of Akron School of Law. Most recently, Robin was a lead consultant at ThinkTank Learning in San Francisco, where she also served as a senior academic counselor and admissions consultant and a teacher. Robin also served as an undergraduate admissions alumni interviewer for the University of Pennsylvania. Robin is fluent in English, Mandarin and Spanish.

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Beth Mueller joins the Religion Department and will assist with the service learning program. Beth earned a bachelor’s degree in peace and justice studies from Marquette University, and holds a master’s of divinity from Santa Clara University’s Jesuit School of Theology (JST). Most recently, Beth served as a graduate assistant for the office of enrollment management and marketing at JST. She also worked as a graduate assistant for campus ministry and religious studies at Holy Names High School and assisted with retreats at Berkeley’s Newman Center. She also worked as a chaplaincy intern at Children’s Hospital of Oakland Research Institute and a youth support specialist at a Catholic youth center in Washington.

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Jessica Poole joins the Science Department. Jessica earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology at St. Mary’s College of California. Following St. Mary’s, Jessica completed more than two years of graduate work at Duke University, in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Division, before discovering that her passion was in working with/empowering our youth. Jessica first explored teaching through coaching soccer, serving as a head coach for the East Bay United Bay Oaks Soccer Club, in addition to coaching for Stanford University Women’s Soccer Youth Summer Camps. Most recently, Jessica served as a substitute teacher at O’Dowd and is the assistant coach of our varsity women’s soccer team

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William Van Doren joins the Math Department. William earned a bachelor’s degree in religion from Oberlin College and holds a master of divinity from Harvard University. Most recently William served as youth minister at Church of Our Saviour Episcopal Church in Mill Valley, and as a geometry, algebra II, precalculus, calculus and statistics tutor.

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Patrice Wakeley ’01 joins the Academic Support Department. Patrice earned a bachelor’s degree in English and history from the University of Miami, and holds a master’s degree in counseling from Loyola Marymount University. Most recently Patrice served as the Pathway to College and Career Coordinator for the East Oakland Youth Development Center. She’s worked for a variety of youth programs in California and Florida, providing program management and counseling.

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Meghan Bailey Wallingford ’89
joins the Counseling Department coordinating the Career Partnerships Program. Meghan earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology for the University of Oregon and has completed additional coursework in mediation and interpersonal communication. She has enjoyed a career in outside sales for companies including Lenox China, Waterford Crystal and KitchenAid. During the 2013-2014 academic year Meghan worked with the Advancement Department serving as Interim Director of Special Events. In addition to the Career Partnerships Program, Meghan will work with the Advancement department focusing on parent volunteer involvement.

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Demond Walker assumes the role of Associate Director of Admissions. Demond earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Northern Illinois University. Most recently he served as the Director of Community Education at University High school in San Francisco, working in the areas of diversity and inclusion, admissions, student support and student leadership. He also served as a classroom teacher and a coach. Previously Demond served as an education coordinator for a scholarship fund in Chicago, and worked as a math specialist for the Chicago Public Schools.

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Ming-Ching Wong joins the Science Department. Ming-Ching earned a bachelor’s degree in physiology, with a minor in anthropology, from McGill University, and holds a doctoral degree in developmental biology from the Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences at Cornell University. As a graduate student, Ming-Ching conducted research at the Sloan-Kettering Institute. Ming-Ching served as a postdoctoral fellow in Princeton University’s Department of Molecular Biology from 2009-2014. In this position, Ming-Ching mentored graduate and undergraduate students conducting independent laboratory projects, served as an instructor for a molecular biology course and a lecturer for a human genetics, reproduction and public policy course, and conducted research.

August 13, 2014

2014 BOD Fall Play Announced

The BOD Drama Department has announced the 2014 Fall play; One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Dale Wasserman, based on the acclaimed novel by Ken Kesey. Performance dates are scheduled for November 14, 15, 21, 22 at 8:00 PM, November 16 and 23 at 2:00 PM.

With an insane asylum standing in for everyday society, the play is a comically sharp indictment of the Establishment’s urge to conform. Playing crazy to avoid prison work detail, manic free spirit Randle P. McMurphy is sent to the state mental hospital for evaluation. There he encounters a motley crew of mostly voluntary inmates, including a cowed mama’s boy Billy and silent Native American Chief Bromden, presided over by the icy Nurse Ratched. She and McMurphy recognize that each is the other’s worst enemy: an authority figure who equates sanity with correct behavior, and a misfit who is charismatic enough to dismantle the system simply by living as he pleases.

Auditions for the play will be held August 25 at 2-5, August 26 and 27 at 3:30-6:30 with callbacks scheduled for Friday, August 29 at 3:30. All auditions will take place in the theater. If you have any questions, please contact Mr. Kohles.

August 12, 2014

Eco-Friendly School Supplies

Take action and be a part of the solution!
Your back-to-school purchases make a huge difference. Just look at facts about paper and pencils; according to the Green School Initiative, 14 billion new pencils (made with wood from ancient forests) are produced every year, and the average American student consumes about 660 pounds of paper each year (requiring millions of trees, and gallons of water and oil).

Start the year off on a “green” foot with environmentally friendly school supplies. Either reuse old supplies, or shop for eco-friendly and recycled supplies. Get started here:


Another way to be eco-friendly this year is to pack a waste-free lunch. Or even better, take advantage of Epicurean’s fresh, local, seasonal, and often organic food selection served daily at the O’Dowd cafeteria. Click here for more information.

Have a great start to the school year!

Click here to learn about O’Dowd’s Sustainability Initiatives

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 21, 2014

New Parent and Student Website Orientation


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By Donovan Rittenbach
O’Dowd Web Master and Videographer

“Don’t make me think”
- Steve Krug, Usability Expert

The following is an overview of key landmarks in the O’Dowd website. Hopefully this map will make your website experience more enjoyable whether you are a parent or student.

People who don’t read the manual miss out on important tidbits they’d never figure out on their own. This orientation definitely has some nuggets, including at least one gem that will change how you use EVERY website. It will cut the search time in many cases from minutes to seconds and mostly eliminate the need for reading to search. We will also tell you how to download most photos you find on the website.

The O’Dowd website is pretty large, but most people visit for the following purposes:

  • 1) Dragon Den – clothing and other apparel
  • 2) Administrative forms or documents
  • 3) School calendar and important event info
  • 4) Game schedules and locations
  • 5) School news
  • 6) Staff directory

The Most Important Content Locations

90% of your daily needs will be in one of the following locations:

1) Home page - A visual overview of events at school will be shown in the slideshow, which is updated often. Click the pictures to get stories or more photos. Many parents find this is a quick way to keep up with what’s going on at school.

The Home Page also has the Dragon Den, daily school calendar and basic news updates. Important school events throughout the year, like Fund a Dream, will be featured here. Videos of major event highlights are posted on YouTube, if you want to see skit, talent show or other performance highlights.

When clicked, the Calendar button reveals a listing of the various calendars available to parents. The School calendar has the day’s schedule such as silver, black and gold. You can click the Outlook or iCal links to download the calendar to your Mac or PC calendaring application.

2) Student portal - Important links to Dragonmail, Powerschool, Naviance, and Schoology are located here. Smart students will create bookmarks in their bookmark bar for easy reference. Then they won’t have to keep coming back to the portal to access these commonly used links. A weekly TED video is also featured to provide insight from the best and brightest. All performance videos and event photos will be found here.

3) Parent portal - The Parent portal has news and important forms. It contains directions on getting to school. It also contains links to Powerschool and Naviance, where you can follow student progress. This is where you find bookstore information, and any other reference information relevant to the all parents. In a moment I will share a tip for finding content on this page without reading.

4) Athletic page - Game times and schedules are on every athletics page. Coach contact info is on the page in the upper right hand corner. Weight room and weight training videos are an important part of this section.

General call for photography – We constantly need photography to update these sections. Parents are our primary source of this information since we can’t get to all games. We greatly appreciate parents who submit photos and I will make it a point to post them as quickly as possible and give credit. Photos should be clearly focused, well composed and have good lighting. We have a number of ways to get photos from you including email, Drop Box and more.

5) Staff Directory
This consistently ranks in the top ten site destinations. It contains all teacher contact info, as well as some personal insight into your child’s teachers.

You can organize the view by clicking one of the view options at the top of the page. The compact list is text only. The other items have pictures associated with them.

Course descriptions and bookstore info can be found on the Academics sidebar.

You Tube Channel
If there is a major event at school, it will usually be posted on the portal page. A selection of highlights is found by clicking on the YouTube button on the home page.

If you want to share a performance but can’t find it, try clicking on “View YouTube Channel”, to view all videos that have ever been posted.

Search Strategies

The two easiest ways to find what you are looking for (besides calling the front office) are:

1) Built In Google Site Search Engine- We use Google for our site search engine, and the results are as good as they come.

2) Don’t read pages to search – Use the Find command - If there is one thing you should remember from this tutorial, it’s this.

This trick will revolutionize how you use web pages. It is the fastest way to find any text item on a page, and will all but eliminate the need to read a page to find what you are looking for. It works on every browser on every platform and will cut your search time from minutes to seconds.

  • 1) Locate “Find” under the File menu. You can also press the keyboard shortcut CTRL+F(PC) or CMD+F(Mac).
  • 2) Type the word, or part of the word, you are looking for into the field that pops up. It’s better to start with a partial word rather than a full word to keep your options open.
  • 3) Press return. You can press return again and again to find the next time your word appears on page.

If you are searching for page text that is not hidden in a tab or contained in an image, the browser will highlight the word on the page.

You can also press CTRL-F/CMD-F again to move to the next instance of the search item, and thereby move rapidly through a page.

Here is an example. If you were looking for the word “Dragon” on the parent portal, you could search any part of the word including ‘drag’, ‘ragon’, or ‘agon’. ‘Drag’ would find dragging, but it would also find Dragon. ‘agon’ would find flagon and dragon.

It is better to search for a small string rather than a large one in some cases.

Can it search tabs? - Content is by default hidden in tabs. You can only search a tab using CTRL-F or CMD-F after the tab has been clicked and its content made visible.

Can it search dropdown menus? - Yes you can use the find command in a rollover menu that is visible.

More Tips

Home Page Shortcut - The O’Dowd logo, located at the top of every page, is a shortcut to the home page. This is a relatively common website standard but if you didn’t know about it, now you do.

How to Download Large Image Size
Most pictures on the website can be downloaded by right clicking on the thumbnail image, then selecting “Save Image As…”.

This works on Firefox, Chrome and Safari for certain.

Other Sources of School Information

Our iPhone/Android App
O’Dowd has an iPhone/Android based phone app that contains a lot of popular content including calendar information, all in one location. It is easily download from iTunes or Google’s app store.

Facebook and Twitter
We actively use social media. If you want the latest news about O’Dowd, these are good places to start.

You Tube Channel
If there is a major event at school, it will usually be posted on the portal page. A selection of highlights is found by clicking on the YouTube button on the home page.

If you want to share a performance but can’t find it, try clicking on “View YouTube Channel”, to view all videos that have ever been posted.

This weekly email contains much of what is on the website. It’s a nice way to scan school.

Web Site Contact
Donovan Rittenbach

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

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Finding God in All Things

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