July 30, 2015

Will the Pope Change the Vatican? Or Will the Vatican Change the Pope?

When about 7,000 awed strangers first encounter him on the public stage, he is not yet the pope—but like a chrysalis stirring, something astounding is already present in the man. Inside Stadium Luna Park, in downtown Buenos Aires, Argentina, Roman Catholics and evangelical Christians have gathered for an ecumenical event. From the stage, a pastor calls out for the city’s archbishop to come up and say a few words. The audience reacts with surprise, because the man striding to the front had been sitting in the back all this time, for hours, like no one of any importance. Though a cardinal, he is not wearing the traditional pectoral cross around his neck, just a black clerical shirt and a blazer, looking like the simple priest he was decades ago. He is gaunt and elderly with a somber countenance, and at this moment nine years ago it is hard to imagine such an unassuming, funereal Argentine being known one day, in every corner of the world, as a figure of radiance and charisma.

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June 30, 2015

Steve Silberman: The forgotten history of autism

Decades ago, few pediatricians had heard of autism. In 1975, 1 in 5,000 kids was estimated to have it. Today, 1 in 68 is on the autism spectrum. What caused this steep rise? Steve Silberman points to “a perfect storm of autism awareness” — a pair of psychologists with an accepting view, an unexpected pop culture moment and a new clinical test. But to really understand, we have to go back further to an Austrian doctor by the name of Hans Asperger, who published a pioneering paper in 1944. Because it was buried in time, autism has been shrouded in misunderstanding ever since.

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June 29, 2015

Susan Andres Assumes Director of Marketing Position

A seasoned marketing executive with experience in building and motivating teams, establishing clear road maps for success and supporting team members in achieving their goals, has joined Bishop O’Dowd High School as the director of marketing. Susan Andres replaces Nicki Shaw who departed her position this summer.

Andres’ experience will be significant as O’Dowd prepares to launch the next phase of a master plan that includes the purchasing of the adjacent 20-acre Seneca Reservoir site. The current plan is to relocate an athletic field on the site to gain additional space for new facilities on campus.

“Susan’s 25 year marketing background mixes her innovative non-profit marketing experience with her high level corporate marketing background. She shares O’Dowd’s core values and knows our challenges in this rapidly evolving market. She will add her voice to telling the story of O’Dowd’s authentically diverse, academically excellent, high character graduates,” O’Dowd President Steve Phelps said.

Andres is impressed by O’Dowd’s strengths on all fronts – academic, the arts, athletics, and the school’s focus on the moral development of its students.

Her immediate goals at O’Dowd are “to achieve a powerful and differentiating understanding of and appreciation for what O’Dowd delivers to its students and families and the world at large amongst current and potential stakeholders so that they can benefit from this knowledge and, of course, to support strong registration and fundraising numbers.”

Andres holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Stanford University. “It was a cross-disciplinary major that included studies in economics, political science, psychology, fine arts and other fascinating areas,” she said.

She most recently ran her own marketing consultancy, serving as a brand and marketing strategy consultant directly with and embedded with design agencies for leading local non-profits and sustainability-minded brands including the Nature Conservancy, WildCare, Cisco Corporate Social Responsibility, Habitot Children’s Museum, Environmental Forum of Marin and Stanford Summer Session.

Andres previously held executive leadership and consulting positions with leading for- and non-profits. After spending 10 years in the advertising world managing and directing accounts at agencies like Foote, Cone & Belding and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, she transitioned to the non-profit world where she served at the director level at The Marine Mammal Center and The Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association.

“Major achievements at all of my prior positions were to take brands to the next level of capacity and growth, from Levi’s Jeans for Women to The Nature Conservancy’s marine program,” she said.

Andres was initially drawn to marketing because it draws on her keen interest in merging strategy and creativity. “It can also be a powerful force for positive change when applied in the environmental and social arena,” she said.

A company or organization that is not brand and marketing focused is missing out on opportunities to achieve full capacity to deliver against its mission and goals, Andres said. “A powerful brand strategy sets the tone and content for shaping how the brand will be perceived and responded to and ultimately engaged with, and a marketing strategy is the delivery mechanism for getting this information out to key audiences and stakeholders,” she said.

Andres says the most rewarding aspect of marketing is unifying the organization under one powerful and differentiating connection with current and potential stakeholders that benefits both the brand and its stakeholders. “It’s a continuous circle not a one-way conversation and when that loop is created – both internally and externally – the potential for mutual benefit is unlimited,” she said.

O’Dowd’s First Marketing Director Nicki DeMarais Shaw ’81 Departing

O’Dowd’s first Director of Marketing, Nicki DeMarais Shaw ’81, who played a pivotal role in managing and coordinating the school’s marketing efforts, departed her position this summer.

For the past four years, Shaw has worked to establish a marketing driven approach to communications at O’Dowd. She provided oversight of the school’s “brand” identity, created and implemented a multitude of comprehensive marketing campaigns, supported the Admissions Department in student recruitment and retention efforts and the Advancement Department in increasing funding, and managed the school’s marketing/advertising budget.

She’s also identified, recruited, trained and supervised volunteers and teams to assist with the implementation of various aspects of marketing, served as a liaison to the Dragon Parent group, and offered her time and expertise to local Catholic elementary schools in need of marketing advice.

“Nicki set a standard of professionalism that made it easier for us to attract the wonderful students we have, and we were fortunate to have had her on our team for the past four years,” O’Dowd President Steve Phelps said. “While she will be missed as an employee, she will always remain a respected and loved member of our community.”

Prior to joining the O’Dowd staff in 2011, Shaw served on the strategic plan committee (2007-09) and on the Board of Regents (2009-11). She’s also been part of the parent community for the past six years as her children Gretchen ’13 and Andrew ’15 attended O’Dowd. “I had many different perspectives of our school, which was really nice to bring to the table,” Shaw said.

One of the initiatives Shaw is most proud of is her effort to drive a branding strategy/responsible positioning in response to the increasingly competitive student recruiting environment. “The process is going and it has great momentum,” she said. “We were able to start to identify how we should be talking to our various constituencies – some at the emotional level and others at the aspirational level – but always with a cohesive, positive institutional message.”

Shaw leaves O’Dowd with many fond memories. “I’ve always been very proud to say I’m an alum, a parent and an employee,” she said. “I think O’Dowd is an amazing place for kids to grow, and there’s that continuing commitment to keep growing in its richness.”

Added Shaw, “Everybody on staff here takes on more than they have time for and offers ideas and criticisms in a constructive way. I do truly feel that I’ve been blessed to work with everyone.”

Shaw’s immediate plans include spending time with her children this summer before they head off to college. And, she’s excited about having the time to explore other career opportunities starting next spring.

June 5, 2015

Summer Construction in Full Swing

The O’Dowd campus has been the site of much activity this summer, with several major construction projects either completed or fully underway.

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An amphitheater, which will be used as a meeting and teaching space, is being constructed in the area in front of the Center for Environmental Studies. This project was made possible due to generous support of the Class of 2015 Gift Campaign, in which more than $57,600 was raised.

Solar panels are being placed to provide much needed shade for the classrooms while generating electricity to offset O’Dowd’s carbon footprint.

Most noticeable is the Quad lawn replacement project. The lawn was replaced with turf as part of O’Dowd’s sustainability effort to minimize our landscape water use.

The area between the library and main classroom building was expanded, resurfaced and realigned to allow for more parking and greater student traffic separation. As part of this project, ADA parking was added near the library.

Other projects underway include sewer system repairs and the installation of sunshade awnings on the main classroom building.

If you happen to be on campus please be extra cautious, remain clear of the construction areas and do not cross over the yellow safety tape.

May 29, 2015

Chicks and Bunnies Come to Living Lab

May 22, 2015

Book Buyback and Rental Book Check-In Event

Our annual book buyback and rental book check-in will be held Thursday and Friday, May 28 and 29, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the cafeteria.

Books have the most value when they will be used again next year at our school or at schools across the country. This is the best time of year to sell textbooks because demand is highest.

Buyback is important to our school and to Follett to build book inventory for next Fall. A book bought back from our families stays in the Follett “pool” of books, and then is available for the next student at a lower used-brook price.

Reminder: Any books rented from the bookstore are due by 6/6/2015. You can check in these books in-person at the buyback event, or log into your bookstore rental account, print a label and return by mail.

Get more information about our Book Buyback or our Book Program.

The booklist for next fall will be posted over the summer. Let the bookstore keep an eye on the calendar for you! Sign up for a reminder message when books become available.

If you have questions, or need help, contact Follett at (877) 827-2665 or K12CustomerService@fvb.follett.com.

May 21, 2015

Students enjoy fresh honey direct from hive – It doesn’t get better

Students enjoy honey fresh from the comb.

Bee Scales Wall O’ Honey

Rugby players love fresh honey.

Fresh cut honey right off the comb.

Mr. Koller approved honey.

Loco Bee Keeper wants you to stay away from his honey. JK

Clay Club Donates to Potters for Peace Clay Water Filter Program

The O’Dowd Clay Club recently donated $413 to the Potters for Peace Clay Water Filter Project. These funds were raised during the club’s Pottery Luck event held in March.

As stated from the Potters for Peace website:

Every year 1.7 million people, mainly children under the age of five, die from diarrhea which is caused by unsafe water. The objective of the Potters for Peace Water Filter Project is to make safe drinking water available by helping set up workshops that will produce ceramic water filters made from local materials. These filters are low-tech and low-cost and eliminate approximately 99.88% of water-born disease agents.

Since 1998, Potters for Peace has been assisting in the production of a low-tech, low-cost, colloidal silver-enhanced ceramic water purifier (CWP) throughout the world and ceramic water purifiers based on the Potters for Peace technology package are now produced at over 50 independent factories in over 30 countries. These filters are the highest-rated product for rural point-of-use water treatment (Smart Disinfection Solutions, 2010).

Here is a link for the video “Road to Hope” which shows the important work that Potters for Peace does.

The Clay Club is looking forward to next year as it plans for more fun and selfless service through the wonderful medium of ceramics.

Clay Club-The Clayiest Club on Campus

May 19, 2015

O’Dowd Students Help Raise $42k

Three O’Dowd students just completed terms on the East Bay Jewish Teen Foundation board. Meredith McCleary ’15 served for two years, and Maddy Farrington ’17 and Hannah Reback ’17 each served for one year on the 26-member board.

The Jewish Teen Foundation trains teens in philanthropy and achieving positive change guided by shared values. Over the course of the year, the teen board develops its own mission statement and requests proposals from non-profit organizations locally, nationally and internationally. This year’s mission was “to improve the health of disadvantaged individuals and communities through preventative education and direct action.”

After evaluating proposals and selecting recipients, the young boardmembers also raised all the money that funds the grants. This year, the EBJTF raised over $42,000 (a record amount), which was awarded to six different organizations in a Grant Celebration on May 14th. The recipients included two Bay Area organizations: one providing medical care to women and children, the other educating teens about healthy relationships and supporting victims of domestic violence; a social services agency in Washington D. C. working with Holocaust survivors living in poverty; and groups in Guatemala, Ukraine and Israel serving impoverished youth and families.

The girls all enjoyed the experience of having a positive impact on peoples lives, while working together and establishing friendships with other teens from communities across the East Bay.

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Finding God in All Things

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