November 20, 2014

Personal Symbols Class

In this design, students were given the task of choosing a person in their life (present or past existence) to honor in a descriptive, gathering, and artistic organization of personal symbols related to him/her.  An ink outline was distributed to the design, followed by an accent fulfillment with graphite, gray color pencil values, or color pencil. 

Click photo thumbnail to view full size. Images can be right clicked and downloaded at 1024px wide by 768px.

November 19, 2014

Jorge Soto: The future of early cancer detection?

Along with a crew of technologists and scientists, Jorge Soto is developing a simple, noninvasive, open-source test that looks for early signs of multiple forms of cancer. Onstage at TEDGlobal 2014, he demonstrates a working prototype of the mobile platform for the first time.

Hall of Famer Lou Brock Shares His Secret to Being the Best

Lou Brock stole a lot of bases during his nearly 20-year Major League Baseball career – 938 to be exact. But the legendary base stealer had an important piece of advice for O’Dowd students this week – “Do not let anyone steal your dreams.”

Brock was on campus Nov. 18 and met with students from several 7th period classes in the large gymnasium. O’Dowd parent Henry Loubet arranged for the impromptu visit.

Brock’s 938 stolen bases stood as the major league record until Ricky Henderson eclipsed the mark in 1991. Henderson finished his major league career with 1,406 stolen bases. But Brock remains the only base runner to steal 50 or more bases for 12 consecutive years and holds the record for Most Stolen Bases in the World Series with seven (twice).

Yet his storied baseball career was launched in rather happenstance fashion.

Though Brock played baseball in high school, he went to Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on an academic scholarship that stipulated he maintain a “B” average. Brock ended his first semester with a “C+” average and lost the scholarship.

“These are the times that you find out what you’re made of,” Brock said.

Brock learned that the university’s baseball players were only required to maintain a “C+” average to keep their baseball scholarships, so he decided to try out for the team. That was easier said than done.

“I was going to walk out on the baseball field and tell the coach that I was a baseball player. But nothing came out of my mouth,” Brock recalled.

He finally worked up the nerve to join another student who was shagging balls for the team, and hoped the coach would notice him. “The coach never talked to me,” he said.

One day, Brock collapsed from heat exhaustion on the field. While he was laying on the ground the coach came over and offered him a chance to take five batting practice swings. “I got up, said a prayer, and hit the ball as hard as I ever hit any baseball in 20 years in major league baseball. That day I was given a full athletic scholarship,” he said. “This was all because I didn’t say no (to the opportunity).”

In addition to sharing his personal story of success, Brock talked about the impact Curt Flood had on free agency and related stories about James “Cool” Papa Bell, considered by many to have been one of the fastest men to every play baseball.

After his formal presentation, Brock chatted with several O’Dowd baseball players and varsity baseball coach Chris Kyriacou.

David Kyriacou ’15 was impressed by how giving Brock was. “After he spoke to the classes, he gave myself and a couple of young baseball players a base running seminar,” he said.

Coach K was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet a baseball legend. “I was honored to be in the presence of greatness. My only regret was not having enough time to get my entire baseball team there,” he said.

November 18, 2014

Langston Walker ’97 Participates in Student-Athlete Speaker Series

A professional sports career can be a fleeting thing.

In the National Football League, for example, the average career spans less than three years. Offensive tackle Langston Walker ’97 bucked the odds, playing for 10 years – both with the Oakland Raiders and Buffalo Bills, before retiring in 2010.

Walker’s message to high school student-athletes set on pursuing a professional athletic career? “You better take school (and your education) seriously because that is the only thing that can’t be taken away from you,” he said.

Walker was the featured speaker in O’Dowd’s ongoing Student-Athlete Speaker Series, organized by the Academic Support and Athletic Departments. He met with students in the theater on Nov. 17 and touched on the topics of personal branding, networking and lifelong learning.

“You have to be disciplined in all aspects of your life – from what you eat, to what you post online, to paying your bills on time.”

“It starts here, it starts today. It starts by listening to (Director of Academic Support) Jase Turner, it starts by listening to Mr. Green and the rest of your teachers because they really want to help you,” Walker said.

Walker advised students to manage their time well, plan ahead, maintain personal responsibility and take advantage of their support systems – both at school and at home.

Having discipline is essential, he added. “You have to be disciplined in all aspects of your life – from what you eat, to what you post online, to paying your bills on time,” Walker said.

Turner said the purpose of the Student-Athlete Speaker Series is to introduce former O’Dowd student-athletes who have been successful with their “Plan B” to current students. “Being a former student-athlete myself, I took great pride in what I did off the field. My hope is that our students become inspired to work equally hard athletically and academically, because we all know we spend many more years as a former elite athlete than an elite athlete,” he said.

Walker earned a bachelor’s degree in economics at U.C. Berkeley, where he was a four year letterman on the football team, and is currently pursuing an MBA at St. Mary’s College of California.

Helping young people is something that gives Walker much satisfaction. “Being here today is important to me. I know it sounds cliché, but you guys are the future,” he said.

A member of the O’Dowd Hall of Fame Class of 2008, Walker still has a framed poem he was presented on the occasion, which he read aloud to the students.

“100 years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, what sort of house I lived in, what kind of car I drove, but the world may be different because I was important to the life of a child.”

November 17, 2014

Transforming Lives Dinner 2014

Event Surpasses Fundraising Goal

If you ever wondered if your gift to Bishop O’Dowd High School makes a difference, Francesca Kelly ’16 is ready to tell you it absolutely does.

Francesca had just completed third grade when her father, Stephen Kelly ’77, passed away suddenly. Her mom, Yvette (Cookie), had no idea how she would be able to continue to support her family and keep Francesca in Catholic school with only one income.

“When it came time for me to register for high school, my dream was to go to O’Dowd,” Francesca said, and follow in the footsteps of her dad, aunt, uncle, brother and cousins.

Thanks to the Transforming Lives financial aid program, Francesca was able to fulfill her dream. “It is your kindness, philanthropy and generosity that made my dream and those of hundreds of students here at O’Dowd possible, and for that I thank you,” she said.

Francesca was one of several speakers who shared their moving stories at O’Dowd’s inaugural Transforming Lives Dinner, attended by 220 people, which raised more than $200,000 for O’Dowd’s financial aid program. Former parents Don and Ellie Knauss were lead donors, offering a challenge match of $25,000.

This year, O’Dowd is providing more than $2.5 million in financial aid to more than 350 students who would not be attending our school without assistance. But that amount doesn’t begin to address the growing need for support.

M. Shawn Cunningham II ’16 still remembers the thrill of receiving his acceptance letter to O’Dowd, along with a financial aid offer that eased the tuition burden for his single mom.

“Looking back, that letter was critical to who I am becoming. I want to thank each of you for playing such a major role in allowing me to achieve my goals and take advantage of the great opportunities that O’Dowd has to offer,” he said.

Alumni Continue to Benefit From Financial Aid

Alumni who benefitted from financial aid say their O’Dowd education continues to impact them today.

Matt Hearns ’06, who works in operations and marketing at Uber, said that O’Dowd’s academic rigor, supportive community and culture of empathy helped form him into the person he is now. “I feel like I can be put into any situation and I’d do alright because I came from O’Dowd, he said. “I find myself, day after day, so lucky to have been part of this strong school.”

A Daughter of Charity for 48 years, Sr. Judith Gardenhire ’60 said that O’Dowd was a life-changing experience for her. “My faith was deepened because of the relationships I had with the priests, sisters and faculty who didn’t just teach us religion, they taught us by the way they lived their lives, by the way they treated us, by the way they talked to us, by the way they guided us,” she said. “I walked out of O’Dowd differently than the way I came in.”

Added Sr. Judith, “If there’s anything at O’Dowd that makes my heart sing it’s the fact that financial assistance is still part of the legacy of this school.”

It’s not too late to help deserving students. Visit our website to make an online gift.

You can watch videos of the guest speakers talking about the impact of an O’Dowd education here.

Click for event photos »

Former Governor Jennifer Granholm Speaks at O’Dowd

Former Governor of Michigan Jennifer Granholm met with Bonnie Sussman’s AP Government students on Monday and discussed politics and service.

Granholm was Michigan’s first female governor. Prior to her two-term (2003-2011) tenure as governor, Granholm served as the state’s first female attorney general (1998-2002). She’s currently a distinguished practitioner of law and public policy at U.C. Berkeley’s School of Law and Goldman School of Public Policy. She and her husband, Dan Mulhern, are the co-authors of “A Governor’s Story: The Fight for Jobs and America’s Economic Future.” They are also the parents of Jack Mulhern ’15.

Final Plea to Sussman’s AP Government Class

Most Interesting or Transformative Political Moment

Reasons for Low Voter Turnout in Youth

Watch more videos on our YouTube channel »

Actor Profile-Henry Loran

Shows at BOD

-Little Shop of Horrors

What is your favorite memory of BOD drama?

“You may remember that ginormous puppet plant musical last fall. I struggled with memorizing my lines. In fact, I didn’t know them until a week before the show. I was sweatin’ bullets, for sure. But when I got in front of our first audience, everything clicked. The scene ran so smoothly. There was a lot of excitement and hugging backstage after that. My prayers were answered.”

Describe your role in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

“Randall. P. McMurphy is an awesome character. He’s a hilarious and a rebel. He’s charismatic. He’s part conman, part comedian, with a little sly dog added to the mix. For my first lead, I couldn’t be happier playing this role.”

How does the play coincide with the BOD charism?

“The play takes place in a mental institution. The inmates and staff form a unique community of diversity. McMurphy tries very hard to bring social justice to that community.”

Why should students take drama at BOD?

“Without drama classes, I wouldn’t have a place for my outgoing personality. It’s the perfect place to clown around, create characters, play games, and still learn valuable skills for the future. Our drama department takes theater very seriously.”

November 14, 2014

Remarkable and Affordable – Get Xmas Gifts at Clay Club Sale Dec. 4

Looking for something special? Give the gift of high quality art. Come to the Clay Club December 4 and buy something really nice for that special somebody.

Download the brochure »

November 13, 2014

7 Things About Robin Lau

This is an installment in a series of profiles called “7 Things” about O’Dowd’s terrific faculty and staff that is regularly featured on our website. Visit to see more.

What inspired you to do this kind of work?

Culture has always fascinated me and encouraged me to learn more about both the world and myself. While I was born in the U.S. (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), my parents immigrated from Taiwan and Hong Kong. They were proud of their heritages, but chose to make their lives in the U.S., and therefore raised my siblings and me in a truly cross-cultural home. I liked feeling a little different! Later, multiculturalism underlay both my education and career. In college I majored in history with a focus on cultural imperialism. Later I worked at an immigration law firm for several years.

After a fairly circuitous path, I’ve found a place in education where I can make use of my multicultural experience. The purpose I feel in guiding young people and the inspiration they give me on a daily basis are without equal. I love looking through the eyes of our O’Dowd international students – their dreams, motivations, and life stories are so interesting and illuminating of an evolving generation and world. They have so much to offer to the diversity of culture and perspective on campus. They’re brave too. It’s always amazing to me that at 14 or 15 years old, they choose to move across the world to a place where most don’t know a single person and where they’re still learning the primary language. There is so much latitude in pushing boundaries for personal growth with the international students – it makes my job very exciting and meaningful.

What is your position here and how long have you worked at O’Dowd?

As the International Program Coordinator and Counselor, I provide academic, personal, and college counseling exclusively to the international students, and I also work with Admissions in recruiting and admitting internationals. This is my first year at O’Dowd.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received (generally – it doesn’t have to be related to O’Dowd)?

Don’t take yourself too seriously.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

Working with people I respect both professionally and personally.

What about your field or position do you think would surprise people the most?

People might be surprised by how connected I am with other parts of the school. I manage the international students’ experiences beginning to end, so I get to interact closely with every department at O’Dowd.

What is the most interesting or surprising thing about you?

No spoilers. You’ll just have to get to know me!

If you could rescue only one thing from your burning office, what would it be?

I’m fairly certain the emergency evacuation procedure doesn’t say anything about rescuing items of personal value, but I’d probably grab any files with original student writing.

Bonus questions:

What is your favorite kind of music/what are your favorite bands?

It’s hard to pick a favorite because I like so many kinds of music, but I think we can all agree that Prince is a musical genius.

What is your favorite sports team or who is your favorite individual athlete?

I will always love Kristi Yamaguchi!

November 11, 2014

O’Dowd Green Challenge (OGC) #3 – Consumption

– Challenge Due Date: Sunday November 16th, 2014
– Challenge written by S4S Committee Member: Julian Nesbitt

Background on Consumption

The world is full of Stuff! And of course with stuff comes waste…For example, picture the ride to school everyday. Have you every noticed all of the trash that litters the highways and sidewalks? There are numerous cups, cans, and stray bags, and in some section you even see trashed clothes, sofas, and even broken TVs. Once you arrive at school, it is hard to miss all the “stuff” that everybody has and uses. Whether it is paper for homework, the very latest technology, or cool new shoes, people seem to go through a lot of stuff. Some might even say we are trapped in a cycle of wasteful consumption.

It’s not just O’Dowd and Oakland either, consumption seems to be everywhere in our society. According to the Worldwatch Institute, between 1960 and 2000, the amount of private consumption by U.S. households increased fourfold, reaching a total of 20 trillion US dollars. A striking statistic from the American Consumer Society is that on average, people in the US go through the equivalent of 300 shopping bags of raw material per week. Of course companies are part of the problem, as they spend over 200 billion dollars a year in advertising to keep us locked into this consumption cycle.

Unfortunately, North Americans and Western Europeans account for 60 percent of the total world’s consumption. The average ecological footprint of a person living in America is 12 times larger than the average footprint of a person in India. Instead of consumption that goes well beyond meeting our needs and basic wants, people in these more developed countries could put this money towards improving the lives of the poverty-stricken, or on initiatives that will improved our environment.

Challenge and Activities

  • Activity – S4S Nov 11 MP or Video: Attend the S4S MP where they will be screening David de Rothschild’s Eco Trip Episode, “Cotton T-Shirts.” If you can’t make it, check out the Eco Trip episode on itunes or watch “The Story of Stuff.”
    *If you are doing this for Beyond the Classroom Credit include a summary of the video
  • Task – Behavior Change: From the background above and video, think of three different ways you can reduce your ecological footprint and consume less Hint. Now take action and actually commit to these lifestyle changes. Take a picture of yourself doing these these changes, and compile them into a document with captions.
  • Spread the Word: Share how you are changing your life with a family member or friend. Ask them what are they doing to consume less or if they are doing it at all.


How to Submit

Email your Behavior Change picture document (If you are doing this for Beyond the Classroom Credit include a summary of the video) to the Students for Sustainability (S4S) Supervisor:, by Midnight on Sunday November 16th. You will be in the running for an awesome O’Dowd Green Challenge prize!

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Finding God in All Things

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