June 10, 2016

Graham Hill: Less stuff, more happiness

Writer and designer Graham Hill asks: Can having less stuff, in less room, lead to more happiness? He makes the case for taking up less space, and lays out three rules for editing your life.

June 8, 2016

O’Dowd Hosts 4th Annual Sustainability Symposium for Secondary Schools

Bishop O’Dowd’s Department of Sustainability hosted the 4th annual Sustainability Symposium for Northern California Secondary School Educators. Representatives were present from: Bishop O’Dowd, De La Salle, Moreau Catholic, Saint Ignatius, Head Royce, Harker, Prospect Sierra, College Preparatory School, Mercy, Strategic Energy Innovations (great curriculum resources), and Santa Clara University.
Curriculum Table
The event kicked off with a delicious lunch featuring local Living Lab produce, and dynamic conversation at each table group, celebrating progress made at each school site, and sharing greatest challenges. Just after lunch there were brief presentations from various representatives highlighting best practices in facilities management and local conferences. The majority of the afternoon was spend on collaborations focused around problem solving on challenges related to work across the Campus Facilities, Curriculum, Community Engagement, and Cultural shifts.
Campus Table
The symposium ended up being a wonderful exchange of ideas, and a great opportunity for educators and students to reenergize their spirits in this challenging work.

June 7, 2016

Diploma Reception Photos

This service is free. Consequently, there are holes in which students were photographed. I take these photos just to keep from being bored as 300 kids walk across stage, consequently I miss some. If I missed you, sorry. There is nothing I can do about it.

The good news is we had a professional photographic service that will be providing all photos in a couple of weeks. Check back then or keep an eye out in eNews.

Roughly 1st Half of Graduates

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Roughly 2nd Half of Graduates

Click photo thumbnail to view in slideshow THEN images can be right clicked and downloaded at 1024px wide by 768px.

Commencement Photos by Lisa Coffey Mahoney

Click photo thumbnail to view in slideshow THEN images can be right clicked and downloaded at 1024px wide by 768px.

O’Dowd Wins Prestigious NCS Elmer Brown Excellence Award

Bishop O’Dowd High School has been awarded the prestigious Elmer Brown Excellence Award, an honor bestowed by the North Coast Section in memory of former NCS commissioner Elmer Brown, who was a longtime head coach at Santa Rosa High School.

Brown was known to be a strong advocate of combining passion for athletics along with a strong commitment to education, and the award is given to the school earning the most points in the Section based on academic and athletic achievement.

O’Dowd earned the most points (86) of all 170 NCS schools for combined academic and athletic accomplishments in the fall, winter and spring sports seasons. See listing of point totals for all schools….

The NCS is the fourth largest conference in California, from the South Bay to Crescent City. The award was created to recognize one school in the section, no matter what size, whose performance embodied both athletic and academic excellence.

“We are so proud of our student-athletes for their hard work and commitment to excelling in the classroom and in athletics. This achievement represents the collective commitment to excellence by so many individuals supporting our student-athletes. From the teachers, to the coaches, to the counselors, to the parents, everyone contributed in some way,” Associate Athletic Director Carlos Arriaga said.

See O’Dowd team achievements for 2015-16 ».

June 6, 2016

Commencement Photos by Donovan Rittenbach

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

Commencement 2016

On June 3, members of the Class of 2016 and their families gathered in the large gymnasium for the Baccalaureate Mass, celebrated by O’Dowd Chaplain Fr. Jim Sullivan. A reception on the Quad followed.

At the Commencement, Evin Yang delivered the valedictory address, while Grace Piette gave the salutatory address.

One of the highlights of the Commencement was the presentation of the Cor Unum Award to John Heagerty ’60, who 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.

A current member of the O’Dowd Board of Regents, Heagerty headed efforts to create the Class of 1960 Scholarship Fund, which now totals more than $300,000, to assist qualified prospective students seeking an O’Dowd education.

He’s also participated in Career Day and other O’Dowd activities and events, and has served the greater community in various capacities.

Meanwhile, several students received special awards during the Commencement Exercises.

Frances Keer and Troy Coaston 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 extracurricular and cocurricular activities.

Caitlin Ratto and Sean Lee 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 Aerial Chavarin and Nicholas Allen for distinguishing themselves through consistent excellence in academics and athletics, and demonstrated good sportsmanship on the athletic field.

Payton Silket received the Regents’ Award, given to the seniors who most exemplify the mission of Bishop O’ Dowd High School.

The 260 members of the Class of 2016 will soon be headed to colleges and universities throughout the country. A complete listing will be included in the fall 2016 issue of the Dragon magazine.

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View and download Commencement photos taken by Donovan Rittenbach in alley »

View and download Commencement photos taken by Lisa Coffey-Mahoney in alley »

View and download Diploma Reception photos taken by Donovan Rittenbach »

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Pam Shay Celebrated by Faculty and Staff

Scholarship Created in Her Honor

Retiring Principal Pam Shay was celebrated by faculty and staff last week at a reception held in her honor in the Center for Environmental Studies.

President Steve Phelps and Chief Financial Officer Chris Garavaglia spoke about the special gifts Shay brought to O’Dowd and the indelible mark she has left on the school, while Office Manager Jeanne Dupont presented Shay with a hand-made scrapbook that included sweet notes from faculty and staff.


Phelps also announced that a special scholarship – The Pam Shay Endowed Scholarship Fund – has been created in Shay’s honor.

“During Pam’s tenure as O’Dowd’s 12th principal, the school has gotten better in every area for nearly every student. Pam’s leadership has resulted not just in operational excellence, but in ever improving teaching and learning and student personal growth. That is the highest compliment I can pay my esteemed colleague,” Phelps said.


Shay was touched by the kind wishes and reminders of the love of a generous community. “Everything from the thoughtful decorations to the delicious food and drink, and from the generous gifts to the individual notes in a beautiful “Jeanne-made” scrapbook was amazing. Steve’s presentation and Chris’ thoughtful words deeply touched my heart. All of these are treasures that will be with me for a long time to come,” she said.

Members of the community interested in making a gift in honor of Shay can donate online. All contributions to The Pam Shay Endowed Scholarship Fund will be matched, doubling the impact of your gift.


June 3, 2016

Christopher deCharms: A look inside the brain in real time

Neuroscientist and inventor Christopher deCharms demonstrates a new way to use fMRI to show brain activity — thoughts, emotions, pain — while it is happening. In other words, you can actually see how you feel.

May 31, 2016

Isabel Hallock ’17 a Finalist for Oakland Youth Poet Laureate


Isabel Hallock ’17 was recently named one of five finalists for the 2016 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate competition, and has an opportunity to win a $5,000 educational scholarship and a chance to represent her city as an ambassador for literacy, arts and youth expression.

The Oakland Youth Poet Laureate is a joint program of Youth Speaks and the Oakland Public Library, in collaboration with more than a dozen community partners and funded with the generous support of The Friends of the Oakland Public Library and the Youth Speaks Youth Poet Laureate Fund.

The annual competition is open to all Oakland-based poets, ages 13-18. All applicants are required to submit an artist statement and three original poems that are judged on content, craft and voice.

Each of the finalists will be additionally judged on performance and leadership (based on a letter of support from an adult sponsor, the artist statement, and awards and community service), as well as an in-person reading and interview before a panel of judges that will take place on June 18 at Oakstop, a local event space and art gallery. The 2016 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate will be announced in July.

Isabel said she was overwhelmed when she learned she was named a finalist. “I cried,” she said. “The other finalists are absolutely amazing writers. I’m honored to be on the same stage as them.”

Isabel was encouraged to apply for the competition by English teacher Ronny Smith, who was impressed by her submission for the “Facing History” scholarship contest, in which she was one of 27 honorable mentions among 4,000 applicants.

“Isabel wrote a wonderful essay establishing the relevance of To Kill A Mockingbird to her own personal identity growing up in Oakland,” Smith said.

Isabel says she likes writing about community and activism, and her three submissions to the Youth Poet Laureate competition – This Piece, GeNotrification and Thestreets – reflect those themes.

She hopes her poetry – which she writes in spoken word form – inspires others to speak out. She concludes This Piece, with the words:

I write to speak.
And now, I speak.
Now, it’s your turn to speak.
Give me some new knowledge so I can complete this piece.

“It’s not ever just one person’s obligation to say what needs to be said,” Isabel explained.

English teacher Sarah Tunik said that Isabel’s kindness and thoughtfulness is apparent in her writing. “She cares about the people around her, and is committed to making a difference in this world. She has the kind of traits that make me hopeful about her generation – the generation which will be in charge when I am old, and need other people to lead,” Tunik said.

Isabel says she enjoys poetry so much because it provides a unique perspective. “You could write a song about something, but the message could be overtaken by the beat. You could write a play, but the theme could be overshadowed by the big stage and makeup,” she said. “Spoken word is raw and powerful.”

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