January 30, 2015

Pressure Changes in Ms. Coonrod’s Class

Students studied pressure changes in Ms. Coonrod’s chemistry class. Here was the result.

Heat an aluminum can with a little bit of water in it then dump it in an ice bath. The result is very interesting.

Here is 120fps … it happens so fast!

What happens when you try to blow up a balloon when it is INSIDE a bottle. Headache!

What happens when you heat an Erlenmeyer flask, put a hard boiled egg on top of it, then cool it?

Becci Manson: (Re)touching lives through photos

In the wake of the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami, mixed into the wreckage were lost and damaged photos of families and loved ones. Photo retoucher Becci Manson, together with local volunteers and a global group of colleagues she recruited online, helped clean and fix them, restoring those memories to their owners.

Watch more videos on our YouTube channel »

February Alum of the Month

A Life Dedicated to Service
Sr. Mary Keefe, OP ’60

When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005, more than 1,800 people were killed and more than a million people were displaced from their homes. The damage to New Orleans was particularly severe, with an estimated 80 percent of the city flooded, and the city’s poorest citizens were the ones most gravely impacted.

It was Sr. Mary Keefe, OP ’60 who served as the face of the Catholic Church to the people of St. Bernard Civil Parish, visiting those in the local church parishes to offer both a sympathetic ear and tangible support, such as money for food, rent and utility bills that had been donated by sisters in her congregation and friends, and secured via grants. “We gave out more than $120,000 in aid,” she said.

But Sr. Mary wanted to do more. In 2009, working in conjunction with the St. Bernard Project, she organized “Nuns Build” and rallied some 100 volunteers to help rebuild houses in New Orleans. The volunteer group, comprised of sisters from many congregations of women religious across the country, their friends and relatives, took on unfamiliar construction tasks – such as hanging drywall and laying flooring – all aimed at helping families return home. “Some worked for one day, some for five days, and everyone did their best to help a family get back home,” she said.

Week-long Nuns Build events have continued each November since then, with Sr. Mary leading the charge until her retirement in June 2014.

Called to Serve

Born in South Dakota, Sr. Mary moved with her family to Oakland when she was a toddler. Her mother, Alice, was a devout Catholic who took her daughter to church regularly.

“When I was four years old, my mother and I were lighting a candle in Saint Elizabeth’s Church in Oakland when a sister walked by. I turned to my mother and said, ‘I want to be one of those.’ I never considered being anything else,” she said.

After graduating from St. Jarlath School, Sr. Mary enrolled at O’Dowd where she continued to explore her call to religious life. She decided to join the Adrian Dominicans because they were the congregation of nuns at O’Dowd. “The sisters were very helpful and kind as I prepared to leave home. I am most grateful to O’Dowd for an excellent education and for fostering my spiritual development,” she said.

Sr. Mary entered the convent at Adrian, Michigan, on September 8, 1960 and soon afterwards began studying at Siena Heights College (now University) in Adrian, where she eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in English.

Early Ministries

Sr. Mary professed first temporary vows in August 1962, and over the next several years taught second and third grades in Michigan and Nevada.

When Sr. Mary professed her final vows five years later, she was given a ring belonging to former O’Dowd teacher Sr. Loretta Marie. Sr. Loretta had passed away shortly before Sr. Mary entered the convent.

In 1969, Sr. Mary was sent to Holy Cross School in Santa Cruz, where she taught third grade for six years. During this time, she attended San Jose State University during the summers and earned a master’s degree in Library Science.

In the spring of 1975, Sr. Mary accepted O’Dowd Principal Fr. Paul Waldie’s offer to be the school’s head librarian.

“By Christmas of my first year at O’Dowd I would have paid someone to let me teach third grade. I missed having my own class and the interaction with the children,” she said.

Though she enjoyed her time at O’Dowd (1975-79), Sr. Mary decided that she wasn’t cut out to work with teenagers.

She received permission from her regional superior to attend the Franciscan School in the Graduate Theological Union at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1979 and subsequently earned a master’s degree in Theological Studies.

Moving into Administration

Sr. Mary worked as Director of Religious Education at Queen of Apostles Church in San Jose from 1981-1992, and considers this time the best ministry years of her life.

“The teachers in the religious education program were wonderful, as were those working in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults process and the Adult Education team. They were dedicated to the service of people in whatever way God shows them and their enthusiasm and dedication was an inspiration to me,” she said.

One of the programs Sr. Mary most enjoyed was the “Catholics Coming Home” series which was geared for Catholics who were not coming to church.

“We had no expectation that anyone would come back to church on a regular basis. We just wanted to answer people’s questions. Some people were angry with a priest or sister or the church in general. Others wanted to come back but they just didn’t know how. We were there to welcome them home and help them with the steps they needed to take in order to come back. We never told them what to do, we helped them to do what they wanted to do,” she said.

Upon leaving Queen of Apostles, Sr. Mary took a year’s sabbatical and participated in a renewal program for women and men religious in California and studied at the Mexican-American Cultural Center in San Antonio, Texas. She finished her sabbatical by participating in the Lands of St. Dominic Pilgrimage to Spain, France and Italy.

She subsequently served for four years as the office manager for the Franciscan Workers in Salinas and eight years as Director of Religious Education at St. Pius X Church in Redwood City.

When it came time for her next transition, Sr. Mary was ready for something new. “I did not want to work in a parish. I had done that for 21 years. I was in good health and decided that I was willing to move far away if I was called to do that,” she said.

Louisiana Ministry

In response to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the Adrian Dominican congregation leadership invited sisters who were retired or between jobs to go to New Orleans for several months and help in any way they could. In April 2007, Sr. Mary was invited to visit New Orleans with a view to establishing a house for Adrian Dominicans there. During this visit she was so inspired that she decided to move to New Orleans to continue working with those in need on a permanent basis.

“My first job was to put together a brochure with helpful information to be given to the people as I visited them. I included organizations that were rebuilding houses and providing food, clothing, and health care,” she said.

Sister Mary and her fellow sisters made home visits to every house in the St. Bernard and Our Lady of Lourdes church parishes, assessing the needs of families and referring them to various agencies that could help them with rebuilding. She also conducted follow up visits, returning to homes where the need was greatest.

Most importantly, Sr. Mary listened – encouraging people to tell their Katrina stories and assuring them that God had not abandoned them.


In June 2014, Sr. Mary retired and moved to the Motherhouse in Adrian, Michigan. Reflecting on her life’s work, she says the most rewarding aspect of her ministry has been making the lives of others better. “I may have done this by smiling at a stranger or saying something in passing to a friend. It might have been a phone call or giving someone enough money to pay their mortgage for the month. I do what I can with what I have where I am,” she said. “I am grateful to God for all the experiences I have had and for the people I have met. I am grateful to all who share their lives with me and make my life a joy.”

Sr. Mary considers her sister, Karen Keefe Ashiku ’69, brother-in-law, Nick, and nieces, Monica and Maureen, to be among the greatest gifts God has given her. “My sister and her family are a very large part of my life and for this I am most grateful,” she said.

January 29, 2015

Founder’s Day It’s Its

First Founder’s Day Celebrated at O’Dowd

Bishop O’Dowd High School celebrated the first ever Founder’s Day on Jan. 29, honoring the legacy of the school’s founder Bishop James T. O’Dowd. The event was held in conjunction with Catholic Schools Week. Download the presentation slideshow PDF with historic photos of Bishop O’Dowd High School »

The day was highlighted by a schoolwide assembly held in the large gymnasium that featured song, a gospel reading, a reflection by Principal Pam Shay, special blessings for students, faculty and staff, and a Family Feud game featuring trivia questions about O’Dowd.

Download the Family Feud questions »

Download the Family Feud answers »

Faculty member Brian Cushing ’84 played host for the game which provided a glimpse into the school’s past. The two competing teams were comprised of alumni faculty members and current students – Mylah Andrada ’16, Antoneil Carter ’17, Sharon Correia ’83 and Ronnie Smith ’06 (on the O’Dowd team) vs. Kaytlyn Lozano ’15, Chris Lucas ’18, D.J. Vierra ’99 and Patrice Wakeley ’01 (on the Dragon team). The Dragon team edged the O’Dowd team in the good-natured competition.

During her reflection, Shay described Bishop O’Dowd’s visionary leadership, both locally and nationally, and talked about his great ability to relate to people and build community.

Only 34 years old when he was named the Superintendent of Schools of the Archdiocese of San Francisco in 1941, Bishop O’Dowd helped plan and establish nearly two dozen Catholic schools, including O’Dowd (the original name proposed for O’Dowd was East Oakland Catholic High School). He was named a Bishop in 1948, and died on Feb. 4, 1950, as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident. He was only 42.

“We stand on the shoulders of all of the great men and women who have gone before us, and Bishop James T. O’Dowd is the foundation of them all,” Shay said. “His vision, sense of community and Christ-like presence are all things we appreciate and which are reflected in our charism.”

Shay said it is fun to imagine what Bishop O’Dowd would have done if he had enjoyed a longer life, and she wondered aloud what he might have said to those gathered at the assembly. “I am sure that he would like the school community that bears his name. He would be pleased with our religion and campus ministry programs, our championship athletic teams, our award-winning drama and debate programs, and our amazing student leaders. He would be impressed by our commitment to sustainability and overwhelmed by the dedication our students have to service in the broader community,” she said.

Added Shay, “I like to believe he would have looked each one of us in the eye and said, “Thank you for making my school such a wonderful place of learning, service and love.”

Dwight Taylor Sr. ’00, a.k.a. Transparent, is an International Christian rapper, motivational speaker, and mentor

This event has been moved to the large gym.

This 2010 Stellar Award Nominee, for Hip Hop Gospel CD of the Year, won the “Best of the Blessed” Artist of the Year award at the 2009 Christian Music Awards (CMA). Transparent was also nominated for 6 categories at the 2009 Rejoice Gospel Music Awards, where he was blessed to take home the “Best Male Gospel Hip Hop Artist (unsigned)” and “Gospel’s Rising Star” award. He has shared the stage with such artist as CeCe Winans, News Boys, Brian Littrell of the Backstreet boys, Canton Jones, Lecrae, Tonex, The Katinas, Tremaine Hawkins, Everyday Process, Leeland, R-Swift, Dj Morph, Frontlynaz, Mark J, and many more.

Originally from Richmond, California, Transparent is currently residing in Fairfield, California. He is a Bishop O’Dowd High School and Fresno State University Alumni with a Bachelor of Science degree in Child Development. In November 2005, Transparent began to follow two callings that God had placed on his life. The first, ministering the gospel through music, and the second, starting his own non-profit Christian organization called “On Purpose Inc.,” designed to cater to the youth of both Contra Costa and Solano County. While living in Richmond, he was actively involved in volunteer work at the Coronado YMCA and in 2006 he was honored with the “Volunteer of the Year” award from The West Contra Costa YMCA. From 2006-2008, Transparent held positions with Alternative Family Services as a case manager/Independent Living Skills Specialist for foster care and adoption children. His dual passions for children and spreading the Word of God are what fuel’s his determination to live his life in an upright and “Transparent” way.

In 2007 Transparent began taking over the gospel music scene by storm. In March, he won the American Christian Talent Search and in June he participated in the CMA. Nearly two years later on January 27th, 2009, Transparent released his eagerly awaited debut album “L.I.F.E.”(Living In Favor Everyday), which has been globally recognized. In September 2009, “L.I.F.E” was released in Australia followed by a two-week promotional tour (his third tour in Australia). While touring he was privileged to minister in Melbourne and Brisbane Australia. On November 21st, 2009, Transparent performed live in front of 11,000 spectators, plus the millions who viewed this on the SHOWTIME network. On this special night, Transparent brought to the ring the Super Middleweight Boxing Champion Andre “SOG” Ward, with his worship/rap anthem “The GREATEST”. On May 30th, 2011, Transparent released his nationally acclaimed street album titled D.O.P.E.(Dominating On Purpose Everyday)

Today, Transparent has ministered at approximately 500 different venues across the world (Churches, Cruises, High Schools, Colleges, Talent shows, and Award shows). He currently holds empowerment sessions every Tuesday for the youth at the Solano County Juvenile Hall and inspires them through his music. Along with his dedication to empowering youth, Transparent also uses the mediums of fashion and radio to present the gospel. C28′s NOTW clothing is the official sponsor for Transparent. He is also the co-host of House of Slap Radio.

Wherever you find Transparent, be it ministering through music, sharing his life on “Transparent T.V.” or just speaking into the lives of the youth he encounters, it is relevant that throughout these great accomplishments, his focus remains the same, which is to “Advance the Kingdom one second at a time.”

January 28, 2015

Ivan Rabb ’15 Named a McDonald’s All American

Michael Jordan was one. LeBron James was one. Kevin Durant was one. And now Ivan Rabb ’15 is one, too.

O’Dowd students gathered in the cafeteria after school on Jan. 28 to watch the McDonald’s All American Games Selection Show on ESPNU erupted in cheers when it was announced that Rabb was named to the boys’ west team roster. See the final roster.

The nation’s top high school basketball all-star event will be played Wednesday, April 1, at Chicago’s United Center (the boys tip off at 9 p.m. Eastern Time) and will be televised live on ESPN.

Rabb is the first O’Dowd boys’ basketball player to be selected as a McDonald’s All American. Girls’ basketball player Oderah Chidom ’13 was the first Dragon ever selected for the games.

“I was a little bit nervous before the selection. I didn’t really know what to expect. I just wanted to come in humble because anything can happen,” he said. “It was definitely a blessing for me to be selected.”

Rabb added that it was an honor to be the first O’Dowd male basketball player selected as an All American, particularly given the program’s rich tradition. “Playing at O’Dowd means lot to me. We’ve had a lot of great players come through the program – we actually have a former NBA Player (Brian Shaw ’83) – and I just want to carry the torch,” he said.

In January, 823 players from 47 states and the District of Columbia were nominated for the 2015 McDonald’s All American Games. California topped the list of states with the most nominated players (99).

A record number of O’Dowd basketball players were named 2015 McDonald’s All-American Games nominees. Boys included Paris Austin, Arinze Chidom, Franklin Longrus, Jeevin Sandhu, Isaiah Thomas and Alex Zhao, and girls included Asha Tyler-Thomas and Aisia Robertson.

This year marks the 38th anniversary of the boy’s game and the 14th anniversary of the girl’s game.

Of the 1,200 McDonald’s All Americans to play in this prestigious event, more than 96 percent went on to play Division I basketball. Rabb has narrowed his college choices to Arizona, Cal, Kansas, Kentucky and UCLA.

Net proceeds from the McDonald’s All American games benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities. The games have raised more than $11 million for the cause since 1978.

January 27, 2015

Evening with the Professionals Rescheduled to March 2

Evening with the Professionals, originally scheduled for Tuesday, January 27 has been rescheduled to Monday, March 2. 

Students, mark your calendars today for what will be a wonderful opportunity to directly connect with people in a variety of professional fields. Any questions about Evening with the Professionals or the Career Partnerships Program, contact Mrs. Wallingford.

Austin Tom ’14 Earns Rank of Eagle Scout

A member of Troop 876 in Hayward, Austin Tom ’14 earned the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Boy Scouts of America. He was honored at an Eagle Court of Honor held on Jan. 17.

Austin’s Eagle service project was the painting of a concrete block wall in the parking lot of the church he attends. Two Bible verses, one each from the Old and New Testaments, were painted on a blue sky and white clouds background.

While with the Troop, Austin earned 34 Merit Badges and held the following leadership positions: Senior Patrol Leader, Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, Patrol Leader and Troop Scribe.

Spare Parts Author Inspires O’Dowd Students

Working as a contributing editor at Wired magazine in 2004, Joshua Davis routinely received polished press releases seeking coverage of technology-related products and services. One day, an oddly-formatted release appeared in his in box that was pitching a story about an award-winning high school robotics team.

Davis eventually followed up and learned that the team, made up of four undocumented Mexican American students at an underfunded public high school in Phoenix, Arizona (Carl Hayden Community High School), was participating in a national underwater robotics competition sponsored by NASA and the U.S. Navy. It was a competition that had historically been dominated by the top universities in the country.

“This was a motley group of kids coming from all different angles to this team and you wouldn’t think this would lead anywhere,” Davis said. “But they managed to build a robot.”

Davis wrote an article about the team for Wired in May 2005, then subsequently wrote the book Spare Parts: Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, and the Battle for the American Dream, published in 2014. In addition to detailing the team’s success story, the book delves into two polarizing political issues – immigration and education.

A movie based on the book, starring George Lopez, Jamie Lee Curtis, Carlos Pena and Marisa Tomei, was released on Jan. 16 by Lionsgate.

Davis visited O’Dowd on Jan. 21, and talked with students about Spare Parts, his work as a journalist and filmmaker, and his recent co-founding of Epic magazine.

He entertained students with the story about how his participation in the National Armwrestling Championships in his mid-twenties led to his selection as an alternate for Team USA that was to compete in Gdynia Poland at the World Armwrestling Championships. “When alternates two and three couldn’t leave the country because they were on probation I was named to the team,” he said.

A bored data entry clerk at the time, Davis parlayed his adventure into a paid writing assignment and a career was born.

This made an impression on both Kolando Brandon ’17 and Aron Gellman ’16.

“Josh Davis didn’t plan on becoming a journalist. He was just open to new things and opportunities. I learned that there’s not always a set path to jobs. You have be open and willing to try new things. You can’t be afraid of change,” Brandon said.

“Josh Davis risks himself to get awesome stories. I realized in the real world, I could get paid for doing my JRP (junior research paper),” Gellman said.

Davis says he couldn’t imagine doing anything else for a living. “I like to tell stories about people who have done extraordinary things or gotten into unusual circumstances,” he said. “I’ve been all over the world chasing stories.”

Book Club President Sasha Durst ’15 said she was impressed with the courage Josh Davis has to cover stories. “Every story he told left me in awe. It was good to hear about the reality of America from a real reporter. I hear stories about education, immigration and the American dream on NPR but we had the opportunity to hear the stories first hand. His visit was the best attended author visit the Book Club has ever sponsored,” she said.

Davis is also the author of The Underdog a recounting of his armwrestling, bullfighting, sumo, sauna and backward running adventures, and Entrenched, an anthology of his work.

Davis was a finalist for the 2014 National Magazine Award in feature writing and his work is anthologized in the 2012 edition of The Best American Science and Nature Writing, as well as the 2006, 2007 and 2009 editions of The Best Technology Writing.

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Finding God in All Things

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