Scholarship donations make a huge difference in the lives of talented students who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend Bishop O’Dowd High School. Here are just some of the stories about our amazing group of donors.
“One of the many reasons that I teach at O’Dowd is the diversity of our student population. My continuing support of the Angel Fund helps all of our students by ensuring this rich diversity. Our school is truly a microcosm of the greater Bay Area, which means that we have students (and teachers) at all socio-economic levels. I feel that what really sets O’Dowd apart from the other Bay Area high schools is our robust extra-curricular programs. Some of these activities require extra fees that some families find cost prohibitive. That is where the Angel Fund comes in – it provides assistance so that ALL of our students can take part in the full O’Dowd experience. The Angel Fund also makes sure that students that need support for such basics as lunch money, polos, or school books receive it.”
Chair of Angel Fund and Angel Fund Contributor
Matt Carrasco ’05 looks back on his time at Bishop O’Dowd High School fondly. Partly, that’s because being a proud Dragon is something that he shares with his family – parents Al ’76 and Marianne ‘78, and siblings Jonathan ’07 and Mia ’10. More importantly, says Matt, his O’Dowd experience had a tremendous influence on the person he is today.
“I am still pursuing knowledge on topics I was first introduced to at O’Dowd. Earth Science and AP Environmental Studies classes are the first to come to mind. They inspired me to become more connected with environment and the issues we face in the world today,” he said. “When I went on to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo as a business major, I still enrolled in classes that addressed global issues because it was something I was eager to pursue knowledge in.”
At the time of his 10th high school reunion, Matt was inspired to make his first gift to O’Dowd – a $100 donation to Transforming Lives, the O’Dowd Annual Fund.
“I wanted to make a donation as a thank you for the lasting impact the school left on my life. I believe strongly in the mission of O’Dowd and want to do what I can to ensure that future Dragons have the same experience I was provided, hopefully even better!” he said.
The learning environment at O’Dowd can’t be matched, Matt says. “My eyes were opened to the world around me. I was in classes with peers sharing different cultures, religions, social beliefs, financial backgrounds, and more,” he said. “This created an amazing environment to learn, as we had such diverse perspectives in our discussions.”
Today, Matt continues to benefit from lessons learned at O’Dowd. “O’Dowd definitely helped me develop a focused work ethic,” he said. “I also learned to be generally curious. This has been valuable in sales, since I speak with businesses in various lines of work and have to deeply understand their needs in order to be successful.”
When Don and Ellie Knauss moved from Texas to the Bay Area in the summer of 2007, their first order of business was to find a diverse, co-educational school for their youngest son, Alec ’10, and his sister to follow, Kara ’13, which provided a disciplined approach to education as well as service learning and Kairos retreat opportunities.
The couple was seeking to replicate the fabulous high school experience that their two older sons had at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston, Texas, where Don and Ellie co-chaired a $30 million dollar, five-year capital campaign that included infrastructure, endowment and continuing teacher education elements. “We knew that finding a school for our younger children would be a challenge as we had such great previous experience,” the couple said.
“What we got by choosing O’Dowd was a school with teachers that made personal connections with our son and daughter. They were able to participate in sports, join clubs and make friends, which was especially important for Alec, a transfer student,” Don and Ellie said. “We give to O’Dowd to help build on the foundation of these great experiences by focusing on endowment building, infrastructure improvements and technological advances crucial to the long term success of the school.”
Ellie has served as a member of the Board of Regents since 2012.The Knausses believe that a school’s success is based upon a vision for the future and the leadership to get there, solid structured curriculum with teachers that have the desire to inspire a student’s best work and the right students and families enrolled in the school. “That is what O’Dowd signifies to us,” they said. “We feel so fortunate to be a part of this community.
Having been raised Catholic, Ed Dold ’73 and Jeannette DeLaGarza wanted their children to experience a Catholic school education.
Their children, Geoffrey ’09 and Michelle ’11, attended Corpus Christi School prior to enrolling at O’Dowd. “Our children have reaped many benefits from attending academically excellent Catholic schools,” the couple said. “In addition, we have been fortunate to build a network of friends, teachers, and administrators who have enriched our lives.”
Ed and Jeannette support Bishop O’Dowd High School’s commitment to academic excellence and Catholic principles because O’Dowd’s students, families and surrounding communities all benefit from the school’s success. Jeannette also serves on the Board of Regents.
“Our children became diligent and community and family-oriented Catholic students due to the learning environment provided at Bishop O’Dowd High School,” they said. “The Dold family has a long-standing history with the school and we’re proud that our children are part of that legacy. We hope that our efforts will lead to other students and families sharing the benefits of such a remarkable Catholic school.”
The Cor Unum Award is named for the school’s motto, “One Heart in Christ,” and is Bishop O’Dowd High School’s highest honor. The award 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.