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A Day In the Life of the Bishop John S. Cummins Center

We are pleased and grateful to provide an update on the impact that the

Bishop John S. Cummins Center has had on O’Dowd’s campus and community. We have lived in the Center for one year and have utilized it to the full extent, gratefully, every day since its completion. Our students have learned here. They’ve practiced and performed, played, prayed, and celebrated. Thanks to you, the Cummins Center has become - as we had hoped, and even more than we had imagined - the new heart of O’Dowd.

Last year, students returned to campus for the start of the 2022-23 school year eager to enjoy the newly completed Cummins Center with every space furnished and ready to welcome them. The Cummins Center supports the full breadth of O’Dowd’s academic, co-curricular, and community-building activities. As the morning bell rang out on the first day of school, students scattered to various points on campus to begin their day. But, in the new Cummins Center, the day was already well underway.

Kevin and Debora Sweeney Athletic Performance Lab

The Sweeney Lab comes to life every morning at 7:00 am, with student-athletes cross-training and preparing for their season. Strength & Conditioning Coach Jay Beito ‘92 has found that the increased floor space of the Lab has allowed for more varied equipment and room for functional movement exercises that were impossible to teach in the original weight room. Capacity has doubled, allowing for more students to access the space - a critical need as our athletic program continues to grow, with more freshman teams than ever before. Coach Beito has also utilized the additional space to include wellness and nutrition information, leveling up our Strength & Conditioning program by emphasizing care for the whole body. During regular school hours, the Lab is used for Strength & Conditioning and PE classes and is accessible, along with the adjoining Training Room, during lunch and Flex periods - when all students have access to this space.

Kevin and Debora Sweeney Athletic Performance Lab

After school, the Lab is reserved for team workouts, with customized training plans for each team based on the movement patterns for each sport. Doubling the number of student-athletes working out after school has necessitated increased supervision, which has been “an amazing, unexpected benefit,” says Coach Beito. “Coaches are now actively involved in their teams’ workouts, which has been instrumental in improving the player-coach relationship, as well as team cohesiveness.” Similar collaboration has been improved between players, coaches and athletic trainers. With the Lab’s proximity to the new training room, trainers now have direct visual access to player workouts, which has enhanced communication and Return to Play protocol and has provided students with a better understanding of how to treat and prevent injuries. Our improved Strength & Conditioning program has also caught the eye of college scouts - the additional space has allowed for student-athletes to lead their teammates in workouts, demonstrating peer leadership and a strong understanding of the importance of wellness in athletics.

Elizabeth Cabrall Cabraser ’70 Music Studio

After decades of cramming into a singular, small, portable classroom space, students enter the Cabraser Music Studio to find a modern, light-filled atmosphere with state-of-the-art features in which to learn and hone their craft. Led by professional musician and Director of

Elizabeth Cabrall Cabraser ’70 Music Studio

Instrumental Music Fred Randolph, our students perform at school-wide and fundraising events, regional competitions, and music festivals throughout the state. While they learn and rehearse, their music emanates from the Studio all day and into the evening, whether it’s from any of O’Dowd’s five music course offerings, large ensemble rehearsals, or small-group and individual practice sessions. Thoughtfully designed, the Studio offers carefully-crafted acoustic treatment, producing realistic feedback that neither detracts from nor falsely bolsters the sounds of the instruments. A sound system and carefully-planned lighting options allow for instruction that includes video examples of performances for reference and inspiration. Individual practice rooms provide soundproofed spaces for students to work independently and by sections. “Because of this new opportunity for sections such as trumpets or saxes to rehearse separately, these groups have started to bond more, taking additional ownership for their role within the context of a larger group,” says Mr. Randolph. Students are also using these individual practice rooms for practice during lunch and Flex periods, and for recordings, discussion groups and meetings – all of which can be done throughout the day without interfering with instruction in the larger space. “The students are so proud to be learning in this new space,” says Mr. Randolph. “There is an overall sense that we have ‘arrived’ as a music program.”

Kovach Family Community Room

Kovach Family Community Room

Around the corner from the beautiful music being made in the Cabraser Studio, students are getting to work in the Kovach Community Room. When used as a classroom, the spacious Kovach Room offers integrated A/V technology and flexible seating, functionally improving the student experience. Hosting primarily Religion, Journalism and AP Psychology classes, the Kovach Room allows the space to either spread out or come together. Work surfaces can be configured for classroom lectures, small group breakouts, or collaborative seminar-style seating. Teachers use the adjoining Madden Terrace to further access available space for small group work.

Utilized as an event space, the Kovach Room has been a delightful venue to welcome guests to our campus. On a morning in the fall semester, you’ll find this space filled with eager, prospective families in Admissions presentations, with our Dragon Ambassador student leaders proud to be representing their school in this impressive building. During the evening and weekends in the Kovach room, you’ll see guests from the larger O’Dowd community - Diocesan groups, alumni, parents and friends of O’Dowd who are attending any number of events and meetings that are now possible to host in this new space.

Counts Family Welcome Hall

Counts Family Welcome Hall

As students make their way to classes and activities in the Cummins Center, they enter first through the Counts Family Welcome Hall - the Center’s entrance - with its seamless transition from the old building to the new. Featuring bench seating and contemporary and airy woodwork, the Counts Hall welcomes students and guests alike, providing not only an inviting entrance to the Cummins Center, but also additional access points to the existing large and small gyms. Digital displays in the Counts Hall serve to welcome and direct guests, inform students through announcements, express gratitude to O’Dowd donors, and inspire and encourage students with collected messages from our treasured alumni. All year long, our students have gathered in the Counts Hall between classes, during lunch and Flex periods, before school and after school, to connect, recharge, collaborate and study.

Madden Family Terrace / Second Floor Hallway

Madden Family Terrace

Once through the Counts Hall, and on their way to the other areas of the Center, students pass by the doors to the Madden Family Terrace, with its lovely view of the bay and our athletic fields. Just as in the Counts Hall, students enjoy this additional space in which to relax, enjoying lunch and time with each other. Furnished with tables and umbrellas, the Madden Terrace is used not only as a beautiful area for students to eat, but also for serving refreshments during our many daytime admissions events. After school, students and other Dragon fans are treated to a birds-eye view of our home baseball and softball games, where they bring their school spirit to offer outfield fan support from up above. The Madden Terrace has also been instrumental in welcoming guests outside of the school day through our fundraising, alumni and diocesan events.

2nd floor hallway

Additionally, and unexpectedly, the hallway on the east end of this floor past the Cabraser Studio has become a popular gathering space. Featuring a floor-to-ceiling window with a view of the majestic East Bay hills and an overlook to O’Dowd’s lower field, this has become a favored spot for students, whether they are meeting in small groups during lunch or Flex periods, or looking for a quiet place to read and study.

“The new Cummins Center has given us so much more space on campus, and it provides a lot of opportunities for students. From athletics to performing arts to classes, I've already spent so much time in the Center. I love to show it off to new families during tours.

-Kassidy Collins ‘24

Dragon Ambassador Captain, Varsity Cheer Captain, Dance Club leader

Kelly Family and Erin Jaeb Black Box Studio

Whether they are headed to one of four Drama classes offered at O’Dowd, or to a rehearsal, meeting, or cheer practice, students climb the light-filled staircase, illuminated by Adia Millet’s “You are the Light of the World” glass window. This inspiring piece of public art is reminiscent of a stained glass church window, reminding students throughout the day that they are in the holy presence of God.

Kelly Family and Erin Jaeb Black Box Studio

Once in the Kelly and Jaeb Black Box Studio, drama students work to further develop their acting, singing, dancing and theater tech skills. With over 200 students participating annually in our Drama program, the Studio has filled a crucial need for space to prepare for our large annual performances. Each year the Theater program presents a dramatic play as well as a full-scale musical. For the 2023-24 school year, a third large-scale production is being planned specifically for the Kelly and Jaeb Black Box Studio, where state-of-the art and adaptive theater tech such as exposed grid lighting, blackout curtains and quality sound provide myriad options for performance. Teacher and Director of Dramatic Arts, Ashkon Davaran, notes that the sprung floor and mirrored wall have been instrumental in up-leveling instruction for larger groups. “Our productions have large casts, so rehearsing in the Black Box Studio allows more students to be involved at the rehearsal level. Naturally, this was also a great benefit to our mainstage productions,” he says. “Additionally, O’Dowd’s newly-formed Musical Theater Club held their fall and spring showcases here, where they shared some of their favorite excerpts from musicals. The intimacy of the space was perfect for these smaller events.” The Black Box Studio was also home to weekly cheer rehearsals in preparation for games and competitions, and the school has added an Introduction to Dance class for the 2023-24 school year - inspired by the environment of the Black Box Studio - which will further foster creative expression and movement, and promote performance and exhibition.

Classroom 303 / 3rd Floor Terrace / Hallway

The Cummins Center’s third-floor classroom, the adjoining terrace, and the hallway connecting these spaces with the Black Box Studio and other areas of the Center are also bustling additions to our campus, utilized by various groups for learning and connecting.

During the school day, Classroom 303 hosts our Health Education PE class, and is a popular destination for club meetings, with faculty clamoring to reserve this space for one of O’Dowd’s 75+ clubs and affinity groups. The room is also used as an event space, hosting alumni, parents and other community members, and has been particularly impactful in the evening, as it opens to the terrace for a breathtaking view of our fields and the sun setting over the bay.

Like the second-floor overlook, the 3rd floor indoor connecting hallway has provided an unexpected benefit as a gathering spot for students between classes. These areas have become so popular that the school purchased furniture conducive to small group collaboration, making these informal meeting spaces more inviting and comfortable.

Knauss Family Gymnasium / Dragon Bites

The Knauss Family Gym, featuring the Steve Phelps Memorial Court, is the showpiece of the Cummins Center, and it is also where the most powerful displays of community have happened on our campus in the past year. We are a family at O’Dowd, and when family can be together in one place, the presence of the Holy Spirit is felt throughout. The sheer capacity of the Knauss Gym allows students and faculty to assemble for all of our important events - from the sanctity of liturgy, to the frenzy of spirit week, and all types of community building in between. For the first time in several years, we were able to hold indoor, all-school Masses, liturgies and prayerful gatherings in the 2022-23 school year. Carefully-planned lighting, sound and tech have elevated the liturgical experience, from the stained glass feature illuminating the spiritual and joyful elements emblematic of the Cummins Center’s core purpose, to flexible seating and lighting for maximum student engagement, and giant digital displays encouraging students to participate in prayer and song. State-of-the-art sound audibly projects every word spoken or sung to a completely full gymnasium. How fitting to offer this sacred experience to students in a building named for Bishop Cummins, who began his lifelong journey to impact the faith formation of students right here on our campus.

As our athletic offerings have outgrown our facilities over the years, the Knauss Family Gym has been, in the words of O’Dowd Athletic Director Carlos Reed, “game changing.” The ability to set up two full courts simultaneously increases practice space, providing adequate practice times for our court teams, whose student-athletes can now regain time in the early mornings and late evenings for homework, family and rest. “Our Boys’ and Girls’ volleyball and basketball teams were able to host a greater number of spectators for home games, and were also proud hosts for playoff games and regional tournaments, including the expanded annual MLK basketball tournament,” says Carlos, external-facing events that promote youth sports in addition to “increasing the visibility of our school and athletic programs.” This new home court has instilled a renewed sense of pride for our players and fans alike, with state-of-the art displays and sound equipment documenting team introductions, game play and the roar of our winning celebrations - all run by an enthusiastic group of trained students. This year, the Knauss Family Gym will be available to all students during lunch for open gym. “Students are drawn to beautiful spaces,” says Principal Doug Evans, “and the new gym is undoubtedly a beautiful space.” Upstairs from the Knauss Family Gym is a built-in concessions area, branded “Dragon Bites” through a student-led naming contest. This area is often staffed by paid students serving refreshments during games, or by volunteers during events selling Dragon spirit wear and Alumni gear to further promote school pride.

As planned, the Knauss Family Gym is the venue for large community-building events outside of the school day. Our two annual fundraising events, the Transforming Lives Dinner and the Crab Feed & Auction, both of which exceeded prior years’ fundraising outcomes, were held in this space, as was the ever-growing O’Dowd Reunion which also welcomed record attendance this year. All of these events were elevated by the space and technology of the Knauss Family Gym, with digital displays and quality sound being instrumental in addressing attendees and highlighting the impact of their engagement and generosity. In 2022-23, we were also able to host a state-of-the-school address during Back To School Night. Formerly lacking a unified gathering event, this evening is now an opportunity for connection and community, essential elements of Catholic education.

Institutional Impact

We are grateful for your partnership with O’Dowd in building the Bishop John S. Cummins Center. The Cummins Center has been transformative for our entire O’Dowd community, with an impact that will ripple for generations.

The campaign to bring the Cummins Center to campus was an immense endeavor, requiring the Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation’s faith in the school, our faith in the community, and your faith that together we could rise to the challenge of this generous and unprecedented match. Our results were also unprecedented, as the school was able to raise its first-ever seven-figure family gifts and achieved incredibly broad support from the community. Despite the campaign coinciding with one of the most difficult years in modern history, the O’Dowd community was able to come together and achieve our campaign goals. With your investment and the match from the Valley Foundation, we were able to lift the sights of what the O’Dowd community, together, is able to accomplish.

Building the Cummins Center proved not only the breadth of support for the school, but also highlighted the importance of Catholic educational institutions. Our Admissions and Alumni events include tours of the Center, which highlight the importance of philanthropy to the school.

From prospective families new to the O’Dowd campus, to seven decades of alumni, the Cummins Center has beautifully showcased the best of O’Dowd. Our Admissions team reports that prospective families - students and parents alike - are impressed by O'Dowd's commitment to co-curriculars and arts education, praising our impressive gym, the artistic installations, and the emphasis on student life throughout the entire Cummins Center. Alumni parents in particular express their delight in realizing the O'Dowd gym they had always imagined is now a reality for their children to enjoy. Our Development team notes the increasing number of alumni who have expressed their pride in hailing from a school that continues to improve, commits to investing in students, and partners with organizations like the Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation and donors like you to make that happen.


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