A Letter from President J.D. Childs
Dear O’Dowd Alumni, Parents, and Friends,
As a Catholic school that embraces joy among its charism values, we find many ways to acknowledge this Advent season–a time of excitement and anticipation leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth, as well as a time of reflection in these shorter days of December with a new year coming.
From California wildfires and flash floods to immigrants suffering at our borders and deepening socioeconomic disparities, at times our world seems impossibly fragile. In looking ahead to the next semester and 2020, I’ve been reflecting on what brings and sustains authentic joy in such times and how the the central gift of Jesus’ life—infinite generosity made real through boundless compassion, forgiveness, and fellowship–may offer hope.
The O’Dowd community provides an ideal educational home to experience and embrace a transformative generosity of spirit. In our community, such spirit is exemplified by the religious and seasonal traditions we enjoy, including this month’s 30th annual St. Vincent’s Day Home gift drive, supporting West Oakland families facing economic hardship. Student leaders spent time visiting and playing with St. Vincent’s Day Home kids, and the entire O’Dowd community supported their families with gifts as well as the organization itself with a donation. At Mass last week, student leaders and Father Jim reflected on the significance of Christ’s mother Mary and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, offering hope to all.
We also see the joy of generosity as our students put faith into action by creatively and constructively addressing some of our society’s pressing needs. Recently, O’Dowd students returned from Washington DC, where they participated and presented at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice–I encourage you to read the full story of their experience included in this issue. And this coming January, O’Dowd will host a student-led conference bringing together Bay Area students to examine how international social justice issues relate to and are being addressed in our region. From academics to athletics, theater, music, affinity groups, debate, and a wide variety of clubs, O’Dowd students put joy and commitment into all they do. Highlights from just this past week include the Winter Concert, the DIY Craft Fair (with materials provided by our Living Lab), and time with friends in the quad filled with Christmas music.
Of course, at the center of such hope and joy are O’Dowd’s teachers, staff, and administrators, inspired educators who work tirelessly to ensure the best possible experience for families by infusing their work with a deep love of learning, a sense of service, and care for the whole student. Through our accreditation process and resulting strategic plan–which comes to fruition this Spring–we seek to strengthen and emphasize our commitment to seeing and serving every student.
Beyond campus, I have the privilege of meeting with O’Dowd alumni who have forged lives of success, connection, and purpose, and who choose to pay it forward by providing philanthropic support as well as visiting and sharing their gifts with students at their alma mater. Our parent community has likewise reached new heights in philanthropy—read more about this in our 2018-2019 Annual Report. Parents’ volunteer work uplifts our faculty and staff, supports fundraising initiatives and events, and strengthens our community by engaging with prospective families. Such sustained acts of generosity ensure our community will continue to flourish for generations of Dragons.
As we all prepare to turn our attention to nurturing our connections with family and friends in the days ahead, and welcoming the Christ light into our hearts, I want to express my gratitude to all of our O’Dowd families for the many ways you both uplift and continually create the exceptional community that is Bishop O’Dowd High School.
With best wishes for Christmas and the new year,
J.D. Childs, President