At O’Dowd, we invest in community building because we know the bonds our students and families form will sustain them for a lifetime. That’s why we are so inspired by the Cor Unum Campaign for the O’Dowd Center. Through the generosity of parents and alumni, we will build a new, modern facility with the space for our whole community to gather – for Mass, for our spirited rallies and assemblies, for learning and growth opportunities, and for much loved celebrations and traditions, from the Crab Feed and Transforming Lives Dinner, to our Alumni Grand Reunion and Night at the Theater.
Belonging Lisa Wright ’92, mother of Ryan ’21 and Julia ’24, says that her family chose O’Dowd for its community spirit. “Growing up, when my dad took us to basketball tournaments at the Oakland Coliseum, O’Dowd was always, hands-down, the most passionate and enthusiastic crowd,” Lisa remembers. Once she became a freshman on campus, she found that it was easy to participate in social groups. “O’Dowd is committed to nurturing the whole student, and I felt that right away,” says Lisa. “I immediately belonged.” She joined drama, where she found friends who were also athletes, or involved in student government. “O’Dowd encourages students to experiment with different activities,” Lisa notes. “That creates a lot of unique blending and connections that might not have otherwise happened among the kids.”
“O’Dowd’s charism for joy is our North Star. We show up and root for the kids, no matter what. We cheer for all of it: campus ministry and drama, music and athletics. It’s electrifying.” – Lisa Wright ’92
Today, Lisa maintains deep friendships from O’Dowd, connections she has kept close for almost 30 years. “O’Dowd gave us a place to be ourselves, to create safety in relationships, to see other people in their full humanity,” Lisa shares. Those values nurtured her connections over time. “With my friends from O’Dowd, we’ve faced challenges, we’ve fallen down, but we don’t have to put on our best faces to show up for each other,” she says.
Lisa and her family contributed to the Cor Unum Campaign for the O’Dowd Center because they believe the opportunities for enhanced community gatherings are important for their children, and students who come after, to develop relationships grounded in joy. “O’Dowd’s charism for joy is our North Star,” Lisa declares. “My daughter has joy in the classroom and with her new cross country friends. My son has joy on the track team, and with his musician friends. What’s great about the O’Dowd community is we show up and root for the kids, no matter what. We cheer for all of it: campus ministry and drama, music and athletics. It’s electrifying.”
Collegial Connection The new O’Dowd Center will nourish and strengthen the innovative programs that form the heart of our co-curricular experience, including a large, modern gymnasium for athletics, professionally-designed rehearsal and performance space for our drama and music programs, two new state-of-the-art classrooms built with advanced audio-visual capabilities, and new, ample space to celebrate Mass, rallies, and assemblies together. The community connections created in the new Center will sustain students, families, and alumni for years to come.
“I’m excited to see what students will make happen through the Center,” says Jane Schmitz ’93. “I am convinced that something new, exciting, and forward-thinking will emerge out of the connections students create there.” When Jane was a student at O’Dowd, her biology teacher Mr. Goodhart got her excited about environmental science. “He told us stories from the field and helped us understand that biology was everywhere. It made a big impression on me,” she recalls. In her time at O’Dowd, Jane traveled to Hawaii for geology studies and led a bake sale to protect the rainforest. She ultimately went on to earn her doctorate in Global Health from John Hopkins. And she finds that her community connections from O’Dowd still sustain her. In particular, Ippolytos “Ippy” Kalofonos ‘93, who earned both his MD and PhD in Global Health from UCSF. “Ippy and I were in AP and Honors classes together,” Jane notes. “At O’Dowd, we were encouraged to work on behalf of our communities, to make the world better.”
“At O’Dowd, we were encouraged to work on behalf of our communities, to make the world better. The world needs those kinds of students. People who think beyond themselves – about the community and climate and health. We need them now.” – Jane Schmitz ’93
Today, Jane and Ippy are colleagues who both teach undergraduate public health courses, Jane at Occidental College and Ippy at UCLA. “Ippy and I bounce research off each other, we exchange curriculum ideas, he’s guest lectured in my class,” Jane describes. “And our kids play together at the park.” Jane says her friendship with Ippy helps her stay enthusiastic about her work. “It reminds me of my younger self and my passion for change. And that’s why I’m invested in the O’Dowd Center. The world needs the kind of students O’Dowd produces. People who think beyond themselves – about the community and climate and health. We need them now.”
Confidence through Community Jennifer Walwark, parent to Aroline Dailey ‘24 and guardian to Darold Henderson ’10, Vice-Principal at School of the Madeleine in Berkeley and a lifelong Catholic educator, contributed to the Cor Unum Campaign because she sees it as a site for different styles of learning and engagement. “I’m especially excited about the state-of-the-art classrooms,” she says. “Learning looks different today than when the original building was designed, and it’s important that O’Dowd keep moving forward.”
“O’Dowd is a strong community because of our value: respect. The school instills students with the confidence that they can be leaders.” – Jennifer Walwark, parent to Aroline Dailey ‘24 and guardian to Darold Henderson ’10
Jennifer credits O’Dowd with teaching students strength of character and leadership. “O’Dowd is a strong community because of the core value of respect,” she reflects. She believes Darold ultimately persevered through college and work transitions because of how the O’Dowd community pushed him to succeed both socially and academically. And her freshman Aroline has joined student council lunches and applied to be on the school leadership team. “The O’Dowd community instills students with the confidence that they can be leaders and make their communities better,” Jennifer asserts.
Friends for Life Alongside robust co-curricular activities, the new Center will also serve as a central gathering place for parents and alumni. “I love coming on campus for events,” says Peter Monroe ’83, father of Jacob ’23. The Monroe’s gave to the Cor Unum Campaign because they relish community celebrations. “The Center will create opportunities to connect with other parents, meet new people, and share experiences,” Peter envisions.
“My closest friends to this day are from O’Dowd. I tell my son, the friends you make now are the friends you’ll know for a lifetime.” – Peter Monroe ’83
When Peter graduated from O’Dowd, he and a close-knit group of friends continued on to Morehouse together. “My closest friends to this day are from O’Dowd,” Peter notes. They’ve been in each other’s weddings, serve as godfathers to each other’s children, and look out for each other over the years. “I tell Jacob, the friends you make today are the friends you’ll know for a lifetime,” Peter declares. He looks forward to his younger son, Noah, now in the seventh grade, attending O’Dowd and enjoying community activities at the new Center. “High school is such an important time,” Peter contemplates. “Gathering together on-campus gives us a chance to share and laugh. And those opportunities to build relationships between families keep our community strong.”