The past is very much present at Catholic high schools of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
A fixture at Conaty-Loretto
On May 30, Bishop Conaty-Our Lady of Loretto High School held its 90th commencement exercise. Jan Chambers has been present for 40 of them.
Throughout that time, the school has changed names, principals (she has worked with six administrators), uniform styles and more. Chambers herself has served as department chair, athletic director, coach, teacher and yearbook moderator.
What has remained constant, however, is Chambers’ love for the students and passion to be there as teacher, guide, mentor and — after they graduate — Facebook friend. Chambers keeps in contact with 300-500 alumnae through various social media and phone.
Recently she hosted a ceramics class for some of the graduates from the 1980s. Chambers guided their hands along the pottery wheel, and offered suggestions for colors, much like she does daily with the current students at Bishop Conaty.
What has kept 40 years from becoming monotonous? “The students,” Chambers simply states. “I enjoy the school community, and the variety of individuals I have met and still meet. It really just boils down to the kids.”
Judging from the collection of graduates around her May 30, and the array of alumnae who frequently return to see her, Chambers has gotten her point across.
A ‘golden grad’ at Louisville
Louisville High School’s graduation ceremony, held on May 24, was especially poignant because the commencement address was given by a member of the first graduating class, Kathleen Villar Jacinto ’64.
Speaking to the 116 graduating seniors, their parents, families and friends, Kathy reflected on her experiences at Louisville and her own graduation that took place 50 years ago in front of a similar audience and, especially, the founding Sisters of St. Louis. The following are a few excerpts from her commencement address:
—“We just celebrated our 50-year reunion [and] we're even more a sisterhood now — each of us with life stories to share, each of us the same girl inside. From 1960 to 1964, that's when Mulholland Drive was still a dirt road, a girl rode her horse to school, and we wore French berets and white gloves on special occasions.”
—“It all began with the Sisters of St. Louis, some of the younger ones not much older than we were. They werewomen of faith and strength who had a mission to establish a place where young women would find their own strength through education, leading them to bring about a ‘world healed, unified and transformed.’ We needed it just as much then, as you do now.”
—“What has made Louisville special is that those Irish Sisters had a vision for the school that was forward-thinking, that encouraged growth and change with the times, while maintaining the school as a place of beauty, holiness and inspiration.”
—“So, about this ‘world healed, unified and transformed’: It doesn’t have to be grandiose. You’ve already started working on it, if you’ve been here. But just know that whatever next year brings, and the next, and the next, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to heal the world, in little ways — in college, in the work world, as a parent, as a neighbor, or wherever you are.”
A tradition at Don Bosco
In addition to family and friends, the 2014 graduates of Don Bosco Tech in Rosemead were welcomed by 70 Bosco alumni, standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the traditional reception line, waiting to shake the hands of the 78 newest alumni.
This informal welcoming started some time back, where the alums from all years form a hand-shaking line as the graduates are called up to receive their diplomas. As one alumnus of the 58-year-old Salesian school stated proudly, “It is a cool message of continuity and brotherhood.”