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Our Blog: The President's Corner
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The President's Corner
A Blog from Rev. Christopher J. Devron, S.J.


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4.2.2013 Just Healing Conference: Loyola University Med Students Mentor CTK Students

2.15.2013 King of Hearts 2013 Celebrates Growing Legacy of Success

1.25.2013 Carrying on Martin Luther King Jr.'s Legacy of Peace

12.20.2012 Merry Christmas from Christ the King

Past Posts...

2011 - 2012

2010 - 2011

2009- 2010





Just Healing: Loyola University Med Students Mentor CTK Students about Healtcare Career Options and Well-Being

“If you want to be a success, you have to make sacrifices and leave the person you are now to become the person you want to be,” the speaker, who was decked out in sweats, a hooded sweatshirt, and baseball cap, told CTK students who were gathered in the gym on a recent Friday afternoon.

Seconds later, after peeling off the hoodie to reveal a blue doctor’s coat and physician’s attire underneath the sweats, Dr.Katrina Wright, MD, shared with CTK students her journey as the youngest of eight kids living in a two-bedroom flat just blocks away from the school to med school, despite several major roadblocks thrown in her path.

Today, she is president of the medical staff and director of dialysis at a network of hospitals in Merrillville, IN.  Dr. Wright was at CTK to show students that despite any obstacles, they too can do what she did – defy the odds to “pursue a destiny of greatness.”

A mother of two, wife, triathlete, marathon runner, and woman of faith, Dr. Wright spoke of overcoming obstacles and surmounting adversity from hard-earned personal experience. After getting pregnant and giving birth to two children while in high school, she worked full-time to put herself through nursing school and college and went on to graduate from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

“You need to follow the desires of your heart, your childhood dreams, no matter what the obstacles,” she told CTK students. The key to her accomplishing her dreams: “Teachers who pushed me.” “If you have a parent or grandparent or teacher who is riding your case and pushing you, be grateful,” she said. “The bad thing is when no one cares to tell you when you are wrong. You have a community here pushing you to your destiny. You are where you need to be.”

Dr. Wright’s presentation opened a health fair and conference held on March 22 at CTK. On the Friday afternoon before spring break, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine residents teamed up with CTK students to bring awareness and share ideas about healthcare now and in the future. The event, “Just Healing: The Faces of Healthcare,” was a dialogue about healthcare professions and strategies to advocate for the health of the Austin and West Side communities.

“The students get to know and connect with medical students whose education also is rooted in the Jesuit tradition and to examine if they too are called to be doctors and serve others in a healthcare profession,” said CTK board member Sr. Brenda Eagan, IBVM, Director, Medical Ministry Program at Loyola University.

For the CTK students, the conference and health fair offered a glimpse at potential careers in the medical field, as well as the opportunity to learn about important health issues from body image and depression to domestic violence and managing stress with exercise and yoga.

For the Stritch residents, the ongoing relationship with CTK students helps them get to know their neighbors (potential patients and their families, and future med students on Chicago’s West Side) and to develop a cultural sensitivity and further serve the community.

The program between Loyola Stritch School of Medicine and CTK was forged in large part through Sr. Eagan and CTK board member and former board president, Dr. Anthony Barbato, Retired CEO/President, Loyola University Medical School.

Following Dr. Wright’s talk, students participated in breakout sessions in healthcare topics for the remainder of the afternoon on topics ranging from healthcare careers, and technology in medicine, to bullying and nutrition.

“Remember what you are made of and who you came from,” Dr. Wright told CTK students. “Know you are enough and have what it takes to make yourself successful.”

CTK Juniors Take Road Trip to College

It’s that time of year when parents of high school juniors everywhere are gearing up to hit the road over Spring Break to visit colleges of interest to their teens. 

CTK’s Class of 2014 got a head start.

Carrying pillows, suitcases and backpacks stuffed with snacks galore, 45 CTK juniors boarded a coach bus at 10 am. Sunday, Feb. 16 (President’s Day Weekend), for the five hour, 300-mile trek to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. (link to SIU)

There’s a ton of information about prospective colleges available on the Internet, but CTK students on the trip agree that there is nothing like a firsthand trip to a college campus.

 “I’m really excited about this trip,” said Jasmine, a CTK Junior. “I’ve looked into a lot of colleges, but I’ll know where I want to go when I see it. This will help a lot.”

Organizing a college road trip can be a daunting task for any parent, but multiply that 45 times. CTK College Counselor LeVon James gets an A+ orchestrating 24 hours at SIU. The agenda was packed full of valuable information including an academic open house, where students received information about possible majors, financial aid and scholarships and clubs and social organizations on campus. The visit included a firsthand look at dorm rooms and lunch in a dorm cafeteria (the ice cream bar was a big hit). There was time for fun too: bowling and a pizza party Sunday night, a stop at the bookstore to check out Saluki logo clothing attire and an overnight stay at The Best Western Saluki Inn.

One highlight was meeting up with three members of CTK’s first graduating class – Chris, Anthony and Larry, who are three of the five members of the Class of 2012 now freshman at SIU. The alumni joined students for bowling and lunch in the cafeteria.

The SIU tour was the second annual CTK campus visit, made possible through a partnership between the University and The Cristo Rey network. The thought of going to college can be especially intimidating for high school students who will become the first in their family to pursue higher education, but this program  also helps motivate and support students – financially and emotionally. .

College counselor, Mr. James, said the visit was an invaluable experience for students.

“The students had an opportunity to experience the social, academic and residential aspects of a college campus, which is always helpful in inspiring students to want to go to college and giving them a sense of what a college experience can offer them,” he said.”It was also nice to have the students interact with some of our alumni at the school. This allows them to envision themselves in college since the current alum are students who are not too far removed from the shoes that are current juniors and seniors are in now.”

Click here to see where our alumni are enrolled and follow the Class of 2013 as the college acceptance letters roll in.


King of Hearts 2013 Celebrates Growing Legacy of Success

By Steve Holte, Director of Development


It was a night to celebrate the “transformative power of a Jesuit education” for the 300 CTK students, the graduates now in college, and those students who will follow in years to come, Rev. Christopher J. Devron, SJ, told the crowd of more than 400 supporters who raised more $375,000 at the 5th Annual King of Hearts Gala held last Saturday.

“The real reason we are here tonight is to partner in the dreams and hopes of the young people who come to our school and to ask all of you to believe that God resides in all of their lives, those here now, and those who are on their way here,” said Fr. Devron. 

The opportunity to invest in the opportunities for young people on Chicago’s West Side brought together over 400 friends and supporters, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Alderman Ervin and other elected officials. We filled the gym with supporters who believe nothing is impossible for teens in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood who may have been born into difficult circumstances, but who share a hope for a better life. “We are here tonight to honor those dreams and to celebrate our founder and President, Father Devron, whose vision, dreams and tireless efforts in six short years have left a legacy of passion and successful education for students on the West Side of Chicago,” said Scott Murray, chairman of the CTK Board of Directors. He also announced the creation of the President's Partnership Fund, a fund to honor Father Devron’s work from groundbreaking to graduation and ensure CTK is able to meet the demonstrated financial need of every student who wants to attend. Click here to learn more.

The evening raised more than $375,000 to directly support students, students like senior Terumi, who spoke volumes about the opportunities Christ the King has made possible for her. She will be attending Middlebury College in the fall on a full tuition scholarship through the Posse Foundation.

“I am proud to stand here tonight to represent Christ the King,” Terumi told the Gala crowd. “I chose CTK as my school because I have seen what the school has done for me, other students, this neighborhood, and surrounding communities. This school has provided me with many opportunities such as school clubs, Christian service and Corporate Work Study.  From my involvement in these groups, I have learned not to be narrow minded, to be respectful, and to look at the whole pictures of any person or any situation.  These lessons make me want to become a leader for others... 

Christ the King has helped me extend myself past school walls as well.  CWSP has provided me with a job where I work to pay a part of my tuition.  I work as a mail clerk at Katten Muchin Rosenman Law Firm downtown.  From this job, I have developed a good work ethic.  This is important because it has helped me be a focused and driven worker.”

Terumi is just one example of the amazing students we have here at CTK, all of whom benefit from scholarships and other donations. We are grateful for the many sponsors and donors who made King of Hearts a big success and encourage you to spread the word about Christ the King.

Click here to learn more about The Million Dollar Challenge - a TENFOLD bonus for new donors.




1.25.2013 CTK Students Pledge to Be Part of the Violence Solution in Chicago: Project to Help End Violence on Chicago’s West Side

“We can’t put labels on those who are broken in our community, because they are our sisters and brothers too,” said CTK senior and student council president Sharieff. “We’re here today to ask ourselves ‘what can we do to help?’ We’re tired of watching 18 and 19 year olds in this neighborhood be put in caskets. Now it is in our hands to figure out what to do.”


This Monday, on the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., CTK students, faculty, staff and West Side community leaders gathered to celebrate Mass and continue our pledge to be change makers in ending the violence that plagues our Austin neighborhood. We set the wheels in motion for our students to work closely with community peacemakers to officially launch a student-led initiative to help quell recent spikes in shootings and homicides here. With the information they collected from Monday’s day-long programs and from their own experiences on the frontlines in Austin, our students are now developing that program. It will be announced in weeks to come.

But on Monday, a day I am compelled to point out was a holiday for high school students throughout Chicago, our students gathered for a day-long celebration of Dr. King, and his legacy to meet violence not with physical force, but with soul force. We vowed to carry on his efforts.

“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest response of any high school to the escalation of gun, clique and gang violence in Chicago and in every other city in the history of our nation,” Rev. Caleb Buchanan, SJ, Coordinator of all the Brooklyn and Queens, NY, Diocesan Outreach to Black and Caribbean Communities said at our Mass, which kicked-off the day-long series of programs.

Monday’s celebration speaks volumes about CTK’s commitment to carry on the peacemaking legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Those efforts keep multiplying. Two months earlier, CTK joined forces with NBA legend Isiah Thomas and Cure Violence/Cease Fire Illinois to host a West Side Basketball Peace Tournament to promote nonviolence. The tournament featured teams of young men at risk for violence from Chicago’s Austin and Little Village neighborhoods and attracted a host of city leaders and community members to support the cause – including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. 

Following the success of that event, CTK students want to do more to forestall violence by reaching out further into the West Side community to work with other teens at risk and to launch a plan. Following Monday’s Mass, students watched the movie “The Interrupters,” and participated in an interactive Q&A hosted by Tio Hardiman, CeaseFire Illinois Director, and one of the movie’s producers, to discuss not only the causes of violence, but to begin a conversation of potential solutions CTK students can take to end violence on the West Side. About 80 percent of our kids have been affected by violence. Some way or another, they know someone who's been a victim or a violent crime.

Also coinciding with the inauguration of our nation’s first black president, Barack Obama, Fr. Buchanan reminded us Monday that it was 50 years ago that Dr. King delivered his “I Have a Dream Speech.”  

“This momentous decree came as a great beacon of hope to millions of Americans who had been seared in the flames of attack dogs, firehouses, house bombings, church bombings, lynching, kidnapping and cold blooded murder in their pursuit of a free and equal America,” Fr. Buchanan said.”They welcomed the “Trumpet Blast” from the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their segregation and persecution.”

Unfortunately, a half a century later, “no American seems to be free from the ravages of American violence at its worst,” said Buchanan. “From the children and adults of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, to the innocent bystanders of drive-by shootings in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City, to the brutal gang slayings in cities throughout the land, from the ravages of violence, we are still not free. Fifty years later, the life of the American child is still sadly crippled by the manacles of unbridled violence and the chains of guns and weapons of destruction available to the most violent on demand."

Following the Mass, the MLK Day panel also included a handful of CeaseFire Illinois staff; along with former West Side gang member Clifton Booney McFowler; Cobe Williams, who appeared in the Interrupters and who scarred by his father’s murder, was in and out of prison much of his young adult life, Fr. Buchanan and members of CTK’s student leadership.  

“The solution has to come from you,” Hardiman told CTK students. “What can we do to support you,” he said promising CeaseFire Illinois’ help to work with CTK students to create a project or plan to end violence on the West Side.

“Now it is our hands to figure out what to do,” said CTK senior Sharieff.

1.2.2013 Reflections on Being a CTK Teacher 

As we begin a new year, we focus on the blessings your support has made in the lives of our students, their families, and also our staff, faculty and entire CTK community. Here, we share the reflections of Daniel Zundel, CTK's Director of Christian Service and US History and Civics Teacher in a recent letter he wrote to staff, students and faculty. This reflection ended with a powerful quote from Henri J.M. Nouwen and reminds us how these words come to life every day behind-the-scenes at CTK. "How different our life would be if we could but believe that every little act of faithfulness, every gesture of love, every word of forgiveness, every little bit of joy and peace will multiply as long as there are people to receive it and that--even then--there will be leftovers!"

A synopses of what Mr. Zundel shared in his note: 

Every once in a while at Christ the King I get strong reminders about why I teach and why this profession is so rewarding.  A recent Saturday was no different.

My day began helping the peer ministers and Campus Ministry with their Santa’s Breakfast.  I not only saw astrongturnout of student volunteers, but a strong presence of student-led leadership. CTK student Mya and her peer ministers ran this event from start to finish.  They set up, cleaned and made the young guests feel so welcome.  Christ the King was a warm, welcoming place full of happy excited faces.  

Our students brought their siblings, cousins, nieces, and nephews.  There love for their family members was so strong as they got their faces painted, enjoyed a pancake breakfast, and sat with Santa Claus for a gift.  I was blessed to witness this great opportunity full of student leadership, parent involvement, and staff support.  My thanks go out to Mrs.Cheryl Cattledge, director of campus ministry, for her tireless leadership to our peer ministers and to our school community.  She brought together all parts of our community for another successful event.  My thanks, also, to our CTK staff from our building supervisors to teachers to our development team, who helped run all the day's events.

The day ended with an unbelievable privilege.  I went with Mr. Andrew (Drew) Jones, our music director, our choir and parents to Hazel Crest Apostolic Church (HCAC), the home of CTK Principal Mrs. Temple Payne for the church's annual musical celebration.  The event began with a dynamic and OUTSTANDING musical group and the quality did not end there.  Our students were extremely nervous they could not live up to the standard of the musicians in the room.  I could see it in their faces and hear it in their nervous whispers.  But what came next was nothing short of the Holy Spirit.  Our students soaked in the spirit of the place and brought down the house. They sounded grand, belted out solos, and rocked the drum set.  They shined beyond all expectations. I cannot be more proud of them.  What struck me the most, though, was how well our students embody our Grad at Grad of Religious principle. These moments really bring such happiness to my heart when I see students internalizing these characteristics.

Mr. Jone's Drew’s leadership in pushing our students’ potential and being willing to bring them to events that showcase their amazing talent, is nothing short of awesome.  Thanks also to Mrs. Cattledge also for pushing forward our Each One, Reach One campaign and to Mrs. Payne, who invited CTK and the choir to her heartwarming and dynamic church.  It will be one prayer experience I will not soon forget.

The moral of this past Saturday, for me, is that CTK is at its best when all of our partners work together.  Besides the choir event and the Santa’s Breakfast, we had a service trip to Our Lady of the Angels in the morning and two President Search Committee listening sessions, one for students and one for parents,  along with two basketball games. 

In one day I not only saw our students and our staff involved but I saw board members, members of our Rising Leaders group and our Cristo Rey Network members and most significantly, our parents who were so actively involved in every event that went on during the day Saturday, including a parent pot-luck.  We are truly blessed on 5088 W. Jackson and it is a blessing to come to work each and every day.  May we continue to unite all aspects of our community toward a more fruitful completion of our mission.



12.20.2012 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Christ the King
We’ve had a wonderful year with much to celebrate! This summer we graduated our first senior class, the Class of 2012, 100% of whom were accepted to college. We are now serving 300 students and are excited to watch as they follow in the footsteps of our first alumni and matriculate to college.

During this season of giving, we hope you will find joy in supporting Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory school and our community of students, families, faculty and staff so we can continue to offer an affordable, faith-based education for high school students on Chicago’s West Side.

Here are several ways you can help us educate and inspire young people in the Austin neighborhood in 2013 and beyond!

  • Donate to The Magis Annual Fund If you are a new a new donor, you can receive up to a 10 percent bonus for your donation. Please click here to make a gift online.
  • You can also make a Gift by Check: Please make payable to Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School and send to Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School, 5088 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60644
  • Mark Your Calendars for our 5th Annual King Of Hearts Gala February 9, 2013. Click here for more information and tickets.

Blessings this holiday season.

12.10.2012 Mayor, Crain’s Chicago Business Shine Spotlight on CWSP

It was a Who’s Who of Chicago’s civic and business leaders gathered last week to help us shine the spotlight on the urgent need to provide jobs for our students at CTK and Cristo Rey.

From Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, to business leaders from CME Group Inc., Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP and U.S. Bank N.A, top city leaders came out in full force on December 4 for a reception in honor of both of our high school’s joint Corporate Work Study program held at Loyola’s Lewis Tower.

You can read more about it in this week’s Crain Chicago Business column by Shia Kapos. But let me take the opportunity to express my gratitude and share some of the highlights of the evening here:


  • Strong Support from City Hall. Mayor Emanuel opened the evening, urging the business executives to jump on board and bring on the jobs: "If you're serious about education and that it can open doors, you'll do this. You're not leaving until you do,” he told the crowd. Emanuel upped his commitment, announcing that he had added another work-study job to the one already in his office.
  • More Jobs on Board. The event brought commitments for 28 jobs each with $31,900 salaries, which go toward the student’s tuitions.
  • Who’s Who Sponsoring and Attending: The evening's host committee included some of the biggest names in Chicago business, many of whom have carved out jobs for the work-study programs. On the long list were John Canning Jr., chairman of Madison Dearborn Partners LLC; Mesirow Financial Holdings Inc. CEO Richard Price; and beer distributor and Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz.
  • Honoring Commitment. We honored the commitment of all our CWSP partners who since 1996 have provided have provided 844 student positions. Special honorees included: David Bryant, managing partner of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP; Marsha Cruzan, Chicago market president of U.S. Bank N.A.; and Terrence Duffy, executive chairman and president of CME Group Inc. Their companies are the three largest Chicago job sponsors for the program, which benefits CTK and Cristo Rey. Katten has offered jobs to students since the program began in 1996.


The evening was a tremendous success, but we still need more jobs. To learn more about the Corporate Work Study Program at CTK and Cristo Rey Jesuit High School contact: Jose Rodriguez at 773.890.6875


11.21.2012 Sacred Hoops: Peace Tournament, Historic Day for CTK

Last Saturday was an historic day for CTK.  We led the City of Chicago in bringing light to the issues, and looking for solutions, related to one of its most vexing and dehumanizing problems: violence on our streets.  In so doing, we lived up to our mission, helping our students become young men and women for others dedicated to God’s greater glory and the help of souls.  And we truly became a community hub for organizations—many rooted in our Christian faith—from all over the city, whose mission is committed to justice and peace. 

Speaking at a press conference held courtside, CTK student Lamitrius, a senior in the Class of 2013, told TV cameras and the crowd:

“For myself and the students at CTK who live in the Austin neighborhood, guns and gang violence have become a state of mind. Anger and violence go hand in hand as part of the reality of our everyday lives. I have never personally been hurt by gangs, but I can relate because my grandma has been. She lost her son when he was shot and killed by gangs. I was four-months-old and he was my father. Violence is a lifestyle here, but it is not how we want to live. I’m trying to stay out of trouble and that is why I am at CTK to get a good education and go on to college and get a good job.”

His words speak volumes about our mission and how it came to life Saturday. For all of us, being committed to social justice is very important.

Thanks to the help of CeaseFire, we welcomed and ministered to 24 young men from our West Side neighborhoods who are directly exposed, influenced and vulnerable to becoming agents or victims of violent crime. If you have a chance to watch this video, it will give you a glimpse of the power of that day. You can also view more media from the day by clicking here.

During this season of Thanksgiving I am grateful to all of you who support and bring to life our daily commitment to bring peace and justice to the community of people on Chicago’s West Side whose lives are threatened by guns and violence every day.


11.9.2012 CTK  Hosts Hoops Game Nov. 17 to End Violence on Chicago’s West Side

On November 17, 2012, I am honored to announce that we are joining forces with NBA legend  and Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas and activist Tio Hardiman to host a basketball tournament that will bring together young men from rival gangs for dialogue and a day of shooting hoops and hope right here in our gym.

As we know all too well, gang activity on the West Sides has triggered an epidemic of shootings and homicides during the last year. The event will raise awareness about the violence, and show a peaceful alternative to the lifestyle that perpetuates it.

It is my conviction that The Peace Tournament proves that when youth who are most likely to become victims and agents of violent crime seek common ground, they can join forces to form a united front for peace and nonviolence, and take a courageous stand against guns and gangs that plague their neighborhoods and our city.

We’re also honored that Tio Hardiman, director for CeaseFire Illinois, and parent of one of our  CTK freshman, is joining us, the NBA Hall of Famer and other community activists and volunteers to organize the event, which held Nov. 17 from 11-5 p.m.

“By getting gang members and other community teens together to play a sport, they have the opportunity to get to know each other better on the basketball court,” said Thomas, the former Detroit Pistons, who grew up on the West side. “We believe that it is hard to kill someone if you get to know him.” 

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is praising the event – the second Peace Tournament held this fall, because of its emphasis on community building and gang-busting on some of the city’s meanest streets, the streets of our Austin neighborhood.

“Christ the King has a proven program to help students from difficult neighborhoods succeed and by hosting the Peace Tournament they are showing what it means to be good steward in their community,” Mayor Emanuel told me. “The Peace Tournament promotes the partnerships we need to get gangs, guns and drugs off our streets.”

In September, the first Peace Tournament was held at St. Sabina Church in the Auburn-Gresham community on Chicago’s South Side. It was co-hosted byThomas and Father Michael Pfleger.  Bulls star Derrick Rose, Quentin Richardson, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson and other players served as “celebrity coaches” and took part in discussions about how to become peace builders before and after the games.  After the game, the participants returned to their community and were urged to share a message of peace.  

The free, one-of-a-kind tournament, which is open to the public, is to get rival street factions together to communicate and build relationships. In addition, Clifton “Booney” McFowler, a former West Side gang member, is helping us organize the event. It will kick off with a scrimmage between CTK basketball teams and Michelle Clark High School’s teams. A four-team tournament of players ages 15-18 will follow—some of whom are affiliated with various gangs from West Side neighborhoods, and have agreed to lay down their conflicts and compete. The games will be followed by open conversations about how to embrace peace and non-violence that will be facilitated by myself, Rev. Marshall Hatch and members of the LEADERS Network, Thomas, Hardiman, McFowler and CTK student leaders. 

Zeke Thomas, international DJ and producer, as well as the Official DJ of the NBA All-Star Weekend, will provide event entertainment and spin between games and breaks. Zeke, whose debut album releases in early 2013, brings his own passion and connection to the Peace Tournament as a long-time supporter of non-profit causes, and as the son of event sponsor Isiah Thomas.

Please come join us and help us continue to make a difference on Chicago’s West Side.

10.25.2012 CTK "Teacher to Work Day" Puts Teachers in Offices with Students

All roles were reversed last week when CTK students took their teachers to work with them.

Twenty-one CTK teachers and faculty "shadowed" students at a dozen law firms, corporations, non-profits and the City of Chicago’s Mayor’s office in our semi-annual “Teacher to Work Day.”

The purpose of the “Teacher to Work Day” is to develop an understanding and appreciation of the work life our students experience five days a month. The visit consists of meeting with the supervisors and shadow time with the student to discover what they do, observe the environment where they work and meet any fellow workers who might be available.      

The 12 participating corporate partners included: Ungaretti & Harris LLP; Urban Partnership Bank; Equity Residential; Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella, P.C.; Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP; Leap Learning Systems;  Lake Cable, LLC; Hub Group; Reyes Holdings, LLC; Banco Popular; ABC Bank and the City of Chicago’s Mayor’s office.

After joining CTK students at the law firm of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, Juan Fuentes, Desktop Engineer for CTK said: “They care about the students and they are invested in their learning and development. They encourage feedback and the need to communicate. The firm also provides them with responsibility and adequate training and expectations.”

 We are grateful for the role our corporate partners are playing in helping to mentor our students and build a stronger future for them and the City of Chicago. We’ve discovered that these workplace experiences have a transformative effect on our students. They become aware of the opportunities that are out there for them – that if they stay in school, they can be a doctor or a lawyer or work at a non-profit giving back to the Austin neighborhood. It helps them envision what can be.

10.11.2012 Honoring CTK Students Who Make a Difference 

At the heart of our mission at CTK is to inspire students to excel. Every year, since we launched five years ago, we honor students who are doing just that and more. Their accomplishments speak volumes about our outstanding student body. Please join me in congratulating the 2012 award winners:

The Elie Wiesel English Literature Award is presented to the freshman who best exemplifies Wiesel’s love of language and deep desire to tell stories that need to be heard and read by all.  The award is named after the Nobel Prize winning author, for whom writing is keeping alive memories to avoid repeating past tragedies and unspeakable horrors.  The winners of the Elie Wiesel English Award are Andres Farina and Ambie Riley.

The Uwem Akpan, S.J. World Literature Award is named after the Nigerian Jesuit priest and author whose works include the highly regarded collection of stories titled “Say You’re One of Them”, which “pays tribute to the wisdom and resilience of children, even in the face of the most agonizing circumstances.”  The award is presented to the sophomore who has best exemplified scholarship in the study of World Literature.  This year’s Uwem Akpan, S.J. English Award is presented to Marcel Washington and Alexis Porter.

The Lorraine Hansberry U.S. Literature Award is named in honor of the Chicago native, playwright, and activist, whose play A RAISIN IN THE SUN was the first drama by a black woman to be produced on Broadway.  Her literary works confronted the injustice of the time.  The award goes to the junior who has demonstrated exemplary performance in U.S. Literature.  This year’s recipients of the Lorraine Hansberry U.S. Literature award are Terrance Purdy and Jade Collier.

The Ruth Cave Flowers Award for Latin II is presented to the sophomore who demonstrates a self-motivated dedication to the study of Latin.  Ms. Cave Flowers spent her life mastering and teaching Latin, Greek, French and Spanish at all levels at a time when women—much less African American women—were discouraged from these academic pursuits.  This year’s winners of the Ruth Cave Flowers Award for Latin II are Aaron Porter and Mya Peters.

The namesake of the William Sanders Scarborough Latin III Award is generally thought to be the first African American classical scholar. Scarborough served as president of Wilberforce University between 1908 and 1920 after having been born into slavery. He wrote a popular university textbook in Classical Greek which was widely used in the 19th century. The William Sanders Scarborough is awarded to the junior who has excelled in Latin III.  This year’s recipients are Lamitrius Watson and Terumi Smith-Randle.

The Bob Moses Algebra I Award is bestowed upon the freshman who, on a daily basis, shows great passion for the study of algebra.  The award is named after the civil rights activist and teacher, Bob Moses, who began a foundation called the Algebra Project, which is intended to improve minority math education.  Moses is currently a professor at Cornell University.  The Bob Moses Algebra Award is given to Mitchell Dilworth and Kalyiah Robinson.

The Benjamin Banneker Algebra II Award is presented to a sophomore who has excelled in the subject.  Banneker, a free African American during the time of slavery, was an accomplished mathematician and astronomer who challenged Thomas Jefferson’s proslavery views.  In addition to learning these two subjects on his own, Banneker also taught himself literature and history.  The Benjamin Banneker Award for Algebra 2 is presented to Aaron Porter and Shamarrea Howery.

The Clarence Wesley "Cap" Wigington Geometry Award is named in honor of a great African-American architect. Mr. Wigington was a renowned architect across the Midwestern United States. In a time when there were few African-American architects in the entire United States, Wigington was a giant in municipal architecture.  His architectural legacy constitutes one of the most significant bodies of work by an African-American architect.  The award goes to the junior who has excelled in the subject of Geometry.  This year’s recipients are LaDerek Guyton and Caprishea Jones.

The Thurgood Marshall Civics Award is given to the freshman who has shown great interest in the study of government, citizenship and politics.  Thurgood Marshall himself was not allowed to attend law school at the University of Maryland, because of its segregation policy, but he later successfully sued the school over this policy. As a lawyer, Marshall won the famous case, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, in which the Supreme Court ruled that “separate but equal" public education was unconstitutional because it could never be truly equal.  This helped to pave the way for integration of schools across the nation.  Marshall won 29 of 32 cases he argued as a lawyer before the Supreme Court and became a Supreme Court justice in his own right. Aldontae Guess and Shacara Lawson are the winners of this year’s Thurgood Marshall Civics Award.

The Desmond Tutu World History Award is granted to a sophomore in honor of Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, who is often referred to as the moral conscience of that country.  Tutu broke racial barriers for religious leadership during apartheid, the period in which the white minority ruled South Africa and the black   majority was pushed to the social, legal and economic fringes of society.  Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, 10 years before Nelson Mandela was elected in the first free and democratic election in South Africa.  The winners of the Desmond Tutu World History Award are Malik Washington and Mahogany Beal.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett was an African American journalist and newspaper editor.  Ms. Wells-Barnett was an early leader in the civil rights movement. Throughout her life Wells was militant in her demands for equality and justice for African-Americans and insisted that the African-American community win justice through its own efforts.  She was active in the women's rights and the women's suffrage movements, establishing several notable women's organizations.  The Ida B. Wells U.S. History Award goes to LaDerek Guyton and Caprishea Jones. 

The Deacon Julius Frazier Religious Studies Award is named in honor of the first Religious Studies teacher and Pastoral Minister at Christ the King Jesuit College Prep.  Deacon Frazier, who passed away in May, 2009, was a champion of hard work, discipline and deep faith in God.  The winners of the Deacon Julius Frazier Award are Aldonte Guess and Jasmine Stuckey.

The Father Augustus Tolton Scripture Award honors the sophomore whose exceptional scholarship in the study of sacred Scripture is a tribute to the legacy of the first Black Catholic priest in the United States.  Born a slave in Missouri, Augustus Tolton’s family escaped to Quincy, Illinois, where he grew up and eventually served as a priest in a racially integrated Catholic parish. Fr. Tolton is being considered for sainthood by the Catholic Church.  The Father Augustus Tolton Scripture Award is presented to Malik Washington and Mahogany Beal.

Sister Thea Bowman Award in Morality and Black Catholic Spirituality is named for, the Franciscan Sister, educator, evangelist, and activist, who served as a beacon for cultural awareness.  The juniors who have best exemplified the teachings and life of Sister Bowman this year are DaVeon Burtin and Khadeshia Gray.

The George Washington Carver Environmental Science Award is named for the prolific inventor, botanist, scientist and pioneer in the study of alternative crops low income African American farmers could grow that would be beneficial to their health and profits. The award is given to the freshmen who show a similar curiosity for the natural world along with a concern for social justice.  This year’s winners are Aldonte Guess and Davionna Rodriguez.

The Robert H. Lawrence Physics Award is named for the African American military astronaut and Chicago native whose accomplishments had gone largely unrecognized for decades after his death in 1967 on a training mission.  Lawrence tested aircraft, and his research became instrumental in bringing space shuttles safely back to earth.  The winners of The Robert H. Lawrence Physics Award are Raphael Thompson and Jazmine Sanders.

Mae Carol Jemison is an American physician and NASA astronaut. She became the first black woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour.   Since her tenure at NASA, Ms. Jemison has dedicated her time to developing science and technology for daily living.  The Mae Jemison chemistry award is given to the junior with outstanding performance in Chemistry.  This year’s recipients are Sean Buckner and Sierra Robinson-Gibbs.

The Dorothy Day Christian Service Award is given to the students who live out a life of service to those less fortunate than he or she is.  It is named after Dorothy Day, who helped found the Catholic Worker movement, a nonviolent, pacifist, movement which combines direct aid for the poor and homeless with nonviolent direct action on their behalf. Day experienced a conversion after the birth of her daughter and embraced Catholicism, and she is being considered for sainthood by the Catholic Church.  The recipients of the Dorothy Day Christian Service Award are: Freshman level LaShawn Griffin and Deja Morris Sophomore level, Raphael Thompson and Shekinah Morgan Junior level Darius Johnson and Caprishea Jones.

The Martin de Porres Campus Ministry Award is given to the student who best exemplifies a strong faith in God and a commitment of service to the campus ministry department and to those who are less fortunate in the tradition of Jesuit secondary education.  The winners of the Martin de Porres Pastoral Ministry and Christian Service Award are Jalisha Sanders and Sharieff Robinson.

The Thomas A. Dorsey Music Award recognizes outstanding academic excellence in the performing arts.  Students who receive the Dorsey Award have excelled in music appreciation, and have found other ways to explore the arts through performing with Gladiator ensembles, volunteering in community organizations and participating in student showcases.  Thomas A. Dorsey was named “The Father of Gospel Music”, because he revolutionized Black sacred music during a time when Jazz and Blues were frowned upon by the church.  Our Dorsey Award recipients share in the fight for social justice through the acceptance of diversity in worship.  This year's winners are Jarqueze Halley and Ciara Booker.

The Mike Heaton Corporate Work Study Program Award goes to the freshmen who consistently perform at the highest level in the Corporate Work Study Program, in attendance and performance on the job.  It is named after Mr. Mike Heaton of Chicago, who was the first employer to sign on to employ a student at the first Cristo Rey High School, right here in Chicago.  The winners of the Mike Heaton Corporate Work Study Program Award are Darrion Sutton and Kenya Johnson.

The Tony McGuire Corporate Work Study Award is named after Mr. Tony McGuire, himself Jesuit-educated.  Mr. McGuire’s firm, McGuire Engineering, has employed students from both Cristo Rey Jesuit High School and Christ the King Jesuit College Prep since each school opened.  The winners of the Tony McGuire Corporate Work Study Award are Raphael Thompson and Keann Mays-Lenoir.

The Preston Kendall Corporate Work Study Award is named after one of the founders of Christ the King Jesuit College Prep and innovators of the Cristo Rey Model of education.  Through his diligence, faith, and belief in the students of Pilsen and Austin, he was able to connect hundreds of employers to the hard working students of CTK and Cristo Rey. Like Mr. Kendall, the recipients of this award exhibited the strength of this program through their character and committed work.  The Preston Kendall Corporate Work Study Award goes to Jamond Wilson, and Stephanie Houston.


8.23.2012 CTK Students Working at City Hall, Museum of Science and Industry Among Other New Jobs

One of the signature components of CTK is our Corporate Work Study Program – an educational model that leverages the resources of Chicago-area businesses, hospitals, law firms, banks, sports teams, non-profits and now, The City of Chicago Mayor’s Office, to make private, college preparatory education affordable and to give our students an extraordinary experience that will shape the rest of their lives.

This academic year, I am very excited to announce that we have added 17 new jobs and retained 96 percent of our job sponsors thanks to the hard work of Sandra Farrow, managing director of CWSP and her team during the summer months. This marks the first year our school has reached full employment in our history.

The scope of our workplace experiences and the rich opportunities they offer for our students has grown to include two museums this fall:  The Museum of Science and Industry and The DuSable Museum of African American History. Plus, we’ve added The City of Chicago’s Mayor’s Office!

This week Mayor Emanuel called me after meeting two of our students, Aldontae and Sharieff, who are part of the four-person work team for the job that his office is providing us. The Mayor wants all of us to know that he is extremely impressed with their professionalism, their manners, their maturity and the way in which they articulate their hopes for their future. If we are sending students like Aldontae and Sharieff into Chicago corporations and businesses, he is proud to support our program. He looks forward to inviting our students into his office for lunch someday to get to know them better, and he will certainly be a great reference for Sharieff’s college application to Notre Dame.

We’re excited about the promise the new roster brings at these employers:

  • Banco Popular North America, a full-service bank in Rosemont.
  • Best Diamond Plastics in Chicago, a plastic straw manufacturer for the restaurant industry.
  • Best Croutons in Chicago, specializing in the preparation and packaging of croutons, salad toppings and dried food items for America's leading restaurants.
  • BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois, the largest health insurance company in the state, providing more than 7.3 million members with comprehensive and affordable health plans.
  • Chicago Equity Partners, an institutional money manager working with some of the world’s largest public pension plans, corporations and endowments.
  • Chicago Urban League, Through unique community, corporate and civic relationships, the League has worked for almost a century for economic, educational and social progress for African Americans.
  • Cole Taylor Bank, a subsidiary of Taylor Capital Group, Inc. and the sixth largest bank in Chicago, with 600 employees and nine banking centers.
  • Dykema Gossett PLLC in Chicago, a leading national law firm, serving business entities worldwide on a wide range of complex business issues.
  • Geneva Investment Management of Chicago, LLC, an independent investment management firm located in Chicago.
  • Houlihan Lokey Global Investment, an international, advisory-focused investment bank with 14 offices throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.
  • Johnson & Bell, Ltd. in Chicago, one of the Midwest's premier litigation firms.
  • kCura Corporation, developers of the e-discovery software Relativity. Relativity is a web-based platform servicing the analysis, review, and production stages of the EDRM.
  • PNC Bank, provides deposit, lending, cash management and investment services to more than 5 million consumer and small business customers across 19 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Winston and Strawn LLP, international law firm that represents clients in business-related litigation, transactions, and regulatory matters.

Congratulations to our team. We are looking forward to these wonderful mentoring opportunities for our students.

CTK CWSP Featured on ABC-7’s “Heart & Soul.”

We’re also very proud of our college-bound graduates Emmanuel and Chris who were featured on ABC-7’s “Heart & Soul” feature program. The special feature documentary focuses on African Americans who are making a difference in the Chicago area. The program visted them at their workplaces during their last month as CTK students before graduation. Please take a few moments to view the video here.

8.20.2012 It’s “Back to School Day” at CTK

It’s “Back to School Day” today at CTK, as we welcome a new class of 120 freshmen, four transfer students, and our sophomore, junior and senior classes. This morning has brought me great joy and hope, as I watched our faculty and staff welcome all these students to the new school year.

I believe “beginnings” are very important: How we begin an event, activity or even a year can set the tone and indicate a great deal about our level of preparation, teamwork, mission-focus and professionalism. Today, I was very proud of the excellent job the CTK family did in the beginnings of our first day of school.

At the same time, our hearts and hopes go out to our college-bound Class of 2012 as this first group of graduates heads to colleges and universities across the country this week and next. We send them our prayers and look forward to inviting them back to hear all about their new journeys.

As we focus on what lies ahead, I’d also like to take some time to reflect on the myriad accomplishments that occurred behind-the-scenes this past summer. Here is a list of just a few:

  • Sandra Farrow, managing director of our Corporate Work Study Program, closed several commitments from new corporate sponsors, making this year the first time our school has reached full student employment in our history. And, the CWSP department retained 96 percent of job sponsors from last year. Read more about this in a blog later this week.
  • On Saturday, Aug. 11, we held our very first “College Send-Off” Party.
  • We held a very successful Summer Training Institute for incoming new students and new students and faculty participated in the Language for Scholars (LEAP) program.
  • CTK earned accreditation from the AdvancedEd Group in just four years (the soonest any school can receive its mark of approval).
  • During two summer school sessions, 75 students recovered credits they had lost.
  • Four of our students joined renowned sculptor Richard Hunt for a reception at the McCormick Gallery where his work is exhibited.
  • Faculty members Andrew Jones and Sharee Onyezia travelled to Spain and Italy for the Ignatian Pilgrimage of Jesuit high school educators.
  • Our Development team organized our second annual R!SE UP, geared to young adults, which raised $70,000 in financial aid for our students.
  • The Lizzy Seeberg Volunteer House renovation was completed and opened its doors as home to our 2012-2013 junior volunteers.
  • Teachers and administrators received professional development in differentiated instruction.


Congratulations on all of these achievements. We are all invited this year to help our students grow in their sense of belonging and purpose. If this morning is any indication of our future year together, we have reason to hope that we will, indeed, meet any goal we set!

Thank you as always for your support.

8.15.2012 CTK Sends First Graduates to College

Members of our first graduating class, along with many of their parents, returned to campus last Saturday for one last chance to spend time with their CTK family.

At the “The Class of 2012 Send Off Celebration” CTK leaders took the opportunity to reinforce to the college-bound students that the faculty and staff of CTK want to continue to make sure they have all the support they need throughout their college experience.

“We are a big family here who wants to show care for each other and for you as you take this big step” said Darryl Hobson, Associate Principal. “Today we want to recognize what you did to get here and hope you understand how everything you did had a purpose and set a foundation for the students who are behind you. Because of what you have done by making college a reality, you have blazed a trail for others to walk on.”

Hobson and LeVon James, College Counselor, also offered tips for the grads about college life and where to go to find support on campus. They offered informational advice on applying for scholarships for the next year and seeking out resources on campus like the library, health facility and student services departments. In addition, they invited the Class of 2012 to take on a leadership role for present day CTK students and promised a Christmas party and VIP seats for next year’s graduation, along with the prayers and support of everyone at CTK.

Remember, Hobson said: “We love you and there is nothing you can do about it.”

High Honors for CTK

In other good news, CTK recently was confirmed as an official chapter of the National Honor Society. The National Honor Society (NHS) and National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) are the nation's premier organizations established to recognize outstanding high school and middle level students. More than just an honor roll, NHS and NJHS serve to honor those students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of Scholarship, Leadership, Service, and Character (and Citizenship for NJHS). These characteristics have been associated with membership in the organization since their beginnings in 1921 and 1929, respectively. Kudos to all who worked hard to make this happen.

8.9.2012 CTK Students Meet Inspirational and World-Renowned Sculptor

Last week, Christ the King and the Thomas McCormick Gallery partnered to honor world-renowned sculptor Richard Hunt. The Art Room in Christ the King’s award-winning school building is named for him, in recognition of his lifetime of achievements as one of the world’s premier sculptors. The event brought together friends and supporters of Christ the King to appreciate the early work of Mr. Hunt’s prolific career. 

Mr. Hunt graciously invited four students from the Class of 2014 to a private showing before the event and even offered critiques of their sketches that they brought along to show him. “I am overjoyed that I met Mr. Hunt tonight and had the opportunity to see his sculptures in person. Meeting him has inspired me to continue to develop my artistic talents,” said Charay, who gave a speech about the importance of art in her life. The other students, Aaron, KeAnn, and Joshua, were equally impressed and spent the evening discussing their interpretations of the sculptures. Each student left with a booklet detailing Mr. Hunt’s work and an appreciation for a type of art that they had not seen before.

Our mission as a Jesuit school is to commit our gifts and talents Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam- to the greater glory of God. The creation of art and artistic beauty is a terrific example of this. We are grateful to be inspired by the work, the example, and the role model that Richard Hunt is for our students.

7.30.2012 Alumni Featured on ABC-7

We couldn't be more proud of Emmanuel  and Christopher -- two of our Class of 2012 alumni who were profiled on ABC7's Heart & Soul Program. They were featured for their work at Hoogendorn & Talbot, and ABC Bank, through CTK’s Corporate Work-Study Program.

With youth unemployment stuck at nearly 20%-- even higher for young people from Chicago's West side-- CTK students are earning to learn, while gaining invaluable exposure, connections and job skills.

Of course, none of this is possible without the extraordinary efforts of our CWSP team- Sandra, Artavia, Freddy and Andre, and volunteers like Jim Sweany—not to mention the support our students receive from their van drivers and our Jesuit Alumni Volunteers.

You won’t regret taking five minutes to watch this terrific piece.

7.11.2012 Cristo Rey Network Named Top 5 Midwest Finalist for Education


Hollywood has the Oscars and philanthropy has the CLASSY Awards. As one of the 24 schools in the Cristo Rey network, we’re proud to announce that the network has been selected out of 2,400 nominees as a Top 5 Midwest Finalist in Educational Advancement for the 4th Annual CLASSY Awards.

The CLASSY Awards is the largest philanthropic awards ceremony in the country, celebrating the greatest charitable achievements by nonprofit organizations, socially conscious businesses, and individuals worldwide. Help us move on to the next round by casting your vote before July 26:

The Cristo Rey Network is comprised of 24 quality, Catholic, college preparatory high schools for urban young people with limited educational options. Our mission is to prepare students for college success. The Cristo Rey Model is based on an innovative partnership between urban education and the business community that started in Chicago in 1996. Since then, the movement has grown to twenty-four schools nationwide. 97.8% of all graduates attend a college or university. Christ the King was the 20th Cristo Rey model school to open in the U.S.

Ignatian News Network Captures CTK Milestone Graduation

The Ignatian News Network has produced a great video about CTK’s first graduation, spotlighting members of the Class of 2012.  Watch it now to see footage of the ceremony and be inspired by our students!

6.28.2012 The Best Summer: CTK Celebrates Two Successes

Last weekend, more than 400 CTK supporters helped us raise about $125,000 to provide financial aid next year for 110 CTK students at our second annual R!SE UP event. 

The event, sponsored by our Rising Leaders Council and held at the River East Art Center, came on the heels of two significant milestones: the graduation of our first-ever senior class and the announcement that 100 percent of our graduates are headed to college later this summer.

To say we are grateful to all of you who have supported and helped make all of this happen is to understate. We have a lot to celebrate as our seniors have defied the odds in this West Side neighborhood where less than half the teens graduate from high school and the city’s highest rate of drug-related violent crime strip many teens’ dreams for college.

We are very proud. Others are taking note, including Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who addressed our students, faculty and community of supporters at the graduation. He reminded all of us that hope lives for our students – the graduates and future generations who are being supported by attendees at R!SE UP and now have a team of trailblazers to follow.

In just more than a month, the 50 members of our Class of 2012 will head to colleges including Marquette University, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and Loras College. They remind us that commencements are beginnings. We promise to stay with them on their new journey. Your generosity ensures that next year’s full house of CTK students also can aspire to someday be the future doctors, bankers, lawyers, and social activists of the West Side.

The summer has just begun and already we have so many successes to celebrate.

6.6.2012 Christ the King Celebrates First Graduation Saturday, June 9, 2012

Dear Friends:

On Saturday, our first class of seniors will walk across our gym to accept their diplomas. This is a monumental day in the history of Christ the King Jesuit College Prep and one that speaks volumes about the power of faith in action.  I want to congratulate this amazing class of young men and women who have faced significant challenges and worked hard to pursue their dreams. We especially extend our gratitude to all of you who have helped made this historic day happen.

As you know, 100 % of our students have been accepted to college. We will celebrate these triumphs Saturday. But the day will not be an ending. Instead it is a beginning and a launching pad for the bright futures that await the members of the CTK Class of 2012. The whole world is out there just waiting for them.  For news coverage and more information, please visit our Class of 2012 page.

In addition to the members of the graduating Class of 2012, more than 700 family, friends, faculty, staff and supporters of CTK will attend. The afternoon will be filled with moments of inspirational remarks; memory sharing and a celebration of all of you who have helped made this milestone happen. After the event, check the Web site and our Facebook page where we will share videos, photos and press coverage of the great accomplishments we can achieve when we work together for the greater glory of God.


5.30.2012 Class of 2012 Featured on ABC-TV

A special thanks to ABC-TV’s Frank Mathie for stopping by Tuesday and introducing others to the dignity and achievements of our young people.

Frank has been a special friend to CTK and has covered our story from the very beginning and as it has unfolded. We are grateful for his support. Please click here to view.

Below is a print version of his report that aired on the Tuesday news.  You’ll also find it on our Facebook page (Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School) and we’d love you to “like” us and share the exciting story of our Class of 2012 with your friends.

May 29, 2012 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- Four years ago Christ the King College Prep opened its doors on Chicago's West Side to give kids from crime-ridden, poor neighborhoods a shot at higher education.

Now, the first class of seniors are in the middle of final exams. Four years of hard work is adding up. In the tough neighborhood where about 40-percent of all students graduate from high school, every single senior at Christ the King is headed to college.

Some seniors are headed out of state. Others are staying around Illinois. All are following their dreams. The Jesuit high school tackled what some had thought was an impossible situation, and turned college into a reality.

"What it tells us is that with hard work and with opportunity and determination great things can happen," Father Christopher Devron, president at Christ the King College Prep, said.

Four years ago, 119 freshmen entered Christ the King, a renovated grade school. The class size has dwindled to 53 since August 2008.

"During these four years I learned that I have the same mental capacity as those who live outside my neighborhood. But I am no lower or no better than anyone else. And I can achieve the same things anyone else can achieve," Danielle Daniel, graduating senior, said.

For the graduates, it has not been just four years of hard work in the classroom. It's also been hard work in business and industry. That's how they help pay their tuition. All of the students work five days a month in local hospitals, banks and law firms. That pays for 75- percent of their tuition. It has all paid off.

Next week, the students graduate and start the next chapter in their lives.

5.22.2012 100% of First Graduating Class Accepted to College

Dear Friends:

Today I am overjoyed to share big news: Every senior in our first graduating class has been accepted to college.

That number is significant in Chicago where it was reported that about 40 percent of high school students drop out and especially noteworthy in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago’s West Side where the challenges for high school students and their families are especially acute.

Eighty-four colleges offered more than 150 acceptances to CTK students. The roster is impressive including: Marquette University, DePaul University, The University of Illinois, University of Iowa, Fairfield University, Bowling Green State University, and Xavier University.

Today we made the announcement at our first annual “College Signing Ceremony,” where every one of the 50 members of The Class of 2012 took to the podium to announce his or her college, share a favorite CTK memory and offer a pearl of wisdom for the student body.

On June 9, 2012 this first class of seniors will walk across the stage to receive their diplomas. “As we countdown to graduation, we congratulate our seniors on four years of hard work and dedication, and celebrate this significant milestone today as they announce their choices for college,” adds Rev. Devron.

“This is a momentous occasion for us as these young people are paving a way for everyone in this school,” said Darryl Hobson, assistant principal. “College is no longer a dream, but a reality.

“Don’t ever let people set limitations for you,” senior Shaquocora Henderson, who will enter Marquette University this fall, told the student body. “Go hard toward your goals and never stop dreaming. You have to do whatever you can with whatever is necessary to make it happen for yourself.”

At the ceremony, leaders from kCura, (, the Chicago-based developers of Web software for corporations, law firms, and government agencies, presented the 50 seniors with iPads complete with a case and a $25 Apple store gift card for apps.

“We want to help all of you be a success in college and equip you with the technology to help you be organized and connected to friends and family,” said Shawn Gaines, spokesperson for the company, recently ranked the 42nd fastest-growing technology company in North America on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500. The company had sponsored an essay contest for CTK students, promising to select 10 winners, but instead surprised the class by donating 50 iPads to all 50 members of the Class of 2012.

Please join me in congratulating The Class of 2012.


5.8.2012 Teen’s Legacy of Service Embodied in New House for CTK Junior Volunteers

Lizzy Seeberg was 16-years-old when she picked up some fundraising materials on her parents’ kitchen table about our start-up high school for teens on Chicago’s West Side.  “What does it mean?” the Northbrook teen asked her parents. “What does it mean that I have access to a great education and can walk the streets without any threat of danger when just 25 miles away kids face danger every minute and don’t have the same opportunities for education? What can I do about it?” her father Tom Seeberg remembers his daughter questioning.

Driven by a desire to get involved and make a change, The Glenbrook North teen rallied her friends from the St. Norbert’s Youth Ministry and launched a pink and lime green-colored picture frame making enterprise to help support students at CTK.  Her entrepreneurial efforts may have come up short on funding the almost $30 million building, but they sparked a word-of-mouth movement among friends, families and others she never even met who paid attention to and were inspired by her simple message – “we have to do something,” her father recalled.

Last Sunday, nearly 200 of those inspired by Lizzy’s determination to be present in the lives of teens in the Austin neighborhood less fortunate than her, came to Christ the King for our Mass of Dedication and Blessing of our newly renovated Lizzy Seeberg Volunteer House. Thanks to the generosity of nearly 250 supporters, we have raised over $255,000 and are within $15,000 of fully funding this project. More information can be found by clicking here.

“This is who Lizzy was, someone who put her faith into action by getting involved,” her dad told those gathered Sunday.  “Her spirit and compassion to serve others drove us and everyone she connected with. Lizzy only got 19 years, but in them she invested her love and her life and got to do so much more than I have in 49. The gift of our tragedy is a great reminder and a profound lesson in living our lives in the service of others. “

Lauren McCallick, a CTK junior volunteer who will move into the house said: “Lizzy seemed to have realized that even small actions have a great impact. Lizzy planted the seeds that would one day grow. It seems the beauty in Lizzy’s service was its simplicity. The house fulfills our desire to be present in the community we serve and among the students we teach.”

For those who want to read more, click here for an article about Lizzy’s lasting legacy of service in The Chicago Tribune.


5.3.2012 Christ the King Jesuit College Prep Dedicates Rehabbed West Side Three-Flat in Honor of Northbrook Teen

Dear Friends:

I wanted to tell you about our exciting plans for the Lizzy Seeberg Volunteer House. Here are the details:

Lizzy Seeberg Volunteer House Dedication Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 12:00pm


The dedication of “The Lizzy Seeberg Jesuit Alumni Volunteer House” in Chicago’s West Side Austin neighborhood across the street from the campus of Christ the King Jesuit College Prep, 5088 W. Jackson Blvd. Chicago.


In loving memory of one of CTK’s first and most passionate volunteers– 19-year-old Lizzy Seeberg, a memorial fund in her name has helped raise more than $250,000 to purchase and renovate a three-flat across the street. Our dedicated team of young adult volunteers will call the rehabbed apartment building home as they teach, minister and mentor our students. It will provide a much-needed and permanent home for our Jesuit Alumni Volunteer (JAV) team, who currently reside miles away in the Pilsen neighborhood. 


Sunday, May 6, 2012

            12 p.m. Mass – St. Ignatius Chapel at Christ the King Jesuit College Prep, 5088 W. Jackson Blvd. Chicago

            1 p.m. Dedication of the Lizzy Seeberg House

            1:20 p.m. Reception


“We’re excited about this visible and needed opportunity to honor the memory of a wonderful young woman who was one of the first volunteers to help our students,” says Rev. Christopher J. Devron, S.J.

When she was a junior in high school, the Northbrook teenager and member of St. Norbert’s Youth Ministry Program reached out to embrace our students and serve up compassion and kindness.  In addition to attending school events with her parents, Tom and Mary, Lizzy volunteered to help CTK with some creative fundraising projects – in one instance she rallied her friends to craft picture frames which they sold to raise funds for our students.

Now, through the  generosity of the Seeberg family and donors to The Lizzy Seeberg Memorial Fund, we have raised more than $250,000 to realize our dream of offering a home for the seven recent college graduates who spend two years volunteering as coaches, staff and mentors for our students through the JAV Program

Just three years ago, the corner of Jackson Boulevard and Leamington Street was a broken down playground encircled by overgrown weeds and a rusty chain fence. Now, CTK has become a rock in the neighborhood of Austin where so many structures have crumbled.

The Lizzy Seeberg Volunteer House spreads our shining light and hope across the street and brings hope to the entire West Side.

“Lizzy had a real sense that God had blessed her, and she wanted to give back to those who were not fortunate to have equal access to a solid education,” adds Rev. Devron. “For her youthful age, she had a mature awareness about injustice, and wanted to make the world a better place.”


To read more about Lizzy and her legacy, please check out this great article from The Observer, a daily publication serving Notre Dame and St. Mary’s campuses.


4.24.2012 Against All Odds: Remarkable Dr. Willie Wilson Inspires CTK Students

“What shall I do next, when I don’t know what to do next,” is one of the questions self-made millionaire and philanthropist Dr. Willie Wilson asked CTK juniors and seniors during a recent visit to our school. It’s also the title of this Gospel singer’s autobiography.

 “As a black male, I’m not supposed to be here,” he told the Wall Street Journal.  “I’m supposed to be in jail or on drugs. The system didn’t expect anything to become of me.”

It’s the message he delivered to CTK students. Despite all the hurdles – only an eighth grade education, racism, and a personal life of turmoil, he has succeeded despite seemingly insurmountable odds.  At age 13, with only 20 cents in his pocket, but big dreams in his heart, the Louisiana native left his sharecropper parents and 11 siblings in pursuit of a better life. 

Though he usually only speaks to college students, Dr. Wilson made a special visit to speak with our juniors and seniors. “No matter what you do, whether it’s mopping floors or emptying trash, to sitting in the corner office, always do it to the best of your ability. It doesn’t matter if you are making ten cents, ten dollars per hour or ten thousand dollars an hour. Always do your best and take pride in your work.”

We’d like to thank Dr. Wilson for sharing his story and inspiring our students in a profound way, to push ahead against insurmountable odds. He is truly a remarkable man and inspirational mentor for our students. We were honored to have the remarkable Dr. Wilson deliver his powerful message of resilience and perseverance to our students who have aspirations to emulate his success.

Today, Dr. Wilson oversees a multi-million dollar empire, which he built off the back of his faith, determination, and the money he made from McDonalds (he owned five of them). He has sung Gospel, founded a television production company, donates to numerous churches and is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of several successful companies including Omar Medical Supplies and Willie Wilson Productions, a television production company where he produced the first nationally syndicated Gospel Entertainment Show ever seen on network television. The show, "Singsation" is seen today in over 40 million homes around the world.


CTK Named as One of Top “Students in Action” Schools 

On Saturday, April 12, CTK was awarded a silver recognition for its commitment to excellence in community service among Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana area high schools in the Jefferson Awards for Public Service Students in Action Program competition.

At the ceremony held at the  Illinois Institute of Technology’s, Technology Park, CTK students were honored for their accomplishments in service and volunteerism and specifically how they have implemented the seven program goals of Students in Action throughout the school year, by presenting to a panel of adult and peer judges. Click here to view the press release.

 The Jefferson Awards was co-founded in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft, Jr. and Sam Beard, as the 'Nobel Prize' equivalent for public and community service. Today, the mission of the Jefferson Awards is to recognize, inspire and activate volunteerism and public service in communities, workplaces and schools across America: to be one of the largest stimulators of volunteer service nationally--with a special emphasis on youth service. 

4.13.2012 Weekend-Long “Party” Celebrating a Passion for Service

Recently, a handful of CTK students took a road trip to Cincinnati, Ohio to “party.”

In what was billed as “the biggest party you’ve ever seen celebrating student service,” our students participated in the National Youth Service Summit’s  weekend-long  series of programs probing the painful issue of “Modern Day Slavery.”

The National Youth Service Summit is the largest conference designed for youth to participate, celebrate and congregate around their passion for service.  During that weekend of March 30 – April 1, six CTK students - Nicole, Jalisha, Jazmine, Mya, Marissa and Stephanie, were among the 200 high school students who shared experiences and stories about the impact they are having (and can have) in their community to change the world. 

Daniel Zundel, a member of our Jesuit Alumni Volunteer Corps, who also heads our Christian Service programs, and accompanied students on the weekend trek, said: “The lesson of the weekend is definitely how can youth really be leaders of change for social justice causes they believe in.  Our students easily made friends from across the Midwest.  They truly enjoyed their time.”

The weekend is sponsored by a unique partnership with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, The Frederick Douglas Family Foundation and Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education.

Our students joined their peers in discussing issues about modern day slavery; viewed the Kony 2012 video and a film produced by a Holocaust survivor and discussed issues surrounding modern-day slavery. They also participated in a service project making bracelets designed to create awareness about teen depression and suicide.

Saturday, the students woke up bright and early and participated in a service project of their choice, ranging from cleaning up a park to making blankets and landscaping. There also was time for fun, including a Cincinnati Cyclones minor league hockey game and a trip to Graeter’s Ice Cream.

We are grateful as always for the opportunities like this weekend where our students learn firsthand the importance of doing good and making a difference in the world, especially when they are packaged in a weekend filled with fun too!

3.27.2012 Promising Chicago 8th Graders: We Want You!

With competition this year harder than ever to get into Chicago’s elite public high schools, our admissions department is busy getting the word out about the unique college preparatory opportunity Chicago teens will find at CTK. We’ve got our own ambitious goals, hoping to enroll our largest freshman class ever with a goal of 165 students. This year, we welcomed 86 students to our freshman class and so far, 60 students have been admitted for the upcoming freshman class. The momentum is building.

Now that the selective enrollment for these elite public high schools is closed, we’re trying to make educators and parents of the city’s brightest students who did not land a seat aware of the opportunity that waits at CTK. We’re calling on their grade school principals, teachers and parents to help us steer these students with significant potential to CTK’s stellar educational opportunities where we offer a safe, academically challenging, affordable and faith-based learning program.

We’re talking about (and trying to talk to) some of the City’s most outstanding students who did not get a seat because there were more than 14,000 applicants for roughly 3,200 seats at these prestigious schools.

We want to get the word out: We’re as passionate about offering college prep opportunities as they are and combining them with a faith-based education and corporate work opportunities. The current and continuing phase of our student recruitment campaign is targeted at the hundreds of West Side students who tested for these selective enrollment at high schools like Whitney M. Young Magnet High School and Walter Payton College Prep, but were denied admission because they did not score in the top five percent.

If you are aware of any students who are looking for a top choice, we hope you will tell them about CTK to help them explore opportunities here.  Our admissions process is accelerated and we work one-on-one with each student and his or her family.

To learn more about our four-step admissions process, please click here.


3.14.12 CTK’s First Class Bound for College

CTK senior Andrew, who has enrolled in the Reserves and is headed to St. Mary’s University in Minnesota, is on a mission. Andrew, who will leave his CTK family, and his mother, father, and four siblings, in a few short months, says: “I know what I want in my life; I’m not undecided on anything.  I know what I want to do, and I’m going to get it done.”

In a neighborhood that has been beset for decades by a depressing and all too familiar array of urban distress – gangs, drugs and unemployment, Andrew’s story speaks volumes about the CTK Class of 2012.  Our first class of graduates from the heart of Chicago’s West Side, is thriving and forging a whole new frontier.

Already more than 70 percent of the Class of 2012 has been admitted to four-year colleges. It’s an impressive outcome considering a 2009 report that showed that only three percent of African-American public high school freshman boys in the Austin graduate from college and that 40 percent of Chicago Public school high school students drop out, according to a recent report by WTTW-Channel 11.

Thirty eight of our 52 seniors have been accepted to universities and colleges ranging from the University of Illinois and Indiana State University to DePaul University, Xavier University and Michigan State. Sixty-three different schools have offered 101 acceptances to our students. To say we are proud is to understate.

“Every time a student comes to tell me about the school he or she has been accepted to it brings such a sense of joy to my heart,” LeVon James, our college counselor,  tells me. “I get beyond excited for the hopeful futures that lie ahead for them.”

As we prepare to hand diplomas to our first graduating class of seniors on June 9, 2012, we’re stocking up on our Kleenex and we’re filled with gratitude for the support all of you have given us to provide a pathway for them to college. But most importantly, we’re poised to give them a round of applause for their hard work and determination and we’re thrilled to look ahead at the whole world of opportunities that await them as they stand at this important threshold.

We taught them to long for what can be. Now, we look ahead at what college can bring for students like Stanley who faced incredible challenges, including losing his mother and navigating his way through high school with only a 21-year-old sister as his sole family member.  “I want get my education and be a role model for my children one day.  I don’t want to be like the people I see on the streets.”

I invite you to read more about the exciting opportunities that await our college-bound seniors by clicking here.

3.7.12 Why We Serve. How We Serve

About 60 CTK students, faculty and staff recently joined forces with more than 200 of our peers from the four Chicago-area Jesuit high schools to launch a new tradition with our first ever “Jesuit Day of Service.”

On President’s Day the students, faculty and staff gave up their day off to serve, underscoring the words of St. Ignatius and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which rang loudly.  "Love is made more manifest in deeds rather than words," St. Ignatius tells us. And Dr. King also reminds us:  “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.”

Anchored in the spirit of our Jesuit tradition of service, CTK students and community members paused to help others in their struggles at almost 20 organizations across the city, contributing more than 600 hours of service work. The other participating schools included: Loyola Academy, Cristo Rey and St. Ignatius College Prep.

The gamut of good works ranged from serving young children at Marillac House to helping at Deborah’s Place, which is dedicated to breaking the cycle of homelessness for women, to playing bingo with the elderly at Bethel New Life, and much more.

“What are you doing for others?” That should be life’s most persistent call, Dr. King suggested. I’m especially proud of our CTK community who underscored that passion and drive to care and made history by giving birth to a new Chicago tradition that day.

Daniel Zundel, a member of our Jesuit Alumni Volunteer Corps, who also heads our Christian Service programs, describes the President’s Day day of service this way: “Our students met new friends and even met up with ones they already had.  Besides the important service component of the day, it was so GREAT to see all of our Jesuit students mingle and discover the commonalities that bind them together.  It is the beginning of a worthwhile partnership between our four schools that will help build positive relationships between all corners of our city.”

The day would not have been possible without the help of our student leaders Marissa, Stephanie, Germanie, Shekina,  Mya,  Aaron, Shanese,  Sharieff,  Jalisha and Jazmine.

Also, a huge thank you to our chaperones who gave up their day off to lend a hand by driving, stepping in to help serve food, being flexible in moments of need, and as Daniel describes: “being an all-around great group of people to serve with.” They include: Lauren McCallick, Claire Alessi, Adam DeLeon, S.J., Megan Hersey, Michael Laughlin, Sharee Onyezia, Kamaria Porter, Becca Rassier, Jon Taus and Cheryl Cattledge. Also, a special thanks to Daniel for organizing.

Retreat, to Renew

Woven into the fabric of our strategy to offer a safe, faith-based and college prep education for our students is retreating once a year from the complexities of that daily calling.

On Monday, our faculty and staff trekked to Woodstock, Illinois for a day of reflection and renewal at the Loyola University Retreat and Ecology Center. The goal was simple: to build stronger ties in order to form a stronger commitment to our mission of serving and inspiring our students. The stakes are high, and the retreat helps us all to affirm what is important to us and to recommit to doing what we do every day.

The day-long experience was led by our unofficial chaplain-at-large Fr. Joseph Brown, S.J. PhD, who has been with us every step of the way from when CTK was only a hope and vision in our hearts, to today as we prepare to graduate our first class of seniors. Currently he is a Professor and the Chair of the Department of Africana Studies at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.  A leading expert in African and African American spirituality, Fr. Brown is a noted author and active lecturer. 

“Renewing the Vision” was the theme for the day, which provided a much-needed opportunity for our faculty and staff to grow as a community of faith, committed to our mission ad majorem Dei gloriam.  My personal hope was that we all left the day closer to Jesus, His call and His love, than we began it, and that we found God in one another as well.

 "Start where you see the pain and look around and see what you can do, and do it,” Fr. Brown advised. “Resistance, doubt and worry will come into play internally and externally for you. But you've got to push and push. You want to be part of something that makes a difference in the world. You heard a call to be part of this mission to care for these students. You came here to care, and then you met your reality. As T.S. Elliott says: '"Between the idea and the reality, between the motion and the act, falls the shadow."

Despite all the challenges, he reminded us to "just keep doing what you are doing.”

2.29.12 Taking a Giant Leap of Faith: Countdown to Graduation

Four years ago, a group of freshmen marched into our temporary building with the determination to build future opportunities unlike anyone in their families had ever experienced. For many of these teens from the gritty streets of Chicago’s West Side, this meant being the first person in their families to graduate from high school. On June 9, 2012, 53 students will make that come true.

But their dreams do not end there.

Every day it gets closer to the moment the seniors will march down the aisle to collect their diplomas. As that day approaches, the college acceptances and other good news about their futures continue to pour in. So far, 64% of the senior class has been accepted to at least one college or university. In the last week, we learned that two students were accepted to the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana. This is no small feat, as this is a top 50 nationally ranked institution and one of the more selective schools in Illinois. This achievement speaks to the tremendous dedication and commitment to success embodied by these two students. We also learned that two of our senior scholars received scholarships of $36,000 each to attend Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH.

Every day the list grows.

While naysayers would argue that the odds against teens on Chicago’s West Side are too tough, thanks to your support, our students are proving that the unforgiving challenges of the Austin neighborhood cannot defeat the human spirit. In awe, and with much gratitude, we will share with you our students’ triumphs in the weeks and months ahead as our first graduating class marches toward their June 9 graduation.

Bull’s Noah and Brewer Team Up With Sprite to Honor Two CTK Students Among 25 Chicago-area Students

In honor of Black History Month, two of our students – Navar and Lamituris (below)-- were recently honored by the Chicago Bulls when Sprite hosted the fifth annual “Sprite Chicago MVPs Program” dinner to celebrate the achievements of 25 African American male students from Chicago-area high schools.

Joakim Noah, Ronnie Brewer, Sidney Green, Bob Love and Benny the Bull were on hand to help recognize the accomplishments of the young men. The students each received a tablet as a special gift from the Bulls, and they will also attend a Bulls home game.

Students were selected based on academic accomplishments, community service and an essay. The average GPA for the students selected as Sprite Chicago MVPs is 3.3, and in total, the group performed more than 2,000 hours of community service during the past few school years.

Speaking Up for At-Risk Youth
We are also very proud of  CTK sophomore Vincente, who addressed an audience of 1,000 gathered at Navy Pier on Saturday night, February 25, for the 18th Annual Fleur de Lis Ball hosted by the St. Vincent de Paul Center and the Marillac Social Center. Vincente spoke with eloquence and passion about The Marillac Center and the difference it has made in his and the lives of his family. We were extremely proud that one of our own had the audience’s rapt attention from start to finish, and represented CTK so well.

Both agencies provide early childhood education and after-school programs that serve over 600 at-risk children. They also provide services for low-income people, homebound seniors, the homeless and individuals and families at risk of becoming homeless. Additionally, the Marillac Social Center offers youth programs and a comprehensive program for pregnant and parenting teens.

King of Hearts: Unstoppable Generosity

On Saturday, February 11, 2012,  almost 500 friends and supporters of CTK came together to raise $300,000 to directly benefit our students, making the 4th Annual King of Hearts Gala a tremendous success.

That evening Camille (below), a member of our first senior class, shared her story of determination, courage and will to push forward, despite the fear and uncertainty of the past to achieve a bright future for herself. Just last week, Camille learned she was accepted to The University of Illinois where she will major in the sciences working toward her dream of becoming a pediatrician, because she says “families are important to me.”  Her experience speaks volumes about the hope your generosity brings to our students and their family’s lives.

The next day, Camille carried the “Becoming Unstoppable” message to Chicago television viewers, appearing on Fox TV Chicago’s Sunday noontime Perspectives Show. She shared the lessons she has learned as a CTK student and the invaluable experience she is garnering from the workplace through her position in the mail department at the Chicago offices of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP.

“Hopefully she will give you the courage to be unstoppable,” Monique Caradine, the show’s host told the audience.

Since 1996, the Katten Muchin Rosenman Foundation, Inc., has partnered with Cristo Rey Jesuit High School (and in the last year with Christ the King) through our Corporate Work Study program, to offer dozens of jobs. Camille is one of four CTK students who currently rotate a five-day week at Katten.

12.18.11 Giving Thanks this Holiday Season for the House that Lizzy’s Legacy is Building

Days before Thanksgiving, as mason workers and construction crews worked tirelessly to rehab the red brick three-flat across from Christ the King, Lizzy Seeberg's mom, Mary, and dad, Tom, gathered for a small, intimate Mass in the high school’s chapel with the young volunteers who soon will call the newly-renovated building home.

“The house may be humble, but Lizzy would want us to make sure it has a killer sound system that pipes in country music,” her dad Tom, told the Jesuit Alumni Volunteers.

No doubt, if Lizzy were here, she would take charge of the plans for the house, which is named in her honor, he explained. The Lizzy Seeberg Volunteer House is being rehabbed thanks to the generosity of friends, family and others who have rallied in support of the Northbrook family and to pay tribute to the young woman who was one of the school’s first volunteers and who would have been 20 this holiday season.

As he shared memories of his daughter and “my Blackberry buddy – “we texted all day long,” Tom said the family has been overwhelmed by the “extraordinary compassion” of friends, family and even strangers who have embraced the family, helping to transform their anguish into blessings and a stronger faith.

They are grateful that Lizzy, “the spark, the epicenter of our family,” whose mantra was “let’s not talk about it, let’s do it,” will continue to carry on her commitment to help the students at CTK. The house will be home for the team of recent college volunteers who have dedicated two years of service to CTK. There they will find a place of sanctuary and respite at the end of every day where they work at the school teaching, coaching and making a difference in the lives of students.

If anybody knows what it feels like when adversity hits your life, Tom and Mary Seeberg do. But, as this holiday season approaches, they are very grateful for those who help carry them through the storm and committed to carrying on Lizzy’s deep conviction and commitment to the students of CTK.

“This house is a major milestone for our school as our young volunteers need a place to live and it will be a special anchor in the Austin neighborhood,” said Rev. Christopher J. Devron, S.J., president of CTK. “We are extremely grateful for the generosity and outpouring of love and support in the memory of Lizzy. It is very significant to me that it is literally across the street from our chapel.”

Lizzy Seeberg was relentless and passionate about helping CTK students, her father says. “I keep remembering her saying ‘ what can we do, what can we do?” he says.

And by all accounts, Lizzy took action, calling her friends together to make frames to sell to raise monies for the students and the school. “She practically ran a sweat shop in our back yard,” Tom says.”Her efforts were the genesis for our immediate family, and now so many others. We want to harness her energy and keep giving and inspiring others to give. There is so much work that needs to be done. Lizzy saw such hope for these students. We want to multiply her efforts. We have to keep igniting with her words: What can we do?”


10.19.11 Derrick Rose, What's on your Wrist?

Sacred Hoops: Bulls’ Rose Dons CTK Wristband

Talk about big time scoring, three CTK seniors – Reagan, Jessica and Kendra, made it to the head of the mob scene last Saturday at a State Street sports store to win Derrick Rose’s autograph, AND convince the youngest most valuable player in NBA history to don our wristband in an unofficial “game” later that night on Chicago’s West Side.

The Bulls player and Chicago native was in town to promote his new Adidas brand shoe – the adiZero Rose 2 - last Saturday, appearing at the Foot Locker on State Street. Joining the throngs of fans who lined up as early as 2 a.m., our trio of go-getters were right there not only to get their photos taken by the NBA star, but also to put their PR skills into play and convince him to don the CTK wristband in the competition later that day. Read more and see all the pictures at:

The appearance was part of a national Adidas-sponsored product launch played out on Rose's Facebook. Through the campaign, Rose, who grew up in the Englewood neighborhood, promised to stage three-on-three games with former Simeon teammates Tim Flowers and Randall Hampton at a “secret location.”

The fans, including Jessica (at left: posing with Rose), Kendra and Reagan followed clues Rose posted on Facebook throughout the week, showing up at the State Street shoe store to win a seat and discover the clues to the game location: the nearby James R. Jordan Boys & Girls Club and Chicago Bulls Family Life Center.  The rapper, Common, also was part of the crowd.


The NBA players might be locked out, but our student’s adventurous spirit and support for our mission always finds a way to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. Thanks Derrick for showcasing our wristbands, a brand that really matters. And thanks, Reagan, Kendra and Jessica for headlining our CTK team!




10.11.11 Honoring CTK’s Remarkable Students

At the heart of our mission at CTK is to inspire students to excel. Recently we honored students who are doing just that and more. Their accomplishments speak volumes about our outstanding student body:

Hydeia Bethea and Damon Johnson were named winners of The Elie Wiesel English Award, which is presented to the freshman who best exemplify Wiesel’s love of language and deep desire to tell stories that need to be heard and read by all.  The award is named after the Nobel Prize winning author, for whom writing is keeping alive memories to avoid repeating past tragedies and unspeakable horrors

Arthur Davis and Sierra Turner are the winners of The Uwem Akpan, S.J. English Award, named after the Nigerian Jesuit priest and author whose works include the highly regarded collection of stories titled Say You’re One of Them, which “pays tribute to the wisdom and resilience of children, even in the face of the most agonizing circumstances.”  The award is presented to the sophomore who has best exemplified scholarship in the study of World Literature. 

Christopher Dixon and Brittney Williams won The Lorraine Hansberry award, named in honor of Lorraine Hansberry, a Chicago native who was an American playwright, painter, and activist, whose play A RAISIN IN THE SUN was the first drama by a black woman to be produced on Broadway.  Her literary works confronted injustice of the time.  The award goes to the junior who has had an exemplary performance in U.S. Literature. 

Cordell Brown is the winner of The W.E.B. Du Bois Latin 1 Award, which is named in honor of the great scholar, civil rights leader and humanitarian, William Edgar Burghardt DuBois, who passionately fought against racism throughout his life.  He was an intellectual, having attended Fisk University, Harvard, and the University of Berlin—and having studied Latin. 

Terumi Smith Randle is the winner of The Ruth Cave Flowers Award for Latin 2, which is presented to the sophomore who demonstrates a self-motivated dedication to the study of Latin.  Ms. Cave Flowers spent her life mastering and teaching Latin, Greek, French and Spanish at all levels at a time when women—much less African American women—were discouraged from these academic pursuits. 

Shanese Randall was named the winner of the William Sanders Scarborough, who is generally thought to be the first African American classical scholar. Scarborough served as president of Wilberforce University between 1908 and 1920 after having been born into slavery. He wrote a popular university textbook in Classical Greek which was widely used in the 19th century. The William Sanders Scarborough is awarded to the junior who has excelled in Latin III. 

Jerett Parker and Asia Scott were named winners of The Bob Moses Algebra Award, which is bestowed upon the freshman who on a daily basis shows great passion for the study of algebra.  The award is named after the civil rights activist and teacher, Bob Moses, who began a foundation called the Algebra Project, which is intended to improve minority math education.  Moses is currently a professor at Cornell University. 

Mya Peters and Jamond Wilson were named winners of The Benjamin Banneker Award for Algebra 2, which is presented to a sophomore who has excelled in the subject.  Banneker, a free African American during the time of slavery, was an accomplished mathematician and astronomer who challenged Thomas Jefferson’s proslavery views.  In addition to learning these two subjects on his own, Banneker also taught himself literature and history. 

DeAndre Swansey and Camille Travis won the The Clarence Wesley "Cap" Wigington named in honor of a great African-American architect. Mr. Wigington was a renowned architect across the Midwestern United States. In a time when there were few African-American architects in the entire United States,  Wigington was a giant in municipal architecture.  His architectural legacy constitutes one of the most significant bodies of work by an African-American architect.  The award goes to the junior who has excelled in the subject of Geometry

Aaron Porter and Alecia Hood were named the winners of The Thurgood Marshall Civics Award, which is given to the freshman who has shown great interest in the study of government, citizenship and politics.  Thurgood Marshall himself was not allowed to attend law school at the University of Maryland, because of its segregation policy, but he later successfully sued the school over this policy.

Branden Jones and Jade Collier are the winners of The Desmond Tutu World History Award, which is granted to a sophomore in honor of Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, who is often referred to as the moral conscience of that country.  Tutu broke racial barriers for religious leadership during apartheid, the period in which the white minority ruled South Africa and the black   majority was pushed to the social, legal and economic fringes of society.  Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, 10 years before Nelson Mandela was elected in the first free and democratic election in South Africa.

Toni Ward and Markese Wise won the Ida Bell Wells-Barnett Award, named for the African American journalist, newspaper editor who was an early leader in the civil rights movement. Throughout her life Wells was militant in her demands for equality and justice for African-Americans and insisted that the African-American community win justice through its own efforts.  She was active in the women's rights and the women's suffrage movement, establishing several notable women's organizations.  The Ida B. Wells U.S. History award for excellence in the subject of U.S. history goes to

Jazmine Sanders and Aaron Porter were named winners of The Deacon Julius Frazier Religious Studies Award in honor of the first Religious Studies teacher and Pastoral Minister at Christ the King Jesuit College Prep.  Deacon Frazier, who passed away in May, 2009, was a champion of hard work, discipline and deep faith in God. 

Stephanie Houston and Darius Johnson were named winners of The Father Augustus Tolton Scripture Award, which honors the sophomore whose exceptional scholarship in the study of sacred Scripture is a tribute to the  legacy of the first Black Catholic priest in the United States.  Born a slave in Missouri, Augustus Tolton’s family escaped to Quincy, Illinois, where he grew up and eventually served as a priest in a racially integrated Catholic parish. Fr. Tolton is being considered for sainthood by the Catholic Church. 

Kyara Lee and DeAndre Swansey won the Sister Thea Bowman Award, named for the Franciscan Sister was an educator, evangelist, and activist.  She served as a beacon for cultural awareness."I think the difference between me and some people is that I'm content to do my little bit. Sometimes people think they have to do big things in order to make change. But if each one would light a candle we'd have a tremendous light." 

Malik Dorris Davis and Clarixza Hackett were named winners of The George Washington Carver Environmental Science Award, which is named for the prolific inventor, botanist, and scientist who pioneered in the study of alternative crops low income African American farmers could grow that would be beneficial to their health and profits. The award is given to the freshmen who show a similar curiosity for the natural world along with a concern for social justice.   

Sean Buckner and Terumi Smith Randle won The Robert H. Lawrence Physics Award, named for the African American military astronaut and Chicago native whose accomplishments had gone largely unrecognized for decades after his death in 1967 on a training mission.  Lawrence tested aircraft, and his research became instrumental in bringing space shuttles safely back to earth

Tatiana Sims and Roshawn Treadwell won the Mae Carol Jemison Award, named for the American physician and NASA astronaut. She became the first black woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour.  

Lamituris Watson won The Dorothy Day Christian Service Award, which given to the student who lives out a life of service to those less fortunate than he or she is.  It is named after Dorothy Day, who helped found the Catholic Worker movement, a nonviolent, pacifist, movement which combines direct aid for the poor and homeless with nonviolent direct action on their behalf. Day experienced a conversion after the birth of her daughter and embraced Catholicism, and she is being considered for sainthood by the Catholic Church. 

Jessica Douglas was named recipient of The Martin de Porres Campus Ministry Award, which is given to the student who best exemplifies a strong faith in God and a commitment of service to the campus ministry department and to those who are less fortunate in the tradition of Jesuit secondary education. 

Johnny Hatten and Jazmine Sanders won The Thomas A. Dorsey Music Award, which recognizes outstanding academic excellence in the performing arts.  Students who receive the Dorsey Award have excelled in music appreciation, and have found other ways to explore the arts through performing with Gladiator ensembles, volunteering in community organizations and participating in student showcases.  Thomas A. Dorsey was named “The Father of Gospel Music”, because he revolutionized Black sacred music during a time when Jazz and Blues were frowned upon by the church.  Our Dorsey Award recipients share in the fight for social justice through the acceptance of diversity in worship. 

Raphael Thompson and Lashai Gholston are the winners of The Mike Heaton Corporate Work Study Program Award, which goes to the freshman who consistently performs at the highest level in the Corporate Work Study Program, in attendance and performance on the job.  It is named after Mr. Mike Heaton of Chicago, who was the first employer to sign on to employ a student at the first Cristo Rey High School, right here in Chicago.  The winners of the Mike Heaton Corporate Work Study Program Award are Raphael Thompson and Lashai Gholston.

Caprishea Jones and Dominique Jackson won The Tony McGuire Corporate Work Study Award, named after Mr. Tony McGuire, himself Jesuit-educated.  Mr. McGuire’s firm, McGuire Engineering, has employed students from both Cristo Rey Jesuit High School and Christ the King Jesuit College Prep since each school opened. 

Shaquocora Henderson, Emmanuel Cobb, and Markeese Wise were named winners of The Preston Kendall Corporate Work Study Award is named after one of the founders of Christ the King Jesuit College Prep and innovators of the Cristo Rey Model of education.  Through his diligence, faith, and belief in the students of Pilsen and Austin, he was able to connect hundreds of employers to the hard working students of CTK and Cristo Rey. Like Mr. Kendall, the recipients of this award exhibited the strength of this program through their character and committed work. 

The Grad at Grad Awards for Overall Excellence go to the students who have demonstrated most consistently that they have been or are becoming intellectually competent, open to growth, religious, loving, committed to doing justice and positively work experienced during the current school year.  The winners of the Grad at Grad Awards for Overall Excellence for freshmen are Joshua Lomax and Jazmine Sanders.  For sophomores: Sean Buckner and Lanita Brooks.  And for juniors: Larry Carr and Mariah Moore.

9.29.11 After-Hours: Community Service and Talent Opportunities Grow

Whether it is early Saturday morning community service projects serving Chicago’s West Side, or cultural-enrichment offerings like ethnic cooking classes, opportunities to share their dreams in writing and some serious efforts to help students navigate the challenges they face in daily living, after-hours at CTK are buzzing with activity.

I’m very excited about this multiplying range of opportunities that serve to broaden our student’s horizons and offer hope for lives of fullness and abundance.Here let me offer a small glimpse of what I’ve witnessed in the last week: We’re offering a social justice club, a cooking club and launching a newspaper and yearbook to honor our first class of graduating seniors and the classes that will follow their lead.Students are being mentored through the national Junior Achievement organization.

On the service front, last Saturday, about 15 students showed up at 6:20 a.m. to volunteer forThe 4th Annual Lawndale 5K Walk/Run. (Imagine teens being awake that early).There, they helped set up the event, blowing up balloons, painting the streets with colorful creations to help inspire the runners and cheer them to the finish line, and manned water stations and cleaned up after the race.

Earlier in the week, we held a “Gladiatorpalooza” to introduce students to the myriad extracurricular activities. At the event, about 27 students signedup to be ambassadors to spread the good news about our school; the line for praise dance was 25-plus long, and more than 20 clubs were formed ranging from drama and band to a ultimate Frisbee club.

We’re also offering a support group for students who have lost a friend or close family member to violence and are launching a school newspaper and yearbook club for our first graduating senior class. There’s a chess club, our choir and a Spoken Word club. And, we’re giving students opportunities for Christian service through our “Students in Action Leadership Team.”

Any opportunity for our students to experience the “more,” in what life can be and who they can be as future men and women for others, is a sign of hope for them. All these opportunities are possible because of the support all of you offer our students in prayers, caring and financial generosity. We are grateful.

9.15.11 12 Students, 12 Lessons from the Ranch

Deep in the heart of Wyoming’s Sierra Madre range, 12 Christ the King students from Chicago’s West Side Austin neighborhood spent a week this summer learning to ride horses, mountain bike, rock climb and camp. For most, the week at Brush Creek Ranch was a week of firsts: first plane ride; first outside camping experience and first encounter with the beauty of the rugged terrain and roaming buffalo herds. There, they reached inside- and out to each other – to take on the risks and challenges. Together, they learned lessons on teamwork, self-confidence and discovered who they are.

Here, in their own words, we round up their experiences in 12 lessons learned on their trailblazing adventure:

1. Adversity tests your strength. “Facing new situations where you are afraid teaches you how strong you are and that if you can face your fears you will find that there is so much more to life. Heading out into the wilderness reminded me of being 14 and a freshman at CTK and what it was like to go to work the first time and be alongside people who were twice your age and you had no idea what to expect. But, in both places we learned that were not being blindfolded into the dark, our teachers, the people at our jobs and the guides are holding our hands every step of the way.” – Danielle

2. Push yourself. “I wanted to go back up to the lodge, but everyone pushed me and I did it. I made it to the top of the mountain and I made it back down. It made me feel really good about myself because I accomplished a goal that I didn’t think I could. “- Jessica

3. Accept life’s hurdles. “Horseback riding taught me about facing challenges. My first horse didn’t listen and was stubborn. My second horse took off on a dead sprint. I realized I had no control and that life is like that, it can turn bad real fast. You just have to deal with whatever happens.” – Andrew

4. Face your fears. “I was so afraid a bear was going to sneak into our tent. It reminded me of my freshman year when we showed up in the basement of the old building and I was feeling so overwhelmed. But I realized that if you stay in that fear it will lead to something good. After a few nights of being really scared, I looked up at the sky one night and saw these beautiful stars.” - Neferteri

5. Take control. “Horseback riding taught me that you have to take control of the horse, or he will take control of you. Even if you are afraid, you have to stay in charge and that is what leadership is all about.” – Kyara

6. Nature is filled with surprises. “The most exciting experience for me was the buffalo ride. We had the chance to drive on ATV Rangers through buffalo territory. I never imagined seeing a buffalo, let alone being a couple of feet away from one.” - Stanley

7. Take risks. “With the rock climbing I learned that you aren’t going to be naturally good at everything you take a leap at, but it’s always worth the risk. When you would fall or stumble, they would be there to catch you. Falling and tripping was a way to gain strength. You’d get back up with power and enthusiasm – wanting to do more.” – Sharieff

8. Just breath. “I learned that life brings you all kinds of challenges, whether it is not being able to sleep in a tent for three nights or going to a university next year, you just have to put on a new attitude, take a deep breath and you will get through it. Life is filled with changing conditions that take you outside of your comfort zone. Being outdoors changed my mindset and as I get ready to go to college, I know I just need to catch my breath and push forward.”- Kendra

9. New experiences bring you closer together. “All the things that challenged us physically and mentally could have left us all feeling really frustrated. But we got together and brainstormed solutions to some of the challenges. This was a life skill that prepared me to be a better leader in the future, that as a leader you have to give it one more try. We came here as friends who knew each other for two or three years, and I left with a group of new brothers and sisters.” – DeAndre

10. Punt. “Somehow the airlines lost my luggage for three days, so I just had to accept it and do my best. It reminded me of being a freshman when I came here and was very shy and had a hard time opening up to new experiences and weather the difficulties. I think it makes you a stronger person.- Marissa

11. Enjoy the company along the way. “The experience was fun, but it was being around all the people and friends that made it so enjoyable. Everything at the ranch was excellent, but the people that came along the way made the trip greater. I wouldn’t have chosen a better group of people to take a trip with to Brush Creek Ranch.” – Kemett

12. Teamwork matters. “We depended on each other and we took care of each other the whole week. I also learned that I can live without my cell phone and there’s more to life that talking on the phone or watching TV." - Tatianna

We'd especially like to thank Bruce and Beth White, Chicago residents and owners of Brush Creek Ranch who fully underwrote the costs for our students to spend a week at this outdoor leadership program. And thank you to Kevin Comcowich and Maile McLaughlin who helped underwrite the transportation expenses.


9.7.2011 Welcome Back: CTK Ushers in First Senior Class and CTK Featured on National Public Radio

Tune in to WBEZ-FM Sunday, Sept. 11 at noon and Monday, Sept. 12 at 1 p.m. to hear the CTK interview.

Marlon Williams, Dean of Students and Mathematics Teacher, greets students on the first day.It was the official back-to-school day when students arrived welcoming our first senior class and the fastest-growing student body in the Cristo Rey network. At the same time, we welcomed the crew from national public radio for a feature about CTK offering "a ray of hope, " to our nation's educational system. To say the excitement filled the halls is an understatement.  (Right: Marlon Williams, Dean of Students and Mathematics Teacher, greets students on the first day. Photo by Bill Healy)

“Our job is to prepare you for college, and now you are practicing your college behaviors,” Latin teacher Charlie Barlow told the senior class. “Next year you will be college students, carrying on an indelible mark for all our students behind you. This is your practice year for college. You’re almost there. This is a big year.”

The seniors will test their readiness for college all year, but signs that we’re growing stronger and accomplishing our goals are fueled by affirmations from the public. Later this week, CTK will be featured in a national public radio documentary series about the plight of African-American teen boys and the challenges they face in our nation’s educational system.

Seniors Emmanuel and Stanley with Rob Birdsell, President of the Cristo Rey Network, in front of the school.CTK will be featured on the Tavis Smiley documentary “Too Important to Fail,” which will premiere this Friday on NPR and PRI national and international airwaves, and on local WBEZ-FM Sunday, Sept. 11 at noon. (Left: Seniors Emmanuel (left) and Stanley (right) with Rob Birdsell, President of the Cristo Rey Network, in front of the school.  All three were interviewed for the radio story. Photo by Bill Healy)


On the airwaves, CTK senior Emmanuel discusses the hope and inspiration he has found as a student at our school. He is joined by Rob Birdsell, President & CEO at Cristo Rey Network who speaks volumes about the hope CTK and the other 23 Cristo Rey schools bring to Emmanuel and 6,500 high school stations in its network. The radio program promotes a five-part PBS-TV series Smiley is doing on “The Education of African-American Boys and their Impact on America,” which will premiere on Tuesday, September 13 at 8 PM Eastern on PBS.

Senior Emmanuel poses in front of the banners of colleges and universities-- some of which he will soon be applying to for admission in Fall 2012. “This school has given me a chance to do something I never could have imagined,” Emmanuel said during the taping Tuesday at CTK. He plans to attend an engineering program in college next year and is busy preparing to apply.“At first it was tough walking home through the neighborhood in a shirt and tie and hearing all the stuff guys were saying. But now they leave me alone and I think many of them look at me and wish they could be in my shoes.“Emmanuel works five days a month (and kept his job five days a week last summer) at the law firm of Hoogendoorn & Talbott LLP, through CTK’s Corporate Work Study Program.   (Right: Senior Emmanuel poses in front of the banners of colleges and universities-- some of which he will soon be applying to for admission in Fall 2012. Photo by Bill Healy)

Tune in to WBEZ-FM Sunday, Sept. 11 at noon and Monday, Sept. 12 at 1 p.m.

to hear the CTK interview.


8.10.11 Not the Average Saturday Yardwork 

Seeberg Family Effort at CTK Yields Beautiful Results

By Guest Blogger and CTK CFO, Stewart Schoder 

This past Saturday, 46 members of the Seeberg family from seven states--from Bill (Loyola Academy '43) to a five-month-old--gathered at CTK to landscape the front and back yards of the Lizzy Seeberg Volunteer House.  The house, recently purchased with contributions to the Lizzy Seeberg Memorial Fund, is just across Jackson Boulevard from CTK and will house the Jesuit Alumni Volunteers (JAVs), a group of recent college graduates who volunteer for two years to teach, coach, and mentor our students.  Brian Henning of The Brickman Group, a Chicago-based landscaping firm, generously donated the labor of a four-man team, equipment, expertise, and direction, and provided all materials at cost.  I spoke to neighbors in four nearby houses, who were highly enthusiastic.  Stacy St. Clair and William DeShazer of the Chicago Tribune were there for more than an hour, and interviewed many of the participants; on Monday, The House that Lizzy Built  appeared in the Tribune.  Daniel Zundel, a second-year JAV, and two of our new JAVs joined the Seeberg family for lunch in our cafeteria, and the family ended the day with a tour of CTK.  We’re very grateful to Lizzy’s parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins, who provided this day of service in her honor and—like Lizzy herself—exemplify CTK’s ideals and mission.  AMDG!


8.1.2011 CTK Class of 2012 Helps Others

Rising Seniors Hold Junior Carnival for Neighborhood Children and One Senior Featured in National Ad Campaign


The Class of 2012 rallied together earlier this summer to put on a carnival, complete with games, prizes and face painting, for the community. The carnival raised money for senior activities while also giving back to the Austin Community.  Please enjoy the video below created by one of our seniors.

:Also, look for one of our students on newsstands everywhere.  A CTK senior is featured in a new Cristo Rey Network advertisement (at right), which will debut in an upcoming issue of U.S. Catholic. The advertisement, with tagline "Twice as Likely to Go, Twice as Likely to Stay," speaks to the fact that students at Cristo Rey Network high schools are twice as likely as their peers at other schools to attend and remain in college.  It asks people to visit the Cristo Rey Network website to learn more.

Please click below to view the video from the Class of 2012 Junior Carnival.

7.10.2011 Sponsor a Job: Help Us Find Work for Our Students this Fall Semester

CTK Students Need Jobs for the 2011-2012 School Year

At CTK, we're in business to create a bright future for our students.  In addition to a college prep education and a faith-based foundation, our Corporate Work Study Program places our students on the front lines of today's workforce at some of the Chicago area's most prestigious hospitals, law firms, banks, corporations, sports teams and non-profit organizations, allowing them to gain mentoring experience and earn almost three-fourths of their tuition.  The remainder of the cost is covered by their families. 

As the fall semester approaches, we need to fill more than 20 jobs.  I ask you:  How would your workplace look if you hired one of our talented students?  The benefits to you: Simultaneously gain reliable, productive, cost-effective entry-level workers and satisfy your philanthropic, community and diversity outreach objectives.

I ask you to consider joining the ranks of about 50 corporate sponsors by sponsoring a job today.  Also, a special thanks to the newcomers who have signed on board this summer, who include:

Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge

Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella P.C.

Equity Residential in Chicago

Lake Cable LLC in Bensenville

Valor Equity Partners in Chicago

Vanguard West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park

Find out how your firm can hire reliable, cost-effective workers while helping our students work towards a future that thanks to you, may be possible.  Call or e-mail Preston Kendall, Vice President of the Corporate Work Study Program at 773.261.7505 ext. 225.


6.15.11 Two Ways to Give: Just “Tri” It and Join Us at Rise Up!
A CTK Supporter To Cross Finish Line for Students

At CTK, it is so inspiring to witness the heroes that emerge among us – ordinary people who do extraordinary things to help bring hope and a bright future to our students.  

Like many of our supporters, Jacopo Leonardi, a father of four and Baxter executive, came through our doors for a specific role. He helps mentor students in our Summer Workshop program, which readies them for the workplace. More often, volunteers like Jacopo, are inspired to keep giving back to CTK with feats big and small.

This Saturday, Jacopo will compete in the High Cliff 70.3 Mile Ironman Triathlon in Sherwood, Wisconsin. He will swim 1.2 miles, cycle 56 miles and then run13.1 miles, with a goal to rally support for CTK students as he crosses the finish line. He is dedicating the race “to all kids out there who deserve a chance,” and is asking friends and supporters to contribute to two youth organizations, one being our Adopt-A-Student program.  I encourage you to join his “virtual team,” and help led support to his efforts to draw attention to CTK.

Here is what Jacopo writes about CTK in his letter to potential donors:  “I have been lucky in that I have had a chance to interact with many of the remarkable students, teachers, administrators, and other supporters. Last summer, I helped develop and teach the Summer Workshop.  What an amazing place!  The kids are absolutely delightful, full of energy and promise! One of the things that impresses me most is that these kids at 14-years-old are choosing to work five days a month to help pay for their education. It all goes to their tuition. These kids are truly remarkable!  I believe the following statistic says it best: Less than 60% of kids from the Austin neighborhood in Chicago who go to public school graduate high school. Yet, over 90% of children taught at a Cristo Rey school attend a college or university. This is amazing!  And it gives these kids a chance!”

If you want to support Jacopo’s goal, please visit our Adopt-A-Student secure giving page. Don’t worry about the “Please ensure that the amount of your gift for this program is $3,000 or more” as pledges in support of Jacopo can be any amount.  Please write “Jac’s Triathlon” in the “Specification” section.



Join us this Friday!

Don’t forget to join us Friday, June 17th, 2011 from 6:30pm to 10:30pm at the Harold Washington Library.  Our Rising Leaders Council is serving up an an evening of cocktails, music, and inspiration benefiting our students of Christ the King Jesuit College Prep.

Click here to join us or support this event!

Have a wonderful evening and make an incredible impact!


6.9.11 Her Generosity Steers CTK Students to Pursue Their Hopes

In the midst of launching a high school in a struggling neighborhood raw and wounded by unemployment, violence and isolation, we are most touched by those who show up on our doorstep bringing calm, caring and a message of hope to our young people.

Charlotte Tatum is one of those special adults who appeared Day One, making a commitment to help our students get to college.

For more than three years, she kept her promise, showing up daily at 6:45 a.m. to shepherd students in our vans to and from their jobs across the city and suburbs. “She was a mother to us,” says Camille, a junior, giving voice to dozens of CTK students. Many signed a poster Thursday sharing their memories and saying so long, to the woman who always had a huge smile on her face when she took the wheel to get them where they needed to be.

Last Friday, Charlotte lost her battle with cancer.

“She always encouraged me to keep pushing ahead with my education even on days when my family was having a really hard time,” remembers Camille describing treks to Advocate Christ Medical Center. “She would stop and get me breakfast or give me money for lunch because she knew otherwise I’d go all day and be hungry. “

Several weeks ago, Camille went to see Charlotte in the hospital: “I was so scared for her, but she told me to always think positive and no matter what happens to make the most of it,” says Camille. “She always had time to talk to us.” On the poster outside the Corporate Work Study office, Camille wrote: “You were like a mom to me and now you are gone. I am heartbroken. But, we will meet again. Love you.”

Students, faculty and staff all agreed, she had that secret mom sauce.

“She really cared about the students and always was volunteering to do more,” says Mary Sabourin program coordinator for the work study program.“She worked hard to keep them in line in the van, but she’d also stop to buy them White Castle sliders. She volunteered to teach them about hygiene and dressing professionally, and was so proud to bring them to Charlie Trotter’s.”

Charlotte was a very special person who radiated God’s light and love in so many ways for our students and community. Let us pray that God will now lead her into His eternal light and love, and comfort and console James, her husband, and her son and niece.

Services will be held on Saturday, June 11, 2011 at Gatlins Funeral Home, 10133 S. Halsted, Chicago. Visitation will be held from 12:30pm to 1:00pm and the Memorial Service will be held from 1:00pm to 2:00pm.


5.12.11 All in the Family: CTK Students and their Families Team Up to Give Back

Decked out in a fluorescent lime coat, a pint-sized little boy marches up to the table piled up with toys. He promptly announces that his name is Javi, that he is six and in first grade. With intense scrutiny, he surveys the contents and after about five minutes, says: “Thanks, but I was looking for a ball,” and starts walking away.

That’s when CTK students Marissa and Rakeda assured him: ”We will find you a ball, you can’t leave without a toy,” and gently guided him across the parking lot to a second table. There, they dug through laundry baskets filled with toys until they uncovered a teeny rubber ball in a plastic bag (apparently part of a Jack's set, minus several of the  metal Jacks.) “Oh, thank you, thank, you thank you,” he gushed, his face lighting up and a smile spreading from ear to ear. He ran off in pursuit of his mom, “I got a ball, I got a ball,” his voice trailed.
Javi and his mom were among the 250 to 300 families from Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city, who lined up last Saturday morning outside Kelly Hall off Chicago Avenue for the once-a-month mobile food pantry. In addition to fresh vegetables and fruit, clothing and even toys are distributed in a Farmer’s Market-like setting, following a warm breakfast. “We used to serve about 25 families a week, and now we are seeing 700 a month who come to us because they don’t have food, or clothing and are neighbors in pain,” says Father Bob Lombardo, who directs the Our Lady of Angels mission which runs the event. “To me, this is the spirit of America to see all of you who have gotten up early on a Saturday morning to help neighbors in need.”
The food pantry was one of three service projects that 61 CTK students, their families, faculty, staff and supporters worked across Chicago’s West Side last Saturday, May 7. The event was our First Annual Family Service Day.  In addition to the Our Lady of Angels mobile food pantry, CTK volunteers participated in the neighborhood cleanup with the Central Austin Neighborhood Association, picking up garbage along the streets and a third group folded and sorted tables filled with clothing for the Our Lady of Sorrows Resale Shop.
“The students saved me probably a month’s worth of work,” says Rebecca James, the volunteer who coordinates the Our Lady of Sorrows rummage sale. “They are helping tremendously.”
Thank you to all who volunteered, and especially to our Jesuit Volunteer Daniel Zundel and the Social Justice Club who organized the entire event.
The First Annual Family Service day demonstrates that CTK students do have the capability to change the world and the future – for themselves and others. In the same way, the day shows how the community of adults can work alongside them and help shape who they become by encouraging them to give back.


5.4.11 Reaching Out/Rising Up

Dear Friends:

There are two upcoming events that speak volumes about how our students, staff, faculty and YOU, our CTK family, are helping to make a difference in the lives of people on the West Side of Chicago. Please consider joining us or supporting our students on:

  • Saturday, May 7that our First Annual CTK Family Service Day.   
  • Friday, June 17th at Rise Up! an evening of cocktails, music, and inspiration to support student financial aid at the Harold Washington Library, hosted by our Rising Leaders Council.

Family Service Day

Students, parents, faculty and friends will roll up our sleeves this Saturday, starting at 8 a.m and participate in a number of community service projects on the West Side. The day begins at 8 a.m. with check-in and registration at our school. We will have an opening prayer and be sent off to three different service sites. These sites include organizing a resale shop at Our Lady of Sorrows, helping with a food pantry and neighborhood cleanup at Our Lady of the Angels, and a special partnership doing neighborhood cleanup with the Central Austin Neighborhood Association. The day will end with the CtK Family Mass and BBQ.

Rise Up!

This school year, Christ the King will provide over $275,000 in financial aid awards to make our school an affordable option for our families. The average annual award is $1,100 per student. For just $100, you can sponsor one of our students for a semester AND enjoy a fun-filled evening with 400 young professionals at Rise Up! How? Your $100 ticket in a $50 ticket and a $50 donation, which is matched with $500 for each new donor by a very generous anonymous supporter, creating $550 in impact – or one semester of financial aid!


4.29.11 Principal Search Update

Dear Friends of CTK:


I write to you to communicate updates about our principal position. 


First, we are blessed that Mr. Darryl Hobson, our current Assistant Principal for Student Services, has agreed to serve as Interim Principal while we begin a search for the long-term academic leader of the school.
Mr. Hobson has been a co-founding leader of our school and served our students and families extremely well from day one.  We are grateful that he is willing to step in and help our community at this time of transition and change and we are confident that he will bring strong leadership skills to his work with our faculty, students, staff and parents.  Please contact Mr. Hobson with any questions or concerns you may have if they relate to academic or student services (773.261.7505, ext.  223; 
With regard to the principal search process, we are excited to announce that several educators and school leaders have accepted my invitation to serve, including Mr. Hobson, Mr. Ruston Broussard (assistant principal for academics), Mrs. Megan Leider (science instructor), Mr. Stephen Holte (development officer), Dr. Elizabeth Goettl (chief academic officer of the Cristo Rey Network), Mrs. Artavia Roberson (director of corporate work-study program) and Mrs. Brenda Douglas (president of the CtK parent association).   Of course, our board of trustees will also closely advise us in this effort.  Together, this team brings deep experience and a wide perspective of the academic, spiritual and developmental needs of our students.  I look forward to working with them, and hearing their recommendations as I prepare to recruit and hire our next principal.  I am confident that we will find an educational leader of great vision, talent and skills to serve our CtK community. 
In the meantime, Mr. Hobson and the rest of our Christ the King faculty and staff will maintain our high quality of service and care for students.  
Thank you for your continued partnership and prayers.
Rev. Christopher J. Devron, SJ


4.4.11 Extreme Makeover: CTK Unveils Plans for Lizzy Seeberg Volunteer House (LSVH)

It could be an episode on the ABC hit reality series “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition:” The shining light and legacy of CTK volunteer Lizzy Seeberg promises to grow the school’s efforts to transform the Austin neighborhood with the planned renovation of a three-flat directly across Jackson Boulevard. The renovated building will serve as home for CTK’s volunteer corps. (Right: Lizzy Seeberg with Cardinal George at the Ground-breaking Ceremony for Christ the King in June 2008)

With funds raised in the name of this vibrant and sweet young woman, the three-flat has been purchased and plans are underway to refurbish it in time for the Fall 2011 school year to house the five recent college graduates who serve as volunteer mentors, coaches and teachers for CTK students. Through the Jesuit Alumni Volunteer (JAV) Program, the young adults come to CTK for two years of volunteer service from colleges across the country including Cornell, Loyola University and Notre Dame.

We’re very excited about this very visible and needed opportunity to honor the memory of a wonderful young lady who was one of the first volunteers who came to help our students. Just a teen herself at the time, Lizzy embodied the same call we issue to our students as we invite them every day to be “men and women for others” who dedicate their lives to God’s greater glory. 

When she was a junior in high school, the Northbrook teenager and member of St. Norbert’s Youth Ministry Program, reached out to embrace our students to serve up compassion and kindness to them. In addition to attending school events with her parents, Tom and Mary, Lizzy volunteered to help CTK with some creative fundraising projects – in one instance she rallied her friends to craft picture frames which they sold to raise monies for our students.

Lizzy had a real sense that God had blessed her, and she wanted to give back to those who were not fortunate to have equal access to a solid education. For her youthful age, she had a mature awareness about injustice, and wanted to make the world a better place. (Right: Lizzy with her siblings and father during one of her many service projects)

Now, through the Seeberg family’s generosity, and the Lizzy Seeberg Fund, we have realized our dream of offering a home for our JAV volunteers.

Just three years ago, the corner of Jackson Boulevard and Leamington Street, this very corner, was a broken down playground encircled and surrounded by overgrown weeds and a rusty chain fence. Now, CTK has become a rock in the neighborhood of Austin where so many structures have crumbled.

The Lizzy Seeberg Volunteer House spreads our shining light and hope across the street and broadens our efforts to bring hope to the whole West Side. (Left: The future Lizzy Seeberg Volunteer House)

A lot of renovation work lies ahead of us, but we’re ready to roll up our sleeves and will keep you posted.  A huge thanks to Lizzy and her family’s generosity of spirit.

3.11.11 CTK President Celebrates Solemn Vows to Society of Jesus

Congratulations to our president, The Reverend Christopher J. Devron, S.J. who was called by the Society of Jesus to the profession of solemn vows last Friday, March 4, 2011.

When Jesuits profess solemn vows, they become fully incorporated as members of the Society of Jesus and make a special promise of obedience to be available for mission by the pope.  

Fr. Devron and his family, friends and CTK students and community members celebrated in a Eucharistic Liturgy at CTK’s St. Ignatius Chapel. Helping to celebrate were a number of Jesuit priests from throughout the country including Bishop George V. Murry, S.J. and Rev. Timothy P. Kesicki, S.J., Provincial, Chicago-Detroit Province.

Fr. Devron started his journey as a Jesuit priest 22 years ago.  After years of study and discerning, he was ordained a Roman Catholic Priest of the Jesuit Order in 2001.  The final vows represent years of thinking, praying, studying and rejoicing about being a Jesuit.

A Lenten Journey for YOU

The Jesuit Province of Chicago/Detroit has produced its fourth annual Lenten podcast series, which they invite you to enjoy and share.

Led by Fr. Jim Gartland, president of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, and Fr. Martin Schreiber, a doctoral candidate in education at Loyola University Chicago, this year’s “Pilgrimage with Jesus” offers reflections and practices to help our audiences deepen their Lenten experience.  Click here for a direct link to the Province’s Lent web page, where you can play or download the podcasts and click links to the weekly Sunday readings on the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The readings will open in a new window so that you can listen simultaneously to the podcasts.


3.2.11 “You are everything,” Documentary Maker Tells CTK Students

“Do you truly know you are everything?” LeAlan Jones, most famous for the public radio documentaries he made as a teenager, asked the gym filled with CTK students Monday.

“Right now, across the globe there are young people just like you who are dying in the streets and wish they have what you have right here,” Jones told students. “They want to have opportunities, to have greater control of their lives. They want control so they can create lives of substance and meaning. They want what you have but they don’t have it.”

Jones, author of “Our America: Life and Death on the South Side of Chicago,” told CTK students they have power - power to learn, power to create the intent to succeed and the power to create their own destiny.

“I want to come back in 2031 and find that every student in this room is working every day to make life better and more valuable. I want you to be the state representatives, the doctors serving patients, the educators.“

Time and value are the key factors he urged CTK students to embrace.

“Value comes every day you wake up to devote your time to making yourself better. Invest your time in your studies and preparing to be what you can be. You are everything you need.”

Jones says there are no excuses for CTK students not to accomplish their dreams. In addition to his talk with the entire student body, Jones conducted small group workshops with the freshman class. 

Jones has been there. His success story reads like a Hollywood film, and it has been chronicled in a NPR documentary, he and a friend created while still in high school.

Last year, Jones, 32 who has been raising two teenagers for the past eight years since his grandmother died and asked him to take care of the youngsters, ran for Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate Seat.

Jones grew up on the South Side, a block from the Ida B. Wells housing project. He never knew his father. His mother gave up custody, and Jones was raised by his grandparents.

When he was 13, he was working as a junior spokesman for the No Dope Express Foundation, a youth education group, when he attracted the attention of a public radio producer, who was looking for a young person to convey the story of poverty in Chicago. Jones recruited his best friend, 14-year-old Lloyd Newman, and they created the ten-day audio diary Ghetto Life 101. The winner of numerous awards, it's still considered one of public radio's greatest hits. The duo created a follow up documentary, which then became the book.

When he tells CTK students, “you are everything,” he knows.

2.24.11 Oh What a Night! 

King of Hearts' Record-Breaking Results

Dear Friends:

I am so pleased to share that last Friday, February 11, hundreds of friends and supporters of CTK came together to raise $300,000 to directly benefit our students!  Even in this tough ecomony, sponsors and guests helped us exceed this year's goal.    


I am very grateful to the committee, staff and volunteers who made this a fun and exciting night for us all!  In addition to our CtK Choir, we enjoyed a performance by our own CTK Praise Dancers, showcased the Chicago Blackhawks video which features our students who work for the Blackhawks organization, enjoyed playing "heads and tails" with our guests, danced to a fantastic band and received over $160,000 for our students in the paddle raise.


On behalf of the entire CTK community and especially our students and their families, I thank you!

Warm regards,

Rev. Christopher J. Devron, S.J.



2.16.11 CTK Architect Wins Top Chicago Award for Community Design Excellence

(Photo: CTK President Rev. Christopher J. Devron, S.J., Anthony (CTK '12), Architect John Ronan)

Since we moved in a year ago, we’ve touted the architectural impressiveness of our building as a sign that CTK is bringing a fresh start for not just our students and their families, but for all of our neighbors on Chicago’s West Side.

Last week, city leaders applauded those efforts by awarding our building’s architect – John Ronan and his team, the first-place winners for community design excellence, and leaders in helping make Chicago’s neighborhoods strong and vibrant.

The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design was awarded to John Ronan Architects for designing CTK.

The awards were presented at the 17th Annual Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards (CNDA) ceremony last Tuesday at the UIC Forum.

Receiving the award in front of a jam-packed room filled with about 1,400 people, Ronan announced to the audience that he was donating his winnings for a scholarship to send Anthony, a CTK junior, to Illinois Institute of Technology’s “Experiment in Architecture” summer high school internship program.

“In Chicago when we think of architecture when we look to the skyline or grand buildings that are well known,“ businessman and philanthropist Driehaus told the audience. “But the true excellence in design is the community architecture that inspires and embodies a true understanding of what the people need. It is the vital link between the neighborhoods.”

Chris Kennedy, president of Merchandise Mart Properties and chairperson of the award committee told the crowd: “All of you in this room are building community and changing lives forever.”

Created by LISC/Chicago, CNDA is the nation’s largest awards program dedicated to neighborhood-based development.

Read more about the award and our press coverage at The Chicago Tribune, and the Chicagoland Real Estate Forum.


1.19.11 Rahm Emanuel and Police Officer/Turned Priest Help Celebrate MLK Day  

For most schools throughout the city, Monday was a legal holiday, a day “off.” But at CTK we celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a day “on.”  

Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel, Rev. Andrew Smith, a former police officer who is now an Associate Priest at St. Ailbe, Rev. John P. Foley, S.J., founder and Executive Chairman of the Cristo Rey Network and State Rep. LaShawn Ford, were among the noted guests who spent the morning reflecting with students on issues that King would care about if he were alive.  

Other community leaders included: Darryl McPherson, U.S. Marshal for the Chicago-based Northern District of Illinois federal court; Federal Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys and Federal Judge William J. Hibbler.  Three federal marshalls, demonstrating bullet-proof vests and full anti-crime regalia - Fred Neal, Mike Woods-Hawkins and George Peters, also were among the more than 15 Chicago-area community leaders who met with students to share strategies that promote non-violence and social justice in workshops and open conversations.  

True to our Jesuit mission of developing men and women for others, the day inspired our students to take a stand and become leaders committed to King's principles.  

With this in mind, we invited several of the city's mayoral candidates to dialogue with students about what lies ahead.  We were delighted that Rahm decided to spend time with this special group of students who are beating the odds to graduate from high school and prepare for college in neighborhoods threatened by gang violence and drug trafficking.  

Following the morning workshops, Rev. Mr. LeRoy Gill (deacon) and Rev. Michael Moczko of St. Thomas of Villanova in Palatine (the parish I grew up in) joined me in celebrating Mass.  It was presided by Smith, who recently described his journey from cop on the mean streets to Catholic priest in his new book ”From the Gun to the Pulpit.”   

We’re always talking about the challenges of change, and Monday the words “determination,” “strength,” “vision” and “courage,” echoed through our hallways.

1.6.11 Celebrating CTK’s One-Year Anniversary in the New Building 

On the year milestone for CTK’s new building, Steve Holte, Associate Director of Development, shares this open letter to Rev. Christopher J. Devron S.J.  

Dear Fr. Chris:  I just realized that today (Jan. 4, 2011) is the one year anniversary of moving into the building! Congratulations!  

I know that many of our student and staff have never set foot inside St. Martin de Porres (editor's note: our first temporary building, a long-abandoned school) - and I am happy to arrange a tour – but we have come a long way with your leadership and are quickly maturing as a school community. While we still have a long way to go, I think this should be an occasion for you, and all of us, to take a step back and appreciate the many ways that this endeavor has been blessed and the true miracle it is to have this building, on this corner, in this neighborhood, of this city, in these uncertain times.

But a school is not just a building, just as a person is not just a body. It is the soul and spirit that animates and brings meaning to the material, and it is the people who are making Christ the King great.  

We all make sacrifices to work for the students, but also with them – as they can and have taught us as we teach them. I often think they are the most courageous people in the world because they have the most to overcome in order to meet the many challenges we put before them. It really is a privilege to come to work for and with them each day – even though I know that work is never-ending.  

Our students are not ready for college; the building’s not paid for; we need more jobs, more money, more help, and more time. But, they will all come, in time. Just for a moment, put all the needs aside and appreciate where we are.  

T’was Grace that brought us safe thus far, and Grace will lead us home…  

Happy Anniversary one and all,  


(Photo: Steve (center) with the other members of CTK's Development Office: Erick Soderberg and Sr. Mary Fran McLaughlin, BVM)


12.23.10 Smooth Skating: CTK Named A Recipient of Chicago Blackhawks Charities

(Picture: CtK freshman Travon and his younger brother Jeremiah pose with Blackhawk Brian Campbell)

Five days a month CTK freshman Shayla shadows the Chicago Blackhawks professional sports players and administrators and recently got the chance to take to the ice to accept a trophy on behalf of the school.

The award wasn’t a Stanley Cup, but it is a generous monetary slap shot into the coffers of CTK. The hockey champions, along with the McCormick Foundation, recently named CTK one of 25 local non-profits who will share a $1 million grant. Shayla is one of four CTK students who works behind-the-scenes for the hockey team (through our Corporate Work-Study Program) learns more about professional sports and helps run events at the United Center. She was selected  by CTK to represent the school and receive the $20,000 grant from the Chicago Blackhawks Charities on the ice during the Dec 8th game along with the other 24 grantees.

“It was a wonderful to have a major Chicago institution give us such visibility and show their support for what we are doing on the West Side,” says Steve Holte, CTK Development Officer, who helped coordinate the CTK/Blackhawk’s partnership.

As part of the honor, CTK students and staff were recognized at the Dec. 15 Blackhawks game. Unfortunately, students could not attend the game or see a short video highlighting the school  that played after the first period. “They had finals that week,” says Holte.

Chicago Blackhawk Charities promote health, fitness and teamwork, aiding at-risk children, and facilitating positive educational experiences. The foundation works alongside organizations entrenched in the community and committed to similar objectives.

CTK plans to use the grant monies to design a wellness curriculum and purchase sports equipment – including floor hockey equipment– for its intramural and physical education programs. Best part: A personalized Blackhawk’s jersey with “CTK” embroidered on the back will hang in our school trophy case.

Angels We Have Heard – At the Airport

The CTK gospel choir spread a little Christmas joy by singing to travelers at Midway Airport Monday.

“It was cool to see the smiles on people’s faces and even though they seemed to be running to their gates, they would stop and listen,” says Larry, a CTK junior and choir member. “It was a great experience to see people appreciate our singing so much.”

The opportunity was created through CTK’s Rising Leaders Council.

“It was a great way to continue to share the specialness of CTK,” says Erick Soderberg, Development Director. “It gave us much needed exposure and experience for our choir to perform.”

The caroling also brought in a $2,000 donation to the school, and each choir member earned $50.


FaLaLaLa La

Recently students were asked to describe how music comes to life in their world through a class project called “I Hear America Singing” Here’s wishing that during this holiday season, their answers bring a little joy to your life this Christmas season:

“I see my grandmother singing when she’s getting ready for church.” – Keiarra

“I see elderly men rapping in the park.”

“I see Mr. Williams singing when he teases kids and he is laughing.” – Kiera and Jalisha

“I see my mother rapping as she struggles to care for me.”

“I see Ms. Alessi singing when she teaches and helps me with questions.”

“I see Ms. K singing when she is grading papers.”

12.16.10 Parent Letter Brings Tidings of Great Joy

‘Tis the season when letter writing is focused on Santa. But at CtK, priceless gifts arrive via written messages as well.  Here, a letter to CTK's principal puts into words how the school community continues to make an extraordinary difference in the lives of students each and every day. Picture: Sophmore students Daryl (left) and Michael (right) with English and Fine Arts Teacher, Elizabeth Krymski

As always, thanks for everything. The meeting last night was very insightful, and run timely and efficiently. I, for one, greatly appreciate that. While my daughter lives within 15 minutes of the school, I live over an hour away in Kenosha, WI. Therefore, I appreciate you being mindful of the parents' time.

I wanted to further explain to you my comments on last night. I will be the first parent to contact you with issues, but I will also be the first parent to contact you with praise. My daughter’s mother and I are extremely grateful for her teachers (well, most of them.) We have received some very valuable feedback from them, which has helped us to help our daughter. Some of the teachers take a more proactive approach in dealing with their students (see attached email examples) which we can't say enough about. I know how extremely busy they are in both lesson preparation and delivery. But having teachers take a few moments to involve the parents (with both positive and negative input) is what every school should implement. Having this kind of partnership and support system will all but guarantee my daughter's success. This further reinforces the decision for us to send her to CtK.

Please, please let her teachers know how much we appreciate them. I look forward to a fostering a continued, healthy partnership with your fine school and staff.

God Bless!

P.S. - Please seriously consider my ROYAL BLUE wardrobe suggestion for a day in January. You can't go wrong with it!

Southwest Missouri State University

12.8.10 A Closer Look at the CARA Program Where CTK Students Work Too

Guest Blogger: Preston Kendall, Vice-President Corporate Work-Study Program

Imagine a multi-story large office building in Chicago’s West Loop with its interior recently renovated; clean, lofty and very colorful. Now imagine a large round room inside the building with upwards of a hundred adults seated in a massive circle. It is an incredibly diverse group of people all who are professionally-dressed, impressively friendly and outgoing.

Without any discernable signal, the crowd stands in unison and begins clapping and shouting. After a long minute or two, a man in a business suit jumps up and enters the center of the circle. He runs around in front of the first row of people giving and getting high fives. He begins, “Good morning! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Kevin.”  The entire crowd responds, “Hey, Kevin!  Motivate me, what!  That’s my friend!”  He then proceeds to say that today’s theme is, “What success means to me.”  

“For me, success is about having a goal and getting up each morning and doing the little things I need to do to get to that goal.” The crowd erupts in applause and affirmation. He continues, “The Lord has blessed me and helps me every day.” And with that, the room’s volume increases even more and all rise to their feet as one.  The group begins clapping in time and starts to sing the first few words of Lean On Me: “Sometimes in our lives; we all have pain; We all have sorrow; But if we are wise ; We know that there's always tomorrow.”  By the second line, everyone in the room has joined in and they finish the refrain: “Lean on me, when you're not strong; And I'll be your friend; I'll help you carry on”

The song fades and people sit down, but only for a second because, then, a woman jumps up and enters the center of the circle, giving and getting high-fives.  She begins, “For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Angela.”  The room responds, “Hey, Angela!  Motivate me.” She shares her definition of success and her song.  When she is finished, another audience member and then another repeat this practice.

This is the Cara Program’s Morning Motivation. Every morning, Monday through Thursday, Cara participants start their work day in this room. This particular morning happened to be a school holiday at CTK. Despite that fact that other CTK students had the day off of class, the CTK students who work at Cara chose to attend the Morning Motivation and experience this aspect of their jobs.

Would it surprise you that the people in this room are former drug-users, ex-offenders, homeless, unemployed and others down on their luck? Cara is an innovative program dedicated to helping these individuals address personal challenges and transform their lives by providing comprehensive training, permanent job placement and critical support services. Cara is also a non-profit job sponsor that hosts two work teams of Christ the King students (eight students all together). These jobs are two of the eight jobs funded by the U.S. Bank Scholars Program.

This particular morning, two who entered the circle and spoke about their own definition of success were CTK students, Jarrett and Harrison. Their definitions both included graduating high school and going to college, doing their homework every day and staying committed.

For each CTK student, the audience applauded loudly.  Their songs were My Girl: “I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day…” and Amazing Grace.  It was a beautiful, powerful event. The last speaker in the circle this morning was Sen. Dick Durbin.  Just another person in the crowd, sharing his thoughts, “My definition of success is having a roof over my head, a family that I love and a job to go to every day - a job that I love doing - and the faith in God that I can help make the world a better place.” 

After Durbin’s words and song, it was time for announcements. People stood, talking about being drug-free for weeks or months or years.  Although Cara is not a religious program, God’s name and grace was invoked repeatedly. Other announcements included people getting jobs and having job interviews scheduled. One young man thanked his sister, who was seated next to him, for staying by him while he was in prison and now while he was in the Cara Program.  There were tears and cheers-- and always-- clapping and singing.

The one continuous theme of the morning was positive, mutual support and encouragement. What a tremendous experience for our CTK students and a reminder to all of us of God’s grace and presence in our lives.  Morning Motivation indeed! 

Editor’s Note: The Cara Program assists motivated individuals affected by homelessness and poverty to transform their lives and achieve real, lasting success.

11.12.10 Sun-Times Columnist Shares Visit to CTK

“Still proud to say I'm from West Side,” is the headline of John Fountain’s column in the Chicago Sun-times, which chronicles his experience visiting CTK this fall.

“I am West Side born and bred. I made the announcement, beaming with pride as usual, as I stood in the gymnasium of the West Side's Christ the King School recently, where I was invited to speak words of inspiration as a native son,” the author and award-winning journalist and syndicated columnist writes.

Fountain also writes in his column: "I'm glad to be back on the West Side. I call the West Side, the Best Side!  The students cheered."

Fountain, who is a journalism professor at Roosevelt University in Chicago and author of True Vine: A Young Black Man’s Journey of Faith, Hope and Clarity (Public Affairs, 2003) spoke to CTK students about the power of words and story to change their lives.

Check out what else he told students in yesterday ’s column in the Sun-Times.

10.18.10 Lunchtime Inspiration  

Dear Friends:  As many of you know, one of the ways I try to discern the pulse of student life at CTK is through a weekly lunch I have with a few randomly selected students who join me in the conference room for some of Cafe CTK's finest cuisine, and scintillating conversation. Kamaria (Porter) deserves a big shout out for her help arranging these luncheons.

This week I was pleased to have Devin, Terrian, Asia, Jackie and Racquel as my lunchtime companions.

Usually toward the end of the conversation, we talk about the magis--Ignatius Loyola's insistence that we search to do the greater good and always work to be in a mode of continual improvement, asking ourselves the question: "What more can I do for Christ?"

Rather than staying with the tried and true, Ignatius believes that the magis invites us to move beyond settled patterns and acceptable ways of doing things, beyond yesterday's expectations, and beyond the mediocre complacency that would have us sit on our laurels and be satisfied or content with our present achievements.

I then posed this question to our students: "How can we at CTK embrace the magis? What can we do to make our school better? Where is God calling us to act for God's greater glory?"

Yesterday, the answer came in a quite refreshing response. The group unanimously felt that students need to do a much better job telling outsiders about the great school we are creating at CTK. We want to do this because the good news of our community, and the ways in which we live the "grad at grad" are still unknown to so many families and young people on the West Side-- families and young people who can truly benefit from the opportunity of a safe, affordable, Jesuit education.

This was quite gratifying.  Thanks for all your efforts to support us in making CTK a place, an experience and a community where our students feel safe loved and challenged to reach for the magis!

9.29.10 The Write Stuff: Author Inspires CTK Students

“Your stories, your dreams can transform you," John Fountain tells CTK students

Author and award-winning journalist and syndicated news columnist John Fountain stopped by CTK recently to become a tremendous motivator for students. Speaking of his life growing up in the “K-Town” section of Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood, he told CTK students: “The West Side is the best side.”

And then Fountain, who is a journalism professor at Roosevelt University in Chicago and author of Author of True Vine: A Young Black Man’s Journey of Faith, Hope and Clarity (Public Affairs, 2003) spoke about the power of words and story to change their lives.

“I am a journalist and I have experienced the power of our stories to change lives. Stories can make men laugh and cry. They can speak of truth, and justice, and humanity, and they give a voice in the darkness. They give voice to the forgotten. I call on you to be a voice, to give voice to your own dreams and make them happen. Your stories, your dreams can transform you."

He also urged students:

“Please don’t listen to the negative stories others tell you about yourselves. Have faith. Have dreams. Even if you are in the midst of tremendous family turmoil, or feel there is too much against you, know you can turn this around. You can make it. I know you can, because I did. Even if you don’t know what tomorrow will bring, know you are the life, the blood of life. To all of you, I tell you, you can do anything you want. If I could do it, you can do it. “

And, he added: “I learned that real faith is found not in the tangible, but in the ability to see beyond circumstances, no matter how bleak, and to observe oneself through the prism of possibility; that faith begins with the smallest seed of hope planted in a fertile heart…”

For further inspiration, visit Fountain’s Web site.

9.15.10 CtK Loses a Good Friend

Dear CTK Family:

I am saddened to notify you that Lizzy Seeberg, a 19-year-old college student and committed CTK volunteer, died suddenly last Friday.

Lizzy was a student at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN. While a high school student at Glenbrook North in Northbrook, she volunteered to help CTK with some creative fundraising projects – in one instance she rallied her friends to craft picture frames which they sold to raise monies for our students. This vibrant, and very sweet young woman also attended a few school events. Her parents, Tom and Mary, are Adopt-A-Student sponsors, and Tom is on our President’s Advisory Council. Lizzy’s uncle Mark serves our school as a development consultant.

An intended nursing major, Lizzy is remembered as a young woman who always had a smile on her face and had a heart for service in an article that appeared in The Observer, the student newspaper at SMC/ND earlier this week.

Lizzy had a real sense that God had blessed her, and she wanted to give back to those who were not fortunate to have equal access to a solid education. For her youthful age, she had a mature awareness about injustice, and wanted to make the world a better place.

Our students were blessed to benefit from her quiet but strong efforts on their behalf, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know such a special young woman.

I know that family would appreciate your prayers for Lizzy and for them.

Thank you.

Fr. Devron

8.25.10 Real-life Community: CtK Students Kick off New School Year

Last Saturday, CtK students hit the streets to march in the annual Congressman Danny Davis K. Parade and Picnic, which has become a major back-to-school event on Chicago’s West Side. Another group of school ambassadors headed to the beach to pray for an end to the shooting and violence at a sunrise prayer service sponsored by Archdiocese of Chicago’s Black Catholic Deacons.

No question the community involvement had a powerful impact.

“It was so inspiring to see how excited they were to inform people about CtK and show their school pride,” said Kandyce St. Clair, Admissions Director.  The students made chants along the parade route and never lost energy despite the distance or heat.  It was a great way to start the new school year!

Said Roosevelt Moneyham, Admissions Officer: “The one thing I noticed was the sheer enthusiasm that the incoming freshmen. They were chanting "CtK" and they would stop in the parade for a few seconds to lag behind so they could run making noise and scream CtK It was truly a great way to start the year and moreover, they got me pumped up about the school year starting as if I were about to start my high school days at CtK”  After the parade ended at Columbus Park, CtK students remained with Moneyham to help recruit prospective new freshman from the crowd.

That powerful CtK spirit carried over across town to the Sunrise Prayer Service, which was held at 12th Street and Lake Shore Drive.

“While I was altar serving, I couldn't help but stare off into the sky and admire how beautiful our world is and how violence is a corrupting factor that challenges the beauty of our world every day,” said LeVon James, a member the Jesuit Alumni Volunteer Corps, who is embarking on his second year at CtK


8.18.10 Flight of the Gladiators

Guest blogger: Adrian Allen, Latin Teacher

These photos give you a glimpse of our new freshman class who made their introductions up 30 feet in the air!

Last week, half of our incoming freshman class traveled to Iron Oaks Environmental Learning Center in south suburban Olympia Fields for a day of team building and to challenge themselves on the high ropes course. The other 75 students participated in a high ropes course at the Corporate Learning Institute at the Hickory Ridge Marriott Conference Center.

Each set of partners was encouraged to challenge each other and work their way through various obstacles while hooked into a safety harness two stories up in the air! Swinging plank to plank, from tree to tree, the students jumped from platforms onto the cargo net; walked hands-free across a log; used each other as counterbalances to move across ropes, and then some even tried it backwards while holding on to their partners.

I saw a lot of teamwork and problem-solving happening. Records were set for the most mosquito bites in one five-minute period. But all in all, I think it was the best high ropes experience I've been on in our epic three-year history.

Thanks Mary (Sabourin, program coordinator Corporate Work Study Program) and Sonji (Cooks, Director CWSP) for making all the arrangements, and assigning peer leaders to do all the real work that a chaperone normally has to do, like attendance and keeping students on task.  Going forward, we need peer leaders to help chaperone every CTK school trip.  Fun, fun, fun!

08.11.10 “Whatever you set your mind to, you can achieve!"

This past Friday, CtK hosted two outstanding young adults for a riveting lunchtime conversation with several of our incoming and upper class students. 

Katie Washington (University of Notre Dame, 2010) is the first African American valedictorian to graduate from Notre Dame.  Charles Cole (Harvard College, 2010) has been Katie’s friend since second grade.  Both Charles and Katie grew up in Gary, IN—not quite the West Side of Chicago, but similar in many regards.

When Sonji Cooks, director of the Corporate Work Study program, announced their lunchtime visit at CtK’s morning assembly, the 150 incoming freshmen filled the air with electric applause.  Not everyone gets the chance to meet history makers, and both Charles (the first member of his family to wear a tie to work) and Katie (headed for Johns Hopkins to pursue a joint MD/Ph.D program) are surely young people who are making and will continue to make history.

Twelve students were selected for the honor of having lunch and a dialogue with Katie and Charles. Here is a sampling of questions they asked the responses they received:

CtK Student: “What kept you organized to graduate from college?”

Katie/Charles: “Discipline; writing things down; clear vision; have a plan; figure out what you most care for, and then prioritize.”

CtK Student: “Are there sacrifices along the path to success?”

Katie:  “Yes, but if you love what you do, it doesn’t always feel like a sacrifice.”

CtK Student: “How were you inspired?”

Katie: “I had a Dream Team of mentors.  We need people in our lives who can bring light into our darkness.”

CtK Student: “What do you read and why?”

Charles:  “I read to find out why things are the way they are.  When I was in high school, I read the newspaper every day.  Now I read more books….In fact, last summer I read “Family Properties,” the story about how Jack Macnamara, CtK’s CFO, helped organize folks on the West Side of Chicago to fight discriminatory housing practices.  “

CtK Student: “How do you stay motivated?”

Katie: “Always have the reason why!  Look back on your day and recall how and where God was present, like Ignatius Loyola recommends...”

Charles: “One of the key things in life is to find a healthy balance.”

The conversation touched on Paul Farmer’s new book about infections in the developing world, (Mountains Beyond Mountains: Healing the World: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer) and Charles’ and Katie’s significant commitments to serve their community, from Katie’s leadership as the director of ND’s Gospel Choir, to Charles’ founding of the Harvard Black Men’s Forum. 

While we hope Katie returns to visit us when she is on break from Johns Hopkins, we may see Charles more often.  He begins his career as a consultant right here in Chicago.  In fact, he’s already put his consulting skills to work, giving CtK some terrific advice about data systems analysis to measure and evaluate student performance. 

Friday’s lunch was a powerful conversation, and our students hung on our guests’ every word for over an hour. 

A few days later, I asked one of our freshman boys what he learned, and he gave the most gratifying answer:  “whatever you set your mind to, you can achieve!”

I can’t wait for the day when our CtK alums come back to tell their stories of achievement.   

In the meantime, we’re blessed to have guests like Katie and Charles.  Thanks to both of you, our students can see who we are calling them to be:  Young men and women for others, who, in the words of Ignatius Loyola “go forth and set the world on fire!” 

7.22.10 Dear Friends of CtK

Even though summer is typically a time of rest and relaxation our students, staff and teachers have been busy keeping the excitement and promise of hope alive on Chicago’s West Side.  Because so many people care, and care with such passion and dedication, change is happening. I’d like to share some of the exciting activities we’ve experienced:

  • 150 new students have registered as incoming freshmen.  This is a record number.  Clearly, word is spreading about the quality, faith-based and high standard of college prep education we offer at our state-of-the-art facility on the Resurrection Campus. 
  • Last week, eight new faculty members gathered at the Jesuit retreat house in Barrington for two days of reflection, sharing and prayer to prepare for their journey as new CtK educators.  Their generosity to dedicate this “non-contractual” time during the summer speaks to their commitment to our mission.
  • Four new Jesuit Alumni Volunteers—all recent college graduates—will join LeVon James, our returning JAV, as full-time volunteers who serve the school in the classroom and as coaches and in the Corporate Work-Study Program.  Our students are blessed to have their witness as role models of young people committed to living out their faith and values. 
  • Sixty-three current students have participated in summer school.  Given the enrichment needs of our students, summer school remains a viable tool for students to improve their academic skills. 
  • Five CtK students participated in an immersion program for engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology.  They represented CtK well, and came back with some terrific awards.  CtK’s participation in this program occurred thanks to the research of Miles Warren, III, and our college counselor, who discovered that it would be a good fit for our students. 
  • Several students were invited to continue working at their corporate work-study sites.  Marsh, JP Morgan Chase, Reyes Holdings and William Blair are among the companies that extended offers for our students to work beyond the school year.  This speaks to the great work that our students are doing on the job, and the solid support of our staff in the corporate work study program.  Through the efforts of Matt Datillo on our Rising Leaders Council, other students received jobs at the Taste of Chicago.  As you know, students get to pocket the money they earn during vacation time, so this is really good news for them and their families!
  • Our building and grounds crew, under the direction of CFO Jack Macnamara, is busy making some important improvements to our campus, including the installation of sprinklers to keep our lawn green, and additional outdoor security cameras and lights.  We have also purchased several musical instruments and a piano that will allow us to launch a music program.  This is exciting news, and all thanks to some additional funding made available through the New Market Tax Credit Program and the fact that, through careful budgeting, our construction contingency fund went unspent.
  • As many of you know, just a few days after Bishop George Murry, SJ dedicated our Chapel of St. Ignatius this past May, a few of the fire sprinklers in the room malfunctioned, causing severe damage.  Our maintenance team has worked closely with our insurance carrier and contractors, repairs are almost complete, and the chapel will soon be restored to its original beauty—well before the beginning of the school year. 
  • Preston Kendall, Mike Heaton and the CWS team continue to work hard to find jobs for our record number of students.  Recent successful new jobs include: Harris Bank (for two teams) and, thanks to new board member Bill Kunkel, the law firm of Skadden Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.  We still have a great need for jobs, so we appreciate your assistance in providing leads to Preston and his team. 
  • Our development team is working hard on all fronts.  We’ve secured some new pledges for the building and other already strong supporters are considering making a capital investment.  This is especially helpful in light of the US Bank challenge grant, and an additional $1M challenge grant just confirmed through an anonymous source.  We are also planning a strategy to secure additional Adopt-A-Student sponsors to ensure that we appropriately fund our growth in enrollment, and try to cover any projected losses caused by a lack of paid jobs for our students. 

We have also begun planning for King of Hearts 2011 (Feb 18- PLEASE SAVE THE DATE!).

In late June, I had the opportunity to attend a White House and Department of Education briefing for a select group of nationwide faith leaders on the critical role of faith in solving our nation’s problems in the field of education.  I presented the First Lady’s office with an invitation to visit us at CtK, as neither she nor the president has visited a faith-based school since taking office.  Our students wrote powerful letters about what a First Lady visit would mean to them.  An interesting side note:  both first ladies Laura Bush and Hilary Clinton have visited Cristo Rey model schools.  For more about my DC visit, you can check out my blog:

As always, your help—both in your own commitment to a major gift, if possible, and Adopt-A-Student sponsorship—is critical to our success.

7.15.10 Volunteers Needed for Corporate Mentoring

Guest Blogger: Sonji Cooks, Director, Corporate Work-Study Program

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

-Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.)

This quote appropriately sums up our approach for preparing our new students for the Corporate Work Study Program.  For the past two years in August, we have required our freshmen to attend a Summer Training Institute, which is designed to help them acclimate to the work place. 

We need YOU to help make this happen. We are looking for professionals to volunteer for as little as one hour to up to a full day during our training sessions that run from August 2 to 16. (See below for details)

Through the program, our students spend three weeks learning the hard and soft skills that will give them confidence and help ensure their success in a corporate environment. They will focus on topics such as:

  • Theory of Work which covers why do people work, employer expectations and job progression.
  • Practical Work Skills which include filing, an introduction to Excel, front desk reception, networking, typing a professional letter, and an introduction to office equipment.
  • Work Culture which covers accuracy, interpersonal skills, being proactive, paying attention to details, work speed, dealing with boredom at work, having a positive attitude, respect in the work place, proper vocabulary at work, and conflict resolution.


Whenever I speak to other adults about the opportunity our students receive through the Corporate Work Study Program they often comment on how great the opportunity is and how they wish they had a similar experience at fourteen-years-old.  While our students understand that they are going to experience something unique, they are also very intimidated by the thought of going to work in an office building at age fourteen.  Can you imagine how nervous you would have been if as a high school freshman you would have been given this same opportunity that now as adults we wish for!

One of the reasons the Summer Training Institute works so well at curbing our freshmen’s anxiety is because they are learning from volunteers who are currently working in corporate America in a variety of fields.  It is through the generosity of busy professionals who commit a few hours that our students are able to proudly and confidently enter the professional world of work at the tender age of fourteen.

This summer we are looking to recruit up to 120 volunteers to help prepare the class of 2014 for their new endeavor.  Volunteers can present for as little as one session (one hour) or volunteer for a full day (8am-1:40pm) on any of the following dates:

  • August 2, 3, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16

Each lesson has already been created and volunteers only need to bring their smile and willingness to share the light of their professional experience with eager young minds and hearts.  This volunteer opportunity is a wonderful chance to make a memorable impact on a young person and spend valuable time imparting your wisdom.  Won’t you let your light shine?

Interested volunteers should contact Mary Sabourin at or call (773)261-7505x274 with your availability.

6.30.10 From the White House Part II: CtK Raises the Bar As National Role Model

“I am going to excel,” a mantra of CtK students

One of the most powerful insights I took away from last week’s White House briefing for faith-based educators was the multitude of reasons to be grateful for what we’ve achieved at CtK in the two short years since we opened our doors.

In his remarks, Arne Duncan, Secretary of the Department of Education, revealed that only 1.7 percent of all the nation’s school teachers are African-American males.  While CtK faces the same challenges of all schools in recruiting faculty of color, our teaching and administrative staff is enviably diverse.

In so many ways, Secretary Duncan’s insights and questions reinforced the significance of the work we do at CtK every day.  He spoke of the moral leadership and urgency necessary to transform and change an educational system in which only half of all students graduate from high school.  He cited that more than 2,000 schools produce 50 percent of all drop-outs and an equal number of schools produce a startling 75 percent of all African-American and Latino drop-outs. 

Of course, in the Austin community, we know the situation to be much worse:  just over 40 percent of teenagers here on the West Side graduate from high school.  Almost all of the teenagers in this neighborhood are students of color, and 42 percent live in poverty.  Clearly, moral leadership and urgency drove the Jesuits and our lay colleagues to start CtK in the first place.

When Duncan recited an anecdote told to him by the President, I was again reminded of our impetus to start CtK  While in South Korea, President Obama asked President Lee Myung-bak to identify his greatest challenge.  “Our parents are too demanding,” the South Korean leader complained. “They keep demanding better schools, better teachers and a more rigorous curriculum.” 

Indeed, South Korean parents voiced a response not so unlike those parents surveyed by the feasibility study that established a need for CtK: Fully 96 percent of parents we surveyed on the West Side wanted a college prep high school for their sons and daughters.  What is, perhaps, so extraordinary is that our parents in Austin can recognize this need, and partner with us in the face of so many challenges and what could be tremendous adversity. Many of our parents are under the siege of job loss; they lack the support of a second parent in their household; they live in neighborhoods challenged by gangs, violence, drugs and foreclosure, and they struggle to just make ends meet.      

Duncan repeatedly expressed an interest in finding ways to support and recognize all schools that succeed—especially in urban communities of high need. He made it clear that these successful schools come in many different stripes, shapes and sizes—e.g., public, charter and independent.   He asked us to help him “highlight schools that hold young people to high expectations,” because he said he’s “tired of hearing people recite lame reasons why children from lower socio-economic levels simply can’t learn.” 

Unfortunately, many of our CtK students and their parents have been previously victimized by this insidious thinking.  It is one of the challenges we face in our mission here.

When our students first walk in our doors, the idea of being in a setting of high-expectations can be new, and many have been underprepared for an academically rigorous curriculum.  I was reminded of a conversation I had with one of our rising sophomores last week.  She’s in summer school because she didn’t do well during the year.  My question to her: “How are you going to do in summer school?”  Her answer: “I am going to EXCEL!"

What a great attitude.  She didn’t make an excuse and she didn’t complain about going to school in the summer, when her friends and peers are liberated from academic work.  She has a goal, and a purpose and a hope for the future.  And if we can help our students find this goal, purpose and hope for themselves, then at least they will experience the inner strength to do the hard work required of them.  One of the things I most proud of at CtK is our effort to be a school of “no excuses”—a place where students don’t know the meaning of the word “can’t.“

06.28.10 From the White House:  CtK and Cristo Rey Get Shout-Out

Last week I was invited to attend a White House briefing and participate in a dialogue for 60 faith leaders and educators from around the country.  It was exhilarating to be in the room with so many inspiring individuals representing amazing organizations—especially those that, like CtK, aim to help urban young people succeed and realize their God-given potential.  I met a pastor from South Florida who is trying to start a K-12 school for his congregation; the leader of an organization of Jewish synagogues and schools; and the staff at a Muslim afterschool program that serves students of all faiths in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.  

While I certainly took energy and inspiration from them, and their stories, it is always humbling and a privilege to tell them about Christ the King and the story of how the Cristo Rey model allows us to bring Catholic Jesuit education to students who have been historically denied a seat at quality, college prep schools. 

And it is equally a blessing to tell them about how our students are responding to this challenge: how they rise to the high expectations we set for them, in the classroom and on the job; how parents have taken ownership in the life of the school and pushed their young people to achieve; how teachers have refused to give up even when their students struggle and face obstacles in their families and at home; and how we have built a community of care, faith and service that has literally transformed the corner of West Jackson Boulevard and Leamington Street on Chicago’s West Side  In fact, after hearing our story, several education leaders in the room wanted to come visit us and learn more.

This week, I am going to share with you some of the highlights of the White House briefing.  Notably Arne Duncan, Secretary of the Department of Education, and as you know, the former head of Chicago’s public school system, gave a shout-out to the Cristo Rey model and the standout work we are doing across the country.

You may have heard of the “Race to the Top”—one of the policies at the core of the Administration’s new education reform agenda, and meant to improve on “No Child Left Behind.”   “Race to the Top” has two main components: states compete for federal dollars, so that there is not just a punitive response to failing schools, but tangible rewards to improve delivery of high standards and expectations.  And, second, in Secretary Duncan’s words, there is an effort to “shine a great big spotlight on schools that are succeeding” - one of the main themes of his remarks.  So as a part of “Race to the Top,” President Obama has agreed to speak at commencements of those schools that have made the greatest improvements in their outcomes—e.g., success in meeting college ready standards; improved graduation rates and test scores.

During the dialogue, I stood to ask a question and identified CtK as a Cristo Rey model Jesuit school in Chicago.  In his response, Secretary Duncan gave us a shout-out:  he went on, at length, about the great work we are doing at Cristo Rey schools throughout the country.  Then he gave us the ultimate compliment: he invited us to find a way to take over public schools and start charter schools that would follow the Cristo Rey model.  As a side note, while this idea is intriguing, we know from our parents and families that our competitive advantage—what drives many families to our door—is our commitment to faith and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, something we will never give up.

And yet the message was unmistakable:  Here was the Secretary of Education shining a great big spotlight on us!  While our religious mission won’t allow us to compete for the funding dollars rewarded in “Race to the Top,” don’t we deserve to have the spotlight on us?  This led me to ask the Secretary to consider inviting the President or First Lady to visit us, and help continue to shine that spotlight.  It would be their first visit to a faith-based school since taking office.  In an effort to inspire the First Lady to visit our students, we created a packet of materials highlighting our many triumphs and including several moving letters from students. 

In many ways, the White House briefing symbolizes that we may be at a pivotal time in raising the profile of faith-based educational institutions as role models for our nation’s schools.  I will share more insights from this inspiring briefing this week.

Meanwhile, please join me in welcoming the 150 students who lined up in our front hallway this morning for Corporate Work Study orientation this week. Welcome to the class of 2014.

6.23.10 Headed to D.C.

imageThe year-end news from CtK continues to get better.  As of today, we have accepted 156 students to our incoming freshman class for next fall.  Already 136 of them have registered.

Also today I am headed to Washington D.C.  to join Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and senior White House and Department of Education officials for a briefing and dialogue on the President’s education agenda and the critical role of faith leaders in American education.

End of year picnic at Christ the King.The meeting is Thursday afternoon at the Department of Education headquarters. I look forward to sending an update to all of you later this week.

Thanks to everyone for their hard work and commitment to building upon the success we’ve already experienced and growing our school here on the West Side of Chicago.  It is amazing how far we have come in such a short time, and I’m excited to see the promise of the future that lies ahead with the Class of 2014.  

(Pictures: CtK students enjoying the end-of-year picnic)

6.17.10 Here We Go! Congratulations to our most vibrant and inspiring achievers

imageAs we approach the “official” beginning of summer, we celebrate our sophomore class becoming upper classmen and our freshman students stepping into the role of future leaders for our incoming class next fall.

All we have to do is look back over the year to see the many ways we have been blessed and the ways that we have been here for each other as family. Here, especially we pay tribute to our students who are dreaming big, but who realize that becoming successful in life and making a difference in the lives of others is a hard job, and takes hard work. During our year-end Mass and picnic last Friday we held a special awards ceremony to honor students who remind us that it one of the most important mantras we can give ourselves is “I can do it if I work hard.” All of our students are heroes in our eyes. But here, our Principal Brendan Conroy shared some thoughts and paid tribute to those students who do not have the word “can’t” in their vocabulary. They inspire us all and we hope they will inspire you too.

“We have been blessed.  There are so many incredibly talented, intelligent, caring and passionate young people in this room today, and at one time or another you have all made me proud,” Principal Brendan Conroy told students, faculty members and staff gathered last Friday at our end-of-the-year Mass and picnic.

“I beam with pride in your being loving and committed to doing justice, as when Jamond and Tevin bravely and generously walked a female schoolmate safely to the bus on Laramie Avenue; when I think of the hundreds of hours so many of you have given on cold and dark Saturday mornings to ensure that homeless men and women have a warm breakfast and an even warmer smile at Our Lady of Sorrows; when a visitor tells me in amazement, “Mr. Conroy, when I walked in the front door, your students held the door for me and introduced themselves.  They are so kind.”  And for your teachers, your Counselor (Ms. Merz) and your Dean (Mr. Hobson) who struggle and fight every day to be sure that you get the education you deserve.  I am so proud of them, too.

“I burst with pride at your intellectual competence—some have heard me call it the “teacher chill”—it’s the tingly chill I get on the back of my neck and down my spine when I have sat next to a freshman who has done a beautiful historical timeline in Latin class and is now presenting it; when I have witnessed a student nearly in tears for being so moved by Elie Wiesel’s crushing story of his survival in Night; when I have spent time in Extended Day with a group of students who spontaneously analyzed Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 116”  as well as graduate students could do it. 

I am so proud of your openness to growth, and I have felt that surge of pride when a student who was caught cheating or another who was out of dress code or a third who was breaking some other rule looked squarely at Mr. Hobson or me or some other adult and said, “You know, I was wrong and I am sorry.”   I surge with pride that so many of you sophomores are still here, and you have grown so much—spiritually, socially, and intellectually since you arrived in August, 2008.   I am so proud in particular of those of you—especially the sophomores—who have decided that the high expectations of this school are good for you and the prodding to study well or to work hard means we care about you. 

I am so pleased with your being religious by offering your talents to praise dance or to read scripture at Mass, to always respond accordingly when someone says to you, “Christ the King go forth…”  or to ask for the prayers of the community when you need them;  and I fill with pride when I learn that, on your work days you are working as a bank teller, or you are transporting patients, or a lawyer depends on you to help her be prepared for when she goes to court.  That is impressive.

The best gift you can give a teacher or a principal or a parent is to make use of your God-given talents to the fullest and best you know how.  Thank you for all these gifts you have given me and so many of the adults here today.  I assume that God will forgive me for pride in you, because it is really my admiration for you; it is truly my desire that you have the best, which you so richly deserve; it is, honestly, my love for you.  You are amazing, and I know you will populate my memory and my idle thoughts and even my dreams, because you have done so much for me.  I have been blessed to be with you every day.  Thank you. Gratia tibi!

This morning we give honor to those who have achieved in several areas—academic subjects, Christian service, work:

The Grad at Grad Awards for Overall Excellence go to one freshman and one sophomore who have demonstrated most consistently that they have been or are becoming intellectually competent, open to growth, religious, loving, committed to doing justice and positively work experienced during the current school year.  The winners of the Grad at Grad Awards for Overall Excellence are freshman Jackie  and sophomore Stanley.

The Elie Wiesel English Award is presented to the freshman who best exemplifies Wiesel’s love of language and deep desire to tell stories that need to be heard and read by all.  The award is named after the Nobel Prize winning author, for whom writing is keeping alive memories to avoid repeating past tragedies and unspeakable horrors.  The winner of the Elie Wiesel English Award is Aaliyah.

The Uwem Akpan, S.J. English Award is named after the Nigerian Jesuit priest and author whose works include the highly regarded collection of stories titled Say You’re One of Them, which “pays tribute to the wisdom and resilience of children, even in the face of the most agonizing circumstances.”  The award is presented to the sophomore who has best exemplified scholarship in the study of World Literature.  This year’s Uwem Akpan, S.J. English Award is presented to two sophomores, DeAndre  and Danielle.

The W.E.B. Du Bois Latin 1 Award  is named in honor of the great scholar, civil rights leader and  humanitarian, William Edgar Burghardt DuBois.  It goes to Stephanie.

The Ruth Cave Flowers Award for Latin 2 is presented to the sophomore who demonstrates a self-motivated dedication to the study of Latin.  This year’s winner of the Ruth Cave Flowers Award for Latin 2 is Brittany.

The Bob Moses Algebra Award: Khadeisha

The Benjamin Banneker Award for Algebra 2: Shaquocora

The Thurgood Marshall Civics Award:  Marissa

The Desmond Tutu World History Award: DeAndre

The Deacon Julius Frazier Religious Studies Award : Leevon

The Father Augustus Tolton Scripture Award:  Neferteri

The Robert H. Lawrence Physics Award: Elissa

The Dorothy Day Christian Service Award: Jamond

The Martin de Porres Pastoral Ministry and Christian Service Award: Camille

The Mike Heaton Corporate Work Study Program Award: Jamond

The Tony McGuire Corporate Work Study Award: Shaquocora, Jonquitta, Elissa and Tatianna

Perfect Attendance for the Year (not absent or tardy all year)

  • Andrew
  • Branden
  • Brianna
  • Capreshea
  • Dominique
  •  Elissa
  • Jade
  • Jasmine
  • Jessica
  • Jonquitta
  • Joshua
  • Kadesia
  • Kemmett
  • Marcus
  • Michael
  • Neferteri
  • Rakeda
  • Rakeen
  • Raquel
  • Reagan
  • Shanita
  • Shashana
  • Shavelle
  • Stephanie
  • Tatianna

Outstanding Team Performance for the Year 

Kelley, Drye, and Warren: Tyshon, Toni

Community Investment Corporation: Noel, Marquitta, Lamitrius, Kyara

McKinsey & Company: Robin, Deleasia, Treyvonte, Jade

Kralovec, Jambois, & Schwartz: Jamond, Sean, Shavelle, Shalaymiya

Radio Flyer: Brianna, Kayla, Whittney, Reagan

Perfect Performance for Year End Review

Radio Flyer: Brianna, Kayla, Whittney, Reagan

Most Improved Student Worker Award 2009-10

William Blair & Co, LLC: Kristian


6.10.10 Letters from a Young Poet: Lessons from the frontlines of hard knocks and survival

During the last few months, we have been busy recruiting students from the West Side to become incoming freshman and add our third class of students to CtK.  At moments when we ponder how we are helping young people in this troubled Austin neighborhood emerge stronger and change their fate, we can look within to the source from which our very life springs – the hearts of our students.

Here, a letter in poem form which we received recently from a young man who will be entering high school as a freshman here next fall makes it apparent to all of us that we are indeed called to serve here.

Why do we act like this?

Why can’t we all get along?

Why can’t we tell violence no?

The gangs, the drugs, the streets, the killing seems to have our life why?

Dr. King and the other great leaders gave their lives and this is how we repay them, why?

Why can’t we just let violence go and tell him we want no more?

I’ve lost a cousin because of violence. He was driving around in his car and POW! A car came out of the alley and shot him. One shot to the head is all it took for him to leave our family.

Why did he have to go?

Everywhere I go there’s violence, up, down and all around.

As I move on some of my friends move down. Selling drugs, collecting guns, killing, belonging to the streets.

And so I weep until the tears hit my feet, why?

They come from broken homes, daddy dead, mama gone, they’re all alone in a bogus home.

Why does our generation act this way?

Why can’t I walk down the street without watching my back?

Why can’t we stop killing each other?

Why can’t we change?

I’ve grown tired of every time I turn to the news another black person has just died.

Why, why is that?

Why do I think this way?

Is it because of the gangs, the economy, or maybe just me?

My little brother believes he’s a gangster and he calls me a church boy. I ask him why?

What’s wrong with following God?

Didn’t He save us from sin, didn’t He give us life?

So I don’t care if he calls me a church boy. I’m proud to be who I am.

I’m going to make a change.

I’m going to keep my little brother and sister off the streets; I’m even going to keep my cousins off the streets, my friends and myself if it takes my life.

My father always tells me I should be better than him.

I ask myself why?

Why can’t we become better together?

Why can’t he go back to college and get his degree?

I’m going to make it.

I will succeed and pursue my dreams.

As I lay at night, I think how the world would be different if there was no violence.

I ask myself how could we live free of sin but still have sin.

I’m only 13 and have a lot of thoughts about violence like why can’t we change, why can’t we have peace, why can't we make our leaders proud?

The question, ‘ Why ‘ continues to go through my mind over and over.

I love my world, but it is full of violence and that’s that part I hate.

I just want peace in the world.

Why can’t we tell the streets, ‘No’ we don’t want you anymore?


6.3.10 Blessing Generations of Young People on Chicago’s West Side


“The world will be a better place because of all of you,” – Bishop Murry to CtK students

At Christ the King, we know the power of God’s blessings and the power they carry to create great success and declare life to all of us at this school. We have been the recipients in so many ways.

Chapel DedicationRecently, students, faculty, staff and supporters gathered to celebrate the gifts that have been imparted to us at a special blessing and dedication of our chapel. Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., Bishop of Youngstown, OH, who was there June 25, 2008 when we dug our first hole in the ground for our building, traveled from Ohio to bless our chapel. Rev. J-Glenn Murray, S.J., also a strong CtK supporter, who celebrated our first school Mass in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., traveled from Washington D.C. to help us recognize and invoke divine blessings on our school and the Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola where we worship.

imageOn that day, we invited God’s Spirit to make our space holy. We recognized that our school’s chapel will be a place where generations of young people in the City of Chicago will meet God and God will meet them with hope and invoke the power to send them off to fulfill their destinies. We also recognized how good God has been to us by bringing so many people to help build this beautiful building.

As many of you may have heard, we had an unfortunate chain of events converge on the weekend following the blessing rite, setting off our sprinkler system and causing extensive damage to the chapel. Everyone rallied and the restoration work is well underway.

imageBut as the hot summer days approach and our students go forth on their summer journeys, we ask you to keep our school and our mission in your prayers and generosity. We are still trying to raise $13 million to pay for our building, which reminds us daily that God is good.

As Bishop Murry reminded our students: “In many ways, you are like the disciples of Christ. All of you are blessed and you stand on the threshold of so much life. Many, many doors are opening for you. You have a choice, to go through life drifting, or to make a difference. Our hope for you is that you will love those you meet with the same fierceness that God loves you. God doesn’t want you to be perfect. But with God’s love, nothing can hold you back.  You will not fail. You will make a difference and the world will be a better place because of you. “

We’ve promised to open our hearts and to give our support to these students as they grow to become young adults and bring their gifts and unique talents to make the world a better place. Please help us help them.

5.25.10 CtK Students Get a Taste of Charlie Trotter's Virtues

It was a night to remember for a group of CtK students who recently received a backstage pass and a five-star dining experience at the world-class Charlie Trotter’s in Lincoln Park. 

imageChef Trotter, whose namesake eatery is considered to be one of the finest in the nation, and his staff played host to16 of our students, inviting them for dinner, a behind-the-scenes look at the hard work that goes into setting new standards for fine dining worldwide, and an intimate conversation about excellence and leadership.

The students who participated were selected for their excellence in our Corporate Work Study Program. It turns out that beyond his numerous culinary accolades, Chef Trotter is very involved in philanthropic activities, including weekly dinners for high school students he holds as part of his “Charlie Trotter Culinary Education Foundation.”

After the multiple courses, Chef Trotter’s staff inspired students to share their own lessons in excellence. In their own words, two of our students describe their evening.

“My experience at Charlie Trotter’s was awesome, “says Shalamiyah, a sophomore and aspiring chef. “I enjoyed the food and the service. I learned that excellence is not being perfect, it is putting your ‘all’ in the things you are doing. I have never tasted most of the things we ate, yet I enjoyed them. The interactions with the chef inspired me to follow all of my dreams. “

imageAdds Jade, a sophomore: “My night at Charlie Trotter’s was extraordinary.  When first arriving at the world famous restaurant, I noticed how it looked like an ordinary house on the outside.  Inside, the decorated hall led us downstairs to the wine house and then to our seats. Throughout the courses, we were encouraged to ask questions. The questions ranged from excellence and leadership to cooking, to the decorations on the walls.

“My questions, as the host pointed out, seemed to follow on the lines of being the best that you can be at everything you do.  We were asked to give our definition of excellence. My definition of excellence was “Picking yourself up when you fall, and doing the best you can do when you get back up,” added Jade.

We owe a special thanks to mentors like Chef Trotter who are taking the time to show our students the rich smorgasbord of possibilities the world holds for them.

5.19.10 Congratulations to Our Rising Stars: Six students selected for prestigious university summer camp

In June, when their sophomore year at Christ the King comes to an end, six of our students will head to college. They’re part of an elite group of juniors and seniors who have been selected for their academic excellence to participate in a national engineering program held at Missouri Science and Technology University.

We congratulate Stanley, Emmanuel, Shaquocora, Kyara, Kendra and Brittany W. who will get the opportunity to see how their math and science talents can potentially pave the way for careers in engineering.


L-R: Stanley, Emmanuel, Shaquocora, Kyara, Kendra (not pictured: Brittany W.)


That’s no small feat and celebrates our commitment to find opportunities and experiences for our students to get a first-hand glimpse of the amazing possibilities the future holds for them.

We’re thrilled that our students can experience how engineers in many ways are considered the change agents of society. By applying science in bold new ways, engineers use their imagination to turn ideas into realities that help us meet the needs of the 21st century.

We applaud this rare opportunity for our students to embark on this incredible journey to college and for their remarkable achievement in being selected.

In a note congratulating the students Miles Warren, CtK college counselor and wellness instructor, said that six students applied for the program and all six were accepted: “It is with great excitement that I can announce that all six students have been accepted!!!”

The students will travel to the Rolla, Missouri campus (thanks to driver Miles) from June 20 to 25.  They’ll spend their summer camp mornings learning about engineering disciplines from leaders in their fields, while rubbing shoulders with some of the brightest students in the nation. They’ll gain practical engineering experience during lab and industry visits in the afternoon, and test their skills in friendly student competitions during the evening. Best part: their introduction to college life and the world of engineering will include plenty of challenges and a lot of fun.

“The six students whose names are listed below will be traveling down to this university to enjoy learning new and exciting things concerning technology and engineering; while getting their first real experience on a college campus,” said Miles. “This is very exciting news for these students and they worked very hard to get accepted to this program. If you see these students please congratulate them!  “

And, it’s only the beginning of the experiences CtK hopes to open up for all of our students.

“Next summer we will definitely have more summer opportunities for students to experience on college campuses,“ said Miles.


5.11.10 Wisconsin Retreat Offers Lessons in Diversity and Overcoming Obstacles

New Friendships Form at JSEA Midwest Diversity ConferenceFor CtK sophomore Jasmine, the white-knuckle drama of climbing the high ropes course offered more than just a challenge in high adventure.

“I liked the high ropes course because I learned that throughout life you will come across obstacles that you are going to face,” said Jasmine, who was describing one of the activities at the recent Jesuit diversity conference held in Wisconsin for high school students throughout the Midwest. “I learned that you should trust and know that other people are there for you. “

Jasmine on the low ropes courseThat lesson was just one of the rich experiences Jasmine and other CtK students took from the weekend:  “I was able to get more out of it because I had to say and share my thoughts with others.  I learned about other people and their thoughts on things.  This conference has enabled me to become a better person to people with different races and backgrounds. “

Her words speak volumes about the powerful experience that happened when CtK students gathered with 65 other students from Jesuit high schools throughout the Midwest at the JSEA Midwest Regional Diversity Conference.

There, four CtK students – Larry, DeAndre, Shavelle and Jasmine-- had the opportunity to discuss diversity issues, as well as to share with students from other schools what we do at CtK. Adrian Allen, Latin teacher and Student Activities Director, accompanied them on the weekend trip.

“I think by being able to hang around with students from other schools and see that they are part of a bigger mission, the students came away with a new understanding of what being a man or woman for others really means,” said Allen. “I think they walked away a little more open to growth.”  

DeAndre and Shavelle in the Human Knot GameTrue to the mission of the conference, Shavelle said she learned “not to judge people by the way they look, or what you heard about them. I learned to give everyone a chance because they might be a good person, and a man or woman for others.”








4.27.10 What Can We Learn From a High School Runner in the Suburbs?

“Never count yourself out.” Shared Lessons from the                 
Frontlines of Adversity


What would Tommy Carroll, a junior at Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, possibly have to teach students at CtK? And what can CtK students teach a teen from an affluent suburb on Chicago’s North Shore?

These are the questions CtK Principal Brendan Conroy asked members of the student body, faculty and staff gathered at Monday’s weekly 7:45 a.m. community formation service. 

“You might doubt that a rich White kid has anything to teach you, since you attend a small, new, Catholic high school in the city’s West Side with mostly African-American classmates?” And, “what would a kid like Tommy or his teammates possibly learn from you?”

Mr. Conroy was referring to the inspiring front-page story in Sunday’s Chicago Tribune, which profiled Tommy Carroll, a 17-year-old distance runner, who uses his teammates as his guide during practices and competitions turning the extraordinary into something ordinary.  Tommy has a 4.6 GPA on a 4.0 scale. He runs cross-country, competes in triathlons, wrestled on his high school team, plays piano, guitar and the drums in a band, and is an impressive skateboarder who caught the attention of legend Tony Hawk.  Tommy is also blind. Bilateral retinoblastoma, a rare form of cancer of the eyes, claimed both of Tommy’s eyes before his second birthday.

 “Tommy Carroll has been a decorated athlete, he has the heart of a lion and the will of a champion, Mr. Conroy told students. And like Carroll, CtK students have made newspaper headlines and been profiled in the media numerous times.

“So, what do you have to offer a kid like Tommy? We have to admit, Tommy might have his doubts about us right? But I am pretty confident you could teach a kid like Tommy – and a thousand or ten thousand more like him – what it means to overcome odds, to reach goals that seemed unreachable, to not take anything for granted,” added Conroy.

During the rest of the gathering, Mr. Conroy called on CtK students to read excerpts from the newspaper article and then posed questions for reflection.

Here, are some thoughts you might want to take time to reflect on too.

  • Quote from story: “The 17-year-old junior and his teenage teammates collaborate on his running career with such ease that their teamwork, extraordinary as it is, became ordinary.” 

How can you – or how do you already – make the extraordinary become ordinary? That is, what are the little things you do – or could do – that add up to bigger things?

  • “My parents are probably my harshest critics, but in a good way….. That’s the story of how everything goes. They make me do it. There are no excuses. It increases resourcefulness. “Tommy Carroll

Who is the toughest on you? Who expects the most from you? Who will not accept excuses from you for not trying or not giving your best effort? How do these people force you to be more resourceful by depending on yourself and being responsible for your own success?

  • “The main things we have to look for (In cross country) are curbs because they trip him up, rocks and trees and branches. Sometimes we push him, and other times he pushes us. It builds a team relationship because we have to work together. There are a lot of benefits from it.”  - Dilan Wickrema, Tommy Carroll’s teammate.

“What are the obstacles that have tripped you up on your journey to success? Do you have someone who pushes you? Do you have someone you can push? What benefits can you gain from studying with someone else?

  • “There are a lot of people that aren’t motivated these days. Everybody should try anything they have the opportunity to try. You should never count yourself out. If I can inspire people to go out and try new things and not be down on themselves, then I think I’m really successful.”  – Tommy Carroll
How does Tommy Carroll’s story inspire you? How does the way he has handled challenges throughout his life help you understand how to handle your own obstacles?


4.21.10 Guess Who Came to Dinner Last Weekend?

The Cardinal.

His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago, celebrated the Holy Eucharist on Friday, April 16 at Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola. The Mass was followed by a short program and dinner.

Also, receiving the welcome mat at CtK were our first awards to garner the entryway trophy case, and a group of teens from Indianapolis and St. Louis who spent a day at our school and then headed with our students to a Wisconsin YMCA camp for a weekend-long social justice retreat.

All three events speak volumes about our mission: to help our students grow in their commitment to faith, service and social justice and to bring a value-based education and hope to struggling families on the West Side.

The buzz of activity started Thursday when a busload of teens from St. Louis University High School and Brebeuf Regis Jesuit in Indianapolis spent the day touring our school, sharing lunch with our students and attending a series of mini-Wellness classes and an impromptu softball match on the beautiful sunny day in our backyard courtyard. The students had a blast.

Later that afternoon,  a group led by Adrian Allen one of our Latin teachers and Student Activities Director, headed off to the Wisconsin camp where they were among 65 students from nine Jesuit schools from throughout the Midwest who celebrated the diversity of our schools, cultures, religions and talents throughout the weekend at the Jesuit Diversity Retreat. (Pictures and more behind-the-scenes info to come on this next weekend.)

imageFriday night, more than two dozen CtK students led Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago, and more than 50 leading school supporters on animated and informative tours of our new building.

The gathering was held to kick off our “$2 Million U.S. Bank Corporate Challenge” and began with a Mass officiated by the Cardinal, and with students participating as gift bearers, ushers and doing reading. The evening included dinner and a short program in our library.  There, sophomore Kendra Lee and her mother Kim Purnell were among a handful of speakers who gave testimony to how the school and the building are giving our students and their families hope for a new life.  

Finally, Saturday evening, Ruston Broussard, our Assistant Principal and Math teacher who has coordinated our community service outreach, and Caprishea Jones (and her grandmother) and Noel Spencer (and his father) represented all our students who volunteer their time on early Saturday mornings to serve breakfast to the homeless. They were honored as “Leaders of the Future,” by Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica Parish. Check out our two awards from this event in our trophy wall in the front lobby.

Thanks and congratulations to all of our students, teachers, staff and supporters who no question are passionate people on an important mission. You inspire us all!

4.14.10 In the News: From The Wall Street Journal to The Chicago Tribune, We’re Making Headlines

It's always a pleasure to spread the good news about our school and during the last week we've been honored to be featured in a handful of significant newspaper stories - in the Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. Here's a glimpse at our headline making:


image"New Austin school breaks the mold: Christ the King Jesuit College Prep makes much from little and is designed to be a turning point, bringing a sense of architectural order and providing an innovative work-study program" was the headline of the featured story Monday by Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin. The writer describes CtK's new building as "powerful evidence that architecture can have a profound impact, especially where you least expect it."  Read more…


"U.S. Bank Pledges Support to Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School."  The Wall Street Journal reports on U.S. Bank, which has pledged $4 million in direct support, including a $2 million matching grant to Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory High School, a Catholic secondary school dedicated to serving the education needs of young men and women from the Austin neighborhood and surrounding communities of Chicago's West Side.  Read more…

image"Christ the King College Prep School benefited from the generosity of a local bank, which extended it an interest-free building loan." Chicago Tribune  Read more…


"Firm Takes on High School Students to Help Them Broaden their Horizons" 

The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin features CtK students and their Corporate Work Study Program at Ungaretti & Harris. Read more...


4.7.10 Exciting News:  A True Easter Resurrection Story Unfolds

On Tuesday we released a joint press statement with U.S. Bank that details our newly-formed strategic partnership and announces a significant gift.

Through the hard work and behind-the-scenes dedication and extraordinary leadership of key board members and administration, U.S. Bank will continue the commitment forged by Park National Bank. The bank  has pledged $4 million in direct support, which includes a $2 million matching grant and the commitment to continue a $22 million interest-free building loan that had been originated by Park National.

U.S. Bank will sponsor eight additional student jobs per year with our corporate work study program, which is in addition to the four student jobs the bank already committed to for the 2010-11 school year. U.S. Bank has guaranteed $2 million in funding to these eight additional student jobs to be made available over the next eight years to non-profit organizations located in the Austin, Oak Park and Chicago’s West Side neighborhoods.

As you know, last October due to the FDIC seizure of Park National Bank, CtK faced serious concerns about the stability of our capital fundraising and future fundraising of both operations and building programs. Thanks to the extraordinary and key leadership of several trustees and school administration; we were able to negotiate not only a banking relationship, but the single largest gift pledge to CtK. 

This outcome is a true testament to teamwork and the sacrifice and commitment of many long hours of careful planning, negotiations and community engagement. Certainly, this gift is also recognition of the outstanding work that has been done each day in our classrooms, work-study sites and hallways, as well as a vote of confidence about the future sustainability of CtK. For this commitment we are grateful; clearly in this instance and many others, these efforts have and will make a profound difference to our students and families – both past and future.

3.24.10 The Breakfast Club: Doing Good with Dignity

CtK Students Honored as “Leaders of the Future” for Service to the Homeless

It’s 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning, and a group of about 10 to 15 CtK students are headed in the school bus across town to Basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish. While most of their peers are still chasing Z’s, these teens have rolled out of bed to make a difference. There, they don hair nets and their most hospitable selves to spend the next couple hours serving up eggs, toast and hot coffee to a crowd of up to 240 homeless men and women who are the early-morning guests. There’s no hold back on smiles and kind words.

This happens twice a month. It’s aptly called “The Dignity Breakfast,” and it’s a critical ministry for the East Garfield Park parish hit hard by the recession.

imageTurns out it pays to get out of bed early and do good. CtK students will be honored on April 17, 2010 as the recipients of the parish’s “Leaders of the Future” award.

“Christ the King High School under your great leadership has helped us provide inspiration and hot nutritional meals during our ‘Dignity Breakfasts,” says Darlene Brox coordinator. The award will be presented at the parish’s annual dinner dance and silent auction.

“It’s a place where our students are at ease because their best selves are coming forth,  says Ruston Broussard, mathematics teacher who coordinates the CtK  Christian service outreach. “Our students are empowered by the experience of actively contributing to positive change in the lives of others. They get to see how they can make a tremendous impact on other’s lives. Recently there have been more and more young people who are there (homeless) moms with young kids. “Our Lady of Sorrows is a place where our students leap across many boundaries, social and personal, as Men and Women for Others.”

In a note announcing the honor, Brox wrote: “We want to salute the positive work that is being done by your young men and women and perhaps move others to volunteer service.”

Seems like the plan is working. Already several 8th grade parishioners have been actively checking out becoming students next Fall at CtK.

“They’ve seen our students in their best light, hanging out in the early morning and doing good and they want to be part of it,” says Ruston.

3.16.10 Guest Blogger: Noelle Nicosia, Director of Admissions:

Welcoming the Class of 2014: An Insider’s Perspective

imageIn a shifting era of high school enrollments, and with the controversy swirling around Chicago's selective-enrollment process, the good news is CtK is hitting its enrollment targets.  With the competition especially fierce among the city's magnet high schools, Ctk is wooing some of the top African-American students in the city.  Already, the Class of 2014 is filling up fast with 70 accepted students and 42 of them already registered.  

Here, Noelle Nicosia, Director of Admissions offers an insider’s perspective.

As you all know, we are always looking for more males applicants. Just this past Friday, I met seven young men from Ella Flagg Young who had not been accepted into selective enrollment schools even though their 7th grade standardized tests scores averaged 70 percent or higher in mathematics and reading!

Of these young men, one mother was so excited about our school that she had the application complete including all the letters of recommendation before 4pm that day! I was so impressed by this young man! He has a current B average, scored 80 percent in math and 82 percent in reading.  He just placed 2nd in his school’s science fair based on his experiment, “Does the human body conduct electricity?” The answer, Yes!  This young man wants to be an inventor and feels that the Chicago Public School system does not place enough emphasis on science.  He was mesmerized by our science labs, and cannot wait to attend CTK in the fall.

It's stories like these that make our long and late hours in the admissions department all the more rewarding.

2.24.10 Guest Blogger: Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79:

Chicago Visionaries: Daniel Burnham, MLK and Fr. Chris Devron

Orginally published online: January 19, 2010,

Published on our website with the permission of Dennis Ryan.

Chicago Visionaries: Daniel Burnham, MLK and Fr. Chris Devron

His biggest installation (the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1892) is long gone except for a few city parks and his Flatiron Building graces another city but architect and urban planner Daniel Burnham lives on in the minds of many Chicagoans for this famous quote:

“Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably will not themselves be realized.”

Anyone who toils in any remotely-creative endeavor knows the honest insight of his adage, even if we so rarely seem to live it.  In these times of economic uncertainty and shaken confidence, when fear runs roughshod through the collective national psyche, commissions retreat toward ’smaller plans.’

But not always.  On Martin Luther King Day yesterday, my wife and I attended the dedication of Christ the King College Prep on Chicago’s West Side with our younger daughter (the older one had to study for finals).  There, amidst the economic blight of West Jackson Boulevard, shines a brilliant new high school designed by John Ronan Architects on a site that long held vacant, boarded-up tenements.  It is a 100,000 square foot jewel sparkling through the heavy smog of diminished hopes and long abandoned expectations.  This is the twentieth inner city school built on the innovative Cristo Rey model of local businesses collaborating with private education.  CtK students work at Chicago-area companies five days a month to offset a major part of their annual tuition while gaining critical exposure to the corporate world.  These students attend longer school days and work through a longer school year and in the end, nearly 98% of these graduates do go to college.

This stunning new facility is the responsibility of Fr. Chris Devron, SJ; a good-humored, deeply-dedicated guy with an easy going charisma.  He lives in the same West Side neighborhood Dr. King moved to in 1966 to highlight the plight of the poor and expose injustices like racial steering.  And Chris has taken a similarly committed path, graduating from Notre Dame in ‘89, then earning a dizzying array of degrees from Loyola University, Weston Jesuit, Harvard Divinity and Xavier in New Orleans.  He’s worked in Harlem and Brooklyn, earning a long list of honors he never bothers to mention.


But he will talk about his dreams for the Austin neighborhood.  He’ll tell you how the need is overwhelming; despite the 14,000 high school age youth in the area, local schools have only 7000 school spaces.

Yesterday, his dreams officially came to life with singing and dancing and prayers and celebrations.  But amidst all the joy, I was thunderstruck by a casual mention that this state-of-the-art school cost $28 million…

–and they still have $17 million left to raise.

Now I understand the Jesuits have built a business on education and incredible acts of faith, but this singular example of steadfast courage blows my mind.  And yet if it bothers Fr. Chris, he’s strong enough to shield any uncertainty.  As he said when they broke ground a year and a half ago, “”Today, it is the power of hope that breaks ground to create Christ the King.”  He is unwavering in his faith that the money has come and will continue to come, despite the conventional wisdom that investing money in this neighborhood is a foolish waste of resources.  And because he believes, so do we.

It’s so easy to let faith in our dreams lapse, but that faith must be protected.  Dreams fuel innovation, they power change and growth and heart-stirring accomplishments.  Like lifting a lost neighborhood on your back and carrying it until it can get back on its own feet.

Big dreams cost big money, but first and foremost, they demand time and commitment.

And faith.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79


12.16.09 All Are Welcome: CtK Welcomes Neighbors to New Home

While shoppers showed up in droves at malls across the Chicago area last Saturday, making their lists and checking them twice, Christ the King sophomore Danielle navigated a different path, leading new friends and neighbors from the West Side through the halls of the school’s new home at 5088 West Jackson.


Looking to make a difference in 2009?

With generosity of spirit at the heart and soul of this holiday season, it’s not too late to help make possible the dream of a college-prep, work-study education for students whose families could not otherwise afford tuition at a private high school. Consider an end-of-year contribution to our annual fund. Your donations – large and small, help us to create a path to success for our students and hope for their future.  Our students work to earn 65% of their tuitions.  Each family also makes a considerable sacrifice to pay a portion of tuition.  But the remaining tuition cost is paid through the gifts we receive from those who donate to our school.  A Christ the King education helps bridge the distance between the necessity of hard work and academic achievement in high school and the promise of a better future.  Our goal is to help these students so that someday they can return to help those who need them too.  Thank you in advance for helping us spread the message of Christmas for years to come.

There was no jostling, no frenzy, but the spirit of the holiday season was clear when the teen tour guide stopped outside the glass entryway of the campus ministry office. Pointing inside to a poster display with photos, Danielle explained: “That’s a service we do called ‘The Dignity Breakfast.’ It’s part of our peer ministry. We go on Saturday mornings to serve the homeless breakfast. It’s a really enlightening experience.”

Danielle’s tour guests – Denise Greene, and her daughter Tavia, who live across the street from the school and were visiting to inquire about sending Tavia’s daughter Kyla, both responded: “Wow, wow, that is really wonderful. We’re praying we can get Kyla here.”

This grandmother and daughter duo’s excitement, and awe, speaks volumes about the message of hope the new three-story, 100,000-square-foot building and school bring to the Austin neighborhood, a place where unemployment and violence have hit hard.

“We’ve been watching the construction and cheering it on,” said Denise, who is a Chicago police officer.

For the students, who will return from Christmas break Jan. 6 to their new school, the building and the educational opportunities it holds are intended to break down barriers and create a bridge across the divide to a bright and shining future.

“All are welcome,” was the resounding message that carried through the halls of the building Saturday,  when CtK administrators and faculty greeted members of the Austin neighborhood and students, Danielle, Jasmine L., Jasmine F. and Khadijah conducted tours of the new building. Earlier in the week, the CtK team canvassed the neighborhood going door-to-door to invite their new neighbors.  Also there to greet neighbors were local Rep. LaShawn Ford,  llinois General Assembly-8th District and Alderman Ed Smith, of the 28th Ward of Chicago.

At mid-day, as the tour wrapped up, and neighbors left excited about some of the “perks” the building brings to them personally – use of the gym, chapel and cafeteria for special events, Denise, left with an application for her granddaughter, and one last question: “Are you going to build a pool too?”


12.2.09 Advent Reflections on Hope at CtK

Some random thoughts about hope:

  • “…while we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our savior Jesus Christ.”  These are the words the priest says after the Lord’s Prayer at Mass.  They are particularly poignant during the Advent season, as we turn to a deeper reflection on the theological virtue of hope, while God’s people are invited to watch and wait for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • In the early Church, worshipers used a word that expressed this longing:  “Maranatha!”(“Lord Jesus, Come!”) early Greek-speaking Christians called out.    
  • Jesus himself expands the meaning of hope in his words from Luke’s Gospel proclaimed at Mass this past Sunday—the First Sunday of Advent—when he says: “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.  Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap” (Lk 21:25-28; 34-36). 
  • At our faculty/staff Ignatian identity seminar last week, Ms. Pat Garrity, principal of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, invited us to identify where we find sources of hope within our experiences, our relationships, and our mission of bringing Catholic Jesuit education to the West Side.
  • We often describe the 5088 Jackson Blvd—the facility which is rising at the Resurrection campus—as a “beacon of hope.”

So how does hope grow in our hearts, and in our community, and how do we nurture this hope?

First, I have to be honest about the spirit of despair, the spirit of negativity, the spirit of doubt, apathy and resignation that so easily creeps into my mind, and my heart, and shapes my outlook and perspective—on life, on human nature, even on our common mission at CtK. 

This is the spirit that says my and our most recent setbacks—whatever they may be—are more powerful than God’s grace; and greater than God’s real presence.   In Jesus’ words, “my heart becomes drowsy.” 

Indeed, our challenges are real; they are neither imagined, nor insignificant—and there is nothing wrong with looking at them squarely and realistically for what they are.  Yet if all we do is look down, then we become paralyzed in solipsism in which all we will see are our limitations, and our weaknesses.  In this posture, the spirit of despair overwhelms us.   And if all we do is look down, we fail to see right around us the joyful hope that emanates from so many people committed to carrying out the CtK mission. 

So Jesus admonishes us to stand up straight.  He knows that our relationship to hope depends on where we are looking.  In other words, there is a posture of despair, and a posture of hope.    

Contrast “looking down” with a posture of hope:  When we stand erect, we can see beyond ourselves to the faces of Christ in the world; we can see Christ’s heart; and his hands and his feet and his ears and his eyes and we can hear his voice (St. Teresa of Avila).   And our vigilance for Christ’s coming is sharpened when we witness His presence in the present, even though it may be partial, and incomplete. 

I’d like to share a personal note on the growth of hope in my own heart.  But let me begin with a disclaimer. There is a school of thought that says it is a bad idea for leaders to publicly recognize and call out specific names, and single out individual contributions, because it can leave others asking “what about me?”  We all know that the truth at CtK is that everyone—from parents and teachers, to development and security staff—contributes to making this a community of joyful hope

So at the risk of violating a rule of leadership, please allow me to share where, most recently, I’ve witnessed joyful hope in some particular members of our community going about their daily activities, on behalf of CtK:

  • John Sims, CtK’s building engineer, spends long (and sometimes lonely) hours readying our “beacon of hope” so that it will shine brightly on 1/4/10.
  • Victor Davenport makes sure we’re safe, and makes John’s job feel a little less lonely. 
  • Priscilla Hatch, our office manager, receptionist, and director of student accounts, welcomes visitors to our building; she called us to a Thanksgiving table; and she carries out the difficult task of tracking down missing tuition and fines.
  • Jeanne Gallo provides CtK faculty and staff events with food and drink to nourish our bodies and bring us together in a spirit of fun.
  • Mary Beth Sammons is always looking for a way to share the stories of CtK, and put a spotlight on the dignity of our students and their families. 
  • Sonji Cooks gives up part of her Thanksgiving weekend to lead a retreat for the Ambassadors’ Club, and Miles Warren similarly commits his time-off to the boys in his 3.0 Club. 
  • Adrian Allen and her faculty colleagues organize a Pep Rally, in which our students come together, build a sense of community, and strengthen our school culture.
  • Cheryl Cattledge, our pastoral minister, never misses an opportunity to invite us to pray for those in our community who suffer, and need to be assured of God’s loving care. 
  • Bill Masterson, Joe and Kathy Nemmers, Jim Sweany, Jim Heffernan, Mike Kaiser, and Colin O’Callaghan each volunteers a considerable amount of time to help our students.  They give of themselves without asking for anything in return.

Thanks to you in particular for helping me wait in joyful hope.

And finally, an exhortation and a suggestion:

This Advent season, don’t forget to stand erect in order that you may witness the joyful hope all around youThen make your own list of whom and what leads you to hope, and share it with each other, especially those on your list. 

That way we can encourage one another, as we all wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ….That way, as we long for that day, we can pray, in a spirit of truth, “Maranatha!...Come Lord Jesus!”….Soon and very soon! 

PS- for a provocative site that helps us remember the true meaning of Advent, check out


11.25.09 Happy Thanksgiving: Calling Out the Saints Within Us

I have been moved and inspired by the outpouring of support and  expressions of gratitude for Mike Kelly (pictured below), CtK’s board member and founder/CEO/chairman of FBOP Corp and its local bank, Park National.  Many of you know that Mr. Kelly led his bank to offer CtK a $22MM interest free loan which has financed our building; he supported us with student  jobs as one of our top corporate sponsors, and recruited others to do the same. By all accounts, board members Mike and Jack Crowe should be considered “co-founders” of CtK. I encourage you to read all about this history in "Mike Kelly: A Guy Who Gets Things Done."

imageAs you also know, few weeks ago, FBOP was taken over by the FDIC. Even for those who do not have a sophisticated understanding of the financial world, the reasons are not all that complicated. Mike’s bank invested in the US government entities Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, which both imploded. Unlike many of the current bank failures—which were due to chasing the subprime mania and making money from low-income folks who would never be able to pay back their mortgages—one could easily argue that FBOP failure is due to government mismanagement. So when the government turned around and took over Park National, just one week before it could conclude its own financial turn-around, it seemed unfair and unjust to many.

But the takeover of Park National has had ripple effect far beyond the financial world. Since Park was so generous and so community-minded; since it was so focused on using its resources to serve the underprivileged—especially on the West side of Chicago; there has been a huge amount of coverage, interest and concern about its disappearance. Listen, for example, to the terrific Chicago Public Radio story about Park’s generosity to our sister school, Chicago Jesuit Academy. It is aptly titled—“Can a Bank Be Too Good Doer to Fail?”

 But of all the stories about Mike and Park National, perhaps the most moving article, “Mike Kelly Calls Out the Saint in Each of Us,” appeared in yesterday’s Wednesday Journal.  In this article, Rev. Dean Lueking, the pastor emeritus of Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest, argues that Mike is much more like a saint than a hero. A hero is one whom we put on a pedestal and admire. A saint, however, is one who we can emulate—one whose example inspires us to action.

At CtK I am blessed to know many saints whose transparency illuminates God’s love. I think of our parents….I just heard one of our mothers talking about the sacrifices she had to make for her family when undergoing cancer treatment….I think of our faculty and staff, who are certainly not “in it” for the money….I think of the many, many volunteers who serve our students day-in and day-out…I think of the donors who adopt-a-student and help our families bridge the gap and make a CtK education possible…I think of those who have stepped forward to invest in our new school building—a beacon of hope for Austin and the West side….I think of some of the painters and workers I have come to know who are prepping our new building, one who has told me he is working hard to earn enough to send his son to CtK….And of course, I think of our students, who face the rigors of the classroom and the workplace every week with resilience and cheerfulness….

In November we celebrate both the Feast of All Saints and Thanksgiving.  Let’s pray that we can recognize the saints around us, thank God for their example, and allow these saints to call out the saints within us.

11.10.09 Parents, Families, Neighbors Key to CtK's Mission: The subject of this week’s reflection?  Yes, you got it, the building. Forgive me for sounding like a broken record; I will be brief this time.

A few days ago, I ran into Electra, mom of the always-memorable brothers – Eric and Credale, two of our students.  Electra’s opening words to me: “You must be so excited!”  I figured she was talking about the building, so I easily concurred.  Her smile was wide, and full of anticipation and hope.  So I carried the conversation further: “Eric and Credale deserve the building,” I exclaimed. Her quick response:  “All of the students on the West side do!”

Wow…What a spirit of openness.  Our new building on the Resurrection Campus belongs to the West Side.

In a few weeks, the leadership team will canvas the two-block radius of 5088 W. Jackson Blvd. and we will invite our new neighbors to a special open house, just for them, which we are planning for Saturday, December 12, 2009 at 11 a.m.  It will be so inspiring to share our excitement.

Parents, families and neighbors:  They are clearly the key to CtK’s mission.  It was terrific to see so many here last week for report card day.  There weren’t always happy faces, and there wasn’t universal satisfaction with the results, but there was extraordinary care; care shown by our faculty and staff, and care shown by parents.  We promise to keep holding our students to high standards. They deserve that too!

A special thanks to our faculty and staff who gave up part of their weekend (beautiful day, at that) to cement the partnership with our parents. 


11.03.09 Signposts of Hope: 'Building as Teacher' at center stage of CTK education:

 I've been thinking about our building lately and how blessed I was to have a dream team of collaborators co-design it.  Our design decisions were led by John Ronan, our architect; Brendan Conroy, our principal; Darryl Hobson, our Dean of Students; Jack Mcnamara, our Chief Financial Officer; and special supporters and board members - Jack Crowe, Mike Reardon, Tony McGuire, Mark Tritschler, our building committee, and our colleagues at other Jesuit high schools, especially Chicago’s Cristo Rey, Loyola Academy and St. Ignatius.

These individuals and so many others gave the input and shaped the vision that we can now see and experience inside and outside of the beautiful edifice that has risen on the Resurrection campus on Jackson Blvd.  Personally, I can’t wait until the landscaping is done, so we can see the full scope of our campus design. 


The Saint Katharine sign outside the Dean’s office is one more than 50 signposts (which include Braille) located outside the doorways of classrooms, locker roomteaches us about the height and transcendence of God. Shiny, brightly-colored yellow, maroon, and navy lockers will be a visible sign of a permanent educational home for students who now prop their book bags and school supplies, a music room, library and gymnasium throughout the school.

Other role models to inspire include: Ramsey Lewis; Rosa Parks; Martin Luther King; Wyomia Tyus, the first athlete to win consecutive gold medals in the Olympic title in the 100-meter-dash; Robert Henry, first African-American astronaut; Steve Biko, anti-apartheid activist in South Africa and Msgr. John J. Egan, a Roman Catholic priest in Chicago whose work on issues of civil rights, changing neighborhoods and poverty shaped church efforts in those areas nationally.

The Stations of the Cross will be etched into the first-floor west exterior of the building, which wraps around a tree-lined courtyard. A wall-to-ceiling glass trophy awaits future student wins and milestones. In the lobby, and encircling the CtK cross, is the motto of the Society of Jesus: "Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam"-- for God's greater glory.

The chapel is centerpiece. With three floor-to-ceiling glass walls, and a three-story skylight, the chapel will be uniquely open.  It will hold 200 students and staff for special masses, religious education and other events. The sky light in the chapel s in plastic tubs that line the halls of their temporary school, blocks away at St. Martin de Porres parish.



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