When people ask me if I am going to miss the school, or my previous assignment, I wouldn’t immediately shout yes. It is not for dislike. I work in a high school. Every year is different. From year to year an entirely different group. Missing someone or something just wasn’t part of that experience.
However, there have been a number of memories, so I thought I would write in tribute. Out of respect for the privacy of my students, I will omit full names.
- In my first year, there was Joshua. He was a character, he took over a conversation, his charisma took over a room. His parents were really cool, and his super chill Hawaiian Dad told me never to go easy on Joshua. When I gave Joshua a detention, I actually imagined his dad giving me a round of applause! But this isn’t about Joshua, but his friend Bradley. Bradley was Joshua’s sidekick. He didn’t say as much, and somewhat agreed with Joshua. When we did the Living Stations of the Cross, Bradley stepped out of Joshua’s shadow so that he can play Jesus. Despite his loser goofball buddies chuckling during the Stations, Bradley was very prayerful.
- A teacher kept wondering what got into Aubrey. Why did he keep hanging out in the Campus Ministry Office. He didn’t have a filter, and got on people’s nerves. I was quippy enough to stay a few steps ahead of him. His younger brother struggled to find his place there. Had Aubrey not made such an impression on me, his younger brother Lane may have gone under the radar. Despite being very distinct personalities, I was impressed by their artistry and creativity. At the core of their lives, something special was happening, something that neither of them really put into words. It does amount to having students you wouldn’t expect being impacted by Campus Ministry.
- In my second year, Kevin, and many of his friends took over my office. Kevin had a way of snapping back at myself and the other campus ministers. This was always appreciated, as many young men in high school don’t get sarcasm. He advocated for himself to be a leader in campus ministry. Despite his overly biting humor around me, as a retreat leader, I watched him listen and lead with care & sensitivity that rare among the young men at the school. After graduation, he came back to lead some retreats as an alum.
- East San Diego has become one of the largest diasporas of Iraqi Christians, or Chaldeans. Over four years, the amount of Chaldean students drastically increased. I attended the large Chaldean Liturgy at St Peter’s in El Cajon numerous times. In my first year, a Chaldean junior, Arman, was on the fringes of the school. It is perhaps a common story, being from a tightly knit ethnic community, you might feel out of place in the larger American Culture. For whatever reason, selecting him to be involved as an alternate for a retreat actually helped him to start taking more steps to be involved around school. I was very moved by his faith. His freshmen brother would follow in his footsteps by comfortably being involved. However, Cameron, unlike Arman, was accompanied by some of his Chaldeans in his classmates who turned out to be the biggest group of comedians. Sometimes I hope that our Order is blessed one day to have a vocation from the Chaldean community.
- Kraussy-poo, as I jokingly called him, stood out during my first year as one of the daily announcers. I found him involved in his youth group, and his dad was in preparation for the diaconate. I took Krauss as a leader, I teased him for drinking chocolate milk, asking if he needed a straw to blow bubbles. While away at another retreat, I found him upon my retreat saying that he missed me calling him a loser. At another retreat, I turned around, my coat and sunglasses were missing, and I see him wearing my stuff, taking selfies. Happened a few times.
- I stepped away from my desk during lunch. I returned to find my whole computer moniter, keyboard, and speakers completely covered in sticky notes. George Thomas, this cackling little leprechaun of a man announces that he got me, laughing and running out of my office. I actually laughed out loud. But I also laughed knowing that he would remove it all if I asked. He did. Georgington was a very gifted creative musician. I never let his mischief get to me, and always found ways to make sure he felt like he was valued in campus ministry.
- On his way to his Junior year, Andrew started feeling like he could become a leader in Campus Ministry. He had a massive amount of school spirit, loved being at a Catholic School, and was always very helpful in motivating his teammates on the football field. Although he showed leadership across campus, he didn’t do much in Campus Ministry before his senior year. Starting the year, I was having a bit of difficulty getting a skit together from the students involved in drama. Andrew stayed up, and wrote something fun, easy enough to act out, and perfectly appropriate. As a result, I felt more confidence in letting him use the microphone to wake up the freshmen the next morning. He kept his upbeat vibe in our group, knew when to step up in leadership, knew when to step back in a supportive role. When I talked to the coaches, we usually laughed talking about him, because he was unbelievably positive and self-motivated.
I tried to capture some of the moments. There could be another 50 or more students that did a variety of little things that impacted other students in a variety of ways. I tried to capture some of the amusing moments, but also some of the special moments. Perhaps I could brag briefly to others, but couldn’t write here. Some things involve personal struggles of students, and how they overcame them, but I didn’t feel comfortable writing here. It is there story to share, not mine.