Up the Down Staircases: Two Tales Out of School
Today's L.A. Times carries a pair of stories reflecting how the collapsing economy has made
Meanwhile, Verbum Dei, Watts' all-boys Catholic high school that has produced star athletes over the years, has done the unthinkable from its alumni members' viewpoint, by discarding its legacy tradition. Writer Carla Rivera explains that the school, which was turned over to Jesuit control in 2000, has embraced an undeniably noble policy -- it only admits kids from poor families, augmenting their tuition with grants and a corporate work-study program administered by the church's Cristo Rey Network.
The problem is that in a city famous for its lack of continuity and
tradition, Verbum Dei was one place South L.A. families could turn to
for continuity and tradition. Now, however, middle class parents who
are proud "Verb" grads can no longer send their children to their old
school, and have the uncomfortable option of enrolling them at its
historic parochial-school nemesis, Junipero Serra High. One unmentioned
but unmistakable conclusion that can be drawn from the story is that
the only way Verbum Dei will be able to satisfy its loyal yet
frustrated alumni is to create admission quotas for their comparably
The saddest quote comes from the president of
the school's alumni association: "Even if we are middle-class, we're
still a voice of the community."
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