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

affluent children.

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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