Jesuit Chronicle

Creating lasting change in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion department

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Miyako Barnett

2020 Jesuit Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Logo

In support of the Black Lives Matter movement, many schools and companies have released public statements about their commitments to racial equity. Jesuit, too, has released such a statement and makes a commitment to creating lasting change related to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion department.

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion department has made tremendous progress in the last six years under the guidance of Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Melissa Lowery. The office has extended its outreach with parent affinity groups, student clubs, community conversations, and a new webpage on the Jesuit website. However, Lowery asserts that lasting change is only possible with a shift in culture. 

“We are a resource for DEI, but for real change to happen, it requires all hands on deck in the community to do the work,” Lowery said. 

The DEI program continues to grow with the addition of a full-time staff member, Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Brenda Cruz Jaimes. Cruz aims to support current efforts in DEI and work to implement curriculum changes and community dialogues in the near future. 

As a former counselor at De La Salle North Catholic, Cruz has seen an overwhelming number of students working for change. 

“All of the clubs that are under the DEI umbrella have really stood out to me,” Cruz said. “Without the support and leadership of our students, we wouldn’t be able to make as much lasting change.”

While the institution is committed to a diverse, inclusive, and equitable community, Lowery argues that a shift in Jesuit culture is needed for lasting change. 

“Culture is a big factor in how communities work, feel, and move,” Lowery said. “It affects curriculum, programming, policy, and all the things you can think of.”

In addition, Brenda Cruz emphasizes the importance of dialogue among students, parents, and faculty. While Jesuit has assisted open dialogues with the monthly Community Conversations and Peer-2-Peer conversations, the community needs to continue making genuine efforts to have discussions about race, identity, and culture Cruz says. 

From a student perspective, senior Miyako Barnett calls for representation of underrepresented voices. She asserts that a culture change can only be achieved through hearing from BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other underrepresented communities. Barnett also stresses the importance of accountability and awareness. 

“We need to hold each other accountable for our actions,” Barnett said. “Avoiding passiveness and actively working together is how we create change.”

Lowery, Cruz, and Barnett are hopeful for the future of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Jesuit High School. They are committed to working with the Jesuit community to create lasting and sustainable change.

About the Writer
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Reet Chatterjee, Staff Writer

A senior at Jesuit High School, Reet Chatterjee strives to better humanity with his writing. His writing focuses include social justice, politics, reform,...

Open House With a Closed Campus

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Jesuit High School

2020 Jesuit Portland Virtual Open House Poster

Jesuit High School will host its first-ever virtual Open House Sunday, October 11. The event will last from 1 to 4 p.m. and take place using a Zoom webinar. Click here to register.

Open House is usually the day with the most energy present on campus, as the Jesuit community welcomes prospective students and families. Because large gatherings are banned due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jesuit is challenged to utilize that same energy in a virtual environment. 

Open House attendees will first hear from Director of Admissions Erin DeKlotz, President Tom Arndorfer, and Principal Paul Hogan. They will segway into student experiences about the five elements of the profile of a Jesuit graduate.

Future students and families will also have the option to participate in a number of live panels. These panels will feature current students, parents, teachers, and coaches that represent many sports, clubs, and academic departments at Jesuit. There will also be a Q&A panel with students, parents, and teachers available for any general questions.

Although Open House will look different this year, Jesuit still endeavors to provide a welcoming yet informative experience for prospective students and families.

About the Contributor
Photo of Reet Chatterjee
Reet Chatterjee, Staff Writer

A senior at Jesuit High School, Reet Chatterjee strives to better humanity with his writing. His writing focuses include social justice, politics, reform,...

Raging Wildfires, Sudden Power Outages, and a Worldwide Pandemic: Finding Hope in the Uncertain

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Clackamas County Sheriff's Office

High winds exacerbated a brush fire causing devastation to parts of Oregon City (KPTV)

Principal Paul Hogan joined local school districts—including the Portland Public Schools—to cancel classes on Friday, September 11 due to disruptions caused by wildfires in the region. The announcement came as a relief to disorderly times, as students enter the school year battling wildfire evacuations, hazardous air quality, power outages, and a fully remote learning environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A powerful windstorm, with gusts surpassing 50 mph on Monday, September 7th downed power lines, causing power outages for over 120,000 people in the greater Portland area (KGW). Additionally, 97 large fires around the state ensued, contributing to the state’s record-breaking fire season. Over half a million Oregonians faced some sort of wildfire evacuation notice, while the state’s population endured prolonged hazardous air quality polluted with smoke, ash, and debris. 

Senior Charlie Strear was one of many Jesuit students who lost power on Tuesday, September 8th due to the high winds. To attend Zoom classes as part of Jesuit’s fully synchronous distance learning system, Strear had to use cellular data on her phone to log into class. Throughout the day, she battled unreliable cell service, inaccessible school resources, and even had to sit in her car to charge her device. 

“It was just difficult because the service kept dropping in and out… and then in breakout rooms too, my connection was so bad I couldn’t join in any conversations,” Strear said. “The overall stress kind of distracted me a lot from [school].”

Junior Zak Simmons also faced disruptions to school, yet evacuation orders were to blame for his case. Although Simmons is grateful that he did not actually have to evacuate, he still had to take stressful precautions following the Level 1 evacuation orders his family received. 

“There was genuine worry when I came in before work that I would have to drop my shift and evacuate,” Simmons said. “With everything going on, it was difficult to stay focused on schoolwork.”

These frantic, unpredictable times have come at a time when Jesuit students were already experiencing a difficult start to the school year in an online learning environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Freshman Oskar Sanchez described his challenges acclimating to high school while fully remote. He has toiled through his own WiFi issues, video call malfunctions, and eye fatigue from prolonged blue light exposure. However, Sanchez noted that the greatest struggles for his class have been creating relationships amidst a pandemic. 

“It’s hard not going in; going into school would definitely be better,” Sanchez said. 

Throughout these times of despair, there are people in the community still finding hope amid the challenges. 

Vice Principal of Professional Development and Innovation Alyssa Tormala was under imminent wildfire threat, as she lives in Oregon City. While the Level 3 mandatory evacuation order was impending on her family, she is grateful that she did not need to evacuate. 

“Going from thinking everything as pretty much fine and the fires were at a distance Tuesday evening to realizing they were on our doorstep on Thursday… was very scary and real in a way that it hadn’t been,” Tormala said. 

Even while preparing for mandatory fire evacuation, Tormala was able to maintain hope and composure. She credits the song “The Next Right Thing” in Disney’s Frozen 2 as a guiding light for her in times of despair. 

“When all the things are going on in the world that you have zero control over, what can you control?” Tormala said. “Well, you can do the next right thing in front of you. You can put that one foot in front of the other; you can open up that book; you can give that hug to your family member; you can call up your friend. There’s always a next right thing that you can do and… it helps you get through. It doesn’t mean it makes everything better, but at least it gives you a focus so that you can feel like there’s some level of positivity going on.”

Tormala emphasizes that her family was not the only one affected by the fires, but rather a substantial number of Jesuit families and extended families have faced similarly stressful situations. She encourages students and their families to do “the next right thing” in unpredictable times, especially as we live with the uncertainties of a worldwide pandemic.

About the Writer
Photo of Reet Chatterjee
Reet Chatterjee, Staff Writer

A senior at Jesuit High School, Reet Chatterjee strives to better humanity with his writing. His writing focuses include social justice, politics, reform,...

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