Mongolia By John Walsh

Mention Mongolia and most people conjure up images of Chinggis (the more familiar Genghis is a westernized version) Khan commanding vast armies exploding out of the steppes of Central Asia and forging the world’s largest contiguous empire during the 13th century. Although Mongolia has physically shrunk to a nation a sixth the size of the United States it contains a diverse range of environments and cultures. With fewer than three million people (and most of them in the vibrant capital city of Ulaanbaatar), Mongolia has lots of room to accommodate one of the world’s largest populations of nomadic pastoralists. As many of 40% of the population drive flocks of sheep, goats and other animals across the extensive steppes while residing in portable homes called gers (the Mongolian version of a yurt).

Having taught courses in biology and environmental science for a number of years, I found myself poised to inaugurate a course in AP Human Geography this past year. I looked for a way in which to enrich what I have been doing in my established courses and to couple this to the material associated with the new AP Human Geography class. I found it in an ongoing research program being conducted at Ikh Nart Nature Reserve located in south-central Mongolia.  Earthwatch, a highly regarded non-profit that helps connect scientific researchers with citizen scientist volunteers, is helping to fund this research and provided the vehicle for my own participation. Specifically, the project was initially focused on investigating strategies to help the endangered argali sheep, the largest mountain sheep in the world. I found this especially appealing as I had previously worked with pronghorn antelope populations in southern Utah, a landscape and ecosystem similar to that of Ikh Nart.  While continuing to examine argali sheep populations, the research at Ikh Nart has subsequently expanded to include an examination of a number of additional species associated with the ecosystem. The ultimate goal of the work is to better understand these relationships and how they are impacted by growing human use of the area’s resources with an aim to engaging and empowering local people in its sustainable use.

Parallel research on the archaeology of the region is also being conducted, providing a unique opportunity for potential collaboration and exchange between the disciplines. How exciting it seemed to me to be able to help better our understanding of threatened species through a cultural lens extending from the distant past to the existing nomadic peoples who inhabit the area.

Further, the research provides an opportunity to have my students examine parallel ecosystems in a singular fashion as southern Utah and Mongolia have much in common despite their geographical separation. Ecologically, both share a similar biome- the steppe, an arid landscape characterized by grassland plains and shrubby vegetation. As a result of my work there, my biology students have been able to directly compare the plant and animal species native to each place. More broadly, they have been able to investigate how these landscapes have influenced their human inhabitants while at the same time having been altered by the human presence.

On the other hand, both landscapes have borne a heavy burden of excesses such as overgrazing and its negative impacts on both the ecosystem and ultimately upon its human inhabitants. My involvement at Ikh Nart has provided a great opportunity for my students to explore the interaction of geography, natural resources and the cultural development of the people who call it home. Further, most models of global climate change suggest that changes in precipitation patterns and intensity may cause many historically arid regions to become even more so. Will such changes effect the Mongolian steppes and the organisms and people that it harbors? My students have also been able to become engaged in analyzing the potential impacts of such an event and construct potential responses.

On an even broader scale, Mongolia serves as a model to explore the larger forces at play on a global scale. Having emerged from decades of communist rule, contemporary Mongolia finds itself in a challenging geopolitical position. Wedged between two autocratic giants (China and Russia) this lightly populated nation is poised on a threshold shared by many other developing nations as it struggles to develop as an independent, modern and democratic nation that remains respectful of its history. My students have been able to look at this dynamic through the specific lens of Mongolia.

Today, more than ever, we strive to develop students who will engage constructively with our rapidly changing world. Fortunately, models of such global leadership already exist in the region. In many ways, Fr. Matteo Ricci, S.J. exemplified our shared mission of spreading the good news of the gospel in a culturally sensitive manner in 16th century China. His appreciation of science as well foreshadowed its central role in societal development. More recently, renown paleontologist and theologian, Fr. Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. searched this same Mongolian landscape in search of early hominid fossils. Today, strains of this earlier scientific research resonate in the research being conducted at Ikh Nart .

Conducting scientific investigation, whether in Mongolia or on Morrissey Boulevard, is much the same: Questions invite, if not demand, answers. A scientific methodology provides a rigorous and rational framework by which to best seek out potential solutions. A central goal of our science department is to provide our students with opportunities to employ their own growing analytical skills in concert with the tools and approaches of science in order to help them answer questions in new and powerful ways. As importantly, we help them to learn that powerful as it may be, science needs to be leavened by an equal appreciation of the moral and social implications of the research itself. It is an essential lesson and one that will serve them well whether their role is one of professional scientist or informed citizen.

In the remarkable papal encyclical, Laudato Si, Pope Francis calls for a redefinition of how we view creation and the role we and others play in it. Above all, it is a clarion call for informed individual and collective actions in restoring health to “our common home”. In contributing, in however small a way, through my actions as a volunteer at Ikh Nart to greater global health and awareness, I bear witness to the Pope’s call. I hope too, that as a role model to my students, I can also encourage them to join in this common cause

Lastly, I would like to personally thank the Hyde Center for Global Education who provided the institutional support, and the Winchenbaugh family whose extraordinary financial generosity has provided similar opportunities to so many of my colleagues as well. Through their vision and support, I have been able to invigorate and enrich my classroom instruction in a manner which would not have otherwise been possible. Thank you!


Limits of My World By Nicholas Fahy ’18

There is a beauty to this. The openness of the land leaves room for the vastness of the sky. Jack Nicholson was right. We live in a world that has walls. But they are not the walls of a nation, the walls of security, but rather the walls of our consciousness, the walls that ride up against us on either side as we walk down Fifth Avenue in New York, or down the streets of a certain suburb of Boston. Or as we sit in our living room vegetating in front of the television. They are the literal and figurative walls which narrow the sky above us, which prevent us from staring at one end of the horizon where it converges with the earth and tracing it across the sky to the other end uninterrupted.

Out here, there is just you and the world. Also, two donkeys, three Tashkent teenagers, an interpreter, a chaperone, a donkey driver, the occasional antique ice cream machine, and a man walking around the world.

This is the essence of Paul Salopek’s Out of Eden Walk, as I understand it. Following him on his journey for these two unforgettable days along the Silk Road east of Bukhara, we seek to break down the figurative walls in our understanding. We seek to experience the touch of a place that offers no breaks in the continuum of sky and earth but for the apricot trees.

The revelation I keep having here is how similar we all are. As Americans we often accept without question the doctrine of American Exceptionalism, the idea that America and Americans are somehow more enlightened and ahead of the rest of the world, and that the rest of the world should fall in line behind it.

We even create terms to define our supposed superiority. We maintain that we are a First World nation, the Uzbeks are Third World, somehow implying inferiority. In the original Cold War coinage, First World defined those nations that sided with us; Second World was the former Soviet Union and its allies. Third World was everyone else. More recently, Third World has come to mean those nations that lack indoor plumbing and ATMs. The conceit in pretending we don’t all share the same planet—as if co-dependence doesn’t define the human race, as if our development wasn’t had on the backs of other nations.

This trip has for me, above all else, corroded the doctrine of American Exceptionalism. Who can claim they are more advanced than our hotelier, who this morning wouldn’t let us leave his hotel until he had time to cook us a delicious complimentary breakfast? Who can claim they are more enlightened than our guide, who called us from his friend’s wedding to ensure we had found our restaurant without getting lost? National greatness is qualitative, not quantitative, and there is no metric for its measure. It exists in the hospitality of a nation to strangers, in its cultures, its traditions, its rich histories, its contributions to the global community, and the way it treats and provides for its own people.

The untold story here is the breaking down of walls. How, if we abandon our preconceived notions, our unfounded hypotheses about groups of people and the individuals that comprise them, we can allow ourselves to be pleasantly surprised. In this manner we expand what Ludwig Wittgenstein once called “the limits of my world.”

Ignatian Photo Essay By Fr. Ron Perry, SJ

Finding God in all things is one of the key practices in Ignatian spirituality. It leads to an appreciation of the world, a gratitude for all we have been given, and a desire to give back. It connects us with God on the level of our imagination, a powerful formative and motivational force in our life.

It’s possible to find God in all things only if we open our eyes to the world around us, take it in, reflect on it, and let its beauty suffuse our awareness. It is a type of theo-centric mindfulness, which sees all of creation as a manifestation of the goodness of God, and therefore holy.

The collection of images I offer in this showing represents moments which captured my imagination with a sense of order, beauty, or wonder—ordinary scenes from daily life experienced as somehow remarkable. My rendering of these images expresses my vision, my experience of the scene as a reflection of something beyond the surface, pointing ultimately to the divine intelligence, the divine love, which holds all creation in existence.

It is in our creative moments that we mirror this divine activity. I make no pretense that my creations are on a par with God’s, but I do offer them as one person’s interpretation of the world around us. I hope they give you as much pleasure as I had in making them, which was quite a bit!

Art is the “quintessence of wonder put into form.” Alfred Stieglitz

Fr. Ron Perry, SJ


Flight Path


JFK Library




Boston Skyline




Happy New Year!


Faded Glory


Winter Wonderland


A Snowy Day in Boston


Cadigan Snowfall

Peace on earth to all!

Sacred Space




Living as a Family in India By Seth Kirby


From the Christmas through summer breaks of the 2015-2016 school year, I was fortunate that Bill Kemeza, Steve Hughes and the Social Studies Department were graciously supportive of my leave of absence from BC High to return to a part of the world that was critical to my personal and professional formation. It was in Nepal that I would meet my wife, a fellow Jesuit Volunteer who was also happened to be from Boston. In total, we have spent nearly 10 years in the Himalayan region, and with three boys who had only heard stories of the land that was so important to us, we felt blessed that the networking of the Hyde Center for Global Education at Boston College High School was reaching the Himalayan region of India.


Darjeeling, which is perched on a “hill” higher than Mt. Washington, typically has cool winter nights dipping into the low 40’s, a thick fog and mist in the mornings which gives way to a sunny warmth that is ideal for growing its eponymous and exquisite tea.   As a result of the Anglo-Nepalese war in 1814, Darjeeling is on the India side of the Nepalese border, but remains ethnically Nepalese with Nepali being the local dialect.


As an extension to being liaisons for the inauguration of a two-week exchange program for BC High in India, we decided as a family to live in Darjeeling, where my wife and I would teach, and my 10, 11, and 12-year-old boys would attend the storied institution of North Point. North Point, which had just celebrated its 125th anniversary as one of India’s oldest Jesuit run boarding schools, is instilled with a palpable pride in its traditions and binding sense community that is a world away from the land of where everyone gets participation awards and positive reinforcement. What follows are excerpts from blogs and journals from a student’s view of the experience. The first is from my middle son Myles on his primary take aways from life in Darjeeling. For those looking for more insights into daily life in Darjeeling, you can follow the link to Aidan Kirby’s ’21 blog on his experiences in India.


What my Friendship with Raj Kiran Taught Me By Myles Kirby (Grade 6)

Leaving Boston and all my familiar surroundings to travel to the other side of the world made me realize the most important lessons of my life. When we arrived in India I didn’t know what to think. Everything seemed completely alien, but as I melded into every day life in Darjeeling and entered into daily routines in the community, I discovered while on the outside their culture and way of life seemed from another planet, that people’s intentions and values were similar to ours.


My friendship with Raj Kiran, a vegetable seller, sums up some of my biggest lessons while living in India. As we walked back from school to our small apartment through the bustling street I would see my 14-year-old friend, Raj Kiran, selling vegetables of all sorts. He can’t afford to go to school and as a result is illiterate. When I have bad day at school, I think of Raj Kiran who needs to help his uncle by working every day from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm. However, anytime I walk by, he has a big smile on his face as I’ll stop to teach him some English phrases and he will do the same for me in Hindi. By the time we left, we would invite him over for a weekly dinner and share laughs over a meal while we tried to communicate in broken English, Hindi, and my parents translating in Nepali for us both. While in Darjeeling I thought having no heat, shower, dishwasher, and washing machine in our apartment was kind of lousy; but when I compare my current and past circumstances with Raj Kiran and thousands of good people like him, my fortunes seem almost unfair.



Developing Hope and Leadership By Nick Argento

BC High Model UN simulates the work of the United Nations General Assembly, its seven main committees, and additional U.N. bodies. Students role play delegates to the United Nations. They improve their public speaking, learn the fundamentals of diplomacy and the art of negotiation, and discuss current issues that come before the United Nations. In the past students have participated at local high school Saturday conferences as well as overnight conferences at the College of William and Mary, Duke University, Georgetown University, Princeton University, Stanford University, and University of Georgia. The club also tours the United Nations in New York City. Finally, BC High hosts its own conference on the first Saturday in March, where our students host high school students in a one day conference.

The BC High Model United Nations Club has one of the largest student memberships in the United States. With over 250 active members, BC High Model UN delegates can participate in many ways: weekly meetings, Saturday conferences, or overnight college conferences. Some students participate seasonally, so that one can play a sport or participate in a theater arts production and still be a member of the Model UN Club.

On November 12, 2015, twenty three BC High Model UN delegates and three teachers boarded a JetBlue flight from Boston to San Francisco, where we would spend five days at the Stanford University Model United Nations Conference.

We chose the Stanford University conference because it is large and diverse, with over 800 students from across California, Mexico, British Columbia, and the Caribbean. It also offered an excellent array of world issues to discuss and to solve. The Stanford conference has its student delegates seek solutions to the world’s problems, not just discuss them.


Stanford University

Sitting in actual Stanford classrooms was significant for our students because it exposed them to the culture of the school. Stanford was a place where students solved problems. And that was their mission at the Stanford Model UN conference: to solve some of the most pressing issues facing the planet. Our students developed solutions for climate change, stopping ISIS, preventing the spread of infectious diseases in the less developed world, running a more just 2016 US presidential race, and eliminating injustice for girls across the planet. This experience helped them appreciate the practicality of their education and the necessity for their leadership to bring just change to the world.

Group Pic

The opportunity to tour northern California, including Alcatraz Island, Half Moon Bay, the Jesuit school Santa Clara University, made the decision attend Stanford’s conference more attractive, as did an impromptu tour of the University’s football stadium by a native of Brookline who worked in the Stanford ticket office. Winning some awards for our diplomatic negotiating skills was a bonus, especially since we were the only school from the Boston area in attendance.


But the key part to this trip, and for most other Model UN college excursions, was an opportunity for our students to experience their future roles and responsibilities as leaders. They had an uninhibited opportunity to imagine and to be hopeful. For example, Saturday night our students attended a Stanford trade-show style, social event for GirlUp . GirlUp is sponsored by the United Nations. The program promotes equal education, equal pay for equal work, and equal opportunity for girls across the developed, developing, and less developed world. It increased our students’ awareness of salary inequity, better known as the glass ceiling, in the developed world such as the United States and it instructed our students about societal expectations placed upon girls—not non boys—in the less developed world, such as hauling potable water on a daily basis. For examples, our students sampled what it is like to walk a distance with potable water. Girls in this less developed world walk an average of 12 miles per day just to obtain potable water for their families.

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“Here’s my solution.” “I opposed a resolution that was unfair today.” “I told Sri Lanka that you just can’t do that; it’s 2015.” “Clean water is a human right.” “I’ve got a great idea. Can I stay up past curfew to work on my resolution for tomorrow?”  These are some of the comments overheard from our students who returned from their committee sessions. The Stanford Model UN gave our students opportunity and responsibility. It drove them to be leaders in their committees. And that participation taught them how hope occurs.

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Faith in Action By Luke Murphy ’16

In a land where winter reigns supreme, there is a white, fluffy product known only to New Englanders: fluff. The peanut butter and fluff, or as the locals call it, fluffernutter, sandwich is a regional delicacy. I am proud to admit that I have perfected this formula, through my countless Thursday afternoons preparing the inimitable fluffernutter. These nutty and sugary delights are a symbol of the St. Louis Project, an outreach ministry of presence for Boston’s homeless at my school.

Photography for BC High magazine, development and publications.

BC High students preparing sandwiches for the St. Louis Project.

Each Thursday afternoon we congregate in the cafeteria to construct our culinary masterpiece. I have learned the perfect fluff-to-nut ratio. I can spread the condiments with ease—although our utensils are quite flimsy. I flip the two halves together flawlessly. We take our wonderful, little treats to the Boston Common, where we share food and, most importantly, conversation.

The fuffernutter leads us outside of South Station, where we find a veteran with an amputated leg. I kneel down and ask, “Do you know anyone who would like a sandwich?” He motions to his ears as if he does not hear me, so I lean in and ask him a little louder. Then I see his sign; this vet is amputated, homeless and deaf. I motion, with my hands, the act of eating a sandwich, and he accepts our humble token of our gratitude for his service to our country. The universal symbol of a sandwich brings us together, and as we leave he mouths a powerful “God Bless you.”
The single most important thing I have learned through my religious education is how to use my faith in my life. I believe that one who is informed about his or her religion cannot be content by staying within him or herself. One must act and show faith through love. Jesus tells us to feed those who are hungry; clothe those who are naked; visit the sick; welcome the outcast. Education is training and preparation for the future. A religious education trains you to be a Christian. I’ve learned about the Gospels and Catholic Social Teaching and various injustices in the world. All these lessons have prepared me to go out into the world and serve my brothers and sisters. Whether it is in an operating room, a board room, a classroom, or even the Boston Common, a religious education not only prepares students to be successful in the real world, but to act as Christ taught us.


The St. Louis Project of BC High  is an outreach ministry of presence for Boston’s homeless.

One more sandwich left. Outside the bus terminals near the station, we see a large man on crutches, wearing a Marine’s shirt. We offer our creamy, sticky treat as an icebreaker and begin to talk. His name is Shannon. He served in the Marines for twelve years and witnessed the death of his two friends from an explosive device that also fractured his legs. After this horrific incident took place in Afghanistan this past January, Shannon was sent back to the states and given medical treatment; he has been out on the streets since. Shannon has slipped through the cracks of our government’s VA system. He has not yet received disability. After twelve years of service, he does not get compensation from the government. Despite his pains, the fluff allows us to come close together; we connect through the Patriots and the presidential election. We, as Greg Boyle S.J. says, “situate ourselves right next to the disposable so that the day will come when we stop throwing people away.” We grow together as people in compassion all because of a peanut butter and fluff sandwich.



The St. Louis Project was founded by Alex Braun, David Coletti, Paul Howard, and Trevor Schramn, of the BC High class of 2013. The St. Louis Project hopes to increase awareness of the human dignity of the homeless, hungry, and impoverished within our community, importantly advocating respect and love for our brothers and sisters in need. The St. Louis Project is both an interactive and spiritual project, in that it not only entails direct service work but through reflection and building lasting relationships with the individuals we encounter and serve we are living out the mission of BC High to create leaders of “competence, conscience, and compassion,” – “men and women with and for others.”

This is BC High Cyclocross By Matt Aumiller


Cyclocross is a bicycle racing discipline which takes place in the fall and winter: typically September to January. The racing consist of many laps of a short 1.5–2 mile course featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills and obstacles requiring the rider to quickly dismount, carry the bike while navigating the obstruction and remount. Races last for 40-45 minutes and are separated by age-group and ability. The sport is most popular in traditional cycling countries like Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. And in the United States, the sport has a strong racing scene in New England and the Northwest.


Cyclocross is raced on bicycles that appear similar to road racing bicycles; but there are some important differences. Cyclocross bikes have greater tire clearances, lower gearing, stronger frames, cantilever brakes, and more upright riding position. They also share characteristics with mountain bicycles in that they utilize knobby tread tires for traction. All these factors weigh in to the negotiating of a course. Competitors rely on the knobby tires for grip on grass, mud, and sand. The bikes are often picked up and run up steep hills…too steep to ride…so they must be lightweight.


When asked to describe a cyclocross race to an outside observer, I will often tell them to imagine a high school cross-country running race at Franklin Park. Now pretend everyone is on bicycles. Now pretend the weather is pouring rain, and the course has been transformed into a quagmire. Now imagine there are food trucks, music, a race-announcer, and hundreds of fans lining the course shouting encouragement: that’s cyclocross.


The BC High CX Team is only two years-old, but it began as an idea back in the fall of 2010. I met Alec Petro (father of Christian ’11 and Ben ’16) at a race, and he mentioned he had a son who was interested in racing who was attending BC High. We exchanged information, and we discussed the idea of starting a high school team over the next few autumns. It took a few years, but in 2014 we got the ball rolling. The first season saw us compete at 9 races with a total of 8 adventurous BC High students. The main goal of the season was simply to have a team exist. Season-two set loftier goals, both of which were achieved: build up a fleet of bikes so that racers do not need to purchase their own, and finish the season with an overnight trip to a large internationally-contended race in Northampton, MA. Both goals were accomplished. We now possess 8 team bikes and finished 10 races with a team of 12 students.


Ian Webb

Noho Ryan

Ryan Burke

A high school bicycle-racing team is unique. There are relatively few programs across the country most of which are focused in California. Sure, young folks often race for a shop or some club, but a HS-only team is unusual.

Senior Jake Thornton shares why he races cyclocross:

“Why do I enjoy this grueling sport so much? The answer is simple: the thinking involved with it. Each turn, obstacle, and hill requires solving a crazy physics problem while balancing on two wheels and wiping mud off my face. These problems have slowly become easier for me because I have discovered the formula for cyclocross success: practice. Just like physics, calculus, and chemistry, cyclocross has its own form of studying. I need to find the coefficient of friction for a hill I have to climb. I have to calculate the work I have to put in over the next 100 meters at a velocity of 5.2 meters per second. The more I practice and train, the more problems I get correct. I now realize that I can improve in cyclocross, and anything else, if I work my absolute hardest. I look forward to seeing this improvement in each challenge life brings me.”

Noho Jake

Jake Thornton

And senior co-captain Ben Petro adds:

“The most arduous element of racing is surviving the merciless obstacles. The sound of my back cracking as I carry my bike on my shoulders means I’m only halfway up the seemingly endless set of stairs. Suddenly faced with a tall wooden barrier, I quickly unclip my left foot, grab my bike, say a prayer, and leap to the other side. If I manage this smoothly, I avoid a nasty face-plant. Flying at full speed, all I think about is preparing for the next challenge: the sand pits–exhausting, deep, agonizing. The only way to succeed is to grind through the unforgiving and sinking sand. Like the muscle memory crucial for these obstacles, my dad’s phrases, such as ‘grass is grip,’ keep me upright and propel me forward.”


Ben Petro

In every race, there is only one winner. But in cyclocross, the race for 50th place is often just as important as the race for the podium. The guys want to improve at each step, and set modest goals for themselves: finish 10 places higher, rail that sandy turn, commit to that tricky down-hill, clip my foot into my pedal on the first try, perfect my remount after the barriers.

Jake writes:

“The crack of the starter’s gun rang in my ears. I immediately mashed my foot down on the pedal. The massive group of racers quickly dispersed into different packs. I was near the back of the group, but I was determined to catch up. The course winded through dark forests and green fields and felt as if it would never end. I came barreling through the pasture into the entrance of the woods. While quickly maneuvering around trees, my tires lost grip on the ground. The wheels flung a mixture of mud and dirt into the air. Then, I cut a turn too sharply and hit a tree trunk. The fall was painful, but the realization that my chain fell off was even worse. As precious seconds slipped away, I clumsily tried to reattach the chain. Over and over again, I repositioned the chain and continuously witnessed it fall off. Somehow, the fumbling succeeded and the chain began to spin. Now, I felt even more confident and determined. All of a sudden, I felt the breeze grow stronger and stronger. Was I picking up speed? No! The breeze came from the lead racers passing me.”

Success in this sport is incremental, and it only comes through hard work. Anecdotally, cyclocross has benefited these guys more outside of the race-course. I have seen them grow physically and mentally. A tight-knit group has bonded over the death of Alec Petro and other adversities of their friends and peers. Cycling can be a life-long commitment and a true vehicle for exploring places off the beaten-path. And cycling is an access to life-long friendships.

Ben writes of his experience:

“On my bike, I learned to be devoted to the race, both physically and mentally. Always look to the next racer in front, never down at your bike. I know this, yet sometimes my eyes fix on the circling black grip of my tire. What’s right in front of me may be more important than what’s in the distance, such as my dad’s unexpected passing a year ago. Unlike the imposing barriers in cyclocross, this was a challenge I never saw coming and one too hard to overcome in a single lap. I miss him greatly but clip into my pedals to remember what it felt like to ride with my dad.”

“Success” derives from the Latin verb succedere meaning “to advance, follow.” While cyclocross is an individual sport, the guys are always pushing themselves and their teammates. “Success” to the team does not mean winning races, but continuing into the fall of 2016 with a dedicated group of athletes ready for what comes next. For more information, email Mr. Aumiller ( or follow on Instagram @bchighcx.


Team Picture GIF

The Problem of Evil By John Dunn


On November 27, the film Spotlight made its nationwide debut. The film has received widespread critical acclaim and is a strong candidate to win the Academy Award for best picture. Spotlight, directed by Thomas McCarthy, written by McCarthy and Josh Singer, and starring Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams, depicts how The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team exposed the cover-up of widespread child sex abuse perpetrated by Catholic priests in the Archdiocese of Boston. I recently attended a private screening of Spotlight along with the other members of my senior religion class, The Problem of Evil. I brought with me a unique range of perspectives that influenced my viewing experience. I watched Spotlight as an avid movie lover, a BC High Student, a Catholic and an individual whose family has been deeply affected by a particular scene in the film.


Critics have hailed Spotlight as one of the best films of the year. Its acclaim is well deserved. Spotlight is, by all standards, a phenomenal film. The subtlety and restraint of Tom McCarthy’s directing anchors the story amid the rapid pace of the screenplay, allowing the viewer to fully appreciate the film’s well-written script and brilliant performances. Mark Ruffalo in particular stands out among the ensemble cast as Boston Globe investigative reporter Michael Rezendes. Although I found the film’s criticism of Boston culture to be a bit heavy-handed, Spotlight is undeniably riveting. I recommend it to all fans of compelling drama.

Like all of my classmates, my curiosity about Spotlight was piqued by the fact that BC High plays a roll in the story. Typically, it would be exciting if our school were portrayed in a Hollywood film. However, Spotlight focuses on a dark period in our school’s history. The film addresses the sexual abuse scandal that rocked the Archdiocese of Boston and the global Catholic community. Some of the abusers were Jesuit Priests who worked at BC High, and their victims were BC High students. After all these years, our community still struggles with the knowledge that students at our school were victimized by people they believed they could trust. Although BC High plays a relatively minor role in the film, the sexual abuse scandal will always be a major part of our school’s history. Although we can never forget the pain that the victims experienced, our community must move forward. We can all be encouraged by the knowledge that our school, in contrast with the Archdiocese of Boston, handled the scandal well. The BC High administration was forthright, cooperative with the investigation, and always put the wellbeing of the victims first. Furthermore, our school has acted on the promise that was made to several victims, that nothing like the incidents that took place in the late 1970’s, and early 1980’s would ever happen again. In order to move on from the past, no matter how horrific it may be, we must face it and accept it. Therefore, I believe all BC High students who feel they are mature enough to handle the film’s disturbing subject matter should see Spotlight.

Shortly after watching Spotlight, I was asked if the film had changed my feelings towards the Catholic Church. It was an interesting question. I am a confirmed Catholic and my faith plays a central role in my life. Many people may be surprised to hear that Spotlight did not change my feelings towards the Catholic Church. The abuse detailed in the film is absolutely horrific, but it simply reminded me of what I already knew, that all people, no matter their title or position, are vulnerable to sin, and some people are capable of doing truly evil things. In fact, Spotlight has received praise from Vatican Radio, the Vatican’s official Radio outlet. Luca Pellegrini, a frequent commentator for Vatican Radio, posted a review of the film written in Italian in which he says Spotlight shows journalists exercising “their most pure vocation.” Pellegrini also praised the film for demonstrating “the inexhaustible and uncontainable force of the truth.” Every Sunday at the noon mass at St. Mary of the Hills Parish in Milton, I recite the Nicene Creed along with the rest of the congregation. In doing so, I profess what I believe as a Catholic, including “One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church”. Spotlight has reminded me of some of the darkest aspects of human nature, but is has not changed my beliefs.


Spotlight focuses on the efforts of the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team to expose the unspeakable suffering that victims of sexual abuse endured, and attention should be directed towards the pain and suffering the of the survivors of abuse and the bravery of those who exposed the cover-up. However, my family has been deeply affected by Spotlight, specifically by one scene in the film. My father, Jack Dunn, BC High class of 1979, was a trustee when the sexual abuse scandal broke. My father worked closely with Mr. Kemeza and played a leading role in BC High’s response to the scandal. My father worked to ensure that victims would be cared for and that BC High would be accepting of the truth, unlike the Archdiocese of Boston. In a Boston Globe article written by Walter Robinson, my father is quoted saying, “We want to clear the air, help the victims and reach out to anyone who contacts us.” Unfortunately, this is not how he was portrayed in the film. The film claims to be “Based on Actual Events,” but the scene in which my father is portrayed is fictionalized. Fictitious lines were assigned to my father and his character downplays the severity of the abuse that took place at BC High. However, this dialogue contradicts The Boston Globe’s actual reports on the meeting. Another fabrication within this scene is the presence of Pete Conley, a fictional Archdiocesan employee who is present in Spotlight’s rendering of the meeting between Globe reporters and BC High administrators. The scene is intended to make it seem as though BC High was among the Catholic institutions complicit in the cover-up of sexual abuse. However, no one from the Archdiocese was present at the meeting. This is an unfair portrayal of my father and of BC High. In an attempt to add an element of drama to the film, the screenwriters responsible for Spotlight betrayed the film’s alleged devotion to the truth and portrayed an innocent man as a villain.


Although the last few weeks have been difficult for my family, I have managed to glean some positive memories from this experience. I have received overwhelming support from teachers, administrators and classmates in the BC High community. There are far too many of you to name, but, if any of you are reading this, I would like to take this opportunity to say that I cannot thank you all enough for your thoughtfulness and concern for my wellbeing and for that of my family.

Like with all films, each of us can assess Spotlight from our own points of view and, based on these perspectives, judge the film however we so choose. The several ways in which this film resonated with me made me realize a degree of commonality in regards to how each of us should consider all creative works, weather they be cinematic, literary, or of another medium: with an open mind. My family was hurt and shaken by the scene that defames my father, but this does not mean I cannot appreciate the poignancy of the film’s storyline and acting. I am shocked and angered that students of the school I love and take pride in suffered unspeakable abuse at the hands of Catholic Priests, but I still profess my Catholic faith with confidence.

Bringing the Love and Hope of Jesus Christ By Amanda Adamczyk

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For the 9th Christmas season in a row, the students in the Arrupe Division participated in the My Brother’s Keeper’s Adopt a Family Christmas Program. ForScreen Shot 2015-12-18 at 12.50.21 PM the second year, the 14 Arrupe homerooms were joined by 35 High School co-curricular clubs, teams and departments. BCH sponsored 45 families this year (over 155 individuals).

My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) is a Christian non-profit organization in Easton, MA whose missions is “to bring the Love and Hope of Jesus Christ to those we serve.” During the months of January through November they provide food and furniture to those in need. Last year over 30 BCH students completed their volunteer requirement at MBK. Since 1990, during the month of December, the facility is turned into a Christmas workshop. Last year MBK delivered personally -selected gifts to 2,760 families- more than 10,500 children and parents living in 76 communities from the North Shore down to Fall River and Cape Cod. This year MBK will bring Christmas to 3000 families, over 11,000 children and parents!

There’s a saying, “you say you love the poor, name them”. This is what I love about the MBK Christmas program. Our students and faculty are not simply donating things that they would want to give or receive but they make wishes come true for the family they sponsor as they come to know that Leo, age 7 wants Star Wars legos and his brother Jaleel, 9, likes anything Minecraft or Harry Potter and that their mom, Rachel would love a new comforter. Another group comes to know that Briana, 10, does not want dolls, but would love arts and crafts and nail polish and her brother Jon, 5, likes Avengers and legos.

Not only do our students and faculty/staff purchase the wish list items but they wrap the gifts as well. On the afternoon of Tuesday December 15 a majority of the cafeteria was filled with the high school clubs, teams and departments who spent time wrapping, socializing and eating cookies. In one Arrupe Homeroom a teacher overheard the students talking as they wrapped: “Just put the tape on the package,” said one student, to which another student replied “Lisa deserves better than that; tape it carefully!”

Merry Christmas!

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Thoughts on Team Teaching By Ms. Heather Guiney of The Arrupe Division

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Reading in the “cushy chairs” Walsh 206

A little over a year ago, some teachers started discussing the idea of “team teaching”, and while the idea of groups of teachers working with the same students wasn’t a new model, the way in which we wanted to implement that practice was new. We wanted to not just share students, but to share the classroom space, the lessons, the standards of learning, and the daily schedule. We wanted not to just integrate the similar skills of the students into our lessons, but to instead, integrate ourselves into each other’s curriculums, daily lessons, and lives.

This year, three subject areas of science, social studies, and English are piloting a team teaching program in Arrupe. This breaks down to forty students, two classrooms, three teachers, and two hours and fifteen minutes of class time. Student schedules show that they have these blocks of classes either all together in the morning, or all after their lunch and Flex period. The beauty of that planning was created so teachers could use the time as needed in their teams. For example on some days, students in my team might have a day that includes an hour of social studies, so they can present a project, and then the remaining time would be split between science and English. Other days, we split the forty students into three small groups, and they rotate into the three subjects with free time at the end for everyone to read. The time spent in each class fluctuates daily, as does their grouping.

The freedom of scheduling our three subjects allows us to coordinate lessons together. Mr. Chapman and I recently taught a writing assignment that asked students to write two clear paragraphs explaining the process of evaporation and condensation. I taught the importance of topic sentences and providing evidence in their writing, while Mr. Chapman’s helped the class brainstorm the science terminology that should appear throughout the paragraph. The ability to be flexible with our schedule has allowed us to combine and extend our teaching time to better the students and to better our teaching.

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Walsh 206 – Arrupe Division

Since implementing this program and schedule change in September, I’ve seen many positives for students. There is always a teacher around to ask for help who has some knowledge of what is happening in their class, the importance of clarity in writing is stressed in all subject areas, so students make that connection themselves more readily, common terms and standards are used, so students know what to expect, and mostly students enjoy the flexibility of the schedule and the various ways we group them in the classroom. Students also enjoy the space in which we have set up as our team classrooms. We have only two rooms to work with, so we were very mindful of creating a positive learning environment that was accessible to the needs of each teacher. We needed to be able to flow from one subject to another, so students circle up in the “cushy chairs” or window seats to read their novels or have discussions, they use the tall science tables to complete science labs, and they sit at longer tables or groups of desks to work together on projects or watch presentations on the whiteboard. They take up every inch of space we have and inhabit it as their own!

While I believe the students are thriving because change is the only true constant in their young lives, the adults are still learning. There is a certain intimacy in this act of team teaching. We share the space, we share the students, and in doing so, we share the triumphs and failures of our lessons. It can be hard when a lesson falls short of the plan and to have that witnessed by two other adults is humbling. We do not have the luxury of pretending something went well, and there is no denying when the quizzes we just gave back were less than stellar. We see everything that happens in each other’s classes, but that means we also get to see when something goes well. I’ve witnessed students singing songs in science class at the top of their lungs, presenting amazing and innovative visions of cities created on Formit with their iPads, and I’ve heard them make passioned connections in A Christmas Carol to both disease prevention (science!) and Scrooge’s comments about the poor being the “surplus population” to current political views and their own ideas on a perfect city (social studies!). The connections are coming more organically and are easily recognized by the students. Proof one young man gave me a few weeks ago when responding to the idea that Mr. Chapman and Mr. Ahmed would be looking at their evidence in writing, by so eloquently shouting, “Ms. Guiney, English is creeping into all the classes now!”

There is a certain amount of trust in allowing each other to “creep” into each other’s classes. I didn’t know how much I would come to depend on my team of teachers. I didn’t know that when I drop the line, one of them is always there to pick it right back up again. I didn’t know I would need this or want this, but I do. I didn’t know that I would be emailing or texting them nightly to talk about tomorrow’s schedule. I didn’t know that the students would pick up on the differences in our teaching styles, but more importantly, I didn’t know that they would notice we are friends.

As our team continues to change and improve throughout the year, it’s my hope that the boys will witness our efforts to be flexible, to be connected, to be humble, and to be caring with each other. If we can teach those attributes, then our team will have succeeded in all the ways that truly matter.