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.