July President’s Pen with Preston Kendall

Jul 8, 2022 | President’s Pen

Summer slows most schools down to a near halt. Everything runs in a lower gear so people can catch their breath before the next school year begins. At Cristo Rey St. Martin, summer marks the straightaway where things shift into an even higher gear. As soon as one year ends, we are already knee deep in the next. Our incoming 9th grade class has been with us daily since the first week of June. Final exams for older students ended the week of Memorial Day and the following Monday the 2023 school year began. No time to rest on our laurels – there’s work to be done!

Sure, 2022 marked our third year in a row of having 100% of our seniors being accepted to at least one bachelors’ program… Yes, 90% of the class of 2022 who started with CRSM on the first day of 9th grade graduated with a CRSM diploma (only the second highest retention rate in CRSM history and the second highest in the history of the entire Cristo Rey Network of schools)… Of course, we ended the year with more students than ever before earning a 3.0 GPA or higher – 81% of the entire student body…. We had our first student accepted to Stanford and more students going to Washington University, Holy Cross, NYU, and Brown… But it’s a new year and 2023 is already asking, “what have you done for me lately?”

In addition to our 9th graders participating in Corporate Work Study job preparation training and the Academic Bridge program, regular summer school is in full swing. This year features a dual-credit Statistics class, meaning our students get high school credit from CRSM while simultaneously earning college credit for the course through Loyola University Chicago. We also have a Physical education class for rising sophomores so they can free up a period in the fall to take AP World History. How about that? Giving up part of your summer in order to set yourself up for a more rigorous course load in the first semester? With that kind of work ethic, you know our students are going places!

The gym alternates between voluntary soccer camp and volleyball camp for boys and girls and the fitness center is open every morning with a dozen or so students using it at a time. Looking at the wonderful new spaces available on our campus, one thing is certain: our students are making the most of the resources available to them.

CRSM is also leveraging its resources to benefit others. The school recently hosted a weeklong STEM-oriented IBIO camp for grade school and middle school girls using our science labs and the monthly food distribution events in our parking lot with the Northern Illinois Food Bank continue without a break.

Most people only hear about Waukegan on the news and the image is seldom good. Environmental issues, crime, and poverty monopolize headlines. It probably doesn’t help that we are the “county seat” and all high-profile criminal cases in the area are tried at the courthouse here. But, if you scratch beneath the surface, there is tremendous talent and potential here. Young people just need opportunities and access to surprise everyone with what they are capable of accomplishing. Cristo Rey St. Martin is doing just that, and hope is palpable!

Come visit CRSM anytime and you will witness a place abuzz with intentional, hopeful activity – figuratively and literally. Figuratively in the sense of all that is going on, even in the summer. Literally because I forgot to mention that our Environmental Club has two beehives up and running in the pollinator garden behind our school. Did you know each hive holds 10,000 bees? students are coming in regularly, donning the apiary suits and bring the smoke, to check on them throughout the summer.

It’s amazing to watch the hustle and bustle, the comings and goings with so much purpose and productivity. Hard working individuals who, together, make up an incredible community doing something good for themselves and for the community beyond their walls.

Wait a minute… are we talking about CRSM students or bees? Come and find out!