CRSM Scores at Top of Network Performance Snapshot in Several Significant College Readiness Indicators

CRSM Scores at Top of Network Performance Snapshot in Several Significant College Readiness Indicators

Getting to graduation day is not always an easy task – but it is, ultimately, a rewarding one. A high school diploma opens doors for more postsecondary education options, career pathways and earning potential.

That’s why CRSM is proud of scoring #1 in three of the Cristo Rey Network’s key performance indicators for college readiness, according to the Network’s recently released Annual Data Report 2022.  Out of the Network’s 38 schools in 24 states across the country, CRSM ranked top in:

  • College Readiness: With 72%, CRSM scored #1 in college readiness, based on the proportion of seniors who had a 3.0-plus GPA and earned a qualifying score on at least one Advanced Placement. The Network average was 42%.
  • Student Retention: With 90%, CRSM scored #1 in the Class of 2022 student retention 9th grade through graduation: Network average was 72%.
  • College Enrollment: With 92%, CRSM scored 5th in the Network for the Class of 2021 percent of students enrolled in a 4-year institution as of August 2022. The Network average was 73%.

The Cristo Rey Network of high schools delivers a career focused, college preparatory education in the Catholic tradition for students with limited economic resources, uniquely integrating rigorous academic curricula with four years of professional work experience and support to and through college.

#EvertoExcel: CRSM Tops Network in AP Coursework

#EvertoExcel: CRSM Tops Network in AP Coursework


With 100 percent of CRSM seniors accepted to 4-year college and university bachelor’s programs the last three years in a row and on track for the fourth year, students also are leading the Cristo Rey Network in Advanced Placement courses. Of the 10 AP subject offerings, CRSM exceeded the Cristo Rey Network average in eight subjects.

“I truly believe that exposure to rigorous coursework, like our AP curriculum (and also in our non-AP coursework), is the most important element to prepare students for academic success once they leave us,” said Mike Odiotti, principal. “When compared to our national network, we are leaders in this domain.”

CRSM exceeded the Cristo Rey Network average in eight subjects. These benchmarks include:

  • Ranked at the top of the Network in the AP Literature benchmark, with 36 students passing the course exam
  • In eight out of 10 subjects, ranked in the top three of the number of students earning a three or higher on an exam.
  • Ranked first in American Government, Physics and English Literature
  • Ranked second in Calculus, English Language, Spanish and Spanish Literature
  • Ranked third in World History

Odiotti pointed out that CRSM offers all students access to AP courses, compared to some other Network schools that are more restrictive in deciding who takes these accelerated courses.

 “We do know that our students that go on to study STEM are much more successful in college if they accessed AP coursework while in high school, even if their performance on the exam was not high enough to earn them college credit,” said Odiotti.


January 2022 President’s Pen: ¡VIVA CRISTO REY!

My close friend and colleague, Fr. John P. Foley, SJ, retired last week. What “retirement” actually means for a guy like John is something that both he and we will discover over time. The biggest initial change is that he moved from his rooms in Chicago to the Jesuit retirement community in Clarkston, MI. What was a 45-minute drive is now a 4 ½ hour trip. So, spontaneously grabbing a beer or meeting for lunch is out of the question. Of course, he is still just a phone or Zoom call away for touching base.

We hatched a plot to see John off in style: 1) As he left Chicago, the person driving him to Michigan would casually suggest they drive by the original Cristo Rey school in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago on the way out of town for “old time’s sake.” 2) Meanwhile, we secretly invited friends, family, alumni, and old co-workers to be on-hand to cheer him on. 3) Cristo Rey Jesuit High School administrators adjusted class schedules for the day so that hundreds of current students could join the crowd. 4) We collected noisemakers, made posters, and ordered giant photos of John to distribute among the throng. 5) Through clandestine text messages and tracking applications, we monitored when John’s car would arrive in Pilsen. 6) As John passed Cristo Rey, the car stopped, and he was greeted by a throng of well-wishers giving thanks and sending him on his way to retirement feeling truly loved!

If you say to John that he is THE Founder of the Cristo Rey movement, he will invariably decline the moniker and point out that he was merely part of its Founding Team. His humility is certainly part of the reason there are now 38 Cristo Rey schools around the country and more coming. John has always said, “This thing (meaning the Cristo Rey movement) is bigger than all of us!” In a way, I think that was John reminding us all (especially those of us in leadership roles) that our schools are not about us. He led and leads by example.

We need to check our egos at the door and remember that the mission of Cristo Rey is about empowering our students to become agents of positive change in the world. We are not here for us; we are here for them. We are called to be persons for others and they, too, are called to pay-forward the opportunities Cristo Rey opens for them by making the most of those opportunities and using their new-found upward mobility and influence to improve the lives of others. As one of John’s fellow “founders,” I cannot overstate how important his passion and compassion were to the success of Cristo Rey. The funny part about working toward selflessness is that it is the most personally rewarding experience you can have.

As we gathered old photos and made posters for John’s drive-by, I found an old picture of a billboard we rented in Pilsen to recruit students before the original Cristo Rey school opened for the first time. John came up with a great byline: “Cristo Rey Jesuit High School – ¡Una nueva pasión en Pilsen!” Really brilliant. The school was a cause for passion – enthusiasm and excitement – in the ‘hood, but the phrase also invoked a deeper concept of the passion of Christ the King, walking with our savior in good times and bad – the lynchpin of our faith, accompanying the ultimate “person for others.”

Passion is Cristo Rey’s secret weapon. How many people will tell you that the reason they joined Cristo Rey locally or nationally was because of how passionate people are about our shared mission? Who doesn’t want to be part of helping improve lives and make the world a better place? Not our world but the world we bequeath to successive generations.

Isn’t that love? Giving your all, giving yourself so the world is just a little more just? So that the playing field of life is just a little more level, not just for me and you but for all?

In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius talks about the “Call of Christ the King.” It’s an imaginative, immersive prayer where you fantasize about some charismatic world leader. What if Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates showed up at your doorstep saying they had an idea that would feed the planet, or alleviate human suffering on a global scale, or cure cancer but that he or she needed YOU to make it happen? Would you turn them down or would you get excited about the possibility of being part of something profoundly transformative? Then, take the meditation to the next step: what if instead of one of those prominent influencers, what if the person inviting you was Jesus?

John Foley is a messenger. His entire vocation has been (and is) about inviting us to join in a truly wonderful undertaking – a movement that is not about him but about something bigger than all of us. It’s about a deep and abiding, passionate and compassionate, love. In the bible (1 John 4) it says, “God is love.” And more, “No one has ever seen God but if we love one another then God lives in us and his love is made perfect in us.” That is the Call of Christ the King, that is the invitation of John Foley, and that is the heart of the Cristo Rey movement.



CRSM Earns High Marks on Cristo Rey Network Benchmarks

CRSM Earns High Marks on Cristo Rey Network Benchmarks

Academic rigor and commitment to college enrollment truly sets CRSM apart, as evidenced by recent data that shows CRSM reaching top marks among the 38 Cristo Rey Network schools on readiness for college, graduates doing well in college, AP tests and more.

Each year the Cristo Rey Network shares an annual data directory which is an opportunity for us to measure how we are doing relative to the other 38 schools from across the Cristo Rey network on key benchmarks, said Mike Odiotti, principal.

AP Test Results

  • AP Physics: CRSM, 50%, Network, 10%
  • AP Government: CRSM, 40%, Network, 9%
  • AP US: CRSM: 44%, Network, 14%
  • AP Seminar: CRSM: 93%, Network, 76%
  • AP Bio: CRSM 16%, Network, 9 %
  • AP English Language: CRSM, 25%, Network, 20%
  • AP English Lit: CRSM 14%, Network, 10%
  • AP Calculus: CRSM, 8 %; Network, 6%
  • AP World: CRSM, 9%, Network 12%
  • AP Spanish Language: 83%, Network, 86%
  • AP Spanish Literature: CRSM, 49%, Network, 60%

AP Tests Passed

Ranked second out of 38 schools: Dallas, 182; CRSM, 156.


Ranked 2nd in total STEM tests passed and 1st in percentage of STEM tests passed.


CRSM is the number one leader in the network for high school retention.

88 % of the students in the classes of 2019, 2020 and 2021 demonstrated ninth grade through high school graduation retention.

They are followed by Atlanta with 85%.

College Readiness

59% of the Class of 2022 students are deemed ready for college, which is second place in the network after New York, with 68% and a 37% average for network schools.

April President’s Pen: “You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.”

On May 1 we will hold our annual Founders’ Dinner.  The event will be virtual and last just over 20 minutes – but those minutes are jampacked – we have alumni, students, and others sharing uplifting stories.  Fr. John P. Foley, SJ will also be joining us since 2021 marks the 25th anniversary of the Cristo Rey movement; the silver anniversary of the opening of our sister school, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago – the first of now 37 Cristo Rey schools nationwide and growing.

Appropriately, the theme of the Founders’ Event is “Silver Linings” and it is all about finding bright spots of light and hope during this dark and cloudy pandemic.  Not surprisingly, the bright spots for CRSM are our people.  Tough times bring out the best in some people.  Our Principal Mike Odiotti has been quoting the famous coach, John Wooden who said, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”  Attitude is such an important factor in our ability to endure, survive and prosper in the face of challenges or disappointments.

I am so proud of how our school – students, faculty, staff, donors, and Corporate Work Study job partners –has collectively responded to the COVID crisis.  They really have embodied the term “Persons for Others,” people who turn outward to be present and assist those around them, rather than turning inward in despair.

In order to have silver linings, there must be clouds.  Darkness makes any light seem even brighter.  Goodness shown in bad times is valued even more, precisely because of its rarity.  Our Campus Minister Jim Dippold has been and continues to be an absolute hero over this last year.  He has shown himself to be one of the silver-est linings amid all the virus fallout, organizing food distribution drives with the Northern Illinois Food Bank and rallying our student volunteers.  The distribution events continue every other week in our parking lot – feeding 1,000 families at a time.  It is both heartbreaking because so many people are in desperate need and heartening because we can do something to help.  Jim sets a wonderful example by staying focused on what we can do rather than what we cannot.

Another area where CRSM is shining is in being able to host vaccine clinics for the greater community.  We are so grateful to all our donors who made our current campus possible.  Without the large parking lot and the beautifully finished inside space of the old Kmart, our efforts to assist would have been greatly curtailed. Over the last couple months we hosted events that allowed 2,500 first-responders, healthcare workers, essential workers, and persons over 65 years to get both doses of the Pfizer vaccine.  Starting just last week and running every weekend until August, we partnered with the Lovell Veterans Hospital and Naval Station Great Lakes to provide enough Moderna vaccines for almost 14,000 veterans and their caregivers, active duty personnel and their families, and base workers to get immunized.

A number of articles have come out recently discussing the mental health traumas that people are experiencing during the lockdown, especially teenagers.  Many CRSM students are expressing feelings of increased depression, heightened anxiety, concern for their families’ health and welfare, and loneliness.  They are not alone.  Our faculty and staff are experiencing much the same.

Being able to make the best of COVID by serving others in need and supplying vaccines to combat the virus are a couple ways we can try to fight off the negative toll of this pandemic.  They are by no means a cure but they help strengthen our mental resilience.

The Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda wrote, “You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.”  One of the gospel readings following Easter Sunday recalls how two disciples are walking to the town of Emmaus, completely demoralized after Jesus’ crucifixion and death and disillusioned that this human manifestation of Christ died after promising eternal life.  They meet a man on the road who feigns no knowledge of Jesus.  As the disciples describe Jesus’ life and teachings to the stranger, the fire Jesus sparked in their hearts when he was alive is rekindled.  That evening they invite the stranger to supper and, in the breaking of the bread, they recognize that this stranger is Jesus risen from the dead.  As soon as they recognize him, he disappears from their eyes.  We are those two disciples.  COVID has brought suffering and demoralizes us but in small gestures like food distribution, vaccines events, caring for one another, we have the opportunity to recognize God at work through us, in us, and with us.  In those brief moments, we are invited to rise above the suffering and remember that we belong to one another.

Yes, many flowers have been cut and, yes, many clouds still hover over us; but spring is coming, COVID can’t stop it; there are silver linings to be found; and God is with us even at this very moment – inviting us to reveal him to others in small gestures of love.   God bless you and yours during this wonderful season of hope and thank you for supporting CRSM.  ¡Viva Cristo Rey!