By Eric Villanueva ’11 & Michael Mandeville ’11
As assiduous students hustle through their academic and extracurricular commitments at Brophy, the development of the community can be disregarded.
Besides the infrequent manifestation of Brophy’s expansion projects like the Brophy Sports Campus and the recently announced Loyola Academy, students rarely experience a developmental agenda that is both on-going and all-encompassing.
That does not mean it isn’t happening though.
Next year alone, Brophy will introduce two major programs, including the Loyola Academy, a middle school geared to low-income students who would regularly not have the opportunity to receive a comprehensive Jesuit education.
This project is unique to Brophy in relation to other Jesuit high schools nationwide, according to Brophy President the Rev. Edward Reese, S.J.
Fr. Reese said he has big plans for Loyola Academy over the next five years or so.
“I see it as 90 to 100 students in fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades and being for boys who would never have had a chance to have this kind of an education if we didn’t have it,” he said.
The other new program, the Alumni Service Core, is aimed at providing four alumni an opportunity to spend a year back at Brophy, according to Principal Mr. Bob Ryan.
“Our hope is that we’ll have four recent college graduates who are Brophy alumni and want to come back and spend a year at Brophy in, more or less, a volunteer capacity,” Mr. Ryan said.
Two will work in the Office of Faith and Justice and two others will help the newly established Loyola Academy.
Mr. Ryan said the program has received solid interest from Brophy alumni with a group of candidates currently under review.
10-year capital campaign carries school into 21st century
To understand the administration’s broad vision for Brophy’s future, one must reflect on the strides Brophy has made because of a more than 10-year, $60 million capital, according to Mr. Ryan.
“In terms of the physical plan and capital improvements, I think it’s important to (remember past development projects) because over the last couple of years, in your guys’ time at Brophy, what has gotten the attention is the athletic facility,” Mr. Ryan said.
“But I think some historisizing is important because we’re at the end of a capital campaign that has been going on for over 10 years and the athletic improvements are the last phase of the campaign,” Mr. Ryan continued.
The capital campaign began when Fr. Reese first arrived at Brophy 15 years ago and saw the need for a variety of improvements.
“The technology was really bad,” Fr. Reese said. “I joke, ‘The height of the technology was the ballpoint pen.’”
Brophy’s 20th century-style campus underwent a technological upgrade to the 21st century, including the installation of campus-wide Internet and computers in classrooms as well as the construction of the Information Commons as the computer lab on campus.
This technological makeover came with the realization that technology would play a vital role in the education of young men in the future, Mr. Ryan said.
“If we’re preparing you for the future, it’s impossible for us to consider a Jesuit school without technology, so we went down that road,” he said.
Five years now into a one-to-one Tablet program, Mr. Ryan said the integration of technology into education is an area of continued focus as technology advances.
“A question we need to ask ourselves is, ‘For what year are we preparing our students?’” he said. “When we answer that question, we need to say, ‘Is what we’re doing actually doing that?’”
After upgrading technology, Brophy tackled a sagging Fine Arts department, available classroom shortages, an absent cafeteria and poor sports facilities, according to Fr. Reese.
“Kids got credit for singing in the showers,” Fr. Reese said jokingly about the previous Fine Arts requirement of one half credit to graduate.
The Brophy administration decided that the arts were part of a well-rounded education, and the Fine Arts requirement was beefed up to five half credits and the Eller Fine Arts Building was built, Mr. Ryan said.
Then construction of Piper Math and Science Building, Harper Great Hall and Brophy Sports Complex was completed in that order.
“Of course the perception is that all Brophy cares about is sports because it just built this new fancy field in the middle of the recession,” Mr. Ryan said. “The time couldn’t have worked more against us.”
“One of the things I’m proudest of is that we got the users to help design (the facilities),” Fr. Reese said.
The final phase of the 10-year campaign is the construction of a second gym, a new locker room, weight room, wrestling room and a pool adjacent to the Robson Gym. This work is slated to begin in two or three years.
Future education to focus more around Grad at Grad qualities
As far as education in the future, Mr. Ryan said he believes a Brophy education will involve more hands-on learning outside of the classroom.
“Maybe the classrooms look different; maybe our schedule looks different,” he said. “I don’t think it’s totally out the question in the future that maybe we won’t have class five days a week.”
“I don’t think in 20 years you’re going to come back here and you’re going to see a seven-period schedule where each class meets four times a week.”
His hope is for students to have more authentic learning experiences through involvement in their community.
Mr. Ryan said he also hopes to find ways to better measure and assess students’ progress towards embodying the five aspects of the Graduate at Graduation as students only receive quantitative feedback on their intellectual competence through GPAs and test scores.
“If we say we want you to be Open to Growth, Religious, Loving, Committed to Justice and Intellectually Competent then I think we owe it to you and your families to say to you, at benchmark moments, ‘Hey, this is the degree at which we perceive you to be Open to Growth,’” he said. “It’s been identified in the accreditation process this year as something we need to focus on and we’re aware of it and it will be a goal for us moving forward.”
But regardless of future changes in infrastructure or education, Fr. Reese said he believes the students’ values will endure.
“We don’t talk about it, but the additional stuff, the vision of the students, their sense of responsibility to help the disadvantaged, to make the world a better place; that will continue to grow,” Fr. Reese said.
Mr. Ryan agrees.
“The campus will look differently than it did 10 years ago, but I think at its core we still share the same values and I don’t think that will ever change,” Mr. Ryan said.