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Cristo Rey Announces Posse Scholar

As we ring in the new year, Cristo Rey is proud to announce that senior Isbeth B. received a four-year scholarship to Middlebury College through The Posse Foundation! The Posse Foundation identifies, recruits, and trains individuals with extraordinary leadership potential. Posse Scholars receive full-tuition leadership scholarships from Posse's partner colleges and universities. Isbeth is one of 90 scholarship recipients from Chicago this year, out of nearly 2,500 nominations.

Isbeth plans to study political science at Middlebury, and wants to pursue a career as an immigration lawyer. 

 

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From the Grounds Up

Written by Angel Rodriguez, Cristo Rey Jesuit Volunteer '22

Pictured: Alize Perez’ 21 running the shop front and serving a cup of freshly brewed coffee to a customer after Sunday Mass at St. Paul.

 

In July 2021, St. Paul Catholic Church in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood welcomed their newest addition to the parish community: Holy Grounds Cafe.

Holy Grounds Cafe is a coffee house operated by parishioners that offers a variety of house made caffeinated, non-caffeinated and refreshing drinks to fellow members of the church ,neighbors, and commuters alike. Their signature drinks menu changes weekly while brewing and serving newly inspired drinks like Choco Abuelita, Matcha Iced Latte, and even pup cups for dog owners!

Located in the church’s recently renovated basement, the cafe hosts a welcoming and warm environment where community is central to their work. Inside the cafe, bright lights and colorful displays set a positive and welcoming mood.

Through a Center for New Horizons’ summer job program, Alize ‘21, Itzel ‘21 and Jorge ‘22 - two Cristo Rey alumni and one current senior helped establish and launch Holy Grounds and applied their Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP) experiences to a real-world scenario. Through CWSP, Cristo Rey students work for and earn nearly 70% toward the cost of their education — making a quality, college preparatory education possible for students who could not otherwise afford it. The resulting work experience, career exploration, mentorship, and networking students receive is invaluable in positioning them to succeed in college and beyond.

 “The CWSP has helped me to come out of my comfort zone, strengthen my confidence, and grow my communication and soft skills, which  are now the foundations of my manager’s starter toolkit,” said Alize Perez. A graduate of the Class of 2021, during her time at Cristo Rey she worked at Freeborn & Peters LLP. She is a first-year student at University of Illinois at Chicago studying Accounting and Finance. When Alize started her summer job at Holy Grounds, her main roles consisted of creating the menu and preparing drinks, marketing, and coordinating volunteers and employees. Alize aspires to learn more about the finance industry and explore the possibility of running her own business and travel. Her recommended cafe drink is the Mexi Cafecito.

The other alumna involved with Holy Grounds is Itzel Cebrero. Itzel also graduated from Cristo Rey in 2021 and worked at the Cristo Rey Network for her work-study job.  “My internship experience through CWSP provided me with the independence and grit that inspired me to transfer what I gained from office administration work and applied it to my work at Holy Grounds, so I can manage café operations and put real work into action,” said Itzel. She previously volunteered at retreats with the St. Paul and St. Adalbert Church where she deepened her faith.  “This work through Holy Grounds reaffirms my interest in finance and especially supporting my parish by helping to bring in business with a sincere purpose in mind and serving people in the community one cup of coffee or tea at a time.”

Itzel is currently a first-year student studying finance at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. As an aspiring small business owner, she thanked the Cristo Rey Work Study Program for developing her business interest and opening the possibility of running her own venture in the future. Itzel felt this opportunity with Holy Grounds aligned with her career plans, especially being in a manager position alongside fellow alum and St. Paul parishioner, Alize. Her recommended go to cafe drink is Cloud 9, which is a lotus tea drink that blends blue raspberry and pina colada.

Senior Jorge’s ’22 interest in becoming a software engineer was largely influenced by his IT work experience at Huron Consulting and National Futures Association. While working at St. Paul this past summer, Jorge managed and built Holy Grounds’ online presence, including their social media communications plan. This work with Holy Grounds shaped his passion for using technical skills to improve a small business’ online presence. As a former catechist and parishioner at Our Lady of Charity in Cicero, Jorge believes in the importance of caring for God’s people. At Holy Grounds he can do just that – using the profits for the parish’s programs and faith groups. His recommended cafe drink is the Iced Polar Bear Coffee, a new Holiday drink that comes with a cookie!

Four months since its opening, Holy Grounds has become a favorite in the Pilsen neighborhood, one of Cristo Rey’s newest favorite cafes. Both Itzel and Alize support the cafe whenever they can find some time between classes - either volunteering or promoting on their social media platforms. Jorge is still part of the cafe team and continues to apply his skills to improve the business.

We are proud of our alumni – men and women for others who are open to growth, religious, intellectually competent, loving, committed to justice, and work experienced. We invite you to take a trip to Pilsen and visit Holy Grounds café, only a block west of Cristo Rey.

Holy Grounds Cafe
2127 West 22nd Place, Chicago, IL 60608

Follow on Instragram (@holygroundspilsen), on Facebook, and visit their website at www.stpaulchgo.org/holy-grounds.    

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Cristo Rey Q&A: Fall Play 2021


Cristo Rey Q&A: Fall Play 2021
with Ms. Rocio Juarez ’10 & Lizette G. ’24

Each year, Cristo Rey’s Drama Club puts on two productions, with the fall play performed entirely in Spanish. This year’s play was “Ana en el Trópico,” by Nilo Cruz, a story about workers at a tobacco factory, revolutionized by reading Tolstoy. Sophomore Ricardo J. interviewed Drama Club Director Ms. Rocio Juarez ‘10 and actress Lizette G. ‘24 about this fall’s return to the stage, the importance of culturally relevant arts programming and the process of creating a production in just 10 weeks.

In addition to Drama Club Director, Ms. Rocio Juarez ’10 primarily serves as Cristo Rey’s Service Coordinator, overseeing the service and social justice programming at the school. Lizette is a sophomore at Cristo Rey; she is always looking for new opportunities to volunteer and help at the school.


Ricardo: What was the reason for choosing this play, and what inspired you?

Ms. Juarez: The main reason there is a Spanish play at Cristo Rey is because six years ago, [teacher and alum] Mr. Rex Ovalle ’08 thought it was a missing piece at Cristo Rey. As an alum, I totally agree; Spanish is so deeply rooted in our lives and our culture. Another reason why the fall Spanish play tradition persists is because I would love to see more of our students involved in theatre and the arts in general. I hope that one day, one of our students will become inspired by the work they do in drama club (English or Spanish) and for it to become a career option.

Ricardo: What was the reason you joined the Drama Club?

Lizette: I joined the play because it seemed like a fun opportunity to do something I liked. Since I was little, I would pretend I was in a telenovela and was always curious on how they did it. I thought that joining the fall play would bring out my inner childhood dream.

Ricardo: How long ago did you start preparing to do the play?

Lizette: We started preparing for the play around the beginning of September. We had about 2 months to prepare but it all started coming together around the last 3 weeks.

Ricardo: What were your expectations when making the play?

Ms. Juarez: I knew from the beginning that rebuilding drama club was going to be a challenge, since the pandemic did not allow new students to experience drama last year and cut the spring play short in 2020. Without the participation of students, we can't move forward! I am so lucky that our students showed up and had faith in themselves to audition and try something new.

Ricardo: How did the 10 weeks of rehearsals look for the cast as they prepared?

Ms. Juarez: During our rehearsals there were times that we had fun and got to know each other. There were other times where students understood the importance of learning their lines and taking feedback from the directors. I give major kudos to the cast because on top of all their academic work they were able to be committed to the success of the play by staying late and studying the play and their feedback. I can't wait to see what comes next for them!

Ricardo: Did you have faith in the students that they would learn everything and be ready to perform?

Ms. Juarez: Even though there were rough practice days, I will have to say that I always had faith in the cast and their performances. This play brought me back to our first play in Spanish, as we were starting with a new cast altogether. No one had experience with a Cristo Rey play before, so it is always hard to start without students that can show new students the ropes. Our sole returning member was senior Fatima R., Backstage Crew Manager, who made the process much easier for us.

Ricardo: How did you feel when performing?

Lizette: When the day arrived, I was so nervous I wanted to cry, but as soon as I entered the stage my mind went on autopilot. I became Conchita on stage and really felt the emotions of my character. I felt so proud listening to the audience’s laughter and applause. I felt as if all our work paid off.

Ricardo: Did you like your role and why?

Lizette: Yes, I loved my role. Conchita is such a funny and loving character which is why I loved playing her. Her fights with her sister and her sarcasm reminds me so much of me and my own sister. Conchita is also in search of ways to love, and it almost reminds me of all the novelas I’ve watched growing up. Overall, Conchita and I have a lot in common.

Ricardo: Are you happy with how the play turned out?

Ms. Juarez: I am completely elated at how magnificent of a job our cast and crew did! It took so much to get to opening night and get to share with the community our love and dedication to the play.

Lizette: Yes, I am so proud of myself and all my friends. I am glad that a lot of people enjoyed the plot. I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from teachers and students, and it makes me happy that we were able to captivate our audience and provide them Ana en el Trópico.

Ricardo: Is there anything else you would like to share?

Ms. Juarez: I am so grateful to Ms. Maria Elena Juarez, Mr. Taylor Fulkerson, and Mr. Dennis Moller for also helping me put the play together. They had a lot of faith in the students and loved the play when they first read it.

Lizette: Being in Ana en el Trópico was a great experience. I loved being with the cast and the teachers. We all became a family just like in the play. I greatly appreciate Mr. Fulkerson, Ms. Juarez, and Ms. María Elena Juarez for never giving up on us and pushing us constantly to do our best. I also want to thank Mr. Moller and stage crew for making all the props, getting us ready, and setting up the scenes. Ana en el Trópico is such a wonderful and very well plotted story, and I am glad everyone enjoyed it.

 

In addition to Drama Club, Cristo Rey offers additional arts programming, including a freshmen music course to learn the traditional zampona instrument, a senior fine art course focused on Chicago’s street art, Ballet Folklorico group, Broadcasting club, Film Club, Improv Club, and a Latin Music Ensemble.

Cristo Rey’s spring play will premier in April 2022, we hope to see you there!

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Save the Date for ¡VIVA! 2022 

Cristo Rey's premier fundraising event ¡VIVA! is back! Join us and celebrate the return of VIVA and 25 years of Cristo Rey at the Bridgeport Art Center on Thursday, May 5, 2022.

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