New this year at Cristo Rey Jesuit, each Academic Department recognizes one Student of the Month. These awards currently go out bi-monthly to students at any level from each Department. When selecting Student of the Month, teachers are looking for students who have shown:
Significant progress in the classroom
Marked improvement in grades
Notable consideration towards others
Each student receives a letter home with words of praise from their teacher and a certificate.
Certificates are also posted on a bulletin board in the main stairwell at school.
Cristo Rey is proud to congratulate the following Cristeros/Cristeras.
By Gabriela Garcia, LCPC, PEL
Director of Counseling at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School.
Women's History Month is dedicated to highlighting the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. I was fortunate enough to contribute to Women's History Month in my own special way recently when I was presented with the opportunity to highlight a beautiful partnership between The Junior League of Chicago (JLC), and Las Chicas, a girl empowerment club at Cristo Rey Jesuit.
Inspired by our female friendships and mentors, Cristo Rey Jesuit teacher Colleen Nieto and I decided to start an afterschool club to model, promote, encourage, and support female empowerment and sisterhood. Many of the girls at Cristo Rey Jesuit were craving a safe space to address gender roles and familial expectations, generational trauma, safe relationships, friendship drama, self-esteem, and physical and psychological well-being. In addition, our girls wanted a fun place to find and be their authentic selves. Thus, in 2015, Las Chicas was formed and became an official school club.
The Junior League of Chicago is a metropolitan organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving the community through effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. When I learned about the Junior League of Chicago's Teen Mentorship program last Fall, I instantly knew this would be a special partnership for Las Chicas here at Cristo Rey.
I cannot speak highly enough about the experiences the women of the Junior League of Chicago have provided our Chicas. Not only do our Chicas meet women excelling in their careers and giving back to our community, but they also get to participate in creative and meaningful activities that JLC members plan and organize.
Because of this partnership, Las Chicas members have engaged in a wide variety of activities. Creative endeavors include designing their own club tote bags and tie-dying t-shirts. JLC field trips have included a pottery class, bowling, and an afternoon tea party at the Russian Tea Time restaurant.
As Women for Others, we’ve also made it a point to give back to our community in a meaningful way. With the help of the JLC volunteers, Las Chicas have made blankets and diaper packs for the Pilsen Pantry and together we’ve organized a school-wide drive to help support the work of the Chicago Period Project.
One of our favorite JLC events that JLC volunteers organized was a Q&A with Angelica Varela, the owner of Semillas Plant Studio, a small local business in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. Angelica showed our girls that someone from their neighborhood who looks like them, and comes from a similar background, could dream big and can do hard things. It was a powerful conversation, followed by a fun floral arrangement class!
Since our partnership started with the Junior League of Chicago, our Chicas meeting attendance has doubled, and participation has been more consistent than ever.
There are so many benefits to participating in Las Chicas, but the one I am most passionate about is providing opportunities for self-reflection and self-care. It is not lost on me that women often wear many hats and fill many roles in their lives. In Las Chicas, we set intentions for the time we are all together. We then bring the focus and attention back to ourselves and the critical inner work that needs to happen to feel whole and comfortable in our own skin. Every day we work on becoming free of unfair and unrealistic societal expectations and we learn to nurture ourselves and each other. I am so happy to be able to continue to provide these types of opportunities for our Chicas.
The Las Chicas Mission Statement:
Las Chicas is a place of safety, kindness, and respect.
Las Chicas is open-minded and friendly, non-judgmental, and full of joy.
Las Chicas builds a community for all women at Cristo Rey.
As Las Chicas, we take care of each other and ourselves. We own our bodies and our minds and practice compassion for both.
We cultivate inner peace through meaningful sisterhood.
The more we learn, the more we grow; as such, we seek not perfection but humility and courage.
As Las Chicas, we have confidence because we know our strengths and weaknesses.
We celebrate our Latina identities, and we honor our ancestral power.
We are positive, optimistic, and ambitious, with open hearts.
We are Las Chicas, and we are fierce forces of nature.
Cristo Rey Jesuit’s Freshmen Mentoring Program, which began in 2015, matches a senior with a group of three to four freshmen with the mission of welcoming and serving all freshmen through leadership, conversation, and support. The program seeks to aid freshmen by giving them a sense of belonging to the Cristo Rey Jesuit community and helping them with the transition to high school through sharing knowledge and skills that can help them succeed. In addition, the program serves the senior mentors and school community by creating senior leadership, pride in the school community, and friendship between classes.
Our senior mentors embody the mission of the school, setting an example of what it means to be Men and Women for Others. Mentors apply as juniors and are selected by adult moderators based on their academic and discipline record, written application, and teacher recommendations. Meetings between Freshmen and their Mentors occur once a month during lunch, asesoría and/or Magis. In advance of each meeting with freshmen, senior mentors meet with the adult moderators to prepare that month’s agenda.
College counselor and alumna Joanna Mena ’16 served as a senior mentor when she attended Cristo Rey Jesuit, and now moderates the program. She reflects: “As a freshman, it can be intimidating to start at a new school, make new friends, and become familiar with its community and resources. I know that as a freshman, I would have appreciated having someone to look up to, ask questions to, and confide in. I would have benefited from having someone around my age help me with the transition of middle school to high school. I may not have had the opportunity to have a mentor, but I was lucky enough to be that person for someone else my senior year when the program was introduced. I saw this as an opportunity to give back to my community as a guide and confidant. This was not only tied to Cristo Rey’s mission of developing Men and Women for Others, but it also resides with CR’s Jesuit principles of reflection, examen, and guidance. This program helped me understand what it truly meant to be a “woman for others.” I became an “older sister” to a group of freshmen, who soon filled my shoes when I graduated, and so on. This program has had so many positive benefits for both the Mentors and Mentees. It is phenomenal to see the progress of this program and the positive results it has had for both parties. As an adult now, I look back at that role and see how it continues to impact and influence me in my current role as a college counselor here at CR and as a moderator for this program.”
A few of our senior mentors and freshman mentees share their thoughts about the program.
Senior mentor Anthony H. ‘23 shares that the program “gives me more leadership experience and helps influence the freshmen to achieve more than they thought they were capable of. It has also helped me connect to the younger generation.” Anthony adds, “I would tell Cristeros considering becoming a mentor to give open and judgment-free space to talk to your mentees. Also, bring snacks!”
Freshmen mentee Emiliano C. ‘26 tells us, “I think that this program is important because it helps you reflect upon how you've been doing. This program has impacted me by being able to talk to someone experienced who is not a teacher.”
“I was able to broaden the circle that I have around the school,” says senior mentor Monserrat S. ’23. “Not only that but I also gained insight into what I was like as a freshman because for a fact I know I was afraid to be in a new environment. This program has allowed me to demonstrate to underclassmen that seniors are here to help them succeed.” As a successful mentor, Monserrat shares her advice for future mentors: “I would offer to treat the freshmen as your friends and make them feel like you appreciate them being at Cristo Rey. I mention this because I am not only speaking for myself when I say this, we are examples of what each senior would have wanted for the younger version of ourselves…a friend they could rely on and reach out to during a new phase in their lives.”
Freshmen mentee Destiny P. ‘23 believes that “the senior mentor program is important because it connects you with upperclassmen and helps you learn so much more about the school. With this program, I learned about summer programs and upcoming events at CR directly from my Senior mentor. Being a freshman and getting to experience high school can be a scary experience if you don’t know what you are doing. It is important to communicate, and who better than Senior mentors.” Destiny’s insight for incoming mentees is to “ask for help when you need it.”
The mentoring program has proven to be beneficial for both the seniors and freshman and continues to positively impact the school community. “As a mentor program moderator, it is a privilege to work with these seniors and see them be leaders to the freshmen,” says Spanish teacher Alex Wyman. “It is inspiring to watch the freshmen look up to their mentors and see themselves as an integral part of our community.”