Monthly Archives: August 2013


Sean Ruane: Shark Week!

Sean Ruane, 12-14, La Salle High School, Yakima, WA

Shark Week! If you’re not familiar with those two words, then you need to go online immediately and watch every single episode ever created. However, you should know going into this television adventure that you probably won’t shower or, for that matter, move off the couch for a week straight, because you’re going to want to watch episode after episode. Call in sick.

So if you haven’t figured it out by now, I am a huge fan of Shark Week. When I watch shark week, I am not just endlessly mesmerized by the footage, but simultaneously, I’m thinking to myself- “How much preparation goes into making this glorious week happen? When does Discovery Channel start planning out shark week? How do they know the formula to making television so captivating that all I want to do is sit on the couch for a week straight, grow a really gross beard, eat 16 bags of Fritos, and feel my eyes because I haven’t blinked in 127 hours?”

You might be thinking- “Sean, that’s what you’re thinking about as you watch shark week?” Well… let me explain.

As a 2nd year Lasallian Volunteer, I now have a year of teaching experience under my belt. And now that I have that experience, I feel like I constantly see things in a different light. After a year of waking up around 4 or 5 every morning to create lesson plans, retreat agendas, and practice plans, I have a greater appreciation for the work that goes into making things happen. So as I watch this quality entertainment called “shark week”, I contemplate whether something this great could be made possible without months and months of preparation and hard work.

Similarly, I believe just about all good things in life come from preparation and hard work. Yes, I believe in good luck, but I also believe in creating your own good luck. As a teacher and coach, I am constantly reminding students and players that greatness is not something you are born with, rather, it is the result of outstanding work ethic and the will to consistently prepare.

In a world that is constantly getting faster and more technologically advanced, it is only natural that people want results quicker. Now you may call me old fashioned, and that’d be fair, because there are tons of people who tell me that I have the personality of an old man. Nevertheless, I wholeheartedly believe there is beauty in working your tail off and properly preparing to succeed on a daily basis, with the understanding that you may fail or never actually see any tangible results from your hard work.

If you don’t know who John Wooden is, he was the longtime coach of the UCLA Bruins Men’s Basketball Team and is the winningest coach in the history of any sport. After reading many books by and about John Wooden, I would argue that his character was much more impressive than the number of victories or the number of trophies he earned. John Wooden once said- “success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.” I’m not a math guy, but here are two formulas to express my thoughts more clearly.

Success ≠ Great grades, Lots of money, Fame and fortune, etc…
Success= Doing the best with what God gave you

That is the same thing I told a student in my class last year who was consistently earning C and D grades in all of her classes. She was by far the hardest worker that I taught, but she just always seemed to be struggling with tests, quizzes, essays, and other assessment’s that usually have a huge impact on one’s grade.

On the last day of class, I stood up in front of a large group of sophomore students-a group that consisted of students with brilliant minds, with 4.0’s, with amazing athletic ability, with more friends than anyone else in the school- and told this particular student that she was the most successful student in my class this year. She had a C-. But you know what…she worked harder than any individual in any of my classes. She did more with her gifts and talents than any other student that I taught. That is success. That is greatness.

Shark week may have millions of viewers each year and worldwide loyalty, but we shouldn’t be looking at their financial profits or their worldwide fame as a measure of their success. Yes, fame and notoriety are often a byproduct of hard work and consistent preparation, but that is not always the case. I certainly don’t measure my success based on my income or my level of notoriety. If I did, then, well….I would be a miserable failure in life.

I measure my success by sitting down every night before I go to bed and asking myself- “did I do the best that I could to become the best that I am capable of becoming?” Every once in a while the answer is yes, other times I’m not quite sure, and more often than not, the answer is no. However, the days that are full of failure and despair don’t stop me from consistently preparing to do the best that I can with the gifts that God has blessed me with. Those days fuel me. It is through those failures that I learn to work even harder and to prepare even better, so that I can be my best when it comes to educating and inspiring the hearts and minds of the young men and women at La Salle High School in Yakima, Washington.

Live Jesus in Our Hearts Forever.

Sean Ruane, 13-14, La Salle High School, Yakima, WA

By |August 26th, 2013|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on Sean Ruane: Shark Week!

Doug Herbek: Poverty And Personal Choices


Doug Herbek, 13-14, San Miguel Schools Chicago, Back of the Yards Campus, Chicago, IL

At Lasallian Volunteers (LVs) Orientation, just before we began our service as LVs, LV staff provided us with a great training which led us to question our assumptions about ourselves, each other and the world in which we live.  I vividly remember one session where the facilitator asked us to talk about our views on social justice.

During that session, as the facilitator made differing statements about various topics, each time he made one of these statements, he asked us to get into one of the four corners of the room, the first if we strongly agreed with the statement, the second if we agreed with the statement, the third if we disagreed with the statement, and the fourth if we strongly disagreed with the statement.

At one point, the presenter said, “The majority of people living in poverty are poor because of bad personal choices.”  All of the LVs in the room were on the side of the room to indicate that they either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement.  Indeed, with around 50 of us LVs in the room, I wasn’t sure that all of us could fit into one quarter of the room, so I’m not sure whether or not everyone strongly disagreed with the statement, or whether some of us strongly disagreed with it and others just disagreed with it.

After we had been discussing this statement for a little while, I raised my hand and noted that nearly all of the people, if not everyone, in the room had chosen at some point, whether in the past, present or continuing into the future, to be financially poor.  Of course, the vast majority of us in the room were LVs.  Aside from the LVs in the room, LV staff were also in the room.  Most LV staff members used to be LVs themselves, and thus used to live on the modest stipend LVs receive.

I further noted that plenty of people (which would include monks, nuns, priests, social justice activists, pro bono lawyers, and Peace Corps volunteers, among many others) would view that voluntary decision to be monetarily poor as a good personal choice.  I wanted to be sure that not everyone in the room was looking at financial poverty as a bad thing!  I found it appropriate to point out that many find it laudable to be purposefully financially poor by reminding everyone in the room that probably all of them chose financial poverty at some point in their lives.  Granted, I am fully aware that the vast majority of impoverished people in the world are not monetarily poor by choice.  Nevertheless, I wanted to illustrate that the question could be viewed from a different perspective.

Soon thereafter, again trying to look at the question from a different perspective, I asked the session facilitator if he had intended for the statement to apply to financial poverty.  He indicated that one did not necessarily have to interpret the statement as dealing with poverty in a monetary sense.  As soon as he had said that, I began moving my way through the crowd which had gathered on the one side of the room.  I walked over to the other side of the room, where I now stood alone.  I explained that if the statement is taken as applying to spiritual poverty, then I strongly disagreed with it.  All of us, every last one of us, who is spiritually poor is in that condition because we have made poor personal choices.  (And I quickly point out that many of us, including myself, are spiritually poor.  We are trying to crawl out of the darkness which comes along with the bad choices we have made; we are trying to return to The Light, which is from God above.)

We all have free will.  All of us know the difference between right and wrong.  Each of us has a conscience.  It is only us who do spiritual damage to ourselves.  Others might be able to physically injure us or financially harm us.  How we choose to respond to events in our lives determines our spiritual state of health.  As Jesus noted, nothing from outside us can hurt us.  As He also explained, it is what is within us which hurts us; the poor personal choices we make are what hurt us, since ultimately we can only be responsible for our own choices.  We cannot be responsible for what is done to us, but we can, and indeed are, whether we like it or not, responsible for how we respond to events in our lives.

Since we are responsible for the choices we make, we are also more specifically responsible for how we respond to others in need.  And when we help others who need our assistance, we not only help them, but we also create spiritual wealth for ourselves.

What kind of wealth do we want to amass?  At what expense?  When we accumulate spiritual wealth, often we put assisting others over earning money for ourselves.  Do we help others, perhaps at the expense of our bank account?  Do we help our own bank account, perhaps at the expense of our souls?  As Jesus noted, where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

Do we help someone else in need, or do we pass by that person?  The LV program was founded to provide volunteering opportunities for helping disadvantaged youths, clearly a decision to help those in need.  By helping others in need, and in doing so rather than pursuing material wealth, one redefines wealth.  True wealth, wealth that will last for eternity, is spiritual wealth.

We can only be responsible for our own choices, including the ones we make about the types of wealth we accumulate.  Thus our choices truly define us; they determine our eternal destiny.  Make yours reflect the best values you can.

Doug Herbek, 13-14, San Miguel Schools Chicago, Back of the Yards Campus, Chicago, IL

By |August 19th, 2013|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on Doug Herbek: Poverty And Personal Choices

Archbishop O’Hara High School, Kansas City, MO

Archbishop O’Hara High School is a College Prep school of the Diocese of  Kansas City-St. Joseph, providing Catholic education in the Lasallian tradition to young women and young men with emphasis on faith, service, learning and community. With the Holy Family as our model, our community grows in faith and grace.

There are currently no LVs serving at this site.

By |August 16th, 2013|Categories: where lvs serve|Tags: |Comments Off on Archbishop O’Hara High School, Kansas City, MO

Operation Breakthrough, Kansas City, MO

Operation Breakthrough is a nationally accredited, not-for-profit corporation that began in 1971 as a response to requests from parents in the central city for quality child care for children of the working poor.  It is the largest single-site early education and social services facility in the state of Missouri serving over 400 children daily from the urban core of Kansas City.

The mission of Operation Breakthrough is to help children who are living in poverty develop to their fullest potential by providing them a safe, loving and educational environment.  Operation Breakthrough also strives to support and empower the children’s families through advocacy, referral services, and emergency aid.

Besides early education services, Operation Breakthrough provides before- and after-school care for children, ages 5-13 and has a large array of supportive services on-site –  including a food pantry, clothing closet, Children’s Mercy health clinic, dental clinic, and therapeutic services.

There are currently no LVs serving at this site.

By |August 16th, 2013|Categories: where lvs serve|Tags: |Comments Off on Operation Breakthrough, Kansas City, MO

John Paul II Academy, Racine, WI

Chelsea Stevenson

Chelsea Stevenson

John Paul II Academy is a Christ-centered Catholic school providing education based on Scripture and tradition, preparing young people to embrace the teachings of the Gospel in their lives. We exist in partnership with parents, the parishes and the community in order to develop the whole child. We recognize the capabilities and differences of each child and we will help each one develop life-skills for cooperation and involvement in society based on respect for God, oneself, global society, and the environment.

John Paul II Academy serves students in grades K4-8 and support an increasingly diverse student and parent population.

By |August 16th, 2013|Categories: where lvs serve|Tags: |1 Comment