Thursday, October 31, 2013

Eating Light, Eating Right

Another successful class with Ms.Etsch!

The students learned how to make spaghetti without a jar of sauce! They were surprised how easy it was to make spaghetti sauce with lean, ground turkey! 

It was delicious! 

Most of the students noted how easy it was-- and they never knew that eating healthier could be so easy! The whole wheat noodles were a big factor. A few noted that they didn't like wheat bread, so they were worried they wouldn't like the wheat noodles. That was not the case! 

They tried something new, loved it, and discussed making changes like adding more whole grain to their diets, using less prepared sauces, and adding veggies to their dishes. 

This were exciting ideas, and we were so proud to hear them discussing them without facilitation! 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Reflection: The Power to Heal, The Power to Hurt

During yesterday's Reflection, we talked about the power of choice, free will, and those things in relation to tomorrow's Halloween festivities. We talked about making good choices-- not doing the things that give teens a bad reputation on Halloween.

We noted the egging, the hazing, and the torment little kids see on Halloween. Our teens pledged to be helpful, rather than harmful on Halloween.

The questions they answered in yesterday's Reflection are displayed on hands in our hallway. They serve as a reminder to use their hands for good, rather than mischief.

1. How did you use those hands to lift someone's spirit?
2. What do you offer your friendships?
3. What do you aspire to become?

The need for good decision-making does not end with the Center. The teens talk about carrying over the values and lessons learned here to other parts of their lives. It's such a huge success for us. 

We seek to help these teens, and it's clear that we are helping! Though, it's not just a success for us. These teens are making better choices, and displaying personal responsibility in a serious way. 

We are here to help them find those positive solutions to problems.

The progress and growth is entirely attributed to their positive, personal choices. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Call for Volunteers and Donations!

The MKC is growing everyday! 
We are looking to expand our offerings and amenities!

We are looking to connect with the alumnae of Maria High School and the community. Come share your talents with us! We are currently looking for volunteers to do sessions on:
Balloon Animals

We would like to explore other sessions, as well. For example- do you play music? Come and run a jam session! Do you dance? Come and teach a Zumba class! Do you find yourself wondering where God fits in your life? Come and join in an open group conversation. Recently, we've had volunteers work on hair care, jewelry making, music, and poetry writing. We'd love to see what other awesome talents that you can bring to the MKC!

As for donations, we are currently looking for:
Wii Games
Wii Controllers
Legos (all legos!)
Batteries (AA, AAA)
Karaoke Discs
Area Rugs (large and small)

If you, or someone you know, would be interested in donating their time or the aforementioned items, please contact Britt Quinn, or Amy Eckhouse!

So many of you have donated your time and many of you have offered materials needed for the Center. Thank you!!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Remembrance: All Souls' Day

On November 2nd we celebrate All Souls' Day-- a day of love and remembrance for those who have passed on into eternal life. Below are the names of those who have crossed over, as submitted by the MKC teens and several staff: 

Robert Lee Austin
Clarence Ballard
Paul Booker
Sergio Oliva
Brian Buford
Sr. Rosales Castillo
Floyd Crumpton
T. H. K Daniels 
Aaron Davis
Michael Gray
Jimmy Henderson
Johnny Jones
Sr. Louis
Twanna Lyles
Archie Mitchell
Gary Moore
Monica Morgan
Robert Munn
Roosevelt Price
Earlene Singleton
Mildred Spain
Lisa Starling
Jessie Starnes
Mozelle William
Chris Lattin
Miracle Pendleton
Ralphy Flores
Alejandro Valdez
Julius Campbell
Jasmine Sullivan
Jean Eckhouse
Norb Eckhouse
Coy Eckhouse
John Rizzo
Prinny Krauel-Jefferson
Dennis Stoyak
Therese Stoyak
Megan Denise Krauel-Jefferson
David Schmidt

We welcome you to share in this special day with us. There is a mass in celebration and honor of All Souls' Day at the Sisters of St.Casimir Motherhouse on Saturday, November 2nd, 2013 at 9:00 AM. 

Please check out the flyer, and join us on Saturday morning for this reverent celebration of those who have touched our lives.

November, Covey's 2nd Habit: "Begin with an end in mind"

Our first "Person of the Month" award was excellent! We awarded our October "Proactive" award to a new Team [Teen] Leader, LeShaun. We recognize all his hard work, and we commend him for showing us (and his peers) the best parts of himself.

Next month we will be honoring a student who embodies Covey's second habit:
"Begin with an end in mind"...

This means we will look for a teen who:
  • Displays positive decision-making
  • Embodies a positive attitude and contributes to the MKC
  • Displays a willingness to problem-solve and make things better

Our teens are stepping up and showing us the awesome things they are capable of doing, and we can't wait to see what will happen in the month to come!

Friday, October 25, 2013

What does it mean to be an "MKC [Teen] Leader"

Yesterday we took nominations for new Team [Teen] Leaders. The group of Leaders nominated two teens to join them.

When offering the position, the Team Leaders did something exceptionally introspective. They asked the nominees "Well, what does it mean to be a leader? What do you think it means?"
The Leaders then told the nominees what the position means to them.

"You gotta be MKC all the time... not just here." 

"You have to be a leader for other students all the time. If someone needs you during the day, you have to help."

"You have to step up"

This speaks volumes about the culture being created here at the Maria Kaupas Center. These teens are not only meeting our high expectations, they are also creating their own expectations and norms for their peers and themselves.

As the nominees listened to their peers explain what it means to be a "Leader" they were respectful and actively listened. Both nominees accepted the position and proudly wore their white "Team Leader" shirts to school today.

We are so excited to welcome these two young men to our Leadership [Teen] Team!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sacred Sewing: Shine-On Grant from Azteca

We are very pleased to announce our getting a "Shine On" grant from Azteca!

This was our proposal, authored by the talented Ms.Tolish:

The Maria Kaupas Center (MKC) is a Catholic community center in Marquette Park that works in collaboration with Catalyst-Maria High School, a CPS charter school, to provide teens with meaningful afterschool programming.

One goal is to provide service-learning opportunities. Program Director Amy Eckhouse and MKC volunteer/Catalyst sewing teacher Sr. Elizabeth Ann, a Sister of St. Casimir, have created a special program called Sacred Sewing.

In this win-win program, Catalyst-Maria students who are members of the MKC learn the basics of sewing and the joy of serving those less fortunate. Through three sewing projects to be completed over the course of six months, Sr. Elizabeth Ann will instruct students in basic sewing techniques and machine operation as they create items designed to bring comfort and a sense of community to three very different populations in need. (1) Hats for the Homeless – 20 MKC members will sew 40 fleece hats and personally deliver them to a local PADS site where they will meet both PADS beneficiaries and volunteers. (2) Peek-a-boo Pillows – MKC members will sew and stuff 60 small pillows in engaging, child-friendly patterns. Students will deliver these pillows to local hospitals and police/fire departments to be given to children who are ill, have been injured, or have experienced some type of trauma. They will comfort and console some of the city’s youngest victims. (3) Suited for Seniors – MKC members will sew 30 clothing protection cover-ups for elderly residents of nursing homes who suffer from Alzheimer’s. Made from colorful fabric with stimulating designs, these cover-ups can help increase recall as seniors remember who had the panda bear cover-up on Tuesday and who gets it on Wednesday.

Through Sacred Sewing, teen members of the MKC could learn an important skill – and how to sew! A Shine-on grant will help us make it happen. 


We are so excited to start this programming and incorporate our "Hats for PADS" kids into this awesome new project!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

All Souls' Day: Reflection

The leaves are changing, the air is crisp. It's autumn, the season of change. Leaves wither and die. Death, as an idea, becomes tangible. 

Yesterday’s Reflection was centered around upcoming, All Souls' Day. This is the time and place for us to honor those who have crossed over to the eternal life. With over 50 teens present at Reflection yesterday, we discussed the importance of honoring those who have passed on.

We  discussed the meaning behind this day and the group was invited to walk up to the large pieces of poster paper and write down the name of their loved one who had passed.  As each teen walked up to honor their loved one, the song,  “One Sweet Day” by Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey played in the background.

When the group was finished writing the names, each had an opportunity to verbally acknowledge their loved one and speak about him or her.  It was a very reverent, touching reflection. 

At the end, all teens (and their families) were given an invitation to the All Souls' Liturgy at the Sisters of St.Casimir Motherhouse on November 2 at 9:00 AM.  All the names of the loved one’s who had passed will be read at this Liturgy.

This week and next week we will be accepting pictures of deceased loved ones to put on the altar in the chapel.  Please feel free to participate. We'd love to honor those special people in your life.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Maria Kaupas Center Dedication

Maria Kaupas Center Dedication

Come Celebrate With Us!
January 6th, 2014
4:30 PM
Maria Kaupas Chapel

Join us on this special day for the Dedication of the Maria Kaupas Center, celebrating both the Feast of the Epiphany
and the Birthday of Mother Maria Kaupas.
Celebrant, Father Tony Pizzo, OSA, Presiding
Light refreshments to follow liturgy.

We look forward to celebrating this very special day with you!
In everything we do…
“Always better, always more, always with love.”

Please RSVP Amy Eckhouse by December 20th, 2013

Amy Eckhouse

Attitude of Gratitude: Reflection

"Gratitude is the sign of noble souls."- Aesop

Yesterday in Reflection, we talked about "gratitude". It's easy for many of us to forget just how fortunate we are, when we are focused on what we want. Everything we've been given has helped shaped some part of us. Whether the experiences were good, bad, pleasant or unpleasant-- it has affected us. 

We asked the teens to recognize the things in their life that they are grateful for, whether big or small, we asked--

For what are you grateful?

"Emotionally, I'm grateful for my mother for not giving up on herself or me."

"...being able to [have] free expression."

"My grandmother letting me live with her."

"My aunts taking their money to help me."

"My family"

"My starting circumstances."

"I'm thankful for my life. I wish to help others more."

"I have a mother that supports me."

"I'm grateful for knowing both my parents."

"I'm grateful for not meeting my dad until I was five."

"Everyday I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner."

"I'm grateful for having someone to talk to when I'm sad."

"I am grateful for my intelligence."

"I am grateful for my family."

"I am grateful for the experience to see my mother and have her in my life."

"I am grateful for my friends, because they show me I am loved."

At times, we are not focused on all we've been given... and we forgot how fortunate we really are. 

A few teens noted that they don't express gratitude enough, and maybe they should. The teens shared openly about all the good that has come into their lives-- and they recognize it. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Thank You, Clarke University!

Clarke University is a liberal arts and sciences university focused on progressing with the times. Humble beginnings have developed into over 40 undergraduate and 6 graduate programs, including a best-in-class adult education program.

This weekend we had an amazing group of student-philanthropists stay at the MKC. They were doing a service project at a southside Catholic grammar school. 

We were so happy to host them! 

If you or someone you know has a group retreat/weekend to plan, consider the Maria Kaupas Center! 

For more information, please email Britt Quinn or Amy Eckhouse for details!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Jewelry Jammin': A Facilitator Notes Progress

Ms.Lyke is a regular volunteer here at the MKC. She runs our jewelry up-cycling, repurposing, and creation sessions. Yesterday she made in interesting observation in the progress of the teens here at the Center.

She noted group problem-solving in the projects she facilitated. They are discussing problems and group-sourcing solutions.

They are polite, both with adults and each other. Interpersonal skills are improving with each session.

These are extremely high compliments, and we are so proud of the progress our teens have made in such a short time!

Reflection: What is Your Relationship with God?

A team [teen] leader ran Reflection yesterday. An insightful teen, she read from "Daily Word for Teens: Discovering What's Sacred in You" (Zuck, Meyer, Daven, 2002.).

Nothing To Fear

"All we need to do is expose fears to the sunlight and they shrink."- Dale Dauten

     I am learning to see the world in a whole new way: I know that God is everywhere present. That means that whether I am walking at night or in the light of day, whether I am in an unfamiliar or familiar place, or whether I am doing something new or something I have practiced many times, God is with  me. Just like darkness is the absence of light, fear is just the absence of love. 
     For instance, if I am afraid of making a mistake in front of a group or an audience, I remember to send them love as I speak or perform. They will receive my message of love and mirror it right back to me! If I am feeling scare in a new environment I am imagine God's love, like a floodlight, dispelling the darkness. in the bright light of love, I see that there is nothing to fear. 

The light of God surround me and protects me wherever I am. 

Daily Word for Teens: Discovering What's Sacred in You" (p.26, Zuck, Meyer, Daven, 2002.)

The Team [Teen] Leader then asked the group about their relationship with God.

They all shared, openly.

One person said "I love God. I go to church when I can, and I talk to him often."

Another student noted that his relationship with God is better than it was a year ago.

This is the progress we hope to reach with these teens daily. Our mission is visible in their hope, personal growth, and spiritual growth.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Teens Were Asked...

Yesterday in Reflection we asked a challenging question--

What has made you the person you are today?

“The difficult obstacles I've faced”

“The good and the bad things that have happened to me”

“My community”


“When people push me away…how I’m always replaced -never being good enough…always forgotten."

“My father not being there for me”

“Friends, family”

“I compliment myself…when I was little I was always called ugly”

“Dealing with people who tell me I can’t do anything”

“My eagerness to be myself even if I’m different”

“Learning who to trust and recognizing those who don’t want the best for me”

“My insecurities have made me feel bad.”  “I’m getting better with this”

“My Mom!” 
(Many students gave this response...) 

“My history makes me the person I am today.  Many people have came into my life temporarily and have broken trust and loyalty.  I always have my guard up.”

“The obstacles and the people who have not been nice to me.”

“Me just being me and not letting anyone have power over who god made me to be.”

“My family has given me the confidence in myself that I show.”


“My haters”

“My parents divorce affected me because I feel I never got the attention I needed -  Now I look for attention in the wrong places”

“Being the ‘invisible’ one – being bullied”

“My dad who has abandoned me, my appearance, and other issues”

“My Faith”

“Seeing my older sister make bad choices keeps me thinking”

“My life experiences”

“My Granny, if it wasn't for her, I wouldn't be the person I am today.”

“I am the person I am today because my dad helps me take the worse situations and make them better.” 

The students answered thoughtful-- recognizing that both joys and hardships shape who you are, as a person. There is an essence of honesty in their answers. They realize that things need to change, and they look to better themselves through Reflection and offered guidance on behalf of our staff. We look forward to continued growth and love for our students.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Reflection: Found

Yesterday in Reflection we had a Team (Teen) Leader facilitate Reflection. She shared with her peers a poem that spoke to her on a very sincere, emotional level. 


© Ronni Merriweather
I know I’m smiling but don’t take it as for what it seems
'Cause the only time I'm happy is when I'm in my dreams
'Cause my life is that lonely kid cast out in the shadows
Full of tears, frowns, and many lost battles

Down in a black hole trying to escape depression
But you can't run away from what will always be your reflection
And as you run away reality is getting nearer
And instead of changing you, you try to change the mirror
But what do you do when the mirror falls down?
Breaking apart as it hits the ground

And now you have nothing to hide behind
And now you need the courage you have yet to find
Because fear and sorrow are just emotions that play tricks on your mind
Trying to prevent you from making your life and dreams intertwine
But instead of giving in you try to break out
Rebuilding the happiness that fear and sorrow take out

Because the obstacles you have aren't important it's about how you handle it
Because fear can only be as bad as you imagine it
And sorrow comes with tears just as gray clouds come with rain
And then it will pass quicker than it came
So just be proud you didn't cut yourself with the mirror's glass
And just know that the worst already passed

But if you look in a mirror again, look with open eyes
So if you don't like the out, you can take a look inside.

This work deals with battling one's personal demons. The Team (Teen) Leader facilitating the discussion used this poem to express the pain that teens deal with on a daily basis. She encouraged her peers to keep pushing, and never give up. She also encouraged them to believe in love. 

These amazing, powerful, and positive messages are what we strive for, here at the Maria Kaupas Center. We want to encourage these healthy, expressive means of dealing with emotions. 

Poetry Madness: Continues

Yesterday the talented Ms.Tolish came and facilitated her second Poetry Madness session. The students talked about poems by Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, and Langston Hughes. 

After examining the works, the students came up with their own poetry about "emotions". 


Is a drowning fish
Having no home
Disgracing every ancestor in its history


Is a beautiful dolphin
Swimming gracefully
In the calm waters of the ocean
Without a care in the world.


Is a spiraling bat
Flitting, dodging, left to right
Returning to the dark eaves of the house
Not knowing where it belongs.


These budding poets are constantly wowing us with their unique prose and insights. We can't wait to see more!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bullying: Reflection and Introspection

October is many things. It's Breast Cancer Awareness month, Disabilities Awareness month, and Anti-Bullying month. This month we have been focusing on unity and anti-bullying. 

Everyone experiences bullying-- whether it's as a victim or bystander. I learned a lot about bullying from personal experience; and it taught me something very important. 

Bullying is often a cry for attention or empathy. Often, it's those who are unkind who need to be treated with the most kindness. 

"Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke."
- Benjamin Disraeli

In grammar school I had a merciless bully for almost six years. She was cute, popular, and everyone liked her. I thought "that girl has it all... why can't she just let me be?....". She picked on me for everything. If I got good grades I was a loser. If I wasn't as skinny as her I was "Beluga Britt" and would be greeted with whale calls as I walked into school. There was more.

In eighth grade this harassment became increasingly terrible. It continued until the day before graduation. On this day, we basically watched movies and relaxed in my homeroom. That day was long, and a bit drawn-out.  I remember it very clearly. It was almost dismissal. We were sitting at our desks waiting to line up. That's when she came to my desk. 

I looked at the book I was reading, and pretended to not notice her. She dropped a small, folded note on my desk and walked away. I waited until she was at a safe distance to pick it up. I unfolded the careful edges and began to read the most heart-breaking thing I'd ever encountered at fourteen years old.

She was unhappy... so much unhappiness I had no idea existed. She wrote on her admiration of my academic success, my creative awards, and my ability to be nice to everyone-- even when they were really mean to me. I was floored. I had no idea. I spent the previous five years thinking she was a terrible person who hated me. She wasn't horrible... she was unhappy. 

That day I approached her willingly. The bell had rang and she had stopped into the girls' washroom. This was sacred space for adolescent girls. She saw me and silently washed her hands. I waited until she was thoroughly finished. Then i put down my backpack and outstretched my arms. She accepted with little hesitation and we cried together. 

Today that woman is one of my closest friends. 

Bullies, despite their outward abrasiveness, need a hug just as badly as you need a hug. 
So, in short, be kind and caring-- for some people this is a world with so little kindness and caring. 
The world will respect you for doing so.

Friday, October 11, 2013

"Why"- Reflection

Today in Reflection we had another  team (teen) leader facilitate the discussion. She authored a poem entitled "Why", and read it to her peers. She explained that she is feeling lost, and is having trouble finding God's presence in her life.

Like a spark, this ignited sharing and discussion on behalf of her peers. They were able to connect on these feelings of being lost, unable to find God's presence-- and an overwhelming sense of not being assured of God's presence in their lives. It was a moving display of peer relationship-building.


Why am I the one who cries at night?
Why can't I stay happy?
Why do I care so much?
Why do I even try to make others happy?
All I want is to be happy, myself
It's sad that I go through a lot--
And it seems as if you don't care at all...

As I look around, 
I see everyone happy--
Except me... 

Why me? 
People say I have so much to live for,
Like what?
That's my perspective of life...

Is there a God?
Is he watching?
I ask for help, but I get no answer...

Why, God?

This is an excellent example of the internal struggle we aim to help these teens figure out. We want to help them understand and recognize the presence of divinity in their lives. It's amazing how quickly they've stepped up to help their peers understand and recognize a collective experience. These problems are universal, these questions are common... and we hope that the time spent in Reflection helps them realize they are not alone in their struggle to discover themselves. 

Take Off Your Mask- Reflection

Yesterday in Reflection we had a team (teen) leader facilitate the discussion. She used this painting to create a visual connection to her message. She invited her peers to share how they feel people view them-- and how they actually view themselves. 

How do you think others see you?

“People think I am calm and laid back”

"People see me as a nice person and a good friend”

“People see me as an aggressive person with anger issues inside of me”

“My friends see me as a person who is cool and friendly”

“People, friends, and family see me as a beautiful young girl who is cool and funny”

“My friends see me as a crazy, loud, loving, friendly girl.  They also see my emotions…”

“My Ma sees me as the greatest, smartest, blessed son in the world”

“People see me as the weak one or the person who lets other walk all over me.  People take my kindness as a weakness”

“People see me as a person that’s perfect, I see me as someone with issues”

“My Ma sees me as a good person and she wants the best in me”

“People see me as a good person because I am smart and intelligent”

“Courageous, intelligent, lovable, dependable and wise”

“Most of my friends see me in a positive way.”

“Nice, cute, funny and loving”

“Most people see me as a good person.  At times I might slip and make bad choices, but I’m good in some type of way”

“I would say that people see me as sensitive, outgoing, fun, sweet, but sassy and a great person to be around”

“People see me as a person who cares”

“People see me as a funny person – happy smiling and making everyone else smile”

“People see me in a positive way, they know me as being trustworthy and friendly”

“Sometimes I am very awesome”

“People see me as wild, out of control, unstable, fragile, hostile and respectful”

How do you see Yourself?

“I am a kind friend”

“I see myself as someone who is misunderstood”

"I don’t see myself as crazy, but I’m not nice sometimes”

“I see myself as the greatest ever”

“I see myself as a WNBA player and a good, fun person to be around”

“I am insecure”

“I am afraid to make mistakes”

“I see myself as a leader”

“I see myself as loving and confident”

“I see myself as not as smart as others”

“I’m not confident and I’m very afraid of what others think”

“I am not very sensitive to the needs of my friends”

“I’m overweight and I think people don’t like me because of it”

“I am smart and funny”

“I see myself as being real, I don’t go behind people’s back and talk about them”

“I listen to my friends well, but I am also angry.”

“I am disrespectful, cruel, proper, unaffected”

“I am overworked, stressed”

“I put so much pressure on myself”

“I try to make my daddy and others proud”

“I don’t like arguments.  I am always nice to people and they are nice back.”

“I am a person with issues”

Their answers were telling-- honest, open, and reflective. 
We are so proud of every teen here at the MKC. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Teens Speak About the Center

When  teens were asked what they liked about the MKC, they spoke!

“It’s a good place to hang out after school with friends.  I can do a lot of stuff with friends” LS

“It’s a perfect place to be, as a leader it’s nice to try and inspire change through reflections.”  CS

”I like the fact that you can hang out with all my friends and not have to worry about getting shot” MB

“If I have a bad day at school, it’s a good place to go have fun.”  AH

“It’s a good place to relax and feel free.” KB

“We get to bop and turn it up” TT

“The center is nice because of the games.  I get to see all my friends” SC

“It’s nice to chill and relax and get my homework done.” MB

Unity Day: Stop Bullying- Reflection

Yesterday, October 9th was Unity Day here at Maria-Catalyst (and the MKC). We had a very touching reflection about the internal and emotional struggles of our students. Everyone, every person on Earth, carries an emotional baggage with them. You may not know about it, see it, or recognize it-- but it's there.

"Abby's Story- A Bullying Story"

The video showed what can actually happen if you bully others. The consequences are real-- and touched many of us in a serious way. 

After viewing the video, the sharing happened. Students shared stories of familial loss, struggles, and at one time or another being bullied. So many experiences were so similar, and it opened their eyes to a shared experience among their peers. It was one of our most awesome Reflections yet!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Harmony, Hope, & Healing- Reflection

Yesterday we were blessed with a visit from the team at Harmony, Hope, & Healing...

Harmony, Hope, & Healing is an organization which provides creative, therapeutic, and educational music programs offering emotional and spiritual support to homeless and under-served women, children, and men in the Chicago area.

Yesterday we talked about ourselves as instruments. We are all instruments, and inside us is music. One of the team members from Harmony, Hope, & Healing shared a song she wrote during a workshop.

Our scholars were participants; they snapped and sang along to a song they'd never heard before. It was an enriching and uplifting experience for us all. 

We can't wait for them to come back!

Poetry Madness

Yesterday, the talented Ms.Tolish ran a session on poetry. Given a specific structure, the students were asked to write a poem completing a list of prompts. 

"I AM" Poem

I am... (two special characteristics you have)
I wonder ... (something of curiosity)
I hear ... (an imaginary sound)
I see... (an imaginary sight)
I want... (an actual desire)
I am... (two special characteristics you have)
I pretend... (something you actually pretend to do)
I feel... (a feeling about something imaginary)
I touch... (an imaginary touch)
I worry... (something that bothers you)
I cry... (something that makes you sad)
I am... (two special characteristics you have)
I understand... (something that is true)
I say... (something you believe in)
I dream... (something you dream about)
I try... (something you really make an effort about)
I hope... (something you actually hope for)
I am... (two special characteristics you have)

Several students were brave enough to share their poetry with the blog.


I am smart and loving
I wonder if I ever will be something in life
I hear grumbles of hate
I see whispers and grins
I want answers
I am smart and loving
I pretend to not let things hurt me
I feel happy yet sad
I touch flowers as soft as my tears
I worry about the lives of others
I cry for parental guidance
I am smart and loving
I understand life and death
I say what I dish out will come back to me
I dream a lonely sad dream
I try to make light of my being
I hope to overcome struggles
I am smart and loving


I am smart and sarcastic
I wonder if life really gets better as you get older
I hear the ticking of the clock as my life is slowly passing me by
I see my life slowly coming together
I want to be as happy as I pretend to be
I am smart and sarcastic
I pretend to be happy when I'm not
I feel like a Transformer
I touch the hearts and lives of many others
I worry about my grades
I cry when I think for too long about my life
I am smart and sarcastic
I understand that it's okay to not be okay
I say what I mean and feel, not sugar-coated, realistic
I dream about all the things I fear most
I try to do my best always in everything I participate in
I hope to become a loving mother/wife and police officer
I am smart and sarcastic


I am wise and lovable
I wonder about my future
I hear my loved ones
I see...
I want to be happy
I am wise and lovable
I pretend to be happy
I feel alone
I touch other peoples hearts
I worry that I'll never succeed
I cry about life
I am wise and lovable
I understand that anything is possible
I say...
I dream about my past
I try to be best that I can
I hope to overcome obstacles
I am wise and lovable


I am sensitive and courageous
I wonder are the compliments I get true
I hear he says the best in the me
I see the mature woman I've grown to be
I want to be a cardiologist
I am sensitive and courageous
I pretend that everything is okay when it's not
I feel my grandmother's touch
I touch the lives of others
I worry about letting my mother down
I cry when I feel belittled at myself
I am sensitive and courageous
I understand that I have younger people watching me
I say that I can do anything I believe in
I dream of being the greatest at everything
I try to have positive days and attitudes
I hope I can achieve everything I want
I am sensitive and courageous

The participants were honest and open. We were touched by their sincerity and emotion. 
We can't wait for the next session!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Student Interviews

Meet Isa and Leslie, two of our student leaders. They answered a few questions for us today!
Stay tuned for some additional staff/student/supporter interviews!

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens: A Series

We are excited to announce a new seven month (October to April) series on "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens" here at the center. For the next seven months we are going to be high-lighting a habit from the Sean Covey work.

Each month we will observe the behavior and attitude of the teens here at the center. Scholars will nominate their peers, and at the end of each month there will be a plaque awarded to the teen who embodies the spirit of the monthly "habit" in a positive and visual way.

The month we begin with the first habit-- Be Proactive. 

Being proactive means taking control of and responsibility for your actions.

Our first student of the month will be nominated this month, in October. It is going to be difficult, as all of our scholars exhibit such awesome, positive attitudes. We know they are willing to rise to occasion and discover a new (personal) best!

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens

A large portion of the culture at Maria-Catalyst High School is centric to creating college-readiness for students. The school does an amazing job of teaching academic gumption and follow-through, preparation, and tenacity in academics.

Author Sean Covey wrote "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens" as a way to guide teens (and their parents) through the trials, tribulations, and hardships of the age.

The system is fairly simple-- a routine centered around personal responsibility, getting rid of procrastination, and prioritizing.

1. Be Proactive
2. Begin with the End in Mind
3. Put First Things First
4. Think Win-Win
5. Seek to Understand, Then to be Understood
6. Synergize
7. Sharpen the Saw

With any personal development comes a great amount of work and perseverance. Nothing worth doing is ever easy-- and that includes bettering yourself, intrinsically. 

Our scholars are making huge strides every day-- and we applaud their achievements!