Student agendas are part of a school-wide initiative to help students with executive functioning through CRJ's partnership with Rush NeuroBehavioral Center.
At the beginning of the school year, we shared the news that CRJ had received a grant to work with the Rush NeuroBehavioral Center to help students develop or improve their executive functioning skills. After the first semester, teachers and students are already finding success.

Each grade level has their own set of initiatives and goals that teachers focus on with students. The freshmen grade level team introduced a strategic emphasis that helped increase student planner usage. "Our goal was to increase student task initiation, organization, and work completion, especially because the freshmen were coming in after not having had a regular school year since their first year of middle school: 6th grade. We found it necessary to get in front of these executive functioning losses or pauses to ensure our freshmen entered high school strong and made up for any lost ground," said Humanities Teacher Meg Marciniak.

CRJ saw immediate success in the amount of students who were utilizing their planner successfully. Student feedback showed an appreciation for the emphasis on using the planner, and having a system for their schoolwork.
  • "I have grown this semester by asking more questions and for doing my homework during school when I had time and didn't wait until home."

  • "I’ve been more organized and found easier ways to manage my work."
English Teacher Grace Bandel shared, “Sophomore teachers ensure that students write down their assignments in each of their classes and we use this agenda as a tool for task prioritization.” When asked to reflect on the ways they've grown last semester, students reported:
  • "I feel like I've grown in my time management skills and ways to prioritize the work I need to complete."

  • "I’ve been more on task and started spending my time more wisely."

Looking ahead to the second semester, Rush representatives will meet virtually with students and review their binders for specific organizational skills. CRJ teachers will continue working with students on their executive functioning by focusing on how to prioritize tasks and assignments to more effectively meet deadlines - a skill vital to academic and life success.
As I walked down one of our school hallways this past week, I heard what sounded like a school pep rally. I meandered toward the sounds of students cheering and clapping coming from the gymnasium and expected to see an athletic event, a PE class, or some type of club activity taking place. Instead, I saw our Junior class of students seated in the stands and the teachers on the gym floor, each taking turns with the microphone. One by one, each Junior teacher stepped in front of students with the microphone in their hand to announce two academic awards: one for a Junior student who has exhibited demonstrable growth and one for top achievement in a subject area. The teacher read why the student was selected for the award and then the students were called to the floor to receive their certificates from their teacher. I walked into the gym as the AP Calculus teacher was announcing his awards. First of all, taking AP Calculus as a Junior is impressive in and of itself. Secondly, I noticed that as soon as the awardee names were announced, students erupted in applause. They cheered their friends’ accomplishments, patted them on the back, and really celebrated the moment. It was so energizing to hear the awards announced, to learn about the incredible academic growth and achievement happening in our school, and, best of all, to see those academic accomplishments celebrated publicly by our student body.

Recently, to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day, our staff members were invited to reflect on some of his writings and speeches. In one speech, Dr. King implores his audience, “we must discover what we are called to do. And once we discover it, we should do it with all the strength and all the power that we have in our systems.” King continues, “…even if it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, go on out and sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music; sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry…

At Cristo Rey Jesuit, we continually work to build a culture where excellence is the expectation. One of our core values at Cristo Rey Jesuit is to always seek intellectual excellence. Because excellence is a habit, students are given a variety of opportunities, in addition to classroom learning to experience it. Whether it is through their student work experiences, service opportunities, religious experiences, or co-curricular programming, students are practicing what it means to seek excellence, to be lifelong learners, and to continue to use their gifts for the betterment of others in our world. Each student who stepped to receive an academic award in our assembly is a living example of Dr. King’s vision and our mission. While students’ intellectual gifts are varied and will manifest in different ways, I have no doubt that we are nurturing future master artists in whatever path students choose.
The first QuestBridge Scholarship awarded to a Cristo Rey Jesuit Milwaukee student creates opportunity.
Congratulations to senior Augustin Khey for receiving a full ride four-year scholarship to Stanford University through the QuestBridge National College Match. Augustin credits the support of his CRJ teachers during the application process in helping to make this life changing opportunity a reality.

"When I found out the decision as I sat there with my family, I was shouting with excitement. Even without finding out which college I was matched to, I was over the moon and ecstatic about getting this opportunity to be matched and to be provided with higher education at no cost. At Stanford, I hope to double major in Computer Science and Economics. The opportunity to be able to attend a university of this caliber will open more doors for me in the future to be able to change the world."

"I am grateful for all the teachers and staff who helped me receive this scholarship. My college counselor Mr. Hernandez recommended that I apply for the Questbridge Scholarship. I am grateful to Ms. Rios (Director of Post-grad Success) and Ms. Bandel (English Teacher) for the feedback on my essays. Mr. Glemblocki (English Teacher) and Mr. Nash (Theology Teacher) wrote letters of recommendation for me, as well as providing feedback on my application."

In addition to helping Khey through the application process, he credits Cristo Rey Jesuit in preparing him for his future through the corporate experiences and the support of CRJ teachers. "I believe the ability to go out into the real world has given me the confidence and ability to network. I believe that in life, without the relationships and connections, one will not be able to make it far in life; there is a certain point where one can only do so much. The teachers at Cristo Rey were able to provide me with a good education and a sense of self through their academic teachings and life teachings."

Congratulations to Augustin as he moves toward his dream of a college degree that allows him to "change the world"
"Cristo Rey helped prepare me for college by teaching me how to manage my time!"
CRJ alumna Maricarmen Dorantes (left) rehearses for a scene in Ripon College's theatre production of 'Everybody' (photo credit)
Time management was just one of the many skills that alumnae Maricarmen Dorantes, '21 credited to her CRJ education that helped her thrive during her first semester at Ripon College this fall. In addition to her rigorous academics as a Computer Science / Psychology double major, Dorantes juggled participation in two theater productions on campus and a part-time job.

“I was in the fall and winter plays where I got to play several roles.” According to Dorantes, the theater was a “safe place to be myself with fellow theater students. I’ve made some really good friends from the theater department.”

While she immersed herself in the Ripon campus through theater and classwork, she continued her ties to the Milwaukee community through her remote work for Northwestern Mutual. “In addition to school and theatre, I am working with the software engineers on an application for the leaders of Northwestern Mutual to use.” Stemming from her involvement in Northwestern Mutual’s 2021 Tech Minicamp, Maricarmen was invited to continue her work part-time remotely for Northwestern Mutual IT department. 

Catelyn Scholl is Maricarmen's mentor at Northwestern Mutual. Scholl shared that "Maricarmen has grown professionally as a member of our team. She can operate within our space the same as any engineer on the team. She excelled at putting her newly learned skills to use in contributing to industry applications and business priorities. Maricarmen has an amazing head start on her career in technology, and we are excited to support her on this team as she works part-time while pursuing her education in computer science."

As a CRJ alum, Dorantes also benefited from the robust college counseling and support team that helps students like Dorantes achieve their goals of a college degree. “At first, it was overwhelming as I’m only a first-year student and was still adjusting to being away from home. I meet with CRJ’s college counselors about three times a month. They were very helpful in the fact that letting me know that everything I was feeling of missing home and such was perfectly normal. Over time as I made friends and got used to my constantly moving schedule everything felt more natural. Ripon College is truly a place I enjoy attending.”

Thanks to a strong academic and skill-based foundation developed at CRJ, the local and college-based scholarships provided by Cristo Rey Jesuit benefactors Mark and Janice Franzen, and experiences provided by Northwestern Mutual and other CWSP partners, this recent trailblazing graduate is off to a great start with a bright future ahead. 
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