March: West Catholic Preparatory High School

Our March Ministry of the Month highlights West Catholic Preparatory High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Racheal Bailey is a first-year LV and a 2020 graduate of University of Arizona. Racheal is also a graduate of San Miguel High School in Tucson, Arizona.

What is West Catholic Preparatory High School?

West Catholic Preparatory High School has been preparing students for the next level of their lives, whether that’s college, the work force, or the armed forces for over 100 years. The campus is located in West Philadelphia at 45th and Chestnut. West Catholic Prep is a Lasallian school that provides a charism rooted in the faith in God, care for those around us, inclusiveness, service and social justice. The education offered at West Catholic Prep goes beyond academic success. It helps students develops characteristics such as work ethic, creativity, critical thinking, handling adversity and many others.

How did Racheal learn about Lasallian Volunteers?

Racheal was first introduced to Lasallian Volunteers as a student at San Miguel High School in Tucson, Arizona. “My first encounter was with one of my math teachers, Brianna Mustard, LV 10-12, who taught me freshman and sophomore year. Throughout high school I was able to build relationships with different Lasallian Volunteers, some were my college counselors, Corporate Work Study Program (CSW) coordinator and U.S history teacher. They were all genuinely wonderful people, and I knew that there was something significant about them and not just because they lived with the Brothers (in high school I thought that was so crazy). Over the years, they were happy to explain to me why they were at San Miguel High School, and from then on, I wanted to do what they were doing.”

What services does Racheal provide at her ministry?

Racheal serves as assistant director of student life. “I help plan and support all activities with student council, clubs, and athletics. This includes lunch activities, such as fun games, hot chocolate and ice cream sundaes—all within a COVID-friendly environment. Within athletics, I assist with game management. This has been important because we need to keep the kids safe while they participate in their sport. I’m also teaching a sociology class with seniors and a couple juniors, and we’re able to touch on social justice issues here and there, which I’m pretty passionate about. I’ve been supporting the advancement department in creating videos with the students and sharing what West is all about. Temperature checks have also been key this year. I’m glad to be able to help with that as well, and it gives me the opportunity to welcome all the students into the building.”

Which of the Lasallian Volunteers’ core values (faith, service and community) is most important to Racheal? Why?

Community is the most important core value for Racheal. “I believe within our Lasallian principles that community makes us who we are. And with such an inclusive community at our sites and with the Brothers, it’s where we all are able to come together no matter the difference between our race, ethnicity or beliefs. When I first stepped foot into my Lasallian high school (San Miguel) back in 2011, I felt so welcomed. I couldn’t explain it any other way, I just knew I had to attend school there, and I didn’t regret it one bit. I felt a very similar feeling when I first came to West Catholic. The sense of community is what always keeps my heart with the Lasallian family.”

What is the most important thing Racheal’s students need from her?

Love is the most important thing Racheal’s students need from her. “I genuinely love my students, all kids, and I just would want them to know that I’m with them, that I’m here for whatever and whenever. When I was in school, the biggest thing I remember was how much my teachers loved me. They showed me how I want to be and who I want to be for my students. I just want them to know that, and I hope I do show it.”

How has living and/or serving with the De La Salle Christian Brothers impacted Racheal?

Racheal’s growth as an individual has been the biggest impact of living and serving with the De La Salle Christian Brothers. “Living with other people, and wiser men has been something I didn’t think I would ever experience. They’ve made me a more patient, loving and understanding community member.”

How has Racheal’s experience of faith, service and community been impacted due to COVID-19?

COVID-19 has helped Racheal grow in her faith. “I’ve been able to really take the time to focus on myself this year and take the time to pray. I can appreciate just how strong my spirituality has made me, especially when I am not able to be with family because of the virus. Service looks a lot different this year. I’m sure there would be more opportunities to serve and be with the students in a normal year, but I can trust that this process is still as impactful and helpful, not only for me but for my service site and students. In community, there have been limitations on the time spent out of community, and I’ve been looking at it in a positive way. We’ve been able to really spend quality time with one another, and it’s been a blessing.”

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