When you think of the Society of Jesus, the first four-letter acronym that comes to mind is likely AMDG, which stands for ad majorem dei gloriam, “for the greater glory of God.” The phrase, attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola, has been known as a cornerstone of the Society of Jesus for centuries.
This year, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School- Twin Cities is incorporating another four-letter acronym that complements their Jesuit mission: STEM. The Ken Melrose Technology Lab, which opened October 2021, includes every type of state-of-the-art technology imaginable. The $1.7 million addition features 3D printers, an embroidery machine, CNC routers, drones, robots, large format printers, a vinyl cutter, video equipment, and a “Whisper Room,” a sound booth for recording and editing audio clips.
The planning for a technology lab for the school began in May 2020, inspired by the work that the students have been doing at their Corporate Work Study Program placements in recent years. “When we first opened in 2007, students in our Corporate Work Study Program moved paper,” recalls the school’s founding principal and current president, Jeb Myers. “They filed, scanned, and moved paper. Now, they move electrons; they’re running databases and 3D printers. We wanted to start them even earlier by embedding those skills into our curriculum.”
Myers sees the space expanding the way that all courses—not just math and science—are taught. Rather than a traditional assignment in which students would write a paper on the civil rights movement for history class, the technology lab gives students the opportunity to present their knowledge in creative, innovative ways. Some might record the stories they have heard from their grandparents in the Whisper Room sound booth; others can use the large-format printer to construct a pictograph that tells the story.
“When you look at our space, you’ll see band saws and chop saws next to laser systems that etch glass, paper, and metal, and you kind of wonder how that fits in with a Jesuit education,” says Myers. “Cura personalis, care for the whole person, is really about helping people feel good or feel successful. This technology lab is another way to demonstrate your God-given skills in a way that really fits you.”
The technology lab was fully funded by Ken Melrose, a longtime donor to Cristo Rey Jesuit High School-Twin Cities who sadly passed away before the lab opened. Speaking about Melrose’s generosity, Myers says, “God works in wonderful ways when you have a mission. At Cristo Rey, we say, ‘we’re here to serve others.’ We want others to be successful. In reality, Ken Melrose felt a deep bond to our mission; that is really what made it happen. It is a mission that really spoke to him and what he believed in.”
And the mission continues to grow. When the first Cristo Rey school was founded in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago in 1996, its goal was to provide high school diplomas to an underserved community. From there, the Corporate Work Study Program helped evolve the mission of getting students to graduate from college. The mission has evolved yet again to incorporate Cristo Rey alumni entering fulfilling careers after college. As Myers states, “Care for the whole person doesn’t stop at grade 12; it doesn’t stop at college. It keeps going throughout life.”
https://jesuitsmagazine.org/education-fall-2021#stem Source: Midwest Jesuits