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Ignatian Carbon Challenge brings 'Laudato Si'' to life in Catholic schools

April 22, 2017
By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

[From the National Catholic Reporter]

At the onset of the 2016-17 school year, students at Cheverus High School in Portland, Maine, walked outside their classroom to learn about trees. Beforehand, theology teacher Mary King had quizzed them on corporate logos — they knew hundreds — but found they lacked similar recall about the local flora.

"We don't know an elm from an oak," she said.

The outdoors exercise had students identifying the trees around their campus: In Maine, plenty of pines, though students spotted a maple and American beech, as well. Back in the classroom, they took to social media to share snaps of their campus foliage, but also to see what grew near Catholic schools elsewhere in the country. There was a cottonwood in St. Louis, a sycamore and aspen in Omaha, Nebraska, and redwoods outside Santa Cruz, California.

The photo-sharing activity, through the hashtag #iggycarbon, was part of the Ignatian Carbon Challenge, a program created by Cheverus teachers King, Cicy Po and Helene Adams, but adopted by Catholic schools nationwide through the Ignatian Solidarity Network.

[Read the full story here.}

Tags: iggycarbon

ICC Update: Promoting Sustainability at Cheverus

January 14, 2017
By Cicy Po

Semester I -- Ignatian Carbon Challenge Update:


The Ignatian Carbon Challenge (ICC) engages at the individual and institutional level, each promoting various sustainability challenges to our community. From around the nation, the ICC has inspired some schools to fully ban single use bottles, harvest school gardens and hydroponic gardens for local food banks, create biodiesel fuel, send up weather balloons, wrap Christmas gifts in newspapers and create meaningful repurposed, upcycled ornaments that celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. Here is a brief update of ways we have joined with schools nationwide to meet the challenge.  

At the institutional level, rigorous feasibility analyses have been conducted since February 2016 to explore plans to install solar panels. We are partnering with Revision Energy  of Portland, Maine, as we search for a viable spot to install the panels. Thus far, the analysis* has examined a variety of locations at the Ocean Ave. and Washington Ave. campuses. Given the current research, we are as yet unsure of the scale at which solar energy will power Cheverus. Eventually, with panel installation, there would be a visible display showing how much energy we are using schoolwide, and how much energy we are collecting from the sun. The primary goal of Cheverus’ solar initiative is to educate our students and larger community about solar energy and our energy consumption; the project will also offset our carbon footprint and our significant electricity bill. Early rumors of this effort were met with prideful exclamations and enthusiasm by students.

  • Ruth Summers and Nancy Thomas in the admissions department have eliminated the use of water bottles at open house and other events.
  • Thanks to John Moran and Sue Sullivan, our faculty meetings now are almost completely waste free.
  • In keeping with many international trends to ban single use items, Becky Labbe has transitioned the cafeteria to all compostable plates and utensils.
  • Students are slowly reshaping habits as they learn to use the composting system in our cafeteria, thanks to Rodger Cilley’s ecological vision for that space.
  • The accumulation of trash in our classroom waste bins has been reduced drastically due to robust efforts by Dan Costigan, faculty and staff to keep food, waste and bottles in the cafeteria.
  • Despite all the growing pains, we have significantly reduced our cafeteria waste. We thank Brian Lemay and his team -- Wilberta Kirchner, Mark Smith and Jim Ridley -- for their continued efforts at adapting to our new more complicated, though more responsible waste streams.
  • Our larger Cheverus community recycled over 400 pounds of Christmas lights.
  • In the classroom, theology students are taking on at least one challenge per month; likewise they have all become familiar with Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si and his message of humanity’s deep interconnectedness. Many of the challenges get students out in nature and teach them the real human consequences of climate change.
  • The new freshmen Global Science course, pioneered by Helene Adams and Erika Rhile, emphasizes environmental stewardship,“citizen scientists,” and the Jesuit principle of Magis. Fifteen students took part in an off-campus summer working retreat led by Sue Van Wyck, Mary King and Cicy Po that focussed on ecology and sustainable action at our school.
  • This year’s Maine State Science Fair proposals by Cheverus students include work on ocean acidification, biodegradable plastics, wind turbine design and on how social habits impact our response to climate change.
  • Teachers have introduced various texts and articles to integrate environmental justice into their curriculum. Dan LaVallee cites that some members of the math team have used climate change as a backdrop for math problems.
  • Beth Coates has introduced Silent Spring.
  • Fernanda Darrow has incorporated environmental justice into her AP Spanish curriculum.
  • And perhaps most importantly our faculty, staff and students have remodeled their lifestyle choices and priorities in response to an awakened understanding of harmonious living on a shared Earth.
  • It should be recognized that the ICC has been well supported by two year’s worth of community focus and  community-wide reads of Parched and Salt to the Sea, thanks to the work of Jane Glass and Helene Adams.

These school-wide mission-driven efforts have given classroom teachers common reference points to develop empathy, compassion and agency amongst our students. Our work towards sustainability has promoted discourse and a robust exchange of ideas. This engagement with each other is the most important result of the work. At this mid-year point,we hope to inspire the Cheverus community to take measure of the progress we have made and the progress we wish to make in the future.

We realize that there are many others who are not named.

Thank you for all of your contributions towards our shared mission!

Thus far, the analysis has examined multiple rooftop and ground level sites both on the Ocean Avenue and Washington Avenue campuses. The most viable site at this stage of the analysis appears to be the rooftop of the Keegan Gymnasium and a roof replacement estimate has been sought from multiple vendors to ascertain the cost of replacing the existing 11-year old roof prior to the installation of a solar array as opposed to after the array is installed and the roof nears the end of its useful life.

Tags: iggycarbon
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Holiday Fair, Dec. 6, Looking for Vendors

October 29, 2016
By Jane Glass

Have you taken the Ignatian Carbon Challenge?  November's these is sharing -- see the November challenges. (Don't forget to track your October challenges). 

One-Stop Christmas Shopping: Holiday Fair Joins Tree Sale

The Boys Hockey Boosters will host a Cheverus Holiday Fair in the cafeteria on Saturday, December 3 from 9:00 a.m. 3:00 p.m. coinciding the the annual Christmas Tree & Wreath sale by the Foreign Language clubs.  [Note: the tree & wreath sale will extend to Sunday, December 4],

Vendors: Register by Nov. 18

The hockey boosters are currently seeking vendors to sell crafts or offer activities (for example, a table where children can decorate an ornament to offer as a gift -- please note: Cheverus Drama has already reserved face-painting.)

Cost is $25/per six-foot space for outside vendors; there is no cost for Cheverus clubs or activities to reserve a table.  Please download the Vendor reservation form or the Cheverus Club reservation form. Completed forms and payment must be received by November 18. Contact Mary Cahill ( with any questions. 

If you know anyone who is “crafty” and sells items at holiday fairs, please direct them to Mary Cahill.

The Holiday Fair will raise funds for the boys hockey team to travel to Chicago to participate in a tournament for Jesuit schools.

Yearbook Reminders:  Parent ads are due by December 16.  Download the flyer for sizes and prices.


Congratulations, Mr. Dawson! The National Football Foundation recognizes Jack Dawson '52 with the Chapter Leadership Award .  Read the full story here

The week ahead: 

Monday, October 31:

Tuesday, November 1:
All Saints Day Mass
9:10 a.m., Keegan Gym

Grandparents Day

(see below to register)

1st Quarter Grades Due
8:00 a.m.

Friday, November 4
Powder Puff Football Game
3:00 p.m., Upper Field

sponsored by Student Government

Inside Cheverus

Following Open House, Admissions is inviting prospective students and their parents Inside Cheverus.

Families will tour Cheverus during a regular school day, visiting classes to observe the Cheverus education and meeting the Cheverus community.

If you know a student interested in Cheverus, please encourage him or her to sign up for an Inside Cheverus visit. Learn more here.

Sunday Newsletter: Homecoming, Ignatian Carbon Challenge, Grandparents Day

October 02, 2016
By Jane Glass

Getting Ready for Homecoming

Juniors Alexis Paszyc and Kate Sprague preparing for Homecoming.

Before the Game: Learn about Cheverus Today

Come early for the game and learn about Cheverus -- present and future -- at Cheverus Today panel in the Loyola Parlor at 11:00 a.m featuring:

  • Fr. George E. Collins, SJ -- President
  • Dr. John Moran -- Principal
  • Ruth Summers -- Director of Admissions
  • Dan Costigan '82 -- Dean of Students
  • Randy Shaw -- Vice President for Institutional Advancement

Visit the Homecoming page for the full schedule.

After the Game: The Homecoming Dance

The Homecoming Dance is from 7:00-10:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 8. Students can buy tickets during 4th, 5th and 6th periods in the Atrium. Tickets are $10 per person.

At the start of the dance, we will have our own Cheverus photo area in the atrium where the students can take group shots with a special Cheverus Homecoming Backdrop and where parents can also pop in and take a few quick photos. Parents wishing to take pictures should enter through the side entrance of the main building (near Loyola) between 7:00 and 7:30.

Dropping off your child for the Homecoming Dance? Don't wait in the car! Come join us for an informal meet & greet with coffee (decaf) & cookies in the Sparta Room of Loyola Hall. We'll stay open for the duration of the dance. 

Other items of interest:

  • Volleyball plays a "Pink Game" on Thursday, October 6. Cheverus and Kennebunk will team up to raise money for the American Cancer Society during this game.  Wear your pink and show up to support cancer research and awareness.  JV plays at 4:30 p.m.; Varsity at 6:00 p.m.
  • Save the date: Grandparents Day is Tuesday, November 1.We invite Cheverus grandparents to join in our community-wide celebration of All Saints Day Mass. If students do not have a grandparent able to attend the activities, please invite them to bring a special relative or important senior in their lives.  Look for details and an online registration regarding this popular and beloved Cheverus tradition soon.
  • Now that the school year is under way, the Main Office and Dean of Students remind parents and students about the policy for reporting absences, tardies and dismissals (PDF).
  • The Jesuits of the Northeast Provinces highlighted the Ignatian Carbon Challenge in their latest newsletter: "Coinciding with Pope Francis’ Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, and designed to bring Laudato Si’ to life within classrooms and institutions, the Ignatian Solidarity Network and Catholic high schools around the country kicked off the Ignatian Carbon Challenge. The program, which began on Sept. 1, and extends through the 2016-2017 academic year, provides tangible resources for action and reflection to support institutions’ and individuals’ work toward a more sustainable lifestyle and campus environment."  Read the entire story here.
  • Our Lady of Hope Parish will celebrate a Mass welcoming Jesuit Alumni/ae, Friends and Family as part of the Northeast US Jesuit Province celebration to welcome all our Ignatian family at St. Pius X Church at 11:00 a.m.  on Sunday, October 23.  Fr. Paul Sullivan, S.J., will be the celebrant.  Fr. Anthony Kuzniewski, S.J., professor of history at the College of the Holy Cross (Worcester, MA) will be the homilist. Following the Mass there will be a reception at St. Pius X Hall. Download the flyer. 
  • The Salt to the Sea reading groups will meet during an X-Order on October 12 to share their independent project.
  • Fr. James Martin, S.J., author of several books, including Jesus: A Pilgrimage, will join us from New York City via a Skype connection at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, October 17, in the Keegan Gymnasium.  Learn more and sign up here.

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