Catholic Memorial School, West Roxbury, MA – May 18, 2020

by George J Elbaum

Catholic Memorial School (CM) is an all-boys college preparatory school (grades 7–12) with an attendance of 732 students (650 in grades 9-12) and a stated purpose to “prepare boys for college, manhood and a world full of unknown challenges, ambiguity and complex problems and the importance of relationships.”

In addition to academics, Catholic Memorial prepares its students for community leadership roles through its speech and debate program, and nearly every student participates in “forensics”, or speech and debate, at one point in his academic career.  CM faculty teach students public speaking skills through various classroom activities.  In the Speech and Debate club students perform and compete inter-scholastically as they recite speeches, dramatic acts and original oratory.  The school’s Speech and Debate program has produced over 25 state and three national champions, and its Forensics program has won two straight Massachusetts Speech and Debate league championships in 2017 and 2018.

CM’s mission also includes the mandate to teach young men to “lead through service”.  CM students participate in numerous domestic and international trips each year, and these build a community among the students and immerse students in service experiences.  Additionally, a required 60-hour senior service program begins at the start of each year, with seniors serving at inner-city grammar schools, hospitals, non-profit agencies, clothing distribution centers, food pantries, and soup kitchens.  Volunteers from all grades and CM’s ten community service clubs contribute thousands of hours of service each year.

Athletics is also a strong focus at CM, and its ice hockey program is regarded as one of the premier high school ice hockey programs in the country.  As such, its team has been ranked #1 team in the United States several times and won the Massachusetts Super Eight Tournament 17 times.  CM has also produced state champions in wrestling and lacrosse.

My talk at Central Catholic via Zoom was organized by Peter Hill, its International Student Coordinator and member of the Social Studies Faculty.  The audience was the 10th grade Western Civilization Honors class that was currently in the midst of studying WWII and the Holocaust, using materials developed by Facing History and Ourselves.  Attending also were Vin Bradley, Social Studies Department Chair, and Michael Kotsopoulos, Theology teacher and Assistant Director of Communications. Over the years I’ve come to believe that the quality of students’ questions reflects the quality of teaching, and thus their teacher, and these students asked some very important & perceptive questions, several that have never been asked of me in my 260+ talks.  Bravo!

The talk was arranged by Judi Bohn and Jeff Smith of Facing History and Ourselves.

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