Learning Beyond the Core Curriculum

Learning Beyond the Core Curriculum

            For the next two weeks or so, if you happen to pass through Marist School’s main office (quite possibly on your way to Admissions!), you may notice a display case, covered in text, photos, books, and a map of our Brookhaven neighborhood.  And as overly academic as the case may appear at first glance, that presentation tells of the history of our city: of the cemetery hiding in the trees behind Best Buy (it exists!), of the meadow that used to flourish right where Murphy Candler is now, of the plantation house that General Sherman stayed in in the 1860s.  I would know the display case well – because I helped put it together!

You see, last term I enrolled in an elective called “Introduction to Archival Research,” a two-student class that gave me one hour each day to organize, document, and research the materials in our Marist archives – because although few people are familiar with the archives, that place exists as well!  Over the course of the term, we visited various historical sites in the Brookhaven area, sorted through old documents, and looked at Marist’s past – all in hopes of creating that presentation as our one final project.

And you may think, Why would the school offer a class about archiving?  Yes, I admit, it’s a bizarre course to choose – yet Archival Research is just one of the examples of the many options we students receive as far as electives are concerned.  Because every year, I get four elective spots, and every year, one of my hardest decisions is picking what to fill those credits with.

Just to give you some examples, by the time I graduate, I will have taken Journalism and Young Adult Literature through the English department; Astronomy & Planetary Science and Ornithology through the science department; Leadership & Society and Integrating Computer Applications through the social studies and computer technology departments; Drawing & Painting and Chorus through the fine arts department; and Lifesaving & Aquatics and Body Conditioning & Awareness through the physical education department – just to name a few.  And there are even more classes that I’ve wanted to take but that I’ve never had the space for: Creative Writing, Religion & Philosophy, Modern Middle East, History & the Holocaust, Gardening… and the list goes on.

So although, yes, I take the usual maths, sciences, languages, and beyond, those courses can only personalize my schedule to an extent – because where we students really take control of our schedule is with our electives; those are the classes that push us to pursue our true interests, that allow us to choose exactly what academic path we want to follow, and that prepare us for all the options that await us in college.

Vocational Prayer

Morning Prayer: Vocational Prayer
January 28, 2014
Prayer by Mr. Drew Ditzel ’01; Marist Theology Teacher:

Some of you are being called into the ministry. I know that is weird and kind of bold of me to say, but it’s true.

Trust me, I know you are not supposed to be a minister. I know you are supposed make money as easily and enjoyably as possible. But sadly, that is no one’s vocation. No one is special for wanting that. I currently also want that. And it is very easy to take what we want and think it is the way it is supposed to be.

But what vocation is is a claim that God is bigger than the way things are supposed to be. That a job can be more than a paycheck. It can be a place we encounter and pursue God.

I get to say the prayer today during religious vocational week because I am an ordained Presbyterian minister. And when I was deciding to be a minister, I had lots of thoughts. I remember being afraid I was going to let down my parents. That I was not good enough to be a minister. That people would judge me. That I would miss out while others were going after what we were all supposed to be going after in other jobs.

And then one day as I was supposing what other occupations would be better than minister, it dawned on me that if we are talking about what is supposed to happen with this life it is that I am supposed to work for a while and then die. That is everyone’s real supposed to.

But dang it if I didn’t worship the God of resurrection. So maybe I should stop thinking the things that are supposed to happen are going to give me peace and start wondering where the God of life might be calling me to do.

And I tell you the most freeing day of my entire life was the day I told my parents I was feeling called to be a minister. Not because that is what everyone’s job is supposed to be but it is where my vocation was.

I wonder where your vocation is?

Lord God,

Take the chains of what is supposed to be away and help us to dream what is possible. Turn the death of work and resurrect it into a vocation. Soften our hearts so we don’t feel the need to declare our future but can listen to where we may be called. Give us faith to believe we are your beloved people far above anything else.


Mary, Seat of wisdom, Pray for us.

Catholic Schools Week Morning Prayer: Vocations by Fr. Joel Konzen, S.M.

Morning Prayer: Catholic Schools Week: Vocations
January 27, 2014
Prayer by Fr. Joel Konzen, S.M.

Good morning.  This week is recognized nationally as Catholic Schools Week.  You’ll see a banner attached to the bridge between the Gunn and Chanel Buildings that celebrates our Catholic school heritage.  We are welcoming today students and their teacher from another Catholic school, the Colegio San Jose in Callao, Peru.  Bienvenidos a nuestros visitadores de Peru.  Somos felices en acogerles a Vds.

This week here at Marist is also a time when we give attention to the theme of vocation—the calling that each of us responds to when we discern what it is we’re supposed to do with the gifts that God has given us.  Because we are in a Catholic school, the whole idea of letting the Holy Spirit move us toward where we can best use our talents is not strange to us.  We look and listen for signs, from what other people tell us our strengths are to what we feel drawn to over and over again.  For me, I had to acknowledge that it was service to the church that kept coming back to me, in my own prayer and discernment and in what I was hearing from others.

Some of us—most in fact—will be called to serve God as married persons and as parents, although that’s a few years down the pike for the majority.  Others will be called to live the single life and to serve that way.  Some will be called to the priesthood and religious life.  A few of us attended the funeral Thursday of Father Fogarty at St. Thomas Aquinas in Alpharetta, and it was a blessing to see some of our own Marist alumni as priests attending the funeral.

The Marist Fathers and the rest of the faculty feel we have a calling to help students discern what God might be directing you to do after you leave Marist.  We try not to do that by pushing you to one thing or another, but we are here to talk with you on retreat, or after school, or in casual meetings in any given week.  Whatever you are called to do, we have confidence that you will have the support of the Marist community behind you and that you will take seriously the need to look carefully at how you can best serve God’s people and realize your own hopes in the future.  Let us pray.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  O God, we praise you who have made us with different but abundant gifts to share with others.  Help us to know how we might best use those gifts for the sake of building up the Kingdom of God and for the betterment of those around us.  Guide us to good decisions about our future, and give us courage to respond with an open heart to even those callings that seem to be a challenge for us, so that we might serve you well in this life and come to be with you forever in the next.  In Christ we pray.  Amen.

Mary, Seat of wisdom.

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Morning Prayer: Not All Who Wander Are Lost
January 10, 2014
Prayer by Jason ’14:

“Not all those who wander are lost.” At this point in many of our lives, we are scared of the future. Excited by the possibilities, but scared of what else could happen. We are all searching, meandering, wandering, trying to find something, even if we don’t know exactly what it is. But we’re not lost. Lost implies we have no idea where we are and no way of getting to where we’re going.

“Not all those who wander are lost.” This quote by J.R.R Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings, is a favorite of mine that I like to keep in mind at the beginning of every year. We are entering this new year and leaving behind the old one. In doing so, we are leaving behind our old hopes, dreams, and desires and entering a world of new possibilities. To all the seniors especially, it opens up so many choices for us that we feel as if we’re overwhelmed. So we wander in this new world, but we’re not lost. We have guidance from parents, teachers, friends, and God. We just have to be open to receiving it.

Let us pray. God, grant us your wisdom and guidance in this new year. Thank you for all that you have given us and allow us the strength to keep moving forward. We ask that you help us to see your will and follow it to the best of our abilities. Help us to have faith that you have paved a path for us, and help us to remember sometimes we need to let go and let you take over.

In your name we pray.  Amen.

Mary, seat of wisdom, pray for us.

Trusting God’s Path

Morning Prayer: Trusting God’s Path
January 9, 2014
Prayer by Sterling ’14:

I asked for Strength…
And God gave me Difficulties to make me strong.

I asked for Wisdom…
And God gave me Problems to solve.

I asked for Prosperity…
And God gave me Brain and Brawn to work.

I asked for Courage…
And God gave me Danger to overcome.

I asked for Love…
And God gave me Troubled people to help.

I asked for Favors…
And God gave me Opportunities.

I received nothing I wanted…
I received everything I needed.


We all turn to God in times of trouble and ask for assistance or for a material good that we feel is a necessity in our lives at that moment, whether that be a good grade on the test next period, or perhaps this week for school to be canceled. But because God doesn’t always answer our prayers on our terms, it doesn’t mean He doesn’t love, care, and look after us. It simply means he has a different agenda.  God is our creator, our provider. God knows what is in our best interest; now whether we agree, is sometimes a different story. But, God has the tendency to give us gifts in disguise, gifts we often do not ask for. Nobody wants or asks for difficulties, danger, or trouble, but it is with these gifts from God that we become the faithful disciples of the Lord that we strive to be. Everything happens for a reason. TRUST IN GOD.


I will share a brief prayer from Thomas Merton,

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me.  I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.  But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.  And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.  Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.  I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

Mary Seat of Wisdom. Pray for us.

Advent, Christmas, and New Year Blessings!

On behalf of Marist School, we in the Admissions Office would like to wish you and your family Advent blessings, a most joyous Christmas, and happy New Year!

Please enjoy this video message from Marist School – Marist Quartet

Special thanks to Christopher ’14, Bryce ’15, Brendan ’16, Nick ’17 and Mr. Tim Johnson of the Fine Arts Department.

Jim Byrne ’83
Director of Admissions


It’s Christmas All Year: A Spirit of Giving

We are getting into the Christmas season.  Thanksgiving is finished, and now that it’s actually the proper time to put out those blow-up Santa Clauses, turn on B98.5 for some “Jingle Bell Rock,” or heat up the oven to bake some gingerbread cookies, it’s also the time when we really remember those people who aren’t quite as fortunate as we are.

But if December is supposed to be that one month every year when we go out and help others, Marist must not be following that rule – because we truly keep in mind those who are less fortunate than us during all twelve months of the year.  You see, our philosophy states that we as a community “foster a concern for those who are often forgotten or neglected by society” – and as you’ll notice if you ever visit campus, that goal certainly becomes a reality in so many people around our hallowed grounds.

Example A: In the middle of September, our Student Council moderator received an email from two parents who had a Spirit Week proposal for us: instead of having students spend anywhere from $20-$50 each on corsages and boutonnieres for one Homecoming dance, they suggested that we encourage redirecting those funds to charity.  And needless to say, in our continual effort to advance the mission and the positive atmosphere of our school, we Student Council Officers wholeheartedly supported the proposal – but we had a concern.  No one had ever tried a large-scale fundraiser like this through student government before (or at least since we’d been at Marist) – so would students actually donate?  Either way, we publicized, we sold wristbands to replace the flowers, and although some students still wanted to embrace the old Homecoming tradition as well (as they rightfully could have), we still raised $4,000 – and in hindsight, given this great turnout, we should never have worried at all.

A few weeks ago,  my Co-President (Katie Hearn) and I met with Ms. Kristin Connor, the Executive Director of Cure Childhood Cancer, and presented the check to her.  Just like Katie and me, she was blown away by the students’ generosity – but the giving didn’t just end there.

Christopher with fellow Student Council Co-President Katie Hearn as they present a check to Cure Childhood Cancer Executive Director Kristin Connor

Christopher with fellow Student Council Co-President Katie Hearn as they present a $4,000 check to Cure Childhood Cancer Executive Director Kristin Connor

Because now comes example B.  $4,000 was a lot for a group of students to donate, and I didn’t think we could do much better – but you guessed it: we did.  On the same day that Ms. Connor came to campus, we held another fundraiser, this time for Catholic Relief Services’ use in the Philippines, and students brought in over $6,000 for the charity – because although, yes, we often give throughout the year, our community shows its support of others the most during times of disasters, whether it be for a hurricane in New England or a tornado in the Midwest or a typhoon halfway across the world.

But both of these fundraisers that I just outlined simply represent a larger idea, for they don’t even touch on the many ways in which students usually help others: in the toy drives (one of which we had on Wednesday!), in the canned food drives, or in the community service that constantly brings students to local organizations from the Elaine Clark Center to Habitat for Humanity to Project Open Hand, just to name a few.  So if you ever volunteer somewhere one weekend, chances are that you’ll see a Marist student there, no matter the time of year – because while it may seem unrealistic, Marist just seems to have that Christmas spirit of giving, no matter the season.

Marist Graffiti

As these days have been so humid, the stairwells have been steamy and water has collected on the windows.  I have noticed a rogue group of 9th grade girls writing messages on the windows.

I thought you’d like to know what Marist students write:

  • Have you seen God today?
  • Have you been grateful today?
  • Tell someone you love them
  • I love school
  • You look beautiful!

I’m sure Fr. Colin would be proud…

it may be difficult to see so read below:

it may be a bit difficult to read – very cool!