As you turn right onto Utica Street from 43rd, you pause at a stop sign to ensure there are no students trying to make it to classes or corporate work-study. On the south side of the street rests the future of Arrupe in the form of metal frames and newly laid brick. Within this skeleton of steel is the opportunity of expansion by means of new classrooms with natural light and open offices. If you look toward the current school, you can see a makeshift fire escape outside the upstairs Spanish classroom where students would have to make their way down a scaffolding in the unlikely event of a fire. Yes, we have practiced this, and yes it was successful, but you would not immediately deem this outdoor staircase a fire escape upon first look.
In case you have ever claimed to be a patient driver, I challenge you to make your way down our street in the mornings and face the chaos that is corporate work-study vans and buses trying to get students to their work sites, parents racing the clock to avoid their children receiving a late slip, and parked cars belonging to the residents of Utica Street that never seem to leave any extra space for an authentic two-way street. Outside of school awaits the director and several of his assistants from the Corporate Work Study department (the department that provides Arrupe with the title of Cristo Rey). These individuals have had to deal with a bus that is meant to carry about twenty-five students breaking down continuously, drivers quitting, students missing their bus or sleeping in, and volunteers pressing snooze too many times and accidentally getting to the car they are supposed to drive a little late. They have also had to deal with the joy of Denver weather that provides an extra challenge for someone driving a fourteen-passenger bus for the first time. Regardless of the challenges, it has been an observation of the volunteers that these leaders of the Corporate Work Study Department have never shown any signs of stress or panic in times where those emotions seem completely understandable. Arrupe’s respect is high for them: in their desire to always help when difficulties occur.
You walk into the front double doors of school and see students mingling with each other, seniors working on scholarship and college applications, or freshmen forming new friendships in the hallways. Students frequently welcome you into the day with a “hello, Miss,” or, “Good morning, Mister,” in a manner that truly makes you happy to be teaching kids that want to be in school. A gem of the Arrupe experience, besides working with amazing kids, has been the community of the Arrupe Faculty Work Room. After bobbing and weaving through students to get to this hidden place of happiness, you take a nice deep sigh of relaxation—for it is this place where a teacher or faculty member can release any type of stress or express joy the day may bring. It is not uncommon for a teacher to just shout out words of appreciation for a student or a quote from a student that can make you laugh. It is in this place where I have found such great support and advice from people who have been at Arrupe from the beginning and people who are going through their first year of teaching, just like I am. We have listened to cheesy Christmas music in this space, planned a duel lesson in this space, communicated student concerns in this space, and cry-laughed at last year’s Christmas video in this space. Regardless of the day, you can always depend on the Faculty Work Room to make it just a little bit brighter.
Although brief, this is a tour of Arrupe Jesuit High School. I did not show you where the classrooms were or even the main office. But the happiness of the work room, the chaos of Utica Street, and the interaction with students from the moment you walk through the double doors until you make it clear across school to the work room, set the context of the day. It is in this moment that I realize the blessing that is Arrupe. I have been surrounded by faculty members who are at Arrupe because they believe in its mission of providing such wonderful students with the opportunity of educational success and progress. There are students who care about what they are learning and how it relates to their current and future life. This tour may have only taken you through the first five minutes of the day, but, to me, they are the most meaningful.