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Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School's students, alumni and corporate partners celebrate its 15th anniversary – My catholic standard

As 500 people gathered at a recent 15th anniversary celebration for Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park, Maryland, to raise scholarship support for the school, the evening’s theme of “Better! Together!” was underscored in heartfelt remarks offered by student and alumni speakers, and by individuals and corporate partners receiving awards.
Don Bosco Cristo Rey, a coeducational high school sponsored by The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington and the Salesians of Don Bosco, is part of the national Cristo Rey Network of 38 schools, and it offers a rigorous college preparatory curriculum for minority students from families with limited economic means. 
The school is known for its innovative Corporate Work Study Program, where students gain experience working at leading Washington-area businesses, organizations and institutions and help pay for nearly one-half of their education costs. Since the school’s first graduating class in 2011, 100 percent of Don Bosco Cristo Rey’s graduates have gained college acceptances, and many of those students have become the first members of their families to attend and graduate from college.
Accepting the school’s Corporate Partner of the Year Award on behalf of Accenture, Marty Rodgers said his firm’s partnership with the school “is really all about the kids, it’s really all about the young people… At the end of the day, we find that the students make us better, they make us a better company, they make all of our supervisors better, and they make our firm better.”
Accenture offers business, technology, operations and strategy services to clients, and business and management consulting services. Rodgers, Accenture’s market unit lead for the U.S. South, noted that in his firm’s seven years of partnering with Don Bosco Cristo Rey, 22 of its students have worked there. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Accenture developed a virtual program for its work study students and interns.
“Really, nothing is better for a company and also for this community than giving young people a chance,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers was introduced by Daniel Paulino-Polanco, a member of the class of 2023 at the school who through its Corporate Work Study Program has worked at Accenture. He said the firm made him feel welcome beginning on his first day of work there. “They didn’t treat me like an intern, they treated me like a true coworker,” Paulino-Polanco said.
The anniversary celebration on Sept. 28 began with a reception at the school and was followed by a dinner.
Before the dinner, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland praised Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School, saying, “This school is a place that opens doors of opportunity to kids, regardless of their zip code, regardless of their income, regardless of their background. It’s a mission-driven, purpose-driven school that has created over 800 wonderful, productive alumni.” 
Thanking the school’s supporters, he said, “You are all part of building that future.”
And he noted that a Don Bosco Cristo Rey student worked at his Capitol Hill office this past year, and another of its students is working there this year. “They’re terrific students,” he said.
Offering the invocation was Salesian Father Steve Shafran, who served as the school’s founding president from 2006 until 2015, when he was succeeded as president there by Salesian Father Michael Conway, who also attended the 15th anniversary celebration.
“This is God’s work, and Mary the Blessed Mother was behind it, and that’s why we’re here today,” Father Shafran said.
Welcoming the guests was Mark K. Shriver, who became the first lay president of Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in November 2021 after serving as senior vice president of U.S. Programs & Advocacy at Save the Children and as president of Save the Children Action Network, its political advocacy arm that he founded in 2013.
Guests that evening included Washington Auxiliary Bishops Mario Dorsonville and Roy Campbell Jr.; Maryland State Senator Will Smith (District 20, Montgomery County); and Gabe Albornoz, the president of the Montgomery County Council.
As it was being formed, Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School drew the support of 27 initial corporate partners. The school opened in August 2007 with 127 students. This school year, it has 357 students and 139 job partners.
The school’s first major expansion in 2010 included a new library and technology center. The next year, Don Bosco Cristo Rey had its first graduation, with all 70 of its graduates accepted into college, starting a trend that has continued with each successive graduating class there. In 2014, the school’s second expansion included three new science labs, five new classrooms, the Carlyle Computer Lab, and a Counseling and Academic Center.
The living history of Don Bosco Cristo Rey, and the purpose and promise of the school, could be seen in its students and alumni who spoke at the 15th anniversary celebration. Seniors Jasmine Guevera and Obe Aaron, both members of the class of 2023 there, served as hosts for the evening.
Aaron – who participates in the school’s Student Government Association and its youth ministry – noted, “As you know, Don Bosco Cristo Rey is ‘The School that Works.’ I’ve been working at Pepco for two years now.”
Through the school’s Corporate Work Study Program, Guevera has worked at the Hispanic Chamber of Congress. Guevera, a student ambassador who also participates in the  student government there, joked about the school’s anniversary, saying, “Don Bosco is 15 and finally old enough to get its driving permit.”
The event’s alumni speaker was Catherine Rubio, a member of Don Bosco Cristo Rey’s first graduating class in 2011. She spoke about how excited she was to begin high school in 2007 when the school opened, and her dreams for college that came true when she was accepted into Georgetown University. In her high school’s Corporate Work Study Program, she gained experience at Impact Solutions and working at Boland, which provides heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and services for buildings.
As a student at Georgetown University, she worked at its Center for Social Justice, and got a job there after graduating with a bachelor’s of science degree in mathematics. 
“During my time at Georgetown, I learned so much about myself and the person that I wanted to become, not only in the professional field, but as a person in the world,” Rubio said.
After three years in her first job, she began working as an account clerk in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Maryland, and then enrolled in the university’s global campus, where this spring she earned a master’s degree in accounting and financial management. 
While studying for her master’s, Rubio was hired as a director of operations at the non-profit agency CARECEN (Central American Resource Center), which this year has been helping the influx of migrants being bused to Washington from Texas and Arizona.
She noted how as a Don Bosco Cristo Rey alumni now working at CARECEN, her life has come full circle, because she is supervising six of the school’s students who are working there as part of its Corporate Work Study Program.
“It is a great honor and privilege,” Rubio said. “I hope to give my student workers exposure to the world of work, help them to learn and grow, so that they too can pursue their dreams in college and beyond.”
Rubio thanked her mother and father for giving her the opportunity to attend Don Bosco Cristo Rey and paving the way for her experiences since then. 
“I was the first in my family to earn my undergraduate and masters! Maybe my student workers will be the first in their family to do the same,” she said.
Shriver noted how Rubio as a graduate and the current Don Bosco Cristo Rey students who spoke that evening reflect the four pillars of Catholic education at the school –faith, family, future and fun – values that marked the outreach of St. John Bosco, the founder of the Salesian order and a patron saint of youth. The school’s president said that because of community support, Don Bosco Cristo Rey was able to add three new Advanced Placement courses for students this year, along with four new electives (art, creative writing, dance and music), and also establish an Office of Academic Support and an Office of College Success.
Participants at the dinner made pledges to support scholarships for students there.
Other honorees at the evening included Msgr. John Enzler, the president and CEO of Catholic Charities of The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, who received the President’s Award in recognition for his work building community support and raising funds for the school since it was being established.
“I’m really pleased so many young people have been helped, supported and changed by Don Bosco Cristo Rey,” the priest said, thanking businesses and members of the community for their support of the school.
Blanca Posada, an executive assistant at Fitzgerald Auto Malls, received the Supervisor of the Year Award. “I have had the privilege to mentor over 20 wonderful students” from Don Bosco Cristo Rey, she said, noting that four current full-time employees at Fitzgerald are alumni of the school. 
She was introduced by Facundo Escobar, a member of the class of 2023 who as a student has worked at the auto business with Posada. Escobar said he has learned about professionalism, responsibility and being confident from her. “Working with her at Fitzgerald for four years now, she has taken me in as one of her own,” he said.
Don Bosco Cristo Rey’s University Partner of the Year Award was presented to John DeGioia, the president of Georgetown University, which is one of the founding job partners in the school’s Corporate Work Study Program.
DeGioia was introduced by Karen Salmeron, a member of Don Bosco Cristo Rey’s class of 2012 who after graduating from Villanova University returned to her high school as its alumni outreach coordinator. She now works at Georgetown University in its Office of Government Relations and Community Engagement and is working on a master’s degree in project management there.
Salmeron praised Georgetown University for being “an incredible supporter” of the high school, providing work experience to its students in a variety of offices over the past 15 years, and also sponsoring galas and community events to support the school. She also noted how a number of Don Bosco Cristo Rey students have gone on to attend and graduate from Georgetown University.
In his remarks, DeGioia said, “We are a better university because of our partnership with all of you.”
The evening’s final award, a surprise honor, was presented to Richard Dumais, the chairman of the school’s Board of Directors, who was named its Volunteer of the Year. In the summer and fall of 2021, Dumais served as the school’s acting president before Shriver was named to lead Don Bosco Cristo Rey. Shriver thanked Dumais for his kindness and generosity.
“The kids deserve it. Everything we’re doing is for them,” Dumais said.
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