Freshmen were introduced to Loyola’s unique House Model, which was launched in 2017 to organize the freshman class into small groups, or teams, of peers with which students share their orientation experience and will continue to share the next four years together. The seven houses are named for Jesuit saints and blesseds: St. John de Brebeuf, SJ; St. Peter Claver, SJ; St. Alberto Hurtado, SJ; Blessed Miguel Pro, SJ; Blessed Matteo Ricci, SJ; St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, SJ; and St. Francis Xavier, SJ.
Students sat in their houses at a welcome Mass in the West Gym on the evening of Wednesday, August 14, celebrating the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and kicking off the orientation programming. Loyola Academy President Rev. Patrick E. McGrath, SJ, presided over Mass and delivered a homily in which he encouraged the Class of 2023 to take advantage of the opportunities and experiences that will come their way at Loyola.
“Take a risk and try something new, even though you might not be great at it,” Fr. McGrath said. “Take a risk to make a friend who isn’t exactly like you or comes from a different neighborhood or different faith tradition. You are at a moment that is decisive and beautiful…
You are right where you belong. So welcome home. Welcome to Loyola. Welcome to this place and this community that will push you and love you and challenge you and invite you, always, to listen to God’s call—like Mary did—to use your time and talents to build up the community.”
After the Eucharist, Loyola Academy Principal Charlie Heintz addressed the incoming freshmen and their families, sharing with them an inspirational letter left in a locker by a graduating senior, intended to be read in the fall by a freshman student. The letter contained advice such as “don’t overwhelm yourself,” “go on Kairos,” “enjoy your time” and “always say ‘hi’ to Josh the security guard.”
Principal Heintz closed his remarks with this charge to the incoming class: “Be curious. Be leaders. And, above all else. Be yourself.”
During a special moment at Mass, Fr. McGrath led the missioning of students—a call and response exercise wherein incoming freshmen pledged to demonstrate leadership and to pursue excellence in the Jesuit tradition—and called upon parents and faculty to extend a blessing on the freshmen. Then, new students received their class medals to mark their entry into academic life at Loyola Academy, and together the group recited St. Ignatius’s Prayer for Generosity.
Following Mass, students took part in LA Way session 1—which gave them the opportunity to meet new classmates, learn the Loyola fight song and find their lockers for the first time—while parents enjoyed a special presentation from counselors and current students in the West Gym. A family barbeque on Hoerster Field closed the evening.
With help from upperclassmen, on Thursday and Friday freshmen learned about Loyola Academy’s guiding mission, St. Ignatius, the Daily Examen of Consciousness and the values behind the graduate at graduation descriptors known at Loyola as RIPLOC: religious, intellectually competent, physically fit, loving, open to growth and committed to doing justice. Students took their freshman ID photos, walked through an abbreviated class schedule to meet their teachers and master the layout of the building and learned how to integrate iPads into their studies.
A celebratory Freshman Field Day was the highlight of Friday’s activities and included a number of fun team-building challenges between the houses such as a cheer contest, tug-of-war and a final water balloon toss. A barbecue in the West Gym followed, giving Loyola’s newest Ramblers the opportunity to visit with friends both old and new. After a final Q & A with upperclassman student leaders and pausing to pray the Examen together, freshman departed on Friday with a new sense of confidence, ready to embark on the next four years.