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Loretto Academy 2019

Posted on May 31, 2019, by Loretto Community

…my amazing journey

I am strong enough

I am smart enough

Success after success: Loretto’s robotics team thrives

By Pilar Gonzalez CoL, FIRST team coach

Three years ago, we opened our brand new FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) team. The program has been very fulfilling for all the girls, coaches, mentors and sponsors. Since we started the team, we have had three graduating classes (15 FRC members among those seniors).

Receiving the Excellence in Engineering Award.
Pictured front row: L to R Anaissa Rodriguez, Isabella Herrera, Paulina Ponce. Back row: L to R Liza Harvey (mentor), Ruben Perez (mentor), Snowbird Rubio, Kaitlyn Horn, Samantha Perez, Bryanna Alcantar, Adriana Chavarria (co-coach), Pilar Gonzalez CoL (coach)

This year, at our first district competition (El Paso, March 2019), we were ranked second during regular matches and won the Excellence in Engineering Award. During our second district competition (Plano, March 2019), we won Finalist Award, Safety Award runner-up, and we were distinguished with the second most prestigious award: Engineering Inspiration. This season one of our students was a semi-finalist and another is finalist for Dean’s List Award. I am also a finalist for Woodie Flower’s Award for mentors. 

We will be participating in the State Championship this spring, held in Austin, and hope to be honored to travel to the World Championship.

Our Awards:

Rookie All Star (2016); Spirit Award (2017, 2018); Dean’s List Semi-Finalist (2016); Dean’s List Finalist (2016). We have been invited twice to the World Championship, once at St. Louis, MO (2016) and once at Houston, TX (2018).

‘Just by walking through a door, I was walking into my new beginning’

By Samantha Perez, Loretto Academy student

You’re not smart enough, you’re not strong enough, you’re just a girl.” These are all phrases I constantly grew up hearing, and sadly believing. As a 10-year-old, you will believe anything someone tells you and I let these phrases affect me deeply. I let these phrases have so much power over me that I was so scared to join anything that was STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) related because like I have been told, “I was just a girl.” However, this changed the day my teacher encouraged me to join an FLL (First Lego League) team. The first day I walked into the first meeting, was the start of my amazing journey with FIRST. Just by walking through a door, I was walking into my new beginning. FIRST inspired me to continue to push the boundaries and to break the stereotypes placed upon me. I have been judged, shamed and even ridiculed for being a girl and on top of that, being a Latina woman trying to make it in the STEM field. However, through FIRST I have met so many people who inspire me and encourage me to continue down this road, and who support me in my decision in becoming an engineer. 

If I had never joined FIRST, I would have never realized the power and strength I have. After participating in FIRST for seven years, I have had the opportunity to discover my passion. I now am able to help and share my passion with others by mentoring a young women’s FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) team. Because I walked into my first robotic meeting, I now can proudly say that yes, I am a Latina woman, I am strong enough, I am smart enough, and I am going to be an engineer.

Team members Isabella Herrera, Paulina Ponce, Samantha Perez and Snowbird Rubio wiring the motor controller. Five motors are used, plus the pneumatics; connecting the cables correctly is crucial.

‘100% of our high school graduates go on to college. Last year our 88 seniors received over 28.65 million dollars in scholarships and grants.’

By Mary E. “Buffy” Boesen SL, President, Loretto Academy

I came to Loretto Academy in 2000 for a one-year term as interim President, fully intending to return to Denver. However, that was not in God’s plan.

I knew that the population of Loretto Academy was over 85% Hispanic and Mexican and there was not much economic diversity. It became my goal to increase the economic diversity of the young people Loretto Academy served. Thanks to Don and Janis McFall of the Challenge Foundation in Denver, the Miles Foundation and many other donors, 35% of our student body now receives $710,000 of financial aid. 10% of the student body receives 90% to 100% full scholarships. 

100% of our high school graduates go on to college. Last year our 88 seniors received over 28.65 million dollars in scholarships and grants.

An ongoing challenge continues to be upkeep of these historic buildings and large property. One of the first projects in the 21st century was xeriscaping—“landscaping or gardening that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental water from irrigation” (Wikipedia).

Loretto’s generous donors have made renovation of the chapel and theater possible. It was always Sister Frances Ratermann’s dream to have dressing rooms in the theaters for her music and drama students. Her dream became a reality in 2016. Loretto’s long-term faculty and I would say it happened because of Frances’ prayers. 

Additionally, in 1957, Hilton Young Hall (the gym), the Elementary Building and Guadalupe Hall (the cafeteria) were built. Work on these buildings has been ongoing through the years, and has included lighting, floors, asbestos removal and restroom updates—to name a few. Parents and students alike are excited about the remodeling of the gym restrooms at the current time.

There will always be work to be done on “Praxedes’ Folly” —the building. However, her vision of living Loretto values of faith, community, justice and respect is ongoing and our students are proof that almost 100 years later there is no folly in the education Praxedes began and is ongoing.

What happened to the convent?

By Elisa Rodriguez SL

In the photo above, the convent is on the left in the foreground, one of the arms reaching outward from the chapel (the school is the other). It once housed around 100 nuns.

Change is always difficult and most of the time very necessary Such was the end of an era at the Loretto convent in El Paso.

When I was missioned to El Paso, there were almost 100 sisters of Loretto housed at the convent building. Many of us worked at Catholic elementary schools in the city, but resided at the convent. As the sisters moved to Nazareth Hall or to other cities and ministries, the convent experienced a diminishing occupancy. In 2004, the closing of that residence was accomplished.  

What to do with this building was the question. Creativity is the mother of invention is a common saying, and so office space in the building was offered to non-profit organizations for rent. At this time, there are several  non-profits occupying rooms in the building:

  • University Medical Center (El Paso County Hospital) has a foundation that raises money to pay for the Children’s Hospital cancer division;
  • University Medical Center also has an office that directs the training of nurses;
  • Habitat for Humanity is housed in the building and manages the building of homes for the underprivileged;
  • Candle Lighters is an organization that is dedicated to raising money for children who are cancer victims;
  • FAMAP is a fundraising organization that provides a nursing school and a maternity hospital for the underprivileged in our sister city of Ciudad Juarez.

Space is also rented out for special celebrations, such as wedding receptions, birthday celebrations and meetings.

The building is now known as El Convento at Loretto.


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