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Academic Life, VP Letters

December 2, 2021

(For previous Spartan Spotlight letters from the De La Salle Vice President for Academic Life,
please review the letter archive section at the bottom of the page.)

Dr. Heather Alumbaugh Headshot

Dear Parents, Guardians, Students, and Friends of De La Salle,

Welcome to the season of Advent. This time of year in the life of a Catholic school is full of expectation in many ways: as we wait for the “coming” and celebration of the nativity and welcome the new liturgical year, we simultaneously are moving towards the end of our first semester and of 2021. There is a natural tension, then, between the “pause” that Advent encourages and the “rush” that the end of the year asks of us. Multiple members of the Diocese, of the SFNO Christian Brothers’ District, and our very own Mr. Holquin have all shared wonderful reflections on the possibilities provided during the Advent season. This past Sunday, Mr. Holquin shared with all faculty and staff the following thoughts: 

“We’re given the next four weeks in Advent to prepare for Emmanuel’s incarnation and especially amidst that crazy pace of school, we are each encouraged to pause in prayer to reflect deeply  on what we do to make Christ’s birth new again. Sunday’s Gospel reading from Luke tells us to ‘Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from...the anxieties of daily life…[and] be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength…’ Pope Francis encourages us to use these weeks and especially prayer to focus on Christ’s coming knowing that we can’t rush it.”

As we embrace the call to “pause and pray” even in the midst of secular demands, I want to thank your sons and your families for being on this spiritual and educational journey with DLSHS. 

As always, the campus has been filled with multiple academic and co-curricular activities that embody sacrifice, service, collaboration, and inspiration:

  • On November 2, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution recognizing De La Salle High School for its continued efforts in community outreach during the 2020-21 school year and their national recognition by Multiplying Good last month. The Student in Action Club, in collaboration with the multiple service learning activities and student leadership, continue to contribute tens of thousands of service hours and to raise thousands of dollars to help the community on and outside of Winton Drive. Thank you to our students for living the gospel everyday!

  • The week of November 7 marked the National Vocation Awareness Week, and it culminated in a lunch with students and visiting Christian Brothers coordinated by Br. Carter Powers and Mr. Andrew Berkes.

  • November 14 witnessed both the Junior Mass of Unity and last day of DLS/CHS fall production, Puffs. 

  • On November 17, the school launched the annual Toy Drive, which will run through December 16. The agencies that benefit from this year’s De La Salle Toy Drive include the Bay Area Crisis Nursery, Oakland Catholic Worker, Running with Love, the De La Salle Academy, and the Monument Crisis Center. 

  • November is a popular month for our Biology field trips, and we are so happy to resume them more fully this year! On November 6, 48 DLS Honors Biology students, along with their teacher Mrs. Howett, completed restoration work as part of a Conservation Collaboration Agreement with Save Mount Diablo. The trip also included a field ecology class and a “solo in nature” adventure. On November 17, over 100 sophomore DLS students visited the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve to do a qualitative and quantitative field study, focusing on zoology, ecology, natural selection, animal behavior, and climate change. Thanks to their teacher, the indomitable Mrs. Acquistapace, and volunteers Mr. Norris and Mrs. Coblentz.

  • Tuesday and Wednesday all of our sophomore students in Religious Studies 2 participated in our Sophomore Immersion Program, which we now host on campus because of COVID restrictions. Students participated in a poverty simulation and packed food for food insecure families across Contra Costa County with the help of partner Generation Alive

  • On Wednesday, our entire faculty and staff met in the Theater to vote on our growth areas for our 2021-2022 Accreditation! The work continues, and it is exciting to envision new possibilities for our school! More to come, as always. And in the meantime, thanks to Dr. Elizabeth Berkes and Ms. Lillian Dickson and all domain chairs who have worked overtime to make this all happen.

  • I would be remiss if I did not share the fun and creativity that continues to happen in our classrooms: on Monday, December 6, the annual Physics Boat Races return!! We cannot wait. Last week, I visited Mr. Thompson’s “Engineering, Architecture, Drafting, and Design” to see student progress on their mechanical toys unit. Take a look!

Drawing Class 3
Drawing Class 2
Drawing Class 1

As we approach the end of semester 1, take a look at the schedule for our final exams, from 12/14-12/16. 

As always, we thank you for the gift of your sons and for your partnership. Have a blessed Advent.


Dr. Heather Alumbaugh
Vice President for Academic Life


VP For Academic Life Letter Archives