The Grade: Session 5 Recap

We're at the mid-year mark!

Gene Kranz Speaks to a Packed House at The Grade

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Dear Grade Parents and Participants,

We had a special experience at The Grade this month with the visit of Gene Kranz, former NASA Flight Director for the lunar missions. The Swift House was packed with chairs for what soon became a standing room only crowd of fathers and sons - all eager to hear the wisdom of this good man and leader. Kranz spoke about the lessons he learned in all ages of his life, including his time as a fighter pilot and most famously, during his time as Flight Director at NASA. Look below for more details about the talk, as well as the audio version if you would like to listen to it yourself (the quality is a bit poor, but it's better than nothing!)

This is the last weekend to schedule a mentoring session before our next Grade Session on February 14th. Please contact your mentor to schedule a 1/2 hour mentoring appointment.

Enjoy the cooler weather!


Alex Hoff

Director, The Grade

Recap: Big Picture Seminar (Freshmen)

After joining the sophomores and juniors for Gene Kranz's talk, the freshmen participated in a breakout session in which they analyzed another case study. This time the central virtue of the case study was temperance. The subject of the study was Nero, a boy who is a natural athlete, but lazy and misguided. He begins giving into temptations while blaming others for his plummeting grades and lack of playing time due to missed practices.

After readiing the study, The freshmen answered questions about Nero and presented them in a judged public speaking competition. They were given feedback on their performance in the areas of content, clarity, and delivery.

Recap: The Professional Seminar (Sophomores & Juniors)

As was mentioned above, we had the distinct honor of hosting former Flight Director of Mission Control, Gene Kranz, to give his talk: "Failure is Not and Option". Gene was flight director for the Gemini, Apollo and SkyLab programs. He directed the famous Mission Control team that saved the astronauts of Apollo 13 mission. Kranz's talk was chalk full of wisdom and his stories from working at NASA were both exciting and motivational. All fathers were invited to attend as well, and we had a very good turnout.

After Gene's talk, there was a reception for fathers at Chaucer Center with center director JL Marti. Fathers learned more about what happens at The Grade, why we do it, and what they can do to help out.

The sophomores competed in activity we call "The Tower Game". The challenge was to build a structure taller than 15 inches which can support the weight of a brick, and to do this with minimal materials. The materials provided for the challenge were 3" x 5" notecards and masking tape! Three out of four groups were successful, but one group (Miguel Caranti, David Heffernan, Gabriel Joseph and Karl Schmidt) and won by minimizing materials.

The juniors participated in an activity about the college application. They were given a sneak peak at the Common Application, which many will be filling out next year. They also filled out the Teacher Evaluation form, evaluating themselves from the perspective of a particular teacher they currently know.


Clear Ideas on Romantic Love

Continuing along similar lines as last month, the seniors addressed aspects of the sixth and ninth commandments from a philosophical perspective. This exploration was engaged in for the purpose of gaining further insight on why the pursuit of certain actions and emotions takes us way from the beauty and reality God's plan for sexuality.

A central question addressed was: what is the feature of the bodily union between man and woman that makes it the highly significant bodily union that most people take it to be? It was argued that it cannot merely be pleasure. In the course of a discussion on the meaning of pleasure, the class came to understand that pleasures are only worthwhile insofar as there is a real good underlying that pleasure; pleasure has no independent value. If there is no real good underlying the pleasure, seeking out that pleasure amounts to a kind of self-deception.

In this context, it was argued that the pleasure that comes from the marital act is meant to be a kind of 'perception' of the good of union between man and woman that arises out of the context of committed love. Such pleasure outside that context is a kind of self-deception, seeking to pursue a good that is merely apparent, illusory.

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Tuesday Study Nights @ Swift

We would like to extend an invitation to all high school students to come to our Tuesday Study Night. It is a quiet environment where serious study takes place, as well as a time to socialize with friends during a pizza dinner (please bring $5 for dinner!) The schedule is as follows:

6pm - Doors open (students can come at any time but should text me if they are coming late so I can be sure to include them in the dinner count when I order, 713-836-8705

6 - 7:30pm - Quiet Study

7:30 - 8pm - Dinner (pizza, Chinese, Whataburger, etc. - $5)

8 - 8:30pm - Confessions available

8 - 9pm - Quiet Study

Seminar Coordinators

If you have general questions about The Grade, feel free to email or call me at any time.

Alex Hoff

CELL: 713.836.8705 |

If you have questions about a specific seminar, these are the seminar coordinators:

Big Picture Seminar (Freshmen)

Joe Kolf

CELL: 314.402.3491 |

Professional Seminar (Sophomores and Juniors)

Dan Murphy

CELL: 917.224.7851 |

Filling the Gaps (Seniors)

Victor Saenz

CELL: 574.904.3258 |