News from 16TH STREET
SENIOR WINS RACE RELATIONS PRIZE This spring, Princeton University awarded Isaiah Blake ’17—founder of the Spectrum, a Xavier club devoted to racial justice—the prestigious Princeton Prize in Race Relations. For his efforts, Blake won a cash prize and an invitation to participate in a national symposium on the Princeton campus.
As he moves on to Williams College this fall, Blake hopes the Spectrum continues to thrive. “The Spectrum has always been concerned with fostering uncomfortable yet necessary conversations that beg us to remember the fullness and complexity of the human person,” he said. “My hope is that the club’s next president, Jon
Logan ’18, will be able to create new ways for all students to integrate racial justice awareness into their experience at school. Most importantly, I hope the club can become a space of affinity that will allow students of color to feel empowered and loved while at Xavier.”
“My hope is that the club’s next president will be able to create new ways for all students to integrate racial justice awareness into their experience at school.”
Faculty members James Costa '02, Alex Lavy, and Colleen Rober celebrate with Isaiah Blake '17.
For his extraordinary student leadership, Blake later won the Rev. Vincent Taylor, S.J. Gold X Award, Xavier’s highest student honor. “In my time at Xavier, no student has ever shifted our school culture in such a powerful and effective way,” Spanish teacher Colleen Rober said. “He has made classmates and teachers alike more thoughtful, more aware, and most importantly, more open to growth.”
Student Poets Visit Browning Society By Raphael Chierchio ’17 In February, Raphael Chierchio ’17 and Kraig Puccia ’17 visited New York’s oldest literary society and shared their original work with members. Below, Chierchio reflects on the experience. Formed in 1907, the New York Browning Society is the nation’s oldest literary group. The society is dedicated to the appreciation of poetry by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning, two of the most renowned poets of the 19th century. In addition to discussing the lives and poetry of the Brownings, they also regularly welcome guest speakers. Enter Xavier. Through the help of Mary-Grace Gannon P’03 ’07 and Margaret Gonzalez, two of Xavier’s most respected English teachers, Kraig Puccia ’17 and I had the pleasure of being the group’s guest speakers in February. (I use the term “guest speaker” quite loosely in this case!) We were invited to the National Arts Club near Gramercy Park to share some of our original poetry and how it was 6 XAVIER MAGAZINE
inspired by the Brownings. As two fledgling poets, the feedback and stimulating conversation that followed our readings were much appreciated and conducive to our growth as writers. The members then treated us to cookies and coffee, and we talked about everything from poetry to the weather. It was a fantastic experience to interact with such an eclectic group of individuals. The hospitality and advice about poetry and life that we received made it a delightful afternoon. This is a prime example of the experiences Xavier High School allows its students to have. And Chierchio, left, with Browning Society President for that, Kraig and I James Kepple, Margaret Gonzalez, and Kraig are very grateful. Puccia '17.