Note #1 The first part of this entry is dedicated to all the Seton physics students who had to build toothpick bridges. Special recognition is given to those whose bridges failed to hold even the weight of the bucket despite many hours of glueing toothpicks together.
Note #2 After global warming has run its course and our farm here in Colorado becomes 318 acres of prime Pacific beach front property, I know the next great threat to civilization. Do not fear. I also know the solution.
Note #3 The last part is the important part.
Constructing things is not my forte, so when my high school physics teacher announced that we’d be entering the state-wide building contest, I was not excited. The other four in the class thought it was great. Information was handed out for the balsa wood construction, and I bought the wood and glue and got started. I built a little 12 x 4 x 4 rectangular box that met the dimension requirements. The goal was then to make the box so it would hold a lot of weight. I could think of nothing. I ended up taking a razor blade and making slits along the sides. Not sure why I did that.
The day came to test our constructions. The others were giddy to see how their arches and triangles and other ideas would do. I tried to hide my box and its slits. The teacher, however, asked us each to explain what we had done to make the box strong. So I said, “I put in slits so that the box’s sides would compress and so hold more weight.” To their credit, no one laughed, but their looks of disbelief spoke volumes.
The teacher picked mine to be destroyed first — sure as I was that it was the worst. The amount held was divided by the weight of the box. As it turned out, mine both held the most and was the lightest, so I won by quite a bit. As school winner, I had to rebuild and go on to state. The others could rebuild if they wanted to, and the teacher encouraged them to do so, I think, because he was embarrassed to be sending the slit box as the school’s only entry. The others did rebuild.
One day in class weeks later, the teacher announced that he had the list of those who finished in the top 1/3 of the state in the building contest. Then he said, “One of you made the list and even made the top 20.” I think everyone’s heart was beating quickly except mine. Then the teacher said, “I guess Westhoff’s slits were a good idea.” Never have I been so unjustifiably proud and so undeservingly rewarded.
The next great threat? It’s Global Compression. To all buildings, just add slits and we’ll be fine!
The top project that the alumni is undertaking is a construction project that everyone can be excited about whether or not he or she knows anything about construction. I think it is the Jesuits who put above the entrance to their chapels: House of God and Gate of Heaven. That’s what we are out to build, a bigger chapel for Seton which will house Our Lord and serve as a gate to heaven for students and teachers and all associated with Seton. There are several ideas being considered including renovating a part of the existing school, extending the current chapel onto newly purchased property, or making the chapel a separate building on the new property. I like the current chapel with the statue of St. Joseph that alumna Mary Van Scott sent from Poland; the Fatima statue that was originally a gift to Presdident Reagan; the Stations of the Cross that Mr. Scheetz made in part from the old cedar tree that has itself become a cross outside the school; the altar railing that Mr. Buser made; the renovations that Mr. P made, the stained glass of Mother Seton that a graduating class gave as its senior gift. The list goes on. Most of these parts of the chapel will still be a part of the new chapel, but there are many times when the smallness of the chapel is a handicap. I remember being at several Holy Hours for one cause or another and the closest one could get to the chapel was the hallway.
We can all be a part of the building of the chapel in one way or another. We need to continue to build our association first which is the main purpose of the Gala. Then, together we will be ready to build a House of God and Gate of Heaven.