Providence Cristo Rey High School: 10 years of changing lives in Indianapolis
In 2005, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis approached religious congregations who had served in the Archdiocese to come to the table to discuss the possibility of sponsoring a Cristo Rey school. One by one, the congregations declined, noting that they did not have either the funds or personnel to make it happen. The Leadership Team of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods felt likewise. Yet they also sensed a strong call to do as Saint Mother Theodore had done some 165 years before: to risk for the sake of Providence.
The Cristo Rey model had been born in Chicago by the Jesuits. It offers students who could not otherwise afford a Catholic school education the opportunity for a quality education in a faith-based environment. Students study four days per week. On the fifth day they go to work in a variety of professional jobs. The model was unlike that of other Catholic schools.
The model was so much in keeping with the Sisters of Providence tagline “Breaking boundaries, creating hope” that the SPs could not say no. And so it began. Endless hours and days were spent pounding the pavement looking for donors, for work study opportunities for the students, and for a building. In July 2007, the first students arrived at Providence Cristo Rey High School (PCRHS).
Ten years have passed since that glorious opening day! As the school marks the end of its 10th year of operation, it seemed only fitting that we share some of the many “success stories” of its graduates.
Montanea Daniels, ’11
worked at Eli Lilly during her years at PCRHS. At the end of her freshman year, John Lechleiter, president of Lilly, asked her what she wanted to do when she graduated. She said she thought she wanted to be a chemist. So John secured a job for her working with a chemist when she went to Lilly to work each week. One day during sophomore year when she came home from work, she was asked what she did that day at work. She replied, “Well, my chemist and I are working on an anti-cancer drug, and it’s too toxic. We think that if we can (statement not completed here to protect Lilly privacy), we can reduce its toxicity.” Not likely words to come from the mouth of ANY high school sophomore! Montanea returned to work at Lilly during her junior and senior years, had the opportunity to co-author an article with the chemist, and created the PowerPoint that they used to share their findings with their coworkers.
Montanea went on to Franklin College where she majored in biology. Today she works at a subsidiary of Eli Lilly & Company as a biologist in their autoimmune department. She was also recently named to Providence Cristo Rey’s Board of Directors — the first alumna to be asked to join the board. She credits the school and the corporate work study program with where she is today.
Jalen Carpenter Sharp, ’11
married to Vincent Sharp, ’11 completed her undergraduate degree in biology at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She then earned her master’s degree in public health at the University of Notre Dame. During the past year she has worked for a charter school in Indianapolis and for PCRHS in each school’s admissions departments.
These experiences have led her to pursue another master’s — this time in education. She and Vincent are in the process of moving to San Francisco this month, where she will begin her MA in education at San Francisco State University and Vincent will work in technology. (Vincent and his friend Daniel Bankhead ’11 began their own skateboard cleaner company while in college. A couple of years ago, they phased out that business so that they could do work in technology.)
Alisa Schaefer, ’13
transferred to PCRHS as a sophomore. Near the end of her sophomore year, Alisa witnessed her mother murdered by her father. Early the next morning, when school personnel learned of the tragedy via news media, we tracked down the aunt who was caring for Alisa and her sister. I was the principal at the time, and when I talked to Alisa by phone she told me she wanted to come to school later that day. When I told her she didn’t need to think about coming, Alisa responded, “I want to come. You are my family, my community. But my school shoes are locked in the house and we cannot enter.” Sister Jeanne assured her she could come (barefoot if need be!) and that the school community would be there waiting for her. Meanwhile, students were apprised of the situation and given some guidance about how “to be” with her. Sure enough, she arrived, and the students, faculty and staff embraced her with love.
Despite that tragedy, Alisa carried on. Upon graduation, she secured a Lilly Endowment scholarship that covered her costs at Taylor University, where she majored in biology and minored in Spanish and chemistry. She graduated from Taylor in 2017, recently married PCRHS classmate Larry Gilmore (an assistant manager at Amazon). This fall, Alisa begins her first year as a medical student at Marian University in Indianapolis.
Jaylan Anderson, ’14
will be a senior in the fall at Ball State University. His corporate work study experience speaks to the power of that aspect of the school. While at PCRHS, he worked for DEFENDERS (a home security company that has grown nationwide), and his supervisors immediately recognized his technology and people skills. He took on significant responsibility, and the company even took him on their annual service trip to Mexico. After graduating from PCRHS, he enrolled full-time at Ivy Tech Community College to study computer science. DEFENDERS hired him to be a remote technician, which helped him pay for tuition, books and transportation. After a year and half at Ivy Tech, his DEFENDERS co-workers encouraged him to transfer to a four-year school and live on-campus. They are helping him pay for tuition and still employ him as a remote technician. He has been guaranteed a position with them when he graduates in May 2018. His goal is to be a chief technology officer for a major corporation.
These are but a few of the successes that have been born of a dream by the Sisters of Providence to venture forward, despite limited personnel and financial means. Thanks to the many donors, Corporate Work Study sponsors, and very dedicated faculty and staff, these young men and women are enjoying an opportunity of a lifetime … one that is, indeed, life changing for many of the graduates!
PCRHS – Corporate Spotlight
Mike Evans, retired founder, president and CEO of AIT Laboratories and AIT Bioscience, got involved in Providence Cristo Rey in its infancy, because he said he owed his success to the Sisters of Providence, particularly to Sister Jane Bodine (RIP) and wanted to give back. He had gone to Providence High School in Clarksville, Indiana, where Sister Jane had taught him chemistry. Prior to that, he had not had much interest in school, but she enlivened in him a love of the sciences. He subsequently studied medicine and toxicology, and became a nationally renowned professor of medicine and toxicology. He was among the founding Corporate Work Study sponsors and generous contributor to PCRHS.