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Rite of passage: Senior theology students join the adult world

Macarena Angeles (front center) holds a dish of penne pasta that she and fellow seniors Kaylyn Lindner and Jayron Brooks made for their class in Catholic Theology.

By Beth Murphy,
Director of Marketing Communications

Senior Macarena Angeles has worked at a dry cleaners and a fitness center. She knows how to drive. She will graduate high school next May shortly after she turns 18. 

But she never had made a doctor’s appointment, something an adult should know how to do. So recently she called her doctor, ready to negotiate an appointment time, while her mother stood by to coach her. “It was weird,” Macarena said of her first phone call to a physician’s office. “I kept asking my mom what to do next.”

Making an appointment was one of 18 activities Macarena completed for her senior Catholic Theology final exam. During first semester, she and her fellow seniors each worked on his or her own list of activities that define adulthood. Macarena, who attended Holy Spirit Catholic Church, also made dinner for the family, ate lunch alone, saw a movie by herself, and ran 5 miles among her 18 things.

While students take classes and engage in sports and other activities at Scecina, they also should leave high school with practical skills.

Margaret Zeh Fulford, who teaches Catholic theology to all seniors, saw this gap and started “18 Lessons for Life.” She was inspired by a mother’s blog post. The mother thought modern society lacked a rite of passage into adulthood, so she devised a list of 13 life skills she wanted her 13-year-old son to have. Ms. Zeh Fulford adapted more skills into a larger list and told seniors, who are turning 18, to choose 18.

 All Scecina students take Catholic Theology for four years. During the first semester of senior year, they take a course on vocations. Since they already have learned about the Sacraments, Ms. Zeh Fulford divides up the vocations course into units on life skills, love, discernment, and then holy orders, consecrated life and marriage. 

 “We look at how, no matter which vocation God is calling us to, we need to have certain life skills,” she explained. “Communication and self-discovery and self-care are some of the big ones we focus on. Then we spend a while talking and looking at love.

 “I hope this experience helps the kids grow in self-knowledge, which is crucial to discernment of vocations,” she said.

Some of the other activities seniors choose include: driving a manual transmission vehicle; putting gas in a car; and driving out of state. They also take some personal finance lesson, learning financial vocabulary such as CD, savings , checking, health savings. They also break down a pay stub and then use it to create a Dave Ramsey quick budget.

They also cook food from scratch. One group from each of the Senior Theology classes makes an item from scratch and serves it to their class. This month students made vanilla cupcakes, 20-Minute Lemon Pesto Penne Pasta, and pancakes.

Macarena said she is thankful for her “18 Lessons in Life.” 

“It was a challenge, honestly, doing all 18 things,” she said. “I now think I could do some of these things regularly, but I never really thought about whether I could.” 

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