I can remember eating pizza with a good friend during the summer of 2003 and discussing the story of Seabiscuit.
I remember wondering aloud how author Laura Hillenbrand had discovered such an amazing story.
Less than a year later, I began writing More than a Dream, a book about the unlikely and inspiring success of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. It was a story, I felt, that had many of the same elements as Seabiscuit—wonderful characters trying to do the impossible (if only the Cristo Rey story had such an able chronicler).
I’d come to Cristo Rey with two of my classmates from Georgetown University to help start a volunteer teaching program in the fall of 1999. All three of us were willing to work for free for a year or two. This was enough to get hired at Cristo Rey, which was then housed in a tiny grammar school and adjacent roller rink and still struggling mightily to make ends meet.
In reality, Cristo Rey probably never should have started. It was a long shot from the beginning. Its founders wanted to start a school for a group of people who couldn’t even begin to pay for it. To make it all work, they planned to send 20% of the student body to work each day at law firms, banks, and local businesses. Those businesses would pay the tuition the families couldn’t afford to pay.
Many wise people told the Jesuits it was a nice idea, but that it couldn’t ever possibly work. Even so, they decided to try it.