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Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

Webb’s new religious devotional group

Austin Ra (’23)
Webb’s first student-led devotional group’s gatherings take place every Monday at McMillin Park. Students are invited to meet before afternoon activities and use the amphitheater as a space for prayer, song, and worship from all faiths. Group organizers, Jarra Jallow (‘25) and Esperanza Smith (‘25) encourage students to utilize the space as an environment where everyone can feel safe, comfortable, and accepted no matter their religion.

It’s a warm afternoon. Narrow beams of sunlight trickle in through the leaves of the oak trees surrounding McMillin Park. There’s thirty minutes until afternoon activity and you immerse yourself in the soft breaths of the surrounding nature; the birds calling from the branches and students praying, singing, and sharing personal experiences.  

You could never have imagined that there would be a space to celebrate and sit with your own faith while encouraging and learning about others. You feel understood in a way that you had never expected.  

 As an independent school, it has been challenging for Webb to create religious and interfaith programs, and as a boarding school it is difficult to transport students that live on campus to places of worship.  

The only place that students, especially boarders, have to worship is in their dorms or in chapel, and even then, it is quite restricting. The chapel is dedicated as a nonreligious space out of respect for all the students and faculty, religious or not. Some students may also not feel comfortable praying in their dorm rooms because of a roommate’s presence.  

Jarra Jallow (‘25) and Esperanza Smith (‘25) addressed the lack of religious space at Webb by establishing Webb’s first student-led devotional group. 

“I felt like a space like this was really missing at Webb,” Jarra said. “I felt like we have all of these programs to support our students, but we don’t really have space where students feel comfortable worshiping.” 

 The devotional group is off to a very productive start. The group currently meets at McMillin Park during X block every Monday. Jarra and Esperanza intentionally chose a space like McMilliin park to host the meetings.  

“I didn’t want to have the meetings in chapel because it was too centered on Christianity. I wanted to have a neutral space because of the diversity of religion.” Jarra said. 

The group also sent out an email to student news to invite those that resonate with religion or are interested in one to the Monday devotionals at 2:30. The email articulated that the group would share songs and prayers, either from the heart or from a specific religion. It was not only an invite to those who would like to worship and share, but also to anyone who would enjoy and respect the space. 

However, the group still faces some roadblocks. It’s hard for affinity groups to meet consistently, as there are other events during Monday’s X-block that may conflict with the group’s meetings. A more recent issue has been the weather. The stormy weather that persisted from late February to early March prevented the devotional group from meeting in the park until there was an indoor space available or the weather cleared up.  

In the future it will also be tricky to regulate the devotional group since it is a melting pot of different religions that have contrasting and different beliefs that can be very personal to individuals. 

“I think religion and faith is something that is so beautiful, and people have very strong feelings and opinions about it, rightfully so. This can be positive, but also sometimes unproductive so I hope that the space stays positive in the future,” said Gretel Barsotti, Assistant Director of Equity. 

Despite setbacks, the future of these devotional gatherings looks bright. The devotional group will have a huge impact on the Webb community, growing as an open space of understanding and reflection. Many students hope that the devotional groups will continue to reach Webb students and provide a safe space for them regardless of their religious background. 

“I hope to get other languages and religions involved and I want to welcome more diversity in the prayer section,” Jarra said. “We would love to have more people come to share new things.”

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About the Contributors
Austin Ra
Austin Ra, Editor of Audiovisual
Returning with a rupture of exuberant energy and ready to express his thoughts, Austin Ra (‘23) is prepared to continue his journey at the Webb Canyon Chronicle. Aside from preparing for college applications during the summer, Austin spent his break from Webb in his medical summer camp, where he proposed multidimensional approaches to debatable medical issues. For instance, he was not afraid to discuss the high price of insulin and argue for the medicines he believes are important. Austin’s ability to openly voice his opinions allows him to strive in humanities classes and be a good candidate for the roles of day student prefect and Editor of Audiovisual for the Webb Canyon Chronicle. “In journalism, I can express what I want to express, have a sizable platform, and have credibility of my works,” said Austin. This year, he wants to continue producing quality work and promoting the publication’s media platforms such as YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram. In addition, he hopes to continue sharing his own perspectives on school events and social issues.   “Skating in Central Park” by Bill Evans and Jim Hall  
Narineh Madikians
Narineh Madikians, Public Editor
Narineh Madikians (23) is coming back to Webb for her senior year as a completely new person. Along with her new position as the Webb Canyon Chronicle's new Public Editor, Narineh is also a head peer advisor and a member of the VWS varsity volleyball team. Even though her senior year is full of change, Narineh still loves humanities courses from past years such as Advanced Studies Creative Nonfiction. She encourages everyone at Webb to take this class as it has made a significant impact on her writing techniques. This year, she is focusing on the future while also trying to stay present at the moment, hoping to make as many lasting memories as she can before she leaves for college. After a long and busy week at school, Narineh uses her weekends to recharge. She loves to go out with her friends or stay at home and watch movies with her parents and three dogs: Jeckie, Dash, and Rex. At the end of the day, Narineh unwinds by listening to her favorite artists such as Mac Miller, Frank Ocean, and Childish Gambino. Narineh will use her new and old experiences throughout Webb, the WCC, and outside life, to make her senior year unforgettable.   Favorite Song: "Crimson and Clover" by Tommy James and The Shondells
Olivia Cooke
Olivia Cooke, Co-Editor of Culture and Lifetyle
Exemplifying a vibrant spirit, Olivia Cooke (‘24) enthusiastically indulges her multifaceted interests. With a soccer ball at her feet and a tennis racket in her hand, Olivia's passion for sports is unmistakable, whether she showcases her skills on the soccer field, the Webb soccer team, or the JV tennis court. Beyond the athletic arena, Olivia shines through her commitment to community service, driven by her mission to spread happiness and positivity. Olivia's passion for the thrill and chill extends beyond her love for Halloween movies and Stephen King's horror novels. This fascination can be seen in her love for crime documentaries, which provide her with insights into the legal system. Last year, Olivia joined the Webb debate team, showcasing her dedication to pursuing a career in law while combining her passion for horror and crime with her newfound interest in debate. As she lives with passion and a zest for exploration, Webb Canyon Chronicle provides her with a platform to express her voice and enrich the community with her dynamic perspectives.   Favorite song: Running with the Devil - Van Halen
Taylor Crawford
Taylor Crawford, Chief Editor of Culture & Lifestyle
Fitting for the Chief Editor of Culture & Lifestyle, Taylor Crawford (‘23)’s many interests help her create a vibrant presence in her section. As a resident of Glendora, Taylor enjoys playing soccer, shopping, and occasionally reading. She is a member of the VWS varsity soccer team as well as the soccer club Legends FC. She spent her summer in northern California with her church, spending lots of time hanging out with her family and friends cultivating meaningful relationships. Last year, Taylor wrote multiple articles, but she was most proud of iWebb, which is the Webb version of iCarly. Taylor also has leadership roles on campus, as she is a new member of the day student prefect group. Her commitment takes root in seminary, which she partakes in every day before school.  During her free time, she watches her favorite shows, Criminal Minds, Knight and Day, and listens to her favorite artist Justin Bieber. This year, Taylor hopes to leave her legacy in journalism by making more entertaining videos and articles.  Favorite Song: “Valerie” by Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse 

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