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Meant to Be: Meet a Class of 2028 Founding Family

Meant to Be: Meet a Class of 2028 Founding Family

We recently sat down with Kaneka (Ka-nee-ka) Borja and her mom, Neca (Nee-ka) Silvestre to learn more about why they chose to enroll at CRJS. 

Kaneka’s grandparents and great-grandparents immigrated from the Philippines and their Catholic faith has always been important to the whole family. Neca says, “I’m eager for Kaneka to come to Cristo Rey because Catholic education is so important, and our faith is the core of how I raise our children. When my husband passed away, we really relied on our faith to get through that time. The education academically and spiritually embodies everything we want our children to be.”  

However, attending a Catholic school hasn’t always been financially possible. Kaneka and her siblings have attended Catholic school in the past but had to withdraw due to financial reasons. “What I love about Cristo Rey is that we can have her attend Catholic school without having to worry about the financial obligation,” says Neca. She’s excited about the socio-economic and racial diversity.

“It wasn’t always easy to fit in because we were always the family that was on financial aid, and we were always one of the few families of color. We don’t have to be worried about being ‘that’ family [at Cristo Rey]. We’re all here for a great education regardless of our financial status. It shouldn’t be a factor and I think that’s what I really love about Cristo Rey Jesuit.” 

Kaneka is an 8th grader at Evergreen Middle School in Kent. She is soft-spoken and loves math and working with children. Kaneka is most excited to make new friends and join her new school community. At the New Student Party in February, Kaneka connected with several other girls who will be attending CRJS next year – they already follow each other on social media and started a group chat! Joining a founding class may seem a little nerve-wracking to an 8th grader, but it’s also a unique opportunity to build the culture from the ground up. A culture of inclusivity and acceptance is already starting to form among these founding classmates. “I think it’s really cool that we’ll be a staple of the school’s [history] because we’re going to be the first students here,” says Kaneka. 

Part of building that culture is choosing the CRJS mascot. When asked about what they think the mascot should be, Kaneka and her mom immediately responded the Lobos or the Wolves. "It definitely fits for the northwest, they’re fierce, and they travel in packs!” were among the reasons they both say the Lobos/Wolves would be a great choice. “I think that’s the one, you know, you just feel it.” says Neca. Another unique opportunity for building culture is picking and forming the first clubs and activities at CRJS. Kaneka would like to start a Pacific Islanders club to explore and share the culture and thinks volleyball might be a popular sport. She also thinks a graphic design club could be fun for students and Neca would love a Confirmation program to be offered at CRJS, perhaps in partnership with St. Paul’s Parish. 

Kaneka, Neca, and Kaneka’s grandpa attended the New Student Party together. While exploring campus, Kaneka’s grandpa reminded the pair that Neca’s uncle was married in the St. Paul Parish Church and her aunt attended St. Paul School.

Neca says, “It felt like it was meant to be.”

The location in south Seattle is also a great fit for Kaneka’s family. Located right off I-5 is especially helpful for many families, and Kent is only about 15-20 minutes away. Neca says she is excited about the possibility of a bus service, but she would happily drive, “It’s an easy commute and I like the neighborhood, I’m happy that it’s here.”  

They also commented on how beautiful the 6-acre campus is, “During the New Student Party we were outside taking pictures and we got a great view in the back. My dad was like ‘I remember this!’ and it was cool to see that." Neca’s dad also wanted to visit the neighboring Kubota Gardens after the party, and Neca remembers visiting the gardens as a child. “I love the culture of the city and the school and how cool that [Kaneka] is creating this new culture too.” 

Kaneka and her mom are also excited about the Corporate Work Study program. Kaneka has a few ideas for what she wants her future career to be, like a pediatrician or some kind of engineer, and the work-study program will help her decide which path she wants to take in college.

Neca says, “I think that’s the beauty of coming here - there are all these different opportunities and experiences because you don't know what you don’t know. Being able to see the different doors open to you – you could be anything.”

Both Kaneka and her mom are passionate about using their talents to give back to the community, another core value of CRJS and Jesuit education that aligns with their family. Neca is excited that the participating companies are local, and that Kaneka could return after college and potentially have a job at one of her CWS placements.  

In four years, as the founding class prepares to graduate high school and choose their colleges, Kaneka hopes she is more confident and courageous. “I feel like coming here is going to help me become more confident.” Kaneka is excited to join the founding class because “the community seems so welcoming and fun.”  

Neca is excited for her daughter to come to CRJS for the whole-person education – mind, body, and soul. Neca can’t wait to see how much her daughter will grow in the next four years. She says to stay tuned for a then-and-now video comparing this interview with an interview in four years when Kaneka is a graduate!  

CRJS is still accepting students in the founding Class of 2028. To learn more and apply, visit our website or contact Flor Gonzalez by calling 206-688-2108.