Monte Vista has its own ‘Holy Trinity’

Pena, Cosca and Backsen are reigning trinity on campus


Emily Ma & Anjana Dasam, Monte Vista High School

Most people don’t know that Monte Vista High School has its own Holy Trinity, but it’s not The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. It’s Mr. Peña, Dr. Cosca, and Mr. Backsen.

It may seem that the three teachers may not have much in common since they each teach a different subject in different buildings, but the assumption is wrong. 

“They definitely look like Jesus,” senior Miles Vranas said.

The three teachers have this signature look: long hair and a long beard. Noting these features, many students say they believe that the three teachers stole the look.

It first started with Logan Spilker, a former substitute teacher, now an English teacher at Monte Vista. Although Spilker’s Jesus look has been retired through his haircut, the trend of “Jesus teachers” continues through other staff members.

The teachers themselves are aware of this ongoing notion and have their own takes on being known as a Jesus teacher. English teacher David Cosca certainly feels he’s at the top of the list for resembling Jesus the most. 

“While other teachers at Monte Vista may have long hair and a beard, I am the only one who emits a blinding radiance, as if graced by a heavenly spirit,” Cosca said. 

Cosca claims, however, that his Jesus days started far before he stepped foot on Monte Vista. 

“So far as I know, the first time I was compared to Jesus was shortly after I was born,” Cosca said. “My mother thought it was odd that our family was being summoned to Bethlehem due to a Roman census demanding that everyone in the world go back to their ancestral homes from a thousand years ago. She said, ‘Wait … I wonder if this is because you’re like Jesus.’ I didn’t have a reaction that I remember…  because I was an infant.”

In a more serious way, Cosca believes his nickname reflects what he teaches. 

“I don’t mind being called Jesus because I have important messages to teach humanity,” Cosca said.

Math teacher Anthony Peña also has a positive outlook on this title he’s been given. 

“Very often in the past it has been attached to the idea of being the math Jesus, which I think in the sense that it confers trust in me as the teacher,” Peña said. “I like that students feel comfortable being creative in that way, giving me a nickname. To me I feel like I created an environment where students feel comfortable.”

This playful joke has been going around for a while. But is there more significance to this than just the long hair? 

“I know Jesus had a very philosophical outlook on life and so does Mr.Peña,” Vranas said. 

Through this joke, Peña believes that he has created a trusting community which allows him to instill his math wisdom in his students. 

“It is playful and shows a level of trust,” Peña said. “I do like how it has always been… a surface level thing that doesn’t weigh into anything deeper. I appreciate it’s a lighthearted thing.” 

This year the Monte Vista community welcomed a new science teacher on campus, Chad Backsen. And, just within his first few months, Backsen became the newest member of the Jesus trio.  He is just starting to get used to being Science Jesus. 

“There was a time I was walking across campus and I heard students scream, ‘Hey Jesus’” Backsen said. “It surprises me a little bit since the population I come from is far from where Jesus had lived. It makes me chuckle a little about how I may appear like the stereotypical version of Jesus.”

While this look wasn’t intentional to resemble Jesus, Backsen said there are various reasons why he chose this hairstyle. 

“Part of it is because I don’t like shaving everyday,” Backsen said. “Part of it is because I used to listen to the Beatles everyday.”

However, the long hair and long beard has a meaningful backstory as well.

“I had two friends in high school and one friend himself went through chemo and lost his hair and the other friend’s brother also had hair loss due to cancer treatment,” Backsen said. “I learned then that some people like to wear a wig when they lose their hair. This is when I first started to grow my hair longer to donate it to a good cause.

In the end, these three individuals are passionate teachers each with their own unique style. Students say Monte Vista is lucky to have the presence of the Holy Trinity on campus, and are making their best use of it. 

“I was once thronged by a multitude of Monte Vista students who begged me to heal them by casting out unclean spirits from their bodies,” Cosca said. “In my view, that was rather amusing.”

This article was written originally for The Stampede, the student newspaper of Monte Vista High School in Danville.