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Weekly Newsletter Archive





Holocaust eyewitness shares story, wisdom with McNicholas students
Posted December 17, 2014; Written by Lauren Fisher '15

On Wednesday, Dec. 3, students and faculty at McNicholas High School had the opportunity to learn about World War II and the Holocaust from one who lived through its trials firsthand. Stephanie Marks, 89, shared her story - one that would take her family on a journey of over 7,000 miles, from the war-torn Polish countryside, through Western Europe, and finally to the shores of America, where they would ultimately find refuge.

Born in the small city of Konin, Poland, Marks grew up moving between Poland and Belgium, and was only a child when the German bombs began to fall and the Nazi soldiers marched in, forcing her family to flee to Warsaw on horse and wagon, making the dangerous trek through the bombed-out countryside with thousands of their fellow Jews who were seeking refuge. Marks and her family fled several dangerous situations and encountered countless challenges before ensuring their safety and eventual escape.

When Marks, who has since volunteered her time at the local Holocaust Center, reflects back on the Holocaust and on the loss of over 11 million lives, she does so not with hatred, but with a sense of hope that today’s society is headed in the right direction.

“What you have in your heart is the most important thing in the world. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, Muslim or Jewish, white or black,” Marks told the students. “Because if you don’t have love, you are nothing.”

To read more about Marks’ story, click here.



Rocket band celebrates holidays with winter concert

Posted December 16, 2014

On Thursday., Dec. 11, the McNicholas High School Band presented its annual Winter Concert. Selections by the Wind Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, and Jazz Orchestra entertained a crowd that included families, fellow students, and alumni of the band program.

The Wind Ensemble opened the concert with I Heard a March on Christmas Day by Steve Hodges which included many familiar carols arranged in one piece. After a traditional Jerry Nowak arrangement of The Christmas Song made popular by Mel Torme, the Wind Ensemble closed its set with the Finale Movement #4 from Serenade for Strings in C Major by Tchaikovsky.

The Percussion Ensemble played two high energy pieces, Tango Argentino by Joaquin Valverde, and Bound for Marakesh by Chris Brooks. Freshman William Granlund serenaded the crowd with a beautiful rendition of Christmas Time is Here by Vince Guaraldi.

The concert closed with a three song set from the Jazz Ensemble including an arrangement of Deck the Halls by Mike Collins-Dowden.

The Rocket Band will perform at the Catholic Schools Week concert on Tuesday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. and will travel to Marshall University on Saturday, Jan. 31 to play at the Marshall University Jazz Festival.




McNicholas students hold fundraiser in support of Lauren Hill

Posted December 11, 2014; Written by Lauren Fisher '15

Students at Archbishop McNicholas High School will soon join with thousands of others who have shown their support for ailing college basketball player Lauren Hill by taking part in the viral “#Layup4Lauren” Challenge to raise money for cancer research. The upcoming fundraiser, coordinated by the McNicholas Student Philanthropy organization, is not only an effort to join those who have already shown their support on social media, but a show of compassion towards the countless children who suffer from pediatric cancer.

Members of the club took a special interest in raising money to support pediatric cancer research following the diagnosis of Hill, the Mt. St. Joseph freshman who is battling DIPG, a rare, inoperable form of brain cancer. Throughout the remainder of the year, Student Philanthropy hopes to look into additional ways in which they can raise money and awareness for the cause, which impacts an estimated 13,400 new cases each year in the United States alone, making childhood cancer the most common cause of death by disease for children and teenagers.

“We need to be spreading awareness about cancer,” senior Michelle Rowekamp explained. “It could happen to any of us. McNick is very big on service, and I think this is a great way for us to branch out.”

Hill, 19, made national headlines in November, when, despite her terminal diagnosis, she was determined to play her first college basketball game, though her persisting symptoms made even practice drills an arduous feat. On Nov. 2, over 10,000 fans packed the Cintas Center at Xavier University to cheer her on as Mt. St. Joseph won their first game of the year against Hiram College. Even basketball superstar LeBron James was there to show his support.

With her condition continuing to deteriorate, Hill recently made the choice to begin hospice care, but is said to remain “in good spirits,” according to her family’s “Fight for the Cure” Facebook page.

Student Philanthropy sold t-shirts for $10 through Dec. 10, with the proceeds going to The Cure Starts Now, a locally-based charity, endorsed by Hill, which works to find a cure for pediatric brain cancer. Select students will also have the chance to take the “#Layup4Lauren” Challenge during halftime on Friday, Dec. 19, when the Varsity Men’s Basketball Team takes on Purcell Marian at 7:30 p.m.

“It’s a really important cause, and we encourage everyone to participate,” junior Emma Kapp said. “Everyone here has someone in their life who has been affected by cancer.”



Science teacher explores opportunities through Miami University’s Global Field Program

Posted December 11, 2014; Written by Hannah Van Zant '15

McNicholas High School science teacher Ms. Lauren Wulker recently traveled to the Amazon for the completion of her third Earth Expedition as part of her master's degree work for Miami University. Earth Expeditions are accredited excursions for teachers and adult students who are seeking to earn their master’s degree from Miami University through the Global Field Program.

The Global Field Program (GFP) at Miami brings master’s degree candidates such as scientists, educators, and community leaders together by giving them access to conservation areas in Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Americas, for firsthand experience with inquiry-driven education, environmental stewardship, and global understanding. GFP candidates join a growing network of leaders who work collaboratively to bring about change in local and global contexts.

When Wulker first became aware of the GFP p`rogram at Miami, she knew she needed to participate in it. "My passion for science and learning within the context of the global community converged when I was informed of this graduate program," Wulker said.

Each Earth Expedition is worth a total of seven credit hours, and each student is required to participate in three trips before graduation. Wulker's first expedition took place in Baja, California, where she, along with the others on the trip, studied desert and marine ecology.

In Peru, she studied avian ecology. She would wake early in the morning in her mosquito-netted bed when the birds were the most active to track and record various characteristics, such as molting and change in size. On her latest excursion to the Amazon, she studied evolution and maintenance of biodiversity, as well as the effects of human intervention.

For those who seek to pursue similar routes of conservation and animal/environmental studies, Wulker shared some helpful advice.

“When looking for a school, class size is definitely important,” Wulker said. “Express your interest in studying abroad early on, even if it’s taking an alternative spring break.”



McNicholas hosts annual Fair Trade Sale

December 8, 2014; Written by Nick Keri '14

On Dec. 4 and 5, McNicholas hosted the now annual “Friends of Batahola” Fair Trade sale. The sale took place in the library during both lunch periods and featured handmade and hand-painted items from Nicaraguan artisans.
Though the sale has happened sporadically since 2007, this is its third consecutive year, and it has gained stability through the Nicaraguan Immersion trip taken in June, said Theology teacher John Norman.

“While it has occurred in the past, the sale really gained ground when Hutch (Campus Ministry Director Jeff Hutchinson-Smyth) and I began going on the Immersion trip to Nicaragua,” Norman said. “We have worked to establish a connection with our friends there and to get a fair return for their craft.”

Hutchinson said that this sale gives the people of Nicaragua the opportunity to really market their craft.

“There is a tremendous amount of talent, and it has no access to the global market,” Hutchinson-Smyth said. “This not only gives them the chance to sell their work, but also make the highest profit possible by cutting out the middle-man.”
The items on sale included jewelry, hand painted crosses, and notecards featuring the two murals painted at McNick by Nicaraguan artist and Batahola Cultural Center art teacher Gerardo Arias. Not only are these items a great way to help the people of the developing world, but they make quality gifts for loved ones,” Hutchinson-Smyth said. “Many of us have the desire not to just buy ‘stuff’ but to find a meaningful gift for the people we love.”

Though the sale only lasted two days at McNick, there are other opportunities to get involved in Fair Trade. A store called 10,000 Villages, located in O’Brienville, sells fair trade items from around the world. Once a month, Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish sells fair trade coffee, chocolate, and other items after their masses, and local grocery stores carry fair trade coffee.

Hutchinson-Smyth and Norman agree that this sale is great way for students to practice solidarity.

“The sale can help broaden the vision of our students in terms of how to be citizens of the world and how to act as a Catholic,” Norman said.




McNicholas students help less fortunate in own community
Posted November 25, 2014

The spirit of giving is alive at McNicholas High School throughout the year and even more so during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. With the temperatures plunging and holiday expectations escalating, McNicholas students have several opportunities to reach out and help people not-so-different from themselves.

  • Food and Coat Drives
    McNicholas conducted its 15th annual canned food drive just before Thanksgiving. Hundreds of cans of food were donated by McNicholas students and will go to help Hope Emergency and the YWCA Emergency Assistance Program in Batavia which support over 400 struggling families within our footprint. Coats collected this fall were also delivered to these two agencies.

  • Gifts for Hope
    Student Council is sponsoring the Gifts for Hope shoebox project which will also benefit Hope Emergency. The goal is to fill shoeboxes with small gifts and items for teens ages 12-18 who might not otherwise receive any gifts this Christmas season. According to senior Student Council member Anna Pierce, the project grew out of a desire to make a difference locally using an international idea. “This project was inspired by Operation Christmas Child,” Pierce said. “Instead of sending presents in shoeboxes overseas, we thought it would be a good idea to send gifts to kids in our community.”

    Student Council is hoping that the proximity as well as the age similarities will help make the project a success. “I was really excited about this age group because we as high school students can relate to them and, therefore, better connect with the project,” Pierce said.

  • Blankets for Babies Collection
    The Rockets for Life Club will be collecting blankets for Pregnancy Center East until Christmas break. Students will collect used, new, and handmade blankets, as well as tied fleece blankets, crocheted, and knitted items. Pregnancy Center East provides material assistance to mothers in need and relies on generous support from the community supply those items. The blankets are just one of many necessities the agency provides free of charge.

Each day McNicholas students are encouraged to live a Christ-centered life, and their efforts this holiday season are part of the journey to gain “full stature in Christ.” By helping people in the community not so different from themselves, students at McNicholas gain an appreciation for the great gifts in their own lives as well as for the growth and satisfaction that comes from giving.


McNicholas celebrates convent’s centennial with tours and tree lighting

Posted November 25, 2014

For 100 years, the convent on the campus at McNicholas High School has been a central part of thousands of students’ lives. On Sunday, December 7, McNicholas invites the community to help celebrate the centennial with an open house from 6 to 8 p.m.

During the open house, the first and second floors of the convent will be open for tours and will include photos of the classrooms, chapel, and residential areas in use throughout the years. The Heritage Room will feature Art of the Convent, work done by students and faculty featuring the convent and some of its beautiful features. Christmas music by the McNicholas High School band and liturgy choir will be featured on the front porch of the convent, and Santa will visit at 7 p.m. to light the new trees by the Military Memorial.

The McNicholas Cooking Club will provide cookies and members of Student Council will host a children’s activity area with a special craft project.


The Convent Chapel with its original décor. St. Joseph Academy students in the 1920s used the room in the front of the building on the second floor as a music room. Today it is the Spanish 1 classroom.


McNicholas celebrates French Week

Posted November 20, 2014

From November 10-14, McNicholas celebrated la Semaine Nationale de Français (National French Week) with French prayers, trivia questions, student presentations, and fun activities.


On Thursday, a group of students gathered for an authentic French dinner at La Petite France. The highlight of the week was the annual McNick Tour de France, where student teams from each French class competed on bicycles to win the maillot jaune.  


Click here to read the McNicholas Milestone's coverage of the week. For additional news about the World Languages department, click here.





Fall play chosen for Thespian Conference

Posted November 20, 2014

The McNicholas Theatre Department's fall production, It's Not The End of The World, has won a first place, full production slot at the 2015 Thespian Conference in Columbus in March.


"We are excited for this opportunity to present the show in front of hundreds of young theatre enthusiasts, teachers, and professionals from all over the country," theatre teacher Ms. Teresa DeZarn said.


The production includes Nothing is the End of the World, directed by DeZarn, and The Diary of Adam and Eve, directed by Jeanne Spurlock. This is the third consecutive year that McNicholas has won this honor under the leadership of DeZarn.


Click here to view the Theatre Gallery with photos from the show's November performances.



39 students inducted into NHS

Posted November 12, 2014

On Tuesday, Nov. 11, McNicholas High School inducted 39 new members into the Altiora Chapter of National Honor Society. The National Honor Society recognizes the achievements of junior and senior students who excel academically and fill leadership roles in the school and wider community.

The induction was led by NHS moderators, English teacher Mrs. Katie Caster and social studies teacher Ms. Michelle Semancik. SAIL teacher Mrs. Val Combs gave the congratulations speech to the newly inducted members. NHS officers Michelle Hollenkamp, Trevor Lynd, Molly Kidwell, and William Allgeier also assisted with the ceremony.


Congratulations to new members Zachary Arnold, Taylor Ashmore, William Babb, Kelly Breitenbach, Caleb Brunner, Maria Ciampone, Kelly Cole, Matthew Cornell, Claire Daly, Aaron Diemler, Micah Diemler, Jackson Durm, Vincent Ehemann, Nicholas Emig, Emma Feld, Lauren Fisher, Maia Forman, Emma Heise, Connor Higgins, William Kamphaus, Emma Kapp, John Longbottom, Brynna Maxey, Adam Neltner, Grant Painter, Gabrielle Quesnell, Nicholas Robben, Jarrod Roetenberger, Sidney Schaeper, Margaret Schulhoff, Anna Schutter, Margaret Sheehan, Elizabeth Simmons, Sarah Standiford, Brittany Taylor, Gillian Tierney, Kyle Timmons, Abigail Weiler, and Hannah Wuerfel.






McNicholas commemorates Veteran’s Day with memorial rededication
Posted November 12, 2014; Written by Lauren Fisher '15

On Wednesday, Nov. 11, students and faculty assembled in honor of over 200 McNicholas alumni who have served their nation in the armed forces. During the hour-long service, the school rededicated its military memorial, which commemorates the lives of five McNicholas graduates who paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country.

Gathering together near the memorial, the student body joined the nation’s veterans and the families of those McNicholas alumni who have fallen in the line of duty. Social Studies teacher Frank Lowden began the ceremony by offering a bagpipe call to order, ushering in members of the American Legion Post 484, who presented the colors for the Pledge of Allegiance. The student body participated by waving American flags and joining their school Liturgy Choir in the singing of the National Anthem and "God Bless America."

Speakers at the event included United States Air Force Colonel Walter C. Daniels II ’85, and Lieutenant Colonel Brad Wenstrup, United States Army Reserves and 2nd Congressional District U.S. House of Representatives.

“Today is meant for celebrating the service of those who came before us and those who will come after us,” Daniels told the crowd. “As we rededicate this memorial, I ask you not to mourn the loss, but to celebrate the service.”

Originally dedicated in 2009, the military memorial honors five McNicholas graduates who were killed in the line of duty: Marty Mugavin ’65, Greg Iding ’65, Joe Berning ’69, Chuck Kiser ’85, and Nick Erdy ’02. During the rededication ceremony, select students offered tributes to the each of the fallen veterans, recounting stories of their lives and sacrifices. Daniels and Wenstrup were then invited to share with the McNicholas community their thoughts on the importance of honoring those who give their lives to military service.

“To me, every day is Veteran’s Day,” Wenstrup said. “Not a day has passed when I do not think of our troops. Those who serve our country are the best and brightest. Our great American veterans go where others fear to go, and ask nothing from those who give nothing.”

Following the ceremony, the veterans and their families were invited inside for a breakfast, held in the school cafeteria. There, students were able to spend quality time with family members who have served in the armed forces, while reflecting on the service of those McNicholas graduates who had paid the ultimate sacrifice to their country.

“We should remember them as they lived and see it with happiness rather than sadness and grief,” senior Patrick Simmons said. Simmons attended the event with his grandfather, a veteran of the Vietnam War. “We must never forget those who have served, and must remember them not by glorifying the war and bloodshed, but rather through people who still live and through remembering those who died.”

Daniels concluded his speech by presenting the ceremony’s attendees with a challenge to support those who work for freedom today while preserving the memory of those military members who have since passed.

“I challenge you to live the life of selfless service as those men have,” Daniels said. “Remember them and ask yourself: ‘How can I serve my community today?”

Click here to view a list of McNicholas High School alumni who have served in the armed forces.



Students observe live surgery and fuel interest in health and medicine

Posted November 10, 2014

On Oct. 28,  seniors Andrew Parra, Keely Meakin, Molly Kidwell, Will Allgeier and Sarah Shook observed a live surgery at The Christ Hospital. The group observed a hysterectomy and later had the opportunity to operate the same robotic arms the surgeons used on the patient.

“The point of the arms is so that the surgeon is able to use them like they would use their own arms and hands but do so in a minimally-invasive fashion. We were able to use the arms to shift numbers and letter blocks and attempt to organize them,” senior Molly Kidwell said.

Students also took a tour of The Christ Hospital Nursing School and saw a demonstration of the simulation lab where nursing students have a chance to practice their nursing skills before trying them on real patients.

“I absolutely loved touring the nursing college, and getting to see the SIMS dummies was a remarkable experience,” Kidwell said. “These dummies can have asthma attacks, heart attacks, and even give birth!”

Fellow senior Will Allgeier agreed. “It looked really interesting and shows how much of a difference you can make in people’s lives,” Allgeier said. “All of the equipment and people involved proved to be something special.”

Both Kidwell and Allgeier said that the experience fueled their interest in health and medicine. “Observing the surgery made me realize just how passionate I am about the human body and about science in general,” Kidwell said. “I felt excited awaiting the surgery, and telling people about my experience made me smile... It just really validated my desire to pursue a career in pediatrics.”



Service Club cleans local cemetery
Posted November 10, 2014

On Saturday, Oct. 25, a group of 30 students spent the morning cleaning the Mt. Washington Cemetery. The group from the school’s Service Club has made this work of helping maintain the cemetery, which is just down the street from McNicholas in Mt. Washington, a regular service project.

“The Mt. Washington Cemetery Association is so grateful to have the assistance of a large group of student volunteers from McNicholas High School,” Julie Rimer, secretary and treasurer of the Cemetery Association. “Mr. Sam Roflow, Chair of the McNicholas Theology Department, and the students performed a wide variety of maintenance tasks at the Mt. Washington Cemetery--collecting fallen tree limbs, planting trees, weeding and removing litter. Since the formerly abandoned cemetery is maintained by a small group of trustees, the help was invaluable.”



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