|Weekly Newsletter Archive|
Students, teachers serve in Appalachia
Posted October 23, 2014
For the 33rd consecutive year, McNicholas High School seniors were given the opportunity to participate in the annual Appalachia Service Learning Retreat, taking their passion for service outside of the local bounds and into the rural communities of Lewis County, Kentucky and Grainger County, Tennessee.
Accompanied by six members of the McNicholas faculty, the students worked in cooperation with the Glenmary Home Missioners, a Catholic society of priests and brothers that works to establish a Catholic presence across rural America.
During their six-day venture, students were encouraged to embrace the ideology of simple living, sleeping in modest bunkrooms, eating basic meals, and limiting themselves to only two showers, so as to be in solidarity with those in poverty. Though the transition was a difficult one for many, students and chaperones alike agreed that the concept of simplicity was instrumental in bringing the community closer as a whole.
“I like being in a space where I can relate to my students as a co-retreatant, even though I’m a chaperone,” Social Studies teacher Michelle Semancik said. “My days and experiences are pretty much the same as [the students’], so I get to interact with [them] on a similar level.”
Twenty-two of the students travelled to the Glenmary Farm, a Catholic mission that serves the community of Lewis County, Kentucky. With a population of about 14,000, Lewis County ranks as one of the lowest earning regions in America, with 28.5% of residents living at or below the national poverty line. During their time on “The Farm,” students split their time between service and reflection, working in food pantries and on construction sites by day, and often seeking downtime at the campfire by night.
For students like senior Jordan Lau, the week spent away from home served not only as a time for service, but as a transformative personal experience.
“Going on Appalachia marked my transition from childhood to adulthood, because it increased my confidence and comfort with my peers, my future, and myself,” Lau said. “And I can see this exact change for some of those that went on the retreat.”
Due to an increase in student interest, McNicholas Campus Ministry made the decision to split the group of 36 into two. Luckily, as of Jan. 2014, Glenmary’s mission has expanded to Grainger County, Tennessee, home to Joppa Mountain. Fourteen students were sent here, to the Glenmary station, affectionately known to retreatants as ‘Toppa Joppa’, where the poverty rates average around 20%.
For senior Sydney Baker, it was the relationships forged upon the mountain that were the most memorable.
“The connections I made with my peers, teachers, and the people of Joppa Mountain are ones that I hope to continue,” Baker said. “I will always cherish the memories I made,”
The Glenmary Farm is set to close in December, but the McNicholas community plans to continue its involvement with the Glenmary Home Missioners. Though future groups will likely be sent to Joppa Mountain, students have already begun planning fundraisers and doing what they can to see The Farm in Lewis County re-open in the future.
The return to the everyday life for these McNicholas seniors means a return to busy schedules, after-school jobs, and college-searching. However, these retreatants are determined to make their memories last, whether it’s through sharing their experience with others, or serving their community back home in Cincinnati.
“I encourage everyone to take advantage of a retreat such as this, and even more to perform service,” Lau added. “Nothing is more rewarding.”
Over the summer vacation, 22 local Catholics, including McNicholas theology teacher Ms. Teresa Davis, were given the opportunity to take part in an once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage, trading in the familiar comforts of a Cincinnati summer for the vibrant culture and desert sands of the Holy Land.
The journey was in conjunction with HOPE (Holy Land Outreach Promoting Education) Voices, a local chapter of the Children’s Peace Program, which works to peacefully bridge the gap that divides schools in the United States and schools of the Middle East’s Latin Patriarchate. Recently, members have taken part in a twinning project that pairs local educators with Holy Land teachers, allowing each to share ideas and develop continuing connections between schools, despite the geographical and cultural divides.
As she neared the end of her first year of teaching at McNicholas High School, Davis felt that her prayers for adventure had been answered when she found out about HOPE’s upcoming pilgrimage. Though she had never before set foot on foreign soil, Davis was eager to visit the lands of the Christian history and learn from the teachers and students in Holy Land classrooms.
“I was very nervous, but excited,” Davis said of her first international voyage. “Though I was probably more nervous about meeting the students than I was about travelling!”
After a lengthy flight to the prosperous city of Dubai, the pilgrims were off to the history-rich kingdom of Jordan, where they would observe first-hand how children of very different religions have learned to get along in the classroom setting within what is thought to be one of the world’s most unstable regions.
With political and religious differences igniting violence throughout the Middle East, refugees have been flocking to more peaceful countries such as Jordan, creating a dynamic melting pot of different faiths and cultures.
According to The New York Times, the civil crisis in Syria, recently labeled “the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era” by the United Nations, has driven more than 3 million Syrians out of their homeland, at least 608,000 of whom have fled to Jordan. Though Jordan offers a peaceful alternative from the war-torn landscape of Syria, the country is struggling to find the funds and resources to support hundreds of thousands of starving refugees. Despite this, Jordan continues to welcome an ever-increasing number of Syrians into their land, a fact that made Davis realize the generosity and resilience of the country’s people.
On the Jordanian summit of Mt. Nebo, where Moses is said to have been granted the first view of the Promised Land, that Davis says she had an epiphany of her own. “I learned to have sympathy and empathy for the people of Jordan,” she said. “Financially, they’re broke, and yet they have still opened up to the refugees.”
Recent events considered, the journey was well-timed. On June 12, as the HOPE pilgrims departed Palestine for Galilee, three Israeli teenagers were abducted and later killed by enemy militants, re-igniting tensions and launching the Israel-Gaza conflict back into global headlines. In the wake of rocket fire and fallen shells, the violence has since taken its toll. Though exact figures are still disputed, it is estimated that around 1,800 Palestinians, mostly civilians, according to the UN, have died as a result of recent Israeli operations.
During the pilgrims’ journey, however, Davis said that there were virtually no signs that conflict was on the horizon. At various holy sites in the Middle East, armed guards and military presence can be expected as measures to keep travelers and citizens out of harm’s way.
After renewing their baptismal vows and soaking in the sights and history of the Jordan River, it was on to the Israeli capital of Jerusalem, where the pilgrims were greeted with a busy schedule that led them to some of the most revered holy sites in the world. Here, they attended Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, carried crosses through the city streets, visited the Tomb of Lazarus, and prayed at the famed Western Wall, where Davis recalls one of her most memorable experiences – the sight of an elderly woman praying aloud.
“She was blowing kisses to the wall, repeating ‘I love you, I love you, Adoni. I blow kisses.’” Davis said. “And I realized that I want to be that woman years from now, in my eighties, still having that kind of love for God.”
Archbishop McNicholas High School is pleased to announce that seniors Micah Diemler, Andrew Parra, and Kyle Morrisroe have been named Commended Students in the 2015 National Merit Scholarship Program.
About 34,000 Commended Students throughout the nation are being recognized for their exceptional academic promise. Although they will not continue in the 2015 competition for the National Merit Scholarship awards, Commended Students placed among the top five percent of more than 1.5 million students who entered the 2015 competition by taking the 2013 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT).
“By being named Commended Students, Micah, Andrew, and Kyle have demonstrated outstanding potential for academic success,” McNicholas Principal Patty Beckert said. “We hope this recognition will help broaden their educational opportunities and encourage them as they continue their pursuit of academic excellence.”
Posted October 8, 2014; Written by Gabrielle Quesnell '14
Senior Francy Shumrick has been selected as the student representative for the Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste Policy Committee.
After becoming aware of this opportunity, Science Department Chair Regina Goines and science teacher Lauren Wulker suggested to Shumrick that she apply because of her interest in biology and global sustainability. In order to earn the position, Shumrick was required to submit an online application and advance through an interview process.
Goines hopes that Shumrick’s involvement will further McNicholas’ relationship with the committee. “Our work with the folks at Solid Waste and Recycling Committee has been limited in the past. They do provide services for schools, which, going forward, we hope to take advantage of.”
Shumrick was trained in July, and attended her first meeting on Sept. 18. During the meeting, the committee discussed alternative methods of waste disposal and the benefits and drawbacks of each, as well as marketing strategies that could be employed to improve the effectiveness of the recycling program in Hamilton.
As a student representative, Shumrick is not permitted to vote, but her input is still valued and expected. Shumrick is the first student to ever serve on the committee. “They were very helpful and inclusive of me, even though I’m a student representative and can’t vote on anything,” Shumrick said.
Through her position, Shumrick found out about the possibility of applying for a grant that would improve McNicholas High School’s recycling program. McNicholas will know in February if they will receive the grant.
By serving as a student representative on the committee, Shumrick hopes to gain experience and make connections that will further her career down the road.
“It’s given me insight into infrastructure and policy in Cincinnati and how they can and can’t be changed,” Shumrick said.
From March 6-8, the Fine Arts Department will be hosting a field trip to Chicago, Illinois. The trip will feature different disciplines of the arts that appeal to the various classes that will be attending, including Photography, Drawing and Painting, Theatre, and Band.
The students will be accompanied by performing arts teacher Teresa De Zarn, art teacher Willy Corbett, percussion and band director Keith Nance, and ceramics and architecture teacher Melissa Gaskins.
The itinerary for the weekend includes trips to the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Blue Man Group, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Willis Tower Skydeck. Students will also have the opportunity to attend a theatre workshop in conjunction with The Second City, a world-renowned improvisational comedy group.
Students enrolled in a Fine or Performing Arts class will be given the first open spots, but students not currently enrolled in an arts course at McNicholas are welcome to register. Registration and an initial deposit of $150 are due October 15 in order to secure a spot. More information can be found on the trip itinerary, which has been made available to students on Schoology. Questions can also be directed to Gaskins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted September 22, 2014
On Thursday, Sept. 18, McNicholas High School inducted 22 seniors into the Science National Honor Society. Seniors who have a non-weighted grade point average of 87 percent, non-weighted average in science courses of 92 percent, have taken or are taking four years of science including biology, chemistry, physics, and at least one advanced placement science course, and have pursued science outside the classroom in some way (taking a science fair project beyond the local level, volunteering in a science or health related field, participating in Eco Club, etc.) are eligible for induction. This year’s class includes:
The purpose of the Science National Honor Society is to encourage participation in and recognition of scientific and intellectual thought, to advance the students’ knowledge of classical and modern science, to communicate with the scientific community, to aid the civic community with its comprehension of science, and to encourage students to participate in community service and, in turn, encourage a dedication to the pursuit of scientific knowledge that benefits mankind. Members are expected to help with science fair panels and science fair judging at McNicholas and other schools.
Posted September 9, 2014
The Science Department has been selected for the 26th consecutive year to receive the Governor's Thomas Edison Award for Excellence in STEM Education and Student Research. STEM Education embraces science, technology, engineering, and math in an effort to prepare students to be successful in the 21st century work environment. Current science teachers Mrs. Regina Goines, Ms. Debbie Bonekamp, Ms. Lauren Wulker, Mr. Jon Spurlock, and Mr. John Chadwell received this award for their work during the 2013-14 academic year.
Goines, who is also the department chair, said that they consistently receive the award because the department strives to offer students many opportunities to practice science, technology, engineering, and math outside the classroom as well as in their academic classes.
"The opportunities that our students take advantage of are amazing. We have an established science fair for our biology students, Science National Honor Society, Robotics Club, camps, and extra science experiences that qualify us for the award," Goines said. "We work really hard to expose our students to outside science opportunities, we help them navigate the application process, and they come back excited and turned on to the principles of STEM," Goines said.
The McNicholas Science curriculum includes environmental science, biology, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, and physics, with Advanced Placement classes available in biology and physics. McNicholas alumni volunteer annually as mentors to current students as they consider colleges, majors, and future careers relating to science or medicine.
During a pep rally on Aug. 28, McNicholas students cheered on their classmates in the first ever Coney Chomp Challenge for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
After the Archdiocese asked Catholics to not participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge due to a conflict with Catholic teaching and some of the ALS Association’s research funding, McNick students asked what they could do to help the cause without going against the doctrine. Through the creativity and concern of the students, the new challenge was created.
“Our students are caring and always thinking of others, and so they kept coming up to us asking what they could do,” Director of Communications and Marketing Shannon Kapp said.
Kapp asked the student body for suggestions and received ideas including a hot dog eating contest and a penny voting system. These ideas, along with others, were combined with Skyline Chili’s sponsorship of the Crosstown Showdown to create the Coney Chomp Challenge.
Before representatives from each class devoured their conies, Director of Alumni Relations and Special Events Shawn Young introduced McNick alumnus Chris Brockman’81 to the students so they could see someone who would be affected first-hand by their involvement.
“When you know someone with ALS and you realize what a terrible disease it is, it makes you grateful for anything you can do to raise awareness,” Young said.
Half of the money raised from voting went to Team Gleason, an organization started by Steve Gleason, a former player for the New Orleans Saints. Team Gleason is dedicated to providing individuals with help from technology and raising awareness so that a cure can be found. The other half went to Rocket Relief, an initiative started to give relief to disaster victims.
To learn more about Brockman and his fight, visit his blog.
Posted September 10, 2014
McNicholas High School is pleased to announce that senior Aaron Diemler has been named a National Merit Scholarship Program Semifinalist. Diemler is among the 16,000 semifinalists announced Wednesday, Sept. 10 by officials at the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Diemler joins these academically talented high school seniors with the opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth about $33 million that will be offered next spring.
Diemler has been involved with the Improv Club, Mu Alpha Theta, and the Spanish National Honor Society while being on honor roll and dean’s list at McNicholas. He is undecided about a college and a major but feels that this honor gives him more possibilities.
“Being honored as a National Merit Semifinalist definitely affects my college plans,” Diemler said. “It makes many colleges seem much more attainable. The honor has made my options much more open than they previously were.”
On Wednesday, Sept. 10, the first Board of Limited Jurisdiction at Archbishop McNicholas High School will meet. This board is a result of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s effort to align the structure and function of boards at each of its high schools. The Board of Limited Jurisdiction replaces the School Advisory Board at McNicholas.
Fifteen members from unique and diverse backgrounds constitute the McNicholas Board. The members bring a great deal of professional experience and organizational management skills to their service to McNicholas as well as years of involvement serving on other boards. The board is comprised of a mixture of alumni, current parents, and past parents, and all members share a desire for the school to grow and succeed. Board Chairman John Jorden will lead the group.
“We are embarking on a new mission as a board to help McNicholas on its quest for continued excellence,” Jorden said. “Our newly-appointed board members are extraordinarily well-qualified, and they are committed to offering their talents and resources to help the school in every way possible.”
Board members are:
|Chris Ayers ’89
Kerry Byrne ’83
Mike Clark ’84
Jene Galvin ’61
John Jorden, Chair
Sr. Judi Keehnen ’59, emeritus
The McNicholas Board will continue using McNick 360, the school’s strategic plan, as a guide for moving forward. McNick 360, crafted in 2013 under the direction of a 10-member steering committee as well as eight working
committees, sets the strategic priorities for McNicholas High School for the next five years and was approved by Archbishop Dennis Schnurr.
“McNick is poised for future growth, and we are eager to provide guidance to help achieve the initiatives outlined in our strategic plan, McNick 360,” Jorden said.
On Tuesday, Sept. 9, McNicholas High School inducted fourteen seniors into the math honor society, Mu Alpha Theta. Seniors who have completed 3 years of honors math with an un-weighted math grade point average of 90 percent and weighted overall grade point average of 87 percent are eligible for membership in Mu Alpha Theta. Members tutor students in mathematics throughout the school year and participate in statewide math competitions. This year’s class includes:
Trevor LyndKyle Morrisroe
Posted August 29, 2014; Written by Nick Keri '15
As the fall sports season gets underway, McNicholas is unveiling the newly completed phases of Project Paradise, the ongoing effort to renovate the athletic facilities at McNicholas High School.
The changes include the addition of new ticket booths to Penn Station Stadium, the repaving of both the Paradise parking lot and the upper pavilion, and the addition of fencing around the practice and game fields. New landscaping around the area also adds an appealing touch, Athletic Director Rob Heise said.
“We’re hoping these changes will give the teams, not just football, a good vibe about playing at home,” Heise said. “Hopefully, it’ll give them more pride about their home field.”
Senior football player Will Allgeier also thinks it will give the players and the students a renewed sense of pride.
“It all adds a lot to an already beautiful facility,” Allgeier said. “I hope we get what we got the past couple years, and that is incredible school pride. When we’re at the Penn, there better be people on the fence to watch, because it’ll be that packed in the bleachers.”
Heise also spoke on the long-speculated and questioned idea of adding lights to Paradise. “Right now, there’s nothing definitive,” Heise said. “We think we have the donors in place, but we have to go through a lot of zoning with the city and hearings. No promises, but we think we could have them for next season.”
Posted August 22, 1014
On Friday, August 22, McNicholas High School continued the tradition of welcoming its freshman class with bagpipes and applause.
For the past 12 years, social studies teacher Frank Lowden has led the newest members of the Rocket student body into the first all-school Mass of the year playing the bagpipes. This year’s class of 172 freshmen followed him as the rest of the student body welcomed the Class of 2018 with applause.
Posted August 21, 2014
The Rocket Marching Band is preparing its 2014 marching show entitled, I Can Hear Music-The Beach Boys. Featured songs in the program include California Girls, In My Room, Surfin' Safari, Be True To Your School, and Good Vibrations with featured solo performances by senior Steven Sinclair, senior James Harrington, junior Jackson Durm, and junior Kyle Timmons.
As this year's field commander, Sinclair leads the band along with two other seniors, James Harrington and William Klunk. The show is arranged and directed by Keith Nance with alumni John Espy, Lauren Backus, Nathan Semancik, and Michael Voet as well as Ben Bacus assisting.
The band will perform at all home and selected away games and appear at competitions in Bellevue, Goshen, LaSalle, Western Brown, and in the MSBA Championships. In 2013, the Rocket band was a Mid-States (OH, KY, IN) 4th place Class A finalist out of 26 bands.
Congratulations to Ty DeBonis who has been nominated for the JJHuddle / Bucknuts Ohio High School Boys Golf Player of the Week. DeBonis shot a 2-over par 73 to win medalist honors at the 10-team Maderia Invitational. These weekly awards are decided by fan vote, so please click here to vote for DeBonis. Voting is live and will conclude at noon on Friday, Aug. 22. You may vote as often as you like. Winners will receive personalized awards.
Posted August 12, 2014
McNicholas is pleased to announce the creation of the Dolores C. Sawyer Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship is in memory of Dolores C. Sawyer, grandmother of McNicholas students Robert and Ryan Sawyer, and will be awarded each year based on financial need and a desire for a Catholic education. The scholarship is to celebrate Dolores’ deep Catholic faith and recognize her inability to achieve a higher education due to financial constraints.
“We are thankful and humbled by our ability to give back to the McNick family,” the Sawyer family stated when establishing the scholarship. “Our mom and dad made great sacrifices to ensure the family received a Catholic education. Our mom felt especially strong about the importance of Catholic education and the development of faith. She reminded us often it would be our faith that would sustain us in time of need and wanted us to have that foundation. We want to honor her legacy and help others pursue their Catholic education and faith.”
The scholarship provides $4,000 each year and is matched by McNicholas in the amount of $3,500 each year. The combined amount of $7,500 is available each year the student attends McNicholas. The scholarship is open to new students and transfer students. In addition to demonstrating financial need, the applicant must also provide a personal essay on the benefits of a Catholic education.
Posted August 12, 2014
Congratulations to sophomore softball payer Christiane Hazzard and sophomore volleyball player Gracie Rudolph who received $1000 each for their teams in the She Plays, She Wins essay and video contest sponsored by Total Quality Logistics and honorary spokeswoman and Olympian Heather Mitts.
The goal of the contest was to help promote empowerment through women’s sports. Click here to read more.
Posted August 12, 2014
Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, the Religion Department at McNicholas will be known as the Theology Department. This change will occur at the same time of the implementation of the new Bishop’s Framework throughout the Archdiocese.
According to Theology Department Chair Sam Roflow, the reason for this change is that many students associate “religion" courses with grade school, and that can lead them into trouble at McNicholas. “Our Theology courses are academically challenging, and students can do poorly just like in any other course…We want our students to know up front that our courses are academically challenging, and require work—just like all their other classes,” Roflow said.
The new Bishop's Framework Theology courses will be implemented over the next two school years. “Fortunately for us, the curriculum at Archbishop McNicholas High School has always stressed a solid Catholic foundation, so our actual Theology courses will stay relatively intact,” Roflow said.
The Theology Department has purchased new textbooks for four of the courses; the rest will be purchased for next school year. “This is an expensive proposition because we get no state funds to pay for anything in Theology classrooms, [but] we at Archbishop McNicholas High School are certainly ready to support the new changes and the challenges that come with it,” Roflow said.
The courses is as follows:
- The Revelation of Jesus Christ in Scriptures (Old Testament)
- The Mission of Jesus Christ (Christology)
- Jesus Christ's Mission Continues in the Church (Church History)
- Life in Jesus Christ (Catholic Morality)
- Sacraments as Privileged Encounters with Jesus Christ (Sacraments)
- Responding to the Call of Jesus Christ (Vocations)
- Living as a Disciple of Jesus Christ in Society (Social Justice)
- Interreligious and Ecumenical Issues (World Religions)