Category Archives: Academics

Teaching and learning in the classroom

Big Mac is Back

School year starts with significant changes to daily routines

By Wesley Bowers’17,  Editor-In-Chief

Bishop McNamara High School is back in action opening its doors on September 1st to start the 2016-2017 school year. With the new year, comes new changes that will significantly affect McNamara’s community.

There are new additions that will and have already affected the daily routine of the McNamara student. Changes include new start and end times, extended period between classes, new class courses, and a new look for the 2nd semester.

Dr. Robert Van der Waag, principal of Bishop McNamara High school said, “This proved to be a very productive summer. Mcnamara will see a lot of changes in the right direction.”

With the productive summer the renovation of Mount Calvary classrooms was amongst said changes. “ I would like to thank Mr. Keithline and the Facility team and also Jim Dillon  for all the technology work,” said Van der Waag.  

The new school day starts at 8:15am and ends at 3:05pm.

Victoria Patterson class of ‘17 said, “8:15 is a good change. Being late won’t be a frequent problem like last year.”

While many appreciate the new school start time some do not favor the new change due to the 15 minute shift from last year.

Some students had other opinions, such as senior Melayna Harley who said, “I don’t like the 8:15 start time [because] it pushes back the school end time.”

Van der Waag said, “the new start time comprehensively made an impact. The arrival time is less hectic and there’s less build up in the parking lot. Also with Mt. Calvary as a drop off spot, it helps distribute the traffic flow.”

In addition to the time change, students now have 10 minutes between classes, which is a four minute increase from years prior.

Many students say the 10 minutes is very helpful. The halls are not as crowded, and the pressure to run through the halls is not as high, giving an opportunity to have civil hallways and decreased tardiness to class.

However, some interviewees said that 10 minutes is too much because their bodies are acclimated to getting to class in five minutes. Now there is a wait when they arrive with the popular comment, “it will take sometime to adjust.”

There was a lot of time spent on the new ideas of how to accommodate the students and teachers to have a better smooth running  school year.

According to Van der Waag, the 10 minute period between classes was put in action because with the addition of Mt. Calvary students would have to go farther, also it was used to decrease stress levels in the halls rushing from one class to another. He said, “The teachers who may teach back to back classes have prep time, a time to decompress and prepare for their next class.”

Another significant change from last year is the hour delay every Thursday that served as meeting time for administration and teachers is no longer in the McNamara schedule.  

“I miss the hour delay,” said Patterson and Brandon Myrthil ‘17.

Van der Waag said the second semester the lunches will be held in the fine arts building.

The cafeteria is being totally renovated and modernized being equipped with new seating areas, food stations, lounging areas, and makerspaces for extra classrooms. This design will complete the Andy Mona ‘82 Student Center which will open its doors in the fall of 2017.  

Making the Connection: McNamara parent helps start alumni mentoring program

By Jalen Wright
Staff Writer

About 16 years ago Kathy Jones met a high school student that was looking to become the first in her family to go to college.

That student is now 32 with a loving family, a job where she makes six figures and a strong and long lasting relationship with her mentor.

“The mentor program can have an invaluable and positive impact on both the mentee and mentor’s lives,” said Kathy Jones, parent of Chris Jones ’17.

She played a significant role in bringing an alumni mentoring program to McNamara this fall, in which roughly 20 alumni will be paired with students in order to expose them to different professions.

Last winter, Kathy Jones approached then-Director of Alumni Relations Michael Jones(no relation) with her idea. He loved the idea of an alumni mentoring program, because he thought that it would be “a good way to get alumni back and engaged in our school community.”

Kathy Jones and Robert Nolte, current Director of Alumni Relations, will conclude alumni interviews next week. They expect the alumni to be paired with the students in late October.

Director of Student Activities Brian Brower said mentees will include seniors and juniors.

“Next year if there is a higher number of interested alumni then we can possibly expand the program to the entire school,” Brower said.

Jorden White ’17, who will be paired with a mentor, said the program will allow guidance for students to excel and thrive.

“I feel the alumni mentoring program will be beneficial to all the students attending McNamara…,” she said.

Nolte spent the majority of this summer gathering alumni interested in being a mentor.

“We have amazing alumni that have every interest in the world to provide their experience and their story,” Nolte said.

Kathy and her team are really anxious to get this process started. She has high expectations for the program this fall.

“(The goal of the program is to) enhance and enrich the lives of our Bishop McNamara students and allow them the ability to gain experiences that they might not usually have.”





iPads for the Future

Kayla Preston ‘17 | Staff Writer |

There is an iPad trend in the Bishop McNamara community, with students and teachers using it for educational purposes. This idea has been incorporated by teachers into their daily class lectures and discussions, but has it helped?

iPads come with bluetooth capability, which allows keyboards and other devices to be synced, including televisions, speakers, and even classroom projectors. While some are concerned that iPads will replace the need for books, magazines, and even newspapers, support for the iPad in school appears to be strong among students.

Many students point to benefits in speed, familiarity, and convenience, believing the possession of iPads will allow them to contact teachers regularly and bring fewer books home in the afternoon.

“The use of iPads will help benefit us because we’d need less books, carry less weight, and be able to email teachers homework assignments and to ask them anything when needed,” Jaylin Bolden ‘17 said.

Some students believe the device will help prepare students for a changing world. Dana Hentz ‘17 said, “iPads will be good for the future because as the world is becoming more technologically advanced, so should the school.”

Other students believe incorporating iPads will speed things up in the Bishop McNamara community. “The computers we have in classrooms and in the library are slow and having your own iPad will help get work done faster,” said Temesghen Tesfay ‘17.

The teachers’ iPads are currently provided and maintained by the school and have beneficial apps already downloaded on them which most teachers enjoy and use.

“They are a useful tool in the classroom, but should be used judicially just as any other tools,” said Ms. Jan Steeger, a science teacher at Bishop McNamara

Ms. Ashley Graham, an  IT teacher, said “I love them and feel they are a great asset to the class. I like the visual material, especially for graphing and it helps my students understand better.”

Within McNamara, the addition of iPads may not just benefit students but also help teachers in their daily class routines. Technology itself has arguably benefited mankind greatly, and if this is true, iPads aren’t any different.

The Seniors Cry, “Uncle!”

A senior opines on the senior homework load

Katherine Fry ‘12 | Staff Writer

Seniors deal with the stress of senior year.

Jon and Kate’s task of raising eight kids- easy! Tom Cruise’s job in Mission Impossible- a trifle! All of Indiana Jones’ adventures- child’s play! That is, when compared to the task facing all BMHS Seniors: homework, Senior Service Projects, co-curriculars, college applications, and everyday life! Let’s face it, homework takes time if done well. Co-curriculars take some more. College applications by their very nature involve going to pains to impress someone. And everyday life — who can really predict that? Therefore, seniors must get less homework.

The interminable application process takes up time. We have to choose between digging our way out from Homework Mountain or preparing for their SAT. Then comes the application. Now is the time that mistakes start emerging in the essay and brag list; not merely checking the “M” box when your name is Princess and all other official documents say “F.” Here, kids, as guidance counselor Clare Treichel says, “skip stuff.” Students deserve the time they need to do their work.

For activities, talk to Richard Burnett ‘12, senior football player. “Some days, I don’t get home until eight o’clock,” he said. This has occasionally led to an entire night spent on homework, followed by a one-hour nap before heading right back out to school. Richard says that nights like those are inevitable, “it’s going to happen.”

Then there is the Senior Service Project. Kevin McKeown ‘12 is finishing the paperwork now, and says it is, “like homework on top of homework.” Needless to say, in this predicament, he finds less homework favorable. The story of Courtney Moore ‘12 springs to mind. Only minutely procrastinating, and already working for a while, she stayed very late to finish her work. Sadly, she fell asleep, slept past eight, and had to wait until someone could bring her to school. How can this continue on?

School Finishes Strategic Plan for 2011-2016

Megan Ardovini ‘13|News Editor

Bishop McNamara has released their new strategic plan for the 2011-2016 school years. With its completion, it encompasses our mission, our philosophy, our history, and our goals for the future advancement of the school.

A strategic plan simply outlines all the goals our school has for the

Bishop McNamara releases it's strategic plan

next five years as well as determines the overall direction in which we want to go. It is common for schools, businesses, and organizations to develop a plan for success periodically as their needs and direction may change. According to President and CEO Mr. Marco Clark, McNamara has not updated their strategic plan since the early 90’s, and with new challenges facing Catholic secondary education and new opportunities present it was time for an update.

This process began in the 2009-2010 school year, and a system of data collecting was conducted over the span of the last two years. Students, parents, graduates, parents of alum, faculty, and staff were all involved in this stage.There were listening sessions where information and feedback was collected from parents and alumni. The faculty and staff participated in full-day workshops in which they evaluated some of the data collected from the school community and shared feedback of their own.

A steering committee, including the president, principal, other administrators, and select members of the faculty and board of directors, was then formed to review this data and do an in-depth analysis of the school’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It was at this point that the four major themes of the strategic plan evolved. The four areas of focus were Charism and Culture; Academic Excellence for all Students by Educating Hearts and Minds; Infrastructure, Information Technology, Facility Management and Planning; and finally Institutional Advancement. Members of the faculty, staff, Board of Directors, and some parents served on the four committees responsible for drafting the goals that went along with each theme.

Kathy Newman, mother of Shane Kelly ‘12 and Justin Kelly ’13, was a parent who served on the committee regarding the theme of Academic Excellence for all Students by Educating Hearts and Minds. Her experience with the process was that it was an open-minded atmosphere and the different views were all heard. “[It was] a really good thing to have some parental view interjected,” Newman said, “I’m proud to be associated with this result.”

While most schools develop a strategic plan as a last resort or a life-raft when things go wrong, this is not the case with McNamara. Mr. Clark said the school’s goal for this process was to be “bold” and “visionary.” The new strategic plan can be found on the school website in the “About Us” section.

Oh, the Humanity!: Letter From Mr. McClain

Letter from Justin McClain ’01 | Spanish and Religion Teacher

As I type this, using a word processing system (which would have been inconceivable just a few decades ago), I remain impressed by the numerous technological innovations that have taken place over the last few decades. This technology has made wondrous improvements within modern society, including medicine, communication, and transportation, among others. Nevertheless, more impressive is the extent of good that humanity is capable of, either with or without the presence of technology. Mozart didn’t have an iPhone application to help refine his exceptionally complex music. Shakespeare didn’t have a PC to write Romeo and Juliet. Harriet Tubman didn’t use Facebook to organize the Underground Railroad during the strife of slavery. In order for a society to truly prosper, critical thought, along with the more important embrace of wholesome ethical principles, must always be in place. Humanity should remain in charge of technology, not technology in charge of humanity.

As a Religion and Spanish teacher, I teach within the realm of the humanities (academic fields encompassing such classical studies as theology, literature, language arts, philosophy, history, art, music, and other areas). The humanities study the full breadth of the human experience. As you high school students prepare to enter the ‘world’ upon graduation, think about how you can use the wealth of knowledge that you’ve acquired within the humanities, as well as within the likewise crucial fields of mathematics and science (including technology), to improve the world. With the Catholic principles that you’ve received here at McNamara, you can contribute to humanity positively, always in the hope of bringing greater glory to the Lord. As we reflect on the technological advancements that will continue to come in the 21st century, we would do well to remember the words of musician Stevie Wonder: “We can’t lose with God on our side.”

Stampede wins 2011 Marylander Award

Carmela Rourke '11, last year's photo editor, and Luciana Rodrigues '12, currently an Editor-in-Chief, work together editing photos in last year's journalism class.

The Stampede has won the 2011 Marylander Award, given by the Maryland/District of Columbia Scholastic Press Association, in recognition of its work last year.  This award is given to the best overall high school newspaper in each of its divisions.

“The award makes me “proud of the work that the entire staff put into the newspaper,” said one of last year’s editors-in-chief, Alexandra Vinci ’11.

Alexis Jenkins ’11, another editor-in-chief and features editor, said, “I’m really excited that The Stampede won the award. The staff worked really hard last year and experimented with a lot of projects so I’m glad that it paid off.”

The Stampede received its highest marks in design, photography/art, and opinion and feature writing.  One judge wrote that The Stampede is “a solid paper with strong writing and a sleek design.”

The staff last year was composed of 28 students, advised by English teacher Charles Shryock IV. Journalism students of all levels meet during the same class period, which is taught by Mr. Shryock and lead in part by the editors-in-chief.  Contributions to the newspaper and website were also made by some students in the after-school Media Club.

Many alumni of The Stampede now write for or edit publications in college, including Iona College, Elon College, Chatham University, Towson University and The University of Maryland, College Park.

“Working on the newspaper taught me how to write journalistically, how to conduct interviews, and how to write stories under time constraints,” Jenkins said. “The Stampede also provided me with an insight into the ethics a journalist is held to and the responsibilities journalists have to their readers.”
Work by this year’s staff can be viewed on its website, read in the print edition at school, or read online through its digital bookshelf.

College Professors who also Teach at BMHS

Ms. Treichel and Dr. Van der Waag tell what makes high school so irresistible and college so indispensable.

Katherine Fry ‘12 | Staff Writer

Ah, high school, a goulash of diverse personalities, spiced generously with the seasoning of laughter and tears. Who would ever want to leave? Certainly not our beloved Ms. Treichel and newcomer Dr. Van der Waag. College professors they may be, but high school still holds an undeniable draw for them.

“I love the kids, the energy. They keep me young,” Ms. Clare Treichel says, “If I had to choose one level only, it would be high school. ” Casually dressed in a burgundy polo and matching cardigan, some simple khaki pants, and the sandals that have become one of her trademarks, Ms. Clare Treichel says she began her teaching career in high school, although college called to her as well. And, undoubtedly aided by her time at Prince George’s Community College, she has acquired so much information about her higher-level love that, as high school senior Marina Kuykendall says, “She just wants to help us get into college.” Some more of her wisdom: college professors and students are more equal, and graduate students are more mature than other students.

On the college students, Dr. Van der Waag, who comes to us from Georgetown University, says, “You’re making your own choices about what type of adult you want to be in college.” He also believes that hopeful college-attendees should take their admissions essays and interviews seriously, and that they should actually do well in college, not just scrape by with C’s.

Despite his experiences in higher learning, he lauds the lower level, saying, “High school teachers are a really dedicated group.” They also see students grow up, something Dr. Van der Waag likes to see. But, most importantly, he believes that the school’s mission is alive and well in the day-to-day.