Category Archives: NEWS

Timely news on school issues and events

36th Annual Black History Assembly Amazes and Inspires All

by Makayla Tabron ‘18 | Staff Writer

The Black History Month Assembly was inspiring and eventful, but was it relevant? After a series of delays that moved it into March, “It’s not even black history month,” students commented as they walked down the hallway. Guest speaker Dr. Marcia Chatelain jokingly called it “black history month part two.”

But after a program that included student performances, profiles of notable history-makers, and a riveting question and answer with a Georgetown professor, the answer was yes. An assembly on black history is still relevant, even if it’s not held during black history month.

But after a program that included student performances, profiles of notable history-makers, and a riveting question and answer with a Georgetown professor, the answer was clear: an assembly on black history is still relevant, even if it’s not held during black history month.

“It [black history month] is part of an effort to make sure that the past is not lost on us,” Dr. Chatelain said. The history of African Americans does not cease to be important just because it is no longer February.

Many students showed this to be true with their enthusiasm during the assembly. Both those who performed, and those who watched showed great passion in participating.

When the floor was open for students to ask questions of Dr. Chatelain, they weren’t shy. They offered questions about Ferguson, racism, black history month as a whole, and Dr. Chatelain’s personal experiences. “What ways can communities build trust after Ferguson?” a student asked. Another questioned, “Why do you think when we think about black history, we think about slavery and not other things?”

Both African Dance IV and Tap I performed, showing their passion in different and unique ways.

Dana McCoy ‘16 and Ceandria Mars ’15 sung a breathtaking song from the movie Dreamgirls, ‘And I Am Telling You,’ to show the influence African Americans have had on music over the years.

Another duo, Dana Hentz ‘17 and Jaia Gillette ‘17, performed their original, sensational spoken word piece, entitled ‘Scandal.’ The resounding applause of the students were enough to show how much they truly enjoyed this performance.

Eric Powell ‘15 rapped his clean version of a Kanye West song, to show his view on the history of African Americans.

With such amazing performances, it’s clear how much passion the students have. This passion had to have grown from the first Black History assembly here, to what we have now.

This year’s celebration was the 36th annual Black History Month assembly. Black history month as a whole and in school, has progressed a lot over the years.

The first recorded Black History Assembly at Bishop McNamara happened on February 17, 1980. It was undertaken by the Black Student Union, and the ceremony involved Children of the Father Interdenominational, Robert’s Revival, Gospel Choir of Christ United Methodist Church, and the Tabernacle Echoes. Holy Cross Brother Walter Kramar spoke, and the B.S.U. had readings.

Although it was only their first black history month assembly, black history itself didn’t go unnoticed. In the same year another article was written about the role of African American students here at school.

Although Black History month has progressed in many ways since the beginning, the student passion and participation has always been the same.

Poetry Club Speaks Their Truth

Amber Smith ‘15 | Staff Writer |


Roses are red, violets are blue, two snaps for poetry club speaking their truth. “Untitled,” a simple yet cool name created collectively by the members of the club, but what does the word really mean?

“Untitled” actually stands for the club being non-monolithic because it allows for different types of expressions and stories; leaving it without a title is to make sure that each individual can bring something different to the table.

Initiated last year by former student and president of the club Kosi Dunn ’13, who saw the different direction revisioned for the club. “He came to me and said he wanted to separate the spoken word part of poetry club from the Inkwell part of it, so I agreed,” said Mr. Darrell Holloman who has been the moderator for two years now and was a member when he attended McNamara in 1997-2000. Holloman also sees a big change in the direction that the club is going from when he last was a part of it himself.

The format of a typical club meeting is as follows: Tuesdays are writing workshops and Thursdays are open mic. On Tuesdays the writing workshops are a time when the individual can work on a writing exercise or free write. Then they share to the club and get feedback. On Thursdays members or non members are allowed to come and share their poetry. The club is always open to anyone, no formal membership is required to attend. The poetry club doesn’t just have talented students, but ones who are truly dedicated. In 2012, the current club went all the way to the semi-finals in the annual D.C. Metropolitan Poetry Youth competition “Louder than a Bomb,” also known as LTAB, finishing fourth place overall against more than 20 schools  in the D.C. Metropolitan area.

Eric Powell ’15, one of the club’s rising stars says “Don’t be afraid of whatever standards someone puts on poetry. Poetry is power and you can always refine it later.” Powell exclaims that anyone who sits in on one of the meetings will receive helpful tips and advice on how to write a good poem.

Other good tips on writing a poem with emotion and feeling are start with how you feel or maybe an idea that you had and work from there. Give yourself a prompt, the prompt can give you a sense of direction, states Mr. Darrell Holloman. Roses are red, violets are blue, “Untitled” welcomes you.

Stop the Fourth Lunch Crunch

Clarissa Corey-Bey ‘14 | Staff Writer 

I remember the long wait for the lunch bell my freshman year. Nearly every class, my growling stomach would scatter my concentration. I had the legendary Mr. O teaching me English fifth period, but it didn’t stop the seconds from dragging by until the blessed bell dismissed us to third lunch.

Until this school year, the longest wait a student would experience before they could eat again was third lunch, but with the implementation of a fourth lunch period starting at 12:54 PM, students are eating later than ever before. According to administration, the new four lunch system was supposed to alleviate long food lines and make the cafeteria less crowded.

The change is having unintended side effects. Many students and teachers aren’t used to the long wait for lunch. They are finding it more difficult to focus during class time. A study conducted by the Journal of Child Nutrition and Management in 2002 concluded that there is a direct correlation between how well students can focus and the last time they ate.

Some teachers are even allowing students to snack during classes stuck with the fourth lunch, to help improve focus and cope with the wait. They’ve realized it’s just too long to be waiting for lunch.

Another unintended consequence of fourth lunch is the decreased amount of time students have to eat. Lunch periods are now only 32 minutes long, and this does not provide much time for students to travel to the cafeteria and wait in line if they purchase food from the dining service. According to research conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in partnership the American Academy of Family Physicians, the average high school student needs about 24 minutes to socialize and consume their food. This leaves just eight minutes to go to lockers, get to the cafeteria and wait in lines.

Ultimately,I applaud our administrators for heeding the cries of the students who got caught in the crowded lunch lines. But this fourth lunch crunch is not the answer to the problem.

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.

Decorating with Acceptance

Seniors begin to receive letters from colleges

by Danielle Gibson ‘13 | Staff Writer

Early Action, Early Decision, Regular Decision. These are terms that seniors learn when they begin applying to colleges, sometimes as early as November 1st for the first early action deadline.

And while some have not heard back from their schools yet, seniors have begun decorating their lockers with admission letters. Walk down the hallway and in addition to the birthday wishes or prom invites, you’ll see papers posted as proof of their acceptances into colleges.

“I got my letter in December,” Alexis Alvarez ‘13 said, “It was like an early Christmas gift.”

According to Senior Guidance Counselor Ms. Clare Treichel, this tradition ‘just sort of happened.’ Two years ago one student was so excited about getting into college that he posted his acceptance letter on his locker. After that it just caught on. “I think it’s cute,” Ms. Treichel said. “It’s a good way to show accomplishment.”

Administrative Assistant Ms. Susanne Mendiola pointed out how it serves as a motivator for underclassmen as well. They walk down the senior hallway and see something to strive for. Especially this year, as this practice has heavily caught on.

In total there are four types of letters students can receive from colleges. The different letters can have four different effects on a student. These letters can defer them, wait list them, reject them or accept them. Deferrals are becoming more common and more stressful as they lengthen the waiting time. When asked why this was so, Ms. Treichel explained that applying early action to schools used to be unique. What she believes is happening is that other schools are beginning to catch on to the advantage of applying ‘Early Action’ as opposed to regular decision. Because of this, colleges cannot fill up all of their seats without waiting to see regular decision applicants, which results in numerous deferrals. Although being deferred is not the best feeling in the world, being waitlisted makes the college process harder because the actual acceptance or rejection cannot happen until after everyone puts in their final deposits to their first choice school. Rejection, although painful, proves to be a more merciful pain.

Photo by Emily Magruder '13
Photo by Emily Magruder ’13

Seniors were encouraged to apply early so that they would have an advantage, but the application process is not over yet. There are still decisions to be made, scholarships to apply for and futures to be planned. These letters serve only as keys for whichever vehicles seniors will ride to start a life.The idea of life outside of high school often comes with distracting influences. Hobbies, jobs, Beach Week, prom, and graduation all contribute to an ugly effect dubbed ‘senioritis’. That’s right, ‘senioritis’; the contagious mindset that seems to attack some point after January. When the idea of change comes up, seniors often slack off, saying they are too preoccupied with the future. However, the “I Am” themed Senior Retreat on February 8th aimed to refocus seniors on the present rather than the past or future.

While it is important to work toward college, seniors sometimes forget the obvious: they are still in high school, and there are still grades, projects and thesis papers due. “It’s stressful trying to meet requirements and graduate with honors,” Darian Brown ‘13 said, “Senioritis happens.”

This, however, does not seem to stop acceptance celebrations. When asked about the effects of senioritis, Lucas Gepert ‘13 replied, “I feel it big time, but I feel like since I’m going to trade school for two years, I feel like it doesn’t affect me as much.”

The tradition of seniors decorating their lockers with acceptance and scholarship letters is continued with the class of 2013. Some posted their first ones back in December, while some are still awaiting the news. Not only is this a good way to share great news with peers, but it also opens the door for a well deserved congratulations.

Want to hear more? Check out the Senior Acceptances video online here.

Hello, Farewell Faculty and Staff

Seven new teachers joined the faculty this past year, and (by current count) four veteran teachers will be leaving McNamara this year. Following are profiles of these individuals.  Reporting by Rachel Harris ’13, Staff Writer; Elise Nagy ’12, Editor; Gabrielle Taylor ’13, Staff Writer | Photos by Luciana Rodrigues ’12, Editor-in-Chief, except where noted 

Katie Skerpon

Director Mission & Ministry, Campus Minister, Religious Studies Department

Mrs. Parks-Skerpon, who has taught here for eight years, is leaving us. She will continue to teach as the Coordinator of Youth Ministry for grades 6-12 at her home parish of St. Pius X Church in Bowie, MD. Although she will not be teaching in a classroom, she will still be educating children in a youth group setting.

“It’s very bittersweet to leave McNamara,” she said, “I feel that I’ve accomplished a lot during my time here and grown a lot personally. It has been an unexpected joy to minister here at McNamara. I will miss being a part of the McNamara family on a daily basis, but I’m sure I’ll be back pretty regularly for special events and such. However, I am also very excited for the next stage in my life as well.”


Peggy Worthington

American Sign Language

(Rachel Harris/STAMPEDE)

As both an American Sign Language teacher and volleyball coach, Mrs. Peggy Worthington has dedicated her life to education for over forty years. She taught and coached volleyball at Gallaudet University for thirty years. After leaving Gallaudet, she taught at the University of Maryland for two years before coming to Bishop McNamara.

Ms. Worthington said that after leaving Gallaudent, she “was glad to have the opportunity to teach again.” During the eleven years she dedicated to McNamara, she recalls, “I love the kids here, I couldn’t have asked for a better place to teach.” Although Ms. Worthington speaks with pride about her many years of work as a teacher, her eyes light up and her smile widens as she speaks about her plans after retirement this year.

Ms. Worthington, a true free-spirit, will dedicate her time after retirement to completing her “bucket list.” While she has seen and experienced much of the world already, she looks forward to all of the new and exciting things her bucket list has in store for her. A few of the things on her list are: climbing Mount Fuji, going on an African safari (again), skydiving, and doing much volunteer work.

When she isn’t traveling the world, Ms. Worthington will look forward to spending time with her grandchildren who she says “are growing up way too fast.”

John Shryock

Photography, Theater Tech, IT and English Departments


Mr. John Shryock has been a familiar face around McNamara since 2004. Starting his teaching career here in 2007, Shryock taught a variety of classes including Technical Theater, Digital Photography 1, 2 and 3, Speech Communications, and Computer Applications. Shryock added a level two photography class and an AP photography course to the school’s curriculum. He is also the moderator of Tech Crew and Guitar Club and co-moderator of Media Club.

Shryock plans to move to Los Angeles to pursue full time photography. However he will always remember his “camaraderie with the tech crew,” he said with a smile while recapping his fondest memories at McNamara. Whether helping out with the plays or taking gorgeous student headshots, Shryock’s quirky smile and glasses will greatly be missed by the McNamara community.

Timothy Harden

Holy Cross Service Director, Religious Studies Department

(Luciana Rodrigues/STAMPEDE)

Holy Cross Service Director Mr. Timothy Harden has been at Bishop McNamara for the past two years. For both of those years he was a sophomore religion teacher. Unknown to many, Mr. Harden used to be a fly fishing guide in Colorado and now has a fly-fishing business on the side. After graduating from Gonzaga High School, he attended Regis University in Denver, Colorado, where he majored in Peace and Justice Studies.

“It’s been refreshing to see such a positive atmosphere among the student body and a friendliness between students,” he said. Mr. Harden feels thankful and blessed to have been a part of our community, but is ready to move back to the West Coast to his family and friends. He said, “My wife and I really miss California, and there are good opportunities for us there.”




Dr. Van Der Waag, Religious Studies

Received his BA in Government and Theology, a Masters in Theological Studies and then a PhD in Systematic Theology. Has taught religion for 13 years in high school and college and teaches religion classes here at Bishop McNamara. He has traveled to over fifteen countries.





Ms. Paola Apolinares, French

Began her career at age 15, teaching English to children, and has a degree in computers. Also speaks Spanish and Japanese, and feels that working at McNamara was part of God’s plan for her.





Tonya Bubolz, Religious Studies

B.A. in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, and is very happy to be back teaching at McNamara. She had previously taught here from 2001-2006. She came back, feeling that God was directing her path in this direction.




Michael Fox-Boyd, Mathematics

Double-majored in Mathematics and Computer Science and came to McNamara after Queen Anne School closed down last year. He feels like this school is a good fit for him, saying there is a spirit about the students that makes it enjoyable to teach at McNamara.




Charmayne Clark, Science and Social Studies

Is an undergraduate in a double major of Biology and Political science with a professional degree as a Juris Doctor. She specializes in teaching both the sciences and social studies. When she decided to teach, Bishop McNamara was her first choice.




Tosin Ogunsile, Science

“Mr. Tee,” as students call him, was born in Nigeria and lived there until he was 19 years old. He received a B.S. in Chemistry from City University of New York – Brooklyn College.  He describes his McNamara experience as “eye-opening, rewarding, challenging and exciting.” Mr. Tee loves classical and gospel music and has a good ear for rhythm. In his free time he enjoys playing tennis, golf, and basketball.

Ruth Long, Latin 

Ms. Long teaches Latin 1& 2. She has a degree in counseling and has worked in education for 30 years.  “The environment here for students, parents and faculty is supportive and stimulating, and family-like,” she said. Her son also attended McNamara as a student. “McNamara is totally AWESOME, in all capital letters,” she said.

As The Stampede finds out more, we will be sure to update readers over the summer or in the fall.  


Tuition Will Increase 6.6%

Results of added tuition will be seen in improvements in technology, additional staff members, and campus beautification

Megan Ardovini ‘13 | News Editor

School tuition will go up 6.6 percent, resulting in an added $750 and a total of $12,000 for the next school year. The decision, made by the Board of Directors and Finance Committee, accommodates the various needs of the school and takes into consideration the factors of our strategic initiatives, the economy, and how we compare to other schools in the area.

According to President and CEO Mr. Marco Clark, the school has increased tuition every year since the early 1990’s and individual increases have ranged from as low as 3 percent to as high as 11 percent. In most cases the increase is due to a rise in the cost of household expenses like electric, gas, water as well as the expenses of salaries and health coverage for the school’s employees.

“Our 6.6% increase is a little bigger increase than usual but necessary to accomplish several of the goals we’ve set forth and to meet the needs of rising costs outside of our school,” said Mr. Clark.

The letter sent home to the parents on February 14th addresses plans that are already in place to utilize the money in the coming year for various improvements to the school. Much attention will be given to the technology available throughout our campus, which will be evident through a fully-managed wireless system throughout campus, state-of-the-art presentation-capable projectors and thin clients, and Smart Boards in select classrooms.

Also for next year, there will be a new teacher in the Religion Department to bring down their class sizes to a better manageable size, and another Information Technology teacher to also train faculty to effectively use the new technology that will be available. Currently there are also plans for a new front sign at the entrance of the school, a new scoreboard for Tyoka Jackson Stadium, new weight room equipment, and what Mr. Clark calls a “facelift” in the Fine Arts theater.

John Rookard’13 said both he and his parents understand that it is sometimes necessary to increase the tuition in such a manner even if it can sometimes seem to be a nuisance. “I couldn’t really put a price on McNamara… you can’t really put a price on the atmosphere, the friendly teachers, and the nice people” he said.

Even with the increase, McNamara remains one of the most affordable Catholic High Schools in the area. Of the twenty Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of Washington, McNamara had the seventeenth most expensive tuition. Even with the increase, McNamara is only facing the possibility of becoming sixteenth once the last one of the competitor schools releases their information. “Compared to some other schools like DeMatha, which next year will be $13,900 plus book purchase, registration, and fees or St. John’s which is over $16,000 when all factors are considered, we feel that our tuition is still very affordable,” said Mr. Clark.