Category Archives: School Life

Clubs, activities, school culture, policies, leadership

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.

Increased Security Measures Seen Around School

One of the school's three security guards, known by the student body as Anthony, lets students standing under the canopy know that it is safe to cross the parking lot at the crosswalk. Ensuring the safety of all students in the parking lot before and afterschool is one of the major jobs of our security guards. (Megan Ardovini '13/STAMPEDE)

Automatic gate and more security guards have stepped up school security in 2012

Megan Ardovini ‘13 | News Editor

Bishop McNamara is seeing increased attention given to the security of the school and the safety of its campus. There is a new automatic gate in the back parking lot, a greater amount of security guards on campus as compared to last year, and plans for setting up more cameras around the school.

According to Mr. Reginald Brady, the administrator who oversees school security, plans to increase our school safety have been talked about and in the works for a while. Although both the gate and increased security guards have occurred this school year, they have been considered for a while before. Recently, we have had some problems regarding car safety and thefts of personal property, primarily in the Mount Calvary and Union parking lots. Mr. Brady said this did not cause our increased security, but rather pushed us to “jump to it” faster.

“We reinforce security because it is an issue wherever you are,” Mr. Brady said. “Schools everywhere should be concerned about security.”

Each day there are two to three security guards on campus making rounds, securing the perimeters, patrolling all three parking lots, and reinforcing school polices. One of our newest security guards, Ms. Felicia Calloway, has been here since the beginning of the year. Usually Ms. Calloway works at apartment complexes, but she enjoys the change in atmosphere that McNamara gives her. She sees no real threat from the area surrounding McNamara, and does not anticipate any future incidents occurring now that greater security measures are in place.

“[Our] main concern is people who are not supposed to be here getting on campus,” said Mr. Brady. The new automatic security gate addresses this major concern because unlike the old gate, this new improvement only allows people already on the school property to get out, but not anyone from the outside get in.

For some students like Corey Snowden ’14, security never crosses their mind. Having transferred to McNamara in early November of this year from a public high school, Snowden says there are less security features here than were present around his old school, which he attributes to the fewer amount of incidents and threats our community has seen.

When asked whether he felt safe at his school, Ben Hartmann ’12 immediately said, “Of course. We are stepping up the security in the form of guards.” For Kevin McKeown ’12, security is “not a worry” mostly because of the presence of security guards on the campus as well as the new automatic gate in the rear of the school building. The automatic gate system is a good idea because “no unwanted guests can get in,” said Coye Gerald ’12. The overall consensus of students is that they do in fact feel safe here at McNamara.

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.

Club Spotlight: Project Earth

Selina Donahue ‘13 | Staff Writer

Project Earth was “Mrs. Gossart’s legacy before she left,” said Ms. Steeger, Biology teacher and club moderator. Just two years ago, Bishop McNamara went eco-friendly and started our very own recycling program. Unknown to many, this big change was caused by Bishop McNamara’s Project Earth. This “eco-club” is an organization formed to encourage environmental stewardship at McNamara.

This year Project Earth plans to have multiple activities, including a field trip to the zoo, the Smithsonian Museum, and a vegetarian restaurant. To help continue the use of recycling, Project Earth will be participating in the annual plastic bottle competition, to compete to see who can collect the most bottles for recycling. They also plan to help 4th Graders at St. Peter’s in Waldorf with an Environmental Education Project. Activities will include sampling the water from streams, inspecting aquatic insects, and many other biological activities.

The club made eco-friendly Christmas ornaments, which they sold two years ago at the BMHS Christmas Festival. The funds raised were donated to environmental causes such as the World Wildlife Fund. Last year, they donated money to the WWF to support endangered species. In addition, Project Earth hopes to have ACE, an organization that works to educate high school students on the state of the environment and how it can be improved, visit McNamara again. ACE last visited us two years ago and held a presentation in the Theatre for any interested students or teachers who wished to bring their class during that Period.

When asked about the recycling program, Ms. Steeger said that it still “needs improvements” and will be worked upon further by the club throughout the year. Many people have been using the recycling cans as trash cans, especially at lunch. Some classrooms also continue to have an absence of recycling cans. They hope to supply any more recycling cans needed and will supervise and encourage students and teachers to recycle daily.

To join or learn more about Project Earth, see Ms. Steeger in room 202 after school for more information.

Pep Rally 2011 (video)

OCT 21, 2011 — This year’s pep rally featured choreographed dances by each class, as well as an African dance by faculty and staff. The pep band, junior varsity and varsity cheerleaders and dance team also performed, and a ceremony honoring highly successful basketball alumni Taylor Brown ’11 and Marcus Thornton ’11, and current wrestler Alfred Bannister ’14.

Video by Danielle Gibson ’13 | The Stampede | Media Club

Music: “Maroon and Gold Fight Song” by BMHS Pep Band; “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO; “BMHS Alma Mater” sung by Austin Holmes and Alexandra Perry.