Tag Archives: Academics

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

From Johnnyshryock.com

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.  


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.

Yearbook Earns National Design Recognition

Caritas Vol. 43 cover featured in Jostens 2011 Gotcha Covered Look Book

Bishop McNamara’s yearbook, Caritas Vol. 43, has been recognized for national excellence and featured in the 2011 Gotcha Covered Look Book, Volume 9. The Caritas was one of only 400 yearbooks selected from over 3,000 submitted to a panel of judges that included nationally recognized scholastic journalism professionals and award-winning yearbook advisers.

The Caritas was created by editor-in-chief Simone Harris ’10 and a yearbook staff of 15, under the direction of Ms. Angela De Leonibus, yearbook adviser. The 43rd edition of the Caritas was titled “Exchange,” referencing the never-ending sharing of ideas, cultures, and personalities at BMHS.

“The yearbook program has improved dramatically over the past few years and this is the first time we have been featured in the Look Book. I’m incredibly proud of all of the hard work the staff put into the book and I can’t wait to see what we come up with next,” Ms. De Leonibus said.

Jostens’s Look Book, published annually, is a collection of spreads and photos from outstanding yearbooks and their creative themes, cool covers, dazzling designs, relevant coverage, storytelling copy and action-packed photography. The Gotcha Covered Look Book features the extraordinary work of yearbook staffs and advisers from around the world and is a popular resource for yearbook advisers and staffs seeking creative design and coverage ideas, trends and inspiration.

“The yearbooks selected for the Jostens 2011 Gotcha Covered Look Book reflect the sophistication and relevance of yearbook programs,” said Gary Lundgren, Jostens senior program manager/education.

Ms. De Leonibus and her staff received a copy of Jostens’s 2011 Gotcha Covered Look Book, as well as a certificate from Jostens to recognize their outstanding achievement.


Spring Break: Part 1 and Part 2

McNamara experiences two different spring breaks, one in March and one in April

Amanda Wilson ‘13
Staff Writer

This year McNamara had two different spring breaks, and McNamara students are wondering why.

According to Mr. Marco Clark, President and CEO, “The reason we have two springs breaks this year is because Easter is so late this year. If we waited to have our traditional spring break [the week of Easter] it meant that we would have come back to school on May 2nd which is very late. The seniors would only have a few weeks left, AP exams being on May 2nd, and for everyone else there would only be a month left of school.”

According to Mr. Shin, who heads the Calendar Committee at McNamara, “we decided to go with two breaks because of how late Easter was this year. If we took our normal break during Easter, we were concerned that it would negatively impact our students especially our seniors and those taking AP exams.”

The Calendar Committee plans the calendar and works out what and when things will happen at McNamara. Mr. Shin is in charge of this committee. Mr. Shin said through an email that, “there are no set committee members. I request feedback from the entire faculty/staff. We do ask for representatives from each major department in the school.”

Having another break in April is because of Easter. According to Mr. Clark, “We are still taking Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Monday off because this is one of the holiest and most sacred times of the year in the Church.”

The first break was in March and lasted from the 16th of March until the 3rd of April, with students returning on April 4th. The second break, which will be McNamara’s Easter break with it starting on the 21st of April and ending on the 25th which means that the students will return on April 26th.

Many students thought that having two spring breaks was a good idea. Timothy Drumtra ‘13 said that it was “Awesome!”

“To optimize academic performance at the end of the year, a late spring break would not have been an opportune time to be out of school. So with that in mind, we looked for a good week earlier in the spring to take spring break,” said Mr. Clark.

Photo Essay: Exam Week

Pictures of mid-term exam week, December 2009.
by Jacqueline Wills ’10, Photo Editor
English teacher, Mr. Ryan Meczkowski and subsitute, Mr. Gregory Vazzana anxiously prepare for the first midterms of the week on Tuesday morning by hoarding some Starbucks, rearranging the classroom, and locating the test materials.
Seniors, now without US History II teacher Sean Dougherty for questions and answers, rely on the knowledge within to complete their exams in first period Tuesday morning.
teacher, Mr. Michael Pozniak gleams and shakes with excitement when discussing a very serious subject during a review for his midterm exam on Monday December 14th.
English teacher Mr. Matthew Buckley '98 plays with a yo-yo in his hand, happy the first midterm day is over.

In the Hijab of a Muslim Woman

Alani Mason-Calloway '10 smiles in the hijab she wore for the project.
Alani Mason-Calloway '10 smiles in the hijab she wore for the project. (Photo by Jacqueline Wills '10, Photo Editor)

by Alexandra Vinci ’11
News Editor

Alani Mason-Calloway ’10 was walking down an aisle in the grocery store when a woman took one look at her, grabbed her daughter and ran away. Alani is 4′ 11″ and an AP student who made Summa Cum Laude; she does not usually come across as a scary person. “All I had to do to make you run away was put a scarf over my head,” Alani said.

Click for accompanying video
Click for accompanying video

Eight non-Muslim senior girls went into public wearing a hijab. A hijab is the veil that Muslim women choose to wear around their heads and necks to be conservative and show modesty. While learning a unit on the Middle East in Michael Pozniak’s Honors Global Studies class, the students began studying the hijab. As the class of seniors were in the midst of reading about this garment, Renata Malionek ’10 raised her hand and asked if they could get a first-hand experience by wearing a hijab to see what reactions they might receive. Immediately, the other girls showed enthusiasm about this prospective assignment. They were curious about the reactions they might get, and “if you were someone else how people treat you,” Renata Malionek ’10 said.

Mr. Pozniak began researching whether or not this project could be done respectfully. He got the opinion of both chemistry teacher Saiedeh Khalili and Gulrukhsor ‘Guli’ Nazirova, two Muslim women. (Guli attended McNamara with the class of ’07 for one year as a representative of her country, Tajikstan, through a program with the State Department.) Neither found the proposal inappropriate as long as the girls had an understanding of the culture. Even further, Mr. Pozniak contacted Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies with the same questions. He was again informed that it would not be considered disrespectful, once again, as long as they were being sensitive to the religion.

The class came up with suggestions to make sure the girls were responsive to the religion, such as keeping modesty in their entire dress. Once the girls were essentially “coached,” they had to get a permission slip signed and then were free to complete this activity for extra credit. They were required to write a short reflection on their experience and also give an informal presentation to their class about it.

“My philosophy about teaching is that if students really want to learn, my job is to provide that environment,” Mr. Pozniak said after commenting that the whole idea was student generated, and he was the “facilitator.”

Out of the two sections of the Honors Global Studies, eight of the girls participated in the project. The girls went out to ordinary places such as grocery stores, Walmart, gas stations, and the movies. A common reaction that they seemed to get was a lot of stares.

“It seemed like I was distracting to other people, except the little kids who were just staring,” Aley Villarreal ’10 said.

Lindy Ramsey ’10 was on her way to West Virginia over Thanksgiving break and took a pit stop at a familiar gas station when she went in wearing the hijab. She noted, “I’ve been there before and they’ve said ‘hi’ and everything but this time they didn’t say anything.”

From left, seniors Jacqueline Wills '10 and Aley Villareal '10 wear their hijabs outside of Walmart.  Aley was more traditional with her dress whereas Jacqueline wore a skirt, which goes againist Muslim beliefs about modesty.  They wore contrasting outfits to see if this would affect people’s reactions.
From left, seniors Jacqueline Wills '10 and Aley Villareal '10 wear their hijabs outside of Walmart. Aley was more traditional with her dress whereas Jacqueline wore a skirt, which goes againist Muslim beliefs about modesty. They wore contrasting outfits to see if this would affect people’s reactions.

As negative as some of thoseresponses were, some reactions were the opposite, being extremely courteous. “In terms of politeness, some people were overly polite, like if you were dressed in regular clothes they would not have been that polite,” said Aley, after her experience in Walmart. One man deliberately stepped out of Aley’s way in order to let her pass first.

Each girl that participated in the assignment came out with a better understanding of what Muslim women may go through. Alani commented on the lesson she got out of the experience and realized that, “no matter who you are, there are going to be prejudices.”

Mr. Pozniak reflected that collectively the students all had diverse settings and diverse experiences which led to diverse reactions. Either way, it was clear that people did react. Whether it was because of the hijab, a prejudice, or just because of curiosity is unknown. “Who knows whether it’s a level of fear or insecurity of those who are different from those who are mainstream,” Mr. Pozniak said.

All in all, this project was considered a great success, and Mr. Pozniak intends on continuing it in the years to come. He also expressed his ideas to build on the assignment as well by possibly having the students interview a Muslim woman about the hijab. Whatever may come in future years, it is obvious that this is due to a combined effort and a shared enthusiasm out of these seniors and their teacher.