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The latest news from Bishop O'Connell High School

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    Yesterday was an amazing day at Bishop O'Connell.


    Meet Finney the therapy dog.

    For the fourth year in a row, we held a one-day giving campaign to support our annual fund, the Knight Fund.  The response from the community was unbelievable as we raised over $136,000, thanks to all who participated including a generous group of matching donors.  In short, we blew through our initial $40,000 matching challenge and set new records for one day giving. Another impressive fact is that there were nearly 400 gifts made to the school, a number that beat our goal by 100.

    All of this made for a very exciting, productive and humbling day.  When we see the community rally around the school's mission as it did yesterday, it is inspiring to all of us who work here.  I was also inspired by the work of the advancement team and the many volunteers from our faculty and staff who helped generate energy for the cause yesterday.  They are passionate about the mission too and they shared that energy and commitment with the broader community yesterday.

    At the end of the day, we can do more and do it better for today's Knights because of strong support for the Knight Fund.  Every gift, regardless of amount, is a blessing to the school and we are very grateful.


    Our family dog, Salty, in 1984.

    While all this was going on, our students continued to get ready for their final assessments and our counselors arranged to bring in therapy dogs as part of a "laugh more, stress less" initiative before examinations.  When I wandered down to the courtyard, it was a treat to find a beautiful English springer spaniel named Finney.  This dog reminded me of my family's dog growing up, also an English springer named Salty, shown in this photo when he was about 12 in 1984.  I laughed more and stressed less for a few minutes.

    I was also really moved by the prayers service that Ms. Madden, Ms. Moynihan, Ms. Durdle and Mr. Shirey organized along with Student Council officers and some beautiful singing from Kiaris Alvarado Rojas.  The prayer service was a prayer for peace dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives in the several school shootings that have occurred since Jan 1, 2018.

    And of course, as you may have heard, the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history.  The whole DMV feels connected to this success on some level, including our state champion O'Connell Knights hockey team that is proud to practice at the same facility in Ballston where the Capitals practice.

    What a day!

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    Four Retirees

    Four long-time members of the Bishop O'Connell faculty retired at the end of the 2017-2018 school year, after a combined 123 years of service and dedication to our school community. Their contributions to the O'Connell story are legendary, and we wish them nothing but the best in their next endeavors!

    Bill Carpenter '76 (science teacher – 38 years) – Mr. Carpenter is one of three brothers who graduated from Bishop O'Connell High School. After studying biology and education at William & Mary, he returning to his alma mater to share his love for nature and wildlife with the newest generation of Knights. During his tenure, he also coached wrestling for 29 years, football for 22 years, and was even a substitute cross country coach for one year. His four children are also O'Connell alumni, graduating between 2001 and 2009. What's next for Mr. Carpenter? "I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to be when I grow up," he said. He hopes to be able to continue to travel and focus his energy on conservation and awareness of eco-systems in peril.

    I don't remember much from my high school days, but I do remember Mr. Carpenter's passion in the classroom as my biology teacher, and on the athletic fields. I appreciate your dedication and perseverance in having such a big impact on me and on so many lives over your 38 years. – Class of 1984 Alumnus

    Tommy Orndorff (assistant athletic director – 33 years) – Coach Orndorff is a graduate of West Virginia University, where he studied journalism. He began his career as a sports writer, before joining O'Connell as the communications/publications director and head softball coach in 1985. Since 1991, Orndorff has served as the school's assistant athletic director, meticulously managing all 27 teams' schedules and game day management. He is equally adept behind a camera, having masterfully captured student life during his tenure. Amassing more than 770 wins over his 33-year tenure at head coach of the Lady Knights softball team, he is only one of two travel coaches named to the Amateur Softball Association's Hall of Fame. "It has been a good run," Orndorff recently said to the Arlington Catholic Herald. "I love sports and athletics, and coaching softball. It's been the best of all worlds for me."

    Coach Orndorff made me want to work harder, play with more grit and value teammates. These are lessons I've carried with me through college, career, and with my family.   – Class of 1995 Alumna

    Patrice Connolly (religion teacher – 27 years) – Mrs. Connolly came to O'Connell as a 9th and 12th grade religion teacher in the fall of 1979, with the encouragement of Fr. Mark Pilon who was teaching religion at the time. Her name was Patrice Connelly when she arrived, but this is where she met her husband, Joe Connolly, who taught AP calculus and physics. They were married in 1982, and she only had to change one letter in her name! When their son was born in 1985, Mrs. Connolly became a stay-at-home mom, returning to the classroom in 1997. That fall her husband was diagnosed with cancer, passing away in early December after a 31-year career at the school. "The O'Connell community was incredibly supportive and we grieved together," said Mrs. Connolly. "Our son graduated from O'Connell in 2003, and this place has truly been a home to the Connollys!"

    Mrs. Connolly began as a 9th and 12th grade religion teacher, but eventually transitioned to teaching mostly juniors and seniors. During her career at O'Connell, she served as a student council and yearbook moderator, and even had a short stint as a freshman cheerleading coach. She has also served as a member of the school's talented photography team, working closely with Coach Orndorff to cover school activities with dedication and care. "It has been my great privilege to share the beauty and truth of the Catholic Faith with my students," she said. "One of my great joys has been teaching the sons and daughters, nephews and nieces of my former students. I thought it best to retire before their grandchildren started to enroll and lower my class load to my own grandchildren, ages 4, 3, and 1." She is looking forward to seeing what God has in store for this next phase of her life.

    I'll never forget the last day of Morality class, junior year, when Mrs. Connolly told us to close our books. She looked at us intently, and told us she taught us everything we needed to know to choose the good. We could never claim ignorance. I knew she was right and I felt the yoke of my faith, ever so gently, tethering me to our beloved a God and all His plans for me. – Class of 1982 Alumna

    Mary Lou Wentzel (English teacher – 25 years) – Mrs. Wentzel first became involved at Bishop O'Connell as a PTO volunteer during the time her three children attended the school. "After getting to know many of the teachers, students and their parents, I knew this was the school where I wanted to teach," she said. Unfortunately, there were no openings in the English department initially, so Mrs. Wentzel waited it out, teaching at Thomas Jefferson for two years before finding the position she wanted at Bishop O'Connell. She taught Freshman English as well as Public Speaking, and has been a dedicated mentor to scores of students over the years who have entered civic speech and essay contests, earning nearly $20,000 in scholarships and prize money.

    Mrs. Wentzel believed in my daughter, gave her the chance to challenge herself, became her mentor throughout--not to mention being her public speaking coach. Our daughter was honored and grateful to have her as her teacher, mentor, and someone she could confide in. – Class of 2019 Parent


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    Last Friday was the last day before teachers departed for the summer break. As is our tradition, we had a luncheon to wrap up the year and to send our retiring and departing teachers off with a proper salute. We took particular note of the service of Mr. Bill Carpenter, Mr. Tommy Orndorff, Mrs. Patrice Connolly and Mrs. Mary Lou Wentzel, and you can read my comments from the luncheon HERE.

    Inevitably, this last day feels abrupt to me because of how it creeps up even when I know it is coming. Its arrival is a reminder of missed opportunities to personally thank and congratulate teachers and students for services rendered to the school. I am also conscious of unfinished work on different initiatives. 

    At the same time, this "last day" is a first day. First day of well-earned vacation for teachers and students. First day to start major maintenance and repair projects. First day to get deeper into reflection and planning for next year, often fueled by professional development opportunities. 

    I look forward to sharing more with you in the coming weeks about, among other things, the convent demolition (which we will capture with time lapse photography) and our capital campaign progress, our summer improvement projects around the building, the kinds of professional development our team is engaged in this summer, and who will be joining our faculty as new members next year. 

    In the meantime, I thank you all for your interest in and support of Bishop O'Connell this year. As the DJO community demonstrated on June 7th's "OneDayAllKnights" event, it is a very engaged, spirited and generous group that the school is blessed to have behind it.

    Wishing everyone a blessed summer!

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    Below are the start times and locations of O'Connell fall tryouts. Please remember that medical and permission forms MUST be completed and submitted online before the first day of tryouts.

    If you have any questions about tryouts, please contact the coach or athletics office.

    Field Hockey Cross Country
    Aug. 15-17 (8-10 a.m.) – Track

    Field Hockey
    Aug. 15-17 (6-8 p.m.) – Stadium Field

    Varsity – Aug. 3, 4 and 6 (Time TBD) – Stadium Field
    Freshman – Aug. 10 (Time TBD) – Stadium Field

    Boys Soccer
    Aug. 15-17 (8-10 a.m. and 2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.) – Stadium Field

    Girls Soccer
    Aug. 15-17 (10 a.m. – noon) – Stadium Field

    Girls Tennis
    Aug. 15-17 (3:30 – 5:30 p.m.) – Bluemont Park – Meet at School by Entrance #8)

    Varsity – Aug. 15-16 (4-7 p.m.) – Aux. Gym
    JV – Aug. 15-16 (2-4 p.m.) – Aux. Gym
    Freshman – Aug. 15-16 (noon – 2 p.m.) – Aux. Gym
    ALL LEVELS – Aug. 17 (Last tryout followed by first practices) – Aux. Gym

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    Father Paul deLadurantayeCongratulations to O'Connell alumnus, Rev. Paul F. deLadurantaye '81, who was recently appointed to the English section of the Vatican Secretariat of State. Father deLadurantaye is currently the executive director of the St. Thomas More Institute and secretary for catechetics and sacred liturgy for the Diocese of Arlington.

     "This appointment is a recognition of Father deLadurantaye's faithful priestly service and his many gifts and abilities," said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge in a statement to the Arlington Catholic Herald. "In addition, the appointment bestows a great honor upon the Diocese of Arlington and our priest."

    Read more about Father deLadurantaye and this new appointment in the Arlington Catholic Herald.

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  • 08/03/18--13:06: Continuous Improvement

    Shortly after our students departed in June, Bishop O'Connell played host, for the second year in a row, to the Greater Washington Suzuki Institute.  The hallmarks of this program include significant parent presence and involvement as the young musicians develop their skills.  While they are here at DJO, there is a family atmosphere and we enjoy listening to the music as well as watching the families take their lunches together on our front lawn.

    As I write to you now, the last hours of our last summer camps are coming to a close and our fall student athletes are getting ready to go.  I have enjoyed looking out my window to the north and watching eight year olds try out their crossover dribbles on each other during scrimmages.  I'm jealous!  I wouldn't mind a week long camp of just basketball -- my body would mind, but it sounds like a fun idea.

    So we began with violins and ended bouncing balls and squeaking sneakers -- all signs of active learning and we want to be a place where a lot of that happens.

    To get ready for next year and well into the future, we started right away in June on a host of projects focused on serving our students better -- with technology, with STEM education, with testing support, with studio arts, with expanded services and with athletics to name a few.  And we tackled some environmental challenges with HVAC system repairs and upgrades.  Among the things that will be most noticeable when you return to campus are the new engineering and expanded services classrooms on the second floor of the Underwood wing, the beautifully redone floor in the gymnasium, and, most of all, the fact that the original convent has been demolished.  All of these things are signs of our commitment to continuous improvement in the near term and beyond, and I share just a few photos below.

    At the same time, we have been both rounding out our team of education professionals and completing some planned reorganization designed to help us serve students and families even more effectively.  We look forward to sharing more about our team and structure in the coming weeks.

    With prayers that you continue to enjoy a safe and happy summer.



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  • 08/17/18--11:48: A Not So Mundane Exercise

    Yesterday was one of those days when Mrs. Quinn in our business office brought me a pile of checks to sign. It occurred to me as I was signing them that there was an opportunity to make some observations about how we accomplish our mission by talking about what I see when I sign checks.

    The first thing is perhaps the most obvious; it costs a lot of money to keep our school running and the outflowing dollars add up in interesting ways -- a contractor to repair a mechanical issue, furniture for a renovated classroom, upgrading digital technology, supplies for biology lab or the art classrooms, paying for the location of the senior retreats, the costs of printed material for alumni events...and so on.

    The second observation is related to the first; we must be good stewards of the precious resources we have that allow us to continue to operate Bishop O'Connell.  It is a humbling responsibility and it makes me think of the sacrifices made throughout our community.  Sometimes in signing checks, you pick up on a cost that reveals a persistent problem -- like paying for the same repair for the second time in a short period of time.  We can ask questions about why the repair is needed.

    Signing the checks also keeps me in touch with the variety of activities going on around the school.  I might sign a check that pays a registration fee for a Model UN team, a speech and debate competition, or a wrestling tournament.  When I do, it makes me think of the moderators and coaches who have done the planning and preparation to ensure that students will have these experiences.  

    Some checks are related to getting clothing items for athletic boosters, food for the concession stand, items for our gala, or to pay a down payment on the music trip.  When I sign these, I am conscious of the countless hours of volunteer time that parents give to help make the high school experience unique and special and memorable for our students.

    So, the check signing exercise -- a seemingly mundane activity -- is an important way of staying tuned in as a leader.  Signing a lot of them ten days before the school year starts was a good centering exercise -- a reminder about the importance of staying focused on the mission, of shepherding our resources judiciously, of proceeding each day in grateful humility for the sacrifices being made so that it can always be "A Great Day to be a Knight!"

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    Play Like a Champion's Nan Tulchinsky Athletic Leadership Award given to Bishop O'Connell High School and student-athlete Maggie McDonough

    Patton accepts awardThe Play Like a Champion Today Educational Series presented both Bishop O'Connell High School and student-athlete Maggie McDonough '19 with the Nan Tulchinsky Athletic Leadership Award. For five decades, Nan Tulchinsky has served the South Bend Community as a teacher, coach, athletic director and volunteer mentor. This award is given annually to a person or organization that models her example of character, passion, integrity, service, leadership and love for all children.

    The 2018 award was presented during a Friday evening banquet dinner at the 2018 Play Like a Champion Today Sports Leadership Conference, held June 22-23, 2018 at the University of Notre Dame. McDonough was a speaker at the event, presenting as part of a high school coach and administrator discussion session on leadership. Bishop O'Connell High School has been a blue-ribbon partner of Play Like a Champion, annually training coaches, parents and student-athletes in the Play Like a Champion philosophy.

    A rising senior at Bishop O'Connell High School, McDonough is the founder of the school's CHAMPS club. Standing for Character, Honor and Morality in Play by Student-Athletes, CHAMPS is comprised of a group of student-athletes who meet regularly to participate in faith-sharing and faith-formation centered around athletics. An accomplished student-athlete at the Arlington, Va. school, McDonough has worked tirelessly to build the program in her school.

    "Maggie is a young woman of character with a strong faith in Christ," said Kristin Sheehan, Program Director for the Play Like a Champion Today Educational Series. "A true servant leader to her classmates, school and community, she inspires us to build the Kingdom of God and make the world around us a better place."

    Bishop O'Connell's award was accepted by Mr. Carl Patton, the school's Assistant Head of School and Director of Instruction and Curriculum. Said Sheehan "Bishop O'Connell's deep commitment to mission integration through all elements of the educational process reveals a dedication to educating the whole student in mind, body and spirit. All schools can find inspiration in their dedication to developing our youth."

    Pictured below: McDonough receives her Award from Program Director Kristin Sheehan (left) and the award's
    namesake Nan Tulchinsky (center).


    McDonough award


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    WillemssenBishop O'Connell has named Suzy Willemssen as the head coach of the Knights softball program.

    Coach Willemssen was a four sport athlete in high school in Waterloo, Iowa, before playing Division I softball at the University of Iowa. She has been coaching club and travel softball in Virginia for nearly 20 years, founding and coaching for the Glory Fastpitch Softball organization.

    She has coaching experience at both public and private area high schools since 2002. Most recently she served as the varsity softball head coach at Lee High School in Springfield, earning Conference Coach of the Year honors in 2015 and 2017. She also has coached at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Chantilly High School and West Springfield High School.

    "We are extremely fortunate to have Coach Willemssen lead our softball program into a new era," said Athletic Director Joe Wootten. "She brings her solid experience and knowledge of the game to our program, and her philosophy on student-athlete development parallels our school's mission of fostering the pursuit of excellence in the whole person."

    The athletics office will be hosting a meet and greet with Coach Willemssen on Tuesday, Aug. 28 at 6 PM in the school library. All interested softball players and parents are invited to attend. If you have any questions, or cannot attend the meeting, contact Coach Willemssen at 

    Read more:

    O'Connell hires new softball Coach, Inside NOVA, Aug. 14, 2018
    O'Connell coach up to the challenge, Inside NOVA, Aug. 21, 2018

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  • 08/24/18--13:38: Almost There...

    We are less than 72 hours out from welcoming the Class of 2022 through the doors on Monday morning.  We are really looking forward to that moment, something that has been abundantly clear throughout this week of teacher preparation.  There is a great energy in the building and it was on display yesterday in particular when we broke up into teams and entered into learning competitions with one another using pedagogy that will be part of the freshman orientation next week.  The joy of learning is a real thing and it is contagious. Yesterday, we shared a lot of important information about the beginning of the school year while learning more about ourselves and our teaching colleagues.  The whole day was an affirmation of our collective commitment to our Catholic mission and an energy-filled build-up to the opening of the school year.  We can't wait to  share the energy with students next week.

    When the summer began, I shared with you that one of the exciting things about the arrival of summer each year was the chance to tackle major school improvements.  We certainly did that this summer (and we're still finishing up).  My colleague Rob Horan mounted a time lapse camera for us on the roof of the school earlier this summer so that we could capture the convent demolition. While we still have some work to do on the demolition project (something that has been slowed by the discovery of unforeseen conditions that require extra caution when working close to the Trinidad wing of the school), the short video below (or at this LINK) gives you a glimpse of what has been accomplished.

    Looking forward to seeing as many folks as possible at our first football game tomorrow.  Especially looking forward to welcoming our new families to the cookout beforehand.


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    Freshman OrientationWhen teachers and students returned to Bishop O’Connell in late August, they were treated to an orientation experience that included flying paper airplanes, building towers with spaghetti, and working with LEGO bricks and Mr. Potato Head. This was more than just ice-breakers; it was the work of the school’s igKnight professional development team working with teachers to help students feel engaged, empowered and excited about learning.

    “Drawing from educational reform research dating all the way back to 19th-century pioneers like Benjamin Bloom, John Dewey and Maria Montessori, we know that students learn best from the classes where they feel most actively engaged,” said English teacher and instructional coach John Meehan. “Our goal as teachers is to help get students really excited about the activities that they do in our classrooms in order to inspire deep learning through creativity and choice.”

    Read more in the August 30 edition of the Arlington Catholic Herald.

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  • 08/31/18--13:36: New Fine Arts Faculty
  • The Fine Arts Department is pleased to announce that three new faculty members have joined the department this year. 

    Kelsey Walsh- Art Teacher
    WalshMs. Walsh received her Bachelors of Art in Studio Art from Albright College in Reading, PA. During her time at Albright she focused on her studio practice and was active in the Freedman Gallery. After Albright, Ms. Walsh interned with the Youth and Family Programs at the National Portrait Gallery. Ms. Walsh then went on to earn her Master of Fine Arts in Community Art from Maryland Institute College of Art. While at MICA, she served as the Artist in Residence with AmeriCorps Community Art Collaborative at Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts. During that time, she collaboratively created two murals; one in memoriam to Augusta Fells Savage and the second, a youthled urban nature mural with the summer YouthWorks program. Her thesis led her to partner with a local Baltimore Hospital, Sinai Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital, in creating accessible art programming for patients/residents in long-term care and short-term behavioral health settings. After graduate school, Ms. Walsh taught in Baltimore City for three years as an art educator and the Director of Extended Day programming. During that time she partnered with various organizations to serve the local school community. One project included Clarke Construction and the Maryland Transit Authority to create Mural panels along a construction site to aide in the transition and education on the MTA. Another humbling project was with the new Ronald McDonald House in Baltimore. The students donated their time and creativity to create a cheerful installation to be permanently housed in the RMH community room for the residents and families. Ms. Walsh enjoys utilizing art as a tool to connect and empower voices for positive change.

    Kyra Klontz – Choral Director
    KlontzMs. Klontz is thrilled to be the choral director at Bishop O'Connell High School.  She is a native of Arlington and is excited to be back in the area. Ms. Klontz holds a Bachelor of Music in choral music education and vocal performance, as well as a double minor in special education and musical theatre from Miami University in Oxford, OH.  She graduated summa cum laude with honors in December of 2017 and was recently awarded the "Outstanding Future Music Educator" honor for her graduating class.  While at Miami, Ms. Klontz was extremely active in Best Buddies, becoming president and director of an inclusive choir on her campus, that integrated adults with and without disabilities.  In addition, she participated in the MU Opera program each year, served as an undergraduate assistant and a student manager at the recreational center, and held leadership positions in two choral ensembles.  Ms. Klontz was selected to be student conductor of the MU Chamber Singers her senior year, and went on to student teach at Mason High School and Maple Dale Elementary in Cincinnati, OH.  After completing her student teaching, Ms. Klontz was most recently a long-term substitute in Arlington Public Schools, working as a choral director at Yorktown High School, Williamsburg Middle School, and Randolph Elementary School. Ms. Klontz helped prepare students for theDistrict XII Assessment, where they received only superior or excellent ratings.  She is active in the choral community, coming from a family of professional musicians and music educators.  Additionally, Ms. Klontz teaches private voice lessons and also enjoys work as a part-time group fitness instructor.

    Timothy Lacrosse – Strings Director
    LaCrosseMr. Lacrosse holds his Bachelor of Music degree in viola performance from the Juilliard School. He spent a year at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London studying orchestral training before obtaining his Master of Music from the Yale School of Music. He previously served as principal violist of the National Symphony of Panama, as well as section positions in the Huntsville Symphony, the Hawaii Symphony, and Fairfax Symphony, among others. He has performed in many of the world's prestigious  concert halls and festivals around the world, including Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Chicago Symphony Center, Ravinia Festival, Walt Disney Concert Hall (Los Angeles), Barbican Center and Aldeburgh Festival in England, Lucerne Concert Hall (Switzerland), Gasteig Cultural Center and Konzerthaus Berlin in Germany, Auditorium Parco della Musica in Italy, and the Sydney Opera House in Australia. An avid educator, Mr. Lacrosse maintains a private studio of violin and viola students and has prepared students for auditions to the National Symphony Orchestra Youth Fellowship Program and American Youth Philharmonic, both of which he is an alumna.  He recently held the post of visiting professor of viola at the University of Panama, a position he held for four years. Recognizing the importance of arts education in public and private schools, he also performs and provides sectionals in Washington DC, Arlington and Fairfax County schools. 

    This is an exciting time for the department and we look forward to welcoming Ms. Klontz, Ms. Walsh, and Mr. Lacrosse into the Bishop O'Connell community! If you have any questions, please contact Mrs. Maria McDonald, Fine Arts Department Chair, at


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    What a great start to the school year we had this week! The first three days with freshmen gave us a chance to get to know them and them the opportunity to get more comfortable with us, the building, and their schedules.  I reminded them this week that they should not underestimate their capacity to exercise leadership, individually and collectively, right from the beginning of their high school careers at Bishop O'Connell.  They are a bright and energetic group and we look forward to helping them discover what God has in store for them.

    Yesterday, we enjoyed welcoming the entire student body back. Those who have been around the school the past decade have probably already heard me make this observation, but it bears repeating -- there comes a time, around the second week in August, when we all realize that it is time to get the students back in the building.  Even as we lament that we don't have just a little more time to finish making improvements, and even as we fret about the fact that certain key deliveries have not been received, we know it is time to use the school for its intended purpose.

    And when the students arrive, they are so glad to see each other, and even to see us!  They are enlivened by a sense of the possible as the year begins and we draw great energy from them.  There is a sense of renewal, of new beginnings and great possibilities.  In our preparations before their arrival, we have been planning the best ways to encourage and sustain that energy with creative, focused and engaging learning opportunities.

    All of us are compelled to acknowledge that it is a marathon, not a sprint that just started.  Still, the adrenaline and energy we feel at the beginning is not artificial and we are challenged to make the most of it.  It is an important component of an undertaking that we pray will conclude in June with each student looking back with pride and saying they set a good pace and achieved their personal best.

    I encourage you to take a look at two links below. The first is a collection of photos from our freshman welcome (starting with the New Family Cookout and continuing through their first three days of school). The second is a link that will introduce you to the fantastic new members of our team this year.

    Freshman First Days

    Meet Our Newest Faculty Members

    Wishing all families a blessed Labor Day weekend.  We remember and pray for all whose labors make our lives easier.  May I ask you to pray for all of the employees on the C&W Services team at Bishop O'Connell.  They have worked tirelessly throughout the summer to prepare for this week and we are grateful for their efforts.

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    What a blur of a short week it has been after the Labor Day holiday.  The school year is new enough that we are still experiencing "firsts" as a community--like our first school Mass together yesterday.  It is new enough, too, that some furniture was still being delivered earlier this week and air conditioning repair teams have been up on the roof addressing those parts of our system that have responded less than optimally to our recent heat wave.

    The constant has been awesome energy from our students and teachers. Before Mass yesterday, I asked everyone to participate in an exercise to prove the point that, even if we are not all trained singers, we can collectively "shout with joy to the Lord...break into song...sing praise."  With the help our awesome praise band and the leadership of the seniors, a nice "tone" was set, one that we look forward to carrying over to Bishop Burbidge's visit next week and throughout the year.

    The week closed for me with the opportunity to spend 30 minutes with the Student Council Executive Board.  This is a motivated group that has embraced its leadership role in the school and is looking forward to many successes throughout the year, beginning with tonight's back-to-school dance.

    Just as we have enjoyed welcoming students back into the building, we look forward to the opportunity to have all parents and guardians in for Back-to-School night on Wednesday, Sept. 19.  This will be a great opportunity for all of you to meet and hear from your students' teachers.

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    Bishop Burbidge came to school today for a pastoral visit that included the celebration of Mass on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The Bishop’s homily focuses on the capacity of Christ’s love to ease the burden of the crosses we are carrying. He encouraged students of the opportunity to visit our chapel for a moment of peace and the opportunity to ask the Holy Spirit to “make us wise” as we confront difficult challenges and decisions.

    The bulk of Bishop’s time with us was spent with students in various settings, and we are very grateful for his continued interest in our efforts at O'Connell.

    Please enjoy a brief slideshow capturing moments from our Bishop’s visit below or at this link:


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  • 09/21/18--12:30: Back-to-School Night

    It was great to see so many of you at our Back-to-School Night on Wednesday.  

    As I mentioned in my remarks in the auditorium, the evening is an important beginning of the year milepost for our community.  With the students a few weeks in to the year, parents have a chance to meet the teachers their children have been talking about, and get a feel for the why, how and where of the learning experience.

    In my role, it is always fun to see the excitement in your eyes.  I know you are very interested in knowing more about the experience your child is having and in having the chance to walk in their footsteps.  It is equally fun to see the anticipation in the eyes of our teachers, counselors and coaches.  They care deeply about what they are doing and put a lot of thought into how they can share that with you in the few short minutes they have.  That you would gain some sense of how committed they are to their vocation is very important to them.  Finally, there are always many students with us on Back-to-School Night.  Their pride in their school and gratefulness for their parents' sacrifices are both evident.

    Back-to-School Night is also a moment when we are reminded of the magnitude of the vocation we have undertaken to assist you, the primary educators of your children.  Your presence in the hallways reflects your love for them and highlights for us the critical partnership we have entered into.  I tried in my remarks in the auditorium to communicate to you the seriousness of our commitment to our mission and to the safety and well-being of your children.  

    Over the past 150 years, Catholic education has played a vital role in the development of our country and Bishop O'Connell has contributed to that effort over the past 60 years to the tune of over 19,000 graduates.  Today, we are dedicated to ensuring that the next chapters of the history of Catholic education in America and of Bishop O'Connell are marked by faithfulness to mission and excellence in education.

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  • 09/28/18--06:17: Freshman Retreat - Oct. 10
  • The freshman retreat day is Wednesday, Oct. 10. All freshmen are expected to attend this day which has been carefully planned for a reflective and meaningful in-school retreat experience. The theme for the day is "Living your faith at Bishop O'Connell." 

    The program begins for our students at 7:45 a.m. and ends at 2:55 p.m. Students should dress in comfortable clothes for the active day ahead. Please make sure your student follows "dress holiday" guidelines found on page 64 of the student handbook.

    We have also asked each student to bring a jar of peanut butter or jelly to become part of our Living Rosary devotion during the retreat. These jars will be used in part for our Cafe Vaticano and the rest will be donated to Martha's Table in Washington, D.C.

    In order to facilitate full participation, freshman sports practices or games have been canceled for that afternoon. If your student will not be attending the retreat, please contact Ms. Rugo at before school on Oct. 10.

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    Bishop O'Connell High School is blessed by a wonderful racial and ethnic diversity, and when we pause from time to time to celebrate that diversity, we are enriched. Yesterday, at our Hispanic Heritage assembly, students shared through song, historical presentation, and games that involved the audience, the culture and traditions that have shaped their development as young men and women.  

    Assemblies like yesterday's are opportunities to further enhance the integration of our Catholic mission in the work of our school.  As we focus on making the dignity of the human person an integrating element of the freshman year academic experience, and as we emphasize in the sophomore year the value of being part of a community, we see yesterday's experience as a wonderful opportunity to grow in our understanding and appreciation of others in our community.  We must also see these opportunities as moments in the life of our school when valuable seeds are planted. We should tend to these seeds well throughout the year and beyond so that the learning that takes place at the assembly becomes the source of new and increased understanding and appreciation. 

    You might ask your students about junior Kiaris Alvarado Rojas performance of "Lamento Borincano" with ukulele, Skye Hartsoe's performance of "Vivir Mi Vida" with guitar, Victoria Revollo's bilingual solo of "Stand by Me," and Zoe Forino and Maddie Ryan's duet of "Dreaming of You."  They may also share with you about Spanish teacher, Dr. Ascunce, reading her original poem "No Lesser," as well as about the grand finale performance of Tito Puente's "Oye Como Va" with senior Patrick Roney on drums, Spanish teacher Ciro Jimenez on bass, and Father Thompson giving Carlos Santana a run for his money on lead guitar.  When this song ended, the audience rose to its feet in applause -- affirming not only the last act but the entire production that was organized behind the scenes so skillfully by senior Miguel Badia, and juniors Cecy Juarez and Minerva Martinez.

    As we continue through the year, we look forward to more opportunities to celebrate the rich diversity of our community.

    View photos from the 2018 Hispanic Heritage assembly below or at THIS LINK.



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  • 10/05/18--05:00: A Shining Moment

    This week started with a special moment for our school.  Katie Finnegan, a junior who receives expanded services, was named a Seton Scholar at the National Catholic Educational Association's annual award gala.  Katie's recognition was associated with Porto Charities' recognition as a Seton Award honoree.  Since Bishop O'Connell began offering expanded services almost four years ago, Porto Charities has been a stalwart supporter of our efforts.  When they were so deservingly recognized at this national award gala, the Diocese of Arlington was present in strong numbers to salute them.  We were honored to be part of the contingent that included all five Diocesan schools with programs supporting students with intellectual disabilities. 

    We were so happy to see Katie on stage with Bishop Burbidge and the other awardees.  She has enriched our school community in immeasurable ways over the past several years and her moment at the gala recalled to my mind all the amazing things that have happened in our school the past three years that made it possible.  Of course, the support of Porto Charities and other charitable groups has been vital.  The way in which Paul VI and Saint John Paul the Great High Schools were so generous sharing their knowledge and experience was also very important to us.  Our teachers and our students have embraced the opportunities made possible by offering expanded services and they continue to make this student experience better every day.  Finally, we thank God for Katie and the other students receiving expanded services.  Their presence in our school has strengthened our community by increasing everyone's appreciation for the different ways people learn.

    Read more on the NCEA Awards Night in the Arlington Catholic Herald.

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  • 10/09/18--06:00: Open House - Oct. 14
  • Open House 2018We hope you can join us on Sunday, Oct. 14 for our annual Open House!

    Presentation begins at 1 p.m. in the auditorium.

    Classroom interactive demonstrations follow and run until 4 p.m.

    • Tour our renovated science classrooms (biology, chemistry, engineering and physics labs) 
    • Find out about our "Project Lead the Way" engineering program.
    • Learn about our Dual Credit and Dual Enrollment partnership with Marymount University.
    • Hear more about our Global Studies Certificate Program.
    • Explore our college-prep curriculum, including our 28 AP subject areas.
    • Visit our chapel and the student lounge sponsored by the Chaplain's office. 
    • Learn about our Expanded Services for students with intellectual and cognitive disabilities.
    • Find out more about our First Year Experience program and our comprehensive college counseling program. 
    • Have a conversation with the staff of the Muller Academic Services Center.
    • See our arts program in action on stage and in our visual arts studio. 
    • Come out to our sports fields and gym and feel the excitement of Knights athletics.
    • Explore our diverse clubs and activities available to all students. 
    • Find out more about scholarships, tuition assistance and O'Connell bus transportation. 
    • Meet our faculty, administration and coaches and chat with current students.
    • Experience the O'Connell community first-hand, and find out why it's a GREAT day to be a KNIGHT!

    SAVE TIME! Download and fill out the Open House registration form before you arrive. Bring the form with you to OPEN HOUSE and return to the registration desk upon arrival.

    DOWNLOAD the registration form HERE.

    Questions? Contact or call 703-237-1433.

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