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The latest news from Bishop O'Connell High School
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    ADL ConcertA group of 20 O'Connell students and faculty members attended the annual Anti-Defamation League's Concert Against Hate, held on Monday, Oct. 30 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

    The National Symphony Orchestra performed a selection of music, including Stephen Falherty's "Make Them Hear You," from Ragtime and John Williams' theme from Schindler's List. The evening's hosts included Academy Award-winner, Louis Gossett Jr., along with Emmy Award-winner Blythe Danner.

    "It was a powerful experience, especially hearing from holocaust survivor, Ann Jaffe," said chaperone Monica Stabile.

    Jaffe is a retired educator of Jewish studies, who has impacted countless communities by sharing her story of survival to schools, churches and universities. She was born in a small village in Poland and was only 10 when the Nazi's first invaded her village. After being liberated, her father said to her, "I don't ever want to hear the word hate come out of your mouth." He told her, "Find kindness in your heart instead, because that was what made us different from those who did this to us."

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  • 11/02/17--09:49: Homecoming 2017 in Pictures
  • "A Knight on the Red Carpet" was this year's Homecoming theme. A week of special dress days were capped off with a Saturday afternoon football game and a beautifully decorated gym for students to dance the night away!

    View photo highlights below or at

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    The first quarter of the school year is over and it went by very quickly. A lot has happened since I last wrote on October 27th, a day when all the teachers in the entire Diocese were at O'Connell for what turned out to be an excellent day of professional development featuring education thought leader, Todd Whitaker.

    We went from Homecoming into a week that featured our first Kairos retreat of the year. We are able to offer these retreats several times a year thanks to the talents of our retreat coordinator, Ed Fitzpatrick, and the willingness of faculty who make the commitment to being retreat leaders. Speaking as the parent of a DJO grad who really loved her Kairos experience, I can attest to the power of that experience and I thank everyone who makes these four-day experiences possible.

    Just earlier this week, we had parent-teacher conferences and I hope many of you were able to take advantage of these opportunities. Our team at the school is, of course, always available for conversation about matters of concern to you, but these conferences provide a good, formally scheduled chance to meet and discuss progress.

    The freshmen held their elections for class officers this week. I am always especially proud of those who present themselves before their classmates and compete in the arena for an opportunity to be involved in student government. It takes courage to do this, as well as some thoughtful preparation.

    Something else that requires courage and a lot of thoughtful preparation (rehearsal) is performing in a school play. It was my privilege last night to see the opening performance of Romeo and Juliet. Our student actors have clearly poured themselves into their preparation for this performance and I hope you get a chance to see their efforts this weekend. A number of the roles required the actors to commit to memory hundreds of lines. Romeo and Juliet, by one estimate, share over 1,100 lines between them during the play. It's impressive work and as you watch them perform, it's hard not to think about the way this experience will transform their adult lives -- as critical thinkers, persuasive public speakers, conflict mediators and so on.

    Looking ahead, we have the second round of senior retreats next week, the Turkey Blitz is underway to support the Missionaries of Charity in Washington, DC, and it's Discover Catholic Schools Week next week -- if you have the chance to encourage someone to discover Bishop O'Connell, please do. We'd love to give them a tour and or have their child shadow one of our students to get to know the O'Connell experience.

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  • 11/15/17--08:24: District Chorus Honors
  • On Saturday, Nov. 4, Bishop O'Connell High School choir students attended the annual District XII Choral Auditions. Over 700 students from Fairfax and Arlington county public and private high schools participated in the auditions with 235 selected to form the two choirs for the event. Students receive scores for their audition in the categories of vocal tone, intonation, rhythmic accuracy, interpretation, and sight reading. Thirteen Bishop O'Connell students and one alternate were selected for the 2018 District XII Chorus and will participate in a festival on February 8-10.

    District XII is one of several districts in the state of Virginia created by the Virginia Music Educators Association (VMEA). The District Choral Auditions are very competitive due to the high level of excellence among choral programs in the northern Virginia area. The mission of the Virginia Music Educators Association is to provide leadership and professional development to ensure quality music education.

    Pictured below – Back row (l to r): Audrey Somerville, Andrew Oliveros, Anthony Socarras, Peter Lucas, Nikolas Rocha, Audrey Gaskins, Elise Welsh. Front row: Ava Coffin, Annemarie Wolf, Emma Powers, Caitlin Mea, Grace Rafferty, Lara Sunter (not pictured: William Varfis).

    District Chorus

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    Melissa Pore - Engineering

    The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) group has named Melissa Pore to their U.S. Education Committee.

    Melissa Pore is on the science faculty at Bishop O'Connell High School in Arlington, Va., where she teaches engineering and technology. Previously, she was the director of technology programs and computer teacher at nearby St. Thomas More Cathedral School, where she helped grade school students successfully build and launch the first elementary school satellite as part of the NASA CubeSat Initiative. Pore is also a member of the Goddard Amateur Radio Club, AMSAT of North America, and the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). She earned her first amateur radio license in 2014 and presently holds an FCC Technician Class license as KM4CZN.

    The ARISS program provides learning opportunities by connecting students via real-time amateur radio contacts to astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The program is possible because of a partnership between NASA, the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation, the American Radio Relay League, and other amateur radio organizations and space agencies in Russia, Canada, Japan and Europe. The program's goal is to inspire students worldwide to pursue interests and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by doing hands-on activities about space and amateur radio.

    The ARISS-US Education Committee provides guidance on the educational aspect of the program and Pore joins a small group of educators from across the United States who were named to the committee.

    "I am honored to join the ARISS team of educators, engineers, and innovators who are leaping beyond our earthly foothold to inspire the next generation of explorers," said Pore. "With more than 1,130 amateur radio contacts directly between students and astronauts, this program is an important aspect of the space program's educational outreach, and I am thrilled to be a part of this."

    For more information on ARISS, visit

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  • 11/20/17--10:00: DJO Dads Club Underway
  • The DJO Dads Club is up and running after a festive meeting at the Italian Cafe on Thursday, Nov. 2. Our well-attended meeting included fellowship, establishing new friendships, and brainstorming with ideas on how we can serve the Bishop O'Connell community.

    We discussed the results of our online survey where more than 100 dads provided comments on everything from the name of our club (DJO Dads Club was by far the name we like) to our primary mission (service to the school, fraternity, fellowship and youth engagement). We also shared our professional and personal experiences, especially those that relate to the challenges and joys of parenting sons and daughters in the age of social media.

    We dads are looking forward to growing and sustaining our numbers to well over 100 fathers so that our combined efforts will leave a lasting legacy to our children, our school and to our community. Additionally, it's a great time to join together and cement new friendships. Our children are friends, and that makes it much easier for us dads to build new friendships as well.

    So all fathers are invited to join your brethren at the December meeting where Dr. Vorbach will attend to share with us some of his goals for the school and opportunities for the DJO Dads Club to strengthen these efforts.

    The next monthly meeting is Wednesday, Dec.13 at 7:00 PM at the Italian Cafe, 7161 Lee Highway, Falls Church, VA. Dads should respond via the Evite. If you would like to be added, please reach out to with your preferred contact information. All are encouraged to come with ideas for the first project. We dads are fired up and ready to achieve something great!

    Dads Club

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  • 11/21/17--06:28: A Thanksgiving Message

    As we approach the conclusion of 2017 and the year-long celebration of O'Connell's 60th anniversary, we pray to God in Thanksgiving for all who have helped the school to this point:

    We begin with those who envisioned the possibility of this school and labored to make it a reality in the 1940s and 1950s;

    We include all those along the way who kept its traditions strong throughout the years, especially the IHM Sisters, and Diocesan priests who have served as Chaplains of our school;

    and we are grateful for all current students, faculty and staff, and parents and guardians who bring the school to life each day and keep it moving forward by honoring its traditions and adding to its legacy.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

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  • 12/01/17--08:37: Look Up
  • Sunrise at DJO


    I parked my car at school this morning just before 7 a.m. As I headed toward the doors at the Trinidad Street entrance to the school, I heard footsteps behind me and I held the door for a student and her mother who were hurrying into the school. As we got into the hallway, I noticed how quickly the mother and daughter were walking and said, "You guys are on a mission," and they said they were trying to get to Mass on time. A moment later, three young ladies in the junior class went running by, said good morning, and said they too were going to Mass. At this point, I could feel the Holy Spirit speaking to me. I'd forgotten about First Friday Mass in the student chapel and I was heading for my office with my breakfast in hand. But the image of students and parents running to Mass was too much. I went to Mass, drawn by the thought of a mom and daughter and a group of classmates who'd obviously made plans to get to Mass together on this Friday morning.

    At the beginning of the year, Bishop Burbidge encouraged all of us to "look up" -- to look to the Lord. Yesterday, I looked up and saw this spectactular sunrise over the school. Today, I was drawn by others to head to the chapel and look up.

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    Royalettes with Awards

    Congratulations to O'Connell's Royalette Dance Team who earned 1st, 2nd and 3rd place team awards, as well as several individual honors, at the Dec. 3 Dance Team Union Regional Competition held at Fairfax High School. The event brought dance teams from a number of high schools around the area, including Brooke Point, Chantilly, Centreville, Dominion, Fairfax, McLean, Oakton, Paul VI and Woodson.

    As a team, the Royalettes earned 1st Place in Varsity Team Performance, 2nd Place in Varsity Jazz, and 3rd Place in Varsity Pom. In addition, members of the team earned recognition individually:

    Junior Solo (ages 13-15)

    1st Place - Gaby Dominguez '20
    2nd Place - Audrey Gaskins '21

    Senior Solo (ages 16+)

    3rd Place - Haley Breaux '18
    4th Place - Erika Williams '18
    7th Place - Julia Stievater '19
    8th Place - Katarina Visek '18

    Junior Duo (ages 13-15)

    1st Place - Angelina Lucchetti '20/Sophia Maceo '20

    Senior Duo (ages 16+)

    1st Place - Erika Williams '18/Haley Breaux '18
    2nd Place - Gaby Dominguez '20/Julia Stievater '19

    "I couldn't ask for a harder working team," said Head Coach Chrissy Salvador. "Each competition is a stepping stone towards Nationals. We just competed two weeks ago, and with our seniors in New York for the Macy's Parade, plus the Thanksgiving Break, we made last minute modifications. These girls stepped up, and we couldn't be happier with the results they so deserved."

    What's next for the Royalettes? A very busy basketball schedule, along with preparations for the East Coast Regional Championships and the UDA National Championships at the end of the month.

    Find out more about the Bishop O'Connell Royalette Dance Team at

    Pictured above: The Royalettes with their awards.

    Pictured below: The Royalettes posing with their friends from the Paul VI dance team.

    DJO with PVI

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  • 12/08/17--13:02: A Long Blue and Gray Line

    Earlier this week, we learned of the passing of Mr. Philip Katz. Mr. Katz is the father of our teacher Caroline McGinn. Caroline and her five siblings are mourning the loss of their father, and at his wake one of her brothers recalled to me his legacy, including his connection to Saint John the Beloved Parish and school as well as Bishop O'Connell High School. The family calculated that Mr. Katz's children and grandchildren had attended Saint John Academy for a total of 174 years and there have been members of the Katz family enrolled as students at Bishop O'Connell for the past five decades.

    Just a few days after learning of the passing of Mr. Katz, I learned that Mr. Everett Bergmann passed away. Mr. Bergmann was one of four sons of W.C. Bergmann who helped build the family dry cleaning business from its beginnings in the inter-war period over 90 years. It remains a well-known and still family run business to this day. All of Mr. Bergmann's nine children are graduates of Bishop O'Connell and some of his grandchildren have attended as well.

    Stories like those of the Katz family and the Bergmann family are part of the fabric of our school's history. Today, as we write new chapters, we can also reflect on how we got where we are today and on the sacrifices of so many who have made the story of Bishop O'Connell High School.

    At Mass today, we took time to honor our IHM Sisters as they renewed their vows on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Like our founding families, the IHM Sisters have been with O'Connell from the beginning. The community of Sisters with us at the school today represent a long line of commitment and sacrifice made by hundreds of IHM Sisters over the years. As today's community of Sisters prepares to move into their new convent down the street next week, we continue to thank God for their presence, their example, and their dedicated service to Catholic education.

    We pray for the repose of the souls of Mr. Katz and Mr. Bergmann and we pray for our IHM Sisters and all of the Sisters of the IHM community.