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The latest news from Bishop O'Connell High School
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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 mmcdonald@bishopoconnell.org.

     


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    THOUGHTS FROM OUR HEAD OF SCHOOL, JOSEPH VORBACH:

    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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    THOUGHTS FROM OUR HEAD OF SCHOOL, JOSEPH VORBACH:

    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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    THOUGHTS FROM OUR HEAD OF SCHOOL, JOSEPH VORBACH:

    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: https://www.bishopoconnell.org/cf_media/index.cfm?g=264.

     


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  • 09/21/18--12:30: Back-to-School Night
  • THOUGHTS FROM OUR HEAD OF SCHOOL, JOSEPH VORBACH:

    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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    THOUGHTS FROM OUR HEAD OF SCHOOL, JOSEPH VORBACH:

    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
  • THOUGHTS FROM OUR HEAD OF SCHOOL, JOSEPH VORBACH:

    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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  • 10/12/18--15:08: Reflecting on the past week
  • THOUGHTS FROM OUR HEAD OF SCHOOL, JOSEPH VORBACH:

    Last Thursday and Friday I was able to attend a short spiritual retreat with most of the other Heads of School and Principals in the Diocese.  The retreat master, the priest leading the spiritual reflection throughout the retreat, was Father Jack Peterson, a 1981 graduate of Bishop O'Connell.  As a 1983 graduate, I always enjoy seeing Father Jack, someone I have admired for a long time.  Father led a wonderful retreat and his reflections called all of us to greater focus in our prayer lives.

    Later that evening, I enjoyed, along with a full room of alumni, past parents and friends, the annual Alumni Awards and Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony.  Throughout this evening, as both presenters and recipients spoke, the value and power of an O'Connell education were affirmed.  Honorees spoke over and over about the importance of the faith-filled environment at O'Connell, the critical roles played by teachers, coaches and counselors during their development, the love of parents, and the lifelong friendships made.  It was, as it has been each year I have attended, a really wonderful evening.

    After a busy weekend of homecoming activities and an always appreciated holiday on Monday, we settled into the school week -- one that included the freshman class retreat and PSAT testing for sophomores and juniors on Wednesday.  This Sunday, we will hold our annual Open House for prospective families -- an important moment on our school calendar that we treat as an "all hands on deck" evolution to share all that is good about an O'Connell education.  If you have the chance to encourage friends and neighbors to come out and give us a look, we are most appreciative of that support.

    On Monday, we begin our hearty soup drive to support Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Arlington.  Thank you in advance for your support of this longstanding tradition that makes a big difference for those in need in our community.


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  • 08/24/18--13:38: Almost There...
  • THOUGHTS FROM OUR HEAD OF SCHOOL, JOSEPH VORBACH:

    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.