CSC Continues to Serve

“Faith in action is love and love in action is service.” These words spoken by Saint Teresa of Calcutta are the cornerstone of everything that we do as part of the Community Service Corps at O’Hara. This year, a pandemic wasn’t going to stand in our way of doing what our hundreds of student members love to do: serve our community.

This past February a team of 50 students made Valentine’s Cards for the women of Divine Providence Village. We stayed after school making intricate designs with brightly colored paper, stickers, and, of course, love! We had so much fun coming together as a group to make these Valentine’s gifts for the people that we care about at DPV. As we drove on campus to leave the cards on the porch outside the Administrative Offices, the memories of all of the good times that my classmates and I have had all these years with the members of Divine Providence and Don Guanella came flooding back: softball games in the gym, St. Patrick’s Day parties, Masses together, Thanksgiving dinner, and so much more. These moments are some of the best memories that my fellow seniors and I have had during our O’Hara days. Spreading love and joy to everyone there and feeling their love and happiness was a feeling like no other.

This week, as Easter quickly approaches, we continued a wonderful tradition started by Mr. Charlie Wieners. A small group of CSC members assembled Easter baskets for City Team Ministries in Chester. Our A Day cohort met after school and we formed a mini assembly line to make 50 baskets. And our friends in the B Day cohort will match that and make 50 more! The generosity of our O’Hara community with donations of candy and Easter grass was overwhelming and a testament to the focus that our students have on service to others.

The Community Service Corps has been such an integral part of my life these last four years. Some of my best friends were made in this group—during early morning Ronald McDonald House breakfast preparations, at Wednesday evening softball games in our gym with the residents of Don Guanella, at the most festive Christmas party you will ever witness with the Spanish Apostolate, during preparations for our massive Thanksgiving dinner food drive, and as we spent time in “CSC homeroom” planning hundreds of events as our team focused on making a difference.

Saint Teresa sums up my four-year CSC experience, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Thank you, Cardinal O’Hara CSC, for allowing us to do many small, wonderful things with great love.

Written By: Katie Tuberosa ‘21

Four Years of Theatre at O’Hara

I have been involved in the O’Hara Theatre Program since my freshman year four years ago. It is where I have met most of my best friends, have spent countless hours of my time, and have made the absolute best memories. 

When the pandemic hit in March of last year, I was absolutely devastated. We were a week away from opening Godspell, and had worked so incredibly hard to make it the best show possible. Like most people this past year, I was overwhelmed with many emotions. I was angry, sad, and most of all frightened about the unknown. We didn’t know when or if we would ever be able to perform that show. Sadly, we never got to, and I still feel terribly for the seniors who did not get to perform their last show.

When it was announced last fall that we would be doing The Music Man, I frankly didn’t know how to feel. How could we possibly pull off doing a show in the middle of a global pandemic? Where would we do it? How would we hold rehearsals? Mr. Brac and Mrs. Mooney assured us that the show would not be the exact same as years past, but that they would do their very best to make it feel as normal as possible while following all safety precautions.

After auditions, I was given the absolute honor to play the role of Marian Paroo. Like Marian, I am not someone always open to change. I think it is something that a lot of us struggle with. We want things to “be like last year” and keep traditions that have been in place for so long. However, if I have learned one thing from this past year, it is that change can be good. Yes, there can be downsides, but sometimes it is for the better. In the show, Marian transforms from a stuck-up librarian to an appreciative young woman who is able to see the good in others. This show changed my perspective on this year. Instead of focusing on what I have lost and what “isn’t the same,” I am now looking forward to new opportunities being created and focusing on what I do have.

On opening night, I was so overwhelmed with love and nostalgia and just plain happiness. Hearing the sounds of an audience clapping and laughing is something that I did not know I could miss so much. Performing under the bright lights while hearing the orchestra playing, and being backstage alongside the people that I love most was probably the highlight of my senior year so far. It was so good to be back and it was the perfect way to end my time in the theatre program.

The Music Man was the first thing that has felt normal to me in this unprecedented year. I was able to spend time with my best friends and laugh and joke around at rehearsals. We were able to wear the most amazing costumes while telling such an incredible story. Most of all, we were able to do what show kids do best: dance, act, and sing our hearts out on that beautiful stage. 

And we did all of that safely and with masks on! It was truly amazing what we were able to accomplish despite the many obstacles we endured. I think this show was something that we all needed. It was a reassurance and a glimmer of hope for the future. We showed our O’Hara family, our community, and honestly, the world, that life is going to be okay, and we can still find joy in doing what we love. 

I cannot express enough gratitude for Mr. Brac and Mrs. Mooney for what they have done for us this year. They put their hearts and souls into this production. Even when it looked like the show may not happen, I had the utmost confidence that no matter what, it would happen in some way, shape, or form solely because of their dedication. I thank them for giving us all this incredible experience, and for defying the negativity that has been so prevalent this past year. My past four years in this program have been so special and memorable, and theatre is something I plan to continue in college because of the love for the arts that O’Hara has given me.

Written by: Maureen O’Reilly ’21

Swim Season Success!

Covid tried to take away the season, but the O’Hara Swim Team wouldn’t let that happen. We rallied and came back stronger than ever! It all started when our amazing coach, Cherie Walters, secured a pool for practices. For two months beginning in January, the team and I swam outside at night in below freezing temperatures. The pool was heated (thank goodness) and when you entered the pool parking lot, you could see the steam rising from the water. Once we got in and started to swim, it warmed up. Getting out of the water was a different story…it was beyond cold and, some nights, icy along the pool deck.

Despite having practices, meets were in question for almost the entire season. We had many meets canceled because of snow. There was limited pool availability to host meets because of covid guidelines. Virtual meets, when we were lucky to compete, did not have the same excitement and energy as a normal meet would have. All through this, Coach Cherie pushed us to work hard in practice and reminded us that a “strange” season was better than no season at all. With everything going on around us, the team became even closer than we were before. We were extremely lucky to have the opportunity to swim and do what we love! 

Leading up to Districts and PCLs was nerve racking. Districts felt electric. You could tell that every swimmer was excited to be racing other teams in person. The team did amazing! We were making best times in every event and many of our swimmers were on the podium! The girls’ team placed third overall and the boys’ team placed sixth overall in the district! 

The success at Districts led to an even more successful PCL weekend. Going into PCLs, Cherie gave us one goal: to leave everything in the pool no matter what. She told us that regardless of PCL results, we had already won because of all of our hard work and dedication. We were not just swimming for ourselves, but we were swimming for Cherie because she gave us all the hope and confidence we needed. She never gave up on us even when we wanted to give up on ourselves. At PCLs, everyone had fantastic swims! The team was radiating so much energy and positivity that the global pandemic was an afterthought. When all was said and done, the team earned fifteen All-Catholic honors, the boys finished sixth in the PCL and the girls took home the title…2020-2021 PCL Champs! We look forward to hitting the water again next year and working towards another title!

Written By: Katie O’Hanlon ’22

Xavier Thompson Receives Cheyney University Keystone Scholarship!

Senior Xavier Thompson was recently awarded the Cheyney University Keystone Scholarship, which is a full, four-year scholarship to the university. Xavier plans to major in psychology with the goal of one day becoming a child psychologist, “I’ve always been interested in the human mind and want to learn more about why people do certain things, and also why they react like they do. Being able to help someone who could be going through something traumatic would be rewarding.”

Xavier has been a member of the rugby team since his sophomore year and an Operation Santa Claus participant while at O’Hara and he hopes to be part of the Danny Hammond Dance Marathon this year as well. Rugby has provided him with some of his fondest O’Hara memories, “My best O’Hara memory would have to be winning the state championship for rugby my sophomore year. Our team didn’t expect to make it that far but all of our hard work paid off.”

A graduate of Holy Cross Elementary School in Springfield, Xavier is looking forward to his college experience at Cheyney, “I choose Cheyney because of the scholarship but also because of the culture. I know some people who graduated from Cheyney and they told me that the experience there would be different from other colleges. Cheyney is somewhat close to home but far enough away so that I also feel like I would be able to get the full college experience.”

Congratulations, Xavier! We are proud to call you a #lion4life!

Meet Ms. McGeehan

I had the opportunity to interview our long-term sub, Ms. McGeehan. She is teaching ELA for freshmen and seniors. I really enjoyed my time speaking with her, and I’m so excited to share what I’ve learned about her.

Growing up, Ms. McGeehan attended Our Lady of Perpetual Help grade school. After high school, she attended Temple University.  Her favorite thing about school was always English class. She says that she especially enjoyed anything that involved creative writing. Ms. McGeehan decided that she wanted to pursue a job as a teacher simply because of how much she loved school as a child.

As one of her students, I can say my classmates and I really enjoy her teaching style. Ms. McGeehan likes to keep a comfortable atmosphere in the classroom, and she always makes sure that she takes our ideas into consideration. She would describe the goal of her class atmosphere as “laid back and collaborative.” Ms. McGeehan likes to motivate students to succeed by keeping topics relevant in her lessons. She utilizes pop culture in to help her do so. Ms. McGeehan also enjoys running in her free time, but of course hasn’t had much opportunity to recently because of the snow.

I’m so glad I had the opportunity to get to know more about Ms. McGeehan, and we are so happy to have her at Cardinal O’Hara!

Sophie Reinhardt ‘24

Getting to know Ms. DeSantis

There are many new teachers and staff at O’Hara this year, and I had the opportunity to interview one of our theology teachers, Ms. DeSantis.

  1. Where did you go to college and what was your major?

Ms. DeSantis attended DeSales University and majored in Theology. She minored in Ethical Leadership and Professional Communication. 

  1. Did you participate in any activities while you were in college?

Ms. DeSantis was very involved at DeSales University. She competed on horseback as part of the Equestrian Team. She was also involved in the Pro-life Club, Campus Ministry, Bible Study, and Peer Counseling. She helped to lead a Ladies’ Faith Formation Group and served as an ambassador by leading tours around campus. 

  1. Is this your first job?

This is Ms. DeSantis’s second job. Prior to becoming a theology teacher at O’Hara, she was working at a parish office in Quakertown. 

  1. Have you always wanted to be a teacher?

Ms. DeSantis has not always wanted to be a teacher! In her college years, she never saw herself as a teacher and wanted to pursue Youth Ministry. It was not until she got this job that she realized how much she enjoys teaching and could see this as a career path.

  1. Why did you decide on the subject of Theology?

Ms. DeSantis has always loved theology. Looking back on her senior year of high school and in talking to family and friends, she decided that she should major in theology and pursue a job that involved the study and practice of theology.

  1. What was your first impression of O’Hara?

Thinking back on her first day, Ms. DeSantis explained how it was very overwhelming, but once she got to meet the students and faculty, she realized how wonderful the community is at O’Hara!

  1. What do you like about Cardinal O’Hara so far?

Being so young and new to the profession, Ms. DeSantis is very impressed with how patient the students are with her. Whenever she has questions about anything, the faculty is always supportive and helps her in any way they can. She admires the respectful and faith-filled atmosphere that is present at O’Hara. 

  1. What do you like to do outside of teaching? Any hobbies?

Outside of teaching, Ms. Desantis likes to crochet, read, play piano and spend time with family and friends.

  1. Do you have any siblings or pets?

She has a younger sister who is twenty-two and is currently in college and has two cats named Maddie and Gemma.

Written By: Keira Bauer ’22

Mr. Mounayar is Back Where He Belongs

Math has always been Mr. Mounayar’s favorite thing to do. To him, there’s no better feeling than getting the correct answer and working with students so that they are able to get the right answer and feel this satisfaction. “The subject matter is definitely the reason I became a teacher,” Mr. Mounayar states. “Teaching math is a profession that guarantees doing around five hours of math everyday. I couldn’t think of anything else I would rather be doing.” This spirit led Mr. Mounayar to Muhlenberg College in Allentown. Although he only learned about the school because he was recruited to play football there, he left with not only an undergraduate degree but a place that truly felt like home (and still does to this day). After receiving a master’s in mathematics from Villanova University, Mr. Mounayar student taught at O’Hara in the Spring of 2016, worked at Carroll, and recently returned to the Lion’s Den this school year.

When reflecting on his time here so far, Mr. Mounayar has nothing but positive things to say. “The faculty, especially the math department, as well as my students have made the transition really easy. I have felt extremely welcome and am glad that all my students are working so hard despite the added strife that this year has been under because of the outside world. I couldn’t be happier here!” His feelings were mutual about his students as he has “been blessed with a great group of students in each one of his classes.” Although the pandemic has made teaching math a challenge, Mr. Mounayar has made several adjustments to ensure that his students are learning. By transitioning to virtual notes, practice problems, and assessments, Mr. Mounayar ensures that every student, whether hybrid or virtual, receives the same attention and exposure to the material. 

Outside of the classroom, Mr. Mounayar plays football and is a football coach. He played both offense and defense in high school and college and also received an honorable mention in the All-Centennial Conference as a senior defensive lineman in college. Some of his fondest memories have to do with the game, such as winning the Centennial Conference in his freshman and senior years. In addition, making friends and building lifelong relationships shaped who he is today. Mr. Mounayar knew he wanted to coach when he became a teacher and fortunate circumstances helped him begin this new path. The new head football coach at Carroll was actually one of his teammates and was looking for some teachers to help out. Ever since then, Mr. Mounayar has taken on the role of teacher and coach.

Although teaching math during the pandemic may not be ideal, Mr. Mounayar has not let this stop him from doing what he loves. “I truly believe that students who want to learn will be able to no matter what the circumstances are, so most of my students have been doing great.” Mr. Mounayar’s goals for his students are not just to help them improve their math skills, but to inspire them to improve as human beings during their time in high school. Whether it is supporting them as they take standardized tests or building friendships in class, Mr. Mounayar’s class isn’t just grounded in mathematics but collaboration and we could not be more excited that his journey has led him to Cardinal O’Hara High School.

Written By: Katie Tuberosa ’21

Our New Art Teacher- Ms. Johnson

I recently had the opportunity to interview our new art teacher, Ms. Johnson. It was a pleasure to sit down and get to know a little bit about her! Before O’Hara, she was a gym teacher at Chester Community Charter School and taught summer art classes at the Chester County Art Association.

Art has been in her life for a long time. She started taking advanced art classes from when she was nine years old and through high school. She used it as a way to get through tough times in her life. “My mom just really encouraged me to use art as an outlet. It kinda stuck and however many years later, I’m an art teacher.” It’s something that she truly loves to do. Art is a big part of her life. “Everything I do revolves around art! I love art. I have my own art all over my house, I come home and draw and paint. There’s no Ms. Johnson without art!”

In addition to teaching art, she also works in the main office and is the moderator for three clubs, Dance Team, Yearbook, and Black Student Union, which is new this year. “There have been challenges and they’ve been a bit stressful for me, but I think the outcome of you guys [the students] being really interested makes it worth it.” 

Something that she likes to instill in her students is confidence and positivity. “I get a lot of students that think they’re not great artists, they put themselves down, they say they can’t do this, but I believe in them.” “Every day in class we’re going to believe in ourselves, we’re going to be positive, you can do this, and I just try to instill that in them.”

She has loved her time at O’Hara so far and says it’s the best job she’s ever had. “I live in Delaware, I come to PA every morning, and I’m excited to go to work!” She loves the sense of family that O’Hara has. Even though she came to O’Hara during a time that seems impersonal with social distancing due to COVID-19, she says the O’Hara community has made her feel welcome! “You guys were all really inviting and I loved that! That’s not the case everywhere, that’s a special thing that’s just at O’Hara.” She hopes to become a permanent figure at O’Hara!

Written By: Melanie Jackson ’22

Getting to know Mr. Connor

Last week, I had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Michael Connor, O’Hara’s new President. I was able to ask him about his previous experience at O’Hara, what it’s like to be back, and what he is looking forward to in the future. 

Where did you go to college and what was your major?

“I went to Wheeling Jesuit University, in West Virginia. I majored in professional writing- at that time I had thoughts of going to law school, but I never went that route. My first job was in journalism, right out of college. I wrote for the Philadelphia Eagles Digest, which was a newspaper that covered the team, for one season. That was the only job I ever had in journalism and things changed after that.” 

Wow, that’s definitely very different from what you’re doing now. What made you want to work at a Catholic school?

“Being an alum, I’ve always been involved on the outside with the school, helping out with raising money for the basketball program and things like that over the years. My older two kids went here and I have four kids who’ve all gone through Catholic school, so my wife and I have been Catholic school parents for over twenty years. This was a great opportunity to get back into the building and support the school that’s done a lot for me over the years.” 

What activities or sports did you do while you were at O’Hara as a student?

“I played baseball and basketball for 4 years, and I was in the school play Hello Dolly my junior year (so I always say I’m thankful there weren’t video cameras around like there are now!). Other than that, I was involved in Operation Santa Claus, CSC, so, pretty active.”

What has your experience been like being back at O’Hara? Do you think things have changed significantly?

“It’s a lot different! I think any of the teachers or staff that were here in the 80s, and even 90s, will tell you how quiet it seems now- partly because of the pandemic with so few of us here. My graduating class had over 900 and when I was here we had over 3600 in the school… so in that sense it was a lot different here. In the sense of the atmosphere and how much people enjoyed being here, everybody getting along, though, that really hasn’t changed; it’s still a great place to go to school.”

What has been your favorite thing about working as the President of O’Hara?

“Really getting to interact with all the students. I’ve been a long-time volunteer coach of CYO basketball and Little League baseball; I’ve always enjoyed helping young people develop and mature to become leaders. For me, that was the most positive thing coming into the job. I love being down where everyone is coming into the building in the morning, just to see everybody and try to interact with the students as much as I can.” 

Do you have anything you’re really looking forward to? Any big plans for the future?

“On top of the list would be trying to replace the turf in the stadium. We’ve also talked about developing some sort of fieldhouse down in that area as well as developing the Media Center upstairs, and working on some of the labs. Those are probably the big ticket items.” 

Last question: if you could give a piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be? 

“Looking back I think the biggest thing you learn as you get older is, one, to try to get better every day at something, and two, keep an open mind. By that, I mean your life is going to take you in all sorts of different directions. Like I mentioned, I got out of college thinking “I’m going to be a sports writer” and a year and a half later I wasn’t even in that field anymore-  I never worked in that field again. At one point I thought I was going to be a lawyer and the road took me into sales and marketing and eventually the road brought me back to O’Hara. So, really keep an open mind and continually develop all your skills, having confidence that you’re gonna end up where you’re supposed to end up at some point.” 

At first, I was a little nervous about interviewing the President of O’Hara, but Mr. Connor was so nice and very open about his life and experiences at the school. He clearly cares about O’Hara and its future, and he knows what it’s like to be a Delco resident and student. We even discovered a shared love for In-N-Out burgers! Overall, I really enjoyed talking with him and I’m very excited to see what the future of O’Hara holds under the guidance of our new President.

Written By: Haley Garecht ’22