O’Hara Cappies Critics’ Reviews Selected for Publication

The Critics’ Award Program (CAPPIES) is a nationwide organization dedicated to supporting the performing arts. Faculty mentors select the best reviews submitted for publication, and student critics vote on the top performances for the CAPPIES Gala in May. Cardinal O’Hara is the only diocesan high school member of the 38 school Greater Philadelphia CAPPIES. Student critics vie to be published in local media outlets by attending productions at other schools and writing critical reviews.

O’Hara’s six-member Cappies team is off to a roaring start! The team has attended two local theater performances (at Episcopal Academy and Upper Merion High School) and reviews submitted for each of the performances have been selected from among the dozens submitted for publication. This is a tremendous honor for the students, for O’Hara and for Cappies moderator, Mr. David Kelly.

Junior and lead CAPPIES critic Kristin Ciampitti had her review of the Episcopal Academy production of Inherit the Wind selected for publication. Freshman Katie Tuberosa had her review for the Upper Merion production of The 39 Steps selected for publication.

Both students’ reviews are posted below. Congratulations and God bless, Kristin, Katie and our Cappies team!

INHERIT THE WIND at Episcopal Academy
Review by Kristin Ciampitti

Episcopal Academy brings us back to a pivotal time in U.S. history with the play Inherit the Wind. The talented actors and actresses take you right into the courthouse gallery to witness firsthand the evolution of the famous Scopes “Monkey” Trial.

Kristin Ciampitti ’19

Set in Tennessee in 1925, Inherit the Wind is a fictional dramatization of the trial of Bertram Cates, a small-town high school teacher who chose not to teach creationism to his students, but rather Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, which was illegal at the time. In the play, Cates is being defended by Henry Drummond, a renowned lawyer and known atheist. They are going up against Matthew Harrison Brady, who is a talented public speaker and presidential candidate.

Jacob Viscusi, who played Henry Drummond, delivered his lines with a seriousness and eloquence that gave his character depth. With the same intensity in his performance was Arnav Shiva, who portrayed Tom Davenport, the lawyer for Brady. The clash of these titans electrified every court scene.

Adelynn Anderson, the sarcastic reporter, E.K. Hornbeck, brought a bit of comic relief to the serious play. Mckee Bond, who was Matthew Harrison Brady, completely sold the slightly egotistical, religious, southern politician with his accent and mannerisms throughout the play.

Not only were the actors who had the lead roles passionate, but the townspeople were as well. In any scene involving a crowd of people, those with minor roles provided an enthusiastic response. One of the more notable scenes that this passion was evident in was the prayer meeting. They were yelling and getting on their knees as some of the more zealous religious people may do during these kinds of speeches. Everyone had their lines memorized and recited their complicated speeches without stuttering.

Not only was the acting amazing but the sets were too. The sets were well crafted and designed to utilize their resources wisely. In one scene, they pushed two tables together to create a platform for the prayer meeting. The lighting was another aspect that brought the play together. The lighting was well done and did not have any noticeable mistakes. They incorporated a few tricks as well, such as camera flashes that helped make scenes more immersive.

Overall the cast and crew of Episcopal Academy pulled off a beautiful rendition of Inherit the Wind.

THE 39 STEPS at Upper Merion High School
by: Katie Tuberosa

The 39 Steps is a spellbinding show that requires full attention or the audience might

Katie Tuberosa ’21

miss a key event in the story. With the constant costume and character changes, it could be easy for the message of the show to be lost but Upper Merion Area High School’s production of The 39 Steps was executed to near perfection.

The 39 Steps is an action-adventure story adapted from the book. Richard Hanney was wrongly accused of the murder of Annabella Schmidt, a spy on a mission to stop the malevolent Professor Jordan. Annabella leaves Richard with the task of stopping The 39 Steps (a group of spies) from stealing British Military Secrets. Richard meets some comical characters, almost gets killed, and falls in love. All of these elements combine to create a humorous, nonstop action show.

Moments into the show, the audience was given a glimpse at Trinity Pike (Mr. Memory) who perfectly portrayed the man who can recall anything. Mr. Memory is a brief, yet prominent role that ties together the show together. The way Trinity delivered her lines with ease showed her dedication to embody this memorable role.

Anna Bobok (Annabella Schmidt/Heavy #1) and Ema Isajiw (Pilot #1/Heavy #2) proved to the audience that they can be in featured roles as part of a hilarious dynamic duo. They played off each other and their energy was contagious. If not for the playbill listing the multiple roles played by the actors, it would be quite difficult to realize that they already played more than one role for they added unique assets to each character they portrayed. Anna’s German accent was authentic, while her Heavy #1’s voice was deep and masculine. As Pilot #1 and Heavy #2, Ema exuded confidence in every move she made. These character actresses brought the comic relief to this performance.

Neil Patel’s (Richard Hanney) stage presence was truly second-to-none. His body language and how he reacted to every single twist and turn helped the audience make sense of this show. Neil is truly the backbone of Upper Merion’s production for the characters played off his confidence and energy.

The singular set piece was cleverly used in several ways. Ayana Devaull’s (the prop master) props were well done and a sight to be seen. The stage crew and their leader, Taylor Mengel, made the scene changes quick and seamless. Overall, the technical aspect of this show was top-notch.

The 39 Steps was a memorable production that left the audience wanting more and demonstrated how Upper Merion’s theater program is a force to be reckoned with.





September “Lions of the Month” Roar!

Each month O’Hara students are selected by the faculty as “Lions of the Month.” Faculty and staff vote for students who make a difference here at O’Hara. The inaugural group of students to receive this distinguished honor are featured below. We are proud of our lions and congratulate them, as well as their families and elementary schools. God bless each of you!

Martin Meenan ’19
St Francis of Assisi (St Francis of Assisi)

Activities: Student Council, NHS, Operation Santa Claus, Soccer, Tennis, Basketball Manager, Link Crew, CSC, Mock Trial, Math Club, Special Olympics, Big Buddy

Leadership Positions: CSC Class Officer

Volunteer/Employment: CCC Stage Crew, Soccer, Tennis, Volleyball, Basketball

Favorite Thing About O’Hara: My favorite thing about O’Hara is the amount of sports and clubs we offer.

Izabella Cipresso ’20
Strath Haven Middle School (St. Johns)

Activities: Softball and Development Thon Committee

Volunteer/Employment: I run an Anti-Bully Walk.

Favorite Thing About O’Hara: Football games and fundraisers

Yaneana Leedie ’21
Saint Francis Xavier School (Acts of The Apostles )

Activities: Band, Lion Ambassador

Volunteer/Employment: Dance, Work

Favorite Thing About O’Hara: The people and how willing everyone is to talk to you or give you advice.

Jennifer Eburuoh ’19
Blessed Virgin Mary School (St. Anastasia)

Activities: Community Service Corps, Lion Ambassadors, Hi-Q, Link Crew, World Affairs, Golden Touch, Rosary Club, Soccer, NHS, Softball, Operation Santa Clause, Debate Club, Pro-Life Club, Dance Marathon Technology Committee

Leadership Positions: Officer for CSC, Officer for Lion Ambassadors, Captain for Dance Marathon Technology Committee

Volunteer/Employment: Divine Providence Village Volunteer, Tutor

Favorite Thing About O’Hara: My favorite thing about O’Hara is the character of the students. I love seeing my classmates support each other whether it is on the football field, on stage, or in the classroom.

Gavin Lewis ’21
Our Lady of Angels Regional Catholic School (Our Lady of Fatima )

Activities: Community Service Corps, Theatre Program, Choir, Robotics Club, Sandwich Club, and Lion Ambassadors.

Volunteer/Employment: Youth Group & Catholic Community Choir

Favorite Thing About O’Hara: My favorite thing at O’Hara is by far the Theatre program. The songs are so intense and great that it is a whole new experience! The dancing is great too! I have already met so many new friends and had so many cool and funny experiences that I will remember all my life. I am definitely going to be a part of the theatre program all four years of high school.

Jack Tuberosa ’19
St. Pius X School (St. Pius)

Activities: Community Service Corps, National Honor Society, WCOH, Lion Ambassadors, Link Crew, Broadcast Club, Soccer, Dance Marathon Tech Committee, Operation Santa Claus

Leadership Positions: Junior officer for Lion Ambassadors; Co-President of Broadcast Club

Volunteer/Employment: St. Pius summer camp counselor; sacristant for St. Pius Parish; KYW Newstudies Internship

Favorite Thing About O’Hara: The friends that I have made throughout my time here.

Emma Dunham ’18
Holy Saviour (k-6) Holy Family Regional Catholic School (7-8) (St. John Fisher)

Activities: Peer Leadership, Yearbook, Link Crew, National Honors Society (NHS), Dance Marathon, CSC (Don Guanella, Sandwich Club, Golden Touch, Special Olympics at Villanova, Philabundance, and Operation Santa Claus).

Leadership Positions: I am a leader in CSC and a leader in Peer Leadership which works to make other students, especially seniors become more aware of the harmful effects of alcohol and substance abuse.

Volunteer/Employment: During summer of 2017, I dedicated my time to helping serve St. Katherine Drexel’s Cupboard.

Favorite Thing About O’Hara: Without a doubt, my favorite thing is being a member of CSC. This club has sincerely shown me the true meaning of service. I am always recruiting more people, especially freshmen, to join CSC.

Kevin Osayi ’20
Sharon Hill Elementary (Saint George)

Activities: Regina Chesterton, Pro-Life, Big Buddy

Leadership Positions: Pro-Life

Volunteer/Employment: Tutoring younger kids from my grade school.

Favorite Thing About O’Hara: The stable and supportive learning environment.


O’Hara Theater Students Hone Their Craft in the Summer

Upper Darby Summer Stage is a Delaware County institution! Their list of notable alumni is extensive and the opportunities they offer students to hone their craft is priceless!

Their first 2017 production, “Annie,” will open on July 5th. And the O’Hara theater students have taken this local community theater program by storm.We are proud to say that three of the leads are O’Hara students: Katie Till ’20 (“Annie”), Dylan Rooney ’19 (“Daddy Warbucks”) and Tina Goldhorn ’20 (“Ms. Hannigan.”) Additionally, other O’Hara students play other roles and are in the ensemble.

“We are so proud of all of the O’Hara students who are participating in community theater this summer! We are excited to witness many of these students perform in ‘Annie’. The arts are a vital part of the O’Hara experience and we are blessed to have a world of opportunities for our students to gain valuable experience this summer,” reflected Jeff Braconnier, O’Hara choral and theater director.

Harry Dietzler, Artistic and Executive Director of Upper Darby Summer Stage, echoes those sentiments, “We have been blessed with having many of the talented Cardinal O’Hara High School students join us over the years and perform on our stage. It is our goal to not only provide training in theater arts, but more importantly, teach Summer Stage students the skills to be a great citizens: empathy, collaborative skills, and respect for others. We think these values align closely with O’Hara’s goals so it’s a win-win for all involved!”

Upper Darby Summer Stage is offering a great ticket package to celebrate our O’Hara students in this show with “O’Hara Morning at Summer Stage” for the show on Wednesday, July 5 at 10:30 am. Visit https://udpac.secure.force.com/ticket/ to get your tickets. Use ohara as a code to get $2 off every ticket purchased for that performance.


Leaving a Legacy…

Meet the Tumolos: Matt, Diane (Duffin ’82) and Olivia ’17. Alexandra and Caroline ’13 are also members of the Tumolo family, our extended O’Hara family. Recently, Diane and Matt were discussing ways to give back to O’Hara, a second home to their family for years, and they had a great idea to involve members of the Class of 2017 in giving back.

On Tuesday, June 6th, Matt and Diane spoke to the seniors the day before these students officially became alumni. They spoke of the importance of giving back to O’Hara, the home of those 253 students for years. At the end of their remarks, Diane told the class that the Tumolo family was donating $5 for each senior to ‘give’ back to The O’Hara Fund and begin their life as supporters of their alma mater. The Class of 2017 erupted into applause and eagerly signed up to be part of this ground-breaking initiative.

Thanks to the Tumolos, we are proud to say that the Class of 2017 has 100% participation in The O’Hara Fund! What a tremendous blessing for O’Hara! The O’Hara Fund is vital to supporting all of the programs and services for our school. With the support of families, friends, corporations and our more than 30,000 alumni, we are able to provide many programs and services to enhance the education of our students. Donations to The O’Hara Fund may be made online at http://www.cohs.com/donate or checks may be mailed to Office of Advancement, 1701 S. Sproul Road, Springfield, PA 19064.

Thank you, Tumolo family! And thank you, Class of 2017!


My Journey as a Lion

Schola is one of the members of the Class of 2017. Her journey was made possible thanks to generous donations from alumni, parents, family, and friends. Please consider making a donation to The O’Hara Fund so that more students can experience an O’Hara journey. Gifts may be made by visiting http://www.cohs.com/donate or by mailing a check to Office of Institutional Advancement, 1701 S. Sproul Road, Springfield, PA 19064. Checks postmarked by June 30, 2017 will be included in our annual report of donors for 2016-17.

By Schola Eburuoh ’17

My name is Schola Eburuoh and I am a part of Cardinal O’Hara’s graduating Class of 2017. My four years at O’Hara have certainly been memorable. As a freshman, I came into Cardinal O’Hara High School excited to learn new things, not just about my future academic career but about myself, my abilities, and my spirituality. Now, reaching the end of my high school career, I realize that I have learned much more than I ever thought possible as a nervous 9th grader. At this point, I would like to take you on a trip through my four years as a student at Cardinal O’Hara High School.

The first words I remember hearing as a freshman at Cardinal O’Hara were “get involved.” These two words have definitely stuck with me all four years. Since the beginning of my high school career, my education has always been important to me, yet I never thought much about getting involved. This all changed once I came to O’Hara, where getting involved simply was and is “the thing to do.” To say the least, I was determined to begin to get involved. I joined the competitive cheerleading team and participated in the Golden Touch Club which organizes bi-weekly visits to the Riddle Village Retirement Home. During my sophomore year I expanded my list of activities and responsibilities. I became captain of the JV cheerleading team, joined the Sandwich Club and Newspaper Club at O’Hara and became more involved in ministry as well as the Pro-Life club. After attending the March for Life in January of 2015 my affinity towards helping those in need through my faith as a Catholic began to cultivate.

In this respect, Junior year was a year of immense change for me. I attended a Catholic retreat entitled The National Catholic Youth Conference and truly discovered my faith. This trip was sponsored by O’Hara and I could not be anymore grateful that I took part as a student ambassador. The entirety of the conference was themed “Here I am Lord” taken from the book of Samuel. The Lord calls upon Samuel and each time Samuel answers His call. This simple response is how I strive to encounter God and, through this retreat, I acknowledged that He calls upon me, as well as all people, to make an impact.

After this amazing experience I truly sought to encompass the pride, excellence and tradition which our school in indisputably known for.  I strived to push myself academically as I signed up for the more challenging advanced placement and honors courses available here at O’Hara. The added support from my teachers truly compelled me to go above and beyond what I believed I could ever accomplish. Through such support, I knew I had the resources to simultaneously organize my classes and be an active member of my school community. I participated in Cardinal O’Hara’s Mini-THON, which raises money for pediatric cancer research and support for families.  I was a member of the Family Relations Committee and won the first ever logo contest for the event. The following year, as a senior, I became a Committee Captain and again won the contest and took a greater role during the day of the event. Watching students come together for an amazing cause was astonishing and I know that Mini-THON is definitely one of the many activities I will miss participating in next year. I will also miss being a part of the Lion Ambassadors organization which allows students to act as representatives of the school and organize alumni events and fundraisers. As president of the organization this year I will truly miss coordinating these great activities.

My junior year took an unexpected turn as I decided to try something completely new by joining the track & field team at Cardinal O’Hara. I quickly bonded with my teammates and learned a great deal from each of them. As a newbie I was apart of the Philadelphia Catholic League (PCL) winning outdoor season, was a district 12 champion in the 400 and high jump events, and am a part of the school’s record holding 4×400 relay at Cardinal O’Hara. It was such an incredible season that this year, as a senior, I decided I could not get enough of the sport and participated in both the indoor and outdoor seasons. Our team won the PCL for both seasons, and I became district 12 champion in three events this year: the triple jump, long jump and high jump, breaking the school record in the triple jump and the meet record in the long jump as well as moving onto the PIAA State Championships and being one of the few in Cardinal O’Hara’s history to medal in States by coming 6th in the triple jump-all after only one season of practice. Being a part of such an amazing team has taught me that, individually we can each be great, but together we can conquer much greater feats. I never thought I would get to know so many great people in such a short amount of time, but I truly have formed a second family from my two short years on the team.

It is true what they say, senior year goes by in an instant, but it also holds the most memories. Throughout my years at O’Hara I have not only been given the opportunity to showcase my athletic abilities, but my creativity as well. At this year’s “Luck of the Stylish” Senior Fashion Show, I became the first student in O’Hara’s history to have my own line of clothing walk down the runway! This was a dream come true and I have the administration of Cardinal O’Hara to thank for this opportunity as well as my friends who helped name my line, “SE Originals.” The five girls walked the runway in outfits I made throughout my years at O’Hara: my homecoming dress, snowball dress and prom dress were a few of the featured outfits. The amount of support I received after the fashion show encouraged me to make my senior prom dress and my baccalaureate dress as well. Just four years ago I would never have imagined this simple hobby to allow me countless opportunities in a few short years. In fact, the same can be said about much of what I have done throughout my four years participating in community service, sports and academics at Cardinal O’Hara.

I now end my high school academic career as being ranked within the top 10 of my graduating class of over 250 students, as well as being an active member of the National Honors Society. I am also a recipient of the Union League Good Citizenship award and am a distinguished 2017 Archdiocese of Philadelphia Academic Scholar. Not to mention the plethora of personal accomplishments such as the fashion show, ministry and sports which I will always remember. All of these honors would not have been possible without the guidance of my school community, friends, faculty and family. Because of these people I will always be a lion at heart, even as I attend The Catholic University of America next year, at which I will further my academic, athletic and spiritual careers.

As I walk through the halls as a student for the last time, I believe I have made my impact on Cardinal O’Hara High School. And although I am sad to leave an institution which has instilled in me a vast amount of knowledge and skills, I know I will be a lion for life and am excited to start a new journey in which I will showcase what I have been taught here. I will forever be grateful and take pride in being a student at Cardinal O’Hara High School.


Schola Eburuoh Selected as Lions Club Student of the Month

Each month, the Lions Club of Marple Newtown honors an O’Hara student at their meeting at Charlotte’s Restaurant on West Chester Pike. Schola Eburuoh ’17 was the February Student of the Month. Learn more about Schola. We are proud to call her a lion!


Schola Eburuoh is currently a senior at Cardinal O’Hara High School. She enjoys being involved in her school community through extracurricular activities and sports. She is currently the president of the Lion Ambassadors Organization at Cardinal O’Hara High School. Within this organization she leads over 100 students in fundraising for the school, organizing appreciation events for administration, and holding tours for alumni. She is also one of the senior presidents of her high school’s Community Service Corps and is a captain of the family relations committee for Cardinal O’Hara’s mini-THON which raises awareness and funds for pediatric cancer research. She has won the logo contest for mini-THON two years in a row with her own artistic designs.

Also within her school community, Schola is a Link Leader and acts a a “big sister” to a group of eight freshman in her school. She is Captain of the varsity cheerleading team which recently flew to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida for the High School National Cheerleading Championship. She also participated in outdoor track & field her junior year and is a high jumper for indoor track this year. During her first year of track & field, Schola was part of the school record breaking 4-by-4 relay team and helped her team win the Philadelphia Catholic League (PCL) championship. She was also district 12 champion of the 400 meter dash in the outdoor track season in 2016.

Schola is a member of the National Honor Society, and is academically ranked within the top ten of her graduating class. She is also involved in her campus ministry and volunteer programs. During her junior year she attended the National Catholic Youth Conference and served as an ambassador to the youth. She also worked as a youth ambassador for the Catholic retreat entitled Generation Phaith and during her Junior year she received the Philadelphia Union League Good Citizenship Award.



In her free time Schola enjoys sewing, drawing and crafting. During the spring of 2016 she made her own junior prom dress and she currently owns her own Etsy shop in which she sells some of her homecrafted and sewn creations. She greatly enjoys this hobby and has recently had many of her clothing designs modeled in her school’s annual fashion show this year.

Schola plans on continuing her involvement in these activities and making the most of her final year at Cardinal O’Hara High School.

In My Own Words: Becoming an Eagle Scout

image2by: Kenny Cericola ’17

When I first started the Boy Scouts, it was back in 5th grade; at that time, I became a webelo. Normally you start at a younger age, the Cub Scouts, but because of my age I started higher than that. A few years later I crossed over into the Boy Scouts. This is where I met people that I’ve made lasting friendships with and learned so many things to help me better myself.  Scouting isn’t just knots and merit badges as most people think. My troop participates in so many activities and fundraisers, aside from a camping trip every month and summer camp. The Boy Scouts isn’t just a place for kids to go and have fun and make friends, it’s a place for them to learn life skills and mature into responsible members of our communities.

The rank of Eagle Scout is the highest that you can earn in scouting. It takes the most effort and hard work to achieve. The first requirement is to obtain and hold the “life Scout” rank for six months, then comes the paperwork and planning. At this point your Scoutmaster and fellow leaders will prepare you for your work ahead, applications, having all your merit badges completed, and scheduling your project. Your Eagle project is a huge portion of your journey to Eagle. Before working on your project a scout must propose their plan to their troop in order to get approval and start. An Eagle project is not only meant to help the company or people. It’s about improving the Scout’s leadership skills. And once a Scout has completed his project, application, and binder describing everything about his project and himself, he sends it off to counsel and they will select a date to hold his board of review. An Eagle board of review is one of the scariest things I have had to prepare for, but once I sat down and went through it I realized that it wasn’t as bad as I thought. This was only made possible by the help and support of my troop and fellow Eagle Scouts. As I mentioned before the goal of becoming an Eagle Scout is meant to make a scout a better leader, and through this process I am certain that I have become not just a better leader, but a better person as well.


Student Filmmaking: A New Form of Expression

By Joe Ramoni ’11

As an O’Hara student, my favorite part of the year was Christmas-time. Maybe it was because of that incredible feeling walking to my next class, hearing Christmas music over the PA system. Maybe it was because I could just hardly contain my excitement for the upcoming Christmas break. Or maybe it was just because of the overwhelming sense of joy and merriment that came from the faculty and students that time of year.

While these are all good possibilities, I think deep down I’ll always know why that time of year was my favorite: the annual production of O’Hara’s 12 Days of Christmas – a video short that took the popular Christmas song and themed it around O’Hara. As an introverted student who wasn’t involved in any additional clubs or sports, the annual production of this short Christmas video was always my chance to shine. What began as something fun started by WCOH Studios, would become an O’Hara tradition. The earliest example available on YouTube is from 2009, but I can remember finding copies that dated as far back as 2006. (WCOH studios still produces a new video each year).

I don’t know what it was about working on this video that was so special to me. I think it was because it was a chance for teachers, faculty, and students to all come together and act silly for this one time each year. My junior year (the 2009 video) was so fun to work on, that I vowed when I would take over the production as a senior, I would do something completely different.

That “something different” would come in the form of the very first “O’Hara movie” as they’ve become known. It was November of my senior year when I said to my Media Production teacher, “Mr. Cook, instead of once again adapting the Twelve Days of Christmas, why don’t we adapt another Christmas story?” “What did you have in mind?”, Cook asked – and even though I pretended to think for a minute, I already had known the answer for months. “Why don’t we adapt Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol?”, I replied. Mr. Cook heard out my pitch, about a miserable-Scrooge of a teacher who gets visited by three ghosts to convince him to change his ways.

Over the course of the next couple of weeks we had a full-teacher cast that included Mr. Wills, Mrs. Borusiewicz, and the ever so great Mr. Hahn playing a satirized version of himself. It would be the largest undertaking we had ever done for a video production at the school with a script topping 20 pages. But Mr. Cook agreed to let me lead the whole production and even helped me build an awesome team of co-directors (special shout to to Nicole DiCrecchio, Nick Vasek, Brittany DeMara, and Regina Wilkinson). 

My production team for A Cardinal O’Hara Christmas Carol. December 2010.

Long story short, the video would go on to become the highlight of my senior year. It was a difficult, straining production process that lasted weeks, but the end result was well worth it. To make things even better, we were allowed to screen the 20 minute film for the entire student body. At the end, my team and I were pushed on-stage for a standing ovation. As I looked out at the sea of students and faculty applauding, something became very clear to me – this is what I wanted to do with my life.

I followed up the Cardinal O’Hara Christmas Carol with an O’Hara adaption of the Wizard of Oz that Spring and I used both productions to get me accepted into film school. It was an important moment in my life, and I knew I had started a new tradition at O’Hara that would hopefully continue for years to come. 

The year after I graduated, students produced an O’Hara adaptation of Elf in 2012 and things looked bright for the future of the O’Hara movies – but then the unthinkable happened. The teachers who helped guide me during my film productions (Mr. Cook and Mr. Konecki) left O’Hara that year and with their departure, no one was left to guide students. What was supposed to be a new O’Hara tradition seemingly died out. Until 2015 that is.

Last year, through a twist of fate and a little luck, I found myself back at Cardinal O’Hara as something I never thought I would be – a moderator. A moderator whose main role was to guide students in the filmmaking process I once went through way back in 2010 – making the first O’Hara movie. From my first meeting with members of what would become the O’Hara Film Club, I could instantly tell the creative energy that existed amongst these great students. They were hungry to do something different, something new, much like I had once been.

They conceived an idea for an O’Hara adaptation of The Grinch. They came up with the idea, learned how to write a script, and then got to go through the entire production process. These were students who had been greatly interested in filmmaking, yet had never been given the chance or guidance to actually make films. And with just a simple amount of guidance on my part, these students picked up the pieces and produced a film that rivaled any video that I, or any other O’Hara student had ever done before.

When I was a senior, there were about five of us who were genuinely interested in filmmaking. The O’Hara Film Club currently surpasses 25+ members today. I think that is a testament to the evolution of students’ creative interests. My hope is that our very own Film Club encourages other high schools in the area and around the country to invest in student filmmaking. It is a powerful medium and a tool for expression that, in my opinion, is drastically underutilized in secondary education. For the past 50 years, high school theatre/drama has been the go-to for creative expression. We’re getting to a point now where technology has evolved, as have students’ interests and passions and I think it’s time we start placing as much emphasis and backing on student film productions as we have on student stage productions.

Since that the initial success of the students’ Grinch adaptation, our club has gone on to produce several more short film pieces including an incredible O’Hara adaptation of Back to the Future and they are currently working on many other films as I write this post. Several Film Club students have used their work in the club to get accepted into film school – much like I did way back when. To date, the “O’Hara movies” through the years have surpassed over 150,000 combined views on YouTube. There are students who come to open house who specifically state they want to come to O’Hara “to make movies” which to me is incredible.

Every time we premiere one of our videos and my students take the spotlight, I get to see that same look in their eyes – that look I once had that says “This is what I want to do with my life”. And it is through them that I’m reminded of the same exact thing – helping students realize their full potential through the art of film has been my renewed purpose in life and I hope it continues for years to come.

And It All Started with an English Notebook…

by: Pat House ’03

In 1999, I was a freshman at O’Hara and I was obsessed with all things comedy – photo29particularly stand-up. I was a huge Monty Python fan, I had every line of Wayne’s World 1 & 2 memorized (still do!) and I loved everything about Saturday Night Live, but nothing grabbed me the way stand-up comedy did. Just one person with a microphone – I loved it.

At some point during freshman year, the same notebook I used for English class inadvertently became my first comedy notebook. Any ridiculous thought, idea or observation I had was jotted down in that blue notebook. At the time, I had no idea what I planned to do with these random, scribbled notes, but for the next four years, I had that notebook with me everyday in high school.
After O’Hara, I went to Temple University, where I saw my first live stand-up shows. If a comedian was performing on campus, I was there. One night, after one of the shows, I introduced myself to one of the comics (who also happened to be from the Philly area), and said I wanted to try an open-mic. We talked comedy for a while, but most importantly, he told me where to go to try things out for myself. The following Wednesday, I took that infamous notebook to the Laff House on South Street.
I waited in line in the cold with a bunch of other aspiring comics, put my name on the list and was picked to go on fourth – and that was it. I was hooked. All it took was four minutes alone on stage for the addiction to begin. Getting that first big laugh in a comedy club is something I can’t even describe. It was a rush I never felt before. A rush I never even knew existed. For the next few years, I was getting on stage anywhere from five to ten times a week. Comedy clubs, bars, coffee shops – you name it; I couldn’t get on stage enough.
While it’s the greatest decision I’ve ever made, there have been plenty of rough nights along the way. When someone first starts out, for every good show, there are four bad ones and it’s easy to get discouraged. Most people are terrified of public speaking in the first place, so imagine being on stage in front of a room full of strangers. You’re supposed to make them laugh, but it’s just not happening. Your cheeks turn red, you start to sweat. The crowd can sense you’re nervous and you forget what you’re about to say next. The room gets awkward and everyone can feel it. It’s embarrassing, and not only that – a rough set can linger on your mind for days. The only remedy? Get on stage again! I’ve always been taught that you learn a lot from mistakes, and that has been exceptionally true in stand-up.
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to make stand-up a career. In 2013, I recorded my first album right here in Philly (at Helium) and since then I’ve been busier than ever performing in comedy clubs, theaters and casinos all over the country.
I still have that notebook that I wrote my first jokes in, and it’s still in pretty good condition. Every time I flip through it, I’m reminded of being 14, sitting in O’Hara, wondering what I was going to do with those random, scribbled notes.
Pat House ’03 is headlining Helium Comedy Club on Wednesday, Dec. 21. Other comics on the show include Peggy O’Leary, Christian Alsis, Sergio Santana and Jake Mattera, who are all also O’Hara grads.
Tickets can be purchased here: https://philadelphia-heliumcomedy-com.seatengine.com//shows/47535.
Pat can be reached at pathouse@gmail.com or @BohemianPatsody on Twitter and Instagram.