All About Merit Scholars Haley Garecht and Dora Tomko

The SAT is no easy task, it takes a lot of preparation, determination, and hard work to perform well. Juniors Haley Garecht and Dora Tomko understand the effort it takes to succeed on the SAT as they each met the requirements to enter the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program. Haley and Dora are among the 50,000 highest scoring participants who will be recognized as either Semifinalist or Commended Students in the fall. Recently Advancement Intern Erin Donovan ‘20 was able to sit down with the girls to discuss advice for others preparing for the SAT, life at O’Hara, and their future plans. Here are their responses:

1. Advice for students taking the PSAT and SAT/ best way to prepare for PSAT and SAT? 

Haley:  My advice to anyone looking to do well on the PSAT and SAT is to go easy on the content review and focus on practicing HOW to take the test. Although the math and writing content is important, I felt so much better overall once I practiced questions and felt like I understood the structure of the test(s) before taking them.

Dora:  Don’t stress out about it! Study beforehand to get a good idea of the material you’ll be looking at, and use Khan Academy to figure out your strengths and weaknesses. But also remember to get a good night’s sleep beforehand, and remember it’s just a test, and you can take it again as many times as you need to.

2. What are your plans for college- what colleges are you looking at, what majors are you interested in, do you plan to do any activities/sports in college?

 Haley: The main colleges I’m interested in are University of Pennsylvania, Boston College, and William & Mary. As of right now, I’m looking into majoring in Psychology or Political Science with a pre-law focus, but that could change any time! During college I’m hoping to play club volleyball and do theater in some capacity. 

Dora: At the moment, I’m interested in Villanova, Notre Dame, William and Mary, Princeton, and a few others. I plan to major in history, and I hope to be involved in dance in college as well.

3. What activities/ sports are you involved in at O’Hara? 

Haley: This year at O’Hara, I am involved in: Volleyball, Show, DHDM, Lion Ambassadors, Students for Life Club, CSC, Choir, Lion Connection, and Golden Touch. 

Dora:  I am in show, choir, Lion Ambassadors, Lion Connection, Students for Life, CSC, and Tri-M.

4. What are your classes this year/ next year? 

Haley: This year I took Honors Latin, RCA Theology/Philosophy, Vocal, Honors Chemistry, Honors Pre-Calc, AP Lang & Comp, and AP U.S. History. Next year, I am hoping to take RCA Theology/Philosophy, AP Lit, AP Calc AB, AP Psychology, AP Environmental Science, Honors Latin, and Vocal. 

Dora: This year, I’m taking Latin, RCA Theology, Vocal, Chemistry, Pre-Calc, AP Lang, and APUSH. Next year I’m taking Latin, RCA Theology, RCA Literature, AP Psych, AP Stat, AP Environmental, and Vocal.

5. What is the best part about O’Hara? 

Haley:  I think the best part about O’Hara is the spirit of involvement among the students. Everyone is a part of something, whether it is sports, show, or other clubs, and I think you would be hard pressed to find an O’Hara student who isn’t at school 3+ days a week after school for activities. Since freshman year, the kids and teachers have encouraged me to get involved, which makes the community so vibrant and fun to be a part of. 

Dora: I think the best part about O’Hara is the Regina Chesterton program. It has been so much fun being able to access in-depth, classical texts throughout high school and has given me a much better understanding of theology, literature, and philosophy.

6. What is your favorite O’Hara memory? 

Haley:  My favorite O’Hara memory is probably doing Music Man this year. It was so much fun to be onstage again after the pandemic, and we all became very close as a cast because everyone was so happy to be together. 

Dora: My favorite O’Hara memory is this year’s show, The Music Man. It was so much fun to be back on a stage again after so long and I was so grateful to be there with all of my friends again.

We are so proud of Haley and Dora for all of their accomplishments and are happy to call them both Lions for Life! 

NYU School of Dentistry New Student: Emma Sharrets

Recently Advancement Intern Erin Donovan ‘20 sat down with Senior Emma Sharrets to discuss her acceptance into the NYU School of Dentistry, what she plans to do with a dental hygiene degree, and how she became interested in the profession of dental hygiene. Here are Emma’s responses:

1. How did you become interested in dental hygiene?

  • I have always loved science, so going into a science related field was something that interested me. What really drew me into dental hygiene specifically was seeing just how much of a difference hygienists make. Being able to help multiple patients each day is something I’m so excited for and I can’t wait to be uplifted every day knowing I am having a positive impact on people’s health and lives!

2. What route do you plan to take with a dental hygiene degree?

  • As an incoming member of NYU’s dental hygiene program, I will be working towards earning a bachelor of science degree in dental hygiene. My main goal after getting my degree is to work in a clinical setting as a registered dental hygienist!

3. What fascinates you most about dentistry?

  • As an aspiring hygienist, one of the most fascinating aspects of dentistry and overall oral health is how important preventative care is. This includes brushing twice a day, flossing consistently, and going in for routine cleanings / checkups every 6 months. I think it’s so cool that as a hygienist I’ll be able to help patients with preventative care in the clinic, as well as give them the advice and resources needed to maintain a proper oral health routine at home!

4. Out of all the schools you applied to what stood out to you about NYU’s School of Dentistry?

  • Of course there’s the excitement of moving to the big city, but that’s not all that made NYU stand out. At other schools, most dental hygiene programs are not located within an actual dental school. NYU’s program being located within the college of dentistry gives me so many great opportunities. I’ll be able to work hand in hand with aspiring dentists, just like in a real clinical setting. Not to mention, community service is at the heart of NYUCD. Especially within the healthcare field, it is important to me that the school I attend puts serving the community as a top priority. 

5. How did it feel when you heard you were accepted to NYU’s School of Dentistry?

  • I was so shocked when I found out I was accepted, especially because of how I was told! Part of the admissions process includes a phone interview. Right after the interview wrapped up, I was told over the phone that I had been accepted! I was delighted and especially surprised because I didn’t expect an admissions decision right then and there! I was shocked not only at the timing of everything, but also that I had gotten in in the first place! NYU had always seemed like an out of reach dream, so I still can’t believe I’ll actually be going there in the fall!

6. As NYU’s School of Dentistry is pretty tough to get accepted into, how did you prepare throughout high school to reach your goals?

  • I’ve known since early on in my high school career that I wanted to go into dental hygiene or at least something involving science. With this in mind, I opted to take as many science classes as possible to help prepare me for my career and to build a solid foundation before starting dental hygiene school. 

7. Have you been able to have any hands-on experience or been able to observe dentistry up close in your lifetime?

  • I am very fortunate that my dentist gave me the opportunity to shadow at his office. I was able to see firsthand what hygienists do every day as well as observe other procedures. This was fairly early on in the process of making a definite decision of what to study in college. I can say that it absolutely helped me come to the conclusion that dental hygiene was for me!

8. Did any of your own dentists inspire you to want to be a member of the profession?

  • Yes absolutely! At the heart of the field of dentistry, or any medical profession for that matter, is the desire to help people. This shines through in every dentist visit I’ve experienced and is definitely an inspiration to me. I have special insight of sorts, as my mom works at a dentist office. From this, I know that everyone works as a team to make sure each patient is brought into a welcoming environment. The hygienists get to know each patient on a personal level, which is something I hope to embody as I enter the field.

9. What are you most excited for as you start your next endeavor?

  • One of the things I’m most excited for is moving to NYC! The city has so much to offer and I can’t wait to experience it all with the new people I’ll meet! NYU has such a large student body, so I have the incredible opportunity to meet and make new friends with people from all over the world! All these people coming together in one of the greatest cities in the world is so beautiful to me and I can not wait to be a part of it all!

10. Is there anything you are nervous about going forward?

  • As exciting as moving to New York is, I’m nervous about leaving home and my friends from this area. It’s hard to wrap my head around not being able to see my friends every day, so that will definitely take some getting used to. I’ve been reminding myself that even though it feels far away, I’m only a train ride away from home. I’m optimistic, and despite any nervousness I know that this will be a great experience for me!

Congratulations to Emma on this wonderful accomplishment and we wish her the best of luck next fall as she begins this exciting new chapter of her life! 

Meet O’Hara Valedictorian Katie Tuberosa

Recently, Erin Donovan ‘20, Advancement Intern, sat down with Class of 2021  Valedictorian Katie Tuberosa to discuss her time at O’Hara, her future plans, and any advice she would like to pass on to future lions. Here’s a recap of their discussion: 

  1. Where did you go to elementary school and what is your Parish? I have attended Saint Pius X School in Broomall since preschool.
  2. What activities did you participate in here at O’Hara? Did you hold any Leadership positions for any of these activities? At O’Hara, I participated in several activities. I am a CSC President, a Lion Ambassador President, a Tri-M Vice President, on the Lion Connection Executive Board, the Lead Cappies Critic, and the Communications Coordinator for DHDM. I am also part of the shows, Choir, Operation Santa Claus, and the National Honor Society. 
  3. Do you have any advice for the class of 2025? Join everything that piques your interest! Whether it’s trying out for a new sport, attending a DHDM fundraiser, or auditioning for the show, I promise you that you will not regret it. Extracurriculars are how you will meet your lifelong friends, so don’t be afraid to try something new.
  4. What is your favorite quote? “Nothing worth having comes easy.” – Teddy Roosevelt
  5. What is your greatest O’Hara Memory? There have been so many memories that I’ve made at O’Hara that I will cherish forever but my favorite one would have to be when I was nominated as Outstanding Underclassman Critic as a freshman for O’Hara’s Cappies program. Ever since I started coming to the O’Hara shows in middle school, I wanted to be a Cappies Critic and write about theater. Being acknowledged for something that I’ve loved doing each year in the Cappies program was an honor.
  6. Are there any people or classes that have had an impact on you? All of the departments at Cardinal O’Hara have taught me valuable lessons, but the English and Theology departments and teachers hold a special place in my heart. English has helped me discover my career path and Theology has allowed me to grow stronger in my faith and relationship with God. I cannot thank the amazing teachers that I’ve had in these departments and every department during my time at O’Hara.
  7. College Plans: What colleges did you get accepted to? What is your college destination and major/minor? Honors program? Anticipated activities? I was accepted to Syracuse, American, Loyola Maryland, Pepperdine, Drexel, St. Joe’s, Neumann, Immaculata, and Villanova. I will attend Villanova University majoring in Public Relations and Advertising, minoring in both theater and criminology, and will be part of the honors program. I plan on participating in the Blue Key Society, theater, Special Olympics, and NOVAdance.

Congratulations to Katie on all of her achievements here at O’Hara and for all that she has contributed as a leader in the school. We are proud to call her a Lion for life! 

Meet O’Hara Salutatorian Declan Pennese

Recently Erin Donovan ‘20, Advancement Intern, sat down with Class of 2021 Salutatorian Declan Pennese to discuss his time at O’Hara, his future plans, and any advice he would like to pass on to future lions. Here’s a recap of their discussion.

  1. Where did you go to elementary school and what is your Parish? I attended Saint Francis of Assisi in Springfield. 
  2. What activities did you participate in here at O’Hara? Did you hold any Leadership positions for any of these activities? I am a Co-Captain of the Ultimate frisbee team, as well as a member of swimming, theater, choir, Lion Connections, Community Service Corps, National Honor Society, and Lion Ambassadors. 
  3. Do you have any advice for the class of 2025? My advice for the class of 2025 would be to make a calendar for yourself and break big projects into pieces. 
  4. What is your favorite quote? “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.”-Marie Curie
  5. What is your greatest O’Hara Memory? My greatest O’Hara memory is raising 100 thousand dollars for our Danny Hammond Dance Marathon.
  6. Are there any people or classes that have had an impact on you? Mr Youngblood’s Philosophy/Theology class had an impact on me.
  7. College Plans: What colleges did you get accepted to? What is your college destination and major/minor? Honors program? Anticipated activities? I was accepted to College of Charleston, Dickinson College, Lafayette College, Loyola University Maryland, Marymount University, Neumann University, The Catholic University of America, University of Pittsburgh, and William & Mary. I will attend The Catholic University of America majoring in Biochemistry and as a member of the honors program. I plan to participate in intramural frisbee, swimming and possibly Crew. 

Congratulations to Declan on all of his achievements here at O’Hara and for all that he has contributed as a leader in the school. We are proud to call him a Lion for life! 

All About the Cappies!

Recently Erin Donovan ’20, Advancement Intern, sat down with Cappies moderator David Kelly to discuss the history of the Cappies at O’Hara, what the O’Hara’s Cappies program has accomplished, and how the Seniors this year kept the program alive. Here’s a recap of their discussion:

  1. What is the history of the Cappies program at O’Hara? Cardinal O’Hara joined the Greater Philadelphia Area Critics Awards Program (Cappies) in the fall of 2013, when Mr. Jeff Dietzler took over as director of the school shows. I was already a member of the Cappies Steering Committee, and volunteered to become the moderator of the new O’Hara Cappies team. O’Hara then joined with the 30 plus member schools in the Philadelphia area, and in the time since then, has been the only diocesan to maintain continuous membership.  Each school is only allowed to have six student critics, and I held writing auditions each school year to select the most promising critics. To “audition”, each student writes a review of a short video of a show from a Cappies member school. The first O’Hara Critics’ Team consisted of Isobel McCravy (Lead Critic), Molly Kilker, Fiona Magnini, Colette Nolan, Liz Bradley, and Mary Anna Gatta.  Every critic commits to attending at least 5 shows, (drama or musical) at member schools during the year, and write reviews of these shows. In early May, critics then vote on their choices for the prestigious “CAPPIES” Award. The winners of the awards are presented at a Gala in May.

2. What are some of the highlights of the Cappies Program over the year? From the very beginning, O’Hara earned many honors in the program. Many of our critics had their reviews selected for publication in both the print and online editions of The Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as local papers in the area of the reviewed school. O’Hara’s entry in the 2014-2015 season, The Drowsy Chaperone, saw nominations for the Cappies Award  for Stage Crew, Song: “I am Aldolfo!”, show, Comic Actress: Jackie Rooney, Comic Actor:Billy Issertell, Supporting Actor: Dan Szkudlapski,  Lead Actor: Adam Landolfi, Vocalist : Katelyn Hayes. The O’Hara critics team also was nominated for top team, and Molly Kilker was nominated for upperclass critic. More recent winners include Thomas Dempsey as the Cat in the Hat in Zeussical, and Billy Issertell as Aldolfo in The Drowsy Chaperone. O’Hara twice hosted the training day for the 200 student critics from member schools, and also provided computer labs for secure on-line voting sessions. 

3. What is your perspective on theater and the role of the Cappies? Theater in general provides so much for high school students in so many areas. They learn to work under tight deadlines when preparing for opening night, memorization of lines, songs and dances, and teamwork with the entire cast and crew. Students on stage crew learn skills to design, build, and paint sets, as well as keeping a show fluid during scene changes. At O’Hara, students run the sound and light cues, as well as being the stage managers to keep the show going. Marketing is another area where students generate interest in the show through creating lobby displays, photos for press releases, and videos for social media posts. The quality of shows at O’Hara gives all participants pride in creating a quality production on stage twice a year. I have been involved with high school theater since 1985 when I worked with former O’Hara teacher Harry Dietzler to revive the theater program at the former St. James High School in Chester, and directed shows at Lansdale Catholic High School. Cappies allows students the opportunity to learn critical writing skills to promote high school theater. The reviews accentuate the positive efforts of students at member schools. Critics also work with students from other schools to learn listening skills during discussions at intermission and after the shows when voting on selections for awards. The lead critic works with the team to insure that our critics attend and review their required shows. All students are also invited to help with show marketing efforts, whether or not they are in the theater program.

4. What happened with Cappies due to Covid? The Cappies Steering Committee hoped to have critic training in January of 2021. However, no training was held as the pandemic worsened. But in the fall of 2020, I had decided to use the available time to train new critics, and keep the O’Hara Cappies team sharp. The team used Zoom meetings to watch, discuss, and review older O’Hara shows.  In December, the team voted on their choices for each Cappies category, and I created a video for YouTube to share their results. The critics continued this Zoom effort for the second semester once they learned that there would be no in-person shows this year. By May, the team has “Zoomed” 9 shows for review this year. 

5. How have the three seniors being featured made an impact on the program during their four years at O’Hara? Our three senior critics have kept the Cappies spirit alive. Haley Begany and Theresa Haas are both second year critics, and drew on their training to write new reviews and lead discussions with new members during Zoom meetings. Lead Critic Katie Tuberosa insured that the whole team knew when Zoom meetings could be held for maximum participation.  She has been an award-winning critic her entire four years at O’Hara.  Katie had also been nominated for top critic in underclass and upperclass categories before the shutdown in the spring of 2020. She wrote a wonderful article“The Show Must Go On” for COHS social media.

Members of the first Cappies Team at O’Hara: Isobel McGreavy, Ceary McGreavy, Colette Nolan, Liz Bradley, Molly Kilker.

Nominated for Comic Actress in 2015: Jakie Rooney as Kitty in The Drowsy Chaperone.
Cappie Award nominees from the 2015 production of The Drowsy Chaperone, with director Mr. Jeff Dietzler at the Cappies Gala celebration that year.

The 2021 Archdiocese of Philadelphia Golf Regular Season Champion Thomas Larkin

Famous golfer Arnold Palmer once said, “Success in this game depends less on strength of body than strength of mind and character.” Senior Thomas Larkin proved this quote true this season on the golf course. Head Coach Caramanico stated, “Thomas has the perfect attitude and demeanor to play great golf. Always a smile, never too upset at a missed fairway or a putt that doesn’t drop. It’s hard to tell if he is two under or two over par.”

Thomas started playing golf in fifth grade thanks to his dad who introduced him to the game. From that day forward, Thomas was interested in the sport. As a senior, Thomas had many obligations this year and while many times it was hard for him to squeeze practice into his schedule he always made sure to make time for golf. Coach Caramanico said, “He is dedicated to the game, a hard worker who is always practicing or playing.” Thomas consistently went to the range at night and found this made a big difference in his performance.  

Going into the championship Thomas had a good mindset, he felt prepared and was confident in his game. He mentioned that he was at the point where he could trust himself and that is always his main goal. At the same time, this match was bittersweet since it was Thomas’s last high school championship, but Thomas was able to use that thought as motivation to fuel him to play well. Thomas can credit that confident mindset and feeling of preparedness to Coach Caramanico. Thomas reflected, “Coach Caramanico is awesome. He is hands down one of the nicest people I have ever met. He always reminds us to go out and enjoy playing the match. I think that’s really important not to take things too seriously. Coach understands that and reminds us before every match.” 

Thomas’s character also shined through on the course. Coach Caramanico added, “He is not only a great golfer but a wonderful person and teammate. He is always talking to his teammates, seniors to freshman, good players to average players, complimenting them and encouraging them to be their best.” Thomas is a true team leader. While he played the championship round, he explained that he was always thinking about his teammates, wondering how they were performing, and hoping they were doing well. 

After all of Thomas’s hardwork and determination, he was able to accomplish his best achievement in his O’Hara Golf Career, becoming the 2021 Archdiocese of Philadelphia Golf Regular Season Champion. Thomas won the title with a score of 15.45. When Thomas found out that he won, he felt ecstatic as it was a goal he had been working towards since he started playing for O’Hara. Coach Caramanico called Thomas right after he found out about the win and this made Thomas feel great. Congratulations to Thomas on a successful senior season and we wish him the best of luck with his golf career in the future as he plans to continue to play for the University of the Sciences.  

By Erin Donovan ’20

We Are All in This Together!

Hi fellow Lions!
Going through this experience of witnessing and being apart of a pandemic has not just an huge impact on our lives, but also our school year. There has been many questions we have been asking our students and teachers.
Some of Mr. Langley’s favorite things during this time of a new way of school for us is “all the different methods of virtual learning.”
According to our Salutatorian Casandra Nguyen she stated “The biggest struggle I’ve experienced during this time is not being able to finish out my senior year at O’Hara. It came to an end really quickly for me. I miss seeing my friends in class and going through my entire roster at school. It’s hard doing work without seeing your friends’ faces every day. The environment is very different for me at home.”
Although there have been some rough patches we are all experiencing during this time, our Student Council President John Caponi shared some words of wisdom saying “Enjoy the time you have with your family. We will get through this and be stronger than ever.”
Dear the O’Hara family and community. Like Mr. Caponi said, we will get through this. We are all in this together and the best thing we can do now is stay inside, stay safe, stay healthy and pray.
Written By: Rosemary Paquette

Interviewing Mrs. Bauer


During this hard time in our world, Cardinal O’Hara students, teachers and administration have had to adapt to their new virtual learning system. As Director of Student Achievement, Mrs. Bauer tries to make sure every student at Cardinal O’Hara succeeds both academically and socially. Here are some questions I asked her to learn more about her time during this quarantine:


What is it like working from home?

It has been different because I can’t talk to students face to face. I’ve been able to reach out via email to students and families, and even talk to some people on the phone. Zoom has been helpful in communicating with faculty, staff, and administration. I also have to monitor the learning of my own 3 children…including teaching 3rd grade ELA and math 🙂


How have you been making sure the students at O’Hara maintain “success” in all their classes?

The teachers have been great in letting us know if they have students who are struggling. I, along with Mrs. Graney, Mrs. Wert, Mrs. Kelly, and Mrs. Vice, are monitoring student attendance and work completion. We know that this is not an easy situation for anyone and most students would rather be at O’Hara. We want all students to be successful so we follow up with students and families to insure this happens.


What advice do you have for students during this time?

Make a plan! I think the new school “schedule” is a great way to help the students to be successful while learning from home. Be sure to get your work in on time! Your teachers want you to succeed, so if you put effort into your work and submit it by the due dates, you will achieve! Take breaks! Get outside, listen to music, FaceTime with friends, talk to your parents. We are all in this together and every day we are one step closer to getting “back to normal”!


Mrs. Bauer is always available by email if you have any questions or concerns

Written By: Keira Bauer ’22

Holy Week Reminders

In this season of Lent, we prepare ourselves for the coming of Easter, but with how hectic things have been in the last several weeks, it has been difficult to focus our attention and time on God. Ash Wednesday seems like a distant memory. Now, Easter is right around the corner. There were many times during this Lent that I forgot it was even Lent. Life took a turn when the pandemic struck. However, I have made a conscious effort to have an active prayer life. Although it can be difficult to sit down and pray, it is especially necessary. Thankfully, I have found ways to make it a lot easier.

  1. Establish a routine. 

Oftentimes, life can seem so stressful, busy, or overwhelming that we don’t find the time to pray. Most of the things we do on a daily basis are simply a routine. 40% of your everyday activities are habits. If you can establish specific times and places to pray, it will work its way into your daily life. You can even dedicate a particular place in your house or room to prayer!

  1. Recognize the different forms of prayer.

Prayer should never feel like a chore. It does not have to be kneeling on your floor praying the rosary. Prayer can be listening to music and thinking about how it connects to God. It doesn’t even have to be Christian music. It can also be listening to a podcast, watching a video, looking up Bible verses, and so much more. There are thousands of ways to pray, and you don’t need to limit yourself to just one.

  1. Try the 60-second rule.

I have found this trick to be especially helpful in my daily life. Randomly throughout the day, I will think about praying but my inclination is to “do it later.” Recently, I’ve started asking myself, “Do I have 60 seconds to spare?” More often than not, the answer is yes. I’ll say a prayer and while it may be short, it’s still a prayer. Also, if I want to pray for more than 60 seconds, I do. This rule helps me to stop pushing prayer to the side and communicate with God throughout my day.

  1. Have physical reminders.

People might not pray simply because they don’t think or remember to do so. A great way to fix this issue is with physical reminders. They can be a great tool for anything, including prayer. Put a physical reminder of God in a place you often look. For example, your lock screen can be a Bible verse or your wall can have a cross on it. Seeing these physical reminders will make you more conscious of praying throughout your day. Hopefully, it will then be easier for you.

I hope that at least one of these tips was helpful for someone. Remember, you have six days off for a break. Take some time to remember why. God bless.


Written By: Rachael Switliski ’20