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

Meet Mrs. Kline

I had the pleasure of interviewing one of our long-term substitute teachers in the building this year. Mrs. Kline is teaching in the theology department this year. I enjoyed getting to know her a little more in my interview. She has a beautiful faith and has a great story to share. She is admired by many of the students for several reasons. The first word that comes to mind about Mrs. Kline is kindness.

Mrs. Kline spent the majority of her childhood growing up in Conshohocken before moving to King of Prussia at age 13. She attended Immaculata University where she studied music and liturgy, receiving a B.A. She also received an M.M in Music Education from Boston University. “I started teaching by accident because Sacred Heart Academy (my high school alma mater) needed an emergency substitute” she reminisced, however she then fell in love with teaching right away. One of her favorite things about teaching is that no two classes are the same. She went on further to say, “When you are teaching you never stop growing.” 

Mrs. Kline explained that when she was choosing where to teach next, the Holy Spirit ultimately led her to Cardinal O’Hara. Finally, Mrs. Kline’s favorite thing about teaching at O’Hara is “The people, especially the students!”

Written By: Abby Griswold ’22

My Catholic School Experience- By Mike Connor

My Catholic School Experience

By Mike Connor

As the youngest of three children in an Irish Catholic family, my Catholic faith was instilled in me from day one. From Sunday Mass and holy days of obligation to Saturday evening confession and saying the rosary, living the life of a practicing Catholic was part of our family’s DNA.

So when it came time to go to school, I followed my older brother and sister to St. Pius X in Broomall for grade school and to Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield. Between the three of us, we spent 40 school years in Catholic education. Even though this represented a large expense for my parents, they felt that the daily immersion in our Catholic faith that attending a Catholic school provided was well worth the sacrifice.

I wholeheartedly enjoyed my grade school and high school education so much that I continued on by attending a Catholic university, Wheeling Jesuit University, in West Virginia. When choosing a college, the religious aspect was a very important consideration for me, as I wanted to be in an atmosphere that emphasized Catholic values, while also continuing with the academic excellence that I was accustomed to. Ironically my college roommate came from a strong Catholic family, and his two brothers were priests – another sign that I made the right choice in schools.

After graduation, marriage, and starting a family, my wife (also a Cardinal O’Hara graduate) and I discussed our children’s education. Being a young married couple in our mid-20’s, both with entry-level jobs, we knew that being able to afford a Catholic education for our children would be difficult, but we both agreed that finding a way to make it work was our only option. We wanted our children to experience the respect and discipline that a Catholic education brings – the focus on developing their minds, bodies, souls, and spirits. We wanted them to share the sense of attending school in a caring, supportive community atmosphere. And it was important to us that they had excellent Catholic role models in their schools, like we did, in the parish nuns, priests, and teachers.

As a result, our four children have all attended Catholic schools from kindergarten on. Our oldest son and daughter attended St. Pius X and Cardinal O’Hara, and our younger children are attending Catholic grade school and high school as well. We could not be more proud of the outstanding education they have received, as well as, being challenged to be engaged in the community and serving others.

As our 43rd President, George W. Bush, said “Catholic schools carry out a great mission, to serve God by building knowledge and character. By teaching the word of God, you prepare your students to follow a path of virtue.” I could not agree more.

O’Hara Family Christmas- Reflection

O’Hara Family Christmas Essay

O’Hara Family Christmas is one of my favorite Christmas activities that we have. It is a schoolwide tradition that resonates with students, faculty, and alumni every year. From a beautiful Mass to fun events afterward, O’Hara Family Christmas is a fun time for everyone. O’Hara Family Christmas includes many beautiful songs such as “On That Holy Mountain” and “Christmas Lullaby.” The stage brings joy to the event with decorations like poinsettias and Christmas lights. Singing these songs and looking at the decorations reminds me of the wonderful experiences I have here. It reminds me of how grateful I am for the people, events, and memories I have. It is not only a symbol of togetherness but a time of blessings for the Christmas season and the New Year. 

 Many of our annual events had to get postponed. O’Hara Family Christmas attracts a substantially large audience every year. However, social distancing during these times is crucial, causing us to change a few aspects of our Christmas Tradition. This year, we held a prayer service instead of a full Mass and activities. It was still a beautiful service to attend, and as a choir member, an inspirational event to sing in. The virtual tree lighting, the Prayer Service and the carolling afterwards was spectacular. This event represented how the O’Hara family comes together to bring light to the community in a joyous way. All in all, O’Hara Family Christmas in past years, this year, and in the years to come, is a beautiful tradition that everyone should see and experience.

Written By: Kaia Grant

Achieving a Sense of Normalcy through the Hybrid Learning Model

Saying that my senior year at Cardinal O’Hara High School wasn’t what I thought it was going to be is an understatement. However, I am so thankful that the hybrid learning model allows me to have some sense of normalcy during this unprecedented time. Being able to connect with my teachers and fellow students in the classroom and partaking in various activities after school has made this year one that I will never forget.

One thing I have realized throughout the pandemic is how much I have taken going to school for granted. I can confidently say that each one of my teachers has thought outside of the box this year in order to accommodate their lesson plans for all students and have readily adapted to the technology. One of my favorite parts of the hybrid learning model is that teachers have utilized a multitude of online resources to benefit all students, regardless of whether they are in school, learning from home, or completely virtual. 

Another highlight of the hybrid learning model is that we have been able to continue after school extracurriculars through Zoom since Mrs. Evert, our Assistant Principal of Student Affairs, has been working with moderators so that every club is up and running. This is especially important to me because the extracurricular activities at O’Hara make my O’Hara experience so special. Whether it’s prepping for the year ahead in Lion Ambassadors or connecting with the incoming freshmen through Lion Connection, O’Hara has managed to maintain one of the most crucial parts of every Lion’s experience. In Cappies, the returning members of the critic team, along with our moderator, Mr. Kelly, are continuing to hone our writing skills by viewing previous O’Hara shows, holding our own discussions about them, and writing reviews. Although the Greater Philadelphia Cappies season has been postponed until January, we have utilized Zoom to strengthen our observing and writing skills. Just this past week, we watched and reviewed Disney’s Beauty and the Beast! The collective ensemble brought much energy and passion to their performance and made me reminisce about how much I miss watching live theater!

As a senior, I have the difficult task of juggling my classes with the college process. However, for me, this has all taken place online. Although my college search has been limited to various webinars, these interactive, virtual information sessions have been informative and have allowed me to condense my list of colleges. While I may not have visited all of my top prospects, these webinars have given me enough background on each college. Although navigating the college application process virtually is challenging, I have been able to connect with admissions counselors at my potential colleges to answer my questions. Shoutout to Mrs. Graney and her team of counselors for working round-the-clock to help all of us seniors navigate through this complex process as well! Even though I went into the college process feeling overwhelmed, I can confidently say that, as I near the conclusion, each college successfully adapted to this unprecedented situation and made me feel like I was on their campus even though I was often thousands of miles away. 

To quote a line from Frozen 2, right now I feel as if I am going “into the unknown” during this anything but typical senior year. However, O’Hara’s response allowed me to achieve a sense of normalcy and ground me in my faith during these challenging times. In times of uncertainty, sometimes our faith is all we have.

Written By: Katie Tuberosa ’21

Mary’s profound “Yes” led me to service

By: Jessica McCarthy ‘17

Hello, my name is Jessica McCarthy and I was a part of the 2017 graduating class at Cardinal O’Hara High School. The foundation of my Catholic school education sparked my interest and led me to explore opportunities within service. During my sophomore year at The Catholic University of America I said “yes” to spending my spring break in Kingston, Jamaica on a mission trip.

Not only did we practice ministry of presence and tutor kids, we learned about the poor and marginalized casted away by society. In returning to the United States I made an effort to seek more opportunities to serve and learn about the populations around me. I became a part of the community service team at my university and had the opportunity to make serving food to those experiencing homelessness a weekly practice. God started to invite me to take on opportunities that were outside of my comfort zone. I started a faith and service club at The Busch School of Business and right before the pandemic, I was in the works of creating and leading a business school mission trip to El Salvador.

Saying “yes” to going to a third world country almost two years ago was very scary but it was so rewarding and life changing. Before moving to Washington, DC to attend college, I lived in Springfield, PA my whole life. I had little exposure to different types of populations and I was not appreciative of the fact that I would not have to worry about if I would have a roof over my head, if I would have a meal for dinner, or if I was getting a good education. I encourage anyone reading this to start small, God will meet you where you are. Service is so broad. It could be asking someone on the streets how their day is going or asking what their name is. Gandhi once said, “ The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. ” I feel the most connected with Jesus when I am serving and I propose to you, no matter where you are in life to have courage to serve your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Hybrid learning at O’Hara has been beyond my expectations.

Starting high school at Cardinal O’Hara as a freshman was an overwhelming but very exciting experience. I remember thinking about what high school would look like back in early March. I was excited to make new friends, go to different sports games and get involved in lots of activities. Little did I know what I envisioned would be completely different. 

When I first heard the term “hybrid”  I really didn’t understand what that meant. I soon learned that it meant that  I would only come in every other day. Specifically, there are two groups, A and B. Groups are in school every other day, and if you aren’t in school, you are virtual that day. As a virtual student, I login to all my classes over zoom. When on a zoom call, my teacher’s MacBook will act as a camera in class. This system is great and makes me feel like I am right there as a student. It didn’t make transitioning into high school any more difficult than it had to be, and the school has invested in HD cameras for each classroom so that transition will only become easier. Social distancing, desk wiping, and hand sanitizing are abundant throughout O’Hara. All of our desks are spaced out 6 feet and only two students are allowed at each lunch table.  As for making friends, I feel that this is not that difficult because we are in school half of the days and still have opportunities to socialize and get to know each other.  I feel that these regulations have struck a balance of keeping us safe and keeping our learning and social lives on track. In short, hybrid learning at O’Hara has been beyond my expectations.

Written By:
Paul Giacomucci ’24

The Impact of Virtual Meetings

“Virtual meetings allow our student’s applications to truly come to life!”

~Owen Logue, Director of Enrollment Management

As just about everyone has had to make changes to their daily routine in the crazy past month and a half we have all been living in, our Cardinal O’Hara admissions office has also had to make changes. With no access to the physical building that we are trying to bring prospective students into, one would think that it is impossible to get families excited about Cardinal O’Hara in this time. You would be sorely mistaken, thanks to the amazing opportunities that we have taken to begin to interact with families virtually.

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We are now offering virtual meeting appointments with our enrollment team for our incoming families! Now again, one might think, …it is hard enough to get anyone to answer the phone or an email now, why would anyone sign up to meet face-to-face over a computer? And you may be right. It may seem awkward or uncomfortable to have a conversation about the school, or the application process, or financial aid, that can very well happen over the phone without having to see what style of the inside of each other’s homes are. What I came to realize shortly after my hosting my first virtual meeting, was the opportunities offered in a virtual meeting opened up new doors that I had not originally anticipated:

Human Interaction

Although most of us would prefer to converse and ask questions over a text, email, or phone, there is something different about sitting down with someone and having a conversation face-to-face, especially when it comes to choosing your child’s next academic adventure. Offering this type of meeting platform gives families the semblance that they are walking right into O’Hara and sitting down with me personally, talking about their questions or issues, which they have not been able to do for some time.

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

One key aspect to the virtual meeting that I have found extremely beneficial so far, especially while using Zoom Meeting as an option, is the functionality of sharing my screen. When having a conversation about steps to complete the application for admission or what is needed to fill out the financial aid application, I can not only tell families the steps to take, but I can show them! Through using screen sharing, families follow along with me in completing the necessary steps, or finding specific items on our website, which has been extremely helpful to both myself and the families that I have worked with.

Getting to Know Our Families

Virtual meetings allow our student’s applications to truly come to life! Being able to see my students and their families virtually allows me to not only be able to put a face to a student’s application file, but also interact with them as who they really are; active, real life individuals that are eager to enter the Cardinal O’Hara community!

Of course, at the end of this all I, and the rest of our Cardinal O’Hara enrollment team, cannot wait to get back into our building and once again interact with all of our amazing students and families in person. In the meantime, I will continue to use this opportunity as an option to more effectively serve our incoming student population, and preach the good news that Cardinal O’Hara has to offer to so many students around the greater Philadelphia area! If this has piqued your interest in setting up a virtual meeting with me, feel free to click here! I’ll see you on Zoom!

 

by Owen Logue, Director of Enrollment Management

 

Your Tax Dollars Can Help Students Afford an O’Hara Education

“This is the only program where you can literally provide thousands of dollars to O’Hara to award in financial aid to families in need, while only costing you pennies to participate.”      ~ Paul Boston, Cardinal O’Hara Board member and current parent

Cardinal O’Hara prides itself on providing a rigorous and comprehensive education rooted in our Catholic faith. We also work tirelessly to provide financial aid for students, which in today’s world is vital to ensuring that every student who desires an O’Hara education can afford one.

the financial aid paradigm-1O’Hara provides $2.6 million in tuition assistance annually. This financial aid is funded through the tax credit program and through our O’Hara Fund. We are grateful to the donors who make gifts to support our students and our school.

You can help O’Hara students who need financial assistance by participating in the EITC/OSTC program. The Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs provide businesses and individuals that pay PA taxes with a tax credit. These individuals and businesses receive a Pennsylvania tax credit equal to 90% of the contribution. Most donors will also receive federal benefit equal to approximately 4%. The process to participate in this program is simple and we have professionals who can walk you through the process step-by-step.

“The EITC/OSTC tax credit program provided by the state and administered by BLOCS, was a program that I found, to be the easiest way to help O’Hara and their families,” reflects Paul Boston. “As a CPA, who helps clients with preparing and planning for their taxes, I reviewed the program years ago to make sure that the benefits to the person contributing to the program and the benefits to the school were as good as it sounded. I found that this program is the single best way for my clients and me to help the families in our area send their child to the school that is best for him or her. The BLOCS organization makes the process of contributing to the school of your choice and receiving the tax credit provided by the State of PA, the easiest and most transparent. This is the only program where you can literally provide thousands of dollars to O’Hara to award in financial aid to families in need, while only costing you pennies to participate. I wholeheartedly endorse the tax credit program, personally and professionally.”

To learn more about how you can help O’Hara through the tax credit program, contact Jen Tuberosa at jtuberosa@cohs.com or 610.544.5679. To make a contribution to support our students through our O’Hara Fund visit http://www.cohs.com/donate/.

We thank the corporations and individuals who support O’Hara through the tax credit program:

  • Active Image Media, LLC
  • Bill and Barbra Adolph
  • B & E Sportswear, LP
  • Paul and Christina Boston
  • Bryn Mawr Trust Company
  • Bill and Lynn Caramanico
  • John and Erin Caramanico
  • Alvin and Kathy Clay
  • Joe and Mary Crawford
  • Chuck and Peggy Creighton
  • DAS Companies
  • Bill Daggett, Jr.
  • Charles DeFeo
  • Robert Deitz
  • Stephen Donahue
  • Derrick and Kristen Dougherty
  • Bob and Chris Dumont
  • Harold Earley
  • Essent Guaranty, Inc.
  • Marty and Susan Farrell
  • Mike and Donna Farrell
  • J & T Building Company, LP
  • Joseph and Anna Finley
  • Mike Frost
  • John and Joan Gallagher
  • Joseph and Joanne Garvey
  • Larry Giacchino
  • Thomas and Joanne Goldsmith
  • Joseph Grande
  • Gerard and Mary Griesser
  • The Griesser Group
  • Ed and Ellen Hanway
  • Jerry and Christine Haftmann
  • Tony and Mary Kate Hayden
  • Tom and Rose Ingelsby
  • Anthony Latini
  • Chuck Lawson
  • Living Assistance Services
  • Colleen and Paul Martin
  • Larry and Michele McAlee
  • Bill McDevitt
  • William and Lisa McGinnis
  • Clyde McKee
  • Edward and Cheryl Morris
  • Peter and Kathe Morris
  • Jim and Sharon O’Brien
  • Mike and Mary Kay O’Rourke
  • Ricky Palladino
  • The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.
  • Joe and Karin Purcell
  • Patrick and Jean Reger
  • Republic Bank
  • Cary and Maryann Toner
  • Stephen and Betsy Wellman
  • Robert and Mary Gene Woods

 

written by Jennifer Tuberosa, Vice President of Development