Meet Ms. McGeehan

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

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

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

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

Sophie Reinhardt ‘24

Getting to know Ms. DeSantis

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Is this your first job?

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

  1. Have you always wanted to be a teacher?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Do you have any siblings or pets?

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

Written By: Keira Bauer ’22

Mr. Mounayar is Back Where He Belongs

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

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

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

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

Written By: Katie Tuberosa ’21

Our New Art Teacher- Ms. Johnson

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

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

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

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

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

Written By: Melanie Jackson ’22

Getting to know Mr. Connor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written By: Haley Garecht ’22

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