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:
Pat can be reached at or @BohemianPatsody on Twitter and Instagram.

Anna Sherman’s CAPPIES Review Published in the online Philadelphia Inquirer

Cardinal O’Hara CAPPIES critic Anna Sherman had her review of the Dock Mennonite Academy’s show, “Curtains!” selected for publication in the online Philadelphia Inquirer. Anna’s review was the top from the 20 critics attending the show. The CAPPIES is a national organization that celebrates high school theater, and O’Hara is the only diocesan school to participate in this amazing program. Congratulations, Anna Sherman ’19!


Submitted by Anna Sherman of Cardinal O’Hara High School in GPC:
Appalling reviews from The Boston Globe and the death of the lead actress all in the same day? When you are at the bottom, the only place to go is up. Dock Mennonite Academy proved exactly that in their captivating production of the musical, “Curtains!”.
“Curtains!” is a whodunit murder mystery created by award winning Peter Stone. After his death in 2003, Rupert Holmes completed the script. Fredd Ebb wrote the lyrics, which were put to music by John Kander. Set in the late 1950s, Liutenant Cioffi leads us on a captivating journey of twists and turns as suspicions heighten in the pursuit of a murderer hiding amongst the cast. Along the way, a friendship is healed and true love is found.
The stand-out number is this show was undeniably “The Woman’s Dead.” The whole cast comes together to honor deceased Jessica Cranshaw (Mindy Marinko). Rather than being emotionally distraught, this number was emotionally joyous as they theatrically celebrate the fact that their cast is minus one.
Tying together the lively characters was Liutenant Cioffi, played by Levi Longacre. Longacre morphed between a detective and a stage struck romantic as he pursued the case. He was a lively gentleman, radiant with charm. It is more than understandable how Natalie Frank, as Nikki Harris, falls for him. The genuine, organic chemistry between Longacre and Frank was tantalizing and especially notable in their duet “Coffee Shop Nights.”
Additionally, there were two oversized personalities depicted. Christopher Belling (Isaac Longacre) enhanced the show with vociferous one liners. Longacre wholly encompassed the role of cynical and flamboyant Christoper Belling. With silver hair and spunk, Danica Moyer as Carmen Bernstein was a doyenne and mother to Bambi Bernet (Olivia Messina). She was a powerhouse in “It’s A Business,” educating on the business side of theater.
The cast excelled with their constant costume changes, as they were all executed with ease. Each character looked put together for their duration on stage. At times, microphone complications made lines inaudible, but this was not too large of a flaw.
Dock Mennonite Academy’s production of “Curtains!” was undoubtedly a dazzling performance proving that the cast undoubtedly were “show people.”

College Radio Day White House Visit

by: Steve McAlee, ’14

NOTE: Steve McAlee ’14 joined Andrew Pham ’15, Matthew Popo ’12  and Sean McDonald ’04 on this College Radio Day White House visit. Steve recalls the experience for Lion Tales in our first alumnus-authored blog post.


Of all places to be when I received an invitation to the White House as a delegate with the College Radio Day Foundation, I was ironically in the WZBC AM studio, finishing up my weekly sports radio show. Sean McDonald, the president of College Radio Day, had just offered me the chance of a lifetime! Sean has helped me tremendously in expanding the optionality of WZBC Sports Radio, the student-run sports radio club at Boston College, and was calling to formally invite me to join him and 17 other college students and faculty members from universities across the country on a trip to the nation’s capital on October 27th. To say I was honored and ecstatic about the opportunity would not do a justice to what I was feeling as a walked back to my dorm that night. Despite the hectic nature of October and November in college, this was a phenomenal opportunity that I could not pass up, a memory I would carry with me forever.

College radio is a very unique medium of expression that rightfully deserves the day of celebration that it receives through the College Radio Day Foundation. I have been involved with WZBC Sports Radio since early in my freshman year. I have worked to give this club these outlets of expression that college radio promises. Not only is a private trip to the White House an unbelievably cool opportunity, it also enabled me to bring my personal experiences from college radio and combine them with those of other students from around the country.img_7836

The group and I talked with several key people within the Obama Administration about college affordability, climate change, and the general importance of the press. It was fascinating to see each student’s own take on the issues and what they were passionate about in relation to the big decisions facing the country. I asked John King, Jr., the Secretary of Education, if he thought the traditional model of college was becoming outdated. He answered by explaining that colleges need to continue to innovate and this gave me a new perspective on the world in which I am living at college. I was also able to ask about the changing landscape of the automotive industry in relation to the environment with Brian Deese, a Senior Presidential Advisor. We discussed how the future of mobility could drastically alter urban spaces and the larger economy. It was just so cool to see the conversation come full circle with all of the other students and the perspectives of the experts to whom we spoke.

Visiting the White House with the College Radio Day team was an ever better trip than I could have anticipated, and I will take all that I learned from that incredible day back to BC to continue fostering the medium of college radio. My journey to a roundtable with top governmental advisors, however, did not start when I signed up for the sports radio club two years ago. It began years earlier when I worked in the WCOH TV Studio at O’Hara as both a control room operator and later as the director. I loved every second of my time in WCOH, especially how the daily TV show was a platform to allow my voice to come through to the whole school. WCOH was the start of my passion for broadcasting, and although I am a business major at BC, I treasure the chances to get behind the mic and speak about what matters to me. I owe those opportunities to people like Sean, and to all the great people I met through WCOH, to the O’Hara community, and to the friends and advisors at Boston College.

Are you an alum or do you know of an alum with an interesting career or story to tell? Willing to write about it or be interviewed by a student about it? Email Jen Tuberosa, Vice President of Development, at

New Teacher Feature: Mr. Ken Kropp

by: Jessica McCarthy ’17


“The best thing about O’Hara is the friendly feeling of family among students, staff, administration and faculty” said O’Hara’s theology teacher Mr. Kropp. Mr. Kropp who is going into his 28th year of being an educator is teaching theology to freshmen. He joins the staff full time this year after teaching part time last year here at O’Hara. Kropp attended St. Joseph’s University and St. Charles Borromeo Seminary for graduate school. At these universities, Kropp earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Religious Studies.

Growing up in Drexel Hill, Mr. Kropp attended Monsignor Bonner High School. Kropp’s favorite subject in high school was theology because he loved discussing matters of faith. He also liked physical education because of the fun competitions. His favorite high school memory was scoring an impressive two eagles in one school golf match and attending his senior prom. 

Some of his hobbies include physical fitness activities (lifting, power walking/running), competing in Senior Level sports, golf, being a fan of all Philly teams, being a trivia fan, writing, and impersonations, especially of movie scenes. Kropp also volunteers, such as being a lector and a volunteer committee person at his local parish. Fun fact about our new theology teacher is that he is currently reading “Jesus, A New Understanding of God’s Son.”

When asked what the best advice he was ever given, he responded “be adventurous and that experience is the best teacher.” This advice was given to him by his father. Mr. Kropp  added that his mother said to him, “Trust in God, the Lord will show you the way.” With this advice in trusting God and the overwhelming care and support it has been incredibly transforming for Mr. Kropp who just recently celebrated being five years cancer-free as of 10/12/16. 

“With God, all things are truly possible and his presence is in every person,” Kropp reflected.                              

Married to a wonderful wife, Kropp has a son, a loyal dog and “large extended family.” Kropp’s advice to students is to develop a prayer life with Jesus Christ and get involved by helping others and using our God-given gifts.

New Teacher Feature: Mrs. Kate Tsakiris

By: Katelynn Miraglia, ‘19

Mrs. Tsakiris just began teaching ELA I and ELA II here at O’Hara and she loves it! Her tsakiris.pngfavorite thing about O’Hara so far is the students.

She has been teaching for the last 18 years and has a degree in music education, elementary and secondary education, she was a clarinet major, and has a master’s degree in teaching and learning with technology. Mrs. T. was born and raised in Cape May, New Jersey where she attended Lower Cape May Regional High School. Her favorite subject in school was reading, and her favorite book is Tuesdays with Morrie.  Her favorite high school memories include getting into the Temple Music School because it was her biggest challenge and when  girls were allowed to wear pants to middle school.

Mrs. Tsakiris said that the best advice she was ever given was that “You need to be able to accept change in order to be successful.” She would like her students to know that their success is going to be directly linked to their ability to adapt to change. Mrs. T. is married and has two children; her daughter is 24, and her son is 27. She also has homes in North Wildwood and Thessaloniki, Greece. Her hobbies include playing the clarinet and speaking Greek. She has owned and operated a restaurant on the Wildwood Boardwalk for 32 years. She volunteers with a heroin rehabilitation program, Respect for Life, and is an assistant moderator for CSC.

We are happy to welcome Mrs. Tsakiris to the Cardinal O’Hara family!

New Teacher Feature: Ms. Rae Beck

by: Schola Eburuoh ’17

One of our newest teachers here at Cardinal O’Hara is Ms. Beck! Originally from the Philadelphia area, she is definitely familiar with our Delco pride! When asked what her favorite part of Cardinal O’Hara was thus far she said, without a doubt, “It’s gotta be the kids.”



She obtained her masters degree in education as well as developmental biology and teratology which are the study of the development in species and the abnormalities among them. A few subjects she has taught throughout her career are physical science, embryology, chemistry, as well as anatomy labs. She has been teaching for about six years and truly enjoys her career and helping her students thrive within the classroom and in life in general! She is as passionate about teaching and educating young people as she is about promoting organizations that uphold the safety and respect of all human life. She constantly endeavors to support anti-human trafficking groups. One specific group called FREE (Freedom and Restorations for Everyone Enslaved) strives to raise awareness, advocate for those enslaved, shed a light on the issue at hand, and, of course, end human trafficking. She is also an advocate for the pro-life movement, which is a great and very important organization here at O’Hara.

On a more lighthearted note, Ms. Beck enjoys music and taking in her environment. “I play the guitar (self taught) and I enjoy painting.” She loves being outside, just breathing in the fresh air with possibly a book in hand. Although she led O’Hara’s summer reading book discussion with The Magic Strings of Freddy Presto by Mitch Albom, two of her favorite books are Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin and How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul by Jason and Crystalina Evert which are very insightful and eye-opening books.

It is no surprise that her favorite subject when she was in school was science. Ms. Beck’s “all time favorite class was one on field botany” partly because a majority of the class took place outside. In high school she was a transfer student her sophomore year and joined a school organization which allowed her to make many friends and feel welcome. One of her fondest memories was during her senior year of high school. She was voted May Queen—one girl is selected by her peers to crown the statue of the Blessed Mother during the month of May, a traditional month to honor the Virgin Mary. To top it off, she found out about the nomination the day of her senior prom! “It was an awesome day,” she said.

When asked what advice she would give to her students, she primarily said that they should be open to listening and not rash in what they decide to say or do if they hear or see something that they do not agree with or that may confuse them. Instead of being rude or violently expressing yourself, stay calm “so the valid things you have to say, can’t be detracted from the way you say them.” To conclude this great advice she said, “You’ve got good points, you’ll be heard!” Essentially the greatest advice she was given in high school was two simple yet powerful words: “You matter.” This was said to her by her ninth grade teacher and she hopes to spread that message to all the students here at Cardinal O’Hara.

New Teacher Feature: Meet Mr. Chris Rodzewich

By: Jack Tuberosa, ‘19

“If you want something, work as hard as you can to get it.” This was the best advice that dsc_0709Mr. Chris Rodzewich was ever given. Our newest PE/Health teacher can be found in the classroom teaching health, the gym teaching PE or on the field coaching our JV soccer team. In fact, you can find Mr. Rodzewich, or “coach” as he is often called, practicing with the JV soccer team—showing them different skills to help improve their game!

Originally from Schwenksville, Coach went to high school at Souderton. He attended college at Marywood University where he earned his bachelor of science degree in Health and Physical Education. He also has a national coaching license from the United States Soccer Federation (USSF).

Coach previously taught for four years—three as a paraprofessional and the other year as a Health and Physical Education instructor.

He recently finished reading “The Numbers Game” which is a book about how soccer is analyzed and watched focusing on what numbers and statistics really count during a soccer match. He has volunteered coaching soccer players with special needs at an organization called “Top Soccer.”

Rodzewich’s favorite subject in high school was Physical Education and his favorite high school memory was scoring a goal in overtime to win a soccer game in his junior year.

If he could give any advice to his students, Coach would tell them, “Take advantage of every situation and opportunity you are given.”img_2616

His favorite part about Cardinal O’Hara so far is the facilities because they are so much better than at all of the previous places he has worked.

We are glad to welcome Mr. Rodzewich to the O’Hara team!

New Teacher Feature: Mr. Charlie Wieners

By: Jess McCarthy, ‘17

“Community service is my passion.”

Those are the words of Cardinal O’Hara’s new history teacher and moderator for the Community Service Corps, Mr. Charlie Wieners. Mr. Wieners grew up in the Manayunk/Roxborough area where he attended Holy Family for grade school. Wieners continued his Catholic education at La Salle High School and then went on to St. Joseph’s University. Wieners attended SJU when it was an all male university.

Wieners was involved in a lot at St. Joseph’s. He was the famous Hawk mascot for basketball games. This opportunity gave him the distinction of being the fourth St. Joseph’s Hawk. To give you an idea of how elite this position is, today there has only been 35 other Hawk mascots. Talking about his experience as a hawk, Wieners said that the tradition was “once the suit is on, your arms never stop moving.” Mr. Wieners also had to work on his foul shots for the half time contests.
After his four years on the hill, one of his professors gave him the advice to branch out and go to a state school to broaden his horizons; so, he went to Miami University of Ohio for graduate school.

Ever since high school, Mr. Wieners had wanted to be a teacher and with an astounding 40 years of teaching under his belt, Mr. Wieners has covered a lot of aspects in the subject of history. This would include American history, International Politics, Russian History, Women in American History and, for the last several years, American Government. Mr. Wieners is currently teaching American Government to sophomores.

Aside from teaching history at O’Hara, Mr. Wieners is also the new Director of the Community Service Corps. Wieners has been serving the community since the 1970s. He was one of the founding members to jumpstart Operation Santa Claus which helps families in need during the Christmas season. Something that Mr. Wieners has been doing for a while is coaching Bonner & Prendie girls’ and boys’ tennis teams.

Sitting down with Mr. Wieners in the CSC office, he offered this advice for students, “Attitude is just as important as ability for success.” He truly believes that this is a key to achievement. He encourages his students to reflect about the lessons becoming taught each day.

With 40 years and counting in a successful career, he mentioned his wife and three children as his support system. His son is a master carpenter and contractor. His one daughter is an accountant. His other daughter is a teacher and director of special programs. Mr. Wieners is also supported by his five grandchildren. When asked, “What are your passions?” Wieners firmly replied “family, teaching, CSC and baseball.”

Mr. Wieners, on behalf of the students at Cardinal O’Hara thank you for your commitment to our CSC program. CSC is already off to a great start this year and is stronger than ever thanks to your dedication. Welcome to O’Hara and we wish you another successful year of teaching!