All posts by Andrew Sheppard

Opinion: How the Republican Party and the Nation can recover from the riots

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Going into the 2020 elections there was a lot at stake for both parties. Incumbent President Donald Trump was up against challenger Joe Biden to become the most powerful man in the free world. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election in a shocker. He knocked down her “blue wall” and was able to secure the presidency. The Republicans also had control of the Senate at the time which was a very promising sign for Republicans. This election was more than just Trump vs Biden, as the Democrats had to flip a few seats and win the presidential election to have full control of our government. Joe Biden won all the swing states that he needed amid his anti-Trump campaign that seemed to have voters convinced that change was coming.

Meanwhile, the backdrop for the election was the ongoing pandemic, and there was a sense that COVID-19 would make some of the population not feel comfortable about going out to vote , despite the attempts by election officials to make in-person voting as safe as possible. Election officials resorted to absentee ballots and mail-in voting, which became a point of contention as President Trump railed about the legitimacy of the votes. But despite this, on November 6, 2020, Joe Biden became the unofficial winner of the election, pending certification and recounts. There was a fervent push from the Republicans and Donald Trump to investigate the election, due to claims that the election was stolen. These claims only divided the nation more. Donald Trump, through his lawyers, filed lawsuit after lawsuit, but they would be thrown out, and it was becoming more and more obvious that Joe Biden would become the 46th president of the United States. Despite Trump’s claims of the election being stolen it was clear to most Americans that Joe Biden had won the presidency.

On January 6, 2021, Congress gathered to certify the electoral votes. In the chambers of Congress there were a number of debates and objections taking place, as some representatives and senators argued there was evidence of fraud. But in the middle of the session, all the members of the House were forced to go on lock down. Outside of the Capitol, rioters were attempting to enter the building, and some even gained entry. They practically took over the building, going into offices, and taking pictures from the floor of Congress. One protestor, a woman, was shot while storming the capitol and would die hours later, while a capitol police officer died days later from injuries that he suffered during the riot. This true madness was inspired by fear and uncertainty over our democracy. The immediate reaction was to blame it on President Trump, who just hours before had whipped up a crowd of protesters. Blame was also laid at the feet of the Republican Party. When 100,000 extremists storm the capitol how can people automatically blame the entire Republican Party though? The rioters and the violent acts that they committed are something no rational person should condone, regardless of party, but it is a sign of how divided our nation as a whole is.

Congress would regroup later in the night and would eventually certify Joe Biden as the President-elect of the United States. Republican leaders, and some of President Trump’s closest allies, realized that the events of the day had gone too far, and they needed to withdraw their objections for the betterment of the party and of the nation. Donald Trump released a statement that he would allow for a peaceful transition of power, to presumably help the nation move on from this dark dark day. In the days that followed, President Trump would be impeached a second time in the House of Representatives, with a trial still to come in the Senate. Is there a purpose to a second impeachment now that President Trump has left the office, other than to humiliate him and place the blame of the violence on him? It shows how much hate is on both sides.

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The Republican Party will have to look forward to the 2022 and 2024 elections to help rebuild their power and influence in the national government. But one of the bigger questions they have to answer about themselves is whether they will continue to be the party of Trump, or will they continue to distance from Trump, as many did in the last days of his presidency. For many Republicans, there is a sigh of relief of being able to move on from the antics and personality of Donald Trump, who let his ego and unpresidential actions overshadow any good that he did for the country. For whatever positives came out of President Trump’s time in the office, they were largely overshadowed by his clashes with the media, his Twitter outbursts, or his handling of the pandemic. Donald Trump’s legacy and legitimacy will be doubted for the rest of history, but he will always be the man that beat the odds to become the 45th president. He just turned out to be his own greatest promoter and worst enemy.

Andrew Sheppard is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class

Ramping up for a season

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Going in to March, the NFL and the Players union came to an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. This change could lead to an addition to 2 more weeks to the NFL season, with the NFL wanting to keep the Super Bowl in early February the preseason could be at risk.

On July 1st, amid the global pandemic, the NFL decided to cancel 2 of the 4 preseason games, they would eventually eliminate the preseason as a whole for the season. There having been musings of eliminating the preseason or making it shorter. Traditionally there has been a set plan for all teams in ramping up to the season. Training camp began to take place in mid-July and the preseason would then end in late August. This situation has given players time to get back in to game shape. For the front office, it provides ample time to evaluate talent for the upcoming season. For late-round rookies this was their time to compete for a roster spot and playing time. Each season it feels like there’s always players who impress in the preseason and either land a spot on the active roster or practice squad.

COVID-19 created a unique situation for all pro sports league. The MLB was the first major American sports league to return, and in a normal season the teams would travel down to Florida or Arizona for a 6 week program called Spring Training. This set up allows for teams to play games each day and allows for players to work out in state of the art MLB facilities. Pitchers and catchers often report to spring training a few weeks before the other players due to the need to ramp up for the season and get their arm back into game shape.

This season the NFL and MLB had to adapt to the coronavirus while attempting to complete a regular season. The MLB was quick to begin, rushing the Spring Training process. It began on July 1st with games starting on July 24th. Providing players 3 weeks of training and a few exhibition games. For hitters this was a challenge but pitchers were the ones who were most affected by this plan. The MLB rushed to gain the first few days of views before the NBA and NHL began to play their bubble games.

The MLB was unable to secure the Spring Training facilities to potentially create 2 bubbles with both Leagues represented. Coronavirus cases in Florida and Arizona were at an all-time high during July, and sending the players to the facilities would cause a multitude of scheduling issues. The MLB also allowed for some of the top prospects to work out and play intersquad games at local minor league facilities. This made games in Florida and Arizona impossible due to the nature of the virus and the limited space. The MLB would have a 60 game season and then create a bubble for the playoffs in other host cities.

But what about the pitchers? The motions of pitching requires ample time along with a strict throwing routine. Pitching requires immense balance, correct arm angles, and the ability to use your wrist and elbow along with your lower body. Game shape for MLB pitchers is much harder to attain then it is for hitters. The increase of injuries for pitchers shows how intense the game can be and how even the best to ever play are constantly plagued by injury. The MLB’s inability to provide ample time for all the athletes while chasing TV times is irresponsible and will have major ramifications on the careers of all the athletes affected.

The NFL was unable to complete any preseason games along with no joint practices. Both leagues were at a major disadvantage. The inability to have proper time and proper competition cost both leagues dearly. The NBA and NHL were able to escape with only a few major injuries, but the NFL and MLB would be a completely different situation. Training camp brought no major injuries but on the second day of the MLB season, Future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander was recommended Tommy John surgery for an sustained in the season opener. On August 4th, then NL Cy Young favorite Mike Soroka, would be shut down for the season due to torn achilles. Other Major injuries include, Seranthony Dominguez, the only serviceable Phillies reliever and World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg.

The NFL was forced to cancel the preseason based off the circumstances of COVID-19, and they had a more intense plan set in the CBA so there was little uncertainty if the season was in doubt. The cancelation of preseason has lead to an unprecedented amount of injuries. In week 2 of the NFL season, The San Francisco 49ers and the New York Jets faced off at MetLife Stadium. In that game the 49ers sustained injuries to All Pro and former DROY Nick Bosa, Starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo, and Jerick McKinnon on the field. Bosa’s was the only one that was season ending, but all of the injuries have lingered for the other players leading to a high ankle sprain for Jimmy Garoppolo following a week 8 game against the Seattle Seahawks. The New York Giants lost franchise running back Saquon Barkley to another ACL tear in his week 2 affair against the Bears. Running backs Nick Chubb and Austin Ekler both sustained lower-body injuries early in the season. There has also been a lack of late round and undrafted players who are making a big difference. The Baltimore Ravens have always had an undrafted player on the active roster from the previous draft class. The only two players in the 2020 7th round that were starters for one week or more, kicker Sam Sloman, who won the Rams kicking job and QB Ben DiNucci who started for the injured Andy Dalton in week 8. There have been a few impressive undrafted players, the most notable being James Robinson, who’s filled in admirably for the Jags with the release of Leonard Fournette. Rodrigo Blankenship has been a stable get for the Colts special teams. But the late round talent has gone dry.

The NFL will be able to execute the season if they continue the control of the virus they have had so far but there is no guarantee. The lack of late round talent and the injuries of high end talent could be a concern for teams in finding inhouse replacements and having a next man up mentality. The MLB barely got over the finish line.. The injury to Justin Verlander could be one that leads to the decline of the first ballot Hall of Famer and one of the best pitchers to ever step on the mound. Mike Soroka will also have to make a huge comeback, as he’s in the middle of his early prime years and not being at 100% could hurt him, especially with the nature of his injury. In the NFL Saquon Barkley had his second year of injuries, after his electric rookie year he has become injury prone. This is more due towards the Giants inability to build an offense and protect their key players. Saquon is a generational talent but the injury bug could hurt him and his legacy if the Giants don’t protect him. The amount of lower-body injuries to running backs this season is high and shows how these all-pro backs aren’t able to be as prolific without the preseason tune up. Running backs take beatings week in and week out, and not being ready or seasoned has caused RB’s to fall apart early on.

The Game between the Jets and 49ers spurred a lot of controversy. The loss of Nick Bosa and the injury to Jimmy Garoppolo created concerns over the turf quality, but this was soon debunked. Nick Bosa was the Defensive Rookie of the Year last year and Jimmy Garoppolo led the 49ers to the SuperBowl. The amount of time needed to ramp up and condition is an issue for teams and it was obvious the 49ers were getting the bottom of the stick with their injury concerns.

As the season went on injuries slowed, there were minor freak injuries and major injuries that happened due to the nature of both sports. Ankle injuries are hard to blame on athletes but arm injuries are based off of how ready the player was and how hard they are being worked during the season. Verlander is an ace who is over 35 and is expected to throw every 5th day due to the nature of the sport. Saquon Barkley is expected to run the ball 25 times with no preseason to get him 100%. It’s hard for the league to see these injures and realize preseason and spring training are crucial for the game.

Andrew Sheppard is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class

A new face on a historic campus

Mr. Frank Espinosa, Mount Saint Joseph’s Principal

Over the past year, the Mount Saint Joseph community faced a challenge that the school hadn’t faced in a long time – the search for a new principal. With the retirement of Mr. Dave Norton, St. Joe began the search for a new principal at the start of the 2019 school year. Because of the longevity of the principals that Mount St. Joe has had over the past three decades, this was definitely a new experience for the community to go through. It was a time of uncertainty, where we all had to put a lot of faith and trust in the leaders at St. Joe.

On July 1st, the school announced that Mr. Francisco Espinosa, a life-long servant of Xaverian education, would become the new principal at Mount Saint Joe. For Mr. Espinosa, this journey to The Mount was one that took him time to realize was the correct move for him. Mr. Espinosa has been an educator for 28 years, his most recent position being Principal at Saint Xavier High School in Louisville, Kentucky. During his time at Saint X, Mr. Espinosa held a variety of jobs, including varsity football coach, history teacher, assistant principal for student life, and assistant principal for supervision of instruction, before taking on his role as principal. Now he takes over as principal at another XBSS school. Saint X is a fellow Xaverian Brothers Sponsored School, and as a school community, we share the same values that they do. Both are very similar environments.

“I’ve been coaching and teaching kids for 28 years to take chances and it was time for me to take a chance” 

Mr. Frank Espinosa

Mr. Espinosa took on the challenges of being principal head-on during his time at Saint X. He always took the time to create strong relationships with students, and he used his coaching experience to build strong bonds with the students that he interacted with. Mr. Espinosa was often faced with working with students who were dealing with a multitude of challenges, in and out of the classroom. He was determined to give all students a chance to prove themselves by giving them opportunities to better their situations. He has an open door policy for all students, and in his time at Saint X he strived to develop strong relationships with students through communication and contact. This is a goal that he has for himself at Saint Joe too.

“I enjoyed giving kids an opportunity to prove themselves; giving them an opportunity to better their situation” 

Prior to coming to St. Joe, Mr. Espinosa served as principal at St. Xavier High School in Louisville, Kentucky.

While he was in Kentucky, Mr. Espinosa was well-known within the MSJ community. For the past 6 years, Mr. Espinosa served as a member of the board, and during that time he was impactful in effecting change in the school, including developing the iPad program and a massive overhaul to college counseling last year. It has been one of the biggest changes for seniors and Mr. Espinosa was very involved with the work to increase college counseling. He offered many suggestions that helped the school design this program, placing his mark on St. Joe even before joining as principal. I’m currently in the college application process and it has been a huge tool for me.

“Mr. Andrews was very influential for me in talking to me about the school, but I think my experience on the board was especially influential” 

When the search for a new principal began, there was a period of deep thought for Mr. Espinosa. He realized that MSJ was in need of a good academic leader, and he had the experience on the board and at St. X. But this was a daunting task, considering he would have to move to Maryland for the position. Leaving his hometown, while leaving most of his family back in Kentucky until they can join him in Maryland, all while in the midst of a pandemic.

“The biggest passion I have in my life is my family and having good, solid, family values” 

Mr. Espinosa has been tasked with the biggest challenge of his professional career. The Mount has been very open about their plans regarding the pandemic, and they’re taking every step possible to ensure the safety of the community. Being able to protect all of the members of the community while still creating relationships with all the students has been a challenge at St. Joe and for Mr. Espinosa. But I think it is safe to say that this community has rallied around the new challenge and the new leadership of our principal, Mr. Frank Espinosa.

Andrew Sheppard is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class and a member of The Quill.

Looking ahead to The Mount of the future

The Mount of yesteryear is certainly different from The Mount of today, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the dedication of the faculty to the growth of the young men in their care.

Mount Saint Joseph has always prided itself in having a strong administration. The administration prides itself on not just being the heads of the school, but also being called to teach classes while fulfilling their duties as administrators. Mr. Rob Peace and Mr. George Andrews are two teachers that I have been lucky enough to have for classes during my time at St. Joe. What I have learned from my experiences with them, is that they have a passion for the students, and the school.

Mount Saint Joseph, just like has any other school, has to have a strong administration for succeed. Before the school year, Mr. David Norton, principal of The Mount, retired. This presented a challenge for the administration. School president, Mr. George Andrews, took charge. Mr. Andrews has grown up around Xaverian education. He went to St. Mary’s Ryken, and previously taught at Mount St. Joe before becoming president of the school, and he has such a passion for The Mount. In the interim, while searching for a new principal, he offered to take over the principal position. Mr. Andrews now has to manage an Honors Modern America Class, and two significant administration positions. Mr. Rob Peace also has been involved in Xaverian education for a large portion of his life. He comes from North Carolina, and his wife’s great uncle was a Xaverian Brother. Both Mr. Andrews and Mr. Peace, are strong believers in the power of Xaverian education.

Left to right
Mr. Sam Bianco (Director of Students), Mr. David Norton (Retired Principal), Mr. Robert Peace (Director of Staff Formation), Mr. George Andrews (President and interim Principal), Mr. Greg McDivitt (Director of Studies)

While Mr. Peace and Mr. Andrews are the only administrative members who aren’t alumni of The Mount, they came to the school for many reasons. They both talk about the school as if they are alumni. Both hailing from Catholic backgrounds, they both arrived at the school nervous, but ready for a challenge.

Ms. Judy Kraft, former teacher & administrator.

For students today, Ms. Judy Kraft is a name they may hear a lot, even though she is no longer with the school community. She held the position of Assistant Principal and Director of Faculty Formation from 1998 until 2010. Ms. Kraft returned to teach in the Theology department until her death in 2011. Currently, Mr. Peace holds the same position that Ms. Kraft held for so many years. When asked about her impact, Mr. Peace’s face lit up as he talked about her.

“She was very compassionate to me with the Xaverian Education.”

Mr. Rob Peace, speaking about the influence of Ms. Judy Kraft.

She taught Mr. Peace the ways of St. Joe and how to foster a community of “care and concern for the boys.” Mr. Peace learned a lot about what it meant to manage a diverse faculty and staff, and to develop a Xaverian spirit of trust, from Ms. Kraft. Now in his 10th year as Assistant Principal, when talking about his teachers, Mr. Peace, like Ms. Kraft before him, is extremely positive about his staff.

We’ve got the best teachers in the state of Maryland because they know their content area, and they are able to make themselves better and improve their content area. They will always go the extra mile to help them grow. They believe in the mission of the school. There are always alums who want to come back and thank their teachers.”

Mr. Rob Peace, speaking positively about The Mount’s teaching staff.

Mr. Andrews came to the Mount in 1987, and as he started to teach history he began feeling passionately about the school, eventually falling in love with the school and the goals that they are trying to accomplish. Over the course of his career, he has gone from teaching, coaching, and running student council, to becoming the face of St. Joe as its president. He was so impacted by his experience being around the Xaverian Brothers, as a student at Ryken High School (now St. Mary’s Ryken), that he wanted to have that same impact on students, faculty, and staff today.

“My connection to the Xaverian Brothers and what they did for me, I want to see the Mount doing the same that they did for me.”

Mr. George Andrews, President of Mount Saint Joseph High School.

When Mr. David Norton retired prior to the start of the school year, Mr. Andrews took charge and decided to run two main office positions, President and Principal. He told me it’s going very well, but he always has to have his game face on. Both he and Mr.Peace talked about how good the staff is here, and how experienced they are. Mr. Andrews called them, “a band of brothers and sisters.” Mr. Andrews goes to every reunion and is able to see the impact the Mount has made on graduates, as well as seeing how they have thrived because of their experience. Mr. Peace also talked positively about seeing alumni returning to the school to visit the teachers. Mr. Andrews agrees with the sentiment that so many alumni believe, that graduation from the Mount is truly a “memory that will last a life time.”

“Our goal is to develop men who matter and what we do really works.”

School President and Interim Principal, Mr. George Andrews

Both Mr. Andrews and Mr. Peace love teaching, and the students they impact. Mr. Andrews teaches a Junior Honors American History class and Mr. Peace teaches a Freshman Theology class. Both of them enjoy interacting with students and being more than just an administrator. Both are heavily involved with the process of hiring new teachers. They both consider teaching an art, and they want to make sure that all hired teachers buy in to the mission of the school.

“Know your stuff, got to like kids, and be able to see teaching as an art.”

Mr. George Andrews speaking about the teaching profession.

Both teachers talked highly about the environment here, but when they came to MSJ, just like most students, they were a bit unsure of their surroundings, but ready to work. They both believe in the mission. And they, along with the rest of the administration, are passionate advocates for Mount St. Joe, its mission and values.

Mr. Andrews getting inducted to the St. Mary’s Ryken, athletic ring of honor.

When looking to the future of the Mount both talked about continuing the Xaverian Values. According to both Mr. Andrews and Mr. Peace, being an educator 20 years ago is very different then the way information is conveyed today. The Mount’s founding brothers started off with one student, today they have over 900 students, all with different needs and strengths, many who had relatives that attended the Mount previously. Mr. Andrew’s believes the founding brothers would be astonished by how much the school has grown and developed over the past 143 years. Teaching today is 21st century based, leaving behind the chalk and chalk board to iPads and a reliance on education technology. The brotherhood still exists, the mission still being spread. If you have all of those things, Mount Saint Joseph will continue to be a home for young men for years to come.

Andrew Sheppard is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class, and a member of The Quill.