As we progress into the winter months, and people stay indoors longer, this likely means the Coronavirus will be easier to spread. We are in need of a vaccine and fast. Luckily, the government has received doses of the vaccine. Now it’s just a matter of distributing the vaccine to the rest of the nation. The question is, how is the distribution process going to work?
First of all, it’s important to understand how much each state is being affected by the virus, because that could change how they are distributed. Currently, according to the CDC COVID data tracker, states like California, Nevada, Arizona, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee are the states with the most cases in the last seven days. Meanwhile, states like Vermont, Montana, Washington, Minnesota, Wyoming and Oregon have the least amount of cases in the last seven days.
With the knowledge of which states are affected by the virus the most and least, now we can determine how the government is going to distribute the vaccine. It is ultimately up to the state governors to determine how they want to distribute the vaccine. According to the CDC, it is recommended that the vaccine should be distributed in phases. The first phase would include healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents. The second phase includes frontline essential workers and people who are 75 years or older. The final phase includes people who are between 65-74 and people who are 16-64 with underlying medical conditions, along with other essential workers. Following these phases, the vaccines would then be administered to the rest of the population not covered in these tiers.
Despite the CDC’s recommendation on how to distribute the vaccine, not every state will choose to follow the recommendation. For example, Florida is not following the recommendations but is instead using a first come first serve method, while trying to prioritize the elderly and healthcare workers. While some people might agree with this method, others may disagree with this method either because of Florida’s decision to not follow the CDC’s recommendations or because they don’t like the distribution process. According to a CNN article from December 30, 2020, a man named Bruce Scott arrived at the vaccination site at 1:30 a.m. and waited in a line for about 8 or 9 hours to get vaccinated, saying, “Although I’m grateful to get the vaccine, I feel that there’s got to be a better way to distribute this.” He later adds, “For people that really need it, elderly that might be disabled in some way, they can’t endure this process, so there’s got to be a better way to manage this.”
The Trump administration expected to vaccinate about 20 million people by the end of December. However, only about 1 million people were vaccinated in December, that’s about 19 million short of the goal. So far in 2021, as of January 11, approximately 9 million Americans have received at least the first dose of the vaccine, and according to officials, the hope was that 50 million Americans would have been vaccinated by the end of January. It looks pretty unlikely that America will reach that expected goal.
On January 20th, Joe Biden will be inaugurated into office as the 46th President of the United States. As he inherits a system that is behind in distribution, it’s going to be interesting to see how well he sticks to his 100 day challenge to turn the tides on the pandemic. It’s expected that Biden will follow the CDC’s recommendations for vaccine distribution, but the question is: Is he going to distribute them as quickly as he says he will?
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.
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”
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.
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.
Always considering himself a teacher first, this year, Mr. Sam Bianco added a new feather to his cap when he began the administrative role as Director of Student Life. I wanted to learn more about what this new role entailed, and give Mr. Bianco a chance to explain why he made the switch from Director of Students to this freshly carved-out job.
“Simply put, I really deal with anything that relates to Mount Saint Joe students that is not discipline or academics,” said Mr. Bianco. Specifically, the role involves student clubs and activities, as well as Spirit Week and school dances. He works with and supports the teachers and the students running the various clubs on campus. Mr. Bianco also talked about his plans to establish a Student Leadership Initiative. “I basically support students in any way I can.”
When the new role was announced back in April, I had assumed it was because of changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I learned that was not the case. “The position was actually in the works well before the pandemic. It’s actually a position that has been talked about for years and years, because the goal there in part was bringing on another administrator.” One purpose for having the new administrator is to have the person handling the student opportunities on the administrative team.
“My number one goal is that every student finds something outside of academics that brings meaning and fulfillment to them here at this school.”
Mr. Sam Bianco, Director of Student Life
I also reached out to Mr. George Andrews, President of Mount Saint Joseph High School, for his take on the development of the Director of Student Life role. “I think it came about organically,” he stated. “It seemed to rise from many people suggesting it at the same time. From faculty and students, to the principal’s cabinet and the administration. The Mount had the same administrative structure for more than two decades and even the board of directors asked about a new structure to better meet the needs of students in extracurricular activities.”
I asked Mr. Bianco about his transition from Director of Students to Director of Student Life. He told me that he thinks his gifts and talents are better suited for the new role, for he is typically a more upbeat person. As a student, it is clear to me that Mr. Bianco is well suited for this job.
Both Mr. Bianco and Mr. Andrews emphasized the importance of having a good experience on campus. They encourage us not to be the “8:00-2:30 student,” to get involved, and to participate in extracurriculars. The new Director of Student Life role was formed as a means to support students, as well as the clubs and activities, and to ensure that each student has a memorable experience at Mount Saint Joseph.
“My number one goal is that every student finds something outside of academics that brings meaning and fulfillment to them here at this school,” said Mr. Bianco. “This is more than just a place where you take classes, and as cliché as that sounds, there’s so much truth to that.”
Mr. Bianco said that after we students graduate we will not necessarily remember that one thing we learned in class, but rather the experiences we had, and that his job is to help us find those experiences. “I’m not the guy that provides those experiences per se, but I’m the guy that’s gonna help you find them. And that’s why I’m passionate about the job, because it is personal for me.”
While Mr. Bianco will always see himself as a teacher first, he is elated to pursue this new role. As the Director of Student Life he has made it his goal to make sure that every student finds something meaningful to them on campus. St. Joe will definitely be a better place for all students if they are able to find that meaningful activity that might stick with them for the rest of their lives.
Gabe Henstrand is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all of our lives immeasurably, and has introduced new concepts we probably never gave a first thought to, such as wearing masks, social distancing, and distance learning. Distance learning, or remote learning, assures that everyone is staying home, and is proven to have significantly slowed the spread of the virus, but the question everyone is seeking to answer is different: can this type of learning be as effective as face-to-face learning?
I started off asking both of my interviewees about their experience with online learning. Ms. Thadine Coyne, a Theology teacher at Mount Saint Joseph High School said the online learning we started last spring was very new for her, but thought it had gone really well. She knew the kids she was teaching, and “they had a sense of how to interact with me and what to expect.”
Ms. Coyne found this year’s online, and hybrid, classes to be much more challenging, “It’s impossible to establish what I call a classroom flow of action.” Eli Gatto, a junior at St. Joe, and one of Ms. Coyne’s students had a much different response. He thought his online classes this year, as well as last year, have gone pretty well so far. “The workload hasn’t been as excruciating; I have been able to have some free time while still doing good work,” said Gatto.
Online learning and face-to-face learning certainly have their benefits and downsides, but could a specific type of learning significantly affect a student’s grades? Ms. Coyne said the greatest difference regarding student’s grades was in testing. “I hate to say it, but the truth is you guys cheat.” Giving objective tests through Google Forms allows the student to use other resources that wouldn’t be normally be available, and Ms. Coyne has no control over what the students are doing/viewing when they are on their iPads at home.
Now thanks to the hybrid model, Ms. Coyne said face-to-face learning so far has been “like a dream come true,” because the smaller cohorts allow her to engage with her students easier, and she finds it more enjoyable. Eli Gatto had a similar response, saying that face-to-face learning makes it easier to engage with your teacher.
On October 1, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan implored schools to begin getting back to normal, welcoming students on campus as it became feasible. So when Mount St. Joseph made the transition to hybrid learning on October 5, what was the general consensus of the faculty and students to this change?
Ms. Coyne thought opening school on October 5 as a hybrid schedule was a good decision, because families were given the option to stay at home, and overall, she thinks that students and adults are being responsible with social distancing. “Hopefully, everybody will keep doing that so we can continue coming back and forth to school.” Eli also said it was a good decision, because the hybrid schedule has a smaller amount of students, and people are following guidelines and all wearing masks in their classes.
After interviewing Ms. Coyne and Eli Gatto, it became clear that face-to-face learning had more advantages than online learning, whether it be easier to engage with your teachers, or less distractions. Although this is true, there were still some benefits to online learning, such as increased flexibility and not having to drive to school. Both Ms. Coyne and Eli spoke about the benefits of each type of learning and concluded that the hybrid schedule that we have in place was the most preferred.
This pandemic has been challenging for everyone and has made us all adapt to a new lifestyle. Every teacher and student has had to adapt to virtual school and some have found the transition to be easy while others have struggled. For my part of the story, I interviewed Mr. Brian Shearer and one of his students, Jeremy Abrams, to get their perspectives on how a teacher and student have handled this unexpected change.
In the interview with Mr. Shearer, I wanted to get an idea of how he handled the transition and some of the challenges he faced as a young teacher. The primary challenge for him in virtual learning is communicating with his students, and he made it clear that he is using email much more than he had in the past. “The biggest difference has been having to stay on top of students who are missing work. It’s easier for me if a student has incomplete assignments to just speak to them after class. It has been a lot more emails to students and parents as well, just about grade updates, staying on top of missing assignments, and getting work completed.”
Mr. Shearer said that while he definitely prefers to be physically in the classroom, being virtual with students has forced him to rethink the way he does certain assignments and the way he approaches teaching. He also said that being online so much has forced him to get comfortable with different platforms. When it came to the technology aspect, he said “My transition was easier than most and part of that I think is just because I’m younger so I’m a little bit more familiar with some of the platforms.”
While there are a couple of benefits of online learning, Mr. Shearer made it clear that there were many issues that he encountered. He told me that Zoom would sometimes be a problem for him saying “being a discussion-based teacher, having discussions through Zoom is the worst because of connection issues or just timing when someone is going to respond, it just feels unnatural.” He also misses the social aspect that he does not get from virtual learning, adding “What I value the most is the relationships you can form in the classroom that are really hard to form without a physical presence in front of you.”
I also wanted to get Mr. Shearer’s opinion on whether he thinks students who are completely virtual are getting the same education at home that they would be getting if they were in school. He feels that more students are struggling. “The more you are in-person, generally speaking, the better the education because there is more of an emphasis on focusing and being able to elaborate on deeper questions when you are in the classroom.” He said that some are handling it well, but more students are struggling worse than they should be.
When I asked him the amount of time he is putting into teaching at home opposed to in person, Mr. Shearer said, “I would say more time in planning, but less time in actually teaching.” He said when it comes to teaching, it takes more time to do attendance, more time to get platforms ready, and more time to grade which does not allow him the full amount of time to teach whereas if everyone was in the classroom, he would have the full class period.
At times, a student’s perspective of virtual learning can be very different from a teacher’s perspective. Some students enjoy virtual learning because they are able to wake up later and have more free time during the day due to the cohort schedule. Other students miss the in-person interactions and struggle to keep up without physically being able to have a teacher in front of them. I wanted to get a student’s perspective on how he has adapted to online learning.
I interviewed current sophomore Jeremy Abrams. Jeremy pointed out that the biggest change for him from a traditional classroom setting to virtual learning was the obstacles he had encountered with the technology. “Depending on the WiFi, it was either hard to see what he was presenting or the microphone was lagging. In person, this was not an issue because the presentations were always ready to go.” Jeremy also said that he found himself putting more time into school when he was virtual as opposed to if he was physically in school. “I feel like teachers are giving out twice as many assignments. This has made online more stressful than in person.”
After my interview with both Mr. Shearer and Jeremy Abrams, I realized that teachers and students both had a lot of the same challenges when it came to virtual school. Whether it is having to stay on top of students who are missing work, or microphones lagging because of the WiFi, both teachers and students have encountered challenges throughout virtual learning. Everyone is still adapting in these unprecedented times and we will surely always remember our time virtually teaching and learning.
Sean Thompson is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class
Kyle Shao is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class
On any given Monday, you are likely to find 30 high schoolers in purple jerseys cranking their gears, trying their hardest to climb that final hill. During these confusing and unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of our activities were put on hold. Many sporting events had to be postponed or stopped altogether for safety reasons, such as high school football and soccer. However, there is one sport that has managed to survive through these uncertain times, and that is the sport of mountain biking.
While many of the other sports teams at Mount Saint Joseph High School had to, unfortunately, be paused, Mountain Biking was still given the grace to continue during the quarantine period. How did the riders continue their sport with these new complications, and how has COVID-19 caused a lasting impact on mountain biking? As a mountain bike team member myself, I reached out to riders and coaches to try and find the answers to these compelling questions.
Mountain biking coach Mike Saverino, from the class of 1983, said this sudden increase was the result of people looking for new sports to try during the quarantine. “I believe the sudden increase had a few reasons. All other sports were canceled, mountain biking is an outdoor, distanced, and safe sport. It is also all-inclusive so siblings and families could all participate,” said Saverino.
Many MSJ students wanted to get outdoors to enjoy the fresh air of the woods, and they saw the mountain biking team as the perfect opportunity to be able to not only exercise but to be able to join a community of fellow bikers.
One aspect of the bike team that has culminated in the result of the pandemic was the community of riders on the team becoming closer than before. Communities of bikers could always be seen at special events such as the NICA (National Interscholastic Cycling Association) races, trail building at Patapsco, and many other places. However, due to COVID-19 and its many restrictions, races and larger gatherings were not able to be held, but the riders still found a way to form their communities, by strengthening their relationship with members of their home team or other rider friends.
At Mount Saint Joseph, the biking team is composed of a vast number of members from grades 9 to 12, and a variety of skill sets and abilities. As a team of fellow Mount brothers, the riders together form a community that is strengthened with every new ride. Junior team member Felix Smolen ‘22 said that people had a natural longing to want to spend time with friends, and this led to people forming friend communities on bike teams.
Felix Smolen ’22: “I think that ignoring demographics and politics, it’s giving people an opportunity on how they spend their time with people because at the end of the day, we have to stay inside and be with our family, and sometimes that drives people crazy, and I love my family but I also want to hang out with my friends. So we’ve had fewer opportunities to do that in the normal sense, going to the mall or watching movies, so we’ve had to get creative with it. It’s brought people together in different ways and hopefully, once all of this is over, it’s gonna strengthen people with different methods of bringing people together, and make whatever bond there is stronger.”
The future remains uncertain for the time being as to when restrictions will finally be lifted for things to “return to normal,” but the way we do things with other people in public will never truly return to normal. COVID-19 will always have an impact on the way we go about our daily lives and activities and has shown the world how we are to be considerate as to what are the activities that matter the most to us. The communities of mountain biking have grown stronger and closer together ever since the order to quarantine, and once the quarantine ban is lifted, those strong bonds will certainly continue to be felt for many more trail rides to come.
Jackson Reichardt is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Student Newspaper of Mount Saint Joseph High School