Tag Archives: MSJ News

“We’re working for everybody” – The thought process behind Spirit Week

Monday of Spirit Week was Jersey Day & Anything-But-A-Backpack Day

Saint Joe’s Spirit Week has always instilled a fiery pride and passion for the Gael way through many enjoyable events. These engaging, entertaining experiences bring hundreds of Mount brothers together and culminate with a high-energy Homecoming Saturday. Our Director of Student Life, Mr. Sam Bianco ’01, claimed that Spirit Week, “is one of the great traditions that we do here.” But what has made Spirit Week so great every year? What urges students to make an effort to participate in the numerous Spirit Week events every year?

To Saint Joe’s Student Council, student input and inclusivity are the answer. “It’s definitely on the forefront of every decision we make,” says Mr. Bianco. “We’re working for everybody. We’ve really got a diverse set of guys in there. They’re in all different types of classes and all the different clubs and athletics. Those guys have a really good beat on what types of students exist here.” For this year’s Spirit Week, the Student Council has worked to understand every individual Mount Man’s perspective and worked it into Spirit Week. “The whole week is a lot of effort,” continues Mr. Bianco, “believe it or not, we start talking about spirit week in June.”

A recent interview with student council representative Matthew Hockstra tells us that one of the main goals for the council this year is to make sure every student has fun and is included.

I was fortunate to speak with sophomore officer Collin Park about his perspective. He explained, “we propose ideas to Mr. Ader, Ms. Gallagher, and Mr. Bianco [the teachers who lead the student council], and they ask the administrators to see if it would go through. They give us a little path that we can follow, and that path leads to different outcomes.” Collin wanted us to understand that the students had a far greater say in the creation of Spirit Week than we might expect.

Collin further elaborated on the mechanics of the week’s development, sharing that multiple groups were formed to plan different aspects of the week. The idea is that dividing students among separate areas of the week allows every possible idea to shine. This year, Collin’s group worked on revamping the pep rally and competitions. The team worked vigorously to reimplement details enjoyed from previous years, like the inclusion of teachers in the dodgeball and arm wrestling competitions.

However, the competitive spirit is not the only thing refined this year. Mr. Bianco excitedly announced that the Student Council has a brand new decorations committee that’s “going to do some new stuff around campus this year.” In addition, the student tailgate has been excellently polished with a live DJ and brand-new party games. And you can’t forget Monday’s debut of “everything but a backpack day.” Despite all these additions and more, Mr. Bianco was most excited about the Homecoming dance.

“As long as the weather’s good, it’ll look beautiful out there,” he said in anticipation of the dance. “The facilities team is doing lights everywhere outside, We’ve got a DJ, and some great food, including Chick-Fil-A that’s all included in the ticket. And, we have a great giveaway we are very excited about.” When asked about the prize of the giveaway, Mr. Bianco refused to spoil it but said it was “something that students could definitely use.”

“Homecoming day is one of the best days of the year on campus. You could get here at 11 am, watch the soccer team take on their opponent, come over to the tailgate for free food and fun, go back to the football game and join the student section, and go home, shower, and come back for the dance.”

Mr. Sam Bianco ’01, Director of Student Life

For Mr. Bianco, and many other alumni, the thought of Spirit Week brings back many great memories. Mr. Bianco happily shared, “I remember all of those Spirit Weeks. I remember there being a lot of great energy on campus and out on the field. I went to all four of those homecoming games, and I remember all the student sections being huge and the games being exciting; I went to all four of those homecoming dances, and they were all great ones.” By allowing students to lead their own Spirit Week, the tradition has remained fresh for old and new students alike.

Jude Danner is a Sophomore member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

Munch on Lunch: Campus Cuisine takes over the cafeteria

The disrupted food supply chain, staffing issues, and decreasing demand caused the Mount St. Joseph administration to change the student lunch service in the cafeteria. Campus Cuisine was the perfect fit to serve the school, according to Mr. Chris Sapienza, the Mount CFO. Mr. Sapienza said, “We interviewed a couple of different places. This one seemed well-established. I think they have been in business for 26 years.” Though change may seem complicated, this transition from an expensive, struggling lunch service moved to an easier way of delivering students their meals. 

Mr. Chris Sapienza gets ready for the next batch of students coming in for lunches.

For Mr. Sapienza, the decision was simple: “The reason we picked them was because of their reputation. The prices are pretty close to what you would get if you went to the store yourself.” When Mr. George Andrews announced the official change, the sentiment around the school was a disappointment, and some people expressed their willingness to bring lunch. Once given the opportunity, though, a wave of positivity flowed through campus as more people began to purchase their lunch via Campus Cuisine. According to Mr. Sapienza, the experience could not be more effortless: “Campus Cuisine sets up everything at the restaurants. They come twice a day with deliveries, once at 9:00 and once at 11:00—first delivery for C Period, Homeroom, D Period; second delivery for E Period and F Period.” I received a copy of the lunch reports from March 8, which showed a synopsis of the straightforward way the Campus Cuisine administration delivers the food. When walking me through the lunch order from that day, Mr. Sapienza spoke about their arrangement: “The first order is going to include these three [periods], so we have 72 slices of cheese, so we should have nine pizzas. If we don’t—and there’s only eight—we know ‘Hey, you got to go back and get another.”

Shane Lowman and his family own the place [John’s Italian Deli], he’s a grad, and it’s nice to give a grad and a Mount Family some business, too. Chef Paolino is a Mount family as well, and they love the business and it’s been great for them.”

— Mr. Chris Sapienza

The company, created by Kathryn Kreimer, has built a solid foundation and excellent reputation. Founded in 1996, schools similar to ours use Campus Cuisine and have discovered great success in the cafeteria. “There was a school in Rhode Island—Bishop Hendrickson High School—they are Catholic, all-male, and very similar to us. I think they have about 750 students, and they are a big school, just like us,” added Mr. Sapienza. A conversation with the administration helped with the decision in choosing Campus Cuisine: “I talked to Denise [Director of Food Services at Bishop Hendricken] about the process and everything like that, so she made me feel comfortable with moving forward with Campus Cuisine.”

As a business, Campus Cuisine garners a profit using a standard technique: “So the restaurants charge Campus Cuisine basically what you would pay at the restaurant. Campus Cuisine, for the website and their administration, they add a fee on top of that—about 15%—so it sounds like a lot, but it’s not if you think about it.” Due to the 6% tax in Maryland, Campus Cuisine accumulates a 9% margin compared to the store price.

Mr. Michael and Ms. Ursula get ready to hand out the lunches for Period D lunch.

Before the service started, I heard from classmates that the food looked expensive. Mr. Sapienza admitted this as the one negative he has heard about the business: “I haven’t heard anything negative about it except, obviously, pizza is $3, so that’s cheap, the menu prices range from $3 to $14, it can be expensive if you are ordering every day.” He also acknowledged his disappointment about the lack of feedback received from students and staff: “I’ve heard from folks: ‘Oh, they love the subs,’ pizza always sells, Chick-fil-A always sells, they were really excited about the Mexican restaurant [El Patron].”

Mistakes within the ordering service happen, though, and the new vending machines act as the solution to these problems. With these, they can serve a full lunch without taking away from another order. Also, the restaurant connections to our school help with the emotional part of the lunch business. “That’s [John’s Italian Deli] another MSJ family, Shane Lowman and his family own the place, he’s a grad, and it’s nice to give a grad and a Mount Family some business, too. Chef Paolino is a Mount family as well, and they love the business, and it’s been great for them.”

Through this challenging switch between lunch services, Campus Cuisine has stepped up to take on the challenge. A high-priced, struggling operation was changed, and they moved in to provide students with the latest advancement in lunch production. With their help, Mount St. Joseph has provided students with an option-filled, friendlier lunch experience in the cafeteria.

Alex Kwas is a freshman member of The Quill