Tag Archives: MSJ

What does it mean when we say ‘Mount Man?’

Mount St. Joseph students enjoy the camaraderie of attending a game at Plevyak Field. Photo credit: Mount St. Joseph High School

A lot of pride comes with being a “Mount Man.” While wearing my uniform, I have heard adults tell children I deserve acknowledgment because I am a Mount Man. But what does that mean? Why does being a “Mount Man” deserve so much respect?

Senior Braylon Sims

“Being a Mount Man is really about doing everything you can for the Mount St. Joseph community,” Braylon Sims said. Sims, a senior at MSJ, is a part of the track team and is a former Fresh/Soph Basketball player. “Just being present in the community and really giving back to what it’s giving you.”

At the same time, Sims said that people at the Mount live by the ‘classmates for four years, brothers for life’ motto that is so commonly used at the Mount. “And that’s really giving back to what people have created here before and what you’re going to leave behind after you graduate.”

Mr. Michael Stromberg

MSJ teacher and alum, Mr. Stromberg, shares a similar view to Sims. Being a Mount Man is “realizing that you are part of such a larger thing than yourself and thinking about all the guys who have graduated here in the past, all the guys that are going to graduate with you, and all those that are going to graduate after you,” Mr. Stromberg said.

Both Sims and Mr. Stromberg indicate that the true meaning of being a Mount Man is taking in what alumni have left behind at the Mount and leaving something behind for future Gaels to take in. But what about the MSJ students who don’t participate much at the Mount? Is everyone who goes to the Mount a ‘Mount Man,’ or is it exclusive to those who leave their names behind on banners and boards?

“The thing is, you take part in this community even when you don’t realize it,” Sims said. He says that just by going to MSJ, you participate in this community and that everyone that goes to the Mount is a Mount Man.

“I think you have to buy into the experience at St. Joe. But I do. I think if you are walking across that stage as a graduate, I think you are a Mount Man,” Mr. Stromberg said. He says it isn’t about being the ‘perfect person’ or being dedicated to the Xaverian values, but about striving to be the best, we can be.

Classmates gather for a reunion here at The Mount. Photo Credit: Mount St. Joseph High School

However, this still doesn’t answer why Mount Men draw so much respect. “We get to take our experience at St. Joe out into society and hopefully instill that little bit that we were able to receive here as a gift,” Mr. Stromberg said. Mr. Stromberg suggests that we deserve respect because we are contributing to the world through our experiences at St. Joe.

A Mount Man takes part in the MSJ community, strives to be the best person they can be, and takes their experience at MSJ into society. It’s not about being involved in the most clubs and activities at the Mount. It’s not about just knowing the Xaverian Values. It’s about taking all the lessons, striving to follow them, and sending them out into the world.

Jimmy Thomas is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

Mr. Sam Bianco aims to bring consistency to rules enforcement


Consistency is the most important aspect in maintaining, reinforcing, and writing any policy, as explained by Mr. Bianco. As most returning students may have noticed, the atmosphere regarding discipline has felt undoubtedly different; and the root of this feeling is the significant change in consistency. With the introduction of our newest Director Of Students, Mr. Samuel Bianco, the student handbook has been refreshed for the betterment of everyone on campus. Mr. Bianco has stated that with his introduction to this new position, he fully intends to take the name of his position and to apply it to his work. “As Director of Students I plan to assist the students in any way possible; whether it be the little things like helping a student get into a locker that doesn’t work or working with them when they are struggling….and even dealing with big things that happen throughout the week.” With this personal assistance, Mr. Bianco plans to make the discipline, and environment, at MSJ a “consistent and fair place to provide every student with a similar and great experience.”

After 12 years in the classroom, Mr. Bianco is hard at work in his new position as Director of Students.

However, with these changes to consistency, came changes to how the handbook is read and responded to. When asked about the most basic rule changes, Mr Bianco responded with,  “The rules themselves have not changed, but rather the rules have been rewritten in a way that they are easier to understand.” Now what does this mean exactly ?

Mr. Bianco’s edited versions of the Mount Book. Here is a comparison between 2017-2018 student handbook (marked) and the current student handbook (bottom).

Well, when the handbook from this year (2018-2019) is compared to the handbooks of years past, one would see that the rules have been rewritten in a way that allows readers to understand the specifics of each rule. Mr. Bianco stated in our interview that this was done with the best interest of the students in mind, as well as the community formed by and with MSJ.

These changes have brought along quite a few opinions both from teachers and students. For instance, when I asked what senior Mark Ramsey. thought about these new changes he stated that, “It’s a lot more strict than before when I was a freshman, the rules were a lot less enforced upon students. The rules were more so emphasized, and I believe that the upperclassmen are actually used to that lack of enforcement.” As expected with all changes, those who have experienced the rules from years prior, some people will always disagree with certain aspects. Furthermore, with the changes to the rules, it has become apparent among the upperclassmen that enforcement and consistency has become a significant, and important, priority in the discipline system. For example: in the quote from Mark, he stated that the rules didn’t seem as strict as they are now and thus it can be seen that the change in consistency has undoubtedly started working to the favor of the discipline system.  

But, as to be expected of the students, (who are the ones directly affected by the changes) a majority of them dislike the “new” policy on cell phones. However, the students who gave their official opinions on the new changes have unanimously agreed that these changes are understandably important and indeed have a positive impact.”I understand why Mr. Bianco made the ‘no phones period’ rule because they are distracting to the students.” -senior Christian Avara.  Ms. Gallagher stated in her opinion that, from a teacher’s perspective, she found the “new” phone policy incredibly helpful, “I think that the cell phone policy is great. It helps previously distracted students focus on what they’re doing in school while removing their worry for what is happening outside of school and about their phones themselves.”  

While you may see St. Joe students on their iPads during the day, you shouldn’t see them on their phones, which are not allowed to be out and visible during the school day.

But what is this “new” phone policy? For one, it’s not as new as most of the campus might believe. To the alumni, teachers, and upperclassmen, the “new” cell phone policy isn’t necessarily new, but rather is being enforced much better than before. Before the dawn of the iPads, introduced with the current senior class (2019), the cell phone policy had remained as it does now; no phones are to be used on campus during the school day. However, this rule was alleviated when the iPads came into the classrooms to allow students who were not in possession of the iPads to participate in class activities, but the phones were still not to be used outside of the classroom. But why does this year seem different from the rest, if the rule has not changed? Well, since every grade at MSJ now has an iPad, the exceptionalism for upperclassmen has been removed to allow for more consistency in enforcing this rule. And for further clarification, Mr. Greg McDivitt, Director of Studies, expressed, “In practice, the application of the ‘no cell phone’ rule to include the Counseling Center, Cafeteria, Library, and Campus Ministry is a tangible, easily recognized, difference that all students are experiencing.  I believe that consistency across all campus spaces during the school day helps enforcement of the rule everywhere.”  When asked about this change, Mrs. Abdo voiced her opinion stating that, “While I understand that students are upset, the cell phone rule is helpful but it should also be understood that it wasn’t correctly applied; but was still present. Enduring personal relationships has been a Xaverian value and less technology is consistent with simplicity and discipline in dress and workplace. I think the “new” cell phone policy can help us be more consistent with the Xaverian values like: Simplicity, Humility, and Trust (in the regard to cheating).”

Despite the significant contrast in opinions regarding the new rules, most (if not all) can agree that the enforcement of these rules will help in one way or another. The proposition that these rules will bring a new sense of consistency, aside from important, will be a helpful change to the atmosphere here on campus. Even though the adjustment period may be a learning curve for some, a detriment (superficially) to others, the consistency in discipline is proposed to improve life on campus in its own time; and these changes have already made their own significant impact. From where we are now, we can see that these changes are already making their way into the blood of student activity; and that this entry is already helping MSJ students acquire the professionalism that they are renowned for.

Aidan van der Horst, Senior

Aidan van der Horst is a senior and a member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

Evacuated from El Salvador: Getting to know Ms. Mary Wittelsberger

This year at the Mount, as is usually the case, there are a group of new teachers, and to learn more about them The Quill set out to interview all of the teachers new to the school this year. My interview was with Ms. Mary Wittelsberger, a new Spanish teacher who teaches Spanish I, Spanish II, Honors Spanish II, and Spanish III.

Ms. Wittelsberger, teaching a group of students the basics of lacrosse.

This is Ms. Wittelsberger’s first year formally teaching. I say formally because she spent two years with the Peace Corps in El Salvador. While in El Salvador she taught a wide variety of subjects, English, Sports, Art, and self-esteem; this was decided based on what the community wanted to learn. These classes were taught in a school, and assigned to the teacher. Ms. Wittelsberger had already known Spanish because she majored it in college, she also minored in Greek, but now says she doesn’t remember much of the Greek. While in El Salvador, her group was evacuated three months early due to a rise in homicides and gang violence in the area. You can read more about Ms. Wittelsberger’s time in El Salvador in her article published in The Huffington Post, El Salvador Made Me a Better Person. Unfortunately, I Had to Be Evacuated

Ms. Wittelsberger has always been a Maryland native, she grew up in Baltimore County and attended Hereford High School. Before her time in El Salvador, Ms. Wittelsberger was quite the student-athlete. She was an Under Armour All-American athlete in women’s lacrosse. She was First Team All-County in 2004, and in 2007, she was named to Inside Lacrosse’s Top 25 players. From there she went to play Division I Lacrosse at Georgetown University. She wasn’t just a lacrosse player though, she also played field hockey, where she was a two-time All-Baltimore County First Team athlete and helped lead Hereford to the 2006 state championship.

Prior to coming to Mount Saint Joe, Ms. Wittelberger served as a Peace Corp volunteer, working in El Salvador.

Now that we know about Ms. Wittelsberger, let’s talk about how she got to the Mount. After leaving the Peace Corps, she says she was attracted to the Mount because of our beliefs and characteristics, saying “I believe in the charisms of the Mount. I think the work that the teachers do here is incredible, I think it is meaningful, impactful. I think the students have an incredible chance to grow here.” A Catholic, Ms. Wittelsberger says “I think that I fit right in with the Xaverian values.” She still wants to make a difference like she did in El Salvador and feels like she can do the same here at MSJ. She says so far she loves being at the Mount and has enjoyed being with the students.

Ms. Wittelsberger’s introduction to the Mount is very similar to the Freshmen Orientation. She met with the department and administration, had professional days, learned the rules, and became accustomed to the school. She says everyone has been extremely supportive at St. Joe. She also mentioned that she feels right at home the Mount’s all-male student atmosphere because she grew up with two brothers. Speaking about the St. Joe environment, “I can handle it.”