Tag Archives: News

A guide to MSJ’s Campus Ministry program

Spirituality has been a big part of the culture here at MSJ, but something that is very overlooked on campus is MSJ’s campus ministry. Outside of junior retreats, there is so much more that campus ministry has to offer.

Alex Kwas ’25 interviewed Mr. Stromberg, and Martin Edell ’25 interviewed Mr. Bonham.

Student involvement is crucial in any school-wide program, and Campus Ministry has a lot of good representation at the Mount. If you aren’t sure how to get involved or where to get started: don’t worry! We’ve all been there. That being said, it’s crucial to get started. As a student involved in Campus Ministry, I can confidently say that taking the next step in your faith journey while in high school is tremendously beneficial. ’24 JP Fisher says that “being involved with Campus Ministry has been a lot of fun and a very fulfilling way to grow closer to Jesus, but I think one of the strongest ways it has helped me through the Spiritual Direction Program.” The Spiritual Direction Program is a great way to meet individually with a priest or mentor and discuss your faith journey. Talk to your theology teacher for more details!

Students taking part in the liturgy in the Smith Center.

In addition to Campus Ministry, MSJ offers the Xaverian Brother Sponsored Schools (XBSS) program for Xaverian students worldwide to participate in various service and religious opportunities while promoting the Xaverian values of life that are practiced and taught here on campus. ’23 Braeden Smith explained in an interview what XBSS means to him as a student. He says, “Contrary to what many people think, it is different from campus ministry. MSJ’s chapter of XBSS is an organization that represents the school as a part of our 13-school network and leads the development of activities throughout the school that champion Xaverian values. This includes campus ministry, big brother program, Spiritual Guidance, Ryken Service Club, etc.” Braeden and many other students have been given a new perspective on their life as a student here at the Mount.

“As co-leader of the liturgy division of XBSS, I also am blessed to have the opportunity to organize specific liturgical events that occur in campus ministry, from everything like Chapel Friday Masses to our plans for an MSJ Mercy Night. Since freshman year, I have itched to be a part of campus ministry and now having the opportunity to lead and better the spiritual life of students and teachers on campus through liturgy is a dream come true. As a result of my experiences, I will definitely pursue liturgical involvement in my college communities and my church parish when I get older. “

Senior Braeden Smith

Campus Ministry offers excellent encounters and programs for students of all ages, regardless of background and religion. We want to settle the doubts of any student who is willing to join Campus Ministry. “The common misconception is that campus ministry events are only based on prayer. Many of our activities also include fellowship that focus on developing relationships between students. A perfect example is the bible study, called Rise Up on Thursdays. Before we get into the discussion, we have donuts and free time to talk with each other which is a great way to start the day…As well as helping to build relationships, campus ministry activities also provide opportunities to strengthen one’s faith, or if one is not religious, they can meditate, which I can tell from experience is much more beneficial than most people would think.”- Senior Braeden Smith

A group of MSJ and Good Counsel XBSS Students at the XBSS Retreat.
Braeden Smith ’23, Jack Moses ’23, Lathan Imwiko ’23, Christian Wright ’23, and Guy Yogo ’23.

XBSS has a great representation at the Mount, but compared to the athletics program or student council, it is being outweighed. “My advice to those who are hesitant is to not be! The people are very non-judgmental and ready to talk to your about your faith, they love fun, and they love the Lord and want to love you as brothers in Christ. It certainly cannot hurt you to get involved, and I firmly believe you would benefit from it and really bring something important to the organization.”- Junior JP Fisher.

Campus Ministry and XBSS are so unique, and I encourage you to reach out to one of the student members or staff and ask questions and fill out an application to join. You won’t regret it!

David Cohn is a Senior member of the Multimedia Journalism Class.

Thinking about options for next year already? Consider these electives

Although this brand new school year has just started, it’s never too early to consider what classes you want to fill up your schedule next year. Some classes stay the same, like Theology and Math classes, while other students might have opted into electives. One unique thing about Mount Saint Joe is that they offer different electives that you, as a student, have the choice to take. Many students like to learn new things, but they may not be familiar with what is available given their schedules. With this being said, students find themselves trying to decide what electives they feel are worth taking. I will talk about some electives and why you should take them.


One interesting elective choice is the Philosophy elective. One thing that makes this class unique is that it is taught by two teachers, Mr. Michael O’Donnell and Mr. Clay Bonham. The primary purpose of this class is for people who ask deep questions; they can maybe find an answer they are comfortable with. I got to interview Mr. Bonham, asking him some questions about the elective. When I asked Mr. Bonham why he teaches philosophy, he said, “I really liked the course in college, and I found myself asking the same questions that philosophy talks about.” Mr. Bonham also told me that Philosophy helps with different college career paths. “It can help you with different career paths, especially those concerned with morality and ethics.” If you ask these questions or maybe just want a deeper understanding of nature and life itself, this is the elective for you.

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Art Fundamentals

At MSJ, an art credit is required for all students to have to graduate. For people who play an instrument, this can help complete an art credit. Those who are talented in computer art can do digital art classes. But for those who might not be interested in a high-level art class or want to create art on paper, Art Fundamentals is the class to take. Art Fundamentals, taught by Mr. Bryan Bieniek, allows students to create artwork with flexible deadlines and in a relaxed environment. I got to ask Mr. Bieniek about the class, “This class helps you open up the creative part of your mind.” When I asked Mr. Bieniek about the impact an art class can have on potential college career paths, he told me, “it helps people with engineering and architecture majors because of the concept of creating new designs.” Art Fundamentals gives students in the class the ability to find ways to become more creative.

Mr. Bieniek’s classroom. On the tables are clay models made by students in the Art Fundamentals Class.

Other Electives to Consider

Coming from a student, I know from first-hand experience the benefits that these electives can have. Another elective that students might find interesting is the Business Law elective taught by Mr. Jerry Naylor. When interviewing my brother, John Avara ’19, and former student of Mr. Naylor’s Business Law class, he told me, “if you have aspirations to own your own business one day, this class is for you.” Another elective worth taking is the Multi-Media Journalism elective. Similar to Art Fundamentals, this class allows you to create what you want with flexible deadlines. The World Language department also offers a selection of Spanish, Italian, French, and Latin. While two language credits are required at MSJ, you are not limited to learning just one of these languages.

Students in the Multi-Media Journalism Class working on interview projects.

MSJ offers the opportunity of learning new topics that most schools don’t teach. While your traditionally required classes like Math, Theology, English, and Social Studies fill up most of your schedule, I suggest leaving open space for some of the electives I mentioned. These electives can expose you to interests you might not have thought you had.

Stephen Avara, Junior

Stephen Avara is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism Class.

“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.

Mankind’s Second Leap

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Months, if not years, of preparation, had culminated into this one moment. NASA’s largest rocket yet, Artemis-1, was beginning preparations for its first-ever test launch. August 29 was shaping up to be a day for the history books, the day that NASA proved it could send a man back to the moon for the first time in fifty years and maybe even further beyond.

However, while Artemis was gearing for launch, disaster struck. One of Artemis’ engines began to experience temperature issues, and the launch was postponed. The 2nd and 5th of September were selected as potential backup launch dates, but as those days came and went, there was no launch. The cause of the engine malfunction was later revealed on the 5th as a leak of liquid hydrogen. However, not all hope for Artemis’ launch has been lost, as it was recently announced that NASA will attempt another launch on September 27. Whether the launch will succeed or not will remain to be seen.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Despite disappointing many expectant onlookers, Artemis-1 succeeded in reigniting the spark of hope that humanity may be able to return to the moon for the first time in nearly half a decade. The dream of landing on the moon is shared by most people, especially those who were around when NASA was still sending astronauts up to our natural satellite. Even for those without that dream, the idea of exploration of something unknown has been a concept shared throughout the ages. Because of this, NASA’s unofficial switch to exclusively unmanned spacecraft shattered the dreams that many had.

It’s been almost 50 years since then, and humanity has been waiting long enough. Although considerable progress has been made through things like the Voyager program and the Exploration rovers, the coming launch will mark the beginning of a new era of space exploration. The day that we, as a species, return to the moon will be considered another one of mankind’s most significant accomplishments, and may even be considered mankind’s second leap.

Alex Magno is a Junior 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

Teaching in the age of misinformation

It’s unarguable that politics is now a part of modern society more than it ever has been before. With the growth of the internet, and its spread in accessibility across the world, more and more people across various demographics have entered the world of politics. One of the most important and potentially most impressionable demographics exposed to this topic are children and teens. Kids and teens are being exposed to politics more than generations prior, primarily through social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, just to name a few. Unfortunately, this has also led to this young demographic being fed political misinformation and exposed to extreme and polarizing views on various arguments. Thankfully, efforts are being taken across society to help combat the spread of misinformation, as well as helping kids learn to educate themselves on various political issues and topics.

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Mount Saint Joseph’s own Mr. Ryan Folmer is an alum from the class of 1996 and has been teaching at the Mount for 17 years. He aims to help combat political misinformation within his class curricula. When asked what period of history was most significant for him to teach, Mr. Folmer stated that learning the origins of humanity is essential for his students to learn, as it helps students understand the concept of race.

There are many, but I think my core, central goal is for us to do and understand history as it really is, not a set of facts or dates to be memorized, but a process of argument and understanding about the past.

Mr. Ryan Folmer

“There are many different lessons that students need to learn, but if I had to pick one, it would be understanding the origins of our racial issues in this country; how race is a construct that has been used by people to gain and maintain power over people for centuries, but it is not natural. It is a decision people have made and continues to be made.”

When asked about his core goals as a teacher at The Mount and the Social Studies Department Chair, Mr. Folmer had this to say:

“There are many, but I think my core, central goal is for us to do and understand history as it really is, not a set of facts or dates to be memorized, but a process of argument and understanding about the past.”

Learning about how history has affected our society is the first step to understanding the spread of politics in modern society. Without this understanding of the evolution of humanity throughout history, we won’t be able to know how politics is a critical factor in our modern society’s growth.

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With politics being a primary factor in society more than ever, it’s affected how human society views and reacts to politics. With how rapid-fire political memes and messages are shared on social media, kids and teens are being exposed to more radical and polarizing viewpoints from all sides of the political spectrum. On the one hand, it is good that kids are being exposed to political topics at an earlier age, as it will help these kids develop a thinking pattern of detecting lies and misinformation early on in their lives.

When asked about kids being exposed to politics sooner, Mr. Folmer responded with this: “I think the younger students start having these conversations, the better; they will have these skills as older students and adults without succumbing to prejudices, biases, and lies.”

Ryken Award winner, Mr. Phil Campbell has been teaching at Mount Saint Joseph for 25 years. When asked about politics being more readily available, he had this to say, “I feel that it has been helpful in providing an array of resources available to students, but it places more responsibility on the students to find accurate, less biased news.” 

The Social Studies classroom holds a quintessential role in teaching students how to evaluate and corroborate sources, whether for a research paper or just while reading your daily news.

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Unfortunately, while kids being exposed to politics at a younger demographic can be positive, every reaction has an opposite and equal reaction. With social media comes the spread of misinformation, both through fake news articles and political and satirical memes shared around. With how widespread the internet is, people are being exposed to incorrect information daily, forming political opinions purely based on misinformation and not fact-checking their sources.

Mr. Folmer stated that the spread of misinformation has already impacted the previous election results and will continue to affect voter stances for years to come. “If you look at those who wrongly believe that the last election was illegitimate, it’s clear this is already having an impact and likely will in the coming years.”

However, all is not lost. Mr. Folmer is taking action in his classrooms and class curricula to help combat information. When asked how he is taking action against the age of misinformation, Mr. Folmer said, “I am asking my students to take a critical look at sources, ideas, narratives, their own positions, etc., and understand media biases and their own biases is at the core of so much of what we do; whether that is in a history class, a current events class, or a government and politics course.”

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Social Studies in our schools is more critical than ever.  We rely on Social Studies to prepare students, and future voters, to think critically and carefully examine the facts.  Social Studies drives us to continue to question and discover the truth. In the earliest days of our nation, our Founders believed in the importance of civic engagement and working for the greater good; these tenants are at the heart of any Social Studies curriculum and very prominent here at The Mount.  Social Studies classes will continue to provide the skills to combat false narratives, fake news, and misinformation campaigns if we are only willing to practice the valuable lessons they offer.

Jackson Reichardt is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class