Tag Archives: Student Activities

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.

The Weightlifting Club is here to help you achieve your strength goals

What is weightlifting

At this point in our lives, many young men, like us, are striving to achieve their peak physical strength and appearance. While we know that we cannot achieve pure perfection, there is a club at MSJ that could help us reach these goals. The Weightlifting Club provides a way of exercising that helps build up physical and mental performance.

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Weight training is all about putting stress on the muscles to build strength, which can be beneficial in gaining muscle mass and reducing body fat. The Weightlifting Club provides that opportunity and encourages its members to go above and beyond to improve their physical form.

The Benefits of Weightlifting

Lifting weights provides many benefits, particularly to those who play sports. Mr. Matt Schmidt, the Weightlifting Club faculty advisor, points out, “The major adaptation that weightlifting provides is injury prevention.” Along with reducing the chances of injury, weightlifting can improve cardiovascular endurance, agility, and energy levels. So, the Weightlifting Club might interest you if you play sports like football, basketball, or hockey.

According to Mr. Schmidt, weightlifting provides several benefits besides improving muscular form and appearance. He describes how weightlifting supports various body systems, including the skeletal system, the immune system, the circulatory system, and the nervous system. Mr. Schmidt also describes how consistently working out and doing physical activities, like weightlifting, can help maintain your body throughout your life.

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While weightlifting helps your body physically, it can also help your body mentally. Studies show that weightlifting helps improve the mood of people suffering from depression and anxiety. In addition to helping with mental wellness, Mr. Schmidt claims that individuals who reach physical fitness milestones are often filled with a sense of accomplishment. Studies have concluded that weightlifting helps keep the mind mentally engaged and stimulated.

Why you should participate in the club

The Weightlifting Club at MSJ provides an experience you will not find by working out alone. The club offers weightlifting resources to students who either cannot afford it or find it too intimidating to participate in a social environment. But the most unique thing is the club provides a sense of community. While the community is described as loose, it is a community that encourages its members to go above and beyond and reach milestones they find intimidating in order to reach their full potential.

Aidan Bajadek is a Junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

MSJ CyberPatriots Excel at Virtual Problem-Solving

In an increasingly digital world, it has become more important than ever before to be well versed in using technology. Digital tech is used for almost everything these days. Everyday, Mount Saint Joseph students use iPads to connect to online class assignments. Although these advancements in technology have brought convenience, they have also introduced the risk of being hacked. No system is perfect, and hackers find ways to exploit vulnerabilities in devices.

B431A92D-E2F1-4DAE-BC12-AE3D2975C130Mount Saint Joseph’s CyberPatriots club is looking to find solutions to this problem. The club participates in a nationwide competition organized by the Air Force Association. By learning how to recognize and fix issues in computer operating systems, members of the club are gaining the necessary skills to improve cyber security.

I interviewed Mount Saint Joseph juniors Pierson Polcaro, Jack Phelps, and Martin Blurton-Jones to get a view into the club.

Pierson Polcaro

Q: What does the club do?

A: We fix vulnerabilities on virtual computers. We get sent an image of a computer system, and we fix problems with it.

Q: When did the club start?

A: I think it started last year.

Q: What is the objective of the competitions?

A: To fix the most problems.  You don’t get told what the problems are, so you have to find them and then fix them.

Q: How far have you guys gone in the competition? What teams got the farthest?

A: My team got the farthest.  We were in the platinum tier and we made it to the semifinals.

Jack Phelps

Q: What does the club do?

A: Cyber security. Basically we have disc images with built in vulnerabilities that we have to find and fix. It’s on multiple operating systems like Windows and Linux. We also participate in the Cisco Networking challenge which has a quiz and a packet tracer.

Q: When did the club start?

A: This year is the tenth competition, but the club started last year.

Q: How far have you guys gone in the competition? What teams got the farthest?

A: We got to the semifinal round. One team was in the platinum tier – that was Pierson’s team. It’s the top 30% I think.

Martin Blurton-Jones

Q: What does the club do?

A: CyberPatriot is all about teaching cyber security by giving students an in-depth look at operating systems, networks, and the vulnerabilities that plague both.

Q: What is the objective of the competitions?

A: During a typical competition, teams of students are given “virtual machines”, pre-designed systems set with specific vulnerabilities (such as viruses or risky system settings), which students are then given points for fixing or removing.

Q: How far have you guys gone in the competition? What teams got the farthest?

A: The farthest our school has gotten would be my team, Team PBJ, a team of all juniors. The team made it all the way to the semifinals of the platinum tier (the highest tier within the competition).1BEF6AC3-7879-4269-A240-DA01DE54E07D