Kennedy Catholic Blood Drive 2016, By Catherine Brennan

Pictured: Anthony Torchia (Center)

Since 2011, Kennedy has held a blood drive before Christmas break every year. The first and second blood drives were run by Anthony Torchia, a Kennedy student at the time. Anthony had become very passionate about donating blood after a trauma that had happened to him during his junior year. On June 26, 2011, Anthony got into an ATV accident on his street. He immediately blacked out and had four skull fractures, four broken ribs, a fractured pelvis, a shattered spleen and was bleeding internally. During his three-week stay at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, Anthony needed four pints of blood. An accident like this could happen to anyone and Anthony was very aware that there were many other people in similar situations to his own, “Somewhere out there is a boy like me, someone who, because of an unfortunate accident or unfortunate circumstance, needs blood transfusions to live.” As a school, we are honored to be holding our annual blood drive and continue to give the gift of life.

The 2016 Blood Drive will take place on 12.14.16

The World Health Organization says, “Blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person — the gift of life.” Every year around Christmas, Kennedy has an annual blood drive where students, faculty, parents, alumni, and people in the local community come together to donate this precious gift. 1 in 7 people will need a blood transfusion at some point in their life. Everyone knows someone who has needed a blood transfusion. Because of the amount of blood used every day around the world, hospitals are always looking for people to donate blood.

This year, our blood drive will be Wednesday, December 14. For most of us, Christmas will be a time of family and joy, but it will be a difficult time for some this Christmas season with a lot of uncertainty. By donating crucial, life-saving blood, we will be doing our part by making this season a little less stressful by stocking blood banks.

To find out if you are eligible to donate visit:

Walk-ins are welcome



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A Love That You Just Know: By Zaria Bailey ’18

A faithful love of two teachers bound by the love of their greatest teacher.

Everyone knows the two Kennedy Catholic newlyweds, Mr. and Mrs. Genn, but most people don’t know the whole story. It began long before the Genn’s became a part of the Kennedy family. Their relationship started at a mutual friend’s wedding; Mr. Genn was the groomsmen who walked Mrs. Genn , one of the bridesmaids, down the aisle that day. As that night went on, they started talking and finally found themselves making a real connection. Unlike most first dates, theirs was to another wedding. Mrs. Genn invited him to her brother’s wedding; from then on, they were inseparable. On June 6, 2015, they attended yet another wedding, only something special happened. Mr. Genn took Mrs. Genn outside in front of a statue of Mary and said, “Since we do weddings so well, why don’t we have one of our own?” She said yes! Both of their families were ecstatic that they were engaged.

Until the day of the wedding it was a whirlwind of choosing flowers, creating place cards and picking out bridesmaids dresses. Mrs. Genn’s sister-in-law helped her with all of the wedding plans. On the day of the wedding, both the bride and the groom were nervous and excited to take this monumental step towards their future together. When Mrs. Genn made her big entrance, everyone turned to look at her, but all she could see was her soon to be husband waiting for her at the altar. She described it as a “surreal experience.” In that moment they both realized what was happening, and they couldn’t wait for their future to begin.

The reception was memorable, as the newlyweds were surrounded by family and friends who were excited to celebrate the wedding. Mrs. Genn’s favorite part of the reception was towards the end, when they participated in the Polish tradition of the bridal dance. This tradition encourages anyone who wants to dance to pay the bride two dollars, which goes towards the couple’s honeymoon. After all the dances are over, the dancers form a circle around the bride, and the groom must break through the crowd and carry off his bride.

After the wedding, they honeymooned in a beautiful cabin in the Adirondacks and in another cabin on a lake in New Hampshire. They also visited Boston for a few days since that happened to be one of Mr. Genn’s favorite places and Mrs. Genn hadn’t had the chance to visit.

This couple has something different that stems beyond love. Anyone who talks to Mrs. Genn can see the pure love, and more importantly, the respect and appreciation that she has for her husband.





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Our Kennedy Family: Tieber Jr.: By Carley Gilmore ’18


Mr. and Mrs. Tieber with their new son, Matthew Jr.

On July 2, 2016, Mr. and Mrs. Tieber welcomed a baby boy to their family, Matthew Joseph. The baby is named after Mr. Tieber, and his middle name is after Mr. Tieber’s late father-in-law. The whole experience for Mr. Tieber has been nothing short of surreal; he and his family have been filled with happiness and joy since his son’s birth. Baby Matthew has not only brought happiness to Mr. Tieber and his family, but also has brought a new exciting lifestyle change for Mr. Tieber. Mr. Tieber says that knowing his baby’s gender beforehand, reading useful articles online, and asking for personal advice from others greatly helped him to prepare for the baby. However, when it comes to having a child, “You don’t know until you get there.” He believes that the incredible feeling that comes with becoming a parent is simply indescribable until one can experience having a child firsthand. Mr. Tieber says that being a dad has most definitely led to more responsibilities such as sleeping schedules, eating schedules, and watching the baby at all times. “He sleeps ten hours a night…I’ve been very lucky,” Mr. Tieber said. Being a parent has changed Mr. Tieber’s life; since the moment Matthew was born, Mr. Tieber and his son have shared a special, unbreakable bond. “I always want to be around him, and I miss him when I’m gone,” Mr. Tieber said.

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y Courtney Manbeck ’18 & Julianna Montuoro ’17

Tennis has making improvements year after year at Kennedy

This season for the Girls Varsity Tennis Team was full of accomplishments and victory. The season began with the introduction of several new teammates, both freshmen and upperclassmen alike. The team welcomes new girls with open arms, ready to assist them in becoming skilled players. Daily practices from late August to mid-October improved all players’ skills and brought the team closer together. The team bonded and really got to know each other better, on and off the court.

The team was led by senior Juliana Montuoro. Although the team suffered a loss when she transferred schools at the very end of the season, she supported the team by boosting team spirit and coming to the games, even when she wasn’t feeling well. Freshman Victoria Kleinschmidt claimed the spot as first singles player and consistently won most of her matches against difficult opponents. Sofia Valente acted as a manager for the team, organizing and setting up events such as a celebration for the graduating seniors. All of the girls on the team did their best to do well in their games and be kind to their teammates.

Coach Joe Melian returned for his third year coaching the team. Even after the season finished, he still had plans for the team. There is a possibility that he will create a program that will allow the girl and boy tennis teams to play together in the spring.

The team was able to finish extremely well, losing to only one school in the entire league. It is highly likely that the team might be able participate in the championship league next season. This year’s season ended on a high note, continuing the growth of Kennedy’s tennis program. The team hopes to continue their success in the next season.


The Latest Enterprise of the U.S. Navy: by Maggie Kennon ’17

uss-zumwalt-invitationThe Star Trek fandom has something new to be excited about: Captain James Kirk was in Baltimore on October 15 for the commissioning of the latest United States Ship, the USS Zumwalt. This isn’t science fiction- the commanding officer of the newest Navy destroyer shares the same name as the iconic Star Trek character James Kirk. Although it will not be going into “The final frontier,” it has been called “the largest and most technologically advanced surface combatant in the world” by the US Military:

Crewed by 147 Sailors, the USS Zumwalt is the lead ship of a class of next-generation multi-mission destroyers designed to strengthen naval power. They are capable of performing critical maritime missions and enhance the Navy’s ability to provide deterrence, power projection, and sea control.

uss-zumwalt-friday-tourDavid Sharp, a journalist for the Associated Press writes that:

Despite its size, the warship is 50 times harder to detect than current destroyers thanks to its angular shape and other design features, and its stealth could improve even more once the testing equipment is removed, said Capt. James Downey, program manager. The possibility of a collision is remote. The Zumwalt has sophisticated radar to detect vessels from miles away, allowing plenty of time for evasive action.

I was very excited that my family was invited to be part of the Commissioning weekend in Baltimore. We actually were granted the opportunity to have a private tour of the ship the day before the commissioning. Our tour guides Kate, who shoots the Tomahawks, and Oscar, who is an engineer, are members of the ship’s crew.


We were honored to meet Lt. Col. James Zumwalt, son of Admiral Elmo Russell “Bud” Zumwalt Jr. after the tour and were able to share our appreciation for getting to be a part of this weekend during a dinner event held by the Zumwalt family celebrating the commissioning of the USS Zumwalt and honoring Admiral Zumwalt.

The Commissioning Ceremony was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. Even waiting in the parking lot for the shuttle that took us to the Pier was spectacular: The Blue Angels and the Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron were flying overhead. It was amazing how synchronized they were!

My favorite part of the commissioning ceremony was when the ship’s captain and crew “Brought the ship to life.” They did this through ceremonial decorum such as raising the American flag and “Manning the ship,” when the crew of the USS Zumwalt boarded the ship and saluted. Here is a video of the entire commissioning ceremony, that took place on October 15, 2016: Click Here

Posing with members of the US Navy

Posing with members of the US Navy

Everything I learned during my experience over the weekend was fascinating; I received more information about the US Navy in a couple short days than I had my entire life! I was curious to know still more about the USS Zumwalt, and Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.) graciously responded to my intrigues. He was able to give me a “Behind-the-scenes” look at the USS Zumwalt, her namesake, and the events leading up to her commissioning into the US Navy.
How did the Navy decide that your father, above all others, was the most worthy for this destroyer to be named after him? In other words, what were the criteria used in making the selection?

The process involves names being submitted from within the Navy to the Secretary of the Navy who then makes his recommendation to the Secretary of Defense. While I was not privy to that process, I’ve got to believe because the ship reflected so many of my father’s leadership traits–he was a visionary, innovator and a humanitarian and the ship incorporates all of these traits (the last based on its habitability which gives sailors 4-man state rooms with its own head {bathroom} rather than the 30-40 man living quarters on most ships–that is why he was selected as the ship’s namesake. Ultimately, as the ship class went from 32, to 17, to 12, to 3, to 0, and then back to 3, the ship–like another of my father’s traits–was controversial. President Clinton officially announced the ship would be built with the lead ship named after my father on July 4, 2000, onboard the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy. Thus, it was a long 16 years to get to the commissioning.

Do you remember your first reaction when you learned the Navy wanted to honor your father, and his achievements and legacy by naming “the most powerful, technologically-advanced, United States Destroyer in our history,” after him?

It was an emotion of immense pride. But also, knowing of the many sacrifices my father made, I knew it was one he deserved. As one who modernized the Navy and tripled re-enlistment rates as we fought an unpopular war in Vietnam, he was the right man at the right time to get the Navy going in the right direction.

How long did it take from the time you were notified that your father had been chosen until the day of the commissioning?

It took 16 long years. I was at the shipyard (Bath Iron Works) when the first piece of steel was received in 2009 to start the building process. I remember seeing a drawing in 2000 on the office wall of the admiral in charge of the ZUMWALT program. The drawing claimed to depict the first crew of the ship–which showed 1st and 2nd-grade students sitting at their desks!


A photo of Admiral Zumalt who the ship is named after.

What do you think your father would have to say about the USS Zumwalt?

My father would have said “Bravo Zulu.” (This is a term using the letters “B” and “Z,” phonetically spelled out as “Bravo” and “Zulu,” in the Navy meaning “Well Done.” Interestingly, the crew onboard his ship has taken some creative license with one of these letters to communicate the same message–by saying “Bravo Zumwalt.”

How long did it take for the ship to be built?

While pieces of steel were received as early as 2009 at the shipyard, construction did not really begin until 2011. The shipyard had to build some special facilities before beginning construction, including a huge warehouse enclosure.

Are there classified areas within the ship and, if so, what percent of the total space do those areas take up?

There are classified areas of the ship although I don’t know what percentage these incorporate. I think you would be surprised to learn it is a relatively small percentage of the entire ship’s space.

Does any other country have as advanced a ship as the USS Zumwalt?

No other country has a ship like the USS ZUMWALT. Once this ship becomes operational within the fleet, however, other countries will see what it brings to our naval capabilities and, undoubtedly, endeavor to come up with their own versions of the ship.

Does our country have another ship as advanced as the USS Zumwalt or is it unique in our Navy’s fleet?

The USS ZUMWALT is the first ship of the Zumwalt class. There are two other ships in this class under construction–the USS MONSOUR (named after a posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor) and the USS JOHNSON (named after President Lyndon Johnson).

Are there any areas in the world that the USS Zumwalt cannot navigate?

Just like all other major ships, there are areas of the world where the USS ZUMWALT cannot go–but, more importantly, there are many more areas of the world where the ZUMWALT can go that other ships cannot.

Do we know where the USS Zumwalt will be first deployed?

She is currently transiting to San Diego–which will be her homeport–and from where she will eventually be deployed to Asia. I imagine she will be making ports of call at places such as Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea, and Taiwan, but it is much too early to say.

How many people were involved with building this ship – how many people did it take to build her?

That’s a difficult question to answer as not only was the Bath Iron Works shipyard involved in her construction but also keep in mind so too were over a hundred other contractors. There undoubtedly have been tens of thousands of individual workers who have contributed in one way or another to make this ship a reality–such as ship designers (who started their work in the mid-to-late 1990s), R&D researchers, testers of various technologies and equipment, etc.

The Commissioning week seemed to be so very busy and filled with all sorts of events. Even the coordination of the first “Fleet Week” to be held in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Who are the people responsible for the coordination of all of these events?

You ask an interesting question here. Surprisingly, the Navy is precluded, by law, from paying for ship commissioning. A committee of volunteers–usually retired military–is set up for this purpose to work with the Navy to raise funding and to coordinate commissioning activities. My family worked closely with that committee. Our work continues as we will keep raising funds for the Admiral Zumwalt Legacy and Education Fund which will seek to assist the crew and their families with their education as well as to build enhancements onboard the ship to make life on board more comfortable.

Tell us about when you were on the ship last week and it stopped in front of the Naval Academy.

It was a very emotional moment for our family. The ship was sailing along at a very fast pace when she suddenly slowed. Members of the crew emerged onto the fantail in their dress blue uniform. As the ship came abreast of the U.S. Naval Academy where my parents are buried, she came to a stop; the ship’s whistle was sounded and the crew rendered honors to the ship’s namesake. Upon rendering honors, the ship picked up speed again and the sailors retired.


Some 8000 people attended the dedication of the USS ZUMWALT

The tour of the ship was awesome and our guide Kate seemed so very knowledgeable. She shared with us that she is someone who actually shoots the tomahawks! Our other guide was Oscar, a young Engineer and he seemed thrilled to be part of the crew. I think my favorite part was sitting in the Captain’s chair…Captain Kirk’s chair that is! What parts of the ship are you most excited about?
While the entire ship, as a package, excites me, I also enjoy visiting places onboard her where the crew has placed a personalized tribute to my father. The bust of my father along with some of his quotes and other items placed throughout the ship ensure his legacy will continue along with the legacy of the ship. One member of the crew shared with me how, every time he passes by the bust of my father, he rubs it and says a quick prayer thanking him for what he accomplished.

There were thousands and thousands of folding chairs set up for the Saturday commissioning. How many people do you think attended the event?

Estimates were between 8-10,000.


Did you have a favorite speaker? They all were so good and even though I was a little bit chilled as the sun went down, they kept my attention for the almost two-hour ceremony. I especially liked it when they did the official steps of “manning the ship and bringing her to life,” that was awesome!

I have been to other ship commissioning and, undoubtedly, the command to bring the ship to life is very emotional for all. I enjoyed all the speakers and was very grateful they made sure the audience appreciated what my father had accomplished during his lifetime.


A plane flys above the USS ZUMWALT

Can you share a fun or interesting fact most of us don’t know about the USS Zumwalt?

While I know your mother knows about this since FSM published my article, but in the article you write, you might want to make mention of the strong bond of friendship my father and his Marine Corps aide, Colonel Mike Spiro, had as evidenced by this story . (FYI, Colonel Spiro’s ashes were presented by his son to the ship on Oct 14.)

Update from Lt. Col. Zumwalt: I’m attaching two photos taken by F-35 fighter pilots escorting the USS ZUMWALT back down to Norfolk this week.
Update: Maggie: FYI, here is an article about the ship’s recent departure from Norfolk and two-month transit to its homeport of San Diego. I also just received word from the ship’s captain that they held the commitment to sea ceremony for Colonel Spiro’s ashes while off the coast of NC. Interestingly, and unbeknownst to Capt. Kirk, Col Spiro’s wife’s ashes had been spread at sea off the coast of NC years earlier. Perhaps an invisible hand was involved…Regards, Jim

One other point of interest that Lt. Colonel Zumwalt shared with me is that the top USNA (The United States Naval Academy) and the top NROTC (Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps) graduate both requested and were granted duty onboard USS ZUMWALT.


The USS ZUMWALT on dedication day

I was so grateful to get Colonel Zumwalt’s perspective on this memorable occasion. I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to see history in the making. I don’t think there is anyone who could look upon the USS Zumwalt and not be impressed at the display of the strength by our Navy. It will certainly live up to its motto: Pax Propter Vim (Peace through Power). If you would like to learn more about the USS Zumwalt here is a link:


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Kennedy’s 2016 Volleyball Season Recap: by Hannah Langley ’17


Members of the 2016 team with Coach Santora

The end of Fall sports at Kennedy Catholic means the end to a great season by the freshmen, junior varsity, and varsity volleyball teams. The junior varsity and varsity teams both had extremely successful seasons, winning nearly all of their games. The JV team had a record of 13-1, and the varsity team finished with an undefeated record of 15-0. Home games were made more entertaining this year as the wins racked up and as fans filled the bleachers to support the girls. The combination of athletic abilities and teamwork amongst the girls on the court proved to be a recipe for success.


A member of the team soars above the net to block the ball

Unfortunately, not all great seasons end as well as their teams had hoped. Although the varsity team went undefeated during the regulated season, they lost in the first round of playoffs in a heartbreaking and fierce game against Preston. The JV team found more success in playoffs, winning the Division Championships. They lost the City Championship game in a competitive game against Archbishop Malloy. Overall, both teams had amazing seasons and should be proud of their accomplishments.

The girls faced many challenges, but in the end, they accomplished winning seasons that they should be extremely proud of, knowing deep down that they played their absolute best! Kennedy Catholic has surely proven to be a force to be reckoned with in the Catholic League when it comes to volleyball, and the program will hopefully continue to grow as time passes. As a senior on the varsity team, I feel fortunate that I was able to experience such a successful season.

Good luck to the teams next year, and here’s hoping for bigger and better things to come!


You can read more about the girls volleyball team by scrolling through their team’s twitter feed below.



Missing Sr. Barbara and Her Lovely Dolls: By Ava Gallo, Class of ’18


The Kennedy Catholic High School auction is always a fun event to attend, holding a silent auction and a live auction as well as having great food and live music. This year, the auction will be held on November 19th from 6pm-10pm. Every year Sister Barbara would sew beautiful clothes for a doll to auction off during the silent auction. However, after the loss of our beloved Sister Barbara in March, the Kennedy Catholic High School 2016 Auction will be the first in Kennedy history to not have Sister Barbara’s gift available.

“…she used to make 6 or more outfits for the doll as well as provide the accessories…” Mr. Schmidt 


Sr. Barbara’s closet of doll clothes.

Sewing the clothes for the doll was something Sister enjoyed doing and had a passion for. Mr. Schmidt recalls, “I know she used to make 6 or more outfits for the doll as well as provide the accessories such as shoes, jewelry, etc. She would also get the small ‘closet’ to hang and display all the clothes. Sr. Barbara loved to sew, as you may know from the many costumes she worked on for the school plays.” Going past what Sister Barbara would do for the auction, Mr. Schmidt also stated, “She also provided all the banners that hung in commons, repaired the altar linens, etc. When we went to Goshen, if there was anything that needed repair she would mend it.” Jillian Flynn recalled what Sister Barbara used to say to her “Latin Scholars” about the dolls. She said that sister was proud of making the dolls and that it was something she loved to do and enjoyed doing as it brought her joy to make them. She would even line up the clothes that she would put on the dolls in her office. It seems like making the dolls was something Sister Barbara would look forward to every year around November.


Our beloved Sr. Barbara Heil

Sadly, this will be the first auction without Sister Barbara and her beautiful doll’s outfits, but the auction is still a great event to attend. The live auction presents items beneficial to the school or members of the Kennedy community. At the 2015 Auction, money was raised through the live auction for new lighting for the Kennedy Catholic High School Players and the Spring Musical, a row of seats at the graduation ceremony could be purchased, and one could also bid on a seat at the President’s Circle Dinner, among other quality items. Those in charge of the event always ensure that there is a good time to be had by all. The evening begins with a lovely selection of fruit, cheese, breads and crackers, wine and a delightful array of sandwiches and other small plate items. While people are bidding on the items in the silent auction, and in the past Sister’s dolls, a group of student musicians play some jazz music. The evening ends with the live auction, but don’t forget to grab a cup of coffee and a cookie on the way out!

Come and be a part of our 2016 Auction. Visit our Auction page to sign up and to learn more about this year’s event:

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The 13th Annual Golf Outing: By Julia Feeney ’17

The 2016 Kennedy Catholic Golf Classic - Images captured by Jacob Bergmeier (2016) Download full-resolution images at

Members of the Student Government with Fred Compton, Director of Advancement

The 13th annual KCHS golf classic was a total success. With 96 people in attendance, many of whom are Kennedy Catholic alumni, there were a lot of laughs and whole lot of golf. While interviewing alumni they all looked back very fondly on their times at Kennedy, and past golf outings. Two of the more entertaining alumni in attendance where the Beyrer brothers. During his time at Kennedy, Brendan Beyrer was the captain of the 1993 (8-1) “Bowl Winning” football team. Brendan’s brother, Daniel Beyrer, started the Kennedy Lacrosse program. The two look back on their years at Kennedy very fondly and have been to all 13 golf outings. The brothers also asked me to give a plug to their other favorite Kennedy alumni event, the Turkey Bowl held the day after Thanksgiving at Kennedy. As I spent the day speaking to many alumni in attendance, I noticed they all remember Kennedy Catholic affectionately, especially their experiences as Kennedy athletes. Also, they use the Golf Outing as a miniature high school reunion with old friends they made in school. Most continued on to say that Kennedy has positively affected their live in countless ways since graduating. What came up the most in my interviews was the fact that Kennedy Catholic gave them a moral compass that they have stuck by since graduation. By far, the coolest person in attendance was John Viniello who went all out for the “golf look” wearing bright pink pants, without a doubt winning the best dressed of the day. He and his brother Mario, who was also at the Golf outing, are former Kennedy coaches/teachers. John coached the very successful Kennedy cross country team and Mario coached the basketball team. When asked if he had a favorite memory from his time as a Kennedy coach, John talked about when his team won the Eastern State Championship, and Mario talked about when his basketball team, the last seed in a tournament, beat the first seed. In one of their games, they even got to play the now famous Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Golfers spent the day on the beautiful course at Centennial in Carmel, NY

Golfers spent the day on the beautiful course at Centennial in Carmel, NY

This year’s golf outing’s fundraising is going to (for the most part) lights for the turf field, but the monies raised in the golf games go to the Kennedy Golf team. The golf games were one of the new activities at this year’s golf outing. The games included a Flop Shot Wall, A Marshmallow Long Drive and Snag Golf. To win Sang Golf you had to successfully hit John DelPriore with a tennis ball, this seemed to be the favorite game this year, especially for the student golfers. Another one of the new activities at this year’s golf outing was the new golfer clinic. Our very own Mrs. Boston participated in the class. When asked about it afterwards, she said that the class was fun, informative and definitely something she’d recommend to a friend. And, although she’s not quite ready to compete in the next PGA tournament, she has become quite the accomplished putter.


Most of the guests’ talents were far from Tiger Woods skill and were happy to admit it, but never the less, a good time was had by everyone. As I drove around the course talking to people, I saw nothing but smiles, and heard nothing but laughter. One guest, Mrs. Young would also like for our readers to know that “It was a top 10 day! The weather was spectacular… we all had a blast. Everyone should give the Golf Outing a whirl.”

To see more images of the golf outing, visit our gallery of images



Club Day 2016: By Sophia Brennan ’17

This year’s Club Day was held on September 22. Club Day is when members of the student body can learn about the various clubs KCHS has to offer. Students have the opportunity to sign up for extracurricular activities that they find interesting. To make participation more accessible to all of our students, Father Vaillancourt has set aside Monday afternoons from 2:45 to 3:30 for club meetings. New clubs this year include: the Fishing club, the Science Olympiad club, the “A Capella” club, and the Yoga club. Notable clubs include: the Robotics club, the Drama club, and the Debate club. Without a doubt, this year’s Club Day was an overwhelming success!

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It’s College Admissions Time!
 – By Katie Kennon ’17

Advice from Courtney Kelly of Notre Dame - Photo Courtesy of Notre Dame

Advice from Courtney Kelly of Notre Dame – Photo Courtesy of Notre Dame

Here are some tips from Courtney Kelly, a University of Notre Dame admissions counselor.

If you’ve been walking the halls of Kennedy Catholic recently, you may have noticed most seniors looking awfully stressed. There is a simple explanation for this mass hysteria: the college admissions process!  Ever since the Common Application became available for students on August 1st, the urgency to complete college applications has continued to grow. This madness will persist through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and even into early 2017. What will seem like just a few months for most people, to high school seniors will feel like the longest and most stressful time of their lives.

Luckily, there are many opportunities for students to learn about and become more comfortable with the college admissions process, during and even before their senior year to ease some of the stress. There are school guidance counselors, college seminars, Naviance, numerous websites filled with advice, and friends and family that can share their experiences and tips. One of the best opportunities for students is when college admissions counselors visit their High Schools.

Aerial View of ND, Fighting Irish

Image courtesy of The University of Notre Dame

This Thursday, September 22nd Courtney Kelly, an admissions counselor for the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, is coming to Kennedy Catholic. I reached out to her last week to see if she would share her experiences and give the seniors some pointers on this daunting admissions process. In the true “Spirit of the Irish” she agreed to help and so began our “Cyber-Interview.”  These are Miss Kelly’s much valued responses to my inquiries:
The first question I had for her was about what had attracted her to her job as an Admissio
ns Counselor and how long she had been doing this type of work.

My college experience meant the world to me.  I gained knowledge, independence, and became a better person in four years.  I decided to work in admissions in order to help students achieve a similar experience.  I am  passionate about aiding students in finding the right ‘fit’ for them during their college search process.  It is important to find the college or university that fits the type of experience you want and that will help you match the person you want to become. It took me two years to complete my master’s degree in higher education administration with a concentration in enrollment management.  During this time, I was able to work in that institution’s admissions office.  I have only been working at Notre Dame for about six months but I am often able to utilize the experiences I’ve gained at a previous institution.  As soon as I started at Notre Dame, I felt engulfed by and immediately welcomed into this community, so it feels like I have been here much longer!“

Many students help out with our own Kennedy Open Houses so my next question was if Miss Kelly also was involved in open houses before she decided to make this her career.

“I wasn’t!  I originally wanted to work in marketing so after receiving a business degree, I moved to Manhattan and worked in corporate marketing for Conde Nast, a major magazine publisher.  After about three months in this job, I realized the corporate world wasn’t for me.  My passion lied in higher education, being on a college campus, and working with students about to embark on four years of discovery.  If I had realized this earlier I would have tried to get involved.  But hey!  That just goes to show that what you major in doesn’t have to define your career for the rest of your life.  The University of Notre Dame’s most successful finance major is the romance novelist, Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, anyone?!)” 

Since Miss Kelly is responsible for a large geographic area that spans not just Westchester but also NYC, Connecticut, and Long Island, I inquired about her favorite moments in what must be a very hectic career.

“Easy question.  Answer – the students.  I absolutely adore the opportunities to present to, meet with, and advocate for prospective students.  They are all amazing and simply looking for guidance about the leap they are about to take.  I love to hear their stories, offer advice, and talk about whether or not the University of Notre Dame might be the best fit for their college experience.

By hearing her response, it was evident that she loves her job so I then asked her main reason for coming and visiting the schools. I also inquired about the options for a student isn’t able to meet with her.

Two reasons.  To learn and to share.  I want to learn about the region I represent, the high schools in the area, and the students interested in Notre Dame.  I also want to share about the college experience at Notre Dame, the mission, the application process, and answer any questions that students might have.  Applying to college can be stressful and confusing so I want to ease the pressure and help students in any way I can.
 If someone can’t attend my visit and still wants to learn about the University of Notre Dame, they can see when I will be hosting ND on the Road Information Nights near their area (  If those dates don’t fit in their schedule, they are welcome to learn about Notre Dame through the website, or email me directly if they have any questions.  It is not a big deal if students can’t make the visit, so don’t stress!”

I then asked if she felt that these visits were mostly for students to learn about her school or if she wanted to learn about the students.

“Both!  I want to meet the students and guidance staff, and learn about the school.  I also want the students to ask any questions they have about the University of Notre Dame, the application process, or applying to college in general.

I know many Kennedy students were raised University of Notre Dame fans. Maybe it comes from memories of watching “Rudy” and “Knute Rockne, All American” or, perhaps, hearing our parents and grandparents talk about Lou Holtz, Touchdown Jesus. Or maybe it was seeing pictures and hearing about The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes and the Golden Dome. Some may even know that one of the writers of the “Victory March” (Without a doubt the most recognizable collegiate fight song in the nation) Father Michael Shea, was a pastor from St. Augustine’s in Ossining, where many Kennedy students are parishioners. But I wanted to hear from Miss Kelly what she felt was unique about Notre Dame. She did NOT disappoint.

I could spend hours talking about what I think is unique about Notre Dame.  To keep it short, the community and mission of Notre Dame are particularly unique.  The community here is awe inspiring.  At the home football game against Nevada, I sat behind six alum in their 70’s who returned to campus together to watch the game.  They were decked out head to toe in gear and cheered, high fived with every point scored, and at the end of the game stood up along with the entire student section, linked arms, and sang their Alma Mater.  I teared up sitting behind them because there is such an undeniable passion for this university – whether you are/were a student, a staff/faculty member, or simply a Fighting Irish fan.  You feel it with every alum you speak with, every step you take on campus, and every current student who tells you their story.  Notre Dame is a community of support, exploration, and faith.  The mission of the university is what inspires this community.  The broadly stated mission gives students the opportunity to develop students as whole human beings and have them graduate as a force of good for the world.  We are looking for students who are willing to be this force for their local community, the nation, and the world.  We want our students to be successful, of course, but to use that success in a way that enhances their surroundings.

As we wound down the interview, I asked what the most important “take-away” is that Miss Kelly could share with students.

 Find your fit.  There are thousands of colleges and universities in the United States.  Each one offers a unique college experience.  I know that the Notre Dame experience isn’t the fit that each prospective student is looking for so I try my best to help students figure out exactly what they want from their college experience.  Think about academics, location, community, mission, clubs, activities, sports, size, research opportunities, study abroad opportunities etc. and try your best to picture yourself on each campus.  Where will you excel?  What experience will guide you to be the person you want to become?  Where will you have fun?

Lastly, I asked Miss Kelly if she recommends that people visit the schools to which they are applying. As someone who is considering schools that are far away, I have had difficulty organizing college visits.

“Personally, I think visiting colleges or universities is very beneficial when decided where to attend college.  Prospective students can see the campus, speak with current students, and really get the feel, or vibe, of the place.  The University of Notre Dame, however, doesn’t take demonstrated interest into account so if you are too busy to visit before you apply, that is not a problem!  It might be a great option to visit after you’re admitted so you can really lay out your options and see what college experience, community, and campus if the best fit for you.  College is an adventure and you want to be sure to pick the adventure that is best suited for who you are and who you want to become.”

I would like to thank Miss Kelly for participating in the interview and for coming to Kennedy this Thursday! The story about the group of 70-year-old alumni especially brought a tear to my eye and without a doubt, made me want to experience the “Fighting Irish” spirit for myself! In the meantime, I will review Miss Kelly’s helpful pointers and follow her advice throughout the college admissions process and hope that all my fellow seniors will do the same.