The last month has been an extraordinary one for the St. Mary’s High School forensics team. Over the course of three weekends, the team attended three meets and came out winners each time. This weekend they will compete at the State Tournament in Castle Rock in hopes of continuing their winning ways.
“What an amazing season we're having,” said Jim Hopkins, St. Mary’s forensic coach. “We've attended 3 huge meets and fought like champions each time.”
In mid February, the forensic team competed at Region VII-South Central Regionals at Pine Creek High School, where they qualified nine team members for state. Matt Heery and Joe Wahl were named District Champions and went 4-0 in Public Forum Debate. Cassidy Anderson also went undefeated in Lincoln Douglas Debate to earn a second-place finish. Leah Hickert also qualified in Lincoln Douglas Debate with a 3-1 record at regionals.
Also qualifying for state were: Anna Sniezek, who placed second in Original Oratory; Aman Mital, placing third in Foreign Extemporaneous; Christina Haile and Anna W., who took fourth place in Drama; and Mike Klopfenstein, with a sixth-place finish in Humor. Additionally Andrew Beaudoin and Cole Ricke were named the first and second alternates in Extemporaneous Speaking and Sam Pribyl is first alternate in Humor.
In late February, the team competed at a Congressional Debate competition that served as a national qualifier hosted on their home turf. Heery took third place in House and earned a national qualifier slot. Mital finished as second alternate in Senate, while Anderson and Pribyl both made it to the super-session portion of the competition. And Christina was selected as Presiding Officer.
“We hosted 3 tournaments this year,” Hopkins said. “They were a lot of work but it was nice to have the home-court advantage too. A big thank-you goes to Judy Haile for handling all the judges' food requirements and the student concession. Thanks also go to my always helpful Asst. Coach Janet Anderson, and Sonja Beaudoin for their work and time in making this tournament a success.”
Then the first weekend of March, the team headed to Pueblo for a Naitonal Qualifying Event/Debate and they came home with six national qualifier spots. Heery and Wahl finished first in Public Forum Debate, with Mital and Grant Nelson finishing just behind them in second. Hickert placed first in Lincoln Douglas Debate with Anderson finishing behind her in second. Sniezek took fifth place in Original Oratory, and Ricke and Beaudoin placed fifth and sixth respectively in Extemporaneous Speaking.
“This was an intense, hard-fought struggle, and I was proud of all team members because all gave everything they had for the team and for St. Mary’s,” Hopkins said. “We won the Sweepstakes trophy in Debate, and later learned that we won Sweepstakes for the whole meet. Every single student's performance is calculated in winning that award!”
The state meet on Friday, March 20, and Saturday, March 21, in Castle Rock wraps up the team’s 18-meet season. The team will then get a well-deserved break to rest up before traveling to the national competition, which is set for mid June in Dallas.
The forensic team will graduate six this year, but Hopkins has high expectations for next season.
“We have a great group returning next year,” Hopkins said. “We will have several new members from next year's freshman class, and hopefully, more current students will go out for Forensics. St. Mary’s has a proud tradition in Forensics, and this year’s squad did a great job in keeping that tradition going!”
By Amy G. Partain, Communication Associate
St. Mary’s High School
Above, the St. Mary's High School Forensic Team after a National Qualifying Tournament.
Everyone has a different way to observe Lent. For the last two years, St. Mary’s High School freshman Rachael Saghi has spent those weeks focusing on helping others. Last year she raised more than $2,000 for the Crohns and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA). This year she is again seeking to raise money for CCFA during Lent.
Originally Saghi had wanted to enter an organized run to support CCFA, but there weren’t any runs scheduled near the Colorado Springs area in 2014. So her family came up with an alternative idea that would accomplish the same goal.
“During Lent last year, I ran whenever I got the chance,” Saghi said. “I asked people to sponsor me based on either mileage or number of days that I ran. I ran a total of 21 days and 73 miles. I had set my mind to it, and there was no stopping me.”
Saghi’s mom, Kathy, let family and friends know about her fundraising efforts through social media and email. Saghi shattered her original goal of raising $500, instead bringing in $2,400 for the CCFA, placing her on top of the individual fundraising list for the CCFA’s local 2014 Take Steps fundraiser.
In addition to running during Lent, Saghi then participated in the Take Steps community walk in September 2014 to support CCFA. The Take Steps walks provide an opportunity to celebrate all of the fundraising efforts that have been done in support of CCFA’s mission.
One of Saghi’s older brothers suffers from ulcerative colitis, a disease of the large intestine. So Saghi decided that supporting the CCFA was something she could do to help her brother and her community. Deciding to tie it to Lent helped her to focus her efforts on Christ and set a definite start and end date.
“The purpose of Lent is to get closer to God,” Saghi said. “I HATE running, so whenever I went on a run, I offered the pain and suffering up to him. Sometimes we have to go out of our comfort zone to make ourselves better people, and I was willing to do that if it helped people like my brother. And I knew there was an end to Lent, which I found comforting.”
While 2014 was the first time that Rachael participated in a fundraiser like Take Steps, the experience ignited something in her so she is again working to support CCFA during Lent this year.
“I’ve always looked for ways I can help out in my community but this was the first time I’ve done one like this,” she said.
During this year’s Lent, Saghi is doing sit-ups or ab workouts, and again asking people to sponsor her. Saghi said her fundraising experience taught her a valuable lesson.
“We can all help,” she said. “We just need to find the right cause. Humans have unbreakable spirit. Let’s do it!”
According to the CCFA web site, Take Steps supporters have helped fund research into the multiple factors that influence how inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) starts and progresses. This research has revolutionized the understanding of IBD, and is opening doors to new drug treatments and diagnostics.
By Amy G. Partain, Communications Associate
St. Mary’s High School
In the past, the college years were a time for people to discover their calling. But with the rising costs of higher education, many students want to go into college with a solid idea of what they want to do with their future. That is the idea behind the new Fundamentals of Engineering course at St. Mary’s High School.
Science teacher Al Hartzell designed the one-semester course as a way for students to be exposed to various types of engineering. The course covers six engineering areas including mechanical, electrical, biomedical, environmental, chemical, and aerospace.
Hartzell, a biomedical engineer by trade, started planning the course a year ago, developing it from scratch. He managed to put together all of the materials for under $10,000 for a full year.
“After one semester, I’ll tweak it some after discovering what worked and what didn’t,” Hartzell said. “The semester is jam packed and we didn’t get to everything I had planned. I’ll approach it a little differently in the second semester.”
Hartzell loaded the course with labs and projects that allow the students to experience each type of engineering instead of just learning about them from a book. During the first offering of the course in the fall of 2014, students had to design and build an ark and show that it would actually float. They also learned about polymers, adhesives, 3D printing, and lasers.
Senior Sarah Burns said she was surprised at the number and variety of labs that the class participated in.
“I thought the most fun lab we did was manipulating pieces of metal in aqueous solution in such a way with a magnet that they separated from the solution itself in consistent geometric patterns,” she said.
The course is part of St. Mary’s push to increase its STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) offerings. Also in the fall of 2014, St. Mary’s started its four-year Project Lead the Way engineering course load. Project Lead the Way is intended for students who know they want to pursue some type of engineering and gives them a solid foundation to carry into college.
The Fundamentals of Engineering is different in that it serves as an introduction to engineering for students who are undecided about engineering as a career path.
“Students who don’t know if they want to be engineers can get a taste of it by doing weekly hands-on activities,” Hartzell said.
In addition to hands-on projects, the class also had some unique class presentations and field trips. Representatives from the Savannah School of Art and Design visited the class to talk about animation and other types of design.
“A lot of their graduates go on to work for Disney/Pixar or do interior design or fashion,” Hartzell said. “I wanted to show the students that you can go to a different kind of school and still do engineering work. Engineers make something or design something. It doesn’t have to be what we traditionally think of as engineering.”
During a field trip to the Space Foundation Discovery Center, several students got to suit up in space suits and work in the Mars Robotics Laboratory, which simulates the terrain of Mars.
“It was a really cool day,” Hartzell said of the field trip. “Then to show them rocket propulsion, we flew drones down the hallway at school.”
Junior Grady Gosselin said it is hard to pick a favorite lab or project because each one was fun and taught the students different things.
“I liked working with the drones and 3D printer quite a bit because they are becoming more available to everyone,” he said. “I also liked the ark building activity we did as our first project because we had to find different boat designs that could carry a heavy load.”
The Fundamentals of Engineering course is intended for freshman and sophomores, and the course maxes out at 20 students each semester. Some juniors and seniors did take the course the first time it was offered since they were already too far into their high school careers to start the Project Lead the Way course path.
Burns, who plans to pursue engineering in college, said the class would have been helpful to her earlier in her high school career.
“It would have helped me discover the engineering road sooner,” Burns said. “But I wanted to take the class as a senior because it offered me a chance to explore other types of engineering to ensure that the one I have settled on is the best fit.”
Similarly, Gosselin, who is interested mechanical engineering, wanted to be exposed more of what the engineering world has to offer.
“Before I go to college, I wanted to be exposed to different kinds of engineering so I could make an educated decision, and Mr. Hartzell was able to provide that information in his class,” Gosselin said. “We covered many subjects, but were also able to do several labs that gave us the hands on experience that helped me understand the subject easier and more in depth.”
If, after a semester submerged in six types engineering, a student finds he doesn’t want to pursue engineering further, Hartzell said taking the class won’t have been a waste. Often, he said, through the Fundamentals class the faculty gains valuable information about a student’s interests
“It might be that a student finds they don’t enjoy the engineering portion, but they like the chemical part,” he said. “From there we can put them on the track to get the higher level chemical classes. Basically we can track them better into the things that interest them.”
Instead of a final, Hartzell required the students—either working in groups or alone—to produce a final project. They were able to work on the projects all semester then presented them to the class. The students got inventive with their ideas. One group built an arm brace to help basketball players shoot the ball straighter. Another student created a solar heater that could heat a whole house. And another group of four students developed a fire retardant system that could be used to protect houses set in high risk areas.
For his final project, Gosselin made a solar water heater out of inexpensive materials that are easy to find. He made the heating box from wood, copper tubing, sheet metal, and Plexiglas.
“The purpose of my project was to create a cheaper way to heat water without using electricity or gas, so the design could be used in places without access to fossil fuels,” he said.
Gosselin said he feels that every student could benefit from taking the Fundamentals of Engineering class, saying it would be especially good for sophomores.
“By taking this class earlier in your high school career, you can make a better decision on moving into the Project Lead the Way engineering class, which is a full year and goes more in depth on each subject,” he said. “But if you find out you do not like engineering, then the fundamentals class is only a semester long. I think everyone who took the fundamentals class last semester would probably say it was a good decision.”
By Amy G. Partain, Communications Associate
St. Mary’s High School
Anyone who has spent time on the St. Mary’s High School campus knows it is a special place. The school’s foundation in the Catholic faith is certainly a big part of what makes it special. Other aspects that make St. Mary’s a special place include the people—students, parents, faculty, alumni, friends—the academic coursework, service, accomplishments, programming, co-curricular activities, and the spirit pervasive through it all.
Those things that make St. Mary’s special will be celebrated this week during National Catholic Schools Week, which starts on the last Sunday of January each year. Catholic Schools Week focuses on the uniqueness of Catholic education, highlighting schools as “Communities of Faith, Knowledge, and Service.”
Each year the St. Mary’s campus is abuzz with activities honoring each part of the community. The faith component will actually end the week with a city-wide All-Schools Mass with Bishop Sheridan on Friday, Jan. 30, at 10 a.m. at St. Dominic’s Parish. All are invited to attend.
Since the students work hard everyday gaining knowledge, on Wednesday the faculty will treat them to ice cream sundaes. Then on Thursday, the parents who support the students in all of their endeavors will be honored as well.
“The Student Senate will take coffee and doughnuts out to the parents as they drop off their kids,” said Rick Champion, Senate adviser.
Knowledge about St. Mary’s is another aspect of Catholic Schools Week. On Wednesday, Jan. 28, the school will host an Open House for prospective students and their parents from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Robyn Cross, director of admissions, has been hosting open houses annually for several years and feels these events truly give families a chance to see the school in action. During an open house, parents and new students can meet the faculty and students, meet current students and ask questions of a student panel, tour the school, and observe a class.
“It is so effective because parents get to see who we are,” Cross said. “The student panel is the winner of the day. The parents get to ask any questions they have and listen to students who are the true products of St. Mary’s.”
Service is happening all of the time at St. Mary’s. Annually, St. Mary’s students volunteer more than 13,000 hours to the Colorado Springs community. So, of course, service will be a part of the Catholic Schools Week festivities. As they did last year, the Youth Philanthropy Club will again be putting together soup packets to fight hunger.
On Thursday evening, the 1885 Society will hold its induction and annual reception honoring those who help St. Mary’s fulfill its mission of Catholic Passion, Academic Rigor. The 1885 Society honors donors who have made significant gifts to St. Mary's.
Catholic Schools Week began in 1974 with the idea that schools have a week dedicated to Masses, open houses, and activities for students, families and the community. The National Catholic Educational Association web site says, “Through these events, schools focus on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to our church, our communities and our nation.”
By Amy G. Partain, Communications Associate
St. Mary's High School
High school may be the end of an era, but it’s really the beginning of the journey. When the class of 2010 graduated from St. Mary’s High School four years ago, some had solid plans for the future while others had general ideas and waited for more direction.
The 2010 class of 84 students are now spread across the country and enjoying great successes, highlighted below are updates of the valedictorian, salutatorian, and two Spirit of Mary award recipients from the class. These four are now forging ahead in their chosen areas, but all credit St. Mary’s with giving them the foundation to succeed.
Close friends Cathy Cichon and Katie Raskob finished St. Mary’s numbers one and two in the class, and continued their education together at the University of Notre Dame. Cichon entered Notre Dame with vague plans about her future.
“I knew nothing about what sort of major or career I intended to pursue,” Cichon said. “But I had a good experience in the sciences while at St. Mary’s, so that absolutely influenced my initial plans to pursue some sort of science degree in college.”
Although she was drawn to the sciences, not having concrete future plans allowed Cichon to explore several areas that interested her. That exploration led her to a double major in pre-health and anthropology.
“I started with one foot in the sciences because I had some notion of wanting to pursue medical school at the end of my college career,” Cichon said. “But it was only after going through some of Notre Dame’s core courses that I was able to experience fields I had never before considered—philosophy, psychology, anthropology, and more—and ultimately pursue my second major in anthropology. My plans continued to evolve and change as I got to know several mentors and grew to better know myself.”
Becoming a part of the Notre Dame family—from football to dorm life—had a tremendous impact on her, Cichon said.
“The people I met there are some of the most fascinating and wonderful people I know, and they taught me so much over the course of four years,” she said. But Cichon’s experience at Notre Dame took her further than she’d imagined it would. In fact, it took her to Rwanda.
“I was able to explore the world as part of my anthropology major,” she said. “I traveled to Rwanda to complete research for my senior thesis, and it opened my eyes to the world of global public health, a field I plan to continue pursuing in my career.”
Now Cichon is pursuing a dual degree that includes an MD and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Miami,
Fla. In four years she’ll graduate with both degrees and start her medical residency,
which she hopes will combine medicine with a focus on public health.
Upon entering Notre Dame, Raskob had decided on a science pre-professional (SCPP) major, which allowed her to focus on science without knowing exactly which area she wanted to pursue. But even she’s surprised at where she’s ended up.
“I graduated with my SCPP degree, but as a freshman, if you told me that I would
be attending medical school in five years, I would have told you you’re crazy,” Raskob said. “The sports medicine program, which initially was a whim the second week of my
college career, became the most impactful experience while I attended Notre Dame.”
Raskob started as a volunteer in the training room and at various sporting events during the second semester of her freshman year. At the end of her freshman year, she was hired as a student athletic trainer and she began working football practices, helping in the training room, assisting with treatments for injured athletes, and working the sidelines during games.
“After being hired, sports medicine would consume my time, my summers, and my relationships,” Raskob said. “My role as a student athletic trainer influenced my
discernment of medical school the most because of the interactions with the various
physicians and medical professionals and practicing my own crude medicine when interacting with injured athletes. I loved every minute of being a student athletic trainer.”
Another unexpected outcome of her time at Notre Dame was finishing college with a double major that included a degree in Spanish. Raskob said continuing to study
Spanish was always part of her plan, but she hadn’t considered majoring or minor in it.
“After reaching the threshold for Spanish classes one could take without being in the department of Romance Languages, I decided to declare a Spanish supplementary major my sophomore year so I could take the higher level classes,”
she said. “I never expected to finish the major, let alone compile enough classes to
fulfill the requirements for the full Spanish major.”
By February of her senior year, she was informed that she had completed the requirements of a full Spanish major and would graduate with degrees in both SCPP and Spanish. “I never planned to be a full Spanish major, but I was happy to accept that honor so late in my college career,” Raskob said.
Her time at Notre Dame definitely shaped her future, but many of those experiences were grounded in her time at St. Mary’s. From science to Spanish to theology to community service to extracurriculars, Raskob credits St. Mary’s with helping her lay the groundwork for success.
“St. Mary’s provided so many opportunities that shaped who I am and prepared me for college and beyond,” Raskob said. “A Catholic education at St. Mary’s, that regards service to be important, influenced me to go to a Catholic university that also finds service to be essential to education and life.”
Having graduated from Notre Dame, Raskob is now spending a year in Denver working with the Colorado Vincentian Volunteers. The CVV is a faith community of 20 full-time volunteers who work with the less fortunate in the city. The group also celebrates Mass together every Monday and reflects on how God is working in their individual lives.
“I am now a full-time volunteer, living service every day,” she said. “If I did not
have that basis for service and volunteering from St. Mary’s, spending a year devoted to serving others would have been a much more intimidating decision.”
Raskob works as a teacher to 3- and 4-year-olds at a pre-K program that includes children who have mental, physical and economic disabilities.
“By living a simple life, we strive to be in solidarity with the poor that they serve,” Raskob said. “Since serving at Sewall since August, I have learned to have patience, energy, and compassion in a way that I have never been called to give before. I can only
imagine what I will learn and how I will be changed by July.”
In four years, Raskob said she sees herself as a third-year medical student, doing rotations with different specialties and types of primary care, working to discern where she is called to be a physician.
“Service through medicine of underserved populations is already where I see my future as a physician, but honing that call on a specific form of care will be the challenge in four years,” she said.
The Spirit of Mary Winners
Lauren Cross and Matthew Bucher were given the Spirit of Mary Awards for the class of 2010. The Spirit of Mary Awards are presented to a girl and a boy from the class who exemplify the qualities of Mary, the patron saint of the school.
Cross graduated with plans to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and study biomedical engineering with the idea that maybe one day she would do research. Although she was unsure of how she would like the major, her four years at RPI refined her goals and she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering.
“I knew I wanted to help others, and while at RPI, I discovered I loved research and wanted to pursue it,” Cross said. “Through research, I have the potential to help a lot of people.”
Cross is now working towards her doctoral degree in biomedical engineering at Texas A&M University.
“I am working as a Graduate Research Assistant under the Diversity Fellowship, a university, faculty nominated fellowship, which is funding me for three years,” she said. “My research involves bone regeneration using nanomaterials.”
The degree will take five years to finish and during that time Cross must decide if she will continue research in academia, industry or work for a national lab. Cross said that her experience at St. Mary’s led to her interest in math and science, introduced her to RPI, and helped her realize the importance of helping others.
Bucher’s plan upon graduation from St. Mary’s was to enter the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and go on to be a pilot. In the last four years, things have gone according to plan for him. In fact, in May he graduated in the top 10 percent of his class and is now starting pilot training in Texas.
“Really it’s played out as I pictured it,” Bucher said.
And that is thanks in part to the start he got at St. Mary’s. Bucher said his high school career prepared him for the academic challenges and the leadership requirements he would face at the AFA. And his theology classes taught him about prayer, which continues to be a daily part of his life.
“The tough classes at St. Mary’s allowed me to pursue whatever major I wanted and helped me be successful as an aeronautical engineer at the Air Force Academy,” Bucher said. “And playing on sports teams helped build my leadership abilities, which then grew at the Academy.”
With the risk involved in being a pilot, Bucher said the daily habit of prayer that was taught in St. Mary’s theology classes provides a peace in the face of uncertainty.
“Being a pilot comes with risks,” he said. “I continually pray and have faith that God will keep me safe wherever I go.”
Counselor Mike Biondini said one unique facet of working in the education profession is that it can take years for one to realize the fruits of his labor. He said he knows that the St. Mary’s faculty is proud of the accomplishments of the Class of 2010.
“These were truly four shining stars of the class of 2010, and the more wonderful fact is that the 2010 sky was full of so many more stars as well,” Biondini said. “Perhaps the best news is that these stories are repeated in every graduating class from the ‘Best Kept Secret’ in southern Colorado. Year in and year out the community that is St. Mary’s High School lives up to its mission of helping to develop responsible, ethical, decision makers while modeling the life teachings of Jesus Christ.”
By Amy G. Partain, Communications Associate
St. Mary’s High School
Note: These are just the stories of four extraordinary St. Mary’s graduates. We’d love to hear from more of graduates. Please send your updates to firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion in the Class Notes section of the Pirates’ Treasure Magazine and for possible article consideration.
Above, top picture: Cathy Cichon (pictured on the right) participates in Muddy Sunday, an annual spring volleyball tournament at Notre Dame. Second picture: Katie Raskob (pictured on the left) spent many hours working as a student athletic trainer, including working the Pinstrip Bowl over
Christmas 2013. Third picture: Matthew Bucher receives his first salute as an Air Force officer from his sister, who is also a graduate of St. Mary's. Fourth photo: Lauren Cross graduated from Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute, and is now working toward her doctoral degree in biomedical engineering at Texas A & M University.
For more than a century, the Manitou Incline has been a part of the landscape of the Pikes Peak Region. And since 2010, before the Incline was open for legal hiking, a St. Mary’s High School graduate has been managing the historic site. Sarah Bryarly, St. Mary’s class of 1997, is a landscape architect for Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services and is the project manager for all things related to the Incline.
The Incline reopened earlier this month after being closed for three and a half months while repair work was done. Bryarly said that proper drainage along the Incline no longer existed, meaning that water had become the Incline’s biggest enemy.
“After years of limited maintenance, use, and recent rain events, the Incline was beginning to deteriorate. Ties were beginning to shift and move beyond the point of a simple repair,” she said. “Given the 41 percent average slope and 68 percent slope at the steepest areas, it became only a matter of time before the next storm event came through and created a situation where we would not be able to repair the Incline.”
Discussions on how to manage the Incline have been ongoing since the 1980s, Bryarly said. But given the private property status of the Incline at that time, the project wasn’t a high priority of any of the three property owners. Bryarly said it wasn’t until 2009 that the issue of managing and operating the Incline jumped to the top of the priority list.
“At that time the property owners and local jurisdictions realized, with the increased popularity of the Incline, something had to be done to manage the recreational amenity,” she said.
So in 2010 the cities of Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs held a series of public meetings to determine what should be done with the Incline. From those meetings, a development and management plan was developed, outlining the responsibilities for various parts of the project. One of the most important developments from this plan was the recommendation to legalize use of the Incline.
“The legalization of the Incline was truly a great example of the meaning ‘grassroots effort,’” Bryarly said. “It started with private citizens advocating a specific need. It took all the property owners giving up something and receiving something better in return. It required the local governments to step forward and provide assistance in improving an amenity that draws people into our communities. And finally it required an Act of Congress, and subsequently President Obama’s signature, to relinquish the railroad rights on the US Forest Service Property.”
The Incline was legally open to the public in February 2011. Bryarly said once that was done, fundraising for improvements on the property could begin. Fundraising included writing grants and seeking private funding. Finally in the spring of 2014, the funding necessary had been acquired but the improvements would have to wait a few more months.
“Construction could not begin until after the busy tourism season ended,” Bryarly said. “The Incline is a huge tourism draw for both Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs, and with the recent rains and the decrease in tourism dollars for the Town of Manitou Springs, everyone involved felt it was best to delay construction as long as possible to allow for a solid 2014 tourism season.”
Proof of the Incline’s tourism draw was gathered in August 2013 when members of a group called Incline Friends surveyed those embarking on the hike. They asked for zip codes in an effort to gauge the demographic being drawn to the Incline. What they found was that only seven states were not represented in the Incline’s visitors that weekend, and additionally, several countries were represented in those visitors.
“There is more to the Incline then just the local exercise junky who is trying to beat their fastest time,” Bryarly said. “It is an amenity that our region can showcase and use to bring people into our community. On a local level, the Incline can be seen from almost anywhere in Colorado Springs. Because of that, it is always calling, beckoning you to come and experience it. Whether you come once a day, a couple times a month, or it is your first time, the appeal and awe makes it a must do on many bucket lists.”
Being able to give back to the community is something that Bryarly said she loves about her job. And the idea of community service was instilled in her during her years at St. Mary’s.
“St. Mary’s gave me a deep appreciation for community service, which gave me the desire to select a major and ultimately a job that would allow me to give back to the community,” Bryarly said. “At the Parks Department, I have the opportunity to work with and volunteer with so many different groups of people throughout the community; people who also want to make the Colorado Springs community an enjoyable place to work, live, and play.”
Other aspects of her St. Mary’s experience also laid a foundation for Bryarly’s successful career. From being afforded a variety of unique opportunities to working with a faculty that encouraged excellence, Bryarly said St. Mary’s helped prepare her for responsibilities she faces daily in her job.
“By attending St. Mary’s, I was given so many opportunities to excel and be a part of various activities that I probably would not have been involved with in a larger environment,” she said. “The faculty and staff worked tirelessly to challenge us and encourage us to reach our full potential and set goals that were hard to accomplish, but possible to accomplish.”
Then there is the public figure aspect of her job, requiring her to be voice for what is happening with the Incline. The ease with which she accomplishes this responsibility can be traced to back to St. Mary’s as well.
“One of the requirements of working on the Incline is being the public figure and speaking to various groups and the media about the project and what is happening,” Bryarly said. “In a safe environment, St. Mary’s built that foundation of public speaking, primarily through the opportunity to participate is school masses, student ambassadorships, phone-a-thons, and forensics.”
Bryarly also sees her faith as being a part of her daily work life through stewardship of the earth.
“Whether it is working to improve an open space, regional park, neighborhood park, or the Incline, it is important to realize and value the beauty and jewels our Lord has provided us,” she said. “We, through stewardship of the land, need to preserve and protect these resources so they can be enjoyed for generations to come.”
By Amy G. Partain, Community Associate
St. Mary’s High School
In life, new experiences sometimes lead to opportunities that were never expected. Such is the case for St. Mary’s High School senior Aman Mital, who on Thursday, Dec. 18, will be a presenting author at the 2014 American Geophysical Union’s international conference to be held in San Francisco.
Mital will present on “Using Mobile App Development Tools to Build a GIS Application,” talking about his summer experience in building a mobile application that uses satellite data to track active fires.
According to the AGU web site, the fall meeting is the largest Earth and space science meeting in the world with close to 24,000 attendees. The meeting brings together the entire Earth and space sciences community for discussions of emerging trends and the latest research.
The journey began in the summer of 2014 when Mital worked as an intern at Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies (SGT), an aerospace services company where Mital’s father, Rohit Mital works. Mital thought he and his fellow interns—his brother Kuran and the son of one of Rohit’s colleagues—would be working on web-based applications, likely something practical. So the interns were pleasantly surprised when they were instructed to begin working on a mobile app.
Initially the three worked on a Redbox-type app, but ran into problems when they couldn’t get Redbox to respond to their calls. Then a new direction came from someone at NASA.
“NASA asked SGT to work on a mobile app that used satellite data so they handed us that idea, thinking that since it was requested by NASA they might as well let us give it a try,” Mital said.
The idea was to create an app that would use satellite data to map every active fire burning on Earth. Once started, the interns found the project was filled with trial and error. They went through six different mapping programs, working to find the right one.
“Some of the programs worked but were less functional than others,” Mital said. “It was a matter of finding the option that worked best.”
Once the app was built, it was placed in the iTunes Stores. While computer programming isn’t a course offered at St. Mary’s, Mital said other science courses he’s taken, including physics and chemistry, helped with the project.
“I think chemistry in particular was helpful in getting me noticed by my dad,” Mital said. “That course is what made him think I would be able to handle the internship and project.”
Rohit Mital said it was his older son, Kuran, who initially got him thinking about a computer programming internship.
“When Kuran came home after his first semester at Notre Dame, he said that so many of the courses expected students to have done some basic programming and that he wished he’d had some programming in high school,” Rohit said.
Then a colleague approached him saying her son was interested in doing some basic programming. That was when Rohit decided to put together a team of three interns for the summer of 2014. This was the first time he’s done this kind of project with high school students, but he’s hoping to build on it in the future.
When Rohit saw the AGU’s call for proposals for their fall meeting, he decided the team should submit a proposal, which was accepted. Mital is the only member of the intern team who is able to attend the conference so the presenting fell to him.
“Aman will talk about a lot of the lessons learned doing the project,” Rohit said. “He’ll talk about how they went about building the app, the challenges and issues they faced, and the different technologies they tried, what worked and what didn’t work.”
While presenting at an international science conference isn’t an everyday activity for a high school senior, Mital said he’s not nervous about the task.
“I’ve done speech and debate so speaking doesn’t bother me,” he said. “My forensic experience really helped me feel prepared to do this presentation.”
ANOTHER UNIQUE SUMMER EXPERIENCE
While his brother and the other intern continued working on building the app, Mital had to take a break from the process to attend a Leadership Seminar at Notre Dame. Only about 100 students are accepted into the program each summer, each receiving an all-expense paid trip. The seminars center around discussions on global topics, and at the completion of the program, students are eligible to receive one college credit.
Mital said he didn’t realize how selective the program was until he arrived on Notre Dame’s campus in July.
“I applied in January or February thinking I had nothing better to do in the summer and was accepted,” he said. “Once I got there I realized that the selection process for the program is as strict as the entrance process for the university.”
Three different tracks were offered and Mital chose the global issues track discussing how to make peace in areas that involve gang violence and terrorism. That decision surprised many who know him, Mital said, but he felt it fit right in with the speech and debate topics that he goes over as part of forensics.
Although Mital went into the trip not really knowing what to expect, he said the visit proved to be one of his best summer experiences ever. He hadn’t really expected to make lasting friendships during an 11-day trip, but even six months later, he said he still talks to several of the students he met there.
“It was an incredible experience,” he said. “There were so many different types of high schoolers there, really smart kids. It was very humbling, but amazing to be with others who were so passionate about what they were learning.”
After the Leadership Seminar, Mital said he’s more excited about college than ever, but that now every college he looks at is compared to Notre Dame.
“There’s a lot I like about Notre Dame,” he said. “It’s strong academically. I like that religion is not a taboo subject there. And I like that it’s not in a large university city.”
Not that he’s made any definite decisions yet.
“I went into the seminar undecided about my future and I’m still undecided,” he said. “One thing it did teach me is to try out new and different things before I decide what I’ll do with the rest of my life.”
By Amy G. Partain, Communications Associate
St. Mary’s High School
During the holiday season, thoughts turn to faith and family. Grandparents Mass at St. Mary’s celebrates both of these cores values of the only Catholic high school in Southern Colorado.
Annually in December, the school invites all grandparents to a special Mass and reception. John Kraus, President of St. Mary’s, said the day means a lot.
“Our students have great love for their grandparents and were so proud to have them on campus,"" he said. "And of course the grandparents rejoiced at celebrating Mass with the students. Beyond this camaraderie, the day also is an example that we are all in this together—it is all of our responsibility to educate God’s children in the faith, it is not just up to parents, priests, or Religion teachers.”
Some of the grandparents have attended multiple times with grandchildren through the years, for others their first grandchild is just now attending St. Mary’s. Grandparents Isaias and Nellie Pomales were attending their first Grandparents Mass at St. Mary’s. Their granddaughter Elyseéss Pomales is a sophomore at SMHS.
“It’s so nice to be here with her,” Nellie said. “She’s hard to see with working, school, and dance; it’s hard to make an appointment with her.”
While celebrating Mass is a regular occurrence at St. Mary’s, Elyseéss said having the grandparents in the audience made this one extra special.
The all-school Mass also celebrated the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Father Brian Roeseler, Chaplain of St. Mary’s, celebrated the Mass with Deacon Dave Bull, parent of senior Adam, assisting.
Roeseler said that when Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel, she was likely around 13 years old. How terrified she must have been, he said, being told that at 13 she would have a child. And even at 13, she had a choice.
“Today we celebrate that immaculate conception,” Roeseler said. “Although chosen by God, Mary still had free will. She could choose to follow God or not to follow God. And all through her life, Mary said yes to God.”
Roeseler said that throughout time the question to be answered is “how are we going to respond to God?” From the first couple, Adam and Eve, who allowed their pride to separate them from God, to the Virgin Mary, who said yes to God’s calling, to us today, we each have to decide how we will respond when God calls.
“We too are asked to follow God,” he said, “in the mundane things and in big things like our vocation. God has a will for each one of us. But we much choose to follow that will.”
When we are younger, our families—including grandparents—often help us make those choices. And a legacy of faith is what the grandparents of St. Mary’s students who gathered at this Mass represent. In honoring the grandparents, Roeseler said they are “living treasures of strong religious traditions.”
By Amy G. Partain, Communications Associate
St. Mary’s High School
Above, sophomore Elyseéss Pomales enjoys a reception after Grandparents Mass with her grandparents, Isaias and Nellie Pomales.
Proclaiming to be a Catholic school comes with a lot of responsibility, and it must be done only with the blessing of the Church. That’s why the president and board of directors of St. Mary’s High School asked Bishop Michael Sheridan to issue a decree recognizing St. Mary’s officially as a Catholic school.
“St. Mary’s is the only Catholic high school south of Denver and there are certain obligations that come with that to be strong and faithful so that southern Colorado sees we are what we claim to be,” said John Kraus, president of St. Mary’s.
In October, Bishop Sheridan presented St. Mary’s with a decree stating that the school is considered a Catholic school in accordance with the Code of Canon Law. The decree says that the church has considered that “St. Mary’s provides instruction and education grounded in the principles of the Catholic doctrine” and that the “Catholic Identity Community, monitored by the superintendent of Catholic schools, find that St. Mary’s satisfies the requirements to be a Catholic school.”
Since St. Mary’s is the only independent Catholic school in the diocese, Kraus said he and the board felt the official recognition from the Church was needed.
“Some people do wonder how an independent school can be an authentically Catholic school,” Kraus said. “This shows that the bishop of the diocese has canon authority over the theology that we teach, as it does in every diocese in the world. We can call ourselves a Catholic school only with the blessing of the Bishop.”
Just as every five years St. Mary’s academic accreditation is reviewed and renewed, leaders at St. Mary’s have asked that the school’s Catholic status be reviewed and renewed on the same schedule.
“It’s important to say it publicly that way if there’s any question about our status it’s been addressed,” Kraus said. “This decree means that the bishop has confidence in what we’re doing as a Catholic school.”
St. Mary’s has been an independent Catholic school since the 1987-1988 school year. In early 1987, the diocese decided that the high school should close. Instead, a group of St. Mary’s parents banded together to save the school.
In remarks at the decree presentation, Bishop Sheridan noted that it was in 1998 that Bishop Richard Hanifen first signed and promulgated a decree officially allowing St. Mary’s to call itself Catholic. He said Bishop Hanifan’s decree has been displayed in the school entrance since 1998.
“He recognized that the school, though not owned anymore by the diocese, was certainly a faith-filled, faithful school,” Sheridan said. “Be proud of the good work you do every day for your students and for the Church; all of us in the diocese thank you for your good and faithful work.”
St. Mary’s High School is accredited academically by the National Catholic Education Association and the Colorado Department of Education, and has been accredited by an outside agency called Advanced Ed for 76 years.
The Advanced Ed team visited the St. Mary’s last school year to review the school’s academics and procedures. After the visit, the school’s accreditation was renewed for another five years.
By Amy G. Partain, Communications Associate
St. Mary’s High School
Above, Bishop Michael Sheridan reads his decree officially recognizing St. Mary’s as a Catholic school during a mass held at the school in October. (photo: Diane Torrence)