Historic Catholic School Announces Closure by: Rylee Jung

Historic Catholic grade school, St. Aloysius on the Ohio (St. Al’s), announced its closure for the upcoming school year due to lack of finances. After 149 years of business, St. Al’s has fallen upon hard financial times from low enrollment and lack of parish support. Though small in community, the loss that is felt among the families and alumni of St. Al’s is huge. Current students and staff, retired staff, and alumni have come forward to share the importance of Catholic education and vouch for their tiny school with a big legacy.

Averaging around ninety students a year, St. Aloysius on the Ohio’s small, family-like community is its defining quality that everyone – students, alumni, and staff alike – agrees. In this tiny environment, relationships between the students and one another, the students and their teachers, and teachers with parents thrive. Current student Carter Jung explains, “It’s a small school, it’s very special to me…I have my friends there, I’ve been with them since preschool.” St. Al’s is a one class per grade school; therefore, students are with the same kids in every class, every year they are at St. Al’s. Teacher Jennifer Ostertag recognizes that her students “look out for each other. They show compassion and love to one another every day.” This closeness creates a bond that lasts beyond their grade school years. Alum Tom Jung, class of 1984, recalls that he is “still friends with at least half of the people that I graduated with from St. Al’s.” A family atmosphere is created by these strong bonds with one another. Alum Anna Hoferer, class of 2014, describes this feeling as “a close-knit family. There is no possible way to feel as though you are alone in anything because the whole community is always there for any support needed.” The family atmosphere then transcends to the school community and the relationships students have with their teachers. Principal Kristen Penley explains that the school community is “a tight knit group of dedicated parents, faculty, and students. The school environment is energetic and collaborative.” Current student Megan Armstrong notes that what she likes most about St. Al’s is the connection she has with her teachers. With a ten to one student teacher ratio, teachers are able to “truly know their students” (Penley).

With a “tiny but mighty” (Penley) mentality, the school really does show its might through academics. With a small community and small classes, teachers are able to give their students the individualized attention that other schools cannot give. Jennifer Ostertag explains that she feels grateful to teach at St. Al’s which gives her the “opportunity to work one on one with each student to help them achieve success.” Alum Caroline Klug, class of 2015, points out that “The curriculum at St. Al’s is at a higher level and the student to teacher ratio allowed me to learn something new every day and get help if I needed it.”  Alum Shay Espich, class of 2017, follows her point closely by saying that the teachers “focused more on the parts of the lesson that their students were struggling with and what activities would help them” more than their own work such as grading. The main focus on the school is the student’s success. Penley explains that “students have individualized attention with their teachers which helps build confidence and understanding.” The confidence that is key to successful education comes not only from the attention of the teacher but also a comfortable class environment. Tom Jung explains that “the more people know you, the more comfortable you are in your surroundings, the better you’re going to learn.” He goes on to discuss that all aspects of his Catholic education – Mass, May crowning, sacraments – allowed him to create a bond with his classmates which led to him not having “that fear of failure and that fear of being judged.” Carter Jung also adds that he enjoys his smaller class sizes because “people don’t talk as much. If there was a bigger class, there would be more distractions.”

With hundreds of alumni joined with current students, the legacy of St. Al’s is huge. Tom Jung explains that he lives out the legacy of St. Al’s by “sending my kids there…[and] being part of the infrastructure now.” Tom Jung currently is the athletic coordinator for St. Al’s and teaches Baptism class and attends PTC meetings with his wife Marci Jung. Alum Anna Hoferer says her legacy involves her entire family: “My family has been large supporters of St. Al’s for a while…from St. Al’s library to the food booth at the festival to the PTC board, my family genuinely loves to be included in anything St. Al’s related.” Jean Hoferer, dedicated her life to encouraging the students’ love for reading and being the St. Al’s librarian for many years – even using her old home as the library building. Now that the school faces closure, students, alumni, and staff must decide how they will continue to live on the St. Al’s legacy in their lives. Kristen Penley, after working at St. Al’s for fifteen years, “hope[s] our students remember their love of learning and the excitement they had to come to school each day” and says that “St. Al’s will forever hold a special place in my heart.” Current students Carter Jung and Megan Armstrong plan to continue “being a good listener, a good reader, and a good friend” (Jung) and “wearing some of their spirit wear” (Armstrong) to keep the name alive. Alum Caroline Klug plans to “continually remind myself of the lessons I learned there such as supporting my friends and family and being someone people can trust.” Another alum Shay Espich says she will continue the legacy by “being the great person that all of my old peers and teachers taught me how to be.” As a parent and active parishioner, Tom Jung plans on continuing the legacy of St. Al’s in a different way. Jung recognizes that St. Al’s is not the only parish that is facing decreasing numbers. Other parishes that once held large followings are now dealing with smaller budgets and less volunteers. Jung believes he “can bring some comfort and some morale boost to a bigger parish that might be shrinking” by having experience with a small school community. The St. Al’s name will continue to live on in the hearts and minds of its community.

Though St. Al’s is unique, it is a part of a large community of Catholic grade schools. In the Cincinnati area, there are a steady supply of Catholic churches and schools, and they each different missions to pass on the faith to the next generation. To the students, Catholic education gives them a safe environment to learn about the faith and what it means to them. It also is an opportunity to deepen friendships in a unique way and learn valuable lessons that are not taught anywhere else. Shay Espich likes going to a Catholic school because “faith is an outstanding virtue” and “Catholic schools put more work into being a family rather than just people who see each other for six hours a day.” Carter Jung enjoys his Catholic education because “You get to go to church a lot and respect and worship God and that can lead you to good things.” Catholic schools are able to implement lessons to deepen and challenge the students’ faith as they go through so they are able to have an understanding of what their faith means to them. Anna Hoferer claims that “a massive part of my Catholic school education is the principle that you should trust in God and believe that He will lead you to the right path.” Through preparing for sacraments, celebrating Mass, retreats, and volunteering together, Catholic schools give its students plenty of opportunities to own, live, and connect with their faith. To the staff and parents of the students, this Catholic influence is truly appreciated as they look upon the foundation that is being built. While looking back on his own Catholic education and the lessons it taught, Tom Jung recalls that “I really have an appreciation of how important that it is to the Catholic faith. To take time away from your studies and focus on God, focus on your faith, focusing on practicing your faith.” Retired St. Al’s teacher, Mary Ann Hensley explains that “Our religion classes center on the life of Christ and his disciples. We try to instill in the students the idea of living a Christlike life.” Kristen Penley discusses how the Catholic education has a positive influence on students because “we teach children that our faith is part of our everyday life…I like to believe that we work with the parents to establish a strong moral compass for their children.” Catholic education is critical for the blossoming Christian as the institution is equally focused on the education, and moral and faith development of the student. Caroline Klug adds that “Catholic schools make sure their students grow as not only students academically but also as individuals who know how to love and serve others and God in everything they do.” There is a community aspect that is built among the students that encourages them to go out and serve others while witnessing their faith and bringing home a gleaming report card.

Historic grade school St. Al’s may have reached its last year in business, but its legacy has just begun. As their former students search for a new place to call home, there is no telling what they will do to show their St. Al’s pride no matter where they end up. With the lessons that St. Al’s taught them with the support of the Catholic education community, one can be confident that these kids will go on to do great things.

Works Cited

St. Aloysius on the Ohio. Facebook. 23 January 2014, https://www.facebook.com/saotobolts/. Accessed 29 January 2018

St. Aloysius on the Ohio. Facebook. 10 January 2017, https://www.facebook.com/saotobolts/. Accessed 29 January 2018
St. Aloysius on the Ohio. Facebook. 30 May 2017, https://www.facebook.com/saotobolts/. Accessed 29 January 2018

Feminism in America by: Sherilyn Drexler

        Feminism. What comes to mind? For Americans, probably women’s marches, social media campaigns, and social or political activist speakers. Probably some controversy, based on debate over recent causes that have come to the forefront of the movement. Often, the true meaning of movements in America can become clouded by media sensationalism and social media hype. In its most basic form, feminism is really much simpler than one would think. Mady Nutter, PR and Marketing Representative of StrongHer, a feminist club at Seton High School, describes feminism as, “the economic, social, and political equality of the sexes”. And while that is the most basic meaning, in America, feminism reaches much farther than just that, and has been running deep for women since early American society.
While in the last few years the term feminism and the wave of feminists have taken the forefront, feminism has been central to America for many, many years. In the 19th and 20th centuries, it was about simply giving women a voice to those who didn’t have one. Movements arose to fight for basic rights; such as the ability to vote; the ability to receive the same education as a man; and for women to be able to hold employment positions that were previously only allowed for men. Now, it has become about using that voice to fight for inequality- especially ones that have become normalized in our culture. Beth Lauber, an English teacher at Seton High School, says that “In the beginning – late 1800s women just wanted to have a voice.  Now that we have a voice, it’s about using the voice to create a better, more equal, society for women around the world.” That couldn’t be more true for American women today, and social issues such as wage inequality and sexual assault have taken the forefront as issues in the western culture today.
One of the biggest examples of feminism in motion today is within the women’s march; a coordinated rally practiced throughout the nation, in hundreds of cities, attracting hundreds of thousands of participants, all protesting for a wide range of women’s issues. Speakers across all platforms came to speak on a wide range of issues: from the entertainment industry to government officials to leaders of social activism. The underlying message of the effort fights for inclusivity, possibility, and now more than ever, giving women of the next generation a world where they will be heard, respected, and have the freedom to brave their own paths without barriers.

Poetry Out Loud by: Moira Metz

This January at Seton High School three students from each grade participated in the all- school round of Poetry Out Loud, a national competition for reciting poetry. First, students competed in their English classes, trying their best to not only recite their selected poem’s multiple lines with accuracy, but also trying to speak the poem with clear annunciation and strong emotion. Those who each class decided had the best combination of emotion, accuracy, and overall powerful recitation moved on to be judged by teachers, who then determined who would move on to compete against the rest of the school finalists. These finalists, three per grade, competed by reciting in front of the whole student body. The winners of this competition were: Sammy Riegler, junior, first place; Rylee Jung, senior, second place Mya Moser, senior, third place. These three, as well as the rest of the competitors, recited their poems passionately and exceptionally. Sammy Riegler will move on to compete against local finalists, and Seton wishes her all the luck in the world.  She competes Friday, February 23.  But one might ask: why might poetry be so important to a high school student? The Seton Connection tried to find out.

Poetry Out Loud was created in 2005 by The National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation. Its mission? To “help students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life” (“Poetry Out Loud”). Just as Seton does, schools all over the country encourage their students to participate in the contest by memorizing and expressively reciting a poem of their choosing, the best of the reciters moving on through school, local, and state rounds and onto eventually competing at a national level against students from across the United States.

Seton High School’s first experience of Poetry Out Loud was just a few years ago, beginning in the 2015-2016 school year. Mrs. Karen White, Seton’s current principal, had been made aware of the national contest in previous school positions, so she encouraged the English department to bring the contest into the curriculum, “I think it is important to our curriculum because I believe it fosters an understanding and love for poetry that otherwise might not happen for high school students,” says Mrs. White. Poetry Out Loud “tends to be an outlet for student who might not otherwise choose to perform in front of their peers. The students who tend to be involved and win are those that otherwise might like to be in the background. Even those who may not otherwise want to really study it, can get excited about learning poetry.”

To understand a student’s perception of poetry and the Poetry Out Loud contest, The Seton Connection spoke with senior Mady Nutter, who happens to be focusing on poetry for her senior project. Mady wants to focus on this topic because “poetry and writing in general has allowed me to free and express my thoughts, and in the realm of mental health, I wanted to invite other people to perhaps experience a similar feeling of liberation from the thoughts and ideas we so often keep hidden inside us.”

           As you can see, it’s easy to get excited about poetry at Seton at the moment. Though there are some students who might not completely enjoy participating in the Poetry Out Loud contest, it does allow students to enrich their literary education in a way that they might not have been able to without the opportunity, and there are many who enjoy the experience of deepening their love of poetry. It may also strengthen students’ ability to publicly speak, while hopefully growing a deeper appreciation for the art of poetry. Whether they’re participating in Poetry Out Loud or contributing to Mady Nutter’s senior project or (hopefully) allowing themselves some time to enjoy a bit of poetry on their own, Seton students have many opportunities to experience the joy of poetry in all its beautiful, artistic glory.


See below for the rest of Mady Nutter’s interview!


Q&A with Mady Nutter

The Seton Connection: What do you like about poetry?

Mady Nutter: Writing poetry allows me to reveal truths within myself that I didn’t even realize I needed to discover.  I love just writing down my thoughts and seeing what poetic product comes from it.  However, when I read poetry, I like to discover other people’s truths that can help shape and prompt a personal discovery for me.  Whether it’s a poet expressing a story similar to something I’ve gone through, or even giving a completely different perspective of something I’ve gone through, I find the creative revelations of truth to be the most appealing aspect of poetry.

How important do you think it is for students to familiar with poetry? How relevant do you think it is to our education?

 Like other literature we study in school, I think poetry not only has the ability to teach us different styles of writing, but a different type of voice through which we can express ourselves.  This voice is so rarely cultivated within young writers especially, and I think the study of poetry can aid students in the discovery of their unique and personal tone, topic, and form.

How do you feel about the Poetry Out Loud contest at Seton?

Personally, I love seeing the interpretations of the different poems performed, and overall think it’s a really great competition.  However, I feel as though some students may be able to connect deeper to a poem that they are able to create, rather than recite a poem they have simply found.  I find that poetry is most effective and carries much more gravity for an audience when it’s personalized for the poet or speaker.


Favorite type of poetry?

I really don’t have any preference in regards to the form or type of poetry, but I really like spoken word.  I love to hear the poet’s voice rather than read their words.  Sometimes the biggest thing that moves me about poetry is not what a poet says, but how they say it.  I really think their personal tone, inflection, and rhythm is what makes a greater impression on me than any specification made in regards to the poem’s form.


Favorite poet?

I’m a big fan of Rupi Kaur or another poet on Twitter and Instagram that goes by the name Miriella Marie.  I admire them because they are able to artistically verbalize the thoughts and feelings so many of us have, but struggle or feel afraid to express.


Favorite poem or poem collection?


Ahh! My favorite poem ever? That’s so hard! I have no clue. Maybe like ‘One Fish, Two Fish?’ [Referring to One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss.]


My favorite poetry collections are “the sun and her flowers” by Rupi Kaur and “No Matter the Wreckage” by Sarah Kay. You should check them out, they rock.


How can someone contribute to your senior project?


Anyone can contribute to my senior project by submitting their poem(s) to the google form I am in the process of creating and attaching to an email containing all the information about my project.  However, I made a point of speaking with every English class in the school to inform people about my project, so keep writing, and you’ll just have to submit your poem by the end of February!















Works Cited

Nutter, Mady. Personal interview. 30 January 2018.

“Poetry Out Loud.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation, www.poetryfoundation.org/foundation/poetry-out-loud.

White, Karen. Personal interview. 5 February 2018.