Retreat Prepares for Advent

After the last exam before Christmas Break, thirty students gathered at St. Mary’s Catholic Church for the SJCS High School Advent Retreat. According to SJCS Campus Minister, Gabe Lewis, the purpose of the retreat was about learning to recognize and follow God’s signs. The retreat opened with the singing of hymns and a lesson by Mr. Lewis followed by quiet personal reflection and small group sharing. Students then gathered for songs led by SJCS singers and guitarists Patrick Alvis, Jacob Kiser, Caroline McCoy, and Hallie Palms. After a walk through downtown Greenville, the students had dinner and were serenaded with a classical music concert performed by sophomores Dominic Mosley on piano and Francesca Strathern on the harp. After the concert, Ben and Ruth Robertson, a young Catholic couple from Greenville, shared a testimony of the importance of faith in their lives, and students had time to ask questions and share their “takeaways” from the day.

Alumni Reunite for Christmas Cheer

Continuing one of the most loved alumni traditions at St. Joseph’s, the SJCS Advancement Office and Alumni Board hosted their annual Alumni Christmas Social at the Commerce Club on December 23. Nearly 100 alumni enjoyed food and drink while socializing with former classmates. At the door, alumni signed one of the school’s oldest yearbooks as a keepsake guest book and had the opportunity to look through yearbooks from their time at SJCS. During the welcome from Alumni Board President George Patrick McLeer ’06, a number of door prizes were awarded to alumni, including a ticket to the 2016 annual auction Gala.

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MS Teacher Makes a Difference

Congratulations are due to St. Joseph’s middle school teacher Sarah Wicker, who was recently nominated as an “Educator Who Makes a Difference” by Upstate Parent magazine. Honorees were chosen based on nominations by parents and students. Ms. Wicker currently teaches MS Math and MS Religion, serves as Household Dean of the Dark Knights, and is the moderator for the MS Math Team and MS Origami Club.

Click here to read about Ms. Wicker’s vocation here.

SJCS Tree Promotes Peace

In what is now a holiday tradition, the SJCS Advancement Office decorated a St. Joseph’s themed Christmas tree for the 30th annual St. Francis Festival of Trees. Families and supporters are encouraged to visit the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Greenville to see the SJCS tree and many others. The tree is located on the second floor, just to the right of the staircase close to the Starbucks.

This year the tree centers around the school’s theme of the year, “Consider the birds,” featuring peace symbols, a variety of birds, and other winter decorations. In past years, the school’s participation in this festival has supported the Pearlie Harris Breast Health Center and the Mack Pazdan Neonatal Care Center. This year, donated funds from the school will support the St. Francis Outpatient Cancer Center.

Holiday trees, on display through December 28th, are also located at the downtown Courtyard Marriott and the Hampton Inn & Suites River Place.

Ministry Hike Allows Time for Reflection

More than twenty SJCS high school students recently traveled to Jones Gap State Park for a Campus Ministry autumn hike, led by Campus Minister Gabe Lewis and theology teacher Michele Houmis. A large portion of the hike was done in silence to be more awake to reality and away from our many “screens” and was presented to the students as an opportunity listen to their hearts and walk together as a community toward a common goal: making it to “Rainbow Falls.” Upon arrival at the falls, students gathered at the side of the mountain stream to enjoy lunch before hiking down the mountain and going back to their families for the Thanksgiving holiday.

MS Scientists Present Projects

On November 18th, the Science Department hosted their annual Middle School Science Day named in celebration of St. Albert the Great, Doctor of the Church and Patron of Scientists. The afternoon was open for family viewing as eighth graders presented their science fair projects, seventh grade students presented their inventions, and sixth graders presented projects demonstrating scientific concepts. Eighth grade winners will now go on to compete at the SCISA Science Fair in the spring. All seventh graders are encouraged to participate in the Duke Energy Invention Convention to be held in the spring at the TD Convention Center.

8th Grade Science Fair Winners 2015
1st Place: Julia Van Putte: “Effects of Drinks on Blood Sugar”
2nd Place: Spencer Marchant: “Effect of Insulation of Temperature”
3rd Place: Isabel Poinsette: “Which Sunscreen Works Best?”

Honorable Mentions
Maclean Armstrong: “Spin or Flat?”
Anna Rose Bradley: “Rooting for Hormones”
Witt Clary: “GSR”
Anna Impeduglia: “Food Irradiation”
Karina Jimenez: “Ya Gotta Hold it Soil”
Marta Ratkowski: “Which Medicine Bottle is the Most Moisture Resistant?”
Elizabeth Tamura: “The Effects of Homework on Stress Level”

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Seniors Sign For College Sports

Congratulations to seniors Maggie Milam and Christian Baliker on their respective signings to Kennesaw State University and the College of Charleston on the National Letter of Intent Signing Day in November.

Maggie, who will run for the track & field team at Kennesaw State University, was named the SCHSL All-Region as a sophomore and was a two-time Class A State Champion as a junior in both the long jump and the triple jump. She earned SCHSL All-State in both events. Over the summer of 2015 Maggie won the AAU Regional Title in the triple jump (38 feet!). She has competed at the USA Track & Field and AAU National Junior Olympic games.

Christian, who will play golf at the College of Charleston, is currently in his sixth year on the varsity team. In the last three years, Christian earned All-State honors in the 1A State Championship. He has had numerous top ten finishes competing in SC Junior Golf Association events, was a member of the 2014 SC team competing against Georgia and a member of the Carolinas team competing against the Virginias. Recent highlights include a top five finish at a national tournament, the North South Junior Championship, and qualifying to compete in the US Junior Championship.

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Student Delegates Participate in YIG

SJCS students recently participated in the South Carolina Youth in Government Convention: high school for the fourteenth year and the middle school for the seventh year. Sixty-six HS students fulfilled roles from legislators to attorneys, presiders and party chairs, to an Associate Chief Justice. Eighteen MS students all worked in legislative pairs to get their bills passed. Additionally, both the HS and MS delegations received a Premier Delegation Award. SJCS achieved outstanding awards and recognitions at the conference which hosted over 1,400 high school students and 500 middle school students this year.

High School

  • Senior Emma Gross received the Philip T. Bradley Award for Courageous Leadership. This award is the highest award given to a student at YIG, carries with it a cash scholarship, and is awarded to a senior for exhibiting outstanding leadership qualities.
  • Senior Kristen Kauffman received the Excellence in Leadership Award, the first such recipient from St. Joseph’s. This award is given by the Resource Staff to a student whose leadership they recognize and it comes with a cash scholarship for college. Kristen was also appointed to the Conference on National Affairs for this summer.
  • Senior Carter Powell was appointed to the National Judicial Competition Team for the SC YIG team to be held this summer in Chicago.
  • Senior Deeb Armaly received an Outstanding Statesman Award for his contributions in the House of Representatives.
  • Senior Alie Fink and Junior Christian Gillespy received an Outstanding Appeals Attorney Awards for their selection to argue in the final appeals trials.
  • Junior Sydney Hyer won the election in fierce competition for Secretary of State for next year’s conference, received an Outstanding Statesman Award, and was appointed to attend the Conference on National Affairs this summer. Junior Kathleen Browne was appointed as first alternate to the Conference on National Affairs for this summer.
  • Junior Sophie Coburn received an Outstanding Witness Award for her participation in the Mock Trials.
  • Freshmen Michael Lynch and Maegan White received a Best Bill Award.
  • The following high school students had their bills signed by the Youth Governor: Freshmen Jack Malo and Emma Nixon in Premiere House; freshmen Michael Lynch and Maegan White in Premiere Senate; sophomores Lucas Baumgarten and Matthew Snow in House of Representatives; and Seniors Nathan Petrofes and Walker Seman in the Senate.

Middle School

  • Seventh graders Kieran Devine and Jessica Gerac each received an Outstanding Statesman Award.
  • Seventh grade bill partners Jessica Gerac and Cannon McEldowney received a Most Outstanding Bill Award.
  • The following bill partners had their bills signed by the Middle School Youth Governor: Eighth graders Brendan Dunleavy and Russell Warren; Spencer Chea and Shivam Vadalia; and Peter Baer and Walker Fann.

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HS Girls Attend W.I.S.E. Lunch

The SJCS Technology and Engineering Advisory Committee held a Women in Science & Engineering lunch for any HS girl interested in the field on November 17. Four SJCS mothers, Paula Bikulege (Industrial Engineering), Lisa Seidel (Computer Engineering), Adelia Hodge (Electrical Engineering), and Kim Mudor McDonald (Materials & Mechanical Engineering), talked to over 30 girls about opportunities and the different areas of engineering in hopes of inspiring them to pursue engineering, science, or technology as a possible career.

Juniors Bond at Kairos Retreat

Each year the Kairos Retreat proves to be one of the most powerful spiritual experiences of offered by SJCS Campus Ministry to the high school student body. In mid-October, the class of 2017 traveled to Diakonia Retreat Center in Salem, SC, operated by the Greek Orthodox Church, where nine senior team leaders led 75 juniors on the annual retreat. Visiting priest Fr. Jean Luc Zadroga, a Benedictine Priest of the Abbey of St. Vincent in Latrobe, PA, and SJCS Chaplain Fr. Jeremy Von Wodecki assisted by hearing confessions, celebrating Mass, and being available for counsel. Kairos Retreat Director Julie Schroeder guided the senior leaders, while several teachers and administrators shared elements of their faith journey with the juniors. Senior retreat leaders this year were: Rhett Baker, Michaela Biske, Mattie Dew, Kristen Kauffman, Lauren Jones, Ken Lava, Mary Sloan Morris, Margaret Utecht, and Mark Williams.

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Survivor Gives Message of Hope

The Pope Francis Forum for Dialogue and Diversity recently hosted Holocaust survivor Robbie Waisman, who spoke to the SJCS community as well as the community at large about his experiences in the Buchenwald concentration camp as a young boy. Mr. Waisman, who came to the Upstate from Canada, talked about the horrific experience of losing his family as well as his motivation for being an advocate for those facing insurmountable challenges. His testimony centered around the integrity of the human spirit and maintaining hope in seemingly hopeless situations. The evening event, which was shot as part of a documentary, seated a full house in the St. John Paul II Center. Mr. Waisman also graciously took the time to sign autographs and tell stories to his guests before his talk began.

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SJCS Participates in Life Chain

On Sunday, October 25, students and faculty from St. Joseph’s joined together to participate in the annual Life Chain along Woodruff Road. This year’s Life Chain had been postponed from an earlier date due to the SC storms and flooding. Life Chain is a peaceful, prayerful, public witness to the sanctity of all human life. Participants gather for one hour to pray and hold signs with life-affirming statements promoting adoption and respect for the inalienable right to life. Members of the St. Joseph’s group prayed a rosary to ask the intercession of Our Lady for greater reverence for life throughout the world.

MS Students Code for Make-A-Wish

St. Joseph’s chapter of the Jr. Beta Club sponsored their first ever “Hour of Code” event at SJCS with 40 students in attendance on Friday, November 13. “Hour of Code” is a worldwide initiative to get kids to spend an hour learning about computer coding. All proceeds from the event benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Overall, the Jr. Beta Club collected over $600 for the organization and the students learned valuable skills through fun activities and games.

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SJCS Honors Veterans

St. Josephs paid tribute to all veterans in a special Veteran’s Day Assembly held on Wednesday, November 11. Hosted by the school’s National Social Studies Honor Society, Fr. Jeremy Von Wodecki, who also serves as an Army Chaplain, opened the assembly with a prayer and several Boy Scouts led off with a Posting of the Colors and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Headmaster Keith Kiser welcomed all who were present, recognized by name SJCS graduates who have gone on to serve their country or are in military service academies, and introduced senior Alexandra Tamura (NSSHS Chapter President) who spoke of the men and women throughout history who have answered the call of duty and introduced the first two speakers who came to share their wartime experiences. Seniors Morgan Guest (Chapter Secretary/Treasurer), Ethan Veideman, and Dan Veideman read “The Submarine Tender” in honor of one of the speakers, John Rein.

  • Dr. Christopher Powers served in the US Army Medical Corps for 8 years as an active duty Army physician. He was deployed overseas during the 2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom conflict and at that time served as a Flight Surgeon with the 2/4 Aviation Battalion out of Fort Hood, Texas. Dr. Powers showed a PowerPoint highlighting some of the information in his speech.
  • Mr. John Rein Served in the United States Navy from 1943 until 1946. Mr. Rein served as a deep sea diver aboard the submarine tender Aegir, attaining the rank as SFc2. Mr. Rein is the great-grandfather of senior Michaela Biske. Mr. Rein also provided a powerpoint illustrating his time of service.

Senior Alie Fink, Chapter Vice-President of the NSSHS, introduced the final speaker:

  • John Williams, served in the United States Marine Corps from October 2001 until November 2009. He served two tours in Iraq, including the 2003 invasion and again in 2008. Williams was combat meritoriously promoted to Staff Sergeant during his second tour in Iraq. He was in the infantry and served in a light armored reconnaissance unit. Mr. Williams is the brother of senior Mark Williams, and this was his second year to speak at St. Joseph’s. He is currently a member of the Greenville County SWAT team.

The School Choir performed “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and several students stayed after the assembly was dismissed to ask questions of the veterans and thank them for their service.

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Students Perform at SCTA Convention

SJCS Theatre students recently competed in the South Carolina Theatre Association Convention at Furman University. While in attendance, the students participated at the 2nd annual “Tech Olympics,” performed a one act student directed play, and auditioned for SC college theatre programs. They received the following recognition for the weekend of events:

  • In the Tech Olympics, Sydney Hyer placed first and is the reigning state champion in the Costume Quick Change event. Sydney also claimed the title of “Twitter Winner” for the most social media posts and photobombs with keynote speakers and SCTA board members.
  • Nine juniors and seniors auditioned for theatre programs during the weekend; collectively, they received 50 callbacks to programs across the state.
  • The SJCS one act production of “Cagebirds,” directed by senior Josiah Tennent was showcased in the High School Theatre Festival, one of 30 plays performed. Sydney Hyer was recognized as an All Star Cast Member while Josiah Tennent received an All Star recognition for his student direction. “Cagebirds” placed 6th in the state.

Click here to view photos of “Cagebirds”.

Click here to view photos of the SCTA Tech Olympics.

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