Europe Trip! page 6 Volume XCIII
THE PINE NEEDLE St. Christopher’s School, Richmond, Virginia, September 2007
Saints don’t waste their summers
Student Council President Pierre Molster rallies languid seniors to join him in an endeavor of Napoleonic proportions—reconstructing the Senior Lounge from the ground up by Brian Kusiak ’08 and Brendan Worst ’08
the monkey on my back even when I wasn’t in Richmond.” Other seniors have helped the Student Council in the efforts including Chas Skidmore, Jimmy Meadows, Robert Barry, Brewster Rawls, Lon Nunley, Kevin Isaacs, Neil McGroarty, Sandy Wall and William Cronly. Those working on the lounge plan to have it inhabitable by the first day of school. Now, the lounge has a working refrigerator, red and gray walls, a television and a white floor. Donations of furniture or hard cash to the effort are welcome. Please help in any way possible.
he Student Council took on an ambitious project this summer—recreating a lounge for the senior class. The lounge is located under Herrington Hall, a relic of early twentieth-century architecture. The building was built in 1917, and the top floor was renovated in 1993. However, the basement floor, where the lounge is situated, remains trapped in its nonagenarian squalor. The lounge used to be in full operation until several years ago, when it was briskly shut down under mysterious circumstances. Until May 2007, it was locked up. Obviously, the crack team of seniors had its work cut out for it when the council took hold of the lounge in June and reconstruction began. Even the musty smell of the room was more than many could handle. “It was like New Orleans in there,” said senior Brewster Rawls. Pierre Molster ’08 led the charge to renovate the chamber under Herrington Hall. To Molster, the summer project “became an obsession. It was kinda
(Above) Molster ‘08, clearly overworking himself. Note tasteful wall art. (Below) Molster relaxes after a quick shirt change.
By the Numbers: The Senior Lounge 350- Dollars spent on materials for renovation 7- Donations of furniture 250- Man hours spent on renovations 10- Number of students who helped work on the lounge
What happened to Thorax and Rhino? Wachovia merger steals away Saints’ beloved
by John Mark DiGrazia ’08 How would you like to switch schools your senior year and miss out on all the action here at St. Christopher’s? Well, this is a reality for two former students, Ryan McCarthy and Alex Christian (nicknamed “Rhino” and “Thorax” respectively by their classmates), who are going to spend the next year in St. Louis. Both McCarthy and Christian had to move because of the Wachovia brokerage merger with A.G. Edwards and Sons Inc. that resulted in the center of operations moving from Richmond to St. Louis. Both of their fathers work for Wachovia. Other St. Christopher’s high school students also have parents working for Wachovia, such as David Ludeman ’09 and Alex Gannon ’10. Both students had to move to St. Louis as well. McCarthy, Christian and Gannon will all attend Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School, an excellent private school according to Mr. Stillwell. McCarthy said that the campus is pretty big, and the school is about the same size as St. Christopher’s. Ludeman
Maintenance Crew page 4-5
Alex Christian will always be remembered for his contribution to the Ultimate Frisbee team. will attend Whitfield School, a co-ed school with around the same number of students as St. Christopher’s. Christian and McCarthy only left for St. Louis a couple of weeks ago, but they say they are settling in well. Christian said it was a shock when he found out he would have to move but now he is excited about the coming year. “I’m feeling confident, like I’ll do well this year,” he said. “After all, it’s not that much different than St. Christopher’s.” McCarthy, said he’d miss the people at St. Christopher’s most. “I’ll miss my friends
and some of the teachers and people there.” Christian reflected the same sentiment, saying that what he will miss most is “all the great friends.” However, both McCarthy and Christian have moved several times, and they have adapted to changing schools suddenly. “I’m pretty laid back, it’s not that big of a deal,” McCarthy said. “It’s like the third time I’ve done it, so I’m kind of used to it.” Christian has moved even more times and has attended six schools since seventh grade, and nine or 10 since kindergarten. With all this change, he admits, “When I move I miss my friends, but I
Ryan McCarthy will always be remembered for his math prowess and fondness for orange.
don’t really miss the schools because there have been so many.” As for colleges, both McCarthy and Christian suspect that they will apply to the same schools they were looking at before they found out they would have to move. “The move is probably going to add a couple schools to my list, but it won’t take any off,” McCarthy said. “ I’ll still probably go to college on the East Coast.” McCarthy, Christian, Ludeman and Gannon will be missed at St. Christopher’s. “I feel pretty sad that Rhino and Thorax are leaving for St. Louis, but I hope that they will have a great future and hopefully we’ll see them some day down the road,” said Joseph Suarez ’08. Robert Johns ’10 said, “Alex Gannon was a really cool kid. By the end of the year, I had forgotten that he was a new student.”
Tidbits from Teddy by Teddy Mitchell ’08
I hope this article finds you in good spirits as we begin another challenging but rewarding year at St. Christopher’s. While I know all of us enjoyed busy, productive summers (see Bartosic, Tommy), I thought I would update the community on especially noteworthy achievements and news from faculty and students. ***** Mr. Stillwell spent a portion of his break at a conference on Science and Technology at California Tech in Pasadena, Calif., which he described as the MIT of the West Coast. While in the sunshine state, he met a professor who was part of the movement that designated Pluto a non-planet. He also drove up the stunning California coastline in an open- topped convertible accompanied by Mrs. Stillwell. “I felt very cool and ‘with it,’” he said. ***** In other faculty news, former equipment manager Coach Tune will assume Mr. Abbott’s disciplinarian duties this year, and teach history in the Upper School. I asked Mr. Abbott if these changes will result in a more lenient disciplinary system. “No, not at all,” he said. “The system has not changed; it is just a different person running it.” When informed that he will be dearly missed, Mr. Abbott’s eyes grew moist and his voice became slightly less husky. ***** Mr. Smith was, to understate things, “busy” this summer. To start with, he completed a book of poems, “Moon Road,” which will be published by the Louisiana State University Press. He continued writing a book of verse set in Rome and even travelled to the Italian city, where he wrote and studied areas such as the Capitoline Museums, Celian Hill and the Appian Way. He also attended a conference on sports literature in New York, where he read some of his own poems, and wrote his 100th book review for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. While all these activities would create a hectic five years for most of us, this was only the tip of the iceberg for Mr. Smith, who continued to write dozens of poems, essays and reviews while lending his expertise on literature at
See Tidbits page 3
The Pine Needle
Summer reading too much? ing towards me would help).
by Brendan Worst ’08
EDITORIAL As summer dwindles down into that hopeless oblivion of school and we think of our remaining free time in terms of days and weeks rather than months, it comes to each student’s stark attention that he must fulfill his reading requirements before Sept. 6, lest he be bludgeoned by the English department at our school with poor quiz grades and threats of study hall. Summer reading is an odd institution in many ways. It is designed by the sages of our English studies to keep sharp the wits of students, to prod and force our lethargic minds into further intellectual curiosity. It might be said that it is, in a sense, directly combating the pleasantries of summer. For example, where summer stands for happiness, leisure, travel and admitted laziness, summer reading stands for all of the opposites. It stands for English. To avoid directly assailing our school’s summer reading process (such a column would never be seen on these censored pages), I choose to present only a few of my lighter grievances. When a student is faced by the bleak circumstances of the system, those being that he must complete the reading in the time allotted, he is often pressured beyond compare. And those fears of reading do little but awaken cold memories of school and all that school entails. I am not ashamed to say that I have woken in late August with a cold sweat on my
brow and a horrid sensation in the pit of my stomach. That is the feeling of summer reading. It is just out of place. It is awkward and unpleasant to all, even some faculty. Mr. Johns should not have to strain to place into study halls the multitudes of students that fail their September tests; his job is hard enough already. If summer could be likened to the happy-go-lucky Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), summer reading is surely the thinner, more sober and less funloving Massachusetts senator who holds poor Ted back (here’s a hint: he ran for President and he looks like Marc Rasmussen ). I understand that St. Christopher’s structures summer reading to be as rigorous as possible. However I think that our grueling system is simply too much–no other school champions one like it. Perhaps my grievance lies not just in the summer reading and the secret police that rules it with iron-fisted diligence, but also in the structure of summer itself. As if the impending school year was not enough to dampen the spirits of even the cheeriest, it is accompanied by the shortening days, the falling leaves and the cold. Why does everything related to school always have to be like a Shakespearian tragedy? I simply do not need a climate change to know that my life is getting worse (but a forest mov-
I will not attempt an answer to the aforementioned question. However, I will firmly say that summer reading only adds to the negative feelings that every student has towards the school. The September reading tests only add further insult to the injury of the dreary nine months ahead. Why can the students not be trusted to have read their assigned books? Why lay upon our already stressed minds this harsh reality? When a student fails a test, he is put in study hall. Study hall! That is not a fitting punishment for being unable to read the monstrous texts chosen for us. Each student has a choice: enjoy the waning summer sun, or sit under a fluorescent light, slaving away for hours to keep the English sages happy. Those who stand firm to their belief in what a summer should be, and refuse to let anything defy that notion, are persecuted (and I select this word very carefully) for their torpor. In closing, I can only pray that you, the faculty, take notice of this quiet supposition from a student who has lived through summer reading tests and looks back on those experiences reproachfully. And I also pray that you, the student, stay strong to your summers now more than ever. There are not many left. A very wise man that I admire greatly, Bob Dylan, once said, “A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.” I think this is the message everyone is missing here.
A letter from the editors
by John DiGrazia ’08
As many of you were enjoying the last days of summer and undoubtedly finishing up on summer reading, we the editors of The Pine Needle spent our time compiling articles and putting together this paper so that you could pick up an issue the first week of school. While we were working on the paper, however, it dawned on us that we could use some sort of unifying mission for the coming year. So we started thinking about what we wanted to accomplish this year. First and foremost we need to get the paper out on time, which is easier said than done. This year, we intend to publish six papers, one about every six weeks, unlike last year when we ran out of time and only came out with five papers. Of course, we were only juniors then so we cannot be blamed.
Nevertheless, the senior editors did an outstanding job last year and we hope to continue their progress. Over the last few years, the layout of the paper has evolved significantly and we hope to continue to make the paper look better and more professional with every issue. In addition, it is our goal to cover every aspect of school life and news, from student trends to athletics to significant student accomplishments. And even though we
are supposed to focus mainly on life here at St. Christopher’s, we may even sneak a few stories in about the world around us. But above all, we hope to inform and entertain you, the students, faculty and community of St. Christopher’s, with the utmost journalistic integrity and truth. We may seem a bit blunt at times, but we are not here to be tactful propagandists for anyone. Our goal is to bring you the truth, regardless of its severity. We are working to accomplish what we believe you want us to accomplish. If you have any ideas on how to improve this paper, from article ideas to layout pointers to new features that you would like us to include, please email them to one of the editors or to Mrs. Thomas, our faculty advisor. At the end of the year, we hope to be satisfied with our work, but we will only have done our job if you are satisfied as well.
New school year brings big tech changes
Mr. Wood and Mr. Wilson focus in the new small computer lab while Dr. Boese pleads for world peace.
by Tyler Franz ’09
As the 2007-08 school year begins, students will no doubt notice some major technology changes have taken place at school. For starters, the Upper School has upgraded to new computers as part of the school’s four-year rotation. What used to be the small lab is now a group study room equipped with eight computers and a projector. This lab will be available by reservation and will create a quieter environment in the library, as groups looking to work together will be able to work in the lab rather than the library. Additionally, the chapel now includes two drop-down projector screens to replace the portable screens used last year in 18 chapel presentations. If that’s not enough, the dining hall now includes two computer workstations that can be used in 15-minute intervals. Shortly after school begins, similar pairs of workstations will be added to the Gottwald Science Center and the English wing hallway. These workstations will be useful for students looking to quickly check email, SaintsNet or the daily Cubs score and will be set up as standing workstations rather than sit-down computers. These changes “go hand-in-hand with transitioning the Upper School big lab and the library to school-work spaces, rather than hang-out spaces,” said Robert Johns, Sr. With new computers and organization of labs come system changes as well. As most of you know, usernames have changed from the traditional format of last name first initial to now include the graduation year at the end of the user name. For example, what previously would have been SmithJ would now be SmithJ08. In the past, many students and parents alike have complained that SaintsNet was confusing and difficult to navigate. This year, however, SaintsNet has re-
ceived “a facelift that will make navigation easier, and more use will be made of both SaintsNet and student email in the coming year,” said Mr. Johns. This facelift includes new features such as the option to bookmark your most visited sections of SaintsNet as well as personalize how your assignments are displayed on the site. What first catches the eye regarding SaintsNet changes is the new “Multi-Media Library” feature. This new feature is currently being used to display photos and videos to prospective St. Christopher’s families as well as alumni and parents. Once the school year is under way, the Multi-Media Library will also be used to display athletic highlights as well as clips of performing arts events. Special thanks to Mr. Hiram Cuevas and Mr. Johns for information regarding the technology changes.
The chapel decked out with new projector screens.
New cafeteria work station.
Freshmen and peer advisors go on overnight retreat
by Joseph Makhoul ’08
For the first time, this year’s Peer Advisors accompanied the new freshman class on their overnight retreat to the Triple C Camp in Charlottesville. The Aug. 24-25 event focused on team building among both the peer advisors and the freshman class. The group worked together on a low ropes course at the camp, with each activity emphasizing a different skill that related to life at St. Christopher’s. While balancing on a swinging beam, the freshmen learned to trust each other, and more importantly, they learned to confide in the
older peer advisors. The name learning games at the beginning served as ice breakers and fun ways to meet new people. These activities were pivotal in firming the bonds of the freshman class and also helped to integrate the Peer Advisors into their circle of friends. These new connections will most certainly help later in the year when trust plays a key role in peer advisor to freshman relations. Another new aspect of this year’s retreat was that this year’s peer advisors acted as counselors at the camp. Instead of learning to maneuver the obstacles on the day of the retreat, we met the previous Tuesday to go over the
challenges in advance. So on the day of the retreat we acted as facilitators on the ropes course. We helped the freshmen to problem solve and to look to us for guidance, not as a replacement, for their own thought processes. After each obstacle we sat down and processed each activity. In these processing sessions we went over what went wrong and what went right. Many asked how they could have done better or worse and then offered advice to each other. The facilitators helped to relate the challenges to St. Christopher’s and to show how the newly developed skills could be helpful at school. In these discussions, freshmen,
juniors and seniors carried on as equals, and this comfortable atmosphere strengthened with each session. By the end of the retreat, little evidence remained of the divisions in age, experience and maturity, and the freshman became more comfortable around the peer advisors. “I felt like when we first went there I didn’t know many of the seniors besides a few, but by the end we became more like friends rather than classmates,” said freshman Harrison Vance. One of the reasons we focused so vigorously on the ability to quickly and surely mix students of different ages is so that once school starts, we can
concentrate our efforts on helping the freshmen acclimate rather than spending weeks trying to get to know them during half-hour meetings once a week. Hopefully this new strategy will pay off immediately. We peer advisors are looking forward to starting this year on the right foot. As a group we feel that we will be able to take the good intentions and stellar efforts of last years peer advisors and make this year a great one.
The Pine Needle
Sheila Ann Seigler-Rogers: 1953-2007 St. Christopher’s lost a good friend Aug. 15. Sheila Ann Seigler-Rogers, a 12-year employee at the school cafeteria, passed away as a result of heart problems. Most people in our community remember her only as “Mrs. Sheila,” the nice lady who has prepared our cafeteria meals for as long as we can remember. But there was much more to know about Mrs. Rogers. She was born in 1953 in Richmond where she attended
public school and ultimately graduated from Armstrong High School. She was a great cook, and we all knew her on that level. However she was also a seamstress. Sheila devoted her free time to helping the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at MCV by knitting baby booties for the infants there. She also sewed sweaters for residents of a local nursing home. The St. Christopher’s and Richmond communities will miss her greatly. -- Brendan Worst
Suarez bestowed with golf award Senior wins prestigious honor for volunteer work by Brendan Worst ’08
Senior Joseph Suarez recently won the 2007 AJGA-USGA Youth President’s Leadership Award for his extensive volunteer work. He put in more
than 1,500 volunteer hours and wrote a 200-word essay just for consideration in the accolade. Suarez has also achieved considerable success as a youth karate fighter. He is a black belt with a special concen-
tration on the nunchucks. However, Suarez admits that his golfing has recently overshadowed his karate practice, but that seems to be a sacrifice that he is willing to make. As part of the award, Suarez played golf in the Rolex Tournament of Champions at Ohio State University in Columbus. He also won four tickets to the U.S Open next June. “It was cool to. get to play with some of the best golfers in the nation,” said Suarez. “One of the guys in (the tournament) was Peter Uihlein, the number one ranked junior golfer in the country.” Suarez is very proud to have garnered such an achievement, and it shows. “It’s a great honor to receive such a prestigious award, not just for golfing, but for helping out my community.”
3 Tidbits, continued from page 1 various conferences this summer. He also spent time preparing for his senior elective courses as well as his junior AP class. ***** Deciding he had finally reached the appropriate age to join the American workforce, Tommy Bartosic ’08 labored at Carpool as a car washer… for two weeks. “It was eight hours of sitting in the hot sun listening to people speaking a strange language and washing people’s cars,” said Bartosic. ***** Matt Clark ’08 interned at the Jefferson Hotel, doing everything from housekeeping to valet parking. “I learned that a huge part of business is teamwork,” he said. “If the entire company wants to make money, every department needs to be successful.” Clark also contributed the most insightful student quote to this article. ***** It seems that the recent influx of stellar athletes into our community will continue this year. Luke Erickson ’08, the son of new St. Catherine’s headmistress Mrs. Laura Erickson, will add his baseball talent to a Varsity squad that already had big plans for the 2008 season. Erickson has verbally committed to play at Virginia Tech after receiving interest from Maryland, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech. ***** Sam Priddy ’08, George Parrish ’08, William Cronley ’08, Taylor Jenkins ’09, Bart Farinholt ’09 and Cameron Cann ’09 went on a mission trip to Alaska to build a chapel for the Episcopal Diocese of Alaska. The trip was sponsored by
St. James’s Episcopal Church. During their free time, the participants climbed to the top of 4,476-foot Mount Fellows and rafted in a freezing glacial river. Priddy fell out of his raft into the frigid water, which can kill someone in a matter of minutes. Fortunately, he was wearing a dry suit; although, he said, “it kind of leaked.” ***** Chamberlayne Hall underwent a significant upgrade due to interior renovations this summer. Computers were moved to convenient locations throughout the Upper School, and both PC labs were improved to create a more userfriendly area. New carpet was installed in the Upper School administrative offices and Mr. Boyd’s classroom. Also newer, more secure windows were added to the exterior of the building. ***** Finally, St. Christopher’s has entered a new era of dining at the E. Otto N. Williams cafeteria as Sage replaces Aramark as the main food supplier for the dining hall. While some of the cafeteria staff from last year chose to leave, some chose to stay, according to Mr. Stillwell. Possible menu changes are still up in the air…
Got some tidbits? Contact Teddy.
Two saints down under by Kyle Wittenauer ’10 Heading to the petrol station to fill your tank? Do you prefer footie and Aussie rules or gridiron? No, it is not code or a new language, just some jargon from down under. Two Saints, Neal Moriconi and Duncan Lyle, headed to Australia this summer and responded via email to our questions about their experience because they were still there when this article was written. “I went because I wanted to experience something more than Richmond, Va. [and the] USA,” Moriconi said. “It was a chance for me to get away from my parents and sister for five weeks, almost like a pre-cursor to college.” Lyle had visited Australia before. “When I heard St. Chris was going to start an exchange program with a school there, I jumped at the opportunity to go there again,” he said. Since July and August are the winter season there, the two did have to attend school. Both agreed that besides having to go to school in August, wearing the school uniforms was their least favorite part of their stay. The two attended Christ Church Grammar School in Perth, the fourth largest Aussie city and home to more than 1.5 million residents. Winter there is much milder. “[It] feels more like fall,” Lyle said. “The temperature is usually in the 60’s or even low 70’s during the day and the 40’s at night.” Moriconi has found similarities in teachers there and here. “A few like to rip into [their] students, like our beloved Mr. [name intentionally deleted], while others use sarcasm and others don’t use humor,” he said.” “They are a little more
tolerant though. Three students can hold an entire conversation for a whole period in chem or math and the teacher won’t even flinch, but will continue teaching.” He added that his economics teacher ripped into him for being the typical, loud, obnoxious American. “Overall the teachers tend to lecture more than ask for students to offer opinions, especially in literature class,” Lyle said. “Back home, most of the St. Chris teachers will start a discussion and then let the class carry it. [In Australia] the teacher didn’t really know what to make of it when I kept raising my hand.” The students did have a life outside school, too. Each young man stayed with a different host family and took part in various social activities. Moriconi said he did some paintballing with some other exchange He also enjoyed playing bass which he brought over to play with the jazz band
there. As in the United States, it appears the social options are boundless. “I got involved in the school’s play and went to rehearsals, which is my idea of fun,” Lyle said. “I also watched a lot of Aussie Rules football and enjoyed that immensely. I [went] to a couple museums and … to an island offshore.” Travel to any foreign country is bound to be full of surprises, but both guys were surprised at how similar Aussie life is to that in America. . “There aren’t kangaroos running everywhere,” Moriconi said. “It’s not all desert down [there]…in fact, it is the most urbanized country demographically.” He may not have seen them running around town, but Moriconi did not seem to mind when the kangaroo burger was served up for dinner. “Australia really is a beautiful country, and [it] is a fantastic place to visit,” Lyle said. Cheers!
Australian exchange students enjoy an American theme park while visiting Neal Moriconi and Duncan Lyle this spring.
Nunley and De León storm New Zealand
Nunley (2nd from left) and De León (2nd from right) decked out in hunting gear. Lon killed a deer and Marco shot a turkey.
by Brian Kusiak ’08 How did Lon Nunley ‘08 and Marco De León ’08 spend their June? “Well, we went to school for three weeks,” Nunley said. “That’s what people don’t understand.” Last spring, the St. Christopher’s community welcomed Adam Firman and Stuart Davidson from the Lindisfarne College in New Zealand as part of the new student exchange program. This June, De León and Nunley, who hosted the two kiwis in the spring, traveled to Napier, New Zealand themselves. The pair of travelers flew from Richmond on June 4 through LAX in Los Angeles, then to Auckland on the North island of New Zealand, then to Napier. Both De León and Nunley said the classes were really easy. De León said, “I was taking statistics for the first time ever, and I had to take a test the very first day. I got a three out of 20 and I passed. What’s really amazing is that I tied someone who was in the class.” The two took classes such as economics, mathemat-
ics, English, art and Media Studies where students make their own videos—commercials, news programs and study films. During their free time, the two hunted deer and turkey with their host families. Nunley, who has never been a hunter, shot and killed his first deer and De León killed a turkey. De León went bungee jumping with his host Stuart Firman. They jumped off a plank over a river, and De León said, “it was really scary but then it was really, really fun.” “The food,” said Nunley, “was amazing.” They ate lamb just about every night. In fact, De León claims that in New Zealand, “sheep outnumber people 10-1, or something.” Also, the largest road in all of New Zealand is only two lanes. Overall Nunley and De León said that the exchange was a fantastic and broadening experience. The two exchange programs, New Zealand and Australia, are to continue each year so other St. Christopher’s students will have a chance to participate.
The Pine Needle
The Maintenance Crew: Keeping our school running Casey Jones
by Josh Pacious ’08 “Just the comradeship, picking on each other and jokin’ around,” responded Ricky Jones when asked what he enjoyed most during the workday here at St. Christopher’s. The brawny, outgoing man has lived in Richmond his entire 49 years. He grew up with two older brothers, one of whom, Casey Jones, also works in the maintenance department. He attended Thomas Jefferson High School where his favorite subject was P.E. He also played soccer for four years and is most proud of the state championship TJ won his senior year. He has been married for 23 years and has two kids, a son currently working at a power company and a younger daughter. The family also recently adopted a new beagle puppy, Haley. Mr. Jones started his work
with St. Christopher’s 19 ago after working for Phillip Morris. “Very nice place, good people,” he said. He is most proud of the countless hours of hard work put into building his own house
in Hanover County. A twoyear project, it exemplifies the type of work he enjoys most. Jones is a NASCAR fan and loved to watch Dale Earnhardt, Sr., whose “son will have a difficult time topping him.” He likes actors Tom Hanks and Eddie Murphy and movies “Another Professor” and “Forrest Gump.” A man whose favorite color is “John Deere green,” Jones likes to eat out at Turner’s where he orders steak, potatoes and salad. When not at work, Jones enjoys vacationing on the Eastern Shore, particularly Chincoteague. He is also a fan of traveling up into the rugged mountains of West Virginia, visiting his parents or tackling a favorite sport, freshwater fishing. Lastly, in a message to students, Jones said, “Work hard, be respectful, don’t waste your parent’s money and have fun.”
Gerard Levitskiy by John Stillwell ’09 One member of the St. Christopher’s staff, Gerard Levitskiy probably has the greatest appreciation for the freedoms we share as Americans. Levitskiy, born and raised in Minsk, Belarus came to America in 1991 to find a better life for himself and his family. “First my sister came to America,” said Levitskiy. “After receiving an invitation to join her in Richmond, I came with my wife, two children, and my children’s families.” Growing up in the Soviet Union, Levitskiy was faced with many obstacles because of the tyrannical government. Levitskiy earned his degree as a mechanical engineer, and then worked in a Russian mechanical design in-
dustry. While Levitskiy enjoyed his creative work, designing machinery, he did not feel the government provided enough opportunity for the people. “In my country, life was difficult compared to life in America,” said Levitskiy. “The people in the Soviet Union did not have cars, and we always had to use public transportation.” Levitskiy worked extremely hard to improve his English when he first arrived in the United States. He went to the Crestview School and learned English after work. He works as Lower School custodian and has connected with the faculty of the Lower School. “All the teachers and people at St. Christopher’s School are very nice and friendly,” said Levitskiy. Levitskiy is extremely proud
to have provided his family with the opportunities that America presents. Levitskiy’s grandsons have all attended college. “I am extremely proud that my granddaughter is the first member of my family born in America,” said Levitskiy. Levitskiy is an amazing man who makes a huge impact on the St. Christopher’s community.
When Sam Clark walked up to his buddies from the maintenance crew, they jokingly told him to stop complaining. “Don’t tell me to be quiet,” he said laughing. That is the kind of relationship that he has with his coworkers. They are constantly joking around and having fun. Clark has worked with the maintenance staff at St. Christopher’s School for 31
years. He worked with grounds for the first years of his time here and then moved to work with the Middle School. Obviously, he has many good memories and interesting stories to tell about his experiences at this school. However, it has not been easy work the whole time. Clark often finds himself frustrated with what students have done. When students leave the bathrooms in an unruly condition it bothers him, but he does not let it get to him. “It’s all in a day’s work,” he said. Generally, he feels respected by the students at St. Christophers. “Most of the boys are very cooperative when I
by Alex Strickland ’09 ask them to help me,” he said. It may be because of the respect from the students or may be because of the relationship with the rest of the maintenance crew, but Clark deeply enjoys working at St. Christopher’s. “It’s like a big family here,” he said. Through his work at this school he has realized the importance of education. Of all the accomplishments in his life, he is most proud of getting his daughters through college. The students at St. Christopher’s are lucky to have such a committed and friendly person making it possible for us to receive our education.
Esau Couser by Tyler Franz Best known around campus for his signature Cowboys hat, Esau Couser describes himself as an “old school guy who loves working around the shop.” Mr. Couser was born in South Carolina but has lived here since age two and worked in maintenance for 28 years. He said that the most enjoyable time to work is the summer, when there are fewer interruptions to get jobs completed. He described his daily routine as cutting the grass and then doing whatever comes up. “If you ask me nicely, I’ll
Casey Jones, dubbed “Head Detective” by his brother Ricky who also works on the staff, started working at St. Christopher’s under Mr. Mill. About 20 years ago, Mr. Jones became superintendent of buildings and grounds and has been ever since. Jones is a native Richmonder and graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1974. Shortly after graduating, he began working at St. Christopher’s. Jones and his wife Bonita have a son, Billy, 25, who works as a financial analyst. St. Christopher’s has changed a lot during and due to Jones’s work here over the years. The school added almost 15 acres, and all of the paved pathways near the dining hall and bookstore see were just dirt paths years ago when Jones first worked here. Jones enjoys working during the summer time the most. “Some teachers come back at the end of summer for school and ask us what we did this summer. They don’t realize that we [the grounds crew] don’t leave for the summer.” Jones likes this time because he and his team can get work done more efficiently and on their schedule rather than having to work around the schedules of the school during the school year. During his free time, Jones likes to spend time at the river on the Piankatank fishing and just relaxing. He also enjoys
watching any kind of car racing—NASCAR, Indy, or drag. Jones has been here a long time–long enough to have seen many of our current teachers when they were students. During Jones’s tenure so far he has seen Messrs. Mauck, Bruner and Ware among others go through St. Christopher’s and graduate and then come back to teach. According to him, that is the worst part of working here. Jones said, “You see them start over in the Lower School, then they come across the street to the Middle School, then they move up and graduate, then they come back years later, and you just see so much time pass.” Jones helped shed light on a question that has baffled students for a long time—the stuffed animals on the John Deere. Another member of the maintenance crew, Esau Couser, is responsible for these animals. Couser salvaged the latest addition, a stuffed fish, from Mr. Whitlow’s trash, and the old stuffed frog was salvaged from trash as well.
Sam Clark by Philip Halsey ’09
by Brian Kusiak ’08
usually help you out,” he said. Away from work, Mr. Couser enjoys watching wrestling, and he is a diehard Dallas Cowboys fan. He also enjoys John Wayne movies. Mr. Couser, who is known around the shop as Chief, especially values the relationships he has with other maintenance staffers. Mr. Couser describes himself as someone who gets along with everybody. He said that although he and his coworkers often make fun of each other, it is all in good fun and he appreciates their friendship. “We‘re a family,” he said.
A truly down to earth, simple man, Flip Philpy is an interesting and valued member of the maintenance staff. A native of Richmond, Philpy went to Douglas Freeman High School. He has two boys and has been married over 30 years. He and his wife have 18 different types of chickens and two dogs. Mr. Philpy served a term in the military participating in the Vietnam War. However, as Philpy said, “After I left Richmond, I knew I never wanted to leave it again.” Philpy came to St. Christopher’s as a contract painter in 1992. He was attracted to both the St. Christopher’s campus atmosphere and staff and enjoyed working here. He officially signed his contract in 1995 and has been working with the maintenance staff for 12 years now. Philpy said that the maintenance staff is always fun and everyone is always laughing. Philpy said that one of the best things about his job is that it changes every single day. “It never gets old,” said Philpy. Every day is something new, and the staff is always busy. The summer is the busiest time of the year for the maintenance staff as they can do jobs without students and faculty around. Philpy is a yearlong employee of the school. Philpy believes that this school offers so many opportunities, and he hopes that the
students appreciate all that they have going for them and take advantage of the possibilities. Philpy feels that the students take adequate care of the school but that in order for him to have a job, there must be things that go wrong that give him and the other maintenance staff work to do. He calls this “job security.” In his free time, Philpy likes to fish, hunt, and ride motorcycles. He has a total of seven motorcycles and just bought his last Harley Davidson a few months ago. When asked about his greatest accomplishment, Philpy replied, “I am most proud of my sons who never get in trouble and are always behaved and respectful.” Philpy is a remarkable gentleman, and from talking to him you really get a sense of what a caring and sincere man he is.
The Pine Needle
Rob Faison by Brown Farinholt ‘09 When Rob Faison first came to St. Christopher’s in 1982, he said he fell in love with it. Now, 25 years later, his opinion has not changed. “It’s what you make of it,” he said about the school. While the work pace can get hectic, he said that the environment is so pleasant that it does not really seem like work.
Faison said that he and the other maintenance workers get along well and that all his coworkers have great personalities. They joke together and go by a lot of nicknames. His include Paintbrush and Smokin’ Willy. Faison also said that he has acquired an appreciation for younger generations from working with seniors and new crew members. During the winter, Faison’s job consists of maintenance and the grounds. In the summer, he paints and touches up many parts of the school with his friend and coworker Flip Philpy. He likes the variety of his job. “I do different stuff every day,” he said. Outside work, Faison’s main occupation is “vanning.” Vanning involves traveling and living in a van on the road and attending conventions. However, Faison also recently purchased a Harley Davidson motorcycle which may take some time away from the van.
by Sam Priddy ‘08
Sean McGarry keeps everyone feeling comfortable during the strenuous day. This maintenance man goes by the nickname “Hot and Cold” because he deals with all the school’s air conditioning and heating problems. McGarry, who was born in Henrico, has worked full time at St. Christopher’s for six years. A graduate of Lee Davis High School, he describes that experience saying, “I just wanted to make it out.” After high school, McGarry went to Richmond Tech where he learned his trade. He is an avid bowler and has an average of 187. In addition, he is a big NASCAR fan and goes to the races whenever they are in town. McGarry and the maintenance
crew are always busy working hard to keep the school up and running. However, the crew does take breaks and hang out in the maintenance shop which is equipped with chairs, a sofa, refrigerator and cable TV. Mr. McGarry said his favorite part of the day is hanging out with the guys and hearing what was going on. They also take breaks to go eat in the school cafeteria. “You can’t beat the price,” McGarry said.
Nigerian exchange students comes to St. Christopher’s by Stephen Wood ’11 Ibrahim Isa Abdullahi arrived in America in early August. His Muslim school in his home country of Nigeria prepared him well for some aspects of the transition. After eight years of speaking exclusively in English at school, Ibrahim’s speech is more understandable than that of many American teenagers, and his handwriting is much more legible than mine. Although he fits in very well, Ibrahim comes from an entirely different culture in Nigeria. Ibrahim said that the largest difference in culture was in the relationships between parents and children. The laws here that prevent parents from beating their children do not exist in Nigeria. Where Ibrahim comes from, parents commonly beat children to punish them. Age, size and what Ibrahim referred to as “manpower” are used
to establish control over other people. “Here,” he said, “there are human rights. You don’t have the right to beat someone up.” Ibrahim said that he greatly enjoys the freedom to do what you want in America, but there is a part of his culture he prefers. He said that his religion tells him to respect God and to respect one’s parents. He believes that parents in America are not given the same respect, but he did observe that Americans have “very good behavior.” That is not all Ibrahim has observed. Another major difference between his country and ours is development. The things we take for granted here, like paved roads and electricity, are a rarity in Nigeria. They exist in the big cities, but as Ibrahim said, “In Nigeria, not much is big cities.” All the buildings there are made of raw materials held together by cement. Ibrahim likes the modern buildings here, which are like none he has ever seen. Ibrahim will be in eleventh grade and will be staying with the Vozenilek family this year. He looks forward to playing soccer, which is his favorite sport. Having him with us will remind us all of how lucky we are to live where we do. We are lucky to have freedom in America, and at St. Christopher’s we are lucky to have Ibrahim.
by Mark Burlee ’10
Zach Cressin is Bernie Whitlow’s right hand man, but he also works with the maintenance crew almost every day. Cressin came to St. Christopher’s two years ago and really likes his job. He said the best part is the guys with whom he works. “The thing that makes it fun is all the guys just kidding around while we work,” Cressin said. “We get on each others’ nerves sometimes, but at the end of the day we’re all still friends. It’s kind of like we’re one big family.” A Richmond native, Cressin went to John Randolph Tucker High School. He is now 23 and lives in the West End of Richmond. Cressin came to St. Christopher’s because of a family connection. “My uncle used to sell grass seed to Bernie, so I talked to him and that’s how I got here,” Cressin said. Most of the fall and spring, Cressin works with Mr. Whitlow to help keep our fields in great shape, but in the winter he spends most of his time with the maintenance crew. Cressin is a big sports fan. His favorite sports are hockey,
Zach Cressin football and NASCAR. His favorite football team is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and his favorite driver is Dale Earnhardt Jr. Cressin does not really have a favorite hockey team, but he really loves to watch the game. An interesting thing aboutCressin is that he has seven tattoos. He got his first one a few years ago and really liked it. “I always wanted to get a tattoo and one day I just went and got one,” he said. “It’s
actually kind of addictive. I didn’t think it was going to be, but I just really liked it.” One tattoo is very meaningful. It’s a cross in memory of his great-grandparents. One thing Cressin likes to do in his free time is play golf. He says he is not sure why, but he has always liked the sport. He also likes to fish and hunt, but he said he has not had a lot of time to do either lately.
Lamont Smith by Christopher Alexander ’09 Each morning Lamont Smith arrives at St. Christopher’s around 6 am. He begins his day as Housekeeping Supervisor by opening all the doors, brewing coffee and making sure the campus is ready for another day. The school would be in constant disarray without him. Smith was born and raised in Richmond. His mother, Dorris Smith, worked as a chef in the cafeteria and helped him get his job at St. Christopher’s. His mother has retired, but Mr. Smith’s wife, Cynthia, is now one of the school’s chefs. Lamont and Cynthia Smith have three daughters and five grandchildren. Their family is very important to Mr. Smith and plays a large role in his life. According to him, his wife is the most important person in his life, and the birth of their first child is the most significant event in his life.
When speaking to Mr. Smith, he comes across as joyful with an uplifting spirit. His smile radiates through any conversation, and because of his playfulness, his coworkers at the maintenance building have nicknamed him Curious George. Some say he even resembles the lovable cartoon character. “[The maintenance crew] is like family,” Smith said and he could not imagine working anywhere else.” “I love to come to work.” These words are rarely heard today and show a lot about Mr. Smith and the affection he has for the school. He has no plans of leaving, but he jokingly says that he would enjoy being headmaster some day. Outside of work, Smith enjoys the traditional American pastime: watching football. His favorite team is the Dallas Cowboys, as displayed on the back of his teal pickup truck. Smith is warm and down to earth. There is a lot that most
people do not know about him. Everyone should make an effort to meet Mr. Smith and learn more about him because it is surely worth the time.
Dr. Sharp adopts new baby by Sam Perry ’09 On May 7, Dr. Edward Sharp and his wife left their quiet, comfortable house on a journey to Guatemala, a place quite unlike America and much less safe. Armed guards patrol the shops of Guatemala City in a determined attempt to protect private property while barbed wire spirals and slithers along the perimeters of restricted zones. At 10 p.m. Dr. Sharp arrived at his destination and tried to check into a hotel. Despite his reservation, the hotel did not have his room available and Dr. Sharp had to stay at another place nearby. This setback did not interfere with Dr. Sharp’s objective: to adopt his second child. When Dr. Sharp brought Martison back to America, she screamed…a lot. This apparently is very common among newly adopted babies. Being brought into a completely new world is just, “one constant thing they don’t understand after another,” Dr. Sharp said. “Daniel screamed for five solid days…nonstop.”
Luckily, Dr. Sharp found Martison a little easier to deal with than her brother. She had elongated screams two times a day for a month, but Daniel actually screamed more. After that month she acted like a “typical child” in that respect. After she had finished screaming, Martison began to show her unique personality. “Martison is very happy, wakes up happy and is affectionate,” Dr. Sharp said. Sometimes she “toddles over to you and puts her arms around you.” A very important part of Martison’s personality is that she loves music. “She knows several times more notes than words,” Dr. Sharp said. Although Martison knows a few words such as banana (“anana”) and “uh oh” along with some others, she knows a myriad of songs. Another point of interest is the relationship between Daniel and his new sister. “Both are really excited to have a sibling,” Dr. Sharp said. “Martison likes having Daniel around…when he is not annoying her.” Jealousy of
his parents’ affection sometimes leads Daniel to bully his sister, but Martison always stands up for herself, even though she is smaller than her brother.
The Pine Needle
La Feuille Dernière
(The Back Page) We the editors of this publication, having been so influenced by our experience overseas as part of the St. Christopher’s Europe Trip, felt it apt, nay, necessary to share our memories with those who were not fortunate enough to enjoy this great St. Christopher’s institution. We can only hope that the tradition will continue to enrich the cultural understanding of every Saint henceforth.
Alex Hardy sharing some quality “Rob time” in the Sistine Chapel.
The Pine Needle Senior Editors John Mark DiGrazia Brian Kusiak Teddy Mitchell Brendan Worst Contributors Christopher Alexander Mark Burlee Brown Farinholt Tyler Franz Philip Halsey Kevin Isaacs Joseph Makhoul Josh Pacious Sam Perry Sam Priddy John Stillwell Alex Strickland Kyle Wittenauer Stephen Wood
“Will work for curry”
Faculty advisor Mrs. Thomas
Fine European dining.
Towell enjoys his tight Swiss Guard threads while PJ is legitimately content. Hudepohl jealously eyes up the bods. A Paid Advertisement