On Monday, October 17, Brookewood students peacefully protested the opening of an abortion clinic run by late term, abortionist, LeRoy Carhart. Headmaster Richard McPherson and Provost Joe McPherson accompanied the students in the silent and prayerful protest.
When asked about why she was there, student Kaylor Stroot said, “I know many families who have children with disabilities. I know it’s hard for them, but those children are a gift to those families.”
To read more about the event and how Brookewood students were involved, visit the following news links:
Life Site News: Abortionist cancels illegal late-term abortions after pro-lifers expose him
The Catholic Standard: Pro-life activists and students prayerfully protest late-term abortion clinic in Bethesda
Gillian Giangrande transferred at the beginning of her 11th grade year to Brookewood from a prestigious public high school in Connecticut. Read to find out what she thinks of Brookewood’s different style of education.
(1) Describe the school you went to in Connecticut. What was its emphasis?
I went to a large public school (with about 3,000 kids) and the emphasis was mostly on personal success. We had nationally ranked academics, with a couple dozen kids going to Ivies every year (and another couple dozen going to Notre Dame, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Tufts, and other ivy type schools). Kids succeeded in a county, state, and very commonly at a national level in sports. In addition, students were recognized at an international level for their academics. One of my closest friends who I swam with won the 2015 Google Science Fair; she created an inexpensive, temperature-independent test for the ebola virus. The public school helped me to think critically and connect my learning to the greater world.
(2) What do you find different about the education that you’re receiving at Brookewood?
Because Brookewood is a liberal arts school, it values the development of the entire person, not just as a critical-thinking student. My teachers were amazing back home, and they knew me well, challenged me, and definitely had a huge impact on the person I am now, but the school as a whole didn’t know me well. I could walk into my headmaster's office and he would have no clue if I was a student at the school. Brookewood is unique in that every teacher, even if you don’t have a certain one, knows you at a personal level.
At my other high school, there were over 200 courses I could chose from, and after you met your requirements you can chose to specialize. At Brookewood I have done the opposite. I had to stop specializing in subjects, and start developing as a whole student. I didn’t see the value in developing as a whole student because I didn’t understand why it’s important to be a well-rounded student. I started to see it when my success branched outside the math and science classrooms. I loved how I could go from having a conversation on limits, centripetal force, to talking about the summa, to the use of perspective in paintings. I realized the reason we strive to be a liberal arts school that develops the whole student is because knowledge is how you connect with one another. If you specialize in high school, it makes it harder to connect with others.
(3) How are you able to keep up with swimming at Brookewood?
Keeping up with swimming at Brookewood is challenging but it definitely makes it a lot easier that I have such an immense amount of support from teachers. I swim 6-8 times a week usually 2.5+ hours a day. Balancing morning practices, afternoon practices, dryland, and taking all the AP’s Brookewood has to offer is hard, but this past year, I’ve had more teachers support me and help me develop plans for time management. They’ve helped me achieve my goals in and out of the classroom by keeping me focused on the now, and not stressing too much about the future. They’ve instilled in me a balance that will help serve me when I go on to swim in college. Even though Brookewood doesn’t currently have a swim team, they’ve set it up so that I could swim attached to St John’s College High School and still have the opportunity to compete for brookewood.
(4)Do you think religious education is important in the school setting? Why or why not?
Before I came to Brookewood I didn’t. But once I did I realized it is the most crucial part of an education. Theology is the study of God and all of his creation. I laughed at Mr.Booz last year during the first week of Fundamentals of Christian Theology when he said this will be the most important class you are going to take in school. I said, “ahhaha--thats funny because religion classes are easy.” As time went on, I realized why he said it was the most important class; it shapes who we become. If we don’t understand the whole reason we are on this planet we lose sight of why we’re doing what we are doing. The purpose of us living is to live a life that brings out Christ's missions of ourselves,to evangelize, and lead as many people to heaven as possible. I attest a lot of my growth to my family, friends, teachers, Fr. Dan at St. Andrews, but I think mostly to what I’ve learned in Mr.Booz’s Theology class. I’ve learned what love is, and have been challenged to think selflessly and more intensely. Mr.Booz says, “to love someone is to desire the good for them, and want to bear their crosses for them--to suffer for them. It is easy to want good things to happen to someone but it’s hard to love him/her enough to want to take on his/her suffering.” I have seen my heart grow for others, and I no longer gain the most happiness from myself, but from when I view others’ success--how much more exciting that is!
(5)Do you think an all-girls education is important? Why or why not?
Yes, and no. I do think that is important to go to school with boys before college because it is different than going to all girls school. In life, you aren’t divided between boys and girls and you need to be able to work well with them. But I do see a value in single sex education. It allows us to be who we are without worrying about boys’ opinions of us. It allows us to develop confidence in ways that we can’t if we’re surrounded by boys.
(6) What do you want to study in college and what career path do you see yourself in?
After my year at Brookewood tutoring a number of girls, I’ve realized I have a special gift with that and have considered maybe majoring in math, my strongest subject, and becoming a teacher, so that I could influence kids and shape them the way teachers have shaped me.
(7)What are some of your favorite things about Brookewood School?
Definitely the people. I love that I can come to school, and expect to be greeted by everyone with a glowing smile. I can talk to my teachers about anything, and they offer honest and helpful advice. I love that my friends have known me a year but love me and treat me as if we’ve known them my entire life. Teresa Petruccelli (2016 alumna) told me when I came to Brookewood that my life would never be the same because of all the people. She couldn’t have been more accurate. The people at Brookewood have changed me, and there's not a doubt that they will stick with me for the rest of my life.
Two episodes come to mind when I think about the cheerful servitude of the faculty and staff at Brookewood. Last year, when I was having car troubles, Mr. Hawley helped me and took me to get my brakes fixed. And every time my Jeep died on me, he would help! At no other school would the Executive Directory take a kid to get her car fixed and offer his help even in the summer heat!
Another time was two weeks after Mr. McPherson had a heart attack, he took 15 loud 11th & 12th grade girls up to Boston for four days. There was a LOT of singing and dancing (and, of course, we let him get in a couple Bruce Springsteen songs)! At no other school would the Headmaster of the school bring 15 teenage girls up to Boston in the van (for 8 hours) by himself after having a heart attack 2 weeks prior--what amazing commitment Mr. McPherson has!
Hannah Jensen has been a Brookewood Bengal since she was in the second grade and has been a cheerful presence at Brookewood ever since. When seeing her in the main hallway, one notices that Hannah greets students of all ages in the school with a smile and a chirpy “hello,”; Hannah comes across as a delightful, kind, and confident young woman who is interested in others. Hannah’s interactions with other students and faculty make it clear that she’s contributed to Brookewood’s sense of community. Hannah, however, acknowledges she has benefitted and learned much more from Brookewood’s community.
When asked about one of her favorite classes this year, Hannah answered it was her Theology class. She said,
“We get to comprehend our Catholic Faith in a way that is so different from others [other schools]. Mr. Booz helps us understand the difficult theological tenets of our faith, and he helps us understand to walk these out day-to-day. I have loved that at Brookewood we talk about what we’re learning before, during, and after class. We talk for hours about our faith and whatever else we’re learning because we genuinely love talking about it. The teachers treat us like adults in this way, and it’s awesome!”
This year, Hannah is applying to colleges and plans on attending a 4-yr school university. She admits it’s a scary thing to be applying to universities, but she is clear on what area she wants to study: Psychology. As a avid artist, she wants to find a way to help others with art. On the mission trip to Jamaica with the school this summer, Hannah noticed what joy the children took in creating art. Hannah wants her college education to equip her with the best skills possible to serve others in counseling.
Hannah is also the captain of the Brookewood Volleyball team and has been captain for 3 years of her 4 years of high school at Brookewood. In fact, Hannah was instrumental in getting volleyball started at Brookewood, suggesting to Mr. Joe McPherson that Brookewood needed a team and that she would be happy to be heavily involved in the team. According to Coach Clair Moriarty, "Hannah is our driving motivational, joyful force for success on and off the court. She talks with all of the players and, as captain, sees it as her job to foster team unity and spirit, even during tough practices or difficult games."
We wish Hannah the best in her college application process and that she deeply enjoys her senior year.
On Friday, Sept. 29, Brookewood celebrated its first festival day—Field Day, which was organized and supervised by Coach Jen Davern. This year, unlike some years in the past, the weather was in perfect condition—sunny and cool—for outdoor competitions. Students divided into their houses—Arundel, Bourbon, Custis and Darnall—and began the festivities with individual games such as Soccer Dribble and Potato Sack Race. After the individual games, each house captain—Francesca DeMarchi for Arundel House, Carolyn Wood for Bourbon House, Kaylor Stroot for Custis, and Andrea Preciado for Darnall House—led their teams in the House Events which included, Pass-the-Hoola-Hoop, Dodge Ball, Track Relay and the Team Cheer. Custis won both Pass-the-Hoola Hoop and the Team Cheer with a rendition of “We Will Rock You, ” while Arundel won Dodge Ball and the Track Relay. After all the points were tallied, Arundel came in first with 190 points, Darnall in second with 117, Bourbon in third with 99, and Custis in fourth with 96 points.