New advocacy program takes center stage in transition year

Jacob Morss, News Editor

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Sophee King
Riding a tricycle, freshman David Smith competes in the tricycle relays. Smith represented the St. Catherine of Sienna House in the House Olympics Aug. 18.

In one of its biggest changes in the past years, Kapaun Mt. Carmel has added the Crusader Advocacy Program (CAP). KMC also made history by starting the school year off with House Olympics rather than the usual day of introductions to new classes.

Principal Chris Bloomer said this would be a year of transition and changes, so he wanted to use the House Olympics to start off the new year with a bang. Bloomer said he believed the field day was the most effective way to immediately get students, feet wet in the new CAP system while also creating a way for students to build relationships with their new family members. Bloomer said CAP is meant to improve the overall unity among to student body and provide a place where everyone feels welcome.

“The emphasis was to identify a program that would provide the students an additional advocate, and enhance the community we had by building relationships across the classes,” Bloomer said. “It would create an opportunity for students to meet with a teacher on a regular basis that had nothing to do with homework or grades and so CAP is what we came up with.”

According to Bloomer, the goal is to create an environment where students can express their wants and needs without any fear of judgment or criticism. Bloomer also said CAP will be crucial in achieving the mission of the school in “the education and formation of the total person in the image of Jesus Christ.” Every student receives the educational piece in the classes they take, but CAP will focus on the formational piece students need to succeed.

English teacher Angie Etheredge, who is dean of the St. Katharine Drexel house, believes the CAP system will help tremendously with increasing the overall morale of the student body and faculty.

“I was really excited for it to add a different sense of morale because there has seemed to be a little bit of a disconnect in the past few years,” Etheredge said. “Also, to provide a little more camaraderie amongst the teachers, faculty and students that are a part of each of the houses.”

As a dean, Etheredge was involved creating the foundation of the system and currently is involved in planning with the other deans and keeping the families under her house up-to-date. Although CAP is geared fully toward improving the students’ lives, Etheredge said the companionship and relationships among all the teachers have improved. When it comes to the activities, Etheredge admits not every student will benefit from every activity; however, she has noticed that already the students in her family have begun to create friendships and meet new people they would have never known if it were not for CAP.

Freshman Gabby Searl, who is a part of the St. Aloysius Gonzaga house, said she has positive opinion of CAP so far and believes it has really helped her feel more welcome at KMC.

“I think it (CAP) is a great idea and we can eventually grow as a community,” Searl said. “It’s nice seeing familiar faces in the hall from all grades, especially from people who I probably would have never talked to before. The first-day activities really helped us grow in our community because I feel like that was a great way for us to learn more about each other.”

Searl said the biggest accomplishment of CAP so far is helping break down the class barriers. This is one of the goals of CAP as it gradually replaces Class of the Year (COTY), which pitted the classes against each other in competitions. After this year, houses will compete in the fundraiser and event competitions in order to create a greater relationship between upperclassmen and underclassmen, and get rid of the “seniors always win” mentality. Bloomer and Etheredge agree this will increase participation in events because no longer will underclassmen give up since they have a small chance of winning. This increased camaraderie between classes and with teachers is also meant to solve the problem of students feeling disconnected with KMC. A survey last year showed nearly 20 percent of students had felt disconnected and CAP’s goal is to solve this issue.

Senior Leslie Medina, who is a part of the St. Catherine of Sienna house, was an antagonist to CAP last year, but has since then become an avid fan of the system. She still has had her issues with the scheduling and the fact that she has not met many people outside of her own family.

“I have made friends with the freshmen and sophomores in my family,” Medina said. “We need to find a way to make CAP reach further than our individual family. You get really close with your family members, but not the other hundred members of your house you rarely meet with.”

Currently with CAP, students meet with their families twice a week for 20 minutes on Tuesdays and Fridays, and go to Mass with their families on Wednesdays. Bloomer said Tuesdays are curriculum-based, focusing on the holy habits of the month, goal setting, how to be productive, etc. Fridays are meant to be laxer and act as an opportunity for students to meet with their advisors to discuss issues. Bloomer said the administration has heard the complaints about the new scheduling and that there is an opportunity for it to change in the future. Although there are no concrete plans currently to increase activities among houses as a whole, Bloomer stressed the flexibility of the CAP system and plans to distribute a school-wide survey in the last week of October to gain students’ initial opinions.

“This is a year of transition,” Bloomer said. “Very little is set in stone and there will be an opportunity for students to give their input in the second quarter and for the rest of the year.”

John Biehler
Jumping up to attack the ball, senior Ryan McCully prepares to spike in a volleyball game. McCully represented the St. Clare of Assisi House in the House Olympics Aug. 18.