Selina Ellanna, Class of 2017
The most meaningful aspect of my education was how devoted my teachers were to me, to help me learn what I needed to in the best way possible. They would help me before, during, and after school as much as they could. As I find myself in college now, I feel more prepared than ever to move on to more complicated classes. These semesters, and classes, are flying by with ease because of the support I was given during high school from friends, family, and teachers.
Activities at Monroe really opened me up to helping the rest of the world. During high school, I did help and volunteer as much as I could. Now that I am somewhere new, those actions of good deeds have moved here with me. I take part in activities, and I make sure that everyone has a great time. I joined groups and made friends quickly because of the people and experiences I had at Monroe.
My classmates at Monroe were there every day, and there were challenges along the way. There was competitiveness among each other (mainly sports and Kahoot) and happy days to go with it. During all of my high school days, I learned a deeper sense of family. Now those experiences and emotions have allowed me to make the best of every day and enjoy my new community (preparing me for any situation).
Despite all the new things and people in my life, my education, my friends, and my teachers are still with me. Even not being physically there, these things are still guiding me.
Dylan Steele, Class of 2016
MCHS is a special school, unlike any other that I've ever encountered. Monroe provides an education second to none. The most meaningful aspect of this school and my education is the family environment. Once you join the CSF family, you begin grow and learn with classmates you will come to love. I consider Monroe to be one of the largest building blocks in my life because it provided a place for me to learn, grow, and mature. Now even after I have graduated and started my life, Monroe still provides a place for me to seek out advice and even stumble across an old memory or two.
Ryan Brantley, Class of 2017
As I look back at Monroe and think of all the times I have struggled as a student and have just lost hope on becoming the best student I could possibly be, it was the staff that made me believe that I can get through a certain chapter or lesson with a passing grade and fully understanding the lesson. Out of all the schools I have been to in my life, Monroe Catholic has the best staff because they have a true passion for teaching and finding ways so that not only the smartest kid in the class understands, but everyone in the class fully comprehends. I would say what meant most for me is that everyone at Monroe Catholic is a family. If we see one buddy struggling, not only the teachers hop on it right way, so does the classmates. That is very special, I would be willing to bet that you will not find that at Ryan, Tanana, Randy, Lathrop, nor West Valley.
It has been 8 months since I have graduated at Monroe and STILL think about the good times I have had there. It was a second home to me, whether it was staying late to do math corrections, basketball practice, riding to football practice from the school, cracking jokes with teachers non-stop, I can name a million more great things. Monroe Catholic has changed me into a man that gets his work on time, how to act in public, knowing there is a time and a place to joke around, respecting and loving others, and most important, having a strong relationship with God. Our retreats that we go on every year is truly a special thing. First, you get to connect with God in a whole different spiritual way, second, you create a special bond with your classmates because you are not just playing a sport or in the classroom with them, but you are both connecting with God.
Playing sports at Monroe, especially basketball, has made me think of the game way differently. I often think how incredibly blessed I was playing there and being apart of a great team. Playing there made me feel like I was playing in the Boston Garden because how much history is that gym and all the great players wearing a Monroe Catholic uniform. Another reason I think I am helpful and caring today is because of all the community service hours I have done. It made me realize that helping others is such a great thing. In Hebrews 6:10 "God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them." That verse just continues to stick with me because God wants us to help those that need to be helped and being at Monroe Catholic, my religion teachers has opened my eyes to certain verses by teaching us in class.
Being an alum of 2017 is such an honor because Monroe Catholic is the best school in Alaska. Not only will it make you a better student, friend, athlete, son or daughter, it will also make you have a stronger relationship with God than ever before.
Rachel Adams, Class of 2015
I was fortunate enough to be able to start attending Monroe as an eighth grader when my family moved to Fairbanks. After spending five years as a student, and now three years as an alumna, I am thankful that I got attend Monroe Catholic High School. There is something about a small school that many people do not understand unless they have experienced it—they see the lack of electives and the limited class choices. There is more to a small school than that. I experienced the opportunity to learn in a tight-knit community, teachers who pushed me when I asked for help, and a place that even as it changes I am always welcomed back too.
Monroe offers the unique opportunity to challenge you if you are willing to take the opportunities that are provided. I had wonderful teachers who challenged me to read inspiring books, learn complex physics and math, and to become a person for others when I was willing to ask for more. The class that affected my growth as a person the most was my senior year social justice class. This class challenged me to become a person for others, who understood that everyone has gifts to offer to those around them. As a starting point for learning how to be a person for others, community service is a requirement to graduate. I ended up being an afterschool tutor for a sixth-grade student for both math and science. I did not want to be a tutor, and I tried to explain to various people that I was terrible at explaining math to other people. By the end of the year I was comfortable as a tutor and excited at the various opportunities I have had in college to still act as a tutor. The experience taught me that I can do things outside my comfort zone which helped me grow as a person, one of the pillars stressed at Monroe.
Senior year is a special time at Monroe and it is hard to explain to someone who has never experienced it. The highlight is the kindergarten buddy program. I was incredibly nervous about having a buddy because I had never spent much time around small children. By October, my kindergarten buddy and I were thick as thieves and almost inseparable. I have written multiple essays explaining how spending a year with my buddy taught me how to love, another pillar that Monroe pushes its students to strive for. Learning that my happiness could come from making another person happy was a humbling experience. It showed me that the world is larger than just me, something that I watch fellow classmates struggle with understanding at college.
As I worked on this reflection, I kept circling back to something Coach Ostanik said in his graduation address to the Class of 2016. Even as we move forward in life, we will always have a home here at Monroe, a place we can always come back to. I am fortunate enough to be an alumna of an amazing high school that has influenced who I am in more ways than I could have ever imagined when I became a student in 2010. I know that wherever I go in life I will always have a place that will celebrate with me in my triumphs, support me in times of sorrow, and always be willing to welcome me back. After attending Monroe for five years and watching my sister finish up her high school career I know I will always have a place within the halls of Monroe.
Spalding Bristow, Class of 2015
The most meaningful aspect of my education at Monroe was the community. Everyone knows everyone, and everyone I knew encouraged me in my endeavors. Whether it was volleyball games or track meets, applying for college or writing a research paper, people genuinely cared what I was doing with my life and that I was doing it well with all of the support I could ever want for. My mom still gets people asking her how I’m doing so far from home, 3 years later! During my time at Monroe, a number of tragedies affected the community, and I was able to witness first-hand how strong a family of people with so much love could truly be, and the resilience that comes with being surrounded and supported by so much care, empathy, and faith. It set the standard for the way I wish to be loved and treated by all of the people in my life and showed me that it is feasible to want and seek out that kind of close-knit network. We were taught to create the Kingdom of God here on earth by giving our love freely to the world with the genuine ambition of making it a better place, and we were shown just how to do it by all of the caring individuals who experienced it with us at the Catholic Schools of Fairbanks.
College is a very different beast than high school, and it was a tough transition to go from the aforementioned community to a huge California state school where my own advisor expressed that she had too many students to help with all of their minute struggles and that it was best to develop independence from the get-go. It hurt, emotionally, almost physically. And it was then when I realized how truly special my high school experience had been, the blessings I had taken for granted. I have grown to treasure my memories of Monroe; seeing all of my closest friends in class every day, getting my daily beaming grin from Ms. Krause in the hallway, being crowned with the most beautiful spider hat by my kindergarten buddy, feeling the immense sense of accomplishment and wholeness after a long RAMS day with my schoolmates, the day I finally got to captain my own field day team with my best friend!…I could go on reflecting for ages. There are so many memories to cherish, each flavored with happiness and nostalgia.
In particular, learning to do service, and to do service from a pure place in my heart set me up to be able to find the joy and lessons in the service I continue to do in my college community, and in the general life I try to live. Being shown love by the people I knew at Monroe, and then seeing them extend that same love out into the community to people I had no reason to know or care for inspired me to find the selfless love that we read about in the bible to be within my own heart, and to fulfill that love by embracing those who are most in need of it.
Once you realize that you don’t have to do everything for personal gain, and that reaching out to the world does not necessarily drain you or cause you to spread yourself thin, but rather allows for much personal growth and cultivation of an unshakable certainty of self that you are giving purely from an abundance of inner light and that you do not need anything in return, I firmly believe there is very little that you can’t or won’t accomplish. Thank you Monroe for the innumerable gifts that I truly cannot ever fully repay, but that I know I am not expected to because they were given to me out of that same abiding love.
Brianna Lundgren, Class of 2016
When reflecting back on my time spent at Monroe, I have nothing but fond memories. There are three words that come to my mind when I hear the word Monroe: family, support, and community service. I made some life-long friends that I now consider family. I can go months without seeing my old classmates but when we are finally reunited it is like we never left the safe halls of Monroe.
I can honestly say I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the teachers and staff that pushed me every day to be the best person I could be. Monroe’s staff put a whole new meaning to the word support. One of my most distinct memories I have is when Mr. Riggs helped me prepare my speech that I had to deliver at graduation. He and everyone else at Monroe knew I absolutely despised public speaking. But Mr. Riggs and Ms. Krause continued to tell me I could do it, that I would be ok. And of course, they were right. It was just last week I had to stand up and tell all of my coworkers a challenging story, and I swear I could still hear their voices in my head telling me I would be ok.
Monroe’s staff helped me decide that I want to become an educator myself. I could sit here and list off every teacher I ever had and say something they did that helped me form my decision to want to become an educator, but that would take a long time. Next year I will be entering the education program at Western Oregon University and I am currently working at the Boys and Girls club here in Corvallis Oregon. I absolutely love my job and cannot wait to become a licensed teacher. I feel as though I have great insight on how a teacher should be, just from how my teachers were from I.C.S through Monroe. I am not lying when I say you will not find a more dedicated group of teachers.
Monroe changed the meaning of community service for me. Now I look at community service as a life style, not just a thing you do once or twice a year and call it good. Community service is such a big part of what makes Monroe the school that it is. As a student in high school you have to do a certain amount of community service each year, and by graduation it had become second nature to me. I started tutoring for my community service and I loved it. It was just this past Monday that I had to help a child with their homework, and it felt awesome to be tutoring again.
Finally I need to mention sports, because my high school experience would not have been as enjoyable or the same if I had not played volleyball, basketball, and soccer. Long story short, my teammates became family, in fact I still talk to a handful of them on a weekly basis. I also don’t think I would have done as well in school if I hadn’t played sports. Being active was an outlet for me. If I had a stressful day I could forget about it for a couple hours during practice or a game. I also have my coaches to thank for that. Every single one of them pushed me to be not only a better player, but a better person as well.
We are only 15 days away from the Aurora Conference Boys and Girls Basketball Tournament. Our committee has been working diligently to ensure we run a spectacular event.
I am including several sign up genius links for you to click on and volunteer. There are opportunities to volunteer AND opportunities to donate food items.
We have another sign up genius that will be coming out in the next day or two, regarding the preparing and serving of meals. Becky Zaverl has graciously offered to head this up. Once she provides me the link, I will get it out to everyone. This will be a big deal and need a number of helping hands, as we will be preparing nine meals for roughly 120 student athletes.
I am happy to announce we have enough game sponsors. However, if your business, or the business of someone you know wants to sponsor the live streaming, we are looking for $50 per game. This will allow their business to be featured as the sponsor of a game on line. We have 18 games and the cost to live stream is $900.00. So $50 per game will insure we can stream the game at no cost to the school.
Here are the links I spoke of. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to get back to me. I want to reiterate, this is a Community event, not a basketball event. We are going to need the help of everyone associated with the school, whether your son or daughter is in third grade, or a senior!
Best of Everything,
Director of Athletics
Catholic Schools of Fairbanks
Concession and Gate link
Videotaping sign up
THE SALE IS NOW ON
FOR THE 2017-18
TO BUY A YEARBOOK FOR YOUR MONROE STUDENT ONLINE, GO TO WWW.JOSTENS.COM AND CHOOSE THE YEARBOOK TAB. SEARCH FOR OUR SCHOOL: MONROE JUNIOR SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL IN FAIRBANKS, ALASKA.
You may also pay at the school. Make out your check to Catholic Schools of Fairbanks. You can leave your check at the front desk for Ms. Bristow or have your student bring it to her classroom.
We would prefer online purchase or a check for record-keeping purposes, but will also accept cash. If your student brings cash to school, make sure he/she receives a receipt from Ms. Bristow in Room 9 or Mrs. Wallace at the front desk.
Please click here to sign-up for MCHS parent teacher conference. The conference will be held on Feb 19th & 20th.
The last week of January, we celebrated National Catholic Schools Week along with the nearly 6,500 Catholic schools nationwide.
In an email to staff, Kathleen Balko, CSF Religion Coordinator wrote, “Please keep the focus of the week on what a gift it is to attend and teach at a Catholic School, especially the Catholic Schools of Fairbanks where our chapel is the center of our schools and we are family. It’s time to celebrate! We are blessed we can pray and worship together, talk about God and our faith, and teach the whole person–body, mind, heart and spirit.”
Kathleen and her committee planned an activity-filled week starting with a kick-off party on Sunday, January 28. School families gathered to help prepare for the week by making banners, decorating donation boxes, and writing prayers. They prayed together and watched the movie Toy Story. The MP Room was filled with blankets and pillows that families brought from home to make movie watching more comfortable. To top it off, popcorn and cotton candy were served.
A Jesuit pillar was highlighted each day of the week:
Monday: Committed to Doing Justice. The entire school met in the gym to form a prayer chain.
Loving was Tuesday’s focus. Students wrote thank you cards and thought about what it means to be a loving person in the community and in our families.
Wednesday’s theme was Religious. Students from grades K through 12 gathered in the Holy Family Chapel to celebrate Mass with Bishop Chad Zielinski. After, students enjoyed lunch with Bishop, priests, and religious of our Diocese.
Thursday: Intellectual Competence. We celebrated our students with ice cream treats.
Friday: Open to Growth. To wrap up Catholic Schools Week, students and staff gathered in the gym to play dodgeball. Then, students in PreK through 6 performed a dance to the song, “I’m better when I’m dancing,” by Meghan Trainor. What a fun way to bring the community together!
“Catholic Schools Week is a week to celebrate God as the center of our schools, our lives and our hearts. Our school is different and we, having God’s light and love in our hearts, can make a difference in this world,” says Kathleen.
Speaking of making a difference, our students are learning the importance of community service and giving back. Throughout the week, students and their families collected donations of all sorts–from books to canned food and personal hygiene items–for distribution to the following agencies: Literacy Council, Fairbanks Community Food Bank, The Door, S.O.A.P., Rescue Mission, and ICC Soup Kitchen.
Over Christmas Break, one of the Monroe science rooms was remodeled. Old tables and flooring were removed to make way for new. The project was completed on schedule and we were able to begin the semester in the newly remodeled room.
Mr. Joe DiTommaso spends most of his day in this classroom. The room had been a challenge because many students had to sit with their backs to him. Here’s what he has to say:
“Science is a function of cooperation and discipline. Now, this room maximizes both. The only downside I can see is now other teachers may be interested in using my room.”
The remodel added an additional demonstration table and moved non-functional plumbing and electrical into the floor. The tables can be rearranged depending on teacher preference and the type of class.
A huge thank you to the Bill Stroecker Foundation and HIPOW Friday Night Fund-an-Item donors for making this transformation possible.
Thank you to the following donors who generously contributed more than $500 to the schools in the past three months:
You may have heard this before, “If you are lucky enough to do what you love, your job won’t feel like a job, and you will be very fortunate.”
Guitarist and 1983 Monroe Alumnus Rick Holmstrom considers himself fortunate. While he admits there are some downsides to being a career musician–like grueling travel schedules and time away from his family–he’s doing what he loves.
Rick was introduced to music at an early age. His mother, Diane Holmstrom, took him to see the Beatles movie "Help!" when he only a few months old, and his father, Larry Holmstrom ‘61 was a local DJ, so their home was filled with records.
Rick always had a guitar in his room, but doesn’t remember being particularly fond of it. “It was just another toy in my room,” says Rick.
It wasn’t until his third grade teacher, Joan Rorro, taught him a few chords that he became interested in playing. The initial guitar affair didn’t last much beyond the third grade for a couple of reasons: 1. Rick became very interested in basketball and 2. playing guitar seemed daunting. As a kid, he thought, “Forget it; how could I compete with the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen?”
Rick played basketball at Monroe and has fond memories of the team winning the state tournament. “I was a freshman–5’6” and 95 pounds–so while I didn’t play much, I sure was proud of our team.”
After graduation, Rick wanted to get away for awhile. He set off for University of Redlands in California.
College brought about many life changes. During his sophomore year, Rick met his future wife, Toni, in the dorm laundry room. She took him for a ride around campus on her electric scooter and the rest is history.
Rick picked up the guitar again his senior year of college. When the guitarist in his friends’ band graduated, they asked him to play.
“I remember playing at a house party on campus,” Rick says. “People were dancing to the music–it was a fantastic feeling. I was hooked.”
Rick has played with blues gospel singer Mavis Staples for the past 11 years. He spends about half of the year on the road.
“If there’s one thing I’ve done, it’s a lot of traveling,” he says. “Travel has given me the opportunity to see what the world is really like, to experience different cultures, and to recognize that as humans, we’re really not that different.” He encourages everyone, especially students, to travel more.
Rick, Toni and their two daughters, Lusa (14) and Ellie (11), live in Venice Beach, California. They come back to Alaska in the summers for a week or so to unwind at their Harding Lake cabin.