Tag Archives: Holy Cross High School

High school ambassadors wanted in City Hall


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Momos

A high school program meant to give politically-minded scholars a taste of City Hall will begin this fall.

Councilman Paul Vallone will announce the kickoff of his Ambassador Program at a press conference Friday.

The initiative allows about 10 incoming juniors from Holy Cross High School, Bayside High School and World Journalism Preparatory to serve for a year as community representatives.

The future leaders will organize food collections and cleanups, work with city agencies, take trips to City Hall and even draft a bill to be introduced in the City Council.

“Education is important in classrooms, but it shouldn’t stop there,” Vallone said.

“Providing this opportunity that gives each student every possibility of future success is the least we can do for our children.”

The program will begin this September and last until June.

Students are chosen by a principal, guidance counselor or teacher.

For more information, call 718-619-8611.

 

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Vallone announces new high school program, outlines big ideas for district


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Councilmember Paul Vallone wants sparks to fly during his time in office.

The freshman legislator launched idea after idea — including shooting fireworks on Bell Boulevard and hosting movie and game nights — during a two-hour interview with The Courier.

“I want to bring back that old-time feel,” he said, gazing at the boulevard out of his fifth floor Bell Plaza windows.

“You look at things from a different perspective,” he said. “As a father, I think, ‘What would my kids want to do?”

His long list of plans for the district also include having quarterly roundtables with the district’s community groups and starting up a new Student Ambassadors program in February with three local high schools.

The initiative allows about 10 juniors from Holy Cross High School, Bayside High School and World Journalism Preparatory to serve for a year as community representatives.

The teens would organize food collections and cleanups, take trips to City Hall and even draft a bill to be introduced in the City Council.

“It’s the next generation’s input,” Vallone said. “I’m not going to touch it, whatever they draft.”

As for his own bill, Vallone filed his first piece of legislation Jan. 9, calling for the city to recognize Lunar New Year as a major holiday.

It supports a law already introduced in the State Senate and Assembly that has not moved for years.

The lawmaker also plans to continue participatory budgeting, which begins in 2015 at its earliest. The city initiative gives residents the chance to develop and vote on physical infrastructure projects they want to see in their neighborhoods.

At the top of his growing list of priorities is still making sure a school is not built in the former Whitestone Jewels site.

“This is nonstop,” he said. “We’re still watching.”

 

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Holy Cross High School sophomore moves closer to NFL dream


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

One Holy Cross High School football player is one step closer to playing in the National Football League (NFL).

Sophomore Jason Vargas was selected to participate in the high school showcase game of the Offense-Defense Bowl in Orlando, Florida on January 4.

Vargas, 15, was one of 200 players selected from approximately 6,000 participants in Offense-Defense Sports’ nation-wide camps. Active NFL players Dez Bryant, Cam Newton and more than 185 others once played there as well.

“It’s a great honor to play,” Vargas said. “To be able to play in that kind of game, it’s amazing.”

Vargas started playing football with his older brothers and family members and fell in love with the game at an early age.

Now the high schooler, who is 6’1”, is playing on Holy Cross’s junior varsity team and expects to make the varsity squad next year. While Vargas aims to be a professional wide receiver in the NFL, he also enjoys playing the kicker position.

“Kicker is very important, because it comes down to you sometimes,” Vargas said.

While playing at Offense-Defense’s camp during the summer, he performed so well that he received an MVP medal for wide receiver and the All-Star game invitation.

“Every year his game has elevated that tells me he is listening to what the coaches have been telling him,” said Milow Weems, youth brand director and coach of Offense-Defense, who trained Vargas during summer camp. “I see him playing Division 1 [college football], if he keeps up the hard work.”

Vargas’ final goal of course is to be a professional player, but first he has his eyes set on playing football in college.

He is interested in playing for the University of Oregon, West Virginia University, Florida State University or Boise State University.

“From what I’ve been told he has the ability to take it all the way, but we’re focused on scholarships. We have to focus on the short term,” said Laurie Morris, Vargas’ mother. “I’m proud of Jason because no matter what he always tries his hardest, even when he’s hurt or injured.”

 

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Whitestone teen skates his way to success


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Peter Pallos

Stephen Pallos is skating his way to success in the hockey rink.

After playing on Holy Cross High School’s varsity team for four years, the 17-year-old is making his way to college hockey. After being contacted and recruited by numerous schools, Pallos and his family made the final decision that he will attend Washington and Jefferson College in Pennsylvania, where he will join the school’s highest level American College Hockey Association program.

“I spent last summer playing in many of the top tournaments in Boston hoping to be seen by just one team,” said Pallos.

The Whitestone honor student has been a member of the Catholic Prep Schools City Champs for the past three years and was honored as part of the Senior All Stars during the 2012-2013 school year. He is also a member of the Brewster Jr. Bulldogs, an Eastern States Hockey League junior hockey team.

“Stephen is a big, physical winger who forechecks hard and also brings a lot of offensive upside to the team,” said Lou Biancaniello, head coach of the men’s club ice hockey team at Washington and Jefferson College. “The program is happy with his commitment and what he brings to the table.”

Along with being dedicated to his teams, Pallos has been involved with a local church community that has become a feeding site for the homeless and underprivileged. He also led a fundraiser for victims of Sandy, helping close to 12 students and numerous staff members at Holy Cross who lost their possessions.

Pallos plans to spend the summer practicing and training to become part of a college hockey team. He also looks forward to joining some school clubs and a fraternity.

“My interests are many and therefore, I would like to attend a school that fosters a community of accelerated learning, but also one where there are many opportunities to get involved and grow,” said Pallos.

Although his heart is in his beloved sport, Pallos plans on majoring in political science at Washington and Jefferson and eventually hopes to attend law school with the goal of becoming an attorney.

 

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Holy Cross football paves the way to college


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Charles Osborn

BY CHARLES OSBORN

This year, Holy Cross High School football coach Tom Pugh sent three of his players to the UnitedHealthcare Empire Challenge, the annual all-star style football game held at Hofstra University.

The game was held on Tuesday, June 18 at James M. Shuart Stadium, with ticket sale proceeds going to cystic fibrosis research.

The match-up pitted the five boroughs against a team that drew its ranks from Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The city’s squad was stronger defensively thanks to the three Holy Cross players: cornerback Lekeith Celestain, defensive end

Malachi Hoskins and outside linebacker Juwan Wilson.

Along with bringing them to the big stage of the nationally televised Empire Challenge, the game will also help each of the graduating seniors to go to college.

Celestain, a tall cornerback who also played receiver throughout the past season, will head to Monmouth University in

New Jersey. The Kensington, Brooklyn resident said football has always been a big part of his life.

“I started to play organized football when I was 12 years old, but ever since I can remember, I’ve been playing,” Celestain said.

Monmouth University immediately offered Celestain a scholarship, he said, but he also received offers from James Madison University, Stony Brook University and Villanova University — all Division I schools. He said he is looking forward to college because it will provide him with more competition as well as more freedom.

Ozone Park resident Wilson, who played linebacker at Holy Cross but was safety in the Empire Challenge, was excited about both the atmosphere and the stiff competition at the event.

“It was a chance to play against the best around,” Wilson said.

Wilson, who is heading to Utica College’s Division III program, holds a unique distinction in the annals of Holy Cross football — he is the only player to ever be captain of the squad two years in a row.

Pugh cited his work ethic and intelligence as factors that have led to his success on the field.

“I’ve been playing football since I was four years old with my brother,” Wilson said.
Wilson, who plays the traditionally cerebral position of outside linebacker, cited the family atmosphere at Utica as the reason for his choice.

“It reminds me of Holy Cross,” Wilson said. “Everyone is close-knit.”

He is most looking forward to the jump from high school to college because it will provide a learning experience.

“It’s a chance to learn even more about the game,” he said. “I’m also looking forward to the jump in physicality. I really like being physical out there on the field.”

Hoskins knows all about physicality, too.

He plays defensive end, a grueling physical position that requires size, speed and toughness. Hoskins will bring his fair share of each to a college program later this year, but he has not settled on a choice yet. He is currently leaning toward Division I Central Connecticut University, which he described as a “good fit.”

“I look at the jump to college as a chance to get better and to learn the game,” Hoskins said.

The Queens Village resident also received an offer from Wagner College, but he saw the Empire Challenge as the opportunity to gain exposure.

According to Pugh, Celestain, Wilson and Hoskins will not represent Holy Cross in the college ranks alone.

“We currently have 42 graduates playing some form of college football. This year, we have 10 more to add,” Pugh said.

 

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Two Queens teens accepted to US Air Force Academy


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Two Queens teens have gotten their wings.

Seamus McCaffrey and Alan Mook have been accepted to the United States Air Force Academy. They are the only two in the borough who were given the elite nod this year.

“This is a dream come true,” said McCaffrey, 18, a senior at St. Francis Preparatory School. “It’s something surreal because I get to do what I want to do through serving my country. It’s a tremendous opportunity.”

McCaffrey, of Glendale, said he had his sights set on the skies since he was old enough to learn about planes.

“I’ve always wanted to be a pilot. Going to the Air Force was the only thing I really had in my mind,” he said. “I have a love for flight.”

The aspiring fighter pilot soared academically, with a cumulative 90 average, while leading as senior class president and playing on the school’s varsity football team. McCaffrey also serves as a sacristan at Sacred Heart Church in Glendale.

“He worked very hard for what he wanted. He put everything into it,” said his mom, Antoinette McCaffrey.

The trailblazer will be the first in his family to attend college, as well as enter the military, when he leaves for the Academy on June 26.

Meanwhile, Mook, 18, will be the second airman in his family. He joins his brother, Kevin, who is a junior at the Academy.

“It was all worth it,” said the College Point teen.

Mook, who graduated from Holy Cross High School last year, said his application was originally rejected by the Academy, but he was offered a scholarship to attend a prep school in New Mexico for one year.

Alan Mook (Photo courtesy of Holy Cross High School)

“When I was denied at first, it was very disappointing,” he said. “But I had another chance to get back in. I’m getting a degree from one of the best schools in the nation. Nothing beats that.”

Graduates of the free four-year program at the Colorado school agree to serve in the Air Force for at least five years.

Last year, three Queens students were given the green light by the Air Force Academy. McCaffrey and Mook beat out about 12,000 applicants this year, Academy officials said. Only about 1,200 get accepted annually.

“The candidates that have been getting in have been really reflecting the diversity of Queens, which is outstanding,” said Major Andrew Mattson, the academy’s Queens admissions liaison officer. “These are people taking on significant leadership roles. They are just great Americans.”

 

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Star of Queens: Catherine Donohoe, president of the board of directors, Bridge to Life


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

photo

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Catherine Donohoe is president of the board of directors of Bridge to Life, an organization that works to provide parents with food, clothes and other items necessary for raising a child. The organization, Donohoe says, has only one part-time employee, an accountant. The board is made up entirely of volunteers. “We have doctors, lawyers and accountants on our board,” she said. “They all come from different religions.”

In addition to providing supplies, Bridge to Life also provides services for those who might be pregnant. “We have free pregnancy tests, we provide sonograms,” she said.

The organization was started in 1992 with one location on Bell Boulevard. Today, the organization has two locations with one in Flushing and the other in Astoria. Bridge also has a 24-hour hotline.

BACKGROUND: Donohoe is a lifetime resident of Queens. She works as a professor at Nassau Community College and is a parishioner at Holy Family R.C. Church in Fresh Meadows.

FAVORITE MEMORY: Donohoe told the story of a volunteer from Holy Cross High School who came to volunteer at Bridge to Life. The student asked his mom where he should volunteer to fulfill his service hours for school and she had chosen Bridge to Life herself and recommended it. Both mother and son were recently honored at the organization’s annual dinner dance.

INSPIRATION: When Eleanor Ruder, the founder of Bridge to Life, came to speak at Donohoe’s parish, she said she was inspired to start the work that Bridge does today.  But Donohoe said her inspiration continues beyond that single event. “You get inspiration when you continue to do the work day after day,” she said.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Donohoe says her biggest challenge is the current “culture” that she sees through the experiences of her daughter who is currently in college.

 

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Kevin Ogletree goes from Queens to America’s Team


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of David Petkowsky/Virginia Media Relations

Kevin Ogletree, a wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys, had eight receptions and two touchdowns in the Wednesday, September 5 NFL opening game against the Super Bowl champion Giants. He joined the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2009 and has battled for a starting receiver spot ever since.

Before that he played for Virginia, where he finished his degree in just three- and-a-half years.

And before that, he played in Bayside at Holy Cross High School. The Queens native played four seasons with the Knights where he not only broke a nearly 15-year-old record, but was academically fit, his former coach, Tom Pugh said.

During his four years at the all-boys Catholic school, Ogletree was a natural, yet quiet, leader.

“[He] knew how to conduct himself as a gentleman,” said Pugh. “He led by example…never ‘rah-rah’”

In his senior year alone Ogletree had 67 receptions and 21 touchdowns. This broke a record set by Carl Mackey (son of Hall of Fame tight end John Mackey), who had 58 receptions in a season in the early 1990s.

“Kevin was a guy who worked after practice, before practice,” Pugh said. “That was the good thing about him.”

The record-breaking receiver with high SAT scores promised his grandparents that he would continue his education and enrolled at the University of Virginia.

There he played under former Jets defensive coordinator Al Groh for three of his four years at the school.

Ogletree was a natural athlete, Groh said, and because of that, he was able to thrive in his first two years, before being sidelined with a knee injury during his junior year. He was able return the following year, but had to work back toward his normal abilities.

Ogletree could not be reached for this story.

At Virginia, he caught the eye of tight end coach John Garrett, who would move on to join the Cowboys’ staff. Groh and Pugh both said Ogletree’s talent and abilities caught Garrett’s eye — and would pay off for the young receiver in a big way.

He was picked up by the Cowboys as a free agent in 2009 after an impressive show at training camp. From 2009 to 2011, however, he saw little playing time — usually when starting receivers were injured. Despite this, Ogletree caught the first touchdown at Cowboys Stadium, albeit in preseason.

Life off the field was hit with tragedy earlier this year when his brother, Calvin, was shot outside of his car rental business in St. Albans. Calvin, it has been reported, is still in critical condition months later.

Facing elimination from the roster after three disappointing, sub-par seasons, Ogletree tightened up his training program this off-season, said Pugh, who still regularly speaks with his former player through text messages.

This included losing weight and working out even harder, something that was always part of Ogletree’s ethic, Pugh said.

“He really pushed himself this year,” he said.

Groh, now a defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech, said Ogletree’s performance against the Giants earlier this month was the best he had ever seen the 6’1” receiver play.

“He looked the most polished I’ve ever seen him,”

After his break-out performance in the 2012 season opener, Ogletree told reporters he was inspired to do well for his brother, whom he visited while in town. When Ogletree took the field at MetLife Stadium last week, Pugh — an admitted Giants fan — didn’t focus on the game. Instead, he watched the player he saw grow into the pro he is working to become.

“I was watching Kevin,” Pugh said. “I root for my guys.”