Category Archives: Academics

Oakcrest Cappie Publishes in Washington Post

Frequent murders and hilarious hi-jinks pervade Bishop Ireton’s musical comedy, ‘Something’s Afoot’

The Washington Post, November 26, 2012

All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.  Access online HERE.

Sophie Buono, a student at Oakcrest School, reviews “Something’s Afoot” performed by Bishop Ireton High School as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program.

Photo by Catherine Schreiber

An old mansion, an unlikely mix of guests, and the unexplained death of a host seem to form a recipe for suspense and screams.  However, these elements actually make up the lively and comical musical “Something’s Afoot,” Bishop Ireton’s recent production.

“Something’s Afoot” was written by James McDonald, David Vos, and Robert Gerlach, with additional music by Ed Linderman.  It became a dinner theater favorite after its 1976 showing on Broadway.  The story, which pokes fun at Agatha Christie’s murder mystery “And Then There Were None,” begins with the arrival of six guests at the Lord Dudley Rancour’s mansion.  Unfortunately, the guests quickly discover that their host has been murdered, and as one person after another mysteriously dies, suspicions heighten.  While the guests and servants of the house hunt for answers, they face personal encounters with each other.  All the while, the show exaggerates the shock of murder, the uncertainty of finding a culprit, the wittiness of a detective, and the spontaneity of love in order to add spicy humor to the story.

Bishop Ireton’s production of “Something’s Afoot” shone with impressive talent in multiple areas.  The cast as a whole sparked laughs through their body language, sharply performed in dramatic unison whenever something suspicious occurred.  The choreography, though simple, captivated the audience through each character’s enthusiasm and almost consistently spot-on timing.  In spite of a few microphone issues, the cast’s diction carried through quite smoothly, and most of them engaged strikingly accurate accents.

Miss Tweed (Sarah Moffit), the sprightly and witty old lady, performed with particular confidence and ease.  Each of her mannerisms, from her hunched walk to her wily facial expressions captivated the audience, making her death both hilarious and sad to see that such an entertaining character had to die.  The tender-hearted Hope Langdon (Brenna Carroll) also livened up the stage with her brightly optimistic face and melodious voice that made singing high notes seem like a walk in the park.  Her heartfelt yet juvenile relationship with the spirited Geoffrey (Joey Ledonio) both touched and tickled the audience.

Other characters shone despite shorter stage time.  Lady Grace Manley-Prowe (Kaitlin Hamer) displayed strong vocal talent in her solo “The Man with the Ginger Mustache.”  Servants Lettie (Catherine Schreiber) and Flint (Joseph Green) grasped their cockney personas and ran with them, shown in their accents, attitudes, and comical song “Dinghy.”  While some characters sang a bit weakly in the upper register, their skillful expression drew significant attention.

The set of “Something’s Afoot” wowed the audience from the moment the curtain opened.  The two levels, complete with stairs, decorative paintings, and several functioning doors, portrayed Lord Rancour’s mansion with astounding realism and beauty.  The costumes, almost all student-made, from hats to shoes, drew the reader into the 1930s time period. The special effects, timed precisely, included amusing and surprising elements such as smoky explosions and poisonous gas clouds.

From beginning to end, Bishop Ireton’s “Something’s Afoot” flipped Agatha Christie stories upside down with dexterity, and so brought several audience members to their feet at the curtain call.


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Boston College Business School Video Features Oakcrest Alum

Oakcrest alumna, Alessandra Christiani ’11, was selected by Boston College to speak about their Business School and undergraduate program for freshmen in their new promotional video featured on their website.  Congrats, Alessandra!  To view the video, visit

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Oakcrest 2012 Co-Valedictorian is named National AP Scholar and one of Top 13 Diocesan Students

High Schoolers Receive National Awards

Arlington Catholic Herald


Each fall, a select group of high school students across the county receive National Merit Program and Advanced Placement (AP) Scholar awards. This year 13 diocesan students earned top honors.

AP exams are taken in May and awards usually are granted in September. Students qualified for the National AP Scholar Award by earning an average grade of 4 or higher on a five-point scale on all AP exams and grades of 4 or higher on eight or more of these exams.

About 1.5 million juniors in some 22,000 high schools entered the National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2011 Preliminary SAT. Those who are named semifinalists represent less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors and include the highest-scoring entrants in each state. The number of semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors. Finalists will receive one of 8,300 scholarships totaling $32 million.

Anna Rapp of Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria was honored as a National Merit Semifinalist.

Mary Zischkau of Oakcrest was named a National AP Scholar.

Peter Ciampa, Caitlin Hall, Kelly Luciani, John Stella and Thomas Vaughn, students at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, were honored as National AP Scholars, and Meagan David and Elaine Harrington were named National Merit Semifinalists.

Michael Sheridan of Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax was honored as a National AP Scholar, and Mary Carome and Tim Higgins were named National Merit Semifinalists.

Jennifer Block of Seton School in Manassas was honored as National Merit Semifinalist.


Mary Zischkau was the Co-Valedictorian for the Oakcrest Class of 2012.  To access this article online, click HERE.

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Class of 2012 – Good Luck in College and We Will Miss You!

Photo Gallery.  Click thumbnails to enlarge photos.

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Life is a Song: Congratulations to the Class of 2012!

On Saturday, June 2, Oakcrest graduated 28 young women in the G. Lloyd Bunting, Sr. Theatre.  The 2011-12 Oakcrest Crescens yearbook name is “Life is a Song.”  The Senior Class wrote the following in the yearbook dedication: “As we think back to this year of Oakcrest, we should see it as a giant song – one that has us singing along to the words.  It’s a song that is innate in each student; we find it in our school work, our activities, and friendships.  It is a song that encourages us to live to the fullest and embrace every opportunity that Oakcrest has given us.  Live each day with the motto “kia kaha,” forever strong.  Oakcrest is just a verse of the song that we all live.  It is a joy to carry out what we have learned here at school and bring it to the rest of our lives.  Carry a song in your heart, and spread happiness wherever you go.  2011-2012 is a year to cherish, a year to sing out and celebrate.  Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music.”  Congratulations, Class of 2012…we are so proud of you, and we will miss you next year!

The Sun Gazette covered the graduation in its article, “Oakcrest Grads Encouraged to Stay True to Principles, Explore the World Around Them.” Click here to read the full article.

Here are excerpts from the Sun Gazette article:

“Oakcrest “has instilled in me to love learning. I’ve learned how to learn,” said [Co-Valedictorian Alex] Gadiano, who is heading to Colgate University and plans to study chemistry and Spanish on a softball scholarship.

“Our class has always been a class of adventurers,” said Mary Zischkau, the Class of 2012’s other valedictorian. “Our thirst was the thirst for knowledge and truth….We should be forever strong in our principles,” she told classmates. “Let us face [the future] with confidence and fortitude.”

“You’ve been given an education that has given you a sense of your own self, [and] a sense of purpose beyond your own selves,” [Ellen Cavanagh] told the graduating seniors. “Nothing happens by chance. This is not an accident….It’s a gift that’s been given to you…but it’s only the foundations.  Invest in your intellectual growth. Your relationship with God, invest in that.”

“Life is a song,” Zischkau told her classmates. “May our lives be songs of true happiness.”

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A Time to Reflect, Celebrate: Traditions Help Students Mark the End of the School Year

Arlington Catholic Herald 5/23/12
Oakcrest Student Correspondent, Madison Conrad

To read the article on the Arlington Catholic Herald website, click here.

With the days becoming longer and the weather getting warmer, summer is almost here. That also means that another school year at Oakcrest School in McLean is wrapping up. Every year, many events celebrate the achievements of Oakcrest students. The traditions allow students to reflect on the past school year, celebrate accomplishments and look forward to what the next year holds.

Eighth-graders are promoted to the upper school, and the upper school seniors venture into the world of college. Traditions such as the annual awards ceremony, “step-up day” and the senior class gift are examples of how Oakcrest celebrates the present while looking forward to the future.

the end of the last quarter, students in the middle and upper schools who excelled in a particular subject or sport are acknowledged during an all-school awards ceremony. Teachers choose a student who showed the greatest achievement in a particular class throughout the year and recognize her for her efforts.

“The awards ceremony allows the whole student body to support and celebrate each other’s accomplishments,” said junior Lesleigh Martin. Students who show outstanding leadership also are candidates for awards.

During “step-up day” students are encouraged to wear the next year’s class color. For example, the senior class color is red, so on the last day of school, the outgoing juniors can wear red to show they have moved up a grade.

“I like our tradition of wearing next year’s class color, it allows us to look forward to the fun that will happen next year,” said Maggie Himpler, class of 2013.

Every year, the graduating senior class presents Oakcrest with a gift to show their gratitude for the experience and education they received. The gifts usually are an item that beautifies the facilities and/or exemplifies the Oakcrest spirit. Past gifts include a large, personalized welcome mat, decorations for the lobby of the school and a commissioned portrait of the statue of Our Lady of Oakcrest, which rests in the school chapel.

Sophomore Emily Dao likes the senior gift tradition because “it reminds us of our friends and schoolmates after they have graduated,” she said.

The traditions encourage students to appreciate the efforts made by all throughout the year. Not only are students able to acknowledge their own achievements and progress, but they also celebrate and applaud the accomplishments of their fellow “Oakies,” creating unity and pride in each other and the school.

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Love & Virtue in Jane Austen

On May 23, Miss Hadley’s and Mrs. Kenna’s 9th grade English Classes  held a High Tea to discuss Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.”  Mrs. Watts recently visited Bath, a city in England where Jane Austen set two of her novels, and which Austen would refer to in many of her books.  Mrs. Watts shared her experience and photos of visiting Jane Austen’s residence in Bath, as well as the ancient Roman Baths.  Best of all, she told the girls about her experience having high tea in the Pump Room in Bath, where Jane Austen herself had a reserved table.  The girls enjoyed tea, tea sandwiches, strawberry shortcakes, scones, and cookies.  Mrs. Watts ended by leading a discussion on love and virtue in Jane Austen’s novels.  Topics included character sketches of Jane Austen characters (heroines and villains alike) such as Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, Lydia Bennet, Elizabeth Bennet and Charlotte Lucas.  Mrs. Watts recently met Elizabeth Kantor, the author of “The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After,” and she discussed the themes of the book with the students.

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