Cougar Chronicles: Back to School!

Aug 30, 2021 | Cougar Chronicles

Greetings from Cristo Rey! We hope that you have had a restful, fun-filled, and safe summer. The beginning of a new school year is always an exciting time, and we are so happy to be able to have all of our students, faculty, and staff together in the building once again. That word “together” has developed a powerful meaning for us as a school. During this time of much uncertainty, it has become clear how important a sense of togetherness can be. Whether we are working together, learning together, or praying together, we are ALWAYS better when we are together. And so, we’ve adopted the simple but effective phrase of “Better Together” as our mantra for this school year, to remind ourselves that no matter what challenges we face or obstacles we must overcome, we are BETTER TOGETHER!

Summertime Learning

July saw our school expand our Summer Institute from one week to two weeks. Encompassed in this program are the Summer Bridge for freshmen to set them up for success before the school year starts, our credit recovery program, and for the first time, an AP calculus workshop.

Thank you to our generous funders of this program, JobsOhio and The Kerns Family, for making this important learning opportunity possible for our students.

In August, the freshman class began their rigorous Summer Business Training, with daily coursework designed to prepare them for their Professional Work-Study jobs. During the annual Speed Chatting event, students practiced their professional conversation skills with volunteers from our community, business partners, and Cristo Rey supporters. Finally, Summer Business Training wrapped up with our students’ favorite event, Draft Day, when they find out their job placements for the school year.

Record Number of Students

The 2021-22 school year kicked off on August 16, and marked a new era in Cristo Rey history with the highest number of enrolled students. From the first freshman class in 2014 to today’s enrollment of over 440  students, Cristo Rey Columbus continues to improve in student retention as well as grow enrollment each year, extending our school’s unique opportunities to more and more young men and women. This is greatly in part due to the generous support we receive from donors, allowing us the resources necessary to provide a college-preparatory, Catholic education and Professional Work-Study Program. Your investment in our students is critical in helping build and maintain their path to success.

New Faculty Members

We are happy to have some new faces on our faculty to introduce you to, including nine new teachers who will help us provide our students with a high-quality education and who each bring unique skills and talents to the classroom:

  • Mrs. Martha Castillo-Saybay: Spanish 2, AP Spanish Language
  • Ms. Cara Letizia: 9th Grade English, Freshman Refresh English
  • Mr. James Maxwell: 12th Grade English, AP English Literature
  • Mr. Greg Solomon: Geometry
  • Mr. Ethan Trapani: Algebra 2, Honors Algebra, Honors Pre-Calculus
  • Mrs. Emily Wilkins: 11th Grade English, AP Language
  • Mrs. Morgan Willman: Anatomy, Biology, Engineering
  • Mrs. Marijana Yelich: 11th and 12th Grade Theology
  • Mr. Shawn Wiler-Martin: Physical Education and Health

We also welcome Sister Castissima Masambo from the Order of Our Lady of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania as our Campus Ministry Assistant. She will be assisting our school by leading us in prayer each morning, meeting with students to provide spiritual guidance, and many other ways.

 Lastly, to round out the counseling department, we welcome Mrs. Ashley Grasinger and Ms. Brittany Rogers. As the Alumni Support Counselor, Ms. Grasigner works primarily with the senior class on preparing for their transition to college as well as staying connected to our Cristo Rey alumni. Ms. Rogers is the 9th grade school counselor, whose role will be to support the freshman class as they navigate their first year of high school.

 And while she is not new to Cristo Rey, we are excited to announce that Mrs. Kelly Rausch-Davis, former math teacher, is moving to the newly created role of Instructional Coach. The goal of this position is to support teachers in improving instruction in the classroom through coaching.

Cougar Athletics

The start of school of course means a return to the court, course, field, track, diamond, and mat for our Cougars! We would love for you to join us in supporting our athletic teams at their competitions this school year. For athletic schedules, locations, and opponents, click here.

Go Cougars!

Student Spotlight

Meet Ava, Class of 2022, who is this year’s Student Council President and a future congresswoman. Ava says that the most important things she’s learned at Cristo Rey Columbus are a strong work ethic, time management, and professionalism, all while being able to maintain a sense of morality and understanding of others’ beliefs. She has always had a love of history and politics, and her teachers at Cristo Rey took that interest and expanded it in the classroom, teaching her valuable lessons that she could not get at any other school. We asked Ava a few questions about her senior year, her role as Student Council President, and her plans for after graduation:

Q: We know you will be busy this year with classes, studying, and college applications, as well as your duties as Student Council President. Are there any other extracurricular activities or clubs that you are involved in during your senior year?

A: I am currently in Cristo Rey’s Columbus’ podcast! New episodes are now streaming on YouTube – be sure to check it out on the Cristo Rey Columbus High School YouTube channel!

Q: What are your main areas of focus for the Student Council this year? What do you hope to achieve?

A: My main focuses are mental health, better communication, and implementation of our school’s five pillars (Academic Excellence, Professionalism, Service, Spirituality, Self-Reliance)

Q: Can you share your college plans with us? Which colleges or universities will you be applying to, and where do you hope to go?

A: I have about 15 schools I am applying to. However my top 5 schools are currently; Howard University, Georgia Tech, The Ohio State University, Clark Atlanta, and Georgetown University. 

Q: Your ambition to become a congresswoman is inspiring and admirable. Once you achieve this, what impact will you work to have on our community, our state, and our country?

A: I plan to focus on economic equality, LGBTQ+ rights, as well as incorporating a mental health focus primarily for people of color.

Thanks, Ava! Best of luck to you during your senior year!

Faculty Feature

We’d also like to introduce new Spanish teacher Mrs. Martha Castillo-Saybay, who comes to Cristo Rey Columbus by way of Peru. At a young age, her mother stressed to her the importance of learning a second language, specifically English, and she began taking English classes during her high school years. Because of this, she was able to get a job working as an aid at a children’s school while still enrolled in high school. She went on to receive a Bachelor’s degree in English as Second Language from Universidad Federico Villarreal in Peru, a Masters in Spanish Language and Culture from the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca in Spain, and is currently finishing another Masters studies in Applied Linguistics and TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language.) We sat down with Ms. Castillo-Saybay to find out why she chose to teach at Cristo Rey, get her first impressions of the school year, and learn more about her teaching style and hopes for her students:

Q: Please tell us, what made you decide to teach at Cristo Rey Columbus?

A: First of all, my school life and working experience have been in Catholic schools. On the other hand, I was impressed by the program offered in this school and how students were able to combine work and study in high school which is something I also experienced in my life. I felt inspired and definitely wanted to become part of the CRC family and contribute not only with my subject knowledge but also with my life experience.

Q: What are your first impressions of the school? What do you think makes Cristo Rey special?

A: The students are the ones who make CRC so special. Their ownership of growth and development. They learn from the very beginning that their success depends on themselves and are willing to take action. You can see them working hard at school and I am sure they do the same in their workplace. The 100% rate of college acceptance is because of the effort they make every day and of course all the teachers at CRC that are always eager to help and support the students.

Q: What do you think is the most important part of your teaching style? How do you connect with your students?

A: That part is hard to answer. Students’ learning styles and needs change constantly, so my teaching style keeps changing in order to adapt to my students. The pandemic has taught all of us that we need to adapt constantly. The use of technology and other resources are a constant in my class. However I would say that I am always pushing myself to improve as well as pushing the students to move from their comfort zone, go beyond and learn.

Q: When your students finish the school year, what do you hope they will gain from taking your class?

A: In my case, as a Spanish teacher, I would love them using the language in their workplaces or attending advanced language classes in college. It would be wonderful if they could travel and remember the topics we covered in class about one of those Spanish speaking countries, use the language and say, “I learned this in my Spanish class with Señora Castillo!!!” More than anything, my hope is that they recognize the importance of learning from other cultures and become citizens of the world who respect and demonstrate tolerance toward other cultures; reach comprehension, empathy and peace. 

Ms. Castillo-Saybay ended our conversation by sharing her favorite quote:

“Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there.Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.” (Dalai Lama XIV)


Alumni Appreciation

2021 marks our very first class of COLLEGE graduates! Madison, CRCHS Class of 2017, is now a graduate of The Ohio State University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Geology. We are so proud of Madison and all of the Cristo Rey alumni who made their college graduation dreams come true!

SAVE THE DATE for your favorite annual event supporting the students of Cristo Rey Columbus!

The Garden Party, presented by White Castle, has a new date and location.

Join us Saturday, May 7, 2022 at The Fives event space for a memorable evening you won’t want to miss!