Wildwood Catholic High School

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History of Wildwood Catholic

Wildwood Catholic High School is commemorating its 70th year anniversary. There are several scheduled events to celebrate with students and past alumni this year: alumni reunions throughout the Wildwoods, a golf outing in April, and various gatherings and fundraisers during the year.

On August 7, 1947, Most Reverend Bartholomew Eustace, Bishop of the Camden Diocese, announced the awarding of a contract for a new Catholic high school to be built. This building would be located at Fifteenth and Central Avenues, North Wildwood, New Jersey. It was the only Catholic high school in Cape May County, and it was built by the Reverend Monsignor Aloysius S. Quinlan, pastor of St. Ann’s parish. It remains the only Catholic high school in this county. This school is a place where students are able to go to enhance their faith while advancing academically. Wildwood Catholic almost closed back in 2009. Through the good efforts and funds of the people who love our school and all the support of the community and parish, the high school was able to remain open. This school means so much to many present and past students. For them, this 70-year anniversary means so much.

The school opened in September 1948 with 80 students. An extension started in 1959 and was opened in January 1960, which completed the west wing of the building. In 1998 another part of Wildwood Catholic was added which was the very west end of the building that now contains the Parish offices, physics and computer lab.

There have been many achievements sports wise throughout. The Wildwood Catholic High School Crusaders compete in the National Division of the Cape-Atlantic League. The boy's soccer team won the 1998 Parochial B state title with a 2-1 win over Eastern Christian High School, marking the program's first state championship. The boy's soccer team won the 2006 South B state sectional championship with a 1-0 win over St. Rose High School in the tournament final. The boys cross country team was the state champion in 1998. Michael Delaney won the state individual championship that same year. The girls cross country won the state title in 2006. The girl's softball team had won non public B South Jersey championship the past two years. Arguably the best team to walk the halls at Catholic was the swim team. From 2001 to 2004 the swim team had won 4 state championships.

Through the years hundreds of students have graduated from Wildwood Catholic and each student is part of our family. Every student that who has walked the halls of Wildwood Catholic has experienced similar memories. One of those memories takes place in our gym. One of the biggest parts of being a Crusader is going to the basketball games. Many of the students here have lived their life with their heart attached to the game, great joys had come along with every win. The gym has not changed much since it was open. In ways, the gym is kind of like a museum having all the past banners and records of great teams and athletes who have attended WCHS.

Sports are not the only reason to be a Crusader. Over the years Catholic has put on many plays that people have raved over, such as Grease which was put on in the fall of 2015. These plays have brought joy to many alumni. The Friday night before Thanksgiving is known as alumni night. Alumni from all different years come back to watch the musical

Richard Turco is a well-respected teacher, past principal, and alumnus of Wildwood Catholic. He was hired by Sister Heneretta Mana in 1972. After talking to him I was able to find out more about the history of the school. He said that Wildwood Catholic offers many more clubs and sports than they did when he went here. Wchs had only offered field hockey and cross country in the fall, boys and girls basketball in the winter and softball and baseball in the spring. The teachers have changed a lot since when he had gone to Catholic. Mr. Turco was taught by nuns and priest. He stated that teachers were much stricter. Sister Louis Bertrand was his principal when he went here. Mr. Turco was the first lay principal at Catholic and before him the school was run by Nuns. He is now retired, but he is a substitute teacher who comes in when needed. Currently, all the teachers and administrators are lay people. Fr. Joseph Wallace, school president, is the clergy presiding.

Many things are the same such as our motto Fides et Scientia which has stayed the same as when the school first opened. Mr. Turco says that he remembers the Sunday basketball games that were held at the school. He said that everyone would show up to them. These games were a community event. Hard to believe, but Catholic had one of the bigger basketball gyms at one time. We do not have basketball games on Sundays anymore, but basketball games are still a huge deal for students and alumni.

The school has improved greatly on the academic side. In the beginning, the school was more religion-oriented, but now the school focuses more on academics than when he first came here. When he first started here they had three different courses College Preparatory, General, and business. Now WCHS has a stronger focus on getting students ready for college. Now we offer courses that students can get college credits for. The three levels that we offer at Wildwood Catholic are Honours,College Prep, and AP classes.

The biggest goal for any student over the years is to make it up to the top of the bell tower by their senior year. This is a hard task to accomplish since the door is always locked. Part of the tradition is to sign their name up there for the future students to see. This door is located at the top of the stairs in the front lobby. If one is able to have a watchful eye, on rare occasions this door is left open. Those lucky students are able to make the climb up the wobbly ladder to the bell tower. When one reaches the top they are able to see the ocean and the bay. When the school first open the clock worked and many efforts were made to try to get the clock working again. However attempts were unsuccessful and it is only right two times a day. The names up there show the history of the school. There are names up there dating back to the 50’s.

The biggest part of Wildwood Catholic history is that we are known for our community service. Since it was open 70 years ago students have excelled in athletics, academics and in service to our community. Over the years Wildwood Catholic has put on events to help those in need. The classes in the school today have a minimum number of service hours to complete, but many go way over the number necessary. Wildwood Catholic is family and we help each other when one is needed. Profits received from many of our dress down days go to someone or an organization in need. For 20 years Wildwood Catholic had sponsored a Walkathon. This was done in support of Brendan's fund, which is for people that have pediatric cancer. The foundation was named after Brenden Borak, class of 1992.

Wildwood Catholic Bell Tower

Wildwood Catholic bell tower

Life at Wildwood Catholic is one of good spirits and joy. From the outside, Wildwood Catholic looks like just a brick building. Students come in and out of the school every day. For the most part, it is an average school building with classrooms and desks. Students have been attending Wildwood Catholic for 70 years at this point in time. The bell tower is one place where students desire to go but never can do to the door always being locked but I was given the opportunity to visit.

In a way, the bell tower is a yearbook. On the inside there are signatures of past students, immortalizing them as part of Wildwood Catholic forever. Just by looking on the outside one cannot tell what information is held inside. There are names of past basketball teams in there that have won CAL championships. There are some names up there that are past students and even some of current Catholic teachers. The bell tower has not changed over years like many classrooms have and styles.

Once in a blue moon the door is left unlocked just waiting for some students to discover this so they too can make the climb up the wobbly ladder to the top. The ladder in the tower is the same one as when the school was first opened all that time ago. Names cover the ladder. There are names written big and small, some in paint some in sharpie

For someone that is claustrophobic or scared of heights, the bell tower is not the place to go. The entry to this forbidden place is at the top of the stairs on the third floor on the most eastern side of the building. Once the door is open there is an eight-foot climb up a narrow entryway. Above that is a huge room with a wooden ladder in the middle of it. Looking around in the lower level of the bell tower one could see old markers paint cans. The funniest thing to see if there is a bottle of banana boat sunscreen from the year 2002 that still persides up there. To get up to the actual bell tower there is around a 25 foot climb up a ladder that shakes as one moves up it. Finally at the top of the bell tower, one is able to see the back of the clock and see outside. On the walkway outside. A beautiful sight is able to be witnessed. Of both the ocean and the bay. For one to be able to get all the way to the very top they would have to come outside and use a ladder and climb up .

There has never been a bell inside the bell tower. It symbolized the light of Christ. Back in 1948 when the school was built, it was built in the shape of a cross. The bell tower is supposed to symbolize the light of Christ shining down on the school. There is a light in the tower to show the light of Christ is higher than all of us and shines on our school.

The trip up there is one that means a lot to make the journey. Many students only get to make the trip once in their high school career if at all. In a sense, it is like going in a time machine. Everything is original up there. Even now the clock is broken: it is still correct two times a day. Principal Joe Cray said he would like to get the bell tower clock back up and running, there is electrical power going to the clock it just won't tick. The back of the clock house the oldest names up there. Some name date back to 1953. The biggest problem is that students in the past have painted over names to write their own ruining the history of it.

The bell tower represents Wildwood Catholic Students spirits in many ways. It is old and strong just like the student body. God is a big part of being a student here at Catholic. Much of our day revolved around prayer and religion class. The bell tower is more on in the inside than on the outside. If one is to look at the student body there is a lot more to us than just a school wearing a uniform. We are bright, we are strong, our history is deep just like the tower. The bell tower overlooks the school and all north wildwood just like how God looks over us all. I was blessed to be able to venture up to the top of the belltower with Mr. Cray and Sophie Peters who took the pictures. I was able to witness everything up there with my own eyes to see how special it really is up there.

Girls’ Basketball Preview

Coming off of 15-11 season, the Lady Crusaders are hungry for a successful season. Their goals are set high and they are hoping to enjoy a conference title and hopefully a CAL title. The team is led by senior captain Erin Connelly and sophomore captain Marianna Papazoglou. Marianna averaged 19.3 points per game and led the team in stats. Top returners in include sophomores Lauren McCallion, Alyia Gray-Rivera, and Riley Kane. Newcomers to the team are junior Gabby Turco, sophomore Shaniya Mann, freshmen Kimmy Casiello and Xiomara Walker. The Lady Crusaders have been diligently preparing for the coming games, opening with Middle Township on December 18th.

Wildwood Catholic Swimming

Wildwood Catholic took on Middle Township away on Tuesday, December 4th. This was the first meet of the season for both teams. Sam Francis leads the team in a close fought lose. Sam had a won the 100 fly and the 100 breast. Chris Gamble, the coach, said that this meet was a strong start to the season and expects improvement.

The team is led by top swimmer Grace Stuart, junior, along with senior team captains Lauren Sorensen and Chris Johnson. Grace Stuart isa key member of the team. Grace is expected to compete in 4 events every meet and swim some of the most competitive races such as the 100 free and 50 free. She is supportive of her teammates in every race and encourages all her teammates. She had 4-second place finishes at Middle. In response to the performance at today’s meet Grace said, “Since the team has a strong base and we are all together, it gave me much confidence. I am happy with how I swam and how the team competed today.”

The Crusaders have a co-ed roster that consists of 7 seniors, 6 juniors, 4 sophomores, and 4 freshmen. The mix of underclassmen and experience give the Crusaders a very balanced team. The senior swimmers on the team are greatly depended on by coach.

The four senior boys that swim for the Crusaders - Chris Johnson, Cory Krause, Giacomo Antonicello, and Sam Francis - each bring something to the team. Even though that the team may not win a whole lot of meets each member enjoys the practices and the team comerodity. The senior girls consist of Lauran Sorensen, Lena Cassidy,and Sophie Peters. Each rising senior is expected to take on a heavy load of events to help the Crusaders be competitive.

The top freshman on the team, Leilani Wong, makes an immediate impact and proved she is strong in multiple events during the first swim meet. Leilani won the 500, winning one of only three events Catholic won in its first meet.

The meet at Middle was a learning experience for the mostly inexperienced team and helps the coach figure out what events he can put the new swimmers in so that they can excel in future meets. The Crusader now prepare for their home opener versus Lower Regional High school on Friday, December 7th.

Food Drive

As Thanksgiving grows close, Wildwood Catholic Student Council holds a food drive for family in need. This food drive is one week in november starting Monday the the 12th and will go until friday the 16th. During the week teachers will often give out extra credit point if students bring in a certain amount of cans. Student Council also has a school dress down on Wednesday the 14th . For students to be able to dress down they must bring in 5 cans of their choice and had them to there home room teacher. Last year students brought in around 840 pounds of food.

All the cans will be delivered by student council seniors to the Lazarus house. The Lazarus House is an emergency food pantry located at Burke & Pacific Avenues in Wildwood. This time of year the shelves of the Lazarus house are depleted from all the family getting food for their families for the holiday. The Lazarus house provides nutritious food and other essentials to over 1,500 guests monthly who come to its door in their time of need.

The food pantry is run by volunteers. Last year Wildwood Catholic gave around 720 cans of food. This donation was greatly appreciated by the workers. This had stocked the shelves for the family that depend on the pantry greatly for food.

Students will also bring in turkeys which are donated to the Crest Community church for their pre-Thanksgiving feast. The Crest Community church host around 250 hungry people for a thanksgiving feast. They serve the traditional thanksgiving food: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, potatoes au gratin, cranberries and ice cream.

During the Thanksgiving holiday, Wildwood Catholic tries to help out the less fortunate people that reside in our community. It is a testament to the students of this small school when their generosity is so widely demonstrated. Some of the requested items are: canned beans, peanut butter, canned fruit and vegetables, soups, canned tuna, canned chicken, rice, nuts, pasta and pasta sauce, popcorn kernels, apple sauce, cereals, canned tomatoes, dried fruits honey, chicken, beef and vegetable broths.

Cross Country Team Travels to Disney World
wilwood catholic cross country On Wednesday October 3rd the cross country team flew to Florida to spend a few days enjoying the Disney theme parks and participating in a cross country race. As soon the team arrived in Florida for the next two days they enjoyed time in all of the parks and eating lots of dole whips and drinking a lot of coffee. On Friday both teams raced, and the girls team came in 4th while the boys placed 5th. Senior Chris Johnson placed 7th overall, which was one of the best performances by a Wildwood Catholic student in recent years. While the team enjoyed a lot of fun time during their 5-day trip, it had a good showing in the races as well. The team is headed into championship season and hope to be successful in their upcoming meets.

An Unsung Hero of Wildwood Catholic
There are many things in this school that the student body and much of the faculty take for granted. All the little things that tie the school together so nicely and many of the most important aspects of a thriving school are thanks to a man who doesn't get nearly enough credit for what he does: the lights, the doors, the painting, the desks, and just about everything that you touch in this school is here and working all thanks to one person. Mr. Uetz, the school custodian and ever-faithful handyman. He is here every single day and most days in the summer working tirelessly to work out all the kinks of how things flow in the building. Most people have no idea how much he does for this school, with little to no help at all. He is also an incredible man and a very sociable person, both easy to talk to and extremely kind. Take a moment to appreciate how much he does and thank him for everything that he does when you see him in the hallway. Thank you for everything Mr. Uetz.

Boys Soccer
For the past 4 years the soccer team was stacked with a class of athletes. Beck Lindsay, Rakim Coyle, Jared Wallace, Tyler Mericle, Jonathan Feraco, Taylor Ontrup, Jack Hendee, and Irving Fennocchio. They won numerous titles and had a successful four years. That class graduated and now the team is rebuilding and adapting to a new coach, Jim Lushok. To date the team is 1-6, with a win against Holy Spirit, the team still shows a lot of potential. Their one victory over Holy Spirit with the score of 7-3, the team showed much potential with Senior’s Giacomo Antonicello, aka Mo, and Nathan Yhost who both scored for Wildwood Catholic. A new junior, Sean Dougherty, put up 4 of the 7 goals, along with Cj Deegler (junior) who also scored 1 for Catholic. Juniors Matt Vodges and Tommy Bolle provided a solid defense. New goalie, junior Tyler Cruz also made 7 stops during that game. We look forward to seeing them get their second win over Holy Spirit on October 2nd. Although their record is disappointing, the team continues to work hard and goes in every game with a good attitude.

Boy’s Cross Country
The Wildwood Catholic boys’ cross country team had a good start to the season with a win over Holy Spirit and Middle Township high schools on September 11. Chris Johnson won the race, with Eric Feria coming in third, Johnny Manera got 7th followed by Cole and Neil McIntyre. In the next meet on the 18th, the boys defeated Buena and Lower Cape May on their home course. The boys have four wins after the first two races of the season. The team is led by team captain Chris Johnson with five other seniors constituting a strong and hard working core. A team goal is to win the united conference this year. Johnny Manera says “If you’re not first you're last,” quoting his favorite movie which drives him to run hard. The boys hope to win the Big Five on Friday Sept. 28 for the second year in a row.

Girls Soccer Beats Holy Spirit
On Wednesday September 12, Wildwood Catholic Girls Soccer team beat Holy Spirit for the first time in years. The girls triumphed 2-1. Sophomore Leona Macrina was a key player in the game with multiple saves and smart decisions in the goal. Goals were scored on the opposing team by Marianna P and Ivy Bolle. Senior Bella Feraco was an essential player positioned as a defensive midfielder. The girls started off the season with a 6-0 win over Cape May Tech. They are a growing threat to other teams in the games yet to come.

Girls Cross CountryHas Its First Win of the Season
On September 11, the girls cross country team had their first win over rivals Holy Spirit and Middle Township. The team was led by senior Erin Connelly followed by senior Joelle Osborne, sophomore Aliya Gray-Rivera, seniors Sophie Peters and Lauren Sorensen and freshman Sammy Andress. This race was a big debut race for Andress, she was the tiebreaker that lead our girls to victory. On September 18, the girls defeated Lower Cape May and Buena with the same order as the first race.