Carroll High School Blog
At Duke University, students do not officially declare a major until their sophomore year, which would only give Jason Dong ‘18 a short year to decide the course the remainder of his college experience would take. Thankfully, he had his academic and extracurricular experiences at Archbishop Carroll High School to prepare him for his future. “When I was at Carroll, there were a lot of opportunities for me to explore what I wanted to do,” Jason recalled. He knew he wanted to go into either biochemistry, bioengineering, or electrical engineering, and he was able to explore all three throughout his time at Carroll.
When it came time to officially declare his major, he chose two. He would pursue electrical engineering and computer science, as well taking on a minor in history.
At a prestigious institution as Duke, taking on two majors and a minor would be no easy task. But, Dong felt very prepared, especially after navigating AP-level courses while running cross country. The discipline to run daily, in addition to taking rigorous courses, taught him valuable lessons necessary for success as a Blue Devil. Patriot Cross Country Coach John Agnew ‘80, an electrical engineer himself, also encouraged Jason to pursue engineering by providing him with valuable information about the profession.
With such little time for a social life, Jason found great friendships and belonging in the STEM community at Carroll. He had great connections with his teachers and his tight-knit group of classmates. Dong recalled that they led him to be more sociable and confident in himself. With those friends, he joined the iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) competition team and was able to explore the bioengineering side of the STEM field.
Little did he know that the two years he spent as a part of Carroll’s newly-formed House System would provide valuable tools to prepare him for life on campus in Durham, North Carolina. “At the time Carroll did the House System, I didn’t fully understand the concept. It makes a lot of sense leading into college,” said Dong, especially at Duke, where the university was beginning to incorporate their own version of the House System into community residence life while he was an undergraduate.
Jason was able to live on campus his freshman year; however, the COVID pandemic complicated two years of his time at Duke. He spent a good portion of sophomore year and all of his junior year back home while both virtually taking classes and working as a Teaching Assistant for the Intro to Coding and Digital Electronics courses. “I’m very thankful that I had my last two semesters on campus, in person, at Duke” Jason said, as he was able to attend hall of fame Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final home game against their bitter rivals at the University of North Carolina and reunite with his friends for other university events.
Since Duke this past spring, Jason has accepted a position as a software engineer for Goldman Sachs. He plans on taking either the GRE or GMAT while working in New York to work towards earning a masters degree in computer science or getting an MBA.
Jason’s mother told her son that she knew Archbishop Carroll High School would provide Jason with a valuable education in a faith-filled community. However, neither she nor Jason could have guessed that being a part of not one, but two, House System community developments would play such a significant role in his professional advancement. Jason hopes that his past experiences and current career endeavors will allow him the opportunity to someday shape a professional community of his own as the project manager of a startup in the future.
In the House of St. Mary’s, it has already been quite a year. The third-quarter is already wrapping up, and many spring sports are getting ready to start their season. All the captains have been on the move and are already planning the final House Event. This past week, the House of St. Mary’s was in charge of an event to raise money for the Clean Water Project. All the money raised will go to The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur to provide many students and families in Africa with clean water.
We raised money by having Penny Wars, a competition for each House to fill their own jars with pennies and fill other Houses' jars with any silver coins or bills. Pennies resulted in positive points while the silver coins and bills resulted in negative points. Overall, the water project was very successful. We beat our goal and raised the most money this year compared to all other previous years.
Besides the fundraising event, many Houses have already started looking forward to next year! The juniors have been making great choices and are looking forward to leading their Houses next year. The Houses have already started their new captain applications, and St. Mary’s has already gotten many juniors to turn in applications to become captains. After asking one of the applicants, Oscar Campos-Ortiz’ 21, a few questions, I received some interesting answers. I asked Oscar why he looked forward to being a captain next year and what he looked forward to for the end of the school year.
“I look forward to improving the House System and being able to connect with my peers along with other people from the House," Oscar said. "I also look forward to the final House Event because it’s a big and final event. It also reunites everyone as a whole before the school year ends which is a good feeling.”
Along with that, St. Mary’s Family Room 109 has gotten ready for this Lenten season. Family Room Captain, Kate Reuter’20, has come up with the idea to give more to the less fortunate. They wanted to think of a way to do a charitable act, and they thought of an amazing idea! Her family will collect canned goods and deliver them to a food bank to help those in need! I definitely think that the House System has done every student well in some way. Not only have students grown within the House, but also as a whole Carroll community!
As a community, Carroll High School excels in community service and donating. Our students and faculty have lived up to this reputation recently with Bottles for Babies and Penny Wars projects by bringing in money to help these two causes. Friday, February 28th during Family Room, our Houses had a competition to bring in pennies for Penny Wars. This competition brings attention to communities without clean water around the world. A donut party was the prize for the House that had the highest score based on the amount of money collected, and Mercy House won the reward!
Our Houses are deeply passionate about community service and helping others out. Mercy is no exception, and our students go over and beyond to help those in need. One student who embodies this amazingly well is Delany Conger '21 from Family Room 104. She went out of her way to help teach a fellow Mercy student some math they had missed from being out. Mercy is the place to be! Keep it up Mercy, and congratulations on your win of Penny Wars!
All throughout the week, the Gonzaga House Captains were teaming up with the Mercy House Captains to finish preparations for the upcoming house event, a spin-off of the Match Game since the competition was on Valentine’s Day. The competition was a success for Gonzaga, not only because we won, but there was overwhelming positive feedback from all houses about the event as well.
Joe Lansangan ‘21 said, “the experience was indubitably extravagant.” He thought it was cool to see his classmate, Catherine Berent '21, as a participant in the hot seat and Family Room Captain, Amelia Harlow '20, on stage as an MC.
Breaking our two-year streak of not having won a House Event was relieving. It renewed faith in our house and inspired many to attend Marquee events such as that weekend’s basketball game. Sam Scheu ‘21 described how she felt after winning the House Competition. “I thought we were doing pretty well considering our House got many of the right answers. When Mr. Sableski announced that there was a tie for second, I expected to be one of the Houses that were tied, but to my surprise, we won! My friends and I were so happy.”
The House Competition wasn’t the only exciting thing that happened last week. While the snow day on Thursday canceled many of Gonzaga’s Family Room parties, it did not stop some Family Rooms from sharing candy and handing out Valentines. Meredith Sanders ‘23 expressed her appreciation for her Family Room Captain, Luke Wittmann '20, who hand-wrote kind messages for everyone in Family Room 209. Overall, it was a great week for our house.
The second semester has begun, and students are buckling down. Winter sports teams are headed into the tournament and are prepared for the seedings. Looking into the future, Carroll’s St. Pats Fest is coming up soon. Students are asked to sign up for a shift
in order to fulfill the 80% goal to receive a day off. Also, each House is putting together a basket for the Silent Auction. Each basket has a theme which will be announced by House deans. This month is also full of school dances with Turnabout on February 22, Father-Daughter on February 28, and Mother-Son on February 29. Finally, it is important to check calendars for the listed upcoming days off in February.
In Family Rooms, students are busy taking in every moment as time is winding down. This coming Friday, Houses will participate in the third Quarter House Event, a game show presented by Gonzaga and Mercy Houses. Also, Charity captains are busy planning events for Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays. In Room 307, Jackson Stanard '20 has been planning fun events like Pictionary, Hangman, and TikToks! One of our very own Charity mentors, Mr. Ben Joplin, knows PUBLIC, the band whose song inspired one of the most popular TikTok trends. The band said if Family Rooms make a TikTok to “Make You Mine,” the best video would be featured on their page. In Room 307, I asked Morgan Sanko '20 a few questions about starting her final semester of high school.
“Family Room has brought me closer to people who I never thought I would be friends with,” Morgan says. "We all know each other very well and respect each other. We have fun and play lots of games just to bond. I am going to miss our celebrations the most.”
Everyone can see the importance of community that the House System has instilled. Each student is comfortable with their peers they spend time with every day. There are different purposes for having the House System, but one is definitely to create a family sensation in the school environment for every student.
We're a month into the second semester, and all the Houses are preparing for a great second half of the school year. In the first semester, the Houses participated in two House competitions and countless family room activities, but it is now time to look forward to what is coming. Skylynn Pierce 21’ from Family Room 304 shared some thoughts about how her Family and House are prepping for a fantastic second semester.
“The first semester went well, and our Family Room bonded with each other and had more communication throughout the House which created a closer bond with each other,” Pierce said. Communication is very important in the House System because it allows for every House to better understand what each Family is doing and how to improve certain activities or ideas.
When asked what her goals were for the second semester, Skylynn said, “My goal is to improve my Family Room because I want to help grow as a family and make sure that everyone in my Family Room knows that they are welcomed. Anyone from the House System is welcomed, because we are such a loving community, and that responsibility is primarily on the students. We are all coming together as one to bond."
A personal bond seems to be very important to most members of Carroll. They feel a personal connection not only to their fellow students, but also the Houses themselves. This is the most important part of the second semester; the ability to keep up the pace and continue to grow this bond with each other and with Carroll. All the students at Carroll are ready for another great semester, and all they need to do is keep the great pace set by first semester. With the House System, this is not only possible, but extremely enjoyable.