St. Joseph School Alumni Newsletter
Issue: # 23Winter 2013
In This Issue
A Message from Patrick Fennessy
School News/Events
Choral Tradition
St. Joseph School Alumni
About Reconnections
Quick Links

A Message from Patrick Fennessy 


Happy New Year from all of us at St. Joe's! Just this morning, I was walking to the corner café near my home in Green Lake and heard someone yell, "Hey! There's the principal of St. Joe's!" It was a few former parents, the Raneys and the Walkers, out for a morning walk. We had a nice chat, and one of them jokingly said, "You can't go anywhere and not see someone from St. Joe's." I think this is great. While many think of us as a big, neighborhood school up on Capitol Hill, our reach really goes even further.


We have had a very successful fall here at the school. The annual Jog-a-Thon brought in over $79,000. A huge part of its success is support from grandparents and relatives. Our auction, "City of Light, the Magic of Paris" was a hit, grossing just over $500,000. And, as of the December 14 pledge deadline, the School Pledge Drive had reached $520,000 in pledges, beating our goal of $515,000. A few families have yet to pledge, but we're confident that 100% of our community will participate in this important fundraising endeavor. If you haven't had a chance to pledge, you can do so online. I'm also happy to take pledges over the phone 206-329-3260 x218.


Many of you will enjoy reading in this issue about our middle school choir and the history behind it. Those of you who have been around for a while will know that the choir has long been a part of life here at St. Joe's. Since 1981 the school has been blessed by the gifts of Rick Boyle. Under his leadership, each year around 80 seventh and eighth grade students come together to make beautiful music, touching our community and many outside our community.


You'll also read about an exciting building project we are currently planning. The time has come to give another marquis program, the Learning Resource Center, the room it needs to address the needs of the diverse learners we have here at our school. The project will also give us a truly inviting main entrance.


There are literally St. Joe's grads in every corner of our world. Please stay in touch with us no matter where you are or when you graduated. It's integral to our school that alumni stay connected. Your stories, experiences and gifts help us continue to weave the thick fabric that is St. Joe's.



School News/Events


Mr. Fennessy outlines planned expansion

I want to share some exciting news about a long-dreamed-of project here at St. Joseph School that, ideally, will become a reality in the winter/spring of 2014. We've submitted plans to the City of Seattle to join our new and old buildings on the second story by "filling in" the gap that lies above the breezeway between the two. The drawing shown below gives you a good sense of the look and feel when viewed from street level on 18th Avenue.


In terms of the footprint of the project, the change is modest, but in terms of the return on our investment, it's huge. Here are several benefits:

  • An increase in the overall size and an improvement in layout of our Learning Resource Center. The LRC is bursting at the seams, and this project not only accommodates the current need, but puts us in position to expand our LRC offerings to students who work above grade level.
  • Improved ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) access to parts of the school. Plans call for installation of an elevator that will open up more of our school to people in wheelchairs or on crutches.
  • Creation of a unified main entrance to the school on the first floor. Achieved by building out the breezeway entrance and relocating the development and administrative offices, this space will be a central gathering area at the center of the school, providing a place for parents and students to gather out of the weather as well as a space where we could host events. The new configuration provides a clear view of the entry, so office staff can see who is entering the building.
  • An improvement in the overall aesthetic of the school buildings.
  • Relocation and reconfiguration of the development and administrative offices. The change will streamline those workspaces and will provide the front office staff with a clear view of the main entrance, allowing them to more effectively control the entrance of the school to increase the level of safety of our campus.

In all, between the newly added space on the second floor and the remodel of portions of the first floor, the project will provide us approximately 4,200 square feet of new and renewed space. Of course, all of this comes with a price tag. While details are not final, we estimate the total cost to be between $3 and $4 million. For three key reasons, we believe the timing is right to proceed now. First, thanks to the conservative budgeting that St. Joseph's has practiced for many years, money has been set aside for future expansions, and we have nearly $1.2 million specifically reserved for this project---yet another wonderful reminder of George Hofbauer's farsighted leadership and stewardship. Second, we expect to secure as much  

as $1 million in funding from various foundations. And third, construction costs are at historically low levels---a situation that looks to start changing as the economy and housing market continue their rebounds.


We believe we can raise any remaining funds through donations.  

If this project is something you would like to support, please be in touch with me. Rest assured, we will not raise tuition or employ a capital campaign to pay for this. We will achieve the remaining funding through targeted donations and by making the project part  

of our annual pledge drive for the next two to three years.


In terms of timeline, we expect the city to respond to our proposal  

in early 2013. If all goes as hoped, we are targeting mid-to-late-June for the start of construction. That is not cast in stone, given the considerable work that must be completed before then, but it is  

our current target. A June start would allow us to complete a substantial portion of the project over the summer, so the impact  

on the 2013-2014 school year would be limited to no more than roughly five to six months. The proposed completion would be winter/spring of 2014.


This is a very exciting opportunity for St. Joseph School, and one I'm cautiously optimistic will secure the necessary approvals from the city to move forward.


View of planned expansion from 18th Ave. E. 



Alumni Christmas Appeal supports endowment 

A sincere thank-you to all of the St. Joseph School alumni that responded to this year's Christmas Appeal. Specifically reaching  

out annually to former students, the appeal so far has brought in  

over $42,000. Unless otherwise designated, the funds go to the Endowment for St. Joseph School's George Hofbauer Financial  

Aid Fund. We appreciate each and every donation, and  

thank you for your continued support of St. Joseph School.  



Christmas program delights overflowing crowd
Families and friends enjoyed an evening of Christmas carols and songs from St. Joseph students interwoven with the recitation of the Nativity story. Music specialists Betsy Baeskens, Christoper Roberts, and John Bahlman, accompanist John Stuntebeck and Middle School Choir director Rick Boyle put together the annual program that delighted a standing-room-only crowd.

Endowment Bowling
You are invited to the Endowment for St. Joseph School's

        Bowling Tournament

Proceeds from this event benefit the Endowment for St. Joseph School. The Endowment provides funding to the school for financial aid, staff enrichment and donor-inspired special programs.

Sunday, February 10 

5:00pm - 8:00pm

The Garage

1130 Broadway

Seattle, Washington

$25 per person

(includes bowling, dinner & beverage)

To register please email
         or call (206) 329-3260 ext 267

Toast to Technology
Join us for the 2nd annual wine tasting event to support
St. Joseph School Technology - Alumni are welcome!
Friday, March 8
St. Joseph Wyckoff Gym
Check for forthcoming details
on the school website


A past St. Joseph Boys' Choir in the Christmas season
Middle School Choir performance at Providence O'Christmas Trees

Steeped in Choral Tradition 

The St. Joseph Middle School Choir embarks on its annual performance schedule during the Christmas season. Directed by Rick Boyle, the choir participated this year in various holiday events, beginning with Providence Health & Services O' Christmas Trees, a fundraiser for Providence Senior and Community Services at The Westin Seattle, for which the group was thanked as "the cornerstone" of the event's entertainment. The choir performed as part of Student Showcases at Seattle Center Winterfest sponsored by Seattle Center Foundation, City of Seattle, and Coca-Cola; at KIRO 7 TV for the annual Toys for Tots Station Drive Day; and at the Great Figgy Pudding Street Corner Caroling Competition benefiting the Pike Market Senior Center & Food Bank. The choir moves on to various events culminating in a spring performance tour.


The St. Joseph Middle School Choir upholds a rich choral and service tradition that dates back to the early 1900s and began with the  

St. Joseph Boys' Choir. From nearly its inception, the choir took its talents beyond St. Joseph Church to the wider Seattle community to lift spirits, raise funds, and become a well known musical fixture in the city. A look back at its history offers a fascinating backdrop for today's choir.


One of many past Boys' Choir groups poses on the front stairs.

Although St. Joseph formally became a parish in 1907, the first mention of the Boys' Choir appears ten years later in a record of the pastoral responsibilities showing curate William A. Garrigan, S.J., from Seattle College, as Director, Boys' Choir. The Chronicles of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, Holy Names Academy, 1880-1971, gives a glimpse of the early history of the St. Joseph's Boys' Choir. The Holy Names Academy Sisters staffed St. Joseph's School, which became all boys in 1917. Description of the Boys'  

Choir in the Chronicles begins with an entry on Christmas Day, 1919: "A High Mass at St. Joseph's Church, sung by the Boys' Choir, added to the day's joy." The choir would play a featured role in Christmas celebrations for many years, a tradition still alive today.


The involvement of the choir in the wider community began very soon. Notable is an early report from the June 5, 1920, Seattle Daily Times of an "ambitious program" to be staged "with well known Seattle singers" for "a rare musical treat." The Boys' Choir apparently was a hit, at least according to the proud Sister writing in the Chronicles: "The Boys' Choir of St. Joseph's Church literally took the audience 'by storm' this evening in their magnificent rendering of both secular and sacred music. The boys were surpliced for the second part of the program and covered themselves with glory by their excellent performance. The Boys' Choir was assisted by several of Seattle's best known singers."



From the beginning, the choir's repertoire extended beyond the sacred, as described in the Catholic Northwest Progress in 1921: "The concert of sacred and secular song ... presented by the St. Joseph's Boys' Choir was an artistic triumph for the young choristers. Singing with a precision and a sureness often lacking in the work of older vocalists, and equally at home in opera, in ballad or in the most difficult sacred music, the boys charmed every listener and demonstrated their claim to an important niche in the musical world of the Northwest." This tradition still holds today as the  

St. Joseph Middle School Choir performs an impressive repertoire locally and nationally. The entertaining Chronicles description (and surviving photo) of the 1923 Boys' Choir performance of the comic opera, The Mikado, is a highlight of its history, with "the boys taking with equal facility the roles of gentlemen and ladies of the court,  

and sustaining their respective characters in song and speech with unusual grace and accuracy."


The Mikado performed by the Boys' Choir, 1923 

 The Boys' Choir kept performing in the community into the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, ranging from singing at novenas for the unemployed, to radio broadcasts, to events for servicemen, to participating in local holiday events. And of course always Christmas Mass. The choir faded during the '70s, but the 1980s ushered in a new era and the revival of youth choral music at St. Joseph School where it thrives today.


Boys' Choir sang for servicemen, 1942

Rick Boyle, now Academic Vice Principal and choir director, formed the grades 7-8 student "chorus" in 1981 that later grew into the  

St. Joseph Middle School Choir. Mr. Boyle also revived the extracurricular Boys' Choir in 1982 for a short time. He recalls the nostalgic faces in the congregation the first time those boys sang in the church. Today the Middle School Choir carries on a choral tradition that identifies St. Joseph School, and still includes service 

and outreach as well as adjudicated performances at national music festivals. Mr. Boyle has also taken alumni choir groups on European tours. Each year, he puts out the call to alumni choir members to come back to sing on Christmas Eve. With minimal rehearsal, the alumni choir comes together at Mass with traditional carols in arrangements fondly recognized by former choir members in the congregation.



Middle School Choir at Carnegie Hall, 2006 

Mr. Boyle has so many memories of choir experiences and performances that it is difficult to single out highlights. One standout is the first time the Middle School Choir performed on the Carnegie Hall stage as featured choir. "Those members still come back and say they will never forget it," he says. Another is a performance at Versailles of a joint piece in French and English with a famous French choir, broadcasted and played to a packed house. However, equally memorable, he emphasizes, are those performances at Union Gospel Mission, or at the largest homeless shelter in Washington, DC, or at Seattle Center where each year the same homeless gentleman makes a point to tell Mr. Boyle how much he enjoys it. These are the moments, Mr. Boyle reflects, "that let music lift you out of wherever you are and center yourself, exposing students to that service in their lives." The next time you have a chance to hear those young voices, you can appreciate the choir's long legacy of both wonderful music and service to the community, a hallmark of St. Joseph's.

Alumni Choir on Christmas Eve
St. Joseph School Alumni

Alumni families stay connected  

Former school parents Ezra Teshome and Dave Spicer visited

Ezra Teshome and Dave Spicer
(second and third from left)
with 6th grade teachers 

sixth grade after Thanksgiving to talk with students about their efforts as Rotarians to vaccinate Ethiopian children against polio and to assist communities in digging wells for life-giving  

clean water. The eye-opening presentation prompted many questions, and gave the students  

a look at the challenges faced by young people their own age in that part of the world. Mr. Teshome and Mr. Spicer told the students they can all make a difference by getting involved in projects that help other people. Mr. Teshome received the 2010 World Citizen award from the World Affairs Council of Seattle, and previously was named by TIME magazine as one of ten Global Health Heroes at their Global Health Summit.


Mr. Teshome remarked to the class that "all our children went to school here ... taught by these wonderful teachers." We caught up on the activities of the Teshome and Spicer children: 

  • Hewan Teshome ('97) is a law school graduate working as a legal adviser for a company in oil and gas exploration in Ethiopia.
  • Selome Teshome ('94) is working with her dad at State Farm Insurance. 
  • Sophia Teshome ('99) graduated from the UW in Global Health and is working with the CDC in Ethiopia. 
  • Zack Teshome ('02) is working in Nairobi, Kenya, for a private equity firm. 
  • Chris Spicer is pursuing a Master of Divinity degree at Boston College after recently living with the White Rose Catholic Worker community in Chicago, working on issues of social and economic justice and community organizing. 
  • Casey Spicer is a recent graduate of Northridge University in Los Angeles and is heading into the job market.

St. Joseph School  

Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award

Nominations are now being accepted for the St. Joseph School Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award to be announced in September 2013. Please visit the Alumni page on the school's website to find a description of the award and list of previous years' recipients. If you would like to submit a nomination, please contact Maureen Cartano at or 206-329-3260 ext. 201.



Class Reunions


If you are the contact for your class and would like to post information about your class reunion in Reconnections or on the school's website, please contact Maureen Cartano at .

About Reconnections


Reconnections is an e-mail newsletter from St. Joseph School sent to our alumni, their parents and grandparents, parents whose students attended St. Joseph School but withdrew prior to graduation, and former staff.  


If your contact information is incorrect, please help us update your information by responding via e-mail or clicking on "Update Your Contact Information." Please feel free to forward the newsletter to your family members for whom we do not have an e-mail address. They can add their names to the mailing list.

If you do not wish to receive Reconnections, simply use the

"unsubscribe" feature, and your e-mail address will be removed.  

If you would like to us to spread the word about your class reunion, please send us the information, and we will include it in the next issue.


Comments, story suggestions and inquiries can be sent to  

Maureen Cartano by responding to this e-mail.

Thank you,

Maureen Cartano 


St Joseph School
700 18th Avenue East
Seattle, WA 98112
Principal:  Patrick Fennessy 
Academic Vice Principal:  Rick Boyle 
Vice Principal for Student Life:  Kris Brown 
Pastor:  John D. Whitney, S.J.