St. Joseph School Alumni Newsletter
Issue #29    
Summer 2014
In This Issue
A Message from Patrick Fennessy
New Faces
School News/Events
Alumni Adventures
Expansion Update
Alumni in the News
Distinguished Alumni
Support St. Joseph School
About Reconnections
Quick Links

A Message from Patrick Fennessy     



Summer greetings, St. Joe's alumni! While the staff and students have departed the school grounds for a much deserved summer vacation, the campus is still teeming with activity.


Our remodel/addition project is really taking shape, as you'll see in the photos that accompany this message. The added space for the Learning Resource Center and main entry will benefit our school for years to come. Please do stop by to see the progress if you're in town.


We love to hear about interesting things (and adventures) our alumni are up to. In this issue of Reconnections, you'll read about a few of our alums who are stepping out in their lives. I'd encourage you, as you read about what they are doing, to think about other alumni who have stories to tell. Maybe even you have updates that others would like to know about. It's our hope to continually add to our alumni lists, knowing that many of you want to be in touch with fellow alums.


As we look back on the 2013-14 school year, we are grateful for the gifts that departing staff members Beth Peterson, Nick Reykdal and Rick Boyle have given to our school. Each of them is an important thread in the beautiful tapestry that is St. Joseph School, and each one is always part of this community.


With the departure of these educators, we also welcome new staff members to our community: Lil Zadra, primary school director; Mary Helen Bever, middle school director; Cassie Kastens, first grade teacher; Emily Ittes, LRC teacher; and Alex LaCasse, middle school humanities teacher.


Have a wonderful summer. As always, please be welcome to stop by. I'd love to continue to reconnect with St. Joe's alumni. Your stories and lives are a grace to our community.




Graduation 2014 



Rick Boyle, Academic Vice Principal, delivered the commencement speech to the Class of 2014 at the graduation ceremony on June 5. Congratulations to all of the graduates and to the following student award recipients:


Language Arts

Gabriella Claravall


Olivia Taylor-Manning


Emily Aslin


Parker Thompson


Dagmawi Misgano

Treanna Ross

Ida Teshome


Stella Emerton


Olivia Taylor-Manning

Paul Hirning Service Award

Treanna Ross

Joseph Boyle Memorial Scholarship

Josie Moran

George Hofbauer Leadership Award

Catie Stukel

Ed Thenell Award

Josie Moran

Sam Woletz


New Faces in 2014-2015


Primary School Director

Lillian Zadra 

Ms. Zadra joins St. Joseph from Our Lady of Fatima where she was vice principal. Previously she was principal of St. Matthew School for five years after serving as Director of Admissions at Bishop Blanchet High School. She has taught kindergarten through twelfth grade in Catholic and international schools. Ms. Zadra holds a Bachelor of Arts from Gonzaga University and a Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Seattle University. 


Middle School Director

Mary Helen Bever

Ms. Bever comes to St. Joseph after serving as principal at
St. Catherine of Sienna School in Seattle. She has taught at the elementary and middle school levels, chiefly in mathematics.
Ms. Bever holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Seattle University, a Juris Doctorate from Willamette University College of Law, and an Education Specialist degree
from Seattle University.

Middle School Humanities
Alex LaCasse

Mr. LaCasse comes to St. Joseph from New York City where he has been teaching and developing after-school programs in middle and high schools with an education non-profit organization. Originally from Seattle, he previously taught Humanities and created Common Core aligned Language Arts and World History in two diverse, international Chicago private Catholic schools. Mr. LaCasse earned his Master of Education degree at Loyola University Chicago's CHOICE program.



1st Grade

Cassie Kastens


Ms. Kastens moved to Seattle in 2008 where she began her teaching career at St. Benedict School. Ms. Kastens has a B.S. in Education from the University of Nevada Reno. She is a member and supporter of the Slingerland Institute for Literacy. Ms. Kastens has been teaching first grade at St. Benedict School.



Learning Resource Center 

Emily Ittes 

Ms. Ittes comes to St. Joseph from St. Catherine of Siena Parish School in Seattle where she has been teaching fourth grade. She previously taught at PS 163x Arthur Schomburg School in the New York City Department of Education. She attended Seattle Preparatory School here in Seattle. Ms. Ittes earned her Master of Special Education degree from Fordham University Graduate School of Education. She joins the Learning Resource Center team.


School News/Events     

May Crowning

Outgoing first grade teacher Beth Peterson crowned Mary at the May Crowning Mass.

CYO Baseball Champs

St. Joseph's baseball team won the 5th-6th National 2014 Champions trophy in the CYO Greater Seattle Championship. The team faced St. Bernadette in the championship game. St. Joe's took an early lead with a 3-run home run in the 1st inning and never trailed, finally winning 7-5. Coaches Trish McGonigal and Brian Flynn agreed it was a great team effort!


Blue and White Day
On May 16, St. Joseph School hosted a youth activism day where students performed speeches, songs, and dances to get students excited about how to participate in local and global outreach efforts. Over 300 students from grades 5-8 were invited to the assembly that intertwined persuasive speeches from the middle school's Speech/Debate team, performances by talented student artists, and a headline speech and call to action by Karen Moyer of the Moyer Foundation. The students raised over $400 to be donated to Catholic Relief Services for Typhoon Haiyan relief and collected over 400 canned food items for St. Mary's Food Bank. 





Green Games

The middle school students rallied for spring Green Games organized by student government, dividing into A-B-C homeroom teams: the Landfill A's, the Recycle B's and the Compost C's. Events included a water carry relay, soccer with a recycled material ball, hockey with a recycled material puck, and a "recycle recital." The games promote environmental and conservation awareness.


Medal of Honor Assembly

Carl Swenson and Julia Buchholz, parents of Captain William Swenson, recent Medal of Honor recipient, visited St. Joseph to deliver a presentation about the award. Captain Swenson attended St. Joseph School from first through sixth grade. He intended to do the assembly himself, but is now back in the Army and could not attend. His parents made sure to tell the students that Captain Swenson wanted to thank the St. Joseph fourth graders who each sent him a letter. His mother shared that he is keeping all of them!


Colonial Fair
More recent alums may remember the fifth grade Colonial Fair. Exhibits galore documented the journeys, food, and customs of the early groups in the American colonies.


Jaguar Award

John Knierim received the Jaguar Award from principal Patrick Fennessy at the year-end Mass. Given annually to a school staff person, the Jaguar Award acknowledges service "above and beyond" for the school. John joined St. Joseph School in 2007 and continues to advance the level of technology support that the school provides to staff, students and families. He has taken St. Joe's from less than 100 network devices to close to 600 in what is now a functioning enterprise-class network. John shared that he enjoys the community and feels it is like working with friends and family. "I really care about this place and the people in it," he says.

John Knierim, right, receives the Jaguar Award. 



Alumni Basketball
Alums came back to the Wyckoff Gym in May for the annual alumni tournament. The winning team pictured left to right: Ollie Peterson ('98), Brendan Hopps ('99), Pat Hopps ('96), Grant Feek ('96), Sam Procopio ('96). Team "tred" shirts courtesy of Grant Feek, who founded Tred a few years ago after finishing up his MBA at Harvard. Tred delivers cars to your doorstep for a test drive.



Alumni Adventures      

Red Bull Can You Make It: Brett Looney ('08)

Brett Looney (left) with his Red Bull team and a friendly driver 


At the ripe age of 20, UW Foster School of Business student and  

St. Joe's alum Brett Looney has already traveled far and wide. His enthusiasm for challenges and reaching his goals is impressive. This spring, Brett set out along with two UW friends, Dylan Siegal and JP Simons, on a unique adventure: the Red Bull "Can You Make It" challenge across Europe. Their team (Socks Crocks and Birkenstocks) was one of only ten U.S. teams chosen to attempt a journey from a European starting point to Berlin using only Red Bull as currency - for everything!


Brett and his comrades crafted a video as part of their entry; the video uploaded only 48 hours before the deadline. The UW team finished sixth in the West region, and was ultimately picked as one of the 10 U.S. university teams among the 100 worldwide teams. Brett's starting point to reach Berlin was London; other teams departed from Paris, Milan, and Vienna. An added hurdle was the requirement to hit at least six "checkpoints" that included challenges to collect more Red Bull "currency."


Brett enjoyed a certain advantage with the challenge: he has experienced foreign travel since high school. While at St. Joe's, former academic vice principal Rick Boyle nominated him for the Congressional Youth Leadership Council leadership conference in Bellevue. Brett subsequently attended the National Young Leaders State Conference, the Congressional Youth Inaugural Conference for President Obama's inauguration, and the Global Young Leaders Conferences in China (2010) and Europe (Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Germany, 2011).


Needless to say, the Red Bull challenge called for a lot of marketing, negotiation, and ingenuity. Brett hopes to pursue a career in marketing, so he definitely applied the skills he is learning. He noted that the guys often faced rejection, but inevitably persuaded folks to help them on their quest. The Socks Crocks and Birkenstocks reached Berlin a day early!


Brett shared that his St. Joseph School years fostered his leadership skills, and that those first experiences with the Congressional Youth Leadership Council beginning with the recommendation from
Mr. Boyle got him going on his true passion - a love for travel. He still keeps up with a core group of friends from St. Joe's and returns each year for the alumni basketball tournament. It's evident that many more adventures await him.


Check out the Red Bull Can You Make It website as well as local KOMO 4 TV coverage of Brett's adventure.




Craft Brews Elevated: Nat Cutler ('92)

Nat Cutler is stirring up the San Francisco restaurant scene with his two ventures, The Monk's Kettle and The Abbot's Cellar, which he co-owns with business partner Christian Albertson. Nat paired up with Albertson after getting to know him thanks to their then-girlfriends, now wives. With an Economics degree from Claremont McKenna, Nat was a natural "business side" guy to complement Christian, the operations guy that had worked in restaurants and bars all his life, including some very beer-specific places in Boston and Colorado. Plus, "I had always kept the dream of running my own bar or restaurant in the back of my mind," he admits.  

So, the Monk's Kettle opened its doors in 2007: a neighborhood tavern with great food that focused on craft beer. A few years later, with the addition of a new chef, the partners stepped out to open a restaurant in 2012 to showcase his talents, a place where the food could really take the forefront - The Abbot's Cellar. Nat confesses that he has "certainly never lacked for confidence" and adds that "failure was not an option." So, hours of hard work and sweat equity went into building his business. He did everything from learning the ground floor by taking a busser job to traveling to Belgium to research beer and food to, finally, establishing a successful restaurant that provided the chance to open another one on a much larger scale.  

Nat describes his path to current success as "slow and winding." After St. Joe's, he went on to Bishop Blanchet High School and then to Claremont McKenna. He returned to Seattle, worked as Advertising Coordinator at the Puget Sound Business Journal (where he met his future wife, Theresa), tried to get a band going (!), and trained to be an EMT. When he met up with Christian Albertson and his idea plus experience for the restaurant, Nat declares, "I was in." He is still all in, with a growing business and a young family - wife Theresa, a Palliative Care nurse at Kaiser, and daughter Dottie Kay.  

Does Nat give St. Joseph School any credit for giving him a start down this road? "Of course," he says. "SJS laid the groundwork for who I am and the values I hold. It was the place that really made me feel comfortable in my own skin. I think the first time kids are consciously aware of that fact is massively significant ... I was also a member of the first kindergarten class there, with Mrs. Andrews as my teacher." (Nat's mom, Barb Cutler, is the St. Joseph School librarian.) 
Nat in the first row, second from left 

Nat and his partner would like to grow the business in California and perhaps further. Look for a Monk's Kettle near you one of these days?



One Leg at a Time: Max Andrews ('01)


Max Andrews, St. Joseph School staffer, set out in May to conquer the Pacific Crest Trail. His goal is to reach the Canadian border by September 8. Below are a few excerpts from his blog.
For additional entertaining installments, click here.


"The Pacific Crest Trail, we'll call it the PCT, is a network of trails that link amongst themselves to traverse from the Mexican border in California to the Canadian border in Washington. It's funny, when I tell people what I'm doing this summer, I usually get one of two reactions: "That's amazing" or "Why?" Lately, as I prepare to hit the trail, I have been asking myself the same questions."

"It was senior year of college when someone first described the PCT to me. I was sporting a Seattle ensemble in San Francisco: a big 'ol flannel and a beard. I figured, if I look like a guy who would do that, I am a guy who would do that. With that notion, I locked in the promised to do it and swallowed the key. The college years are full of romantic ideas and high hopes, some of which actually become tangible. My high hope of hiking the PCT, however, wouldn't become a reality until five years later. Until Now."


"The last few days in Seattle were interesting. My anxiety waxed and waned, depending on what numbers the clock showed. One of the fabulous aspects of hiking the PCT is getting into all of those nitty-gritty details that are attached to its underside, like barnacles on a boat."


"The trail is a lot like camp. New excited faces, nicknames, and common struggles. It's hard to push my body this hard and be this far from the reality I know, but it's been a hell of a ride."


"To accomplish walking 27 miles in a day you must be very disciplined. I usually wake up around 5:30am every day, so I can hit the road by 6:30am, or earlier. I usually make breakfast and a coffee, but leaving after 7am is "sleeping in." Each walking "stint" is for 2 hours minimum, but lately I have been doing 2.5-3 hour sessions. Breaks between these can be 15 minute to a half hour, but lunch can be up to 2 hours and has a 25 minute nap. This day usually runs until at least 7pm, but often goes until 8 or 9pm."


"We distracted each other well until about 10pm or so when I saw another bobcat. This one looked to be the size of a Labrador. He didn't like bumping into us either and bolted from the trail. I was even more on edge. From this point on we mostly discussed creepy, "what if" scenarios that kept us looking over our shoulders every few moments. Finally, it happened. We came to a point on the trail where something just out of sight was hissing. Loudly. "Max, please give me my hiking pole." The animal was big, or so it sounded. Armed with trekking poles held like spears by cavemen, we slowly moved forward. We kept our spears angle toward the noise until we had passed it, then went back-to-back for about a quarter mile. I didn't sleep well that night. You would think that would be the end of night hiking for me, but it was just the beginning. Free Refill and I teamed up for the next couple days, hiking early in the morning and late into the evening to avoid the heat. Over the next week or we crossed the outskirts of the Mojave Desert this way, covering 24-28 miles a day with waterless stretches of 13-20 miles. My legs ached and my feet were destroyed, but all was better than drudging though 95-100 degree heat with rattlesnakes and no water."


"On the day before my birthday, I was finishing a 25-mile stretch when I came across my first bear. He was more scared than I was, bolting down the mountainside, but I was still a little shook up. About the size of a St. Bernard, the bear was black with a brown nose. He was really more beautiful and amazing than scary."



Expansion Update

Construction onsite is humming along as the expansion project takes shape. Work began over spring break toward a new space for the Learning Resource Center as well as a new main entrance area. Take a look if you are in the neighborhood! 


Alumni in the News     

Rev. Thomas V. Lane celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination on Sunday, June 1, 2014, at Holy Family Parish in Yakima. Father Lane is a graduate of St. Joseph School. He was ordained in 1964 for the Yakima Diocese.


Lainey Orr ('10) was featured recently in the Seattle Academy online newsletter, "Inside SAAS." Click: Seniors Present at Regional Conference



Kevin Brown, Class of 2004

Nathan Proctor, Class of 1991

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 2014. 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.



Support St. Joseph School



Plan to join in the festivities and support St. Joseph School at the annual auction on November 14 and 15. Parent chairs Sarah and Carlos de la Torre are leading this year's event. Come on back for Friday night, still the family auction, or step up to Saturday's dinner auction. If you would like a Saturday invitation, contact the Special Events Office: 206-329-3260 ext. 244 or 221.


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

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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 
Middle School Director:  Mary Helen Bever
Primary School Director:  Lillian Zadra
Pastor:  John D. Whitney, S.J.