St. Joseph School Alumni Newsletter
Issue #30    
Fall 2014
In This Issue
A Message from Patrick Fennessy
Expansion Sneak Peek
New Faces
School News/Events
Let's Do Lunch
Faces of Alums
Making Writing Cool
Hugo is back
Alumni in the News
Alumni Reunion
Celebration Dinner
Distinguished Alumni
Support St. Joseph School
About Reconnections
Quick Links

A Message from Patrick Fennessy     



Fall greetings, St. Joseph School Alumni!


We are back in the rhythm of the academic year, and there are many exciting developments afoot.


Thanks to a rather impressive fundraising campaign last spring, we were able to seriously tackle some issues in the kitchen and cafeteria. Alumna Jeannine Navone Christofilis ('86) was key in this effort. We now have a fully functioning, commercial-grade kitchen and a refreshed cafeteria space. Because of these developments---especially in the kitchen---we are now able to serve a higher quality lunch to our students on a daily basis.


The longer I'm here, the more I get to know the many, many family and alumni connections that are present at the school. You'll enjoy reading more about this in a piece by our fifth grade teacher and alumna Cathy McChesney Hamblet ('82).


Our remodel/expansion is days from completion as I write this. I hope you'll take the time to stop by and see it. We now have a central entrance and entire floor dedicated to our Learning Resource Center-much needed items for St. Joseph School.


I was thrilled to meet with Jamie Griffin ('04) a few weeks ago and hear about his new app, Prose. We will be using this app with our middle school students, and I think that Jamie's work will help develop the writing skills of our students.


As always, we want to stay in touch with you. St. Joseph School continues to grow and improve, and we want to share those things with you. That said, we always want to keep an eye to our past, one that is rich in tradition and stories. Those stories and traditions are most alive in you, so please keep us on your radar and stay in touch!




Patrick Fennessy



Expansion Sneak Peek         

Completion and move-in are just around the corner... 

The elevator is in, and the finishing touches are coming together. The expanded space for the Learning Resource Center will afford the program an improved facility to meet the needs of students. The new entrance space invites in the community. Security is enhanced with a module that takes a photo of a visitor requesting entrance when the front entrance is locked, and relays it to the main office. The expansive main entrance area will be a welcoming space. 







More New Faces in 2014-2015


Julissa Robles
Julissa, a school parent, officially joins our staff this year to teach K-3 Spanish as well as serve as a point person for our Spanish-speaking families.




Carol Gilmore Sauter ('69 ) 
Carol, an alumna and former St. Joe's teacher, rejoins the staff after a longish hiatus to teach kindergarten PE.


Chesley Wells 

Chesley is working as a long term substitute for sixth grade math and homeroom while Chris Miller continues his recovery. She most recently taught fifth grade at a Catholic school in California.



Elisa Wirkila 

We found Elisa riding her motorbike from Santiago, Chile, home to Seattle. She will be our long-term substitute for grades 4-8 Spanish at least until Christmas. She is also teaching Exploratory Spanish. Elisa taught Spanish at Assumption-St. Bridget for a number of years prior to her motorcycle adventure. You can read all about her adventures on her 


School News/Events      


Back to School! 
Eighth Grade Retreat
CYO Cross-Country
Mass of the Holy Spirit
GOAL!!!  CYO Soccer 
Blessing the Animals 
St. Francis of Assisi 

Let's Do Lunch!       


This summer the St. Joseph School cafeteria underwent a major "refresh": kitchen overhaul (including new appliances), new paint, new flooring, a grab-and-go station, and a new point-of-sale system. Students and parents alike are excited about the updated menu with a wide range of healthy lunch choices. P & T Lunch's Todd Vien and Phuong Nguyen are still doing food preparation as the new system has gained momentum this fall.


Parents Kim Nisbet and Jeannine Navone Christofilis ('86)
are the driving force behind the cafeteria renovation.
Along with parents Olga Dyckman and Heather Christothoulou,
they organized a successful luncheon last spring to raise funds
Kim Nisbet &
Jeannine Christofilis
specifically for the project, which got underway the minute school was out in June. Kim Nisbet, drawing upon her experience in the food industry as divisional vice president at Franz, spent countless hours and energy doing research on what other schools are doing for food services, spec'ing appliances, designing menus and rolling up her sleeves in the kitchen. The school hired parents to work the point-of-sale stations, freeing up Todd and Phuong to concentrate on the food side of the operation. Now teams of parent volunteers are rotating to help out in various areas of the cafeteria.


Many St. Joe's alums certainly have memories of the "lunch room." Going way back, there may still be some that remember the original lunch room from the 1920s through the 1950s that is now Ms. Cedergreen's kindergarten classroom in the primary building. If you peek in, you can get a look at the original wood sideboard still there spanning the east wall of the classroom. No paper plates or plastic forks in those days!


The lunch room (now KB) in 1958

The old building housed the entire school with far fewer pupils. Most children lived in the neighborhood with mothers at home, so many simply walked home for lunch each day. With the advent of the newer middle school building and the waning of lunch at home, students moved to the much larger cafeteria space.  


Jeannine recounted how she "used to walk through the hot lunch line ... through the kitchen" when she was at St. Joe's. This had not happened for many years, and she was eager to bring it back! So, when she and Kim looked at the project, which originally encompassed just the eating area, the whole focus changed --- to include a major overhaul of the kitchen.


Both Jeannine and Kim are emphatic about the enormous thanks that should go to the St. Joseph community for their support of the lunchroom refresh. "The community responded," said Kim, "with a rapid-fire effort." Both point out that the "power of the $100 donation" was vital to the success of the project. Now students and parents can take pride in a clean, vital space. Jeannine noted that she is especially happy about the community collaboration that went into the project. "Bringing spaces, facilities and programs to a higher standard is good for everyone," she expressed. "It's for the whole community," added Kim. "We can use this area now for functions or events."


The St. Joseph School mission now grandly graces the cafeteria wall of the refurbished space, impressive to students, parents and visitors. "What they see is great!" says Jeannine.

What's for lunch? . . . 


Parent Scott Campbell contributed the great before-and-after photos of the cafeteria project shown below. Thank you!











Faces of alums past in students present
by Cathy McChesney Hamblet ('82)

Memorabilia from Ms. Hamblet's class alum families this year include Meg Thenell Wolfe's "I was lucky enough to have been taught by George" t-shirt, Ms. Hamblet's t-shirt from the first SJS girls soccer team and photos of class parent-alums!

The sentiment around the much anticipated class list is not unique to students and parents. Teachers, too, open the list with great anticipation. It is at the first viewing of your class roster that your year really begins to take shape. Name tags, book assignments, seating charts all dance through your head. The possibilities for the year ahead energize you for the upcoming 180 days.


So a few days before school started, I clicked on the email entitled Your Class List. Immediately, 23 names appeared in alphabetical order. This year's list was a treasure trove --- Lacktrup, Read, Mullally --- familiar names. I scanned again and excavated a few more treasures although they no longer held the familiar family name --- two Buonos, one Thenell, one Wickwire, and one Sauvage. Almost 40% of my class was offspring of alums! What was I in for this year?


As the students and parents strolled in on meet-and-greet day, my present deliciously mingled with my past. I couldn't help but notice the familiar features and traits in the faces of my students whose parents and grandparents had graced this community for decades. The mischievous glance, curious expression, the slight swagger . . . all fresh yet strangely familiar.


Our theme this year is Open to Grace. What am I in for? . . .
a whole year of graces through a very real reconnection to those who have shared a history with me at St. Joseph. The decision of an alum to send their offspring to St. Joe's is the greatest compliment we could ever receive. So thank you for continuing to grace this school.


Cathy McChesney Hamblet

Class of '82


Making Writing Cool: Jamie Griffin ('04)

Jamie Griffin and H.B. Augustine
St. Joe's alum Jamie Griffin ('04) and business partner H.B. Augustine aim to make writing cool with their new literary Web application, Prose. Prose is a free Web app tailored to reading, writing and learning that allows users to interact with each other through literary prompts and works. Right now, Prose is gearing up to host a competition for middle school and high school students called "Prose Games." Only students will be allowed to compete, and their school must agree to participate with a secure log-in.     


Griffin found his way to Prose after traveling several routes along the way. After St. Joe's, he went on to Overlake High School and graduated from Garfield High School. He headed to California to the University of Redlands where he played Division III soccer. Returning home to Seattle, Jamie worked in real estate for awhile, but was still searching for what he wanted to do. He met up with partner H.B. Augustine, a local Seattleite and Lakeside grad, who was already involved in a start-up looking at and developing various mobile apps. In early 2014, Augustine had landed on the idea for "something like Facebook or Instagram for writing," and the start-up created Prose, structuring it like a game, allowing people to interact in a competitive ("Challenge") way. Once Jamie joined up, he floated the marketing concept of getting the application into schools.

Griffin, clearly the marketing guy, readily offers convincing statistics to support the effort. "Only 20% of eighth graders read and write after school on their own time," he says. Prose aims to "inspire people everywhere to enjoy reading, writing, and learning every day" and looks to alliances with students and teachers as an effective way to fulfill that goal. 


Jamie credits St. Joseph School with teaching him to be comfortable with himself and giving him confidence. His favorite teacher was Mrs. Sutherland. He says he "still has a great group of friends" from St. Joe's. "Our core group of five or six guys won a lot of soccer and basketball games," he shared. "We still play in the (St. Joseph) alumni basketball tournament every year." 


Keep an eye on Prose. Who knows? By integrating new age technology with the essential functions of learning, making it more attractive for students, maybe soon it will be cool for kids to read and write outside of school hours.


Check out the Prose Facebook Page 


Hugo is back!

Hugo is back in Seattle! St. Joe's alums from the Class of 2002 will remember Hugo Lucitante, who attended St. Joe's with their class for several years. In 1996 he arrived in Seattle when he was 10 years old, never having worn shoes or been so far from his family, in the care of a young UW student that had studied in Ecuador where the Cofán people were fighting against oil companies in the Amazon.

Hugo in 7th grade at St. Joe's, second from right 
His father, the tribal leader, sent Hugo away for an education,so he could come back and lead his people; that U.S. education began at St. Joseph School. During that time, at age 12, one of his teachers, impressed with his story, knew someone who introduced her to someone with ties to the United Nations. Hugo received an invitation to speak at a U.N. briefing in New York.

Bishop Blanchet graduation 2002 
He went on to graduate from Bishop Blanchet High School in 2006, returning to Ecuador to engage in the challenges facing his community. Hugo is now back in Seattle studying at North Seattle College. Excitingly, he is the subject of a new documentary, "Oil and Water" that films him as he journeys through the Cofán region and tells the stories of the communities affected by oil extraction. Click HERE to read more about Hugo's life now.


Alumni in the News     


Frank Buono ('83)  
receives top honors at
Emerging Cinematographer Awards


Cinematographer Frank Buono received top honors for his work on the short "1982" at the 18th Annual Emerging Cinematographers Awards held Sunday, September 28 at the Directors Guild of America West theater. Read more HERE.


Alumni Reunions


Class of 1966 Reunion

Rich Cannon ('66) shared with us: "We had a ball at the reunion with about 52 people including 37 classmates at my house on Friday, July 11 for our 48th eighth grade class reunion, class of 1966.  Kit Comick came from California and Patti Burrell from Oregon.  We had perfect weather and seven of us even ended up in the pool, fully clothed! The two girls in the picture are Gay Bitts and Becky Talevich on a St. Joe's pew I retrieved when the remodeled the church."



Class of 1984 Reunion

Val Buono Spannaus ('84) shared with us: "The class of 1984 gathered at Primo Pizzeria owned by classmate Max Borthwick on September 27 to celebrate their thirtieth class reunion! What a great time had by all! We had about 25 to 30 classmates show up throughout the night and also had George Hofbauer honor us with his presence. We are looking forward to the next gathering. If you are looking to get into contact with this class please email Val Buono Spannaus What a night!"    

Class of 2004

The Class of 2004 Reunion is confirmed for December 26 at 6 p.m. at Rhein Haus on Capitol Hill. Contact Emily Morton or (206) 849-8456.


St. Joe's Alums!

Interested in throwing your class a reunion party?

Do you have a proposal for an alumni get-together?
To submit your contact information, or to discuss reunion opportunities, contact Max Andrews, SJS Alumni Coordinator,


Celebration Dinner 


The annual Celebration Dinner kicked off the School Pledge Drive on Friday, October 3. The School Pledge co-chairs, Keri and Andy Read ('80) voiced the reasons why St. Joseph is so easy to support. Their commitment over the years and their leadership this year is highly appreciated. Thank you, Keri and Andy.  

The Hall of Honor Award went to Cristina Murphy, current parent and volunteer extraordinaire. Cristina has helped the school for many years with all sorts of projects through the Parent Association and the Development Office. She recently joined the school staff as one of the point-of-sales cashiers in our newly refurbished cafeteria. Congratulations, Cristina! 


Rosemary Gemperle Dunigan ('81) received the Distinguished Alumni Award. Rosemary summarized her life at school in grand detail and made us all feel why St. Joe's is well loved. She and her husband Mike have sent their three children through St. Joseph. We appreciate Rosemary's many talents and dedication to our school and happily add her to the specially recognized, St. Joseph alumni group. Congratulations, Rosemary!


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 2015. 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. 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, please contact the Special Events Office: 206-329-3260 ext. 244 or 221.


School Pledge Drive
As a St. Joe's alum, please consider a pledge of any dollar amount this year to St. Joseph School as it continues to offer excellence in Catholic education to present and future students. Our pledge drive goal this year is $515,000. We invite your support.
Click here
if you would like to donate online. Thank you!

Endowment for St. Joseph School
At this year's back-to-school night, the Endowment for St. Joseph School presented principal Patrick Fennessy with a check for $281,523. Each year the endowment helps to fund financial aid, staff enrichment, and special programs. If you are interested in supporting the Endowment for St. Joseph School, or for more information, email
Patrick Fennessy or phone 206-329-3260 ext. 218.



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