All-School Blog

For six years, Our Lady of Good Counsel has offered adults the opportunity to continue their education through the Adult Enrichment Program. The program offers classes taught by members of the community, and span a range of topics and skills.

GC is offering an impressive variety of classes this fall. Sessions vary in length from 1-night to 5-week courses, and topics include:

• Eastern Shore Seafood and Beer Tasting
• Hearty Winter Soups
• Healthy and Tasty Cooking for Kids

• The Great Gatsby

• Barre Fitness Class
• Essential Oils 101
• Introduction to Acupuncture

• World Religions

• Calligraphy for Beginners

For more information and to register online go to Questions? Contact Lauren Costello, Director of Auxiliary Programs

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Katie Rictor | Director of the Fund for Good Counsel
Friday, September 14, 2017

We are passionate about Good Counsel. As members of this community, we are thrilled when our team wins, when the musical is a success, or when records are broken. We gather in prayer and support those who may need some extra care. We are all a part of building Good Counsel's success. This community is like no other and this year will not be like any other year.

Last year, thanks to our generous parents, alumni, grandparents, and friends we made history. Together, we raised over $879,000, the largest annual fundraising amount in school history, through the Fund for Good Counsel. As a community, you came together to provide our Falcons the opportunities to explore their dreams and develop their own passions this year as our faculty and staff inspire them to excel, serve, and love.

Many programs at Good Counsel make our community unique and it is important that you can support those areas that matter the most to you and your family! That is why I am thrilled to introduce The Fund for Good Counsel: Family of Funds. This new model allows you to designate your unrestricted Fund for Good Counsel gift to any of the following priority areas: Arts, Athletics, Service, Faculty Development, Financial Assistance, Endowment, and Area of Greatest Need.

With your support in these seven impact areas, we can look forward to greater growth and more opportunities for our Falcons. At Good Counsel, we are reliant on private fundraising and tuition to fund operations for our school. Very simply, our success happens within the framework of a strong and thriving school community and campus. The Fund for Good Counsel ensures a strong Good Counsel for all of your children. Our goal this year is to raise a total of $885,000 across the seven areas.

We hope you will give because you believe in the mission of Good Counsel. We hope you will give because you are inspired to see today's students transformed into tomorrow's leaders. We hope you'll give because you are passionate about Catholic education. Most of all, we hope you will give because you are proud to be counted among this community and know that it is only in moving together that we can make the greatest impact. We can't do it alone.

Join us in writing the next chapter of Good Counsel's story. To make your gift or learn more about the Family of Funds, visit

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Dr. Paul Barker | Good Counsel President
Friday, September 8, 2017

This past Tuesday the President of the United States rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. There has been considerable public outcry. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement that begins: "The cancellation of the DACA program is reprehensible." Our archbishop, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, called the decision "regrettable and harmful." President of the University of Notre Dame Father John Jenkins described discontinuing DACA as "foolish, cruel and un-American."

Our Lady of Good Counsel High School stands in solidarity with these Catholic leaders in expressing dismay at the announcement.

For the next six months matters are in the hands of legislators. There is some hope that the chorus of voices in support of the Dreamers will inspire the members of Congress to overcome the bitter partisan inertia of recent years and work together to come up with a solution that provides a path for these young people to remain.

Why am I writing about this issue? Two reasons.

First, I write as head of a school where this feels personal. We think it is highly likely that we have some undocumented students at Good Counsel. We do not know with any certainty because we do not ask about immigration status when students apply for admission. Each student enrolled here has the right to feel the powerful sense of safety and belonging that comes with being a Falcon. In response to threats to the well-being of any student, our Counseling staff, our Chaplain and campus ministers, and our teachers all stand ready to offer assistance and support.

For any student who has immigration status issues or who is feeling the stress of friends and family made newly vulnerable, we hope Good Counsel will be seen as a source of support. Director of Counseling Shena Thompson-Jones, Director of Personal Counseling Eleanor Donaghue, and Dean of Students Ana Lopez (pictured above) have volunteered to be point persons for students seeking information and access to local resources.

My second reason for writing is that I am an immigrant myself.

I'm guessing the first time you heard me speak, you said to yourself, "He's not from here." Some folks guess Boston. Some, Australia. About 1 in 20 guesses correctly: New Zealand. More than 30 years removed from landing in the US for the first time with a K-1 Fiancé visa in hand, I still have vivid memories of reams of paperwork, chest X-rays, consular interviews, and airport interrogations. I won't soon forget the aggressively unwelcoming experience of the Immigration office at the Garmatz Federal Building in downtown Baltimore where the man behind the counter would shout: "If you need forms, come to the counter! No questions!" I do not flatter myself that my immigrant experience represented stress and hardship that is anything like that experienced by today's Dreamers. I came to the US with privilege – a white adult, a fluent English speaker with a college degree, some dollars in my pocket, my papers in order. I had a passport. Even so, until I received my Certificate of Naturalization in 1993 the sense of being "other-ed" was hard to escape. "Alien" was my status and alien was my feeling.

It is hard to imagine the experience of young people who are now faced with great uncertainty about their future in, to quote Cardinal Wuerl, "the only homeland they have ever known."

Today is the 59th anniversary of the opening of Our Lady of Good Counsel High School. On this day we remember our deep debt to our founders, the Xaverian Brothers. We recall that a Dutch immigrant founded the Congregation in Belgium. We recall that European Brothers immigrated to the US and through their perseverance established the gift of Xaverian education in our country.

It does not take much digging for any of us to find our own family's migrant story. Our awareness of this reality is recognized in one of the sentences of the Diversity Statement adopted by our Board of Directors in May 2017: We respect, value and celebrate the unique, God-given gifts of each member of our community.

As we wait in hope for a positive legislative outcome, let's be a people of prayer – prayer for our nation, our school, and for every student whom we inspire "to excel, serve, and love."

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Dr. Paul Barker | Good Counsel President
Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Barely a year ago, I wrote a midsummer letter to the Good Counsel community about horrific shootings in Dallas. Today, I write in response to yet another frenzied attempt to shred our frayed social fabric. Like you, I am appalled and angered at the hatred and violence this past weekend in Charlottesville.

We are all aware of the deep divisions in our culture – racial, socio-economic, religious, political – that have only become more prominent in recent months. Talking heads engage with issues, often in a parody of serious debate, in our chambers of government, via our news outlets, and on our streets. Gradually, I have found my own opinions and how I express them become coarsened. Social settings have the potential to erupt with antagonism. It sometimes seems that the easy solution is to keep one's opinions to oneself. Tread lightly. Make no waves. Say nothing.

At some point, one cannot stay silent. When the cherished right to free speech becomes a tool to marginalize, oppress, and take away the freedom of others, we have a moral duty to speak up. I have heard and read plenty of euphemisms to describe the Unite the Right rally. The eye test, however, makes clear that many involved were fueled by the vilest bigotry and hatred. We may wish that entities like the Klan and the Nazis were in the dustbin of history. Clearly, they are not.

What can we do at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School? The start of school is now just days away. Each year at this time my mind is on how we can become a stronger community. Our website and admissions materials lead with the phrase, "Become your best self." Striving to get to the depths of what it means to be the best community we can be means we must name and address hatred and injustice as they have no place here.

We have the lens provided by the Xaverian Brothers to help us see. Like the Brothers, our goal is for the Falcons of 2017-18 to mutually respect, help, encourage, and edify one another, and work together. That means being compassionate with one another in our difficulties, bearing with one another in our weaknesses, and affirming one another in our giftedness. Things that discourage us and try our patience will continue to happen beyond our walls. And they will sometimes happen here, too. It will require our founder's zeal to deliver on the promise of our new, Board-approved diversity statement and "identify and challenge all forms of prejudice, discrimination and injustice."

The essence of our mission as a Catholic school in the Xaverian tradition is to see each person as an expression of God's love: I give you a new commandment: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also must love one another. By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples (John 13:34-35).

I thank you for your support of the core values that have driven Good Counsel for almost sixty years. I look forward to all that we will accomplish together in the rapidly approaching school year.

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As some students learn the hard way, life often comes with responsibility for specific outcomes with specific deadlines. To complicate matters, sometimes after we set things in motion, the finished product and delivery date are largely out of our hands.

That's how I feel this summer with project upon project underway and freshmen scheduled to show up for Convocation five weeks from today. Will we be ready? Uhhhh, I think so.

Maybe it's the sheer number of projects, the lengthy wait for permits, and the fact that the many improvements we are making involve demolition as prelude to construction that have me anxious – it needs to look bad before it can look good!

Here's what we have been doing:

Counseling suite

We are downsizing the under-utilized College Room that sits in the middle of the Counseling footprint. We are adding two offices which will allow Br. Bob Arrowsmith to join his colleagues and create a space for our new position, a second college counseling specialist. In addition, we are moving the reception area and adjusting the size of the two meeting rooms and storage room. We anticipate a space that is both more functional and more welcoming.

Baseball field

In a project funded almost entirely by friends of our baseball program, we have reduced the curvature of the playing area and taken out the hill that was along the third-base side. We have moved the backstop closer to home plate. Once completed, we will have added a practice infield and a hitting pavilion.

Practice field

The soil we have taken off the baseball field has help us level the field out back. Players who have practiced there are very familiar with the uphill/downhill nature of the field. It took a lot of dirt to raise the southern end approximately eight feet.

Dining hall and servery

We feed +/-350 people in about 25 minutes four times each day. Any bottlenecks we can eliminate make for a more relaxing student experience. We have removed four cheek walls and opened up the wall at the salad/soup bar, providing double-sided access. We are relocating the beverage stations outside the servery and installing a hot-food serving area and panini station in its place. We are moving away from disposables to washable plates (they are blue and yellow) and utensils which means the grinder is gone and with that the noise level will drop by a bunch of decibels. We have enlarged the space for dropping off dishes.

Loading dock

We have addressed a drainage issue out back at the loading dock, reinforcing the concrete and making it easier for roll-in, roll-out access to the Performing Arts Center. We are also creating a secure storage space.

Lacrosse wall

In another donor-funded project, we have installed a double-sided block wall for throw-and-catch practice. The wall is just inside the stadium fence.

Parking lot

We are addressing a longstanding concern with curbing in the main entrance lot – the curb was close to falling into the drainage culvert. We are restriping the parking spaces.

In the meantime, our hardworking maintenance and custodial crews are performing preventative maintenance. Did you know we have more than 150 heat pumps in the school? We paint walls and rails, refinish floors, clean lockers, all so that school will look, as it does every day of the school year, sparkling.

There are a couple of projects that we know will spill over into the early weeks of the school year.

School store and student lounge

A delay with the permit and settling on a contractor meant a project that has seen more than its fair share of delays will probably run into the first couple of weeks of the school year. It will be worth the wait. And no one has waited longer than Mrs. Tamsyn Ryan, manager of the school store, who has provided wonderful service to students, parents and alumni in less-than-perfect merchandising conditions for the past three years. The students are going to love the mural painted at the end of last year by our most gifted student artists.


We await confirmation of a delivery date for Tim Schmalz's bronze sculpture of Our Lady of Good Counsel. It will be a magnificent addition to our Catholic school.

I am sure I have left some projects out but you get the idea. Again, I am grateful for the hardworking and talented teams of workers, inside and out, who have been tearing down and building up this summer.

There's still plenty to do. So, join your prayers to mine for the precision and perseverance of everyone involved in helping us bring you an even better Good Counsel for the 2017-18 school year.

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