Notre Dame Regional High School

Cape Girardeau, MO

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Lindsey Grojean

The daughter of a pediatrician from Poplar Bluff, 2011 graduate Mary Katherine Montgomery has been immersed in the healthcare system from a young age. While she intimately understood the importance of medical delivery, there was one facet she always wanted to explore: access. 

 

Montgomery, known as ‘MK’ to her friends and family, recently earned her Masters in Public Health (MPH) from Yale. But health education, especially for youth, is where she has found her stride. 

 

Before starting grad school, Montgomery fulfilled her interest in equity and health disparities while working as a seventh grade science teacher with “Teach For America” in Baton Rouge, LA. Here, she thought a lot about how to achieve long-term, sustainable solutions that would allow kids across the country to thrive. 

 

“I’ve realized that there’s a whole slew of things that determine outcomes for children. Two of them are education and healthcare,” said Montgomery. “But oftentimes, there are other systemic things that are entrapped with one another, and I was really fascinated by this system.” 

 

One instance, Montgomery said, was with one of her students originally from New Orleans. He had been displaced to Baton Rouge after Hurricane Katrina, and still had a cleft palate which was never fixed. She said this had impacted his development, growth, and was now affecting his peer interaction. 

 

“I realized that when his family was displaced from the storm, his entire network of people who are supposed to help you make sure that these things get taken care of, weren’t around,” said Montgomery. “And when that happens, a lot of kids fall through the cracks.” 

 

She said this was a “tangible example” of when one system breaks. 

 

“I thought about my students in the classroom, and how getting the highest grade on the next test and things like that were going to be great for them. But in the long term, there were so many systems at play outside of my classroom that they were still going to face, and they would potentially fall through those cracks,” said Montgomery. 

 

This has caused Montgomery to focus on pushing change and measuring outcomes by intertwining healthcare, law, and education. She hopes that with her understanding of each system, she will be able to show others how to think about them as “interconnected, as opposed to individual pieces.” 

 

“I’m thinking about how traditionally, when we follow these systems, we get really great at being professionals within those spaces. And we don’t have a lot of folks who can build the bridges between those systems, because they just don’t have the same comprehensive knowledge or understanding of each of those different faceted areas,” said Montgomery. 

 

In her endeavors, Montgomery recently worked with a group of other MPH candidates and local neonatologist, Dr. Alan Barnett, on an HPV vaccine campaign in the southeast Missouri region. They delivered the project manual, which promotes disease prevention, on June 1. 

 

Other projects include her work with All Our Kin, a non-profit organization which creates child care programs for vulnerable children. Montgomery has also informed state policy in pediatric care at the Yale Child Center. 

 

Montgomery is slated to return to school next fall at the Harvard Graduate School of Education to receive another Masters, this time in education, policy and management. 

 

Career-wise, Montgomery doesn’t have a specific goal. But she’s expressed interest in combining healthcare and education at a local level, and eventually hopes to work with people who are thinking about doing the same on a broader scale across the country. 

 

Montgomery is also interested in policy, where she said she can make the most change. 

 

“There’s a lot of opportunity in healthcare and education, and how we set them up in the political arena,” said Montgomery. “Sometimes it looks like government policy, and sometimes it looks like non-governmental organizations like foundations.”

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It’s the vision of Notre Dame Regional High School that their students will “Enter to learn, and leave to serve.” This ideal certainly reaches its zenith during Holy Week. 

Since Mark Koehler began the program in 1995, Notre Dame students have participated in numerous service projects and an organized retreat led by an outside group - such as the ‘REAP’ Team, or Southeast Missouri State University’s Newman Center - over a two-day period during Holy Week. But according to Paul Unterreiner, who instructs their Franciscan Leadership Class (FLC), they did things a bit differently this year. 

On Apr. 16 and 17, while service projects remained - nearly 45 projects were completed this year - over 42 seniors from the FLC volunteered to lead the retreat for the entire school, making it a student-led project for the first time. It was centered around the Stations of the Cross. 

“They worked the past month-and-a-half organizing it,” said Unterreiner. “They went through all 14 stations, with small activities tied into that.”

The stations were placed throughout the school with two stations per classroom, and two FLC leaders per station. 

Senior DJ Lynch served as a student supervisor for the retreat. He said FLC was excited to give the stations a ‘new era’ type of theme. 

“We wanted to get the message across in a way that the underclassmen would understand it more and relate to the events more,” said Lynch. “It was different from the typical Stations of the Cross we’ve done.”

As for Holy Week service, Lynch has participated in projects in the past at Christian School of the Young Years, canned food drives, and a trash pickup on Route K. FLC seniors are receiving their service fulfillment this year in planning the retreat. 

Lynch said he likes participating in the service projects, and that they allow him to reach out to the community in any way he can. 

“Sometimes it’s hard to find service projects on your own, and Holy Week makes them accessible.” said Lynch. “It allows me to have those opportunities and give back.”

Senior Paige Emmenderfer also assisted with the retreat. She said another goal in modernizing the Stations was to connect them with students’ daily lives, and how they might struggle. 

“We wanted to show them that Jesus went through the same things we do,” said Emmenderfer.

Unterreiner said he touched base with students for the retreat on a weekly basis to ensure they remained on track, but he still found difficulty in - and learned from - ‘letting go.’

“I’m not good at giving up control and delegating, if you will,” said Unterreiner. “But at the same time, I knew what our kids were capable of. Knowing that the Lord would work through these kids... that gave me a little inner peace.”

In the end, he said it was a very unique project that students loved. 

“It really tied into the heart of the pain and agony that our Lord went through during his passion,” said Unterreiner. 

Unterreiner said Holy Week is always an important time in our liturgical calendar to focus on Christ and his work of serving others. 

“It’s a great way for us to center ourselves around Him by getting out in the community, helping those in need, and seeing the face of Christ in others,” said Unterreiner.

 

Click the image below to view all images

Retreat & Service Days 2019

 

Thank you to the following businesses for allowing our students to lend a helping hand.

Big Stuff Pre-School 
Cape Senior Center
Catholic Campus Ministry
Christian School for the Young Years
Cobden Elementary
Foutainbleau Lodge
Guardian Angel
Head Start - Chaffee
Head Start - Charleston
Head Start - New Madrid
Head Start - Sikeston
Horizon Enrichment Center
Immaculate Conception Church
Immaculate Conception School
Jackson Senior Center
Jesus in Disguise
Just Kids (Cape)
Kid's Academy (Chaffee)
Klaus Park
Knights of Columbus - Cape
Knights of Columbus - Kelso
Lutheran Home
Mac's Mission
Mississippi Therapeutic Horsemanship Assoc.
ND Art
ND Prom Storage
ND Route K Clean Up
ND Theatre Storage
Options for Women
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (IL)
Ratlif Nursing Home
Sack Lunches to Waiting Rooms
Sacred Heart (Dexter)
Sacred Heart (Poplar Bluff)
St. Ambrose
St. Andrew School (Murphysboro, IL)
St. Augustine
St. Denis
St. Francis Xavier
St. Francis Xavier (Carbondale)
St. Henry
St. Joseph Rectory (Cobden, IL)
St. Joseph School (Marion, IL)
St. Mary Cathedral School
St. Mary's (Anna)
St. Vincent School
Ugly Quilts

 

 

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During his time at Notre Dame, Michael Gummerscheimer was highly involved in the arts- a passion which has extended well past graduation.

 

 In high school, Gummerscheimer performed in three spring musicals; he was a member of the ensemble in Funny Girl, Captain ‘Big Jim’ Warrington in Little Mary Sunshine, and during his senior year, played the male lead, ‘Julian Marsh,’ in 42nd Street. Aside from stage productions, he involved his talents at the piano, guitar, and even the synthesizer with school performances and within the liturgy.

 

 A notable performance on the synthesizer was for the pop concert his sophomore year.

 

 “I would spend time in advance listening to recordings of the performers’ songs, and picking out the sounds,” said Gummerscheimer. “I would record some parts, and some I would play live along with the performers.”

 

 His senior year, Gummerscheimer said the school band had hit a rough patch: they were down to six people. Each of those students, aside from Gummerscheimer, played a brass instrument. He said they decided to switch it up that year, and turned it into a brass ensemble.

 

 “So, I learned to play the trombone that year,” said Gummerscheimer, adding yet another instrument to his toolbox.

 

 Following his graduation, Gummerscheimer attended Mizzou, where he was involved as a musician at the Newman Center on campus. He even wrote a psalm - at the request of their music director - to be played at mass, where it’s still in use.

 

 “The church allowed me to stay involved with music, and vice versa,” Gummerscheimer said. “[Music] really kept me involved with the church.”

 

 Wherever Gummersheimer has traveled, his dedication to music ministry has followed. This includes serving as a music leader for retreats, guitarist, cantor, pianist, drummer, and in choir and handbell ensembles in Irving, Texas, the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica, and churches in Maryland Heights and Des Peres.    

 

 Beyond the liturgy, Gummerscheimer has volunteered for many projects within music ministry. He has portrayed Jesus in two mime performances of The Passion in 2000 and 2003, and played the part of ‘Natpthali’ in St. Gabriel Parish’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

 

 Gummerscheimer currently works as a manager in technical accounting and financial reporting at Spire, a natural gas facility in St. Louis. He’s looking to take an early retirement at age 55. One reason: he would like to ‘get back into the stage’ in musical theatre. Music composition is also in mind.

 

 “Once I don’t have to worry about the working thing anymore, I’d like to spend some more time writing music again,” said Gummerscheimer.





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To the average Notre Dame student, Lenny Kuper is a force to be reckoned with. When he utters his catchphrase - “Math is fun, math is easy” - to his students, a resounding bout of nervous laughter follows. You must be sure to tuck in your shirt, belt in place and be perfectly up-to-par with the dress code if you plan to pass or enter his classroom.


At the piano, don’t be mistaken - his attention to detail is just as sharp. Yet many students find that the man who loves mathematics also finds the same joie de vivre in the music room.


Kuper earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education from Southeast Missouri State University with a major in mathematics and a minor in music. He completed his M.A.T. in mathematics, and during the start of his teaching career at Notre Dame, also worked as an adjunct instructor in Southeast’s math department. While Kuper would’ve liked to have earned his major in both areas of study, time was of the essence, and he decided that it would be exponentially ‘easier to teach math than music.’


But his 43 years at Notre Dame have allowed him plenty of opportunity to dabble in both.


“Every type of math in the curriculum: I’ve taught it at some point,” Kuper said.


And for almost every spring musical produced, he’s served as a collaborative pianist for rehearsals, and as the pianist in the orchestra pit. Kuper has also accompanied students, ensembles, and choirs for district and state music competitions each year. And, if he finds that a pupil can sing or play an instrument, he doesn’t hesitate to wrap them into the school’s liturgical music.


Kuper said his involvement in academia and the arts has allowed him to experience his students in a different light.


“You get to know them well through teaching. But you see a different dimension of the kids outside of class, be it through Mission Trips, retreats, or the camaraderie of the spring musical,” Kuper said.


In 1993, he directed music for an alumni dinner theatre production of Nunsense, a fundraising event for new curtains in the cafetorium.


Outside of Notre Dame, Kuper has served as the choir director and music coordinator for St. Vincent de Paul Parish since 1977.


He says he’s slowing down with some of his ‘extracurriculars’ such as district accompaniment. But he still has countless fond memories to look back upon.

 

“Math has been a joy, but my involvement with music has really tapped more into my passion,” Kuper said. “And each year, the reward is those four shows, and feeling good about the finished product.”


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Notre Dame graduate Marty Strohmeyer has created quite a name for himself as a children’s musical director in the St. Louis area. From holding numerous teaching positions across the city to launching a non-profit children’s theatre company, he has offered much of his life to the stage without stepping foot in the spotlight.


Strohmeyer received his Bachelor’s of Science in Education with a specialization in speech and theatre from Southeast Missouri State University. In 1995, he went on to teach full-time at the private, all-boys Chaminade College Preparatory School in Creve Coeur. Here, he taught theatre for eight years.


During that time, Strohmeyer said he saw a lot of children’s theatre in the St. Louis area that didn’t focus on individual performers, and lacked in technical elements.


“They would pile a hundred kids onstage and not really spend much time working with them to make it a good quality,” Strohmeyer said. “And I just felt like there could be better alternatives.”


So, in 2002, he launched Shooting Star Productions, a non-profit theatre company for children ages 5-19. They have since hired a full, professional set of directors and designers, including a sound designer, a costume designer, and choreographers. Strohmeyer said they host two productions a year, and are now in their 18th year.


Strohmeyer said he enjoys seeing the talent that comes through his direction, and many kids come in well-trained.


“They have a goal of really making it in musical theatre,” Strohmeyer said. “And I’ve had kids that are now working all over New York and for national tours, and they’re very connected to the professional theatre world.”


In addition to his non-profit work, Strohmeyer has been teaching at the Visitation Academy of St. Louis, a private school for girls grades K-12 since 2003. Here, he’s involved not only with speech and theatre classes, but also directs the academy’s comprehensive theatre program.  


Strohmeyer has received numerous accolades for his work over the years. In 2017, the Fabulous Fox Theatre, The Muny and the Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation launched the St. Louis High School Musical Theatre Awards. He has received the honor of  ‘Outstanding Direction’ for both years the awards have been presented. Visitation Academy has also received five awards for “best musical” from the St. Louis youth theatre awards out of the nine years they have been presented.


As for donning his character shoes, Strohmeyer says he’s ‘definitely a director.’

 

“I’ve been onstage four times since college, and I just don’t like it anymore,” said Strohmeyer.


He moved to Notre Dame midway through his junior year, but was still an active member in music and theater. He was a tenor in concert choir, attended District Music Competition with solo and ensemble pieces, and performed for the ‘pop concert’ his senior year. He also starred as Cinderella’s prince in the 1991 production of Into The Woods.


Albeit short, Strohmeyer felt a true sense of belonging during his time at Notre Dame


“At the school I came from, I didn’t feel like I fit in very well. But at Notre Dame... I called my classmates my 52 angels,” Strohmeyer said. “They pulled me in, they accepted me, and loved me. My senior year was the best year of my life.”


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This February, Notre Dame Regional High School, Cape Girardeau, and two schools from the east coast -- St. Francis Prep in Queens, New York and St. Anthony’s High School on Long Island -- came together once again for the Franciscan Volunteer Program. 

The annual event was started in 2001 by Br. Damian Novello, OSF.  The Franciscan Volunteer Program is sponsored by the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn to bring the high schools staffed by the Brothers together for service. During these seven days, students participate in different service projects throughout the region at a variety of organizations, such as food pantries, shelters, or anywhere help is needed. 

Each year since 2002, Notre Dame’s campus minister and theology teacher, Sarah Strohmeyer has attended, rotating between the duties of program director and chaperone. The program is hosted by a different school each year tied to the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, and for 2019, Br. David Anthony Migliorino, OSF and Notre Dame took their turn as hosts. 

Over 40 people participated in the Franciscan Volunteer Program this year. Nine students and two chaperones attended from St. Francis Prep, 11 students and two chaperones attended from St. Anthony’s, and 12 students and one chaperone, science teacher Jerry Landewe, attended from Notre Dame. Br. Mark Waldmann, OSF, a chaperone from St. Anthony’s, along with Br. Michael Sullivan, OSF, and Br. Etienne Jaeckel, OSF, went with different groups of students to service projects all week. 

The Notre Dame family was also called on to help support the students.  Notre Dame faculty members Laura Halter and Gail Timpe helped coordinate meals and student lodging needs.  Faculty, student groups, community members, and alumni brought in and served meals to the volunteers throughout the week.  

Strohmeyer says a key part of hosting the students from New York is exposing them to rural poverty. 

“This is something that they don’t always realize -- it’s different here,” said Strohmeyer. “And through this, we also show our own students areas which they can serve every day.”

The students served over 10 locations this year through cleaning, serving meals, and building structures such as a storage shed for Mac’s Mission Animal Rescue in Jackson and a fence for Birthright in Cape Girardeau. Other locations included the Cape Senior Center, The People’s Shelter, St. Mary’s Food Pantry, Habitat for Humanity Re-Store, and Salvation Army in Cape Girardeau; the Jesus in Disguise Food Pantry in Benton; and the SEMO Food Bank in Sikeston. They also picked up trash along Route K and made 53 “ugly quilts” for the Ugly Quilt Project at St. Vincent’s in Cape Girardeau. 

Christian O’Grady of St. Anthony’s said he was unable to participate when the Franciscan Volunteer Program was held in New York in 2018, but was excited when the opportunity came up this year to travel to a place to which he had never been. Although it was cold and rainy when he arrived, he enjoyed seeing the Arch in St. Louis when traveling down.  

“I expected to see more cows, and the area was not what I expected to find,” said O’Grady.

Making ugly quilts was one of O’Grady’s favorite projects.

“We were able to make 53 quilts, so 53 people are going to have warmth during the cold months,” said O’Grady. “The project also gives out basic toiletries, hats, and more. It makes us appreciate what God has given us, and that we are able to help people stay warm.”

Notre Dame senior David Dugan is no novice to service projects, having been on Notre Dame’s summer Mission Trips in the past. But this was his first year participating in Franciscan Volunteer Program.

“Unlike other Mission Trips, like our recent one to San Antonio, it’s an opportunity to do something in my community,” said Dugan. “I really like service, because it makes me feel good, and it brings out the best in me.”

Strohmeyer says, all-in-all, Franciscan Volunteer Program is a great time to bring all three schools together.

“It’s wonderful to live out that charism to be of service,” says Strohmeyer. “It’s important to expose the kids to profound experiences of service -- we hope it will inspire them to be of service in their area.” 

Thank you to the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, Drury Southwest, Mid-America Hotels, and all of our community partners for making this year's Franciscan Volunteer Program a success!



 

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As an athlete at Notre Dame, John Unterreiner split his time between soccer, basketball, and track.


In soccer, Unterreiner lettered his sophomore, junior, and senior years, respectively 2006, 2007, and 2008. He was a part of two state champion soccer teams in 2006 and 2007. In basketball, he was a part of the 2007-08 Basketball State Championship team.


“We had a very good couple of years across a lot of sports, so it was a lot of fun,” said Unterreiner.


Unterreiner currently holds the Notre Dame record for career assists in soccer. He was also named Academic All State in 2009.


After graduating in 2009, Unterreiner shifted his focus from his athletic career to studying criminal justice. He attended Southeast Missouri State University and received in Bachelors in Criminal Justice in 2013, and went on to receive his Masters in Criminal Justice Administration in 2015.


Unterreiner is now an instructor at Southeast in the criminal justice, social work, and sociology departments. He teaches many classes, including introduction to courts, law enforcement, and juvenile justice. He married Monica Henggeler ’09 and has two sons, Watson & Clark.


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After 42 years of coaching, Bill Davis covets 10 final four cross-country state finishes, a first place finish in 2005, ample accomplishments, and has plenty of stories to tell.


He wasn’t particularly an athlete in high school, with the exception of going for baseball his senior year -- he was a relief pitcher. He also tried for basketball, but decided he was “too short.”


He began his coaching career in 1975 as an assistant coach in football and track at Doniphan High School. In 1978, he began coaching track at Kelly High School, where he also started a cross-country program in 1995. Davis came to Notre Dame in 2001 to coach cross-country, and eventually restarted the track program after it was dropped in the early 1980’s.


One of the highlights of his career at Notre Dame included building the track.


“When I came in, I knew I wanted to get that going,” said Davis. “Tony Buehrle was instrumental in that project.”


In cross-country, Davis said it took a few years to get going.


“We took kids to state a few times at the beginning, but we never could score enough to make final four,” said Davis.


In 2003, things took a turn for the better: cross-country boys received 2nd in state. The following year, they received fourth place. But in 2005, the boys took home a state championship. Over the next four years the boys Cross Country team placed in the final four in state. In 2010, cross-country girls finished 2nd in state. Davis said this is where they hit a lull, until 2014 when boys received 2nd at state, and in 2016, the girls received 2nd once again.


Davis can recall many great moments over his time at Notre Dame, and the majority of them took place during summer running for cross-country. One story stands out to him.


One early morning in June, students were running various distances on the course in front of school. Davis said one was a freshman boy, and it was his first time on the course. He instructed him to run a simple 10 minutes, with no regard to speed.


Several minutes in, the boy bore his guts to the course.


Davis said he took a good look at the stuff, and used it as an opportunity to impart a bit of wisdom.


“‘Mmm…biscuits and gravy,’” said Davis.


He said the student looked at him, and asked, “How can you tell?”


“I told him, ‘Well, look at it. It’s not even digested!’” said Davis. “I advised him against eating a big breakfast before coming out to early summer running.”


When Davis was asked if he favored one sport over the other, he said he would have to pick cross-country.


“Everybody’s doing the same distance, and the sport created more of a family atmosphere,” said Davis. “It will always be my first love.”


Bill Davis retired early this year with a coaching & teaching career at Notre Dame spanning a little over 17 years. He recently celebrated his 43rd wedding anniversary with Tanya Amrhein Davis ’74. He is the father of two Notre Dame Regional High School alumni Hannah Davis ‘03 & Logan Davis ’09 and currently resides in Scott City.


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Erika (Reinagel) Westrich was known to be a top-tier athlete during her time at Notre Dame. She participated in several sports -- basketball, track -- but most importantly: softball.


She ran track and field for two years, played basketball for 3 years, and started in centerfield in varsity softball all four years.


Several highlights are streaked across her high school career.


In the Fall of 2007, Westrich set the currently held record for highest batting average of 0.558. Until 2010, Westrich held the record for most hits in a season with 53 hits. As a freshman in 2005, her team set the record for most bases stolen bases as a team.


One of Westrich’s favorite memories took place in 2008 of her senior year.


“It was the semi-final game at state, and we played 14 innings. It was a relief to win,” said Westrich. “We ended up losing the championship game that year, but it was still memorable. I’ll never forget that one.”


In softball, she received all-district honors in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. She received all-region honors in 2005, 2007, and 2008. She a part of the all-state softball team in 2005, 2007, and 2008 as well as part of the team that received SEMO all-conference honors in 2006, 2007, and 2008.


Her athletic achievements continued past her high school graduation in 2009. Westrich went on to play softball for another four years at Central Methodist University (CMU) in Fayette, Missouri. She contributed to teams honored as Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) Champions and received the HAAC Gold Glove award in 2012 and 2013. She was honored as a Softball Scholar Athlete by NAIA Daktronics in 2012 and 2013. In 2017, her 2011-2012 team was inducted into the CMU Hairston Hall of Fame for outstanding accomplishments.


Westrich currently works as a family nurse practitioner at Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau. She has been married to Austin Westrich for three years, and the couple is expecting their first child in May.


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Dylan Drury played both basketball and baseball during his time at Notre Dame.


He played basketball as a freshman and into the next season, but suffered an eye injury halfway through his sophomore year -- thus ending his basketball career.


Drury played baseball all four years, and lettered for each. He contributed to all-state teams his junior and senior years. They placed third in 2008 and won the state championship in 2009. He was an all-district champion his sophomore year in 2007.


One significant moment in his high school career stood out to Drury:


“We got beat pretty badly my junior year at the state playoffs. We set some state records on how badly we played,” said Drury. “But we came back the next year victorious.”


He went on to play baseball for one year at West Virginia University, and transferred to Parkland College in Champaign, Illinois, where he played baseball for another year. He worked for Drury Hotels for several years before starting school at Southeast Missouri State University. He is currently working on a degree in business administration.


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