Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cullman Area Athletes participate in running camp

Sweltering Alabama temperatures in the high 90’s did not  hamper thirty-seven young athletes at the St. Bernard “A Step Ahead” Running Camp.  Athletes recently finished three weeks of running camp with an emphasis on promoting good racing techniques and strategies.

St Bernard coaches, William Calvert and Stephen Calvert as well as Mason Dye of Cullman High School have spent the past three weeks leading workouts and running in the early morning hours training student athletes on the wooded trails of St. Bernard.  Dr. Eric Fillinger, DPM also assisted as a camp instructor.

“We have put a lot of work into these trails, and are happy that coaches from the county have trusted us with their athletes and allowed them to participate in the running camp,” Coach William Calvert said.   

Attending the camp on the last day before the July 4th Holiday was Palee Myrex of Cold Springs.  Myrex, a former student of SBP Coach William Calvert, is currently attending the University of Alabama where she is a member of the UA Track Team.  

“Always be a motivator for someone else,”  Myrex said to runners.  “When I first started running, I remember setting goals for myself.  I just wanted to win a t-shirt, then I wanted to win a race and be done, but after winning state title I was on top of the world.”  Her journey continues at the University of Alabama where she recently ran the 5K with a time of 17:43 and was an SEC Championship qualifier.

Myrex was pleased to see such an interest in young athletes.  When speaking with students just before awards, Myrex said, “You are very fortunate to have access to these awesome trails.  Keep taking advantage of them, but most importantly listen to your coaches and to yourself.”

‘A Step Ahead’ awards were presented to the top male and female athletes running the 5K and 2 mile races.  St. Bernard’s Steven Mami captured the first place male spot with a time of 19:40; Logan Ayers, also from St. Bernard, took the first place female spot with a time of 22:37.  Second Place was claimed by Cullman’s Devin Hall 20:13 and St. Bernard’s  Ayleana Mami 22:42.  Third place went to Cullman’s Nicholas Fillinger 20:17 and Megan Pendley 25:54.  Finishing in fourth was St. Bernard’s Oscar Perez 21:46 and fifth place was Fairview’s Reese Walker with a time of 22:32.

The two-mile male and female  ‘A Step Ahead’ awards were as follows:  1st place Graham Sanders 15:05 and  Leah Rose Mami 17:29.  Both winners are St. Bernard Middle School students.  Second place finishers were Cullman sixth grader Elijah Miller 15:06 and St. Bernard’s Cailin O’Donnell 17:38.  Third place was awarded to Cullman’s Emily Little.

The camp will resume after the July 4th Holiday with practice sessions on Monday and Thursday mornings until August 2. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

St. Bernard hosts Annual Alumni Reunion

St. Bernard celebrated a busy weekend recently at their annual alumni reunion.  Activities began on Thursday evening when golfers and friends gathered in the Garden Room at Ave Maria Grotto for a golf reception.  Individual golfers received their team assignments and had the opportunity to meet other players.  Traditionally, teams “bid on a monk” at this reception, raising funds for the school by vying for the best golfers among the monks of St. Bernard.  Fr. Jacob Amos, OSB, served as director of the tournament and was very pleased with the number of golfers participating.

Eighty golfers took to the greens at Cullman Municipal Golf Course to participate in the St. Bernard and Cullman Dodge Open Golf Tournament on Friday, June 22.  Over $1,750 in cash and prizes were awarded to the winning teams.

“To do a tournament of this size requires much work and detail,” Fr. Jacob said.  “It’s a huge undertaking, but we had some great sponsors and volunteers who made it all come together.”

A delicious lunch of barbeque chicken and ribs, potato salad, baked beans and banana pudding was served under the tent where awards were presented.  

Festivities continued for reunion participants on Friday evening with a fiesta party held in the Fazi-Richard Athletic Center.  Classmates and their families renewed acquaintances while feasting on a Mexican-themed dinner provided by Buena Vista restaurant of Cullman.
On Saturday morning, guests were treated to a Waffle Bar in the school Dining Hall, presented by Chef Andy and crew.  Alumni and families strolled around the campus to get reacquainted with their alma mater and to revisit favorite school haunts.  Many former students were found in the Administration building, looking at the class photos, which date back to 1928.  Numerous stories were told of campus antics and dorm escapades. 
An informational town hall meeting took place in the Brahma Room of the school, delivered by Fr. Marcus Voss and Abbot Cletus Meagher.  Attendees were thanked for their loyal support and told about all the accomplishments St. Bernard students have achieved in the past year, as well as the progress the Abbey has made in capital improvements.  Abbot Cletus announced the launch of The Clairvaux Society, a planned estate gift program, and invited alumni to participate.  A pasta bar lunch was provided in the Dining Hall, again hosted by Chef Andy.  Many alumni took the opportunity on Saturday afternoon to attend the Vigil Mass held in the Abbey Church.

An unexpected highlight of the Saturday afternoon mass was the renewal of wedding vows by Bob (class of 1958) and Peggy Stewart, currently of Haymarket, VA.  Bob and Peggy were actually celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary that very same day, and at the suggestion of Fr. Marcus Voss, OSB, renewed their pledges during the Vigil Mass, with Abbot Cletus Meagher, OSB, officiating.

The culmination of the reunion was held on Saturday evening with a dinner of Beef Wellington.  Alumni and guests were served by current students and junior monks of St. Bernard.  Gorgeous table decorations of silver and black, provided by Cathy Gray and family, set the stage for this special evening, honoring the classes of 1942, 1947, 1952, 1957, 1962, 1967, 1972, 1977, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2002, and 2007.   St. Bernard has operated, in their 121-year history, a college, a junior college, a seminary, a high school, and a preparatory school at various times throughout these years.  

The prep school class of 2002 opened their time capsule, revealing old pictures, posters, class assignments, and other memorabilia; the capsule was resealed with additional items, to be opened at a future reunion in 2027.

A member of the college class of 1973, Ron Rooks, proudly shared his recent induction to the Cherokee County Sports Hall of Fame by showing Fr. Marcus Voss his award; Ron was given a 4-yr. basketball scholarship to St. Bernard, and was proud to say that he was “the first black athlete to be recruited by Coach Charlie.”   Guests were entertained by a slide show of pictures taken during this year’s reunion, as well as a special tribute slide show to the classes of 1971-1974, created by alumnus John J. King, college class of 1973.  A silent auction, hosted by Joyce Nix, provided further entertainment in addition to music and dancing, courtesy of Universal Sound DJ.

Sunday morning found many alumni embracing and making promises to “meet again next year.”  An Omelet bar was presented in the Dining Hall with Chef Andy manning the griddle, followed by mass with the monastic community in the St. Bernard Abbey Church.
Fr. Marcus Voss, Director of Development at St. Bernard said, “I always look forward to this weekend.  It is a great time to have our alumni back on campus, to visit with them and have them reconnect with their Alma Mater.”

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Caitlin Varquez named Cullman County Distinguished Young Woman

Representing Saint Bernard Preparatory School, Caitlin Varquez warmed the hearts of both competitors and judges as she competed recently in the Cullman County 2013 Distinguished Young Women’s (DYW) Competition held at Wallace State Community College.
Caitlin prepared for weeks for this extremely fierce competition, in which young women are judged in areas of self-expression, talent, academics, and personal interview poise.  DYW is not a typical beauty contest, but instead, is an academic program designed to help promote women and to recognize them for their academic excellence as well as community involvement.
“It was one of the most memorable evenings of my life,” Caitlin said.  “I prayed that God would give me what I deserved, and that the person who wins, be most deserving.”   Evidently Caitlin’s fellow contestants thought her to be very deserving as she was chosen by them to receive the Spirit Award, earning her a $250 scholarship.  
The honors did not end there.  With her uplifting rendition of “If They Could See Me Now,” from the Broadway Play, Sweet Charity, Caitlin captured the talent portion of the pageant, earning her an $800 scholarship.
With alarming statistics and an obvious passion for the subject, Ms. Varquez did an excellent job of explaining her platform to the judges and audience members:  to educate women about the risk associated with heart disease, and to promote wellness and fitness among women.  Before the evening was over, this petite young woman with a bright, engaging smile, earned not only a dual-enrollment scholarship to Wallace State Community College for her academic achievements, but garnered the overall $3,000 scholarship when she was named the Distinguished Young Woman for Cullman County 2012.
 “We are delighted to have Caitlin represent St. Bernard Prep and Cullman,” said Fr. Joel Martin, President of Saint Bernard Preparatory School.   “She is a remarkably talented young lady, and we know good things are in her future.”
Caitlin is the daughter of Dr.’s Genaro and Mir Varquez of Cullman.  She will represent Cullman County in the state competition to be held January 12-19, 2013 in Montgomery, Alabama.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Prep School sponsors $1750 Prized Golf Scramble

St. Bernard Prep in conjunction with Tournament Sponsor Cullman Dodge is preparing for one of the largest golf tournaments in the 28 year history of the school’s tournaments. Tournament Director, Fr. Jacob Amos, OSB said he is excited about hosting this tournament to coordinate with the Prep School’s annual Alumni Reunion.
On Thursday, June 21 all golfers who are pre-registered are invited to attend a golf reception at Ave Maria Grotto, where golfers can buy mulligans and bid on a monk to golf with their team. Anyone wishing to enter the tournament may register at the reception or at Cullman Municipal Golf Course early Friday morning.
“We have a shotgun start scheduled for 8 a.m.,” Fr. Jacob said. This year’s tournament is being sponsored in part by Cullman Dodge who will sponsor a ‘hole in one’ contest on the 10th hole of the course. Grinning Fr. Jacob said, “Of course the tenth hole is a tough par 3 at 170 yards, but anyone nailing the hole will win a 2012 Jeep Wrangler.”
After the tournament there will 50/50 Cash Hole in One where golfers can try for a closest to the pin.  The Putting Contest is always an exciting event.  There are a number of other challenge holes where golfers will win other prizes.
Lunch and awards will follow after tournament play. 
The first place team will split $1000; Second place team members will split $500; and the third place team will split $250.
St. Bernard appreciates the support from Merchant’s Bank, First Community Bank, School Board Member, Fred Frye;  Pepsi, Jim Phillips of Coldwell Banker, Cullman Jefferson Gas, and Dr. Paul Freeman for their generous contributions. “I have been blessed with good people to work on the scramble. Their work in gathering sponsors and prizes as well as coordinating food, and set-ups has definitely contributed to the success of this tournament,” Fr. Jacob said.
Anyone wishing to participate should visit the school or the website at for registration information.  You may also email Fr. Jacob at: