Chimes Winter 2014/15

Nationally Certified & Leading the Way


Westminster students who enroll in the engineering program can now receive dual credit for successfully completed courses. Westminster is the first private school in the state of Missouri to receive this college credit certification by national STEM program provider, Project Lead the Way (PLTW).

“It can be difficult as a private school to meet all the rigorous requirements of PLTW,” says Westminster engineering teacher Maggie Moore. “This certification  shows Westminster’s dedication to excellence in the STEM field. Schools that offer a Christian education can tend to focus on either the “Christian” aspect or the “education” aspect. I am proud that Westminster not only focuses on, but exceeds expectations in both of these areas.”

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A four-member team from PLTW visited Westminster’s campus to evaluate and observe engineering classes, interview teachers and administrators and meet with the Westminster STEM Advisory Board to include parents, alumni, students, industry leaders, administrators and counselors.

“The team commended our implementation of the PLTW curriculum and offered suggestions for improvement,” says Evan Munger, physics teacher. “We are extremely proud of all the hard work by our faculty and staff.”

PLTW is a non-profit organization that provides STEM programs to elementary, middle, and high schools across the U.S. Westminster is a registered member of the PLTW Engineering program, utilizing curriculum that teaches students to apply engineering, science, math and technology to solve complex and real-world problems.

Read Westminster leads STEM charge in the classroom in the St. Louis Business Journal

A Community of Diversity

Director of Diversity Aaron Layton discusses his role at Westminster and what it looks like to prepare our students for an increasingly diverse world. Follow him on Twitter @WCADiversity.

Litany of Secrets

In 2014, Luke Davis’ debut novel Litany of Secrets was advertised in QUEST, the national publication of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The book is the first in a planned series of seven mystery novels featuring Cameron Ballack, a St. Louis-area detective who has myotubular myopathy, the same disease shared by Rev. Davis’ son Joshua.

Fight! Fight! Fight for the Blue and White!

At the end of the football season, the Wildcats were 11 and 2.  They were the district champs and tied for the Metro League championship!

Boys Cross Country

Congratulations to the boys cross country team for a third place finish in the Class 3 state meet in Jefferson City. This is the second time in school history the team has placed third at state.

Michael Gerson ’82

Michael Gerson is a syndicated columnist whose articles appear all over the country. His column was recently picked up the the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Post-Dispatch editor Tony Messenger says, “ We believe that Mr. Gerson’s commitment to ‘compassionate conservatism’ and his roots in St. Louis will better connect with our readers, regardless of their political bent.”

Read Michael Gerson’s Column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Read Michael Gerson replaces George Will in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

J.D. Hartwig ’10

Some people bike for the exercise. Others bike for the competition. J.D. Hartwig bikes for an entirely different reason. He and fellow cyclists, friends, and Belmont University seniors James Richfield and Brennon Mobley, ride to raise funds to build a school in Mount Olivos, Honduras. Read more about J.D.

What began as a simple idea quickly formed into an exciting reality. “I was actually in St. Louis a year ago working an internship for the summer, and Brennon reached out to me with the idea for going on a really long bike ride,” says J.D. “I told him I wasn’t going to be able to go, because I had to get a job. The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that it was too good an opportunity to turn down.”

The team’s soon-to-be third member James was planning his own cross-country bike ride at the time, but due to other responsibilities, the trip never materialized. Brennon talked with James about joining him and J.D. on their potential summer trip, and it immediately sparked in James a renewed sense of adventure.

“It was really cool to see how this crazy, ridiculous adventure was slowly becoming a reality,” says J.D. “God kept putting things in our path and presenting us with open doors. He’s still continuing to work in this endeavor, and it’s been really neat to see.”

J.D., Brennon, and James formed Riding with a Reason – a team with the intent of creating awareness and support for the 147 Million Orphans Foundation. The organization was founded by two mothers who combined care for 13 children, seven of whom are adopted. Once the women ran out of physical space and resources to care for more children, they created 147 Million Orphans with the goal of extending their love and support to even more children. The mothers had no experience or prior knowledge to help them run the non-profit. They were simply driven by a desire to develop a means to love more children.

“Similar to 147 Million Orphans, our team really doesn’t have experience in cycling as a hobby or a sport,” says J.D. “We’re just riding bikes – just like other people can. It’s something everybody can relate to. We hope to make an impact by doing something simple on a big scale.”

The team began their partnership with 147 Million Orphans in December 2013. “We wanted to work with an organization that was making a tangible difference,” says J.D. “In the end, it was a no-brainer for us to go with 147 Million Orphans.” Near the end of the month of April, J.D., Brennon, and James traveled to Honduras with the organization for a three-day trip during their college finals week. The trip was short, but the impact was long-lasting.

“We served in Mount Olivos, a disenfranchised community where the money raised from our biking adventure will go to build a school,” says J.D. “While there, we spent time meeting with people and investing in others’ lives. It was a great time to build relationships and also to lend a helping hand to work that’s being done down there.” Through their work with 147 Million Orphans in Honduras, the team realized the importance of building a school and establishing an educational presence in the Mount Olivos community.

Looking back, J.D. considers his time as a Westminster student as a launching pad that helped prepare him to take on a project of this size and intensity. “Going into my senior year at Westminster, I traveled to South Dakota for Summer Seminar, and that was the first time I really rode a bike for an extended period of time,” he says. “I rode something like 100 miles over four to five days, which is nothing compared to what we are doing on our cross-country trip, but it was the first time I rode a bike for hours on end. It was something small, but I picked it up pretty well and enjoyed it. Without that trip, I probably wouldn’t have pursued biking more.”

J.D. distinctly remembers encouragement from Westminster teachers who challenged him to have big dreams. “Dr. Timothy Gibson used to say, ‘Never doubt a small group of people that wants to change the world, because those are the only ones who ever will,’” says J.D. “Everybody can have a cool idea, but not everyone will necessarily see it to reality. I believe that the bigger and bolder your dreams are, the more responsibility you have to see them through. We may only be three college kids on this adventure, with little prior experience, but we have been amazed to see what has unfolded from putting our minds to something bigger than ourselves.”


*Update: On July 8, 2014, J.D. and teammates James and Brennon completed their cross-country cycling trip, ending their journey in Washington, D.C. The team exceeded their fundraising goal, raising over $58,000. The total amount will provide enough financial assistance to the Mount Olivos community to build a school and pay a portion of teacher salaries for up to two years.

Members of the Riding with a Reason team traveled to Honduras shortly afterward to visit the site and help with initial construction of the school. Plans for completion of the school building are scheduled for fall or early winter 2014. J.D. says the team would love to return to Honduras after the construction is finished to see the final product. “The trip was a great experience for me,” says J.D. “It taught me lessons in overcoming adversity and dealing with complex and unplanned situations. Most importantly, it helped me to realize what is really important in life and what is not.”

Rachel Wisdom ’07

author-photo-smFor Rachel Wisdom, writing has been a passion from an early age. She recently celebrated the release of her debut novel A Shopkeeper’s Daughter.

During her freshman year of college, Rachel wanted to write a novel as an escape from her studies and college life. As her subject, she chose a true story that she had discovered online while a student at Westminster. She thought of it as a short-term project that she could finish in a semester and a summer – not something that would consume years of her life!
Read more about Rachel

The story, set in the 1960s, is one of a young Norwegian seamstress who fell in love with her country’s Crown Prince, a man who would spend years battling to be allowed to marry her. “I had always thought it was a story that needed to be told,” says Rachel. “So when I sat down to begin writing my novel in March 2008, it was an obvious choice for my subject. It’s a beautiful, historical story about a love that lasted and a Christian couple who was willing to persevere and fight for that love. I think young women today need better role models, and I’m excited about the potential for the influence of the book’s heroine Sonja Haraldsen,” she says. “Also, the book is set in a gorgeous country with the romantic backdrop of royal Europe, and it’s full of grand palaces, princesses, and beautiful dresses. That all made it wonderfully fun to write!”

Rachel, 24, currently works in communications in the Office of Alumni & Development at Washington University in St. Louis, her alma mater. She writes speeches for university officials, fundraising and acknowledgement letters, and articles for a variety of alumni publications, and she serves as the editor of the alumni newsletter @Washington. “I feel so blessed to be able to do something I love for a living,” says Rachel. In addition to her job at the university, Rachel does freelance work for Eagle Forum, where she writes several of Phyllis Schlafly’s radio commentaries each month.

A Shopkeeper's DaughterRachel says that during her time at Westminster, she received an exceptional, academically rigorous education that prepared her for her future. “I left for college with a solid understanding of all the subjects I’d taken,” says Rachel. “But what was most exceptional was how I was taught to see the hand of God in all of those subject areas. Christianity simply permeated the entire curriculum,” she says. “In Mr. [Tim] Hall’s physics class, we examined the fingerprints of God on the universe; in math classes, we discussed how the perfection of mathematics exemplifies God’s creation of a logical, orderly world; in history classes, we studied God’s hand and direction in historical events; and in English classes, we regarded literature as a reflection of God’s creativity.”

Not surprisingly, English classes were always Rachel’s favorite. “Westminster was where I first learned to analyze literature, and there was a strong focus on writing in all my English courses,” she says. “I learned skills that I would take with me to college and into my current career and also use as I wrote my novel.”

Rachel’s junior-year American Literature class with L.B. Graham was particularly helpful with the latter, she says. “In Mr. Graham’s class, we not only learned to analyze books for their literary value but also examined the authors’ writing styles,” she says. Rachel has kept in close touch with a number of her Westminster teachers. Pam Bye, Larry Hughes, and Florence Lewis even helped edit the manuscript of her novel.

Rachel lives in Florissant, Missouri, and attends Parkway Baptist Church. She has a number of upcoming book signings, including one at Pastries of Denmark in Creve Coeur, Missouri, on Saturday, May 10 from 2-4 p.m. and one at Barnes & Noble at Mid Rivers Mall in St. Peters, Missouri, on Saturday, May 31 from 1-3 p.m. In June, Rachel will be on a small book tour in eastern Wisconsin, and in July, she will speak at the Vesterheim Museum in Decorah, Iowa, during the town’s annual Nordic Fest.

When she is not marketing her book, Rachel is involved in the Norwegian Society of St. Louis, a club she joined several years ago during her research for the book. Now president of the club, Rachel says the culture, food, and most importantly the people are a great deal of fun. She says, “The irony is, unlike the rest of the club members, I don’t have a drop of Norwegian blood in me. I just love Norway!”

Rachel’s novel A Shopkeeper’s Daughter is available at and Barnes & Noble.

Tara Bollinger ’97

Tara Bollinger has been traveling as Miss Missouri USA 2003 and has spoken to more than 100,000 students. She is the founder/director of INSPIRE School Programs, a nonprofit organization providing positive character-building programs for middle and high school students. “I see a need in our country for quality school programs that foster character education,” says Tara. See her full story in Southwest Now Magazine.

Holly Maher ’97

Holley Maher and former Board member Bill Maher, were the father-daughter team behind the SmartBenefits private exchange. They say working through challenging times can be tough given their close relationship but also very rewarding because they get to spend their days together.

John Herbold ’99

John Herbold is vice president of GoNoodle, a company that recently introduced a new classroom tool that reels unfocused kids back into a ready-to-learn state of mind. Learn more

Emily Roig ’04

Emily Roig raps in her new video “Go,” produced by Mike Rohlfing ’05 and filmed in Westminster’s Theatre. Emily moved to Nashville this fall to focus on her music career.

St. Louis 48-Hour Film Project

For the 10th consecutive year, Mike Rohlfing ’05 led a team in the St. Louis 48-Hour Film Project. Their movie EVT staring senior Harrison Farmer won Audience Choice (eighth year running), Best Sound Design, Best Graphics, and Best Film of St. Louis (second year in a row). In the spring, the movie will compete against the 120+ other 48-Hour Film Project city winners from around the world in Los Angeles. Everything was created, written, shot, and edited within a 48-hour time period using mandatory elements revealed at the start of the competition. The film also won Best Short Film at the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase in July and was featured on an episode of Cityscape on St. Louis Public Radio. Other alumni who participated include Alex Docekal ’07, Harrison Farmer ’15, Daniel Hoover ’05, Luke McGowan ’06, Justin Beasley ‘07, Bill Bubenik ’07, Maggie Bubenik ’07, Drew Port ’15, Dustin Reppell ’00, Garrett Henry ’06, and Sarah Haas ’04. Watch the film at

48 Hour Film Project 2014 – “EVT” from Mike Rohlfing on Vimeo.

Brianna DeGroot ’10

Brianna DeGroot shares how Westminster’s robotics program inspired her to become an engineer. “[Westminster’s program] is the only reason I went to S & T and why I have really been interested in engineering.”

Jacob Turner ’09

MLB pitcher Jacob Turner signed with the Chicago Cubs in late summer 2014. Jacob credits St. Louis Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny with mentoring him throughout his career.

Read Cubs acquire Turner in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Ben Becker ’09

Earlier this summer Ben Becker appeared on CNBC’s Retail Investor Roundtable segment. Watch the clip

Elizabeth Korb ’10

Elizabeth Korb helped organize “Wǒmen (我们): Contemporary Chinese Art” last year as one of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum’s inaugural Greenberg Curatorial Fellows. “We wanted to explore sociopolitical themes that speak both to Chinese society and to our broader globalized culture,” said Korb, a senior communications design major in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts who  helped curate the exhibition.

Madison Burke ’10

Madison Burke is an anchor and producer for the international news outlet Newsy, which produces videos for AOL, MSN, Time Magazine and E.W. Scripps media outlets in addition to it’s own site. She previously worked as a local news reporter for KMIZ out of Columbia/Jefferson City and was recently featured in the Washington Free Beacon.

David Alexander ’10

David Alexander and Southwest-Airways partnered to celebrate National Dance Day. Check out his blogpost and video!

Richard Copeland ’10 and Ryan Allee ’11

Check out this video from RnR Music released by Richard Copeland and Ryan Allee !

Jonathan Bopp ’10

Jonathan Bopp, mechanical engineering major at Missouri S&T, was a second-year member of the Mars Rover Design Team. He spent most of his spare time in the Student Design and Experiential Learning Center working to perfect the next Mars Rover.

Connor Einertson ’10

Connor Einertson was named the North Coast Athletic Conference Player of the Week this past year.

Matt Brugner ’10

Former Westminster golfer Matt Brugner founded the Baylor Club Golf team during his freshman year at Baylor University. The team recently won the National Club Championship. And, while caddying for Mariah Stackhouse in the Curtis Cup, Matt learned that college golfers have varying levels of experience and talent but all have to balance being a student with their love and passion and love for golf.

Alex Cusumano ’10

Alex Cusumano starts off summer golf season with good performance in Old Warson Cup. Learn more

Brooke Cusumano ’13

Brooke Cusumano led the Missouri Women’s Amateur Championship in Kansas City after the first of three rounds when she scored a 1-under 71.

Lauren Vanek ’14

The St. Louis Rowing Club sent three boats to the U.S. Rowing Youth National Championships at Lake Natoma in Rancho Cordova, California, in July 2014. Congrats to Lauren Vanek ’14 and her team!

Johnny Kehr ’10

Johnny Kehr and his wife Rachel were married in summer 2014. Friend and classmate Forrest Hughes beautifully captured their special day on video and film.