Traditions connect us to the past, imbue our present with a sense of community and light a path for the future. In celebration of The Summit’s 125th anniversary, we offer these stories about people who have made an impact, significant events in our history and special places on campus. Click on the images to read the stories.
St. Cecilia Hall
1890: St. Cecilia Hall is named for the patron saint of music. Located on the third floor of the Upper School’s west wing, the grand room features floor-to-ceiling stained glass windows on both side walls and a stage where countless performances, lectures, presentations and special events have been held over the years. The room features two large murals in arched recesses high above the auditorium floor – painted in the 1900s by Sister Berchmans of Mary and Sister Marie du Saint Esprit. One depicts St. Catherine of Alexandria, patroness of philosophers and the other St. Cecilia’s vision of heavenly harmonies.
In the earliest years, St. Cecilia Hall was a place of worship. The first Mass at The Summit was delivered in the hall on Sept. 5, 1890 after an altar from the Sodality chapel at Sixth Street was installed. St. Cecilia Hall was the primary chapel for the community of sisters and school until the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel opened in 1895.
Saint Cecilia Hall was renovated in 1930 and again in 1949 to accommodate growth of the school. In 1949, an arch above the stage was squared off and doors beside the stage were replaced. The back wall was removed to make the foyer larger.
Now officially part of the Upper School, St. Cecilia Hall is frequently used for gatherings, presentations, plays, talent shows and special events. Shown: Boys are seated to the left and girls to the right during a visit by a bishop.
The Mission Statement of The Summit Country Day School was written by Assistant Head of School Mary Brinkmeyer in response to a strategic plan developed by the Board of Trustees after The Summit became independent of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN). Remaining true to the ideals of the founding sisters, the statement incorporates their challenge for us to love each and every child as an individual. The mission statement that the Sisters had hung in the 1924 Alpha building – “To Grow in Grace and Wisdom” – was included in the new directive.
The mission of The Summit Country Day School is to challenge every student, faculty and staff member;
to share fully the gifts that have been given to them by God;
to grow in grace and wisdom;
to develop spiritually, academically, physically, socially and artistically;
and to become people of character who value and improve the world they inherit.
1920: When senior, Mary Julia Hummel selected the name “Rostrum” for the inaugural school yearbook, she envisioned a forum where students could share “their thoughts and fancies from a ‘Rostrum’ as the Romans of old were wont to do.” First published by the senior class of 1920, the annual was a literary journal as well as a pictorial account of the previous year. For the next three decades, there were contributions ranging from a few lines from the youngest students telling of their favorite toys or activities, to poetry and senior essays on science, philosophy, literature, and politics. Some of the pieces were even written in German, French, or Latin.
By the 1950 edition, the Rostrum altered its format to match the more traditional yearbook, emphasizing photographs versus literary writings. In the 1970s, select parts of the annual were first colorized – usually the introductory pages and the senior section. The first all-color volume appeared in 2006.
Today, as many schools abandon their traditional yearbooks, the Rostrum is still beloved by students and alumnae. The 2014 staff, in their closing note to the community, summarized the timeless role of the school annual: “As we compiled this year’s volume it became clear that our purpose is not only to provide fun memories, but also to create an historical record that captures, for anyone leafing through these pages in the future, the essence of what it was like to be here in 2013-14.”
Montessori Turns 50
2013: Teachers, former teachers and three of the four women who have headed The Summit’s Montessori program turned out for the 50th anniversary celebration in 2013. The program opened in 1963 under the direction of Sister Mary Motz (front row, right) and Sister Jane Thomas. Sister Noreen Joyce (front row, left) served as principal for three years. Phyllis Schueler (front row, center) has served as director since 1989. In her tenure, she oversaw the design of the modern Montessori classrooms, expanded enrichment programs, began a Toddler Program for two-year-olds, revamped the Orff Schulwerk music program and incorporated the teaching of “kindness” in the Character Education Program. Read more about the Montessori program and curriculum here.
1941: When the Alpha became The Summit Boys School in 1941, the Sisters brought Henry Werner from the east coast to run this very prestigious school. He played a large role in integrating athletics into the school, especially boxing. All boys boxed and played football all the way down to the “paperweight” league. This was the beginning of The Summit’s trademark all-inclusive athletics program.
1970: The original Lower School was first opened in 1970 for grades 1 through 3. The current building opened in 2004 and now houses both the Montessori preschool and Lower School. The Montessori occupies the ground floor and a portion of the first floor, serving 2-year-old toddlers through kindergarten. The Lower School occupies the first and second floors with classrooms for grades 1-4. Designed to provide a completely child-centered learning experience, the new building features large, roomy classrooms that allow for interaction and hands-on learning; science labs filled with the latest equipment; and a bright, spacious library.
The Lower School experience includes a substantive introduction to computers, and to the core elements of The Summit's academic curriculum: language arts, math, foreign language, science, social studies, fine arts, physical education and religion. Signature Programs of the Lower School include Conceptual Math, Five Star Reading, Garden for the Good and Student-Led Conferences.
Read more about what The Lower School has to offer.
Athletic Hall of Fame
Athletic Hall of Fame
1984: The Athletic Hall of Fame began in 1984 after the Tri-Unity campaign funded the construction of Flannery Gym – as well as Kyte Theater, a chapel renovation and an increase in the endowment.
The first four Hall of Fame inductees were legends of The Summit – former Summit Boys School Headmaster Henry Werner; Charles Dorger ’43, a house team captain and first president at the Boys School, as well as the school’s heavy weight boxing champ in 1942 and 1943; Louise (Dumler) Kepley ’60, who had been a stand out in field hockey, basketball, golf; and Dick Holmes, who had a string of championship wins during his tenure as a Boys School teacher and coach from 1952 to 1990.
Since then, the induction of new Hall of Fame members has been a tradition every year during Homecoming Weekend, when inductees are recognized at halftime in the homecoming football game. They include Dexter Bailey ’80, the “Skywalker” who went on to play for Xavier University, the Denver Nuggets and teams in Argentina, Chile and Mexico; Dan Fleming ’81, a member of the Greater Cincinnati Basketball Hall of Fame; as well as celebrated coaches Walt McBride ’82, Farrell Ackley and Jim Brockhoff.
The Hall of Fame is located in the lobby of Flannery Gym where the images and contributions of the more than 100 people who have become members of the Athletic Hall of Fame are memorialized on plaques.
Click here to see a complete list of Summit’s Athletic Hall of Fame members.
Shown: From left, Charles Dorger ’43, Louise Dumler Kepley ’60 and Dick Holmes in front of Werner Hall in 1984.
Sister Superior Julia, the foundress of The Summit, was born Susan McGroarty in Ireland on Feb. 13, 1827. To join her grandmother, who had immigrated earlier to America, her parents moved their family to Cincinnati in 1831 when she was four years old. She first encountered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) in 1840 when her family attended a Mass at Cincinnati’s cathedral. Eight sisters had arrived just one day earlier upon an invitation from Bishop Edward Purcell, who later became archbishop. The community was anxious to see these “French ladies” about whom they had been hearing. She became a student of the sisters and entered the novitiate in 1846. She was appointed superior in 1860 and died in 1901. A marker on the floor of the east transept of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel indicates where she was entombed until 2012 when her remains were moved to the SNDdeN cemetery in Reading. Shown is an image of Sister Julia with her signature from her biography. Here is an excerpt about her from Pat Kelly’s history book on how she came to start The Summit.
"From New York the Sisters traveled in civilian clothes by stage and riverboat to Cincinnati, arriving at the Public Landing on Oct. 31, 1840. The next day, All Saints Day, they went to Mass at the Cathedral of Cincinnati, then located on Sycamore Street, where one of the people in the congregation was Susan McGroarty, who would later become Sister Julia and build The Summit.
"Sister Julia was an excellent teacher of English and composition, and one may be sure every student under her care was taught to read. She was also a fearless experimenter in science, much to the fright of some of the older members of the convent. In September 1854, she left Cincinnati to found a mission in Roxbury, Mass. where she stayed until her transfer as Superior to Philadelphia in 1860. In this seaport city, Sister Julia founded the convent at West Rittenhouse Square, which would become one of the educational bastions of Philadelphia. Throughout this time she kept and treasured a letter sent to her in 1854 by Sister Superior Louise urging her to give herself 'entirely to God, as it is for His love you make the sacrifice.'
"Though she was happy as Superior in Philadelphia, when called to return to Cincinnati to be the assistant of Sister Superior Louise she willingly obeyed and returned to Ohio in September 1885. At Sixth Street once again, she faithfully served Sister Superior Louise until her death on Dec. 3, 1886, when Julia succeeded her as Provincial Superior.
"One of Sister Superior Louise's dreams was to open a convent in a rural area near the city as a place for recuperation for ailing Sisters. She and Sister Julia had looked at some properties, but none was satisfactory and Sister Superior Louise, who was in ill health, left the work of founding this convent to Sister Julia. So it was Sister Superior Julia who, on a mild February day in 1888, rode out to East Walnut Hills to look at a property of rolling lawns and orchards that would become the site of The Summit.
"As soon as she saw the verdant hills, the looming trees, the lovely twelve room house, she felt that the 'Finger of God was here.' On March 1, 1888, a day of pouring rain, the Sisters paid $20,000 for the eight and a half acre plot of the Wood Homestead Farm, and the land, which contained a hot house, a brick stable and carriage house, a spring house, a poultry yard and kitchen garden, an orchard and a vineyard became a new home: a home for the Sisters and the thousands of children they would teach. At first the name Summit was a joke on Sister Superior Julia's part, but the name fit and Our Lady's Summit came to be."
The Bishops Parlor a grand double room in the main building of The Summit. It was so named because it was the location where the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur would greet visiting clergy, including multiple bishops.
The space is comprised of two rooms, with wide pocket doors separating them as shown in this early photo. Both rooms have deep wooden trim, windows with stained-glass transoms and chandeliers.
This early photo of the rooms shows Victorian era seating. Today, the outer room has a lush seating area and the inner room has a conference table so that it can be used for meetings and small events. In 2001, Mary and Joe Brinkmeyer, who both served in a multiplicity of roles at the school including turns as trustee for each of them, donated the funds for the restoration of Bishops Parlor in honor of their children Lauren Brinkmeyer ’96 and Joseph Brinkmeyer III ’01. At its completion in 2002, it was dedicated to Mary Brinkmeyer ’67 for her long-standing service and generosity to The Summit.
1890: The first image seen by those who enter the main building of The Summit is the stained glass sunflower installed above the double doors in 1890. The sunflower had a special place in the heart of Saint Julie Billiart, one of the foundresses of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Saint Julie held that followers of Christ should resemble sunflowers, turning toward God as the sunflower turns toward the light. Sunflowers are also present in the windows of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel and the color of the sunflower is present in the stained glass transoms above many of the windows. The stained glass windows were made in Munich, Germany, especially for this school.
The open-air pavilion was located on the site of the current Holmes Gym. It was constructed out of all wood, and provided a space for students to exercise and compete. The girls and boys schools had their physical education classes in it, competing between their house teams – Lasance, Fenwick, Newman and Gibbons for the boys and Lambda, Alpha, Kappa and Theta for the girls. The Pavilion also served as a meeting spot for many community events.
1890: The Upper School now encompasses most of the main building on The Summit’s campus. When The Summit began in 1890 as Academy of Our Lady of Cincinnati, high school classes were in a section called the Academy Building. The Academy Building, which actually was finished five years before the rest of the school, occupied only the west wing of the current building – the wing on the right side of this photograph. The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur used the central section and east wing for offices, a convent and an infirmary. The Upper School was initially a girls' school. It opened to boys in 1972.
Many renovations have taken place throughout the past 125 years. The most recent of them occurred in the summer of 2015 when science laboratories were renovated and a five-story addition on the back of the east wing added more classrooms, library and art space.
The Upper School program prepares students in grades nine through 12 for the academic, spiritual and life challenges they will face at college and beyond. The educational philosophy embraces a rigorous academic curriculum paired with a Character Education program. Strong offerings in sports, fine arts, vocal music and drama develop a well-rounded graduate. The Upper School is home to the Science Research Institute and award-winning programs in science, writing, world and classical languages and the arts.
Saint Cecilia Murals
Saint Cecilia Hall houses two large murals of special interest, ensconced in curved alcoves high above the auditorium floor.
Inspired by the Renaissance style, two early teachers, Sisters Berchmans of Mary and Marie du Saint Esprit, painted them.
To the left of the stage area is an image of the martyred fourth century saint, Catherine of Alexandria. The mural depicts Saint Catherine in a debate with pagan philosophers. When the philosophers were not successful in getting her to renounce her faith, Emperor Maxentius ordered that she be tortured on the wheel, but the wheel broke. St. Catherine was one of the saints said to appear in a vision to counsel Joan of Arc. St. Catherine is the patron saint of philosophers. The wheel of St. Catherine is incorporated into The Summit’s seal.
To the right of the stage is a painting is of Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of music, for whom the hall is named. Martyred in the fourth century after converting hundreds of people to Christianity.
Retired Basketball Jerseys
Three jerseys have been retired from the golden age of The Summit’s basketball program – 1977 to 1982 – when the Silver Knights went to the state semifinals twice with a record of 104 wins and 13 losses.
Dexter Bailey ’80 was nicknamed “Skywalker” at The Summit because of the grace with which he could dunk a basketball. He scored more than 1,100 points for Xavier University, was drafted by the Denver Nuggets in 1984 and also played professionally for Argentina, Chile and Mexico.
Dan Fleming ’81 was captain his senior year and remains The Summit’s all-time leading scorer. After scoring 1,000 points at Northern Kentucky University, he began a long coaching career in 1987. He is the winningest coach in the history of LaSalle High School and has been inducted into the Greater Cincinnati Basketball Hall of Fame.
Walt McBride ’82 averaged 18.5 points and 11.9 rebounds per game his senior year, attracting attention of many recruiters. He played for Xavier University and returned to The Summit to be head basketball coach. He also was head coach at Withrow and Roger Bacon high schools.
Chapel Talks have become a rite of passage for many Summit students. In front of the entire Upper School, seniors, and sometimes juniors, speak a few minutes about their passions, commitment and world view. The program is the culmination of a rigorous oratory program called SOLEIL, which includes a purposeful sequence of oratory practice starting in the freshmen year. Each student who chooses to give a Chapel Talk works closely with a faculty member to hone their message and they are introduced by their faculty mentors. Students usually invite their families and are permitted to dress out of uniform for the occasion. The speeches are often memorable for the audience as well as the speakers.
Richard J. Holmes Gymnasium
One of three gymnasiums on The Summit’s main campus, the Richard J. Holmes Gymnasium is attached to the Middle School. The gym hosts physical education classes, practices and games for students in the parent-led K-6 athletic program. The gym was dedicated to Richard J. Holmes in 1990 during one of several Centennial Year celebrations. A long-time teacher and coach, Dick Holmes was one of four inaugural members of the Athletic Hall of Fame which began in 1984. The gym is on the site of the former Pavilion. Shown, an image of the gym standing alone before it was connected to the expanded Harold C. Schott Middle School in 1997 and, inset, the bas-relief plaque dedicating the gym to Dick Holmes.
1982: Random Blossoms was the original name of the student-written literary magazine established in 1982 in the Upper School. It was edited by Theresa Donovan. Emily Skiba and Ryan DeFranco changed the name to Ellipsis in 2005 when it began to print in color. It included art work and essays from Summit students along with the usual poetry and stories.
Eighth Grade D.C. Trip
The eighth grade class makes a trip to Gettysburg, PA, and Washington D.C. each year for four days where they visit the Civil War battlegrounds, Capitol Building, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, the Holocaust Memorial, Arlington Cemetery and many other points of interest. A highlight of this trip is the visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier where students participate in a Wreath Ceremony. The lessons learned on the trip amplify through personal experience what they learn in the classroom. Shown: A pilgrimage in 1966 by the Summit Boys School.
Each year, The Summit continues the tradition of May Crowning in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel. At this ceremony, students and faculty remember Mary as the Mother of Jesus, pay respect to her place in the Catholic faith and strengthen their own faith. The traditional May Crowning hymn refers to Mary as the “Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May.” One young girl, accompanied by the May Court, is chosen every year to lay a wreath of flowers on a statue of Mary. Historically, the ceremony often took place in an assembly of the entire student population and sometimes was held in the open air. In more recent years, eighth graders have led a procession of Montessori students carrying flowers to the front of the chapel to begin the service. The Rosa Mystica statue used in the ceremony stands vigil in the chapel lobby during the rest of the year. The statue was acquired by Sister Agnes Markham in 1947 during a trip to London, England.
1894: The chapel and entrance foyer floor is a spectacular pattern of circular marble stonework. Summit’s Founding Sister Superior Julia, who loved the ceremony and dignity of religious processions, planned for the chapel to have three marbled aisles. She nicknamed the grand floor the “Pompeii Pavementium.” The tiles were actually the throw-away portion of late Victorian era vanity tops – the portions that were cut to make holes for sinks. According to the annals of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN), the floor was laid in April 1894. Sisters working at a school downtown near the factory were assigned to pick up the tiles over time. They hand carried the tiles to SNDdeN’s headquarters on Sixth Street, where Procter & Gamble is now located. The accumulated tiles were then brought to Summit’s construction site.
Since Ken Uckotter started working at The Summit in 1978 as principal of the Upper School, he has had an impact school wide. It was Mr. Uckotter who introduced modern technology to the school.
Since 1982, the use of computers throughout The Summit’s four schools has been widespread in the classrooms and in computer labs in each building. With a strong background in both academics and technology, he was named Technology and Curriculum Director in 1990. In his tenure, he has led the continuous development of state-of-the-art campus technologies during an era of rapid change. Now, the school has more than 700 computers and servers, a strong wireless infrastructure, Promethean Active Boards in classrooms around the campus and multiple other technological programs. Mr. Uckotter has been a champion of professional development for teachers and encouraged the use of blended learning techniques in the classroom. He has been instrumental in the development of The Summit’s personal password-protected portal, which allows individual students and their parents to review assignments, calendars, resources and grades. A separate position of curriculum director was created in the 2015-16 year, allowing Mr. Uckotter to focus solely on increasing technology needs of the campus.
The Summit’s five-pillars mission statement calls on faculty, staff and coaches to develop students artistically as well spiritually, academically, physically and socially. Opportunities for self-expression are abundant at The Summit.
The integration of the arts begins early in the Montessori preschool and continues through twelfth grade. Among those experiences, Montessori children have lessons in Orff-Schulwerk music, an approach to early musical training that helps develop areas of the brain involved in language, reasoning and problem-solving, and kindergarteners get early stage experience in the annual Christmas play. Lower School children learn how to write critically about art while exploring artistic techniques, have many opportunities to perform in musicals and combine art with research and writing in academic subjects. Middle School students have the opportunity to join the band in fifth grade while guitar, violin and piano lessons are offered during and after school to all students. Annual theatrical productions in the Middle and Upper Schools not only give students confidence in public speaking, but offer them opportunities to try new avenues of expression, stretch their comfort level and problem-solve. Theater also teaches the importance of teamwork – not to beat somebody else but to lift everybody up and become better together.
Every year, a number of Summit students are awarded for their artistic endeavors in competitions in art, art criticism, writing, instrumental performance and theater. Advanced Placement and portfolio art classes in the Upper School have helped many Summit students gain acceptance into top-rated collegiate art programs.
Shown: Actor Radek Lord ’14, right, has appeared in several movies and television shows as well as on The Summit’s stage.
The Summit’s signature Advisement Program is based on the principle that every child needs to know there is one adult at school who is specifically looking out for all of their interests – one person that the student can seek out for help. Every student entering The Summit’s Upper School is assigned one faculty member as a mentor. Each mentor’s group of 10 to 12 students meets regularly in “Advisement,” which stays together for all four years of high school. Because the groups are small, the advisor gets to know each student well and know the whole student – mentoring each on their developmental, social, emotional, physical and academic needs. The advisement period is also used to help students become more organized. Advisors check their students’ schedules to make sure students are prepared for the work they need to do. The advisements become support groups at a time when friendships are changing and help new students assimilate. The Middle School also has an advisement program, with small groups of students being assigned to one faculty member, but students change advisors each year.
Shown: An Upper School advisement group.
Lessons and Carols
Lessons and Carols has been an annual Christmas tradition at The Summit since 1997. While not Catholic in origin, the tradition has been adapted by other Christian churches around the world and its roots date back to the Church of England in 1880 with the Archbishop of Canterbury. At The Summit, The Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel is always full on the evening in December when Lessons and Carols is celebrated. The Chapel is darkened as students make a candlelit procession down the long aisles. Members of the community present Biblical readings which tell the story of the fall of humanity, the promise of a Messiah and the birth of Jesus Christ. Traditionally, the Upper School Camerata and Middle School seventh and eighth grade choruses are joined by alumni in the singing of traditional Christmas carols and hymns.
With its long history, when it comes to listing traditions at The Summit, nothing could be more traditional than legacy. The Summit has educated generations of well-known Cincinnati families and has had multi-generational families from the outset when its earliest graduates sent their children here. That tradition continues today with many young alumni who are sending their children to the school they know and love. Summit celebrates legacy families every fall by inviting alumni to join their children and grandchildren for a large group photo on the front steps or in the chapel. Shown: the 2009 legacy photo.
Each year at The Summit, Homecoming is celebrated in the fall with a Spirit Week leading up to a weekend full of festivities. The SPA Fall Festival is held on the Friday of the weekend, followed by a reception and then the Homecoming football game, where the inductees into the Athletic Hall of Fame are recognized at half time, along with the crowning of Homecoming King and Queen. On Saturday, individual classes hold their reunions. Finally, on Sunday, an all-community mass is held to welcome back alumni.
To Grow in Grace and Wisdom
The short motto of The Summit Country Day School – "To Grow in Grace and Wisdom" – originated with the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. It has had a presence throughout the school’s history, and reminds students that they should grow as the infant Jesus grew. “Through the emphasis on character education we can come to realize that we are in a relationship with our world, with our creation, with the people in our lives,” said Sister Lois Ann Meyer, SNDdeN. “These are the elements that positively influence us to grow in grace and wisdom.” The Grace and Wisdom sign which hangs in the first floor of the Main Building was first hung in the Alpha building in 1925. The phrase was incorporated into the school’s mission statement after The Summit became independent of the sisters. The Alpha is now part of the Middle School.
The award-winning Latin Program at The Summit Country Day School is one that interacts with the community through service projects, provides diverse opportunities for students to develop leadership skills, and it recognizes artistic talent and academic excellence through local, state and nationally organized competitions.
The program has won awards nationally, specifically through its performance in academic competitions. Additionally, the study of Latin assists students in learning critical thinking skills, the study of other languages, and, eventually, standardized tests. All sixth graders are required to take Latin, and many continue through high school. Shown: Students with trophies at a national convention.
Click to read more about the Latin Program.
Summit History Book
1990: The Summit 1890-1990 by J. Patrick Kelly, was originally published in 1990 for the Centennial celebration. A second edition update, To Grow in Grace and Wisdom | The Summit Country Day School | 1890-2015 is a 125th anniversary project. His writing is the basis for many of the vignettes posted here in the “Traditions” mini-site. The Summit’s Campus Historian, Mr. Kelly has been a member of The Summit faculty since 1980 and is involved in multiple aspects of life at The Summit. In addition to his work as an English teacher in the academic sphere, he is the faculty moderator for the Upper School’s student-written Ellipsis literary magazine and leads tours of the school speaking about the history of the buildings and the school.
Girls Middle School
Girls of Middle School age have been educated here since The Summit Country Day School opened in 1890, however, it was not until 1967 that the grades were officially divided into sections and an official Summit Girls Middle School (GMS) began. This division of the school was composed of girls from grades 4-8. Like the rest of the school, academics were rigorous, and the students were challenged to do their best on a constant basis. With House Teams to promote both unity and encourage competition, the school had many traditional ceremonies such as Distribution. With attention to the arts and athletics as well as academics, this division met high standards. The Girls Middle School continued until 1995 – even after the Upper School became co-educational – when it was combined with the Boys Middle School to form a co-educational Summit Middle School. When the expansion of the school was complete one year later, the school was re-named the Harold C. Schott Middle School. Shown: A Girls Middle School classroom from the 1990s.
1924: House systems, which originated in England, were once a tradition at many schools and The Summit had houses from the mid-1920s to mid-1980s. Much like the houses in the Harry Potter book and movie series, students were assigned to house teams and would compete with each other in sports and other ways to encourage teamwork, community and loyalty.
In 1924, seventh and eighth grade boys were assigned to Gibbons, named for Cardinal James Gibbons who founded Catholic University in 1889; and Newman, named for John Henry Newman who was a well-known Catholic writer in Victorian times. The six grades of girls were initially assigned to Emmanuel, Marian or Julian – although Julian was dropped a year later. House teams had assemblies where they discussed ways to improve morale. Each house received rewards based on the achievements in deportment and scholarship of its individual members, which placed an emphasis on individual responsibility. Awards were given at a ceremony called Distribution.
In 1929, Theta, Kappa, Sigma and Lambda became the houses for the Upper School girls while Marian and Emmanuel continued as houses for Lower School girls. In 1951, the Boys School added Fenwick, named for Cincinnati’s first bishop, Edward Fenwick.
By 1973, to accommodate an increased number of girls, the house teams in the Girls Middle School changed from Marian and Emmanuel to Alpha, Beta, Delta and Gamma by 1973. Four new houses were added in the late 1970s to accommodate boys – Iota, Omega, Tau and Eta. In 1984, house teams in the Upper School changed from eight to four – Tau and Omega from the boys and Theta and Sigma from the girls – to make four co-ed teams. Eventually, the house teams were dropped as all students were united as Silver Knights.
Shown: A board naming the team captains in the Summit School for Boys from 1977-1981.
Single Sex Education
One of the distinguishing characteristics of The Summit is that it is a Catholic coeducational school from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. The Summit’s mission is to teach the whole child, so coeducation is seen as an opportunity to show students how to work side-by-side with anyone and treat each other with respect. The education of boys and girls together provides a more natural, real-world experience. Diversity and point-of-view within classroom discussions enrich the intellect of each student. Read more about The Summit’s philosophy of coeducation here.
That said, The Summit has not always been coeducational. In our long history, boys and girls were taught separately for more than 80 years – except in the Montessori preschool where boys and girls always were together. Here is a timeline of how education of boys and girls, together and separately, evolved at The Summit.
The school opened in 1890 as a school for girls, but four boys were enrolled in the second academic year. At first, only younger boys preparing for the sacraments were admitted and the teaching of boys was controversial for the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. In 1914, Rome officially granted the Sisters approval to teach boys as part of their official mission, sanctioning the teaching of older boys. The older boys had separate classes and entered the building through a different stairway than the girls. Doors closed off the last two rooms on the first and second floor of the Academy Building, now the west wing of the main building, where boys were taught. Sister Marie of the Purification, known affectionately as Sister Marie of the Boys, was in charge of the Boys Department.
In 1925, the Alpha building opened as a Montessori program for grades one through six, but America was not yet ready for this new educational philosophy. In 1927, the school’s name changed to The Summit Country Day School and the curriculum expanded to include physical education and cultural programs. Boys in grades three to eight were educated separately, but their rooms were moved to The Alpha. (The Alpha building still exists but it is a section of the Middle School building.)
The Summit Boys School emerged in 1942 for grades one through eight and maintained a unique identity for many years with high standards and competitive athletics for its students. Then, during a transitional period in the 1960s and 1970s, new perspectives on how to educate children at The Summit emerged and classroom spaces began to be altered.
By 1965, the kindergarten had been wholly replaced by the Montessori. An Ungraded Primary opened in 1970 for grades four to eight, extending Montessori methods into the early grades and creating the structure for the boys and girls middle schools to emerge. The Summit officially became co-educational in 1972 when the Upper School began to admit boys, but boys and girls in the middle school years continued to be separated until 1995. The Boys Middle School and Girls Middle School operated from 1972 to 1994. Coeducation finally became complete for pre-k through 12th grade in the 1995-96 school year when Summit Middle School opened with David Youngblood serving as the first principal. The school expanded a year later and was renamed the Harold C. Schott Middle School.
Robert T. Hertzel
1981: Robert T. Hertzel graduated from The Summit Country Day School in 1981. While he was at The Summit, he was an avid athlete, participating in golf, baseball, and especially basketball. His team fell just short of winning a state championship. When he developed cancer in 2009, he used his diagnosis to help bring awareness to people around him through a blog which had thousands of followers. After his passing in 2011, The Summit boys’ basketball team, which included his son, Holden, dedicated their season to him. The team ended up winning the State Championship that had eluded him, with Holden scoring the final points.
In 2011, The Robert T. Hertzel ’81 Memorial Scholarship was established, and is awarded to a student entering the 9th grade who inspires those around them through their words and deeds, embraces lifelong learning, and demonstrates a commitment to serving others.
The Montessori Program is housed in the Lower School. One of a few schools in Greater Cincinnati applying the Montessori philosophy in an educational program for two-year-olds, the program provides a positive, stimulating introduction to classroom education for students as young as age two. The space includes large, materials-rich classrooms filled with natural light. Among the notable programs are the Toddler Program for two-year-olds; Early Enrichment and Advanced Enrichment Programs which present an academically strong curriculum in science, culture, geography and fine arts; World Language which gives children immersion experiences in Spanish and French; and Orff-Schulwerk early music education, which helps develop areas of the brain involved in language, reasoning and problem-solving. As part of The Summit’s pre-k through grade 12 Character Education Program, the teaching of “kindness” is included in lesson plans. Learn more about what the Montessori offers here.
A well-rounded Summit educational experience includes five pillars that are written into the school’s mission statement. Teachers, staff and coaches are called upon to challenge every student to develop these five attributes in order to become the best versions of themselves. The first of these pillars is spiritual development. Faith formation and development of conscience are incorporated into curriculum as well as the spiritual practices of our students, faculty and staff, whether they are Catholic or come from other faiths. About 64 percent of the student body is Catholic.
The shared belief in the sanctity of the individual, the holiness of life and the living presence of God within each person are all part of the basic belief system. Age-appropriate activities at every grade level give students the opportunity to develop their spirituality, ethics and moral conscience.
Shown: An open-air Mass with the entire student body heralds the beginning of another school year.
1971: Hired as a teacher in the Montessori Program in 1971, Phyllis Schueler became Director in 1989, and more than any other individual has led the growth of this school and helped establish The Summit as a leader in early childhood education in Cincinnati.
Mrs. Schueler grew up in Hyde Park. She was educated in Catholic schools, leaving St. Mary’s High School to get her bachelor’s degree from Edgecliff College. She was a counselor and home economics teacher at McNicholas High School when she enrolled her oldest son in The Summit’s Montessori Program. Sister Mary Motz, a former principal of the school, recruited Phyllis to join her staff in 1971. Former Head of School Edward C. Tyrrell promoted Mrs. Schueler to Director in 1989.
In her tenure, Mrs. Schueler started Early Enrichment and refined Advanced Enrichment Programs which present an academically strong curriculum in science, culture, geography and fine arts through thematic units of study. World Language expanded, bringing an immersion experience in Spanish and French. She started the Toddler Program for 2-year-olds. The Orff Schulwerk early music education program, which helps develop areas of the brain involved in language, reasoning and problem-solving, was revamped. Mrs. Schueler incorporated the teaching of “kindness” in the curriculum when the age-based Character Education Program was introduced. She added Bible stories to address the spiritual pillar in The Summit’s mission statement.
She has fostered an open-door policy to include parents in all aspects of their children’s education. She provides professional development opportunities for her faculty annually, especially in the study of cutting-edge research on brain development and how young children learn. She has welcomed student teachers into her classrooms so they can learn in an authentic Montessori classroom environment. When the Lower School was being designed, Mrs. Schueler put her imprint on the architecture and interior design to make sure classrooms, lighting and materials optimized Montessori methodology. Her results are measurable. Kindergarteners are reading and writing stories prior to first grade, which leads to an accelerated start in lower grades. Behind the scenes, the Montessori program is a complex operation to run with children on many different schedules, rigorous standards that must be met at all times and the individual needs of each child being served.
Today, The Summit is the only independent school in the area offering full Montessori preschool experience and one of a handful of schools in Greater Cincinnati applying the Montessori philosophy in an educational program for two-year-olds. Learn more about the Montessori Program at www.summitcds.org/montessori/.
Shown: Phyllis Schueler in 2013 with her grandchildren Sophia Schueler, Lexie Eastman, John Schueler and Kylie Eastman, all Summit students.
Sisters in Habit
The sight of Sisters of Notre Dame De Namur (SNDdeN) wearing habits was a tradition on the campus of The Summit from the time the school was founded in 1890 through the 1970s when Vatican II resulted in changes in lifestyle among religious orders worldwide.
The Sisters here were united in a life of prayer and work devoted to the teaching of St. Julie Billiart, their foundress. Before starting the order, St. Julie had a vision of the crucified Lord surrounded by a large group of religious women dressed in a habit she had never before seen. At The Summit, Sisters lived in a convent, which at first was in a house on campus called All Saints, and they moved into the main building once their quarters were completed. Many of them rarely left the building because their work was here. Their normal schedule called for prayers, Mass and meditation in the chapel from 5:30 to 7 a.m. before classes began at 8 a.m. After school, they rode buses home with students and returned to clean their classrooms before dinner at 6 p.m. The evenings were spent in recreation and prayer. Lights went out at 9 p.m.
In the 1970s, The Summit changed as the number of Sisters declined and lay teachers and administrators increased. The Sisters moved to their Motherhouse in Reading between 1971 and 1975, although they continued to be in charge of The Summit until the school became fully independent in 1984.
Shown: Members of the Upper School faculty in 1963.
1970: Edward C. Tyrrell came to The Summit as Head of the Boys School in 1970 on the eve of great change as the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur were preparing to turn over the school to an independent board of trustees. He was named Headmaster of all the schools in 1974 and President in 1981.
During his tenure, The Summit became coeducational and character education became formalized through the Educating for Character Program, the predecessor of the current Character Education Program. Without the support of the Sisters, the Annual Fund began, and capital and endowment campaigns resulted in new programs, improved facilities and new buildings. Among the facility improvements he would see to fruition were Flannery Gym, Kyte Theater, the Harold C. Schott Middle School, Tyrrell Library, Williams Library, the Athletic Complex and renovations in the new building that included replacement of all the windows and a concession stand, bleachers and lights at Williams Field. In 2003, his last year, he unveiled the master plan for construction of a modern Lower School, housing the Montessori Program and grades one through four under one roof with expanded parking in a garage.
While the title Headmaster would be changed in time to Head of School, here is the succession of those who have headed school operations since The Summit became independent.
1974-2003: Edward C. Tyrrell
2003-2006: Joseph T. Devlin
2006-2007: Dr. Patricia White, PhD., Interim Head of School
2007-2010: Gerard M. Jellig
2010-present: Rich Wilson, first as Interim, then Head of School
The Last Portress
1888-1981: Irish-born Sister Josephine Theresa O’Connor was the last portress at The Summit. For more than 50 years, she greeted all those who entered the front doors with a Celtic lilt in her voice and a smile on her face.
Born at Doon, Gurteen, Sligo County Ireland, in 1888, she followed her dream to come to America before the age of 20 and joined the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur novitiate in 1914. “She was to spend her entire active life listening for the door and telephone bells, and hastening with joy and unfailing graciousness to open portals of welcome and warmth – of cheer, comfort, compassion, or some other kindly human response to all who stood on the other side,” wrote one of her Sisters in a memorium. “So many hundreds of visitors across the years came through the spacious, stately door of The Summit which opened upon a wide vestibule leading straight to the sanctuary of the glorious gothic chapel. The smiling countenance of the small, plump sister was exactly what one should expect to meet along such a pathway.”
Known to have a remarkable memory, she would greet each student by name and even after years would inquire of returning alumni about mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandmothers, and grandfathers who had attended the school. She was a staunch supporter of civil rights and in the 1960s spoke of “man's inhumanity to man and the rights of all persons.”
In a 1962 feature story in The Cincinnati Enquirer characterized Sister Josephine as The Summit’s “ambassador.” One of many acquaintances quoted in the story said, “She opens the door as though she had been expecting you and she ushers you in with such graciousness that you wonder what you’ve done to deserve such consideration. Sister Josephine told the reporter she was just offering all those who enter some “Irish hospitality.”
Power of the Pen
1994: The Summit Country Day School has been participating in Power of the Pen since 1994 and has been hosting the Southwest Ohio District competition since 2009 under the leadership of Middle School Language Arts teacher Rosie Sansalone. The program provides an extra-curricular opportunity for students to pursue their interest in creative writing. The District competition brings together the top writers from across the Southwest Ohio area for a day of writing, comradery, and fun. At the award ceremony at the end of the day, Flannery Gym is packed to the gills with students who share a love of writing. Summit has always held excellence in writing as a key component of an educational experience. This emphasis has made the pre-K through Grade 12 Writing Program a signature of the school. The Power of the Pen program has contributed to the strength of that aspect of our school. Shown: A crowd of parents and students gather for the award of medals and plaques on the table in Flannery Gym after a Power of the Pen district competition.
1984: In the summer of 1984, Sister Joyce Hoben of the Ohio Province of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, signed the transfer of ownership of The Summit Country Day School and the grounds to The Summit’s Board of Trustees. This was when The Summit officially became an independent school.
However, the transition to independent school status was accomplished over the course of several years as the Sisters relinquished control bit by bit and guided their successors. By the early 1970s, the number of Sisters had decreased and the number of lay teachers and administrators increased. The Sisters announced the closing of their convent at The Summit in 1971 and, from then to 1975, moved to the Motherhouse in Reading where the Ohio Province is headquartered. In this era of transition, Sister Rose Ann Fleming and Sister Francis Joan Miller served as president, working with Headmaster Edward C. Tyrrell and the board on a strategy to make the school independent. The Sisters leased the school to the board in 1980. Although the school became fully independent of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 1984, the board carried on the Notre Dame tradition and for many years, Sisters served on the board and have assigned a liaison to continue to work with The Summit.
Today, the Board of Trustees is involved in policy and strategic planning while the school is managed by a Head of School. The Head has oversight of a management team that includes academic directors in each of its four schools. The Summit is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and Ohio Association of Independent Schools. The school is a longstanding member of the National Association of Independent Schools, the Ohio Association of Independent Schools and the National Catholic Educational Association.
Maurice “Bud” O’Connor
1976: The Maurice “Bud” O’Connor Memorial Award was first given in 1976. It honors the memory Bud O’Connor, who was a president of the original Summit Booster Association. The award was created to recognize Bud’s commitment to the support of The Summit’s athletic program. This award, given by The Summit Boosters Association to a male and female athlete, symbolizes Christian leadership, dedication, and achievement in athletics. Shown: 2015 recipients Mark Peterson and Kiley Barnard.
List of Recipients:
1976 Brandy Fisher
1977 Thomas Powers
1978 Alvin Poweleit
1979 John Schroder
1980 Mike Phillips
1981 Dan Fleming
1982 Andrew Gates
1983 Dennis Gates
1984 Dan Perry
1985 Randy Powell & Joanna Haas
1986 Matt Ackley
1987 David Ackley & Heather Ryan
1988 Michael Fleming & Jamelle Bowers
1989 James Wahl & Margo McKinner
1990 Kevin Hardman & Angie Heavey
1991 Jerome Hilton & Caitlin Gimpel
1992 Dennis O’Brien & Rebecca Algenio
1993 Cary Daniel & Rebecca Ackley
1994 Brian Phelps & Sarah Williams
1995 Chas Cooke & Teabra Dixon
1996 Andrew Koch & Rosemarie Staun
1997 Michael D. Tudor & Molly Sandlin Price
1998 Brian K. Washington & Bridget L. McConnell
1999 James D. Reynolds & Sarah E. Petrie
2000 Kevin Booher & Sonya Betz
2001 Frank Albi & Lauren Hoeck
2002 Eric McKinney & Carrie Haas
2003 William Lippert & Johanna Johnson
2004 Alex Tieman & Ashley Terry
2005 Andrew Donovan & Carrie Janisch
2006 Patrick Madden & Mary Jessie Price
2007 William Edward & Tiara Turner
2008 Matthew Lippert & Christina Sanders
2009 Daniel Slater & Kylie Parker
2010 Bradley Evans & Elizabeth Edwards
2011 Jenna Joseph
2012 Peter Hoffman & Elizabeth Arnold
2013 Warren Hill & Isabel Englehart
2014 Antonio Woods & Meredith Shertzinger
2015 Kiley Barnard and Mark Peterson
The Summit’s Name
The name “The Summit Country Day School” is a registered trademark in Ohio. So is “The Summit,” which is why the letter “T” is always capitalized on second reference. But the school wasn’t originally called The Summit. The school began as the Academy of Our Lady of Cincinnati.
Historical publications show variations on the name in the early years as the school was being established. The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur established a convent on the property while the school was being built. The building, which also housed a postulate for training sisters and a school for young girls, opened in 1890. The west wing of the current building housed classrooms and was called the Academy Building. So names of both the school, the convent and the Sisters were used. The property was sometimes referred to as the Convent of Notre Dame, the Academy of Our Lady of Cincinnati, Our Lady’s Academy and the Academy of Notre Dame. Founding Sister Julia jokingly referred to this high point of terrain overlooking the Ohio River as the “Summit,” so it also became known as “Our Lady’s Summit.”
Our Lady of Cincinnati became The Summit Country Day School in 1927 when country day schools became popular around the country. Early 20th century families who owned large rural homes wanted to educate their children in the clean country air away from the pollution of the city. Establishing homes in the country, these areas of Cincinnati are now called neighborhoods but were known as “suburbs” in this earlier era. Country day schools shared many characteristics of private boarding schools, which were also popular at the time, but allowed children to live at home and go to school in the daytime.
SPA Fall Festival
Each year during Homecoming Weekend at The Summit, the Summit Parents Association holds a Fall Festival. The Summit’s parents, students, family, and friends join a fun-filled outdoor party with special activities, games and festival foods. The Homecoming football game follows directly after the Festival. Shown: the Silver Knight does a little dance for a student at the 2014 SPA Fall Festival.
Roster of State Champions
State Team Championships:
1999 Boys Soccer
2006 Boys Lacrosse
2011 Girls Soccer
2012 Boys Soccer
2012 Boys Basketball
2013 Boys Soccer
2015 Girls Soccer
2015 Boys Soccer
State Individual Champions:
2007 Gabby Steele, Girls' Tennis singles
2010 Colin Cotton, Cross Country
2011 Colin Cotton, 3200-meter run in Track
2014 Mason Moore, 1,600-meter run in Track
2015 Stewart Spanbauer, Diving
2015 Mason Moore, 1,600-meter run in Track
Shown: The Summit's first state champion team, the 1995 Baseball squad with Head Coach Jeff Stayton.
Social development is one of the five pillars of a well-rounded Summit educational experience. It is so valued that it is written into the school’s mission statement. Polishing the social skills of our children is a long-standing tradition. The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur were devoted to developing students’ social skills and their call to challenge children to grow in both grace and wisdom continues to be the bedrock of all that we do. Faculty, staff and coaches are charged with developing each student’s social skills in a series of age-appropriate lessons that have been written into the curriculum or assigned to be taught during specific educational events in pre-k through grade 12. The hope is that we produce graduates who are able to collaborate and network, who care for others and have self-worth, and whose emotional quotient (EQ) is as high as their intelligence quotient (IQ). Read more about the Social Skills Program here.
Richard J. Holmes
1952: A man who would bring so much to the school, Dick Holmes, came to teach and coach in 1952. Until his retirement in 1990, Dick was an indefatigable worker for the good of his boys. He built the foundation for their lives by his own moral example, teaching them how to play hard, how to take it on the chin if they lost, how to try harder, and to always do the best job possible. In the classroom and on the field he led with humor and gentleness and a fierce belief in the worth of his boys. His record of championships only tells part of the story of his success, because it was the way he molded the boys, the way he affected their choices in years to come, the way he showed them how to enjoy games and work hard, and how to be a good father that was truly the measure of his success. The Middle School’s Holmes Gym stands as a reminder of his 38-year legacy. He was one of four inaugural members of the Athletic Hall of Fame which began in 1984.
See a complete list of Summit’s Hall of Fame members by clicking here.
Rev. Phil Seher
1977: Rev. Philip Seher began as chaplain of the Boys Middle School in 1977 in an era before The Summit schools were coeducational. He served as chaplain of the Middle School and Upper School before being named full-time chaplain for The Summit as a whole in 2003. He has blessed many Summit students with the holy sacraments of First Communion, First Reconciliation and Confirmation in The Summit’s historic Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel. He has also been called upon countless times to perform the sacrament of marriage for Summit alumni, baptism for their children and funerals for many members of The Summit community in the Chapel. He celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination in 2015, having been ordained on May 29, 1965.
1993: The Schilderink Family Chair for Distinguished Teaching was established by the Schilderink family in the 1992-1993 school year. The award has been given annually since then to a teacher at The Summit who exemplifies the traits most respected as an instructor. “It could be argued that the Schilderink family showed an extraordinary support for the school simply because they sent all their children here,” said Summit historian and Upper School English teacher J. Patrick Kelly. “Put together all the years the Schilderink children attended The Summit, and you get shockingly close to two centuries. Sending their children was just the beginning for the Schilderinks. Mrs. Schilderink’s volunteer hours approached the two hundred mark and beyond, and Mr. Schilderink was a loyal Board member and devoted chairman for many, many years.”
Former Head of School Ed Tyrrell announced the first winner in the spring of 1993 – English teacher Carole Fultz, shown here. Mrs. Fultz came to The Summit in 1971, though she had been a student teacher here the year before. A Hyde Park girl, she had worked in the office of her father, Dr. Mitchell Ganim, for years. Attending Xavier University at night, she worked toward her degree in English under the tutelage of her mentor, Father Savage. She entered The Summit on the cusp of an era of great changes, and she embraced them enthusiastically. Trained in the rigors of Jesuitical logic, Mrs. Fultz helped to introduce the three-part thesis still used today. Her memory of students is legendary as she can easily recall students from decades ago, including details about their essays.
Those who have been given the Schilderink Family Chair for Distinguished Teaching are:
2015: Larry Dean
2014: Kelly A. Cronin
2013: Jan R. Wiesner
2012: Karen Cruse Suder
2011: Rosie Sansalone
2010: Helen C. Clark
2009: Mary S. Humpert
2008: Albert E. Sagel
2007: Mary H. Vetter
2006: Karen E. Pohl
2005: Edmund J. Escudero
2004: Stacy P. Remke
2003: Paula B. Yarnell
2002: Margaret L. Brueggemann
2001: Robert G. Gorey
2000: Linda A. Moeggenberg
1999: Joan S. Hilton
1998: Mark T. Wiesner
1997: Patricia L. Kenney
1996: Farrell W. Ackley
1995: Kenneth J. Uckotter
1994: Bruce M. Bowdon
1993: Carole G. Fultz
The Summit Magazine
Each year, three issues of The Summit are released – the winter issue, the spring issue, and the annual report. Each issue develops one topic of general interest in depth and covers educational issues, school dynamics and teacher innovations. Regular features include news about the achievements of students, faculty, athletes and alumni. The annual report includes a report on each year’s graduating class, as well as recognition of those who support the school. The magazine is circulated to all of Summit’s families, alumni, grandparents and many others. Historically, the magazine has also been called Summit Spirit and The Summit Magazine. Read past issues of The Summit online here.
The Summit’s signature Writing Program has resulted in many students who have won writing competitions, published books or, like Emily Walton, been published in national magazines. Most importantly, the program has received the highest praise from young alumni who report that they were more prepared than their peers for college writing assignments.
The writing program relies on a fusion of time-tested writing approaches from preschool through grade 12. Lower School students are introduced to multiple central concepts in writing proficiency. Middle School classrooms focus on crafting and proving a thesis. By the end of eighth grade, Middle School students have written six full-length essays and a history research paper. Many of them compete in the Ohio Power of the Pen competition. Groups of students have written and published books – Knights' Tales: The Summit Writers' Project, Faded Secrets: The Summit Writers' Project, and Hear My Story | Be My Voice. Upper School English and history curricula prepare students for college-level writing through a sheer volume of writing assignments. Those students who take Honors-level and Advanced Placement classes get actual experience writing at that level. Click here to learn more about the Writing Program.
Shown: Emily Walton ’15 and History Teacher Kelly Cronin display four of the five issues of the national “Concord Review” which feature research papers written by Summit students. Emily was the fifth Summit student and the seventh Cincinnatian to be published in the journal, which champions high school research writing.
Caroline Williams' The Summit
Caroline Williams was a noted Cincinnati sketch artist in the mid-1900s whose pen-and-ink sketches of Cincinnati landmarks spanned nearly 50 years from 1932 to her retirement in 1980.
Focusing on grand and architecturally significant buildings, bridges, monuments and other scenes, her work appeared on Sundays in The Cincinnati Enquirer and became the subject of several regional photo books, including Cincinnati Scenes.
Caroline Williams drew at least two sketches of The Summit, one of the front and one of the back. The sketch of the front, rendered here in The Summit’s hallmark blue, was an iconic image of the school for many years. The image captures an era when the front landscape was covered with lawn and trees. Look closely at the details to see a line of cars stretched along the front of the school and the sunflower window above the door.
Relics of more than 100 saints are housed in the statuary and reliquariums within the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel. Original authentication papers for the relics date back centuries. Many are written in Latin. Some include intricate artwork or hand stamped wax seals. The authentication papers are housed in The Summit’s archives.
A relic is the physical remains or the personal effect of a person who has been canonized or beatified. These pieces of the Roman Catholic Church’s history are an important reminder of the community as well as the respect and honor owed to the sacrifices of the saints.
Archbishop William Henry Elder presided at an elaborate and beautiful ritual of consecration of the Chapel on Sept. 25, 1895. At this time, the relics which were buried in the main altar stone were encased in a silver watch case which had belonged to Sister Superior Louise. Inside this watch case, a piece of the silk shroud of Saint Julie Billiart, Mother Saint Joseph and Mother Ignatius, was used to wrap the relics of four martyrs: Vincent, Victoria and Beatrice, all victims of the persecutions of the early fourth century, and Adeodatus, who died in 389 AD and was the son of Saint Augustine.
Most of the relics are displayed in a reliquarium built under the statuary altar in the east transept devoted to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which was installed in 1925. A smaller portable reliquarium, which is often displayed in the west transept, holds several others. Shown: Three relic authentication documents and the east altar reliquarium.
Insight is the student newspaper produced by students in The Summit’s Upper School and is published several times a year. Generally 12 to 16 students join the staff each year and meet weekly to plan their publications. Led by student editors, students peer-edit each other’s copy, take their own photos and create their own illustrations. The newspaper has been published in both black and white and in color. Upper School Spanish teacher Monica Desch has been the moderator since 2012. Founded in 1978 as Insight, its predecessor was called The Vertex.
Shown: Christina Ng ’07, a digital reporter for ABC News and former member of the Insight staff, takes a look at an issue during a visit home.
Graduation at The Summit is a formal affair and is carried out with traditional pomp and circumstance. Girls wear long white gowns and boys dress in black tuxedos. Faculty present themselves in academic regalia. The commencement has been preceded by Mass in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel since 1946. After Mass, the valedictorian and salutatorian deliver speeches and degrees are conferred by the president of the Board of Trustees and the Head of School, except in the case of students of trustees, alumni and faculty. Their parents hand them their degrees, often with tears and a hug. An official portrait is taken of Summit fifers and of all the graduates on the front steps. Shown: The official portrait of the 2015 graduating class.
Summit Boys School
1942: The Summit School for Boys was established for grades 1-8 in 1942 for with an enrollment of 52 students. During the nearly 30 years that the Summit Boys School was open, the faculty, staff, and students created such a distinctive community that alumni still identify with it.
The first headmaster of the Boys School, Henry F. Werner developed an atmosphere where learning was important, but creating the well-rounded individual was even more important. Working to do this, many clubs were introduced which, along with athletics and theater, allowed the boys to develop their many talents. The Hawk was the school’s mascot and also the name of the school’s newspaper. House teams were very important and created a competitive atmosphere and brotherly bonds.
When Henry Werner left The Summit to take a job in Boston, he was succeeded by Harold Morse, James Brockhoff and Ed Tyrell as headmasters. When the Upper School began to admit boys in 1972, the Boys School became the Boys Middle School – still offering single-sex education while girls were educated separately in the Girls Middle School. The Summit Middle School integrated boys and girls, starting with the class of 1995.
1890: September 15 is the anniversary date of the opening of The Summit as a school. The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur established a community on the campus on September 9, 1890. Six days later, school opened even though the Academy Building was not quite finished. That first year, there were 20 students and 20 sisters. Classes were held in two rooms at the end of the hallway in the present west wing of the Upper School.
To celebrate the school’s 125th anniversary in 2015, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley declared Sept. 15, 2015 to be “The Summit Country Day School Day.”
Sister Dorothy Stang Hallway
2007: The Dorothy Stang Hallway was dedicated in 2007 in the Upper School in memory of a woman who devoted more than 30 years advocating for the rights of indigenous children and families in Brazil. A Sister of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN), Sister Dorothy was gunned down in 2005 in a rural settlement along the Amazonian Highway by two gunmen who were hired to kill her. In the memorial hallway, framed pictures of Sister Dorothy and the Brazilian people she served are hung in the shape of a cross and centered in a sunflower, an SNDdeN emblem.
Summit Parents Association
The Summit Parents Association (SPA) promotes a strong, integrated and diverse community of parents, faculty, staff and students to enhance the educational experience. Fostering a welcoming community for all Summit families, SPA sponsors community-building events such as Fall Festival, Boutique Noel and a spring dinner. SPA has helped sponsor speakers series, helps organize the annual campus-wide Hands Across the Water service-learning project and supports Birthday Books, Library Legacy, Lower School Fun Day, class parties, holiday parties, parent socials, Summit/SPA Parent Series, Caring Committee and Helping Hands. The SPA also operates the Spirit Shop and Uniform Resale Shop. The earliest parent’s organization at The Summit dates back to the Mother’s Association which formed in 1923. Students can thank this group for their uniforms because one of its first actions was to adopt a uniform. It was made of wool and had to be dry cleaned every weekend. Summit's logo was embossed in leather on the breast pocket. Presidents of the modern day SPA are recognized in a plaque in the main building’s first floor. Shown: The 2015-16 SPA board.
1890: The tradition of having a Mass at the beginning of the school year actually began when The Summit first opened its doors. Parents and grandparents are invited and so the ceremony moved out of the Chapel when the attendence grew too large. Now the all-community Mass sometimes takes place in the open air in the front circle, sometimes in Flannery Gym or, as shown here, on Williams Field. Wherever it is held, the whole school comes together to celebrate community at the beginning of each year as the tradition and practice of Catholic teaching continues.
1915: The Alumni Parlor is a grand room on the first floor of the main building. It has served as a meeting and gathering space since around 1915. Like many rooms facing the front of the building, the parlor has stained glass transoms over the windows – the yellow glass resembling the color of a sunflower. A remarkable feature of the room is a wall-to-wall, built-in book shelf, shown in this early photo. The bookcase now houses an archive of old photographs, historical objects and historical books – making it an interesting place to visit to see a part of The Summit’s history. Inset is a view of the room as it appears today.
First Communion has always been a hallmark moment for Catholic parents who see their children initiated into the faith and receive the Holy Eucharist for the first time. Traditionally, girls wear white dresses and veils for the ceremony, which includes a procession into the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel. While contemporary ceremonies replace the veils with a crown of angel hair flowers and boys are not all dressed in the same suit, children still dress in their finest for the occasion. Since 1912, Pope Pius X not only permitted but encouraged the reception of Eucharist by young children. Preparation for the Eucharist is done by both teachers and parents. Many parents involve siblings in the preparation for the First Communion. Shown: First Communion in 1964.
1990: The celebration of the centennial of The Summit began with the opening Mass of the year, a reflection to its opening year in 1890. The school then prepared for the peak of the celebration, the Centennial Weekend. On the Friday of the weekend, the Summit community gathered in the front circle to mingle, and then watched a fireworks display on Williams Field. On Saturday, multiple sports games were played, ending with football. Additionally, the Holmes Gymnasium was dedicated and the Hall of Fame induction was held. At the Centennial Ball, shown, The Summit and all of its traditions were celebrated. On Sunday, the Centennial Mass was followed by the dedication of the Centennial Commons, located in the center of the front circle. The weekend closed with brunch and the Centennial Play.
Gothic Revival Architecture
The Summit’s main building, and particularly the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel, are examples of Gothic Revival – a picturesque style of architecture which became popular in the mid 19th Century. Sometimes called Victorian Gothic, this architectural movement in Europe and North America rekindled interest in the earlier Gothic period. It was often chosen for rural country settings and churches.
The Summit was designed by Edward F. Durang, a Philadelphia architect who specialized in ecclesiastical design. Durang was known for lavish work as seen in the interior furnishings for the Cathedral-Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul as well as the cathedral-esque Gesu Church in Philadelphia. Durang incorporated many examples of Gothic Revival features in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel. A few to note that are representative of the style:
Pointed Arches: Apparent in many windows and doorways, the pointed arch is one of the most distinctive elements associated with Gothic architecture. Pointed arches allowed building walls to become thinner so buildings could be taller. Pointed arches distribute weight more vertically.
Flying Buttresses: Also taking the weight off the walls to support lofty ceilings, flying buttresses are visually grand – bestowing a sense of graceful movement.
Vaulted Ceilings: The pointed ribbed vaults seen in the ceiling of the chapel are not just aesthetic. They reduce outward thrust, channeling the weight of the ceiling away from the walls to other supports, such as flying buttresses and vertical columns. Soaring above large naves, they are often romantically described as reaching toward heaven.
Large Windows: In the Medieval days before the Goths re-envisioned architecture, windows were tiny because the bulky stone castles had thick walls which supported the roofs. Large windows would cause them to collapse under the weight of the stone. Gothic structural elements, such as arches, flying buttresses and vaulted ceilings took the weight off the walls, allowing them to be thinner and taller. Windows became bigger and taller, making interiors brighter. In churches, these large expanses of windows also provided a new way to tell the narrative of the Christian church – storytelling through stained glass artworks.
Wood Relief: As Gothic architecture allowed churches and cathedrals to become more grand, sculptures of saints and the Holy Family became a common element. The Summit’s main building and the Chapel have several fine examples of sculptures in the entrance, transepts and side altars. Another form of this decorative sculptural art was wood relief. Unique to The Summit are wooden reliefs in the ends of each pew – hand-carved by the artistic sisters who lived here.
Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel
1894: The Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel was designed by Philadelphia architect Edwin F. Durang and completed in 1894 for the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Sister Superior Julia had the dignity and ceremony of religious processions in mind when she planned the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel with three aisles and side doors. Flying buttresses support Gothic Revival arches, creating a classic ceiling dome. The main altar is made of Carrara marble and Mexican onyx, the gift of a benefactor of Sister Superior Julia, the foundress of The Summit. The ends of each pew were hand-carved by the early Sisters. The Sisters also carried the circular marble floor tiles, which were the throwaway parts of washstand tops manufactured in the city, to the Chapel. The stained glass windows were made for Sister Julia in Munich, Germany. Scaffolding from the chapel was removed in April 1894; the first benediction was in December 1894; the Blessed Sacrament was carried into the Chapel on June 8, 1895; relics for the altar stone were sealed Sept. 24, 1895 and Archbishop William Henry Elder presided over the consecration; the side altars devoted to St. Joseph and St. Mary were consecrated by Archbishop Henry K. Moeller in 1924; and the transept altars devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Julie Billiart were installed in the east and west transepts in 1925. The Chapel continues to be used for occasional Mass services and weddings today. Graduation is also held in the Chapel, allowing for the celebration of the Eucharist to be combined with the celebration of the achievement of the graduating seniors.
Love Your School Auction
The Love Your School Auction is an online bidding experience that The Summit uses as a fundraiser. Previously, this auction was a whole night of extravaganza called Evening of Elegance; however, it has evolved into an easier and more accessible way in which to raise money. Parents, alumni, and outside vendors donate goods and commodities to auction off. Items in the auction range from amazing trips, to one-of-a-kind experiences, to memorable gifts prepared by our students and faculty, and much more. Proceeds raised immediately enrich the experience that both students and faculty have at The Summit.
Henry F. Werner
1941: When Sister Marie of the Purification retired in 1940 from the Boys Department, the Sisters hired Henry F. Werner to be the Headmaster of a new initiative, the Summit School for Boys. He opened the school on Sept. 15, 1941 with an enrollment of 52 students and was the architect of a program that would create a long-lasting legacy.
A native of Boston, he came to The Summit from Newman School for Boys in Lakewood, N.J. His sense of individual responsibility, initiative, his good humor, self-discipline and a daily habit of quiet prayer in the Chapel was a model of behavior for the boys. He often quoted Cardinal John Henry Newman's definition of a gentleman as “one who never inflicts pain.” His Rutgers ring made an impression on the boys, as did his Boston accent, which became more pronounced when he was voicing a point about the Boston Red Sox.
Among his many contributions to The Summit, Mr. Werner introduced organized sports, and created the first Alumni Association. He developed The Summit Board of Lay Advisors, which grew from being a Boys School group to one that guided the entire school.
After 20 years as Headmaster, Mr. Werner resigned to take a position at the Boston State Teachers College, but he was not forgotten. For many years, Werner Hall, which was torn down in 1995 to make room for the new Middle School, was the host to many presentations, art shows and performances. Mr. Werner was an inaugural inductee to The Summit’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1984.
James J. Brockhoff
1966: James J. Brockhoff was named headmaster for Summit School for Boys in 1966 after serving two years as assistant headmaster to Harold W. Morse. A Summit Boys School alumnus and former president of the Boys School Alumni Association, he was well connected to the community when he came back as a math teacher and coach in 1958. He also served as president of the Independent School Association of Cincinnati. He was the headmaster of the Boys School and presided over the ceremonious Boys School 25th anniversary celebration. Mr. Brockhoff introduced the democratic system to the Boys School during class elections. Each candidate campaigned for a week before the vote was held. His final year at The Summit was 1971.
Distribution of Honors was a special ceremony dating back to 1891 when awards were given for Politeness, Order, Good Conduct, Diligence, Christian Doctrine, Music, Recitation and Composition. Prizing manners and comportment, the ceremony at the end of each grading period was ceremonious. Girls would dress in white and wear white gloves. They would be seated in the chapel and walk forward when their names were called to receive ribbons for their achievements, giving a curtsy to the nuns. Manners and deportment were stressed inside and outside the classroom. With the advent of the automobile, girls were taught how to enter and exit an automobile in a “ladylike” manner as well as how to sit in a chair. To sit down properly, a girl should never look back at the chair but feel it with the back of her legs and then sit gracefully. Quarterly awards in good posture were given to combat “debutante slouch.” In the 1920s, only girls who distinguished themselves in deportment and diligence were allowed to run for office. Senior privileges gave those students the right to sit in the front row at Distribution. Shown: A teacher’s record from 1901-1902 recording a student’s performance in manners and deportment.
Campus Day is an annual spring celebration when alumni and parents of alumni are invited to join the current Summit community in celebration of the visual and performing arts. Typically, the day includes a reception for new families who have enrolled for the following year, opportunities to explore classrooms, a Mass with special musical performances, a campuswide art show and a theatrical performance staged by the eighth grade. Shown: Visitors to this Campus Day art show could use their cell phones to scan the QR codes by these pieces of art to see a short video of the young student artists talking about the animals they sculpted.
1923: Uniforms debuted at The Summit Country Day School, when the school was still known by its original name, Our Lady’s Summit, in 1923. The girls wore blouses and brown skirts. Once boys were also on campus, new uniform policies were enacted, however, it was not until 1962 that the tie became a part of the boys’ uniform. In 1984, the Upper School gray skirt became the new style and new patterns were chosen for the lower grades.
1892: On July 1, 1892, the bell on top of what would become the convent was blessed and christened “Immaculata” on July 1. Immaculata was built by the Vanduzen Bell Foundry. Through the early years, the tolling of the bell would mark the passing of the hours and call the Sisters to duty, prayer and celebration. Today, it is electrified courtesy of the Verdin Company, which acquired Vanduzen in 1955.
Among all the statues in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel, the devotion to St. Julie Billiart speaks most to the mission of the school. As shown, the statue depicts Sister Julie gazing upon a young girl who holds a book, symbolizing the mission of the Sisters as teachers. St. Julie believed that the best education was based on knowing and understanding each child.
The statuary in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel was installed in stages. The main altar was installed when the chapel was consecrated in 1895. In the early months of 1925, marble altars were installed in both transepts. The altar in the east transept is a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The reliquarium at the base of the altar contains a variety of medals and other relics. The statue in the west transept is the devotion to St. Julie Billiart, one of the two founders of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
The altars to the left and right of the main altar were also installed in 1925. On the left is a devotion to St. Joseph. To the right of the main altar is Mother Mary holding the infant Jesus.
Building Our Lady’s Summit
1889: Originally called the Academy of Our Lady of Cincinnati, the school was popularly referred to as “Our Lady’s Summit” in the early years. The main building of The Summit was designed by Edward F. Durang, a Philadelphia architect for more than 50 years who specialized in ecclesiastical design. Durang had designed the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) convent at West Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. Sister Superior Julia, who had become SNDdeN’s first American-born Sister to serve as Superior when she took charge of the Sisters academy in Philadelphia, returned to Cincinnati in 1885. She succeeded her mentor, Sister Superior Louise Van der Schrieck, who died in 1886. Sister Julia purchased 8.5 acres where The Summit stands for $20,000 and ground was broken on April 16, 1889. The building was blessed in the fall of 1890.
While the architectural design and scope of the project can be attributed to Edward Durang and Sister Julia, it was Sister Mary Nepomucene who became the construction overseer. Dressed in the traditional habit of the Sisters, she climbed the scaffolds behind the male construction workers to inspect every detail. Born Mary Menkhaus on Jan. 15, 1837 in Over-the-Rhine, she first met the Sisters of Notre Dame while she was a student at St. Mary Parish School. She entered the novitiate in 1856. Skilled in needlework, sewing, architectural planning, design and construction, she was a strong woman who had no problem directing the work of men on construction sites. One worker once told her, “I wish I had a head like yours, Sister.” She answered: “Be satisfied with the head God gave you and make good use of it.”
From 1861-1903, Sister Mary Nepomucene supervised the architectural planning, design and construction of many convent and school buildings in Cincinnati, Hamilton, Reading, Dayton, Columbus as well as other places – including the construction of The Summit’s convent, academy and chapel from 1890-1895. In 1889, the year before construction began on The Summit, she oversaw renovations and expansion of the Notre Dame Novitiate in Waltham, Mass., which was also designed by Edward F. Durang.
When Sisters from around the country came to Cincinnati in 1890 to celebrate the golden anniversary of Notre Dame in America, the Superiors came to inspect The Summit convent and academy building. Summit's first chaplain, Father John Singleton, and Father O'Rourke, the pastor of the neighborhood parish, Holy Angels, blessed the building. The Superior of Sommerville, Massachusetts found it particularly amusing to watch Sister Mary Nepomucene carrying a tin bucket of Holy Water as she followed along behind Father O'Rourke, an imposing figure of a man with shoulder-length hair.
Sister Mary Nepomucene died at The Summit in 1919. No photos of her remain, but many of the buildings she helped to construct are still standing more than a century later. This photo of The Summit taken in 1891, shows deliverymen bringing materials to the school in carts drawn by horses and donkeys, scaffolding on the rooftop and construction workers on a fourth floor ledge and the roof.
1924: The Middle School building has been the object of several additions and renovations as its function changed over the years. The 1924 wing was built to house a Montessori program and was known as the Alpha. The building became home to the Summit Boys School in 1941. In 1949, four classrooms were added to this structure. Expanding enrollment led to a 1965 addition on the front of the Alpha where All Saints had stood. All Saints originally was the 19th century home of Colonel Philip Grandin and his family, and it was the site of the original convent of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. In 1970, separate middle schools for boys and girls were established for students in grades 4 through 8, although boys continued to use the Middle School building. After construction of a new addition in 1996, thanks to a donation from the Harold C. Schott Foundation, the Middle School became coeducational in 1997. Renovation in the summer of 2015 created a state-of-the-art science laboratory and re-configuration of the Nurse’s and Administrative Offices.
Now, the Middle School serves students in grades 5 through 8. Academic excellence at the Middle School is promoted through instruction that is rigorous but supports the needs of the individual child. Signature programs of the Middle School include STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), Latin, Band and Advisement, Writing Program, World Language and the Character Education Program in which each grade completes a capstone project related to the character traits students have studied. Read more about Middle School programs and curriculum here.
Sunflowers are present throughout The Summit’s campus as a reminder of Saint Julie Billiart’s love for them. She believed that followers of Christ should resemble sunflowers and should follow God in the way that sunflowers follow light. Visitors to campus begin to see sunflowers as soon as they drive in the entrance. Along the main entry, by the press box, first graders plant a sunflower garden every spring, and it greets them as they return in the fall. A stained glass sunflower crowns the main entrance doors, greeting all who enter The Summit. The reflection of the sunflower is also shown in more subtle ways, such as in the colors of the transom windows and the colors of the Lower School walls.
The Athletic Complex has been a landmark on Interstate 71 since it opened in 1996. Every day, thousands of drivers pass the complex, nestled next to the highway just south of Red Bank Road. In an era of expanding athletic interest among the coeducational Upper School, the 16-acre complex added more space than the school’s Grandin Road campus could provide. The outdoor venues include a state-of-the-art baseball field, five tennis courts, a natural turf softball field and two natural turf fields used by all levels of Summit teams for soccer, field hockey and lacrosse. The indoor facility contains two gyms used for basketball and volleyball practice as well as K-6 recreational games. It is the home site of the Summit wrestling team. It also houses an indoor batting cage.
The baseball field is home to the annual A.J. Cohen Baseball Tournament. When resurfaced in 2011, the baseball field debuted a new model for synthetic turf, designed by the Motz Group of Newtown. The infield is covered with an improved high-performance artificial grass and advanced underlayment system – producing a truer bounce of the ball. Other advantages are speeds close to the experience of a high performance natural turf field, cooler surface temperatures and elimination of rain-outs due to poor field conditions.
Tennis courts were also reconstructed in 2011 with proper sloping and drainage. Painted The Summit’s blue and gray, these courts include wind screens.
The complex is located at 5580 Ehrling Road. Read more about The Summit’s athletic facilities, both on the main campus and Ehrling Road, by clicking here.
Middle School Dedication
1996: Over the years, The Summit has seen the dedication of many buildings and renovation projects. But one of the most ceremonious had to be the dedication of the Harold C. Schott Middle School. On Oct. 12, 1996, the school community formed a parade behind a Silver Knight on a white horse. A ribbon cutting was held on the steps of the Middle School, amid fanfare of a band and assembly.
1903: The crucifix in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel was given to The Summit in 1903 by Father Xavier Lasance, the school's Chaplain from 1891 to 1924. Look closely under the feet and you can see that the crucifix bears the inscription of French artist Raffl, who created the statuary at the Way of the Cross at Lourdes in France.
1983: Ground was broken for Kyte Theater in 1983, a project made possible through the donations of the Kyte family. Under the same roof as Flannery Gym, the theater has been the scene of many school plays – from the Montessori’s annual Christmas play to a wide variety of theatrical productions by the Upper School. Every year, the theater also hosts visiting authors, speakers and performers whose knowledge and skills augment the curriculum.
Sister Rose Ann Fleming
With her twin brother, Tom, Sr. Rose Ann Fleming spent her formative years under the tutelage of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) as a student at The Summit Country Day School. After her mother died when she was in the sixth grade, the kindness of a Sister and the influence of a hardworking new best friend during the second half of her years in the Upper School brought out the enduring and competitive side, leading her to six college degrees and professional success. The Summit’s country day education style includes a focus on athletics as a part of student character development, requiring students to be good sports – a trait Sr. Rose Ann recalls learning. “The thrill of playing for your alma mater became a real part of my life, which included lessons of good sportsmanship when I lost,” Sr. Rose Ann said. “The concept of playing for your personal best was an invaluable lesson.”
She graduated from The Summit in 1950 and joined the order after she graduated from college. In 1960, she returned to the school as Sister Thomas Mary to teach English and Latin. Like many of other sisters, she reverted to her given name after Vatican II. Sister Rose Ann Fleming was appointed President of The Summit in 1967 and served in that position until 1973, and then again during the 1974-75 school year, when she was named President of Trinity College in Washington, D.C.
Xavier University named her Academic Advisor to their National Collegiate Athletic Association athletes in 1985 and Special Council to the President and Faculty Athletics Representatives in 2010. She has played an important role in Xavier’s athletic teams maintaining a 97 percent graduation rate. Her life story was chronicled in a 2014 autobiography called Out of Habit; My Life as Xavier University’s Unlikely Point Guard. She is pictured here from her days as the President of The Summit, with the campus pet, Antigone.
Lower School Time Capsule
2004: At the dedication ceremony for the new Lower School on Oct. 15, 2004, a time capsule was enclosed in the Lower School cafeteria wall. The capsule is to be opened in 2040, in honor of the 150th anniversary of The Summit. Items in the capsule are representative of the history of The Summit both figuratively and literally. They range from pamphlets on school projects by the Lower School students, newspaper articles about the school, lists of administrators and teachers and other items that offer a representation of what The Summit was like as a place in 2004 for a future generation.
Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur
1804: The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur were founded by St. Julie Billiart and Marie Louise Françoise Blin de Bourdon in France in the wake of the French Revolution. Taking vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, these women saw the need to educate children who were growing up unschooled, undisciplined and unchurched. They began their first school in Amiens, France in 1806. Because of a disagreement with the bishop of Amiens over the scope of their ministry, they moved to Namur, Belgium. The charism of order is to “make known God’s goodness.”
The Sisters established their first outpost in the United States at the invitation of Cincinnati Bishop John Baptist Purcell, who later became the Archbishop. Mother Superior Louis de Gonzague set sail with seven other sisters from Antwerp aboard the ship Eliza Thorton on Sept. 9, 1840. The sisters traveled from New York to Cincinnati by stage and riverboat and arrived at the public landing on Oct. 31. After first being located on Sycamore Street, they opened the Young Ladies' Literary Institute and Boarding School on Jan. 18, 1841 on Sixth Street, where Proctor & Gamble is today. Sister Louise became the Sister Superior in 1845. Her first postulate was Susan McGroarty, who became Sister Julia, and they opened The Summit in 1890.
The Sisters went on to open nearly 90 schools in Ohio, the Midwest and the east coast. They also established Trinity College in 1897 in Washington, D.C. Since those early years, the Sisters’ influence has spanned the globe and their mission has expanded beyond the classroom. For more information explore www.sndohio.org.
McKenzie-Sargent Award Winners
1983: The McKenzie-Sargent Award began in 1983 and is awarded annually to distinguished alumni for their service to the community and the school. The award is named for the first two alumnae to graduate at The Summit, Anna McKenzie and Olive Sargent, in June 1893. The first recipient was Anna McKenzie’s daughter, Marjorie (DuBrul) Shiels ’31. The second recipient was Sister Rose Ann Fleming, S.N.D. '50, now special Council to the President and Faculty Athletics Representatives at Xavier University, former President of Trinity College in Washington, D.C. and former president of The Summit. Click to read a complete list of recipients here.
1931: Scattered throughout The Summit are tributes to past students, alumnae, and teachers. Perhaps one of the most heartfelt is the Rookwood water fountain located in the front foyer of our main building. Mary Katherine Blowney was a 1924 graduate of The Summit. When she died in 1930 of pneumonia, her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin C. Blowney, donated the Rookwood-tiled fountain in her memory. Dedicated in 1931, the memorial depicts a three-columned classical structure in a pastoral setting. Symbolically, the upright columns represent the living parents; the broken column stands for their fallen and only child.
In the 1930-31 Rostrum, the dedication of the fountain is noted, and friend Gertrude Goebel, ’24 contributed this poem:
On the Death of a Classmate
How could we know through all those reckless years
That you, who were so care-free, now would lie
Asleep, in quiet loveliness beneath
The azure stillness of the summer sky?
Side by side through long and sunny hours,
We sat and conned our books and plotted schemes;
Such childish pranks to rouse the teacher’s ire!
How long ago? – ‘Twas yesterday, it seems.
All knowledge now is yours and not again
Will earthly cares obscure for you the day;
You need not walk the somber path of age;
Death showed to you a gentler, finer way.
I am not blind to beauties of the world;
I view with ardent eyes its majesty.
But this I know – I am a captive still,
While you, my friend, forevermore are free.
The Fleur-de-Lis Society was established in 1988 “to honor living alumni who graduated more than 40years ago.” The stylized French flower from which the group gets its name is a reference both to the origin of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur which founded the school as well as The Summit’s seal which includes a fleur-de-lis. The group gathers annually for a Mass that is followed by a luncheon in which members have an opportunity to catch up on each other’s lives and usually receive an update on what is new at the school. Upper School students act as servers. Shown: The 2013 gathering of the Fleur-de-Lis Society in the Chapel.
Academic Development is one of the five pillars of a well-rounded educational experience that are part of The Summit’s mission statement. Teachers, staff and coaches are asked to challenge students to develop these five attributes in order to become the best versions of themselves. At The Summit, academics begin at age 2 in the Montessori toddler class. School work in the preschool and lower grades prepare students for the rigorous college preparatory curriculum of the Middle and Upper Schools in English, Math, History, Science and World Language. Not only are a wide range of Advanced Placement (AP) courses offered in the Upper School, but on average 97% of our students take AP classes and several members of our faculty have been AP readers. Some 80% of the Upper School faculty have a master’s degree or higher. Every graduating class is distinguished with a high percentage of National Merit Scholars and with millions of dollars offered in scholarships. Shown: Students in the Science Research Institute learn how to work with laboratory equipment before they get real-life laboratory experiences with working scientists.
1961: Through a contest organized by Richard Holmes in the Summit Boys School, the team name “Hawks” was chosen. The name was decided through a vote and beat out other names such as “The Eagles” and “The Raiders.” In essence, the mascot was chosen to symbolize speed, daring and strength. The mascot changed to Silver Knights in 1973 after the school became co-educational.
Greg Dennis has been athletic director since 2004. Out of The Summit's 15 state championship trophies, 13 have been won under his tenure. With physical development as one of the five pillars of a well-rounded Summit experience, the athletic department has a no-cut policy. That means any student who wants to play a sport can play it.
Physical education has long been a pillar of The Summit and athletic competition especially thrived in the years of the Summit Boys School. After the Upper School became co-educational in the 1970s, the number of sports teams at the school began to rise quickly – leading to the need for an athletic director overseeing the entire program. The first named to the job was Lloyd Bailey. He was followed by Bill Frey in 1985, Bill Harris in 1988, John Morgan in 1992, Garrett E. Robinson in 1994, Terry McConnell in 1999, Patty Seta in 2002 and Greg Dennis in 2004.
Read more about The Summit’s championship, no-cut Athletic Program by clicking here.
1998: The mosaic pillars in the main building hallway were developed by Summit parent Aileen May, a well-known mosaic artist now living in Orange County, CA., and longtime Middle and Upper School art teacher Mark Wiesner. Working with students in 1998, the pair created a panel for each of the five pillars that are part of a well-rounded Summit educational experience – Spiritual, Academic, Physical, Social and Artistic. Bits of tile and mirror create myriad representations of student life on campus and the history of the school. Among them, a Gothic arch, Sisters in habits, students singing and acting, a keyboard, students active in sports and play, a Summit banner, a Rookwood plate, an alumni mug and a tile rendering of artist Caroline Williams drawing of the school. The mosaics were installed on Oct. 27, 1998.
Montessori Christmas Play
1985: The traditional Montessori Christmas Play had its first performance in Kyte Theater in the winter of 1985. The play consists of multiple speaking parts and songs that tell the account of Mary and Joseph’s quest for a place to stay, and Jesus’s birth. The story of the Nativity scene continues to be told every year by each all-day Montessori class. The play is a part of the Advanced Enrichment Program in the Montessori and helps with the development of stage presence and the use of memorization techniques. Plus, audiences are always delighted.
Sister Mary Motz
1963: The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur experimented with the Montessori method in the early 1920s, but the movement would not take hold in America until the 1960s. The contemporary Montessori program at The Summit opened in September 1963 with 25 students under the direction of Sisters Mary Motz and Jane Thomas [now Jane (Bunker) Jones ’58]. The Summit’s program quickly became a national model for other schools and filled requests to serve as an internship site for those training in the Montessori method. Sister Mary and other members of the faculty contributed to Montessori Matters, which was published by the Sisters in 1967 and became a national resource for educators training in Montessori techniques. Sister Mary continued to head the school until 1974. She went on to help found other Montessori schools and train Montessori teachers locally and in several states, returning from 1977 to 1979 during a transition to new leadership. She was recognized during the opening Mass in the 2013-14 school year when the 50th anniversary of the Montessori program was celebrated.
Montessori Principals and Directors
1963-1974 Sister Mary Motz
1974-1977 Sister Noreen Joyce
1977-1979 Sister Mary Motz
1979-1989 Linda Regensberger
1989-Present Phyllis Schueler, Director
Sisters in Charge
Sister Frances Joan Miller was the last in a long line of Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur to run The Summit. Sister Frances Joan was a tremendous educator with great insight into people. She clearly understood the nature of institutions, their power and what they did. Social justice was a crucial concern of hers; she knew that students had to be shown how to be people of character and how to serve the poor. Recognizing that many of The Summit’s students would rise to power and have the influence to effect social change, she made sure they heard the message of love in the gospels. Sister Frances Joan worked for several years with a lay board, preparing the school to become independent, turning control over to Edward C. Tyrrell in 1981.
In the 19th century and early 20th century, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur did not use the titles principal, director, headmaster or president to describe the administrative head of a school. Academies like The Summit were located within the confines of a convent which had educational ministries. The superior of the convent was the official head, while the sub-head of a graduating class or school was called First Teacher. There is no complete register of Sisters who served as First Teachers. The first First Teacher of The Summit Academy was Sister Eleanor Sweeny in 1890 and she was followed several years later by Sister Aloysius Josephine Bergen. They were followed by: Sister Josephine Mary Maginnism, 1910-1920; Sister Marie St. Eleanor Ryan, 1923-1928; and Sister Marie Emilie Walsh, 1928-1934.
Principals and Presidents
The title “principal” began in 1934 when the first principal of all classes of The Summit Country Day School was appointed. At this time, the principal no longer taught classes but served solely as an administrator. As enrollment increased and schools within The Summit became differentiated, the role became more like a superintendent of schools and the title eventually became president. Those who served in this capacity were: Sister Mary Francis O’Leary, 1934-1947; Sister Teresa Mary McCarthy, 1947-1954; Sister Marie Emilie Walsh, 1954-1964; Sister Mary Lucille Tarpy,1964-1967; Sister Rose Ann Fleming, 1967-1973; Joseph De Frisco, 1973-1974; Sister Rose Ann Fleming, 1974-1975; Sister Frances Joan Miller, 1975-1981.
1972: Farrell Ackley came to The Summit in 1972 as Social Studies teacher and dean of the new Boys Upper School. In that year’s Rostrum, when asked for self-appraisal, he quipped that he was “a warm loveable Thomas Jefferson fan … who thinks school should be fun for the students and that subjects taught should be those that interest them.”
Mr. Ackley left his indelible imprint on the school in a variety of ways. In the spring of 1972 when the Upper School was admitting boys for the first time, he and the principal met with the new boys and decided on the colors of blue and silver, as well as the Silver Knight mascot – unique in Ohio. He also designed the boys’ winter uniforms and loved seeing students in their ties. In 1973, he started the first Upper School football program and remained coach until 1987. He was honored as the Enquirer Coach of the Year and twice coached 10-0 seasons. In May 2009, The Summit named the home-team sideline in honor of his long stewardship of the team.
At the beginning of his tenure, Mr. Ackley introduced the idea of inquiry learning to the teaching of social studies and spent several decades inspiring students to read beyond the textbook, to immerse themselves in primary sources and to come to their own conclusions regarding historical truth. During his nearly 40 years at The Summit, he mentored hundreds of students. When he died in 2010, the Summit flag flew at half-staff. Today, the Ackley Historical Inquiry and Civic Awareness Award is given annually to one junior and one senior. The annual Upper School Talent Show supports the Farrell Ackley Scholarship Fund.
1947: The Rosa Mystica statue used in the traditional May Crowning ceremony stands vigil in the lobby outside the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel for most of the year. She is brought into the chapel the first of every May for the traditional crowning, a ceremonious event undertaken by Middle School students. Throughout the year, she wears her wreath of flowers. The statue was acquired by Sister Agnes Markham in 1947 during a trip to London, England.
The seal of The Summit was designed by Pierre de Chaigon la Rose for the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. The Latin words sigill(um) academiae dominae nostrae cincinnatensis refer to the original name of the school, The Academy of Our Lady in Cincinnati, and translate to mean “Seal of the Academy of our Lady of Cincinnati, the Seal of the Cincinnati School of Notre Dame.”
Among the symbols on the seal is the Catherine Wheel upon which fourth century Roman Emperor Maxentius intended to execute Saint Catherine of Alexandria because she refused to recant her faith. After she was placed on the spoked wheel, the wheel broke and she was subsequently beheaded. St. Catherine, the patron saint of philosophers, was chosen by the sisters who founded The Summit, to be their patron saint.
The three fleur-de-lis on the shield symbolize the purity of Mary, the Blessed Trinity and the three religious vows of the Sisters. A symbol of France, the fleur-de-lis also references the founding of the order in Amiens, France, by St. Julie Billiart and Francoise Blin De Bourdon, before they moved the order to Namur, Belgium.
The upwardly-pointing chevron in the middle of the shield denotes The Summit. The original seal, left, depicts the fleur-de-lis as a white lily. The contemporary seal, right, came into use in 2005-2006 with a crisper outline, larger shield, stylized fleur-de-lis and modern typeface.
1895: The pews in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel were installed in 1895 when the Chapel first opened. Over time, the end of each of the 64 pews was hand-carved by the Sisters at The Summit and the design on each is unique. They have been maintained and kept intact over the years. The pews were restored in 2002, and remain a highlight for visitors to the Chapel. A number of additional pews were added to the Chapel from 2012-2014, and 12 more were added in 2015-16.
Mary (Foss) Brinkmeyer ’67
1992: Possibly no other member of The Summit community has held so many varied positions at the school, and as a result, has had as great a lasting influence as Mary (Foss) Brinkmeyer ’67. She has been daughter of an alumna, lifer, alumna, parent, teacher, grandparent and member of the Alumni Board, Summit Parents Association (SPA), Booster Board and Board of Trustees. In her role as Assistant Head of School, during the critical time after The Summit became independent of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, she had a hand in every major curricular development, policy change, building renovation and construction project at the school until her retirement in 2009.
The daughter of Amelia Hamburg Foss ’24, Mary became a Summit student at age three. Educated at a time when the Sisters were a daily presence in the classroom and also lived in a convent on campus, Mary received the sacraments of The Summit’s Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel. After graduation from The Summit and Trinity Washington University, another Notre Dame institution, she returned in 1974 to teach in the Montessori school. She took a break in her career to stay at home to raise her children, although she was a frequent substitute teacher and active in the SPA and Boosters. She served on the Alumni Board, specializing in education, alumni relations and gender and diversity issues. She served on the Board of Trustees from 1986-1992. Mary chaired the board committee charged with creating a strategic plan for the future of the school. In that process, she wrote the school’s mission statement. Hired in 1992 to be Assistant Head of School, she helped implement the strategic plan. One of those strategic iniatives was the development of CREDO, the Educating for Character Program which began in 1997. The Summit became known nationwide for Mary’s clearly defined approach to character education as she presented it in workshops across the country with Dr. Tom Likona, the author and leading academic expert on character education. The Character Education Program, written into the curriculum in 2012 with a focus on an age-appropriate character trait at each grade level, has Mary’s work at its foundation and continues to rely on Dr. Likona’s assertion that we must educate children to be both “smart and good.”
Mary and her husband Joe, who also has served on the Board of Trustees, gave a gift of a Summit education to their children, Lauren Brinkmeyer ’96 and Joseph Brinkmeyer ’01. A supporter of many Annual Fund and capital campaigns, Mary and Joe established the Amelia Hamberg Foss ’24 Scholarship in 1989 and the Mary Foss Brinkmeyer '67 Scholarship in 2009. Even in retirement she has been a frequent advisor and now is a Summit grandparent.
Learn more about the life and times of Mary Brinkmeyer in the Spring 2009 issue of The Summit Magazine.
The Alumni Association has its roots in the Summit Boys School when Headmaster Henry Werner initiated it with the aid of the school presidents from 1943-1945. Like many of Werner’s initiatives, the Alumni Association made the transition into modern times when The Summit became co-educational and independent of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Today’s Alumni Association is governed by a board which advises the Development Office and takes part in many events at the school. The highlight of the year is Homecoming, when alumni gather for reunions and for a reception hosted by the Alumni Association. . Alumni Awards and Athletic Hall of Fame awards are given every year to distinguished graduates during Homecoming Weekend. A plaque recognizing the presidents of the Alumni Association is on the wall of the Alumni Parlor. For more information on the Alumni Office, click here. Shown: A group of alumni take a selfie at the 2014 Alumni Reception.
Stained Glass Windows
Stained glass windows are one of the key characteristics of Gothic architecture, and from the outset were intended to bring light into buildings and, in particular, churches. The windows needed to be grand in size to fill the tall walls and vaulted ceilings that are also common Gothic designs. The Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel has 84 individual stained glass windows.
The colorful displays include complex designs, iconic Christian imagery and masterful storytelling in stained glass. Many of the chapel windows have pointed arches, another characteristic of the Gothic style.
According to the annals of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN), the windows arrived from Munich, Germany and were installed by the time the scaffolding was removed in 1895.
Of particular interest is a unique depiction of Saint Julie Billiart. Behind her to the left is her vision at Compiègne. To the right is the Cathedral of Saint Alban at Namur, where the SNDdeN motherhouse is located. You might think the book she is holding is the gospels, but look closely and you can see the words “Rules of the Institute.” Sunflowers, which had a special significance to Saint Julie, are present in this window as well as many others.
Another depicts Jesus teaching a group of women by the Sea of Galilee, including what appears to be a novice. This would have been particularly fitting at The Summit, which served as a novitiate from 1902 until 1934.
Two additional windows that are original to the Chapel were obscured from view after the Austin pipe organ was installed in the balcony in 1920. Those are now on display in the Lower School.
Williams Field is the home of the Silver Knight soccer, football, lacrosse and field hockey programs. The field is lighted and equipped with state-of-the-art synthetic turf. The stadium seats more than 900 fans. Features include locker rooms, restrooms, coaches’ rooms, offices, a concession area, press box and plaza.
While play on the field dates back to the days when boys and girls were segregated, the field has been renovated and updated a number of times over the years. A major modernization was undertaken in 1953 through the donations of Lieutenant Colonel James R. Williams ‘30, and the field was dedicated to the memory of his father, Charles F. Williams. A new stadium and press box were completed in 2005. In the spring of 2009, the home sideline was named for legendary Summit teacher and coach, the late Farrell Ackley. Crews worked between seasons through the winter months of 2013-14 to replace the surface with state-of-the-art, all-weather synthetic turf which is permanently lined for each sport played there.
The Holy Family
Decorated, recessed arches in a portal are a common element of Gothic art. In the entryway of The Summit, two statues greet all those who enter from their golden recessed arches beneath the elaborated ribbed arches of the ceiling. In one, Mary the Queen of Heaven stands in a prayerful pose. In the other, Joseph holds the hand of a young Jesus.
1917: Buses began to be used for school children in 1917, and The Summit had one specifically to help students get to and from school. In the early years, Sisters would ride the bus home with children, returning at 5 p.m. to clean classrooms before dinner at 6 p.m. As seen in these photos, bus transportation has changed over the years with the times. In modern times, the bus is used primarily to transport students to and from the West Chester and Mason suburbs as well as to and from the Athletic Complex.
Montessori School Begins
1963: Forty years after an early experimentation with Montessori teaching, the Sisters rekindled the idea and opened the Montessori School in September 1963 with 25 students. The Summit’s program quickly became a national model for other schools and served as an internship site for those training in the Montessori method, including students from Xavier University (XU) which began offering a master’s degree in Montessori education in 1965. By then, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur were considered authorities on the subject matter. The Summit’s faculty contributed to Montessori Matters, which was published by the Sisters in 1967 and became an invaluable resource for local and national educators training in Montessori techniques.
Initially under the direction of Sister Mary Motz and Jane (Bunker) Jones ’58 (the former Sister Jane Thomas), Sister Mary headed the school until 1974, Sister Noreen Joyce until 1979 and Linda Regensberger until 1989. Phyllis Schueler has been the Montessori director since then.
During her tenure, Mrs. Schueler started Early Enrichment and refined Advanced Enrichment programs which present an academically strong curriculum in science, culture, geography and fine arts. She also expanded the program to two-year-olds in 2009. World Language expanded, bringing an immersion experience in Spanish and French to 3-year-olds and she started an introduction to Spanish for two-year-olds in the Toddler Program. She revamped the Orff-Schulwerk early music education program, which helps develop areas of the brain involved in language, reasoning and problem-solving. She incorporated the teaching of “kindness” in curriculum lesson plans when the Character Education Program was revised. She added Bible Stories to address The Summit’s spiritual pillar and fostered an open-door policy to include parents in all aspects of their children’s education. When the Lower School was being designed, Mrs. Schueler put her imprint on the architecture and interior design to make sure classrooms, lighting and materials optimized Montessori methodology. The program provides a traditional and authentic Montessori experience. Read more about the Montessori program and curriculum here.
1983: Ground was broken on in the fall of 1983 for the Flannery Gym, which houses Upper School athletic programs with locker rooms. It also contains the updated weight room, which provides a wide range of Hammer Strength equipment for athletes to use to condition and strengthen for better results in their respective sports. The lobby of Flannery Gym houses The Summit’s Athletic Hall of Fame plaques. The Summit has two other on-campus gyms where student athletes practice and play. The seventh and eighth grade teams use Holmes Gym, while K-6 teams play in the Lower School gymnasium.
When the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur purchased this property in 1888, it had a 12-room house, greenhouse, brick stable, carriage house, spring house, poultry yard, kitchen garden, orchard and a vineyard. While the main building and chapel that the Sisters built have stood for 125 years, the old ones paved way for new ones and new ones for newer ones. This is the history of some of the bygone buildings of The Summit.
Carriage House & Old Field House: Present when the Sisters bought the property, it was used for storage and as the Boys School Field House. When the sisters left the convent in the main building in 1971, this served as a temporary community.
The Hermitage: Sometimes called the Brown House in archival records, the Hermitage was a refurbished cottage near the front of the campus where chaplains resided from 1890 to 1969. Summit’s first chaplain, Father John Singleton, established the residence. Monsignor Carl J. Ryan was the last chaplain to live there. The building was torn down in 1974 to make more room for parking.
All Saints: This wood cottage on the back side of the campus served as the original convent while The Summit was under construction. The Sisters added onto it in 1899. It was torn down in 1965.
The Alpha: Designed to house The Summit’s first foray into the Montessori teaching method, the Alpha opened in 1925 with six classrooms. It was home to the Summit Boys School for many years and still exists, but is now part of the Middle School.
The Pavilion: Built in 1927 on the site now occupied by Holmes Gym, the Pavilion brings back nostalgic memories for many alumni. It was where many gatherings took place – including the dinner celebrating the 75th anniversary of the school. The Pavilion served as an outdoor classroom for physical education for 30 years and was razed in 1958 to make way for the gym.
Werner Hall: While it did not have the magnificent architectural aesthetic as the rest of the campus, Werner Hall was much loved as a meeting facility. Named for Henry F. Werner, the founding headmaster of the Summit Boys School, Werner Hall was torn down in 1995 to make room for a Middle School expansion.
Kindergarten Building: Built in 1945, it was torn down in 2003 in preparation for the new Montessori and Lower School Building.
Ungraded Primary: Opened in 1970, this building was designed to promote communication between classrooms through the lack of walls separating each teacher’s space. It was torn down in 2003 to make space for the new Montessori and Lower School Building.
Shown: Clockwise from top left, an early greenhouse behind the chapel; the Hermitage; All Saints; a 1965 aerial with handwritten notes shows the location of the old barn, the Alpha and All Saints; Werner Hall.
The phrase “Aim High” denotes the high standards of excellence at The Summit. The founding Sisters encouraged each student to aim high – to become the best version of themselves they could be. Beyond building the school at the highest point in this area, the Sisters named the school The Summit as a reminder that the students should aspire to the heights of humanity. This ideal applies to everyone involved in, and every activity associated with The Summit.
1925 Pioneering Montessori Initiative
1925: The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur actually began to explore Maria Montessori’s innovative philosophy of teaching as early as 1923 and were pioneers in Cincinnati when they opened a Montessori program in 1925 at The Summit. An Italian physician and educator, Dr. Montessori developed the philosophy of education that emphasizes an intellectual, yet warm, creative and encouraging environment. It stresses teaching children a sense of order, independence, concentration and coordination, while recognizing their individual needs, range of readiness and ability. Her sentiments resonated with her contemporaries at The Summit – the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Throughout their own educational ministry, the Sisters also recognized the gifts and potential of the child and believed each individual should be nurtured with love.
Sisters Josephine Mary and Marie Angela went to Europe, touring Dowanhill in Glasgow, Scotland, where the congregation ran the Notre Dame Child Clinic and had published A Scottish Montessori School. They also toured the Training College in Liverpool and the Dalton School in Clapham, England, and they returned to Cincinnati with a clear vision of establishing a full-scale Montessori.
The Alpha, which now is part of the Middle School, was designed to be home to a Montessori program for grades one through six. When it opened on Jan. 23, 1925, it had six classrooms and a large assembly room with large windows raining natural light upon the students. Grey and blue wicker furniture, rose-colored drapes and European masterpieces on the walls were intended to make the children feel as if they were in a home. Montessori learning materials developed by the Sisters encouraged each child to pursue studies at his or her own pace.
As with the rest of the United States in the 1920s, the early experimentation with Montessori fizzled and it would be 40 years before it would return in force. However, the motto of that first Montessori school – "To Grow in Grace and Wisdom" – endured and is part of today’s mission statement.
Joe Cruse & the ‘Super Team’
Joe Cruse was a legendary coach who helped build the basketball program and took the Silver Knights to their run to state competition.
In the 1978-79 school year, Joe led The Summit’s basketball team to a 24-1 record, ending in the state semifinals. On the team were two superstars – Dexter Bailey ’80, who played for Xavier University, was drafted by the Denver Nuggets and also played professionally for Argentina, Chile and Mexico; Dan Fleming ’81, who played for Northern Kentucky University before becoming a long coaching career. This team was so good that they broke multiple school and city records, and the Mayor of Cincinnati at the time, Bobbie Stern, declared March 26, 1979 “Silver Knights Day” in honor of the team. Rich Hoyt, author of Finishing the Job, The Inspirational Story of the 2012 Summit Country Day Basketball Team, describes Coach Cruse’s winning scenario: “In the 1978-79 season, the Summit boys’ varsity basketball team had an experienced, fiery coach, a high-flying superstar and a collection of dead-eye shooters that led the program all the way to the OSHAA (Ohio High School Athletic Association) semifinals in Columbus. Not bad for a school that didn’t even have a boys; high school basketball team seven years earlier.”
1973: Coach Farrell Ackley and his original football squad chose the Silver Knight as the official school mascot and picked blue and silver as the school colors. No other Ohio high school team had a Silver Knight as a mascot at the time. The original Silver Knight athletic logo became standardized in 1993 and was updated twice – once after the school seal was updated, replacing the lilies on the shield with fleur-de-lis, and again in 2014.
Charlie Cooke & the 1999 State Champs
Charlie Cooke is a former professional soccer player who led Summit’s soccer program to the first of three state championships in Division II. The Silver Knights were making their first-ever appearance in state soccer competition in 1999. Seventy one minutes had passed in a scoreless match against Gates Mills Hawken at Columbus Crew Stadium when senior Jack Cummings ’00 caught a loose ball six yards from the goal. His was the only point scored in the state title match. Junior goalkeeper Mike Fessler ’01 had stopped every attempt made on the Summit, recording his ninth shutout of the year.
The soccer team was following a coach who had a lot of experience. Cooke had played for the L.A. Aztecs, Memphis Rogues and California Surf in the North American Soccer League and had been Head Coach of the Wichita Wings in the Major Indoor Soccer League. And he played with Aberdeen FC and Dundee FC in the Scottish Premier Division before joining Chelsea in the English Premier Division. He remains well known in club soccer circles in Cincinnati as Director of Coerver Coaching USA and the Charlie Cooke School.
Since the 1999 season, Summit’s soccer program has won two additional state championships – in 2012 and 2013 under the leadership of Coach Barnard Baker.
Austin Pipe Organ
1920: The Austin pipe organ in the balcony of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel was built in 1876 and donated to the school in 1920 by Joseph Hummel in memory of his wife. Three of his daughters were Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
Boys Middle School
1970: The Boys Middle School was the successor of the Summit Boys School, which had operated since 1941. A restructuring in 1970 allowed for co-education in the Montessori and the Ungraded Primary, but older boys and girls remained separated. At that time, grades 4-8 formed the Boys Middle School. The academic program was rigorous, as was the sports program, which was known specifically for its all-inclusive aspect originating with the Summit Boys School’s founding headmaster, Henry F. Werner. It contained multiple extra-curricular activities for the boys. The Boys Middle School continued until 1995 when it combined with the Girls Middle School at the opening of the new Harold C. Schott Middle School building.
The Summit operates four libraries on its campus and maintains a wide selection of full-text databases for student research at all grade levels. Guided by four fully accredited librarians, students may also use the password-protected databases from home while away from campus. The libraries provide a growing eBook collection for all Summit students accessible through an online catalog and The Summit’s student portal.
Williams Family Library: Located in the Upper School is the center for research and reading needs of students in grades nine to 12 and all faculty and staff. This library houses an extensive film collection, journals, digital recordings and music and audio-visual equipment used by teachers in classrooms and formal presentations. Students use the library during free time, assigned study periods and during scheduled research classes taught by the librarian in collaboration with individual teachers. The library is the hub for The Summit’s eBooks and databases. The library was dedicated in 1997 and was expanded in the summer of 2015, thanks to support from the Williams Family.
Tyrrell Middle School Library: Named for former Head of School Edward C. Tyrrell, the Tyrrell Middle School Library provides an environment for Middle School students to further develop and hone their reading skills. The love of reading discovered in the lower grades transforms into an exploration of fiction genres and non-fiction discoveries in the Middle School. Research skills taught in the lower grades are reinforced to suit the graduated research assignments in the Middle School.
Lower School Library: The Summit’s Lower School is an environment that is rich in reading materials in classrooms as well as the library. The Summit has invested in libraries of children’s books, including Rigby, Scholastic and others, that support the A-Z ranking scale used in the Fountas & Pinnell Text Level Gradient that are often called Guided Reading levels. The ranking system assists students, teachers, parents and librarians in progressively selecting higher-level books as a child’s reading skills improve.
Montessori Collection: Centrally located, the Montessori Library is a welcoming place for storytelling and reading. The Montessori Collection circulates to faculty members for classroom use. Books chosen for the collection support the Montessori curriculum. Volunteers maintain the collection with the support of the Summit librarians.
Blessing of the Crib
Christmas season is a special time at The Summit with parents, grandparents and alumni joining students for many events in classrooms and in the chapel. One event in particular always heralds the beginning of the season – the annual Blessing of the Crib. Kindergarteners from the Montessori Program gather in the lobby outside the chapel for a re-enactment. Dressed in ornate costumes made by parents, which are also used in the Christmas play, a selection of children play the roles of Joseph, Mary, the three kings and shepherds while fourth graders assist with readings. The youthful audience sings, and using American Sign language, signs Christmas songs. After the ceremony is over, statuary is placed in the crèche, which remains on display for the season. The baby Jesus takes part in the community Christmas Eve Masses.
1892: The burial of a time capsule behind the cornerstone of the chapel on March 23, 1892 was a ceremonial event. Described as a dry and cool day that had followed snow and rain, Cincinnati’s second archbishop, Rev. William Henry Elder presided at the ceremony. Summit historian Pat Kelly writes in his history of the school: “As the stone was put into place, sunlight washed across it like a benediction from heaven.”
A copper casket served as the time capsule. Among the objects placed inside it were The Course of Study in a hand-corrected copy, The Catechism of The Institute, Catholic periodicals, medals of various saints, coins, a memorial book about Sister Superior Louise and a piece of St. Julie Billiart's tomb. The Sisters, including Sister Rosine who was the only remaining Sister of the eight Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur who arrived in Cincinnati in 1840, looked forward to the day in the “dim distant future” when the stone would be excavated, and the contents examined.
That day came in 1990, but not without some distress when Centennial commemorators couldn’t find it. After a thorough search, that included re-examination of archival records, a physical search of every nook and cranny of the 1890 buildings and prayers asking to Sister Superior Julia for intervention, Finally, the cornerstone was located on June 22, 1990 inside a sandstone block on top of a column in the southeast corner of the basement.
At the end of the Centennial Mass on Sept. 16, 1990, everyone assembled outside for the dedication of the Centennial Commons by Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk, who urged the youngest members of the group to remember where the cornerstone is so that the objects laid there can be found when it is time to open it in fifty, as well as in one hundred years. The time capsule was then returned to the basement behind the monument stone.
Heads up to future generations: Open it in 2040 and 2090.
Marc Gerard Fragge ’83
Marc Gerard Fragge ’83 was captain of the football team in 1982-83, the year the Silver Knights entered the state playoffs as Summit’s winningest team ever, undefeated and ranked No. 1. There was no Division III then, so the Silver Knights had to play against much bigger teams during their season. Cohesive from their early years as a Catholic Youth Organization squad, the football team was led by legendary Summit coach Farrell Ackley. But it was Mark who inspired their can-do attitude.
Marc went on to play football at Dartmouth College, where he earned an engineering degree. On Oct. 16, 1988, he and a climbing buddy fell while descending from a peak in New Hampshire’s White Mountains when the rock to which they were tethered broke away. Marc’s death at such a young age with his life so full of promise and potential was a shock to his parents, Dr. Ronald and Betty Fragge, older sister Michelle (Fragge) Freeman ’79 and classmates both at Dartmouth and The Summit. “At that point in time, we were kids at age 23,” said friend and classmate Pete Saba ’83. “Marc symbolized this undefeatable attitude of ‘We can do whatever we want. All it takes is hard work.’ For all of us, it was our first taste of mortality – to lose someone so young and someone so vital.”
Shortly after Marc’s death, the Marc Gerard Fragge '83 Memorial Scholarship was established to assist qualified students who exemplify Marc’s personal dedication to academic achievement, athletic involvement and spiritual growth. Over the past years, the scholarship has helped young men and women who share Marc’s passion and talent for athletics and academics receive a Summit education.
A well-rounded Summit educational experience includes five pillars that are written into the school’s mission statement. Teachers, staff and coaches are called upon to challenge every student to develop these five attributes in order to become the best versions of themselves.
Physical development based on the belief that teamwork, commitment, responsibility, honor, perseverance, cooperation, leadership, sportsmanship, nutrition, fitness and self-esteem contribute to overall wellness of the individual. Physical and health education are part of the curriculum in all four divisions of the school.
The Summit has a no-cut policy in Middle and Upper School teams. Every student who has the drive, desire and commitment to play a sport has the opportunity, regardless of physical attributes, skill level, or ability. Being a member of a team teaches children how to win and lose gracefully, how to strategize, how to capitalize strengths and weaknesses to achieve success, and how to respect the human body for its agility, endurance, and resiliency. Student athletes have brought home state championships in baseball, boys’ basketball, boys’ lacrosse, boys’ soccer, girls’ soccer, girls’ tennis, cross country, track and diving. On average, 30-40 young Summit alumni are on college teams each year.
Shown: Antonio Woods '14 attends the University of Pennsylvania on a basketball scholarship.
Character education has always been a focus of education at The Summit. In contemporary times, character education has become a formalized program, based on best-practices research of leading educators. A formal program called the Educating for Character Program began in 1997 and was developed by former Assistant Head of School Mary Brinkmeyer. The Summit became known nationwide for its clearly defined approach to character education as Mrs. Brinkmeyer presented it in workshops across the country with Dr. Tom Likona, an author and leading academic expert on character education. Today’s Character Education Program was written into the curriculum in 2012 with a focus on an age-appropriate character trait at each grade level. With Mrs. Brinkmeyer’s work as its foundation, the program continues to rely on Dr. Likona’s assertion that we must educate children to be both “smart and good.”
Character Traits by Grade Level
Grade 1: Caring
Grade 2: Respect
Grade 3: Fairness
Grade 4: Responsibility
Grade 5: Courage
Grade 6: Perseverance
Grade 7: Accountability
Grade 8: Justice
Grade 9: Patience
Grade 10: Humility
Grade 11: Compassion
Grade 12: Gratitude
2007: Austin Berry, a 2007 graduate, became a professional soccer player. He played four years of varsity soccer for the Silver Knights. During his high school career, he was named first team all-state, first team Miami Valley Conference, Division III Player of the Year and was named a Cincinnati Enquirer All-Star. He went on to play soccer for the University of Louisville where he was named an NSCAA All-American in 2010 and 2011, gained Soccer America and College Soccer News All-American honors, earned Big East Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2010, and was named to the All-BIG EAST First Team and Big East All-Tournament team in 2010 and 2011. After college, Berry was selected ninth overall in the 2012 Major League Soccer Superdraft by the Chicago Fire and was awarded the league’s Rookie of the Year. He was traded to the Philadelphia Union in 2014 and is currently on loan from the Union to FC Anyang in South Korea.
Early Childhood Education Symposium
2008: The Early Childhood Education Symposium began in 2008 and annually brings national, regional and local experts in childhood learning, health and wellness under one roof on the same day so parents of children from birth to age 10 can quickly learn more about important and timely topics. In its beginning, it was a way to offer parents insight from school, local and national experts. The Summit’s Montessori preschool program began in 1963, and it is one of a few schools in Greater Cincinnati which offer an academic program for two-year-olds. As a leader in early childhood education, The Summit is committed to quality early childhood education and the notion that "Parenting Matters" in that education. Now, each year on a Saturday in October, the Early Childhood Education Symposium offers a keynote address from a national speaker, followed by breakout sessions with experts on a variety of topics and a luncheon address. The event is free and open to the public. CEUs are available for teachers. Get a sampling of past speakers and presentations and look for news on the next symposium here.
1992: Longtime Middle School teacher Bruce Bowdon wrote Summit Stands in the 1992-93 school year. For many years, newly hired teachers and staff were required to sing Summit Stands at the year-end Faculty-Staff Recognition Reception – renditions which ranged from rap to rock to opera to singing nuns -- resulting in comic results. A previous school anthem, Hail to The Summit, was written by Rev. John de Deo O.F.M. in 1946. Summit Boys School also had a song, called appropriately enough, Summit Boys’ School Song. It was written by D.L. Pinto.
2010: Rich Wilson, the current Head of School at The Summit, carries the mantle of leadership to keep The Summit strong. He was first appointed Interim Head of School in 2010 and after a nationwide search, the Board of Trustees appointed him Head of School a year later. No stranger to The Summit, Mr. Wilson and his wife, Carol, had already given their two children – Kelly ’09 and Chris ’08, a Summit education. Retiring in 2001 from Procter & Gamble from dual roles as Vice President of Media and Programming Worldwide and Vice President of the Marketing-Food and Beverage Global Business Unit, he served from 2004 to 2010 on The Summit’s Board of Trustees and chaired the Marketing & Enrollment Committee.
Mr. Wilson has helped raise millions of dollars to support the Annual Fund and increase the endowment. He has supported professional development of faculty and staff, creating the Leaders of Character and Summit Way awards. Leading the development and implementation of the school’s strategic plan, he has promoted the development of innovative signature programs and refined existing ones to make The Summit distinctive. Among them, the campus wide Character Education Program, World Language Program and Social Skills Program, Five Star Reading and Conceptual Math in the Lower School, STEM in the Middle School, the Science Research Institute in the Upper School and the international student recruiting program. During his tenure, the Upper School has seen record enrollment and the number of endowed scholarships has grown. He and his wife endowed the Carol Ann and Rich Wilson Scholarship in 2015 to award students who show strong leadership potential. Under his oversight, a major renovation and construction project was undertaken in 2015 to increase classroom space in the Upper School and provide state-of-the-art science laboratories in the Middle and Upper Schools.
“I believe four characteristics distinguish The Summit from all other schools,” he says. “We are Catholic in the Notre Dame tradition. We find strength in the individuality of each child. We set high expectations. And we are innovative. I’ve come to call the core ideology and strong culture that have contributed to our school’s longstanding success ‘The Summit Way.’ ”
Read more about Rich Wilson’s vision for The Summit.
Educating Leaders of Character since 1890
“Educating Leaders of Character since 1890” is an often repeated catchphrase at The Summit because it characterizes the culture of the school. Leadership training and character education are important aspects of any student’s education at The Summit from preschool through high school. Both have been a staple of The Summit’s education since its founding year of 1890.
The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur believed in opening students' minds to new experiences, diversity, acceptance and curiosity in order to allow for a more successful future. Inherent in the school’s mission statement is a challenge to us all to guide young people to become leaders and encourage them to use their gifts to improve the world they inherit.
Leadership training begins as early as Montessori school when children are encouraged to lead others in individual tasks, and it continues through Lower, Middle and Upper School where there are many opportunities to lead clubs, teams, events and other activities. Leadership training becomes more defined in the Upper School. Many alumni have provided community service leadership in Greater Cincinnati and elsewhere through public service and in the workplace. Some notables include two governors, members of presidential staffs, a university president, a mayor, county and state office holders and countless administrators and CEOs.
Shown: Michael Van Dorselaer ’15, who began Hands Across the Water and was recognized by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur for his service, takes jugs of water from Summit students who have completed their walkathon.
Father Lasance and the Chaplains
Summit's first chaplain was Father John Singleton, who established what would be the home for priests until 1969. The small refurbished cottage near the front gate of the school was called the Hermitage.
Father Francis Xavier Lasance, the second chaplain, served from 1891 to 1924 and had a great effect on the fledgling school and convent. Born in Cincinnati in 1860, the son of Augustine and Philamena (Detert) Lasance, his early education was at St. Mary’s School. A noted writer of his day, he wrote more than 39 books which were translated into many languages and published in the millions. In 1927, Pope Pius XI gave Father Lasance a special blessing for his devotional works. His first missal was dedicated to Sister Superior Julia, who founded The Summit, because she urged him to write it in order to help the laity have a clear understanding of Mass. Among his books was Catholic Girls Guide, a perennial graduation gift at The Summit for many years.
Suffering from paralyzing migraines, Father Lasance kept his hair long and always covered it with a hat. He could not abide breezes, so Masses in the Chapel were offered with the windows closed even in the heat of summer. Because of his many years of service at the beginning of The Summit’s history, he officiated at many of the notable first ceremonies at The Summit, such as the first May procession, the first distribution of honors, the first benediction in the Chapel and so on.
In 1903, Father Lasance donated the crucifix for the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel. The post beneath the feet of Jesus is signed by the French artist Raffl, known for the Way of the Cross statuary at Lourdes.
In a letter to the Sisters near the end of the 19th century, Father Lasance wrote: “the example of holiness that I have witnessed in the pious Religious of Notre Dame has made me holier; their example of meekness and humility has been an incentive for me to strive more earnestly to imitate our Divine Exemplar; their Environment of peaceful solitude and contentment has helped me to take my heart from earth and to direct my affections to heaven.”
The residential chaplains serving the Sisters and the school included: the Reverend John Singleton, 1890-91; the Reverend Francis X. Lasance, 1891-1924; Monsignor Charles A. Hickey, 1924-1939; Monsignor Giles Allais, 1939-1941; and Monsignor Carl J. Ryan, 1941-1969.
Father Ryan was the last priest to live in residence at The Summit. A number of priests served The Summit’s schools in the ensuing years, including the Reverend John Civille, the Reverend Raymond P. Aichele and Monsigneur Robert A. Amann.
The Rev. Philip Seher began as chaplain of the Boys Middle School in 1977 in an era before The Summit's schools were coeducational. He served as chaplain of the Middle School and Upper School before being named chaplain for The Summit as a whole in 2003. He celebrated his 50th anniversary of ordination in 2015 and continues as The Summit’s chaplain.
Shown: A signed postcard depicting Father Francis Xavier Lasance as a writer.