President’s Messages-Spring 2021

by Dave Blocksom ’68

As it has been for everyone, this year has been tough for our students, teachers and staff. The school year started off with a blended learning model where students were in class two days a week and learning remotely three days a week. Later in the fall, due to an increase in Covid cases, teaching went completely remote five days a week. In mid-February it went back into blended learning, and as I write this, Withrow will go to traditional five day classroom teaching after spring break (March 31st). This year has been especially hard on our seniors, who have had to forego all of the in-school experiences of senior year. We are working with the administration to try to enhance the remaining experiences our seniors will have during their last two months on campus (yearbooks, prom, graduation, senior day).

Retiring Teacher Raising Funds for Scholarships
Long time Withrow physical education teacher Michael Finnegan is retiring after 33 years. As a way to honor his experiences at Withrow, Mike has decided to create a scholarship fund for Withrow students. He wants this fund “to shine and grow our community of young people and put them in a position to improve my life’s passion for health and wellness”. Recipients of the scholarships will need to major in a health, wellness, medical or education field. You can contribute to and learn more about this scholarship at the CincinnatiScholarshipFoundation.org. Donations to CSF are tax deductible. This summer, in an effort to raise funds for his scholarship, Mike will be riding his bike from Santa Monica, California, to Washington, D.C. His fund raiser is called “A Tiger’s Journey”. Mike has created a go fund me page for the ride. To make a contribution, click HERE. To read more about Mike’s journey, click HERE

Withrow Chosen for Site of Urban Youth Tennis Academy
The United States Tennis Association and the Cincinnati Tennis Foundation have selected Withrow to be the site of an urban youth tennis academy, rendering at left. This will be similar in scope to the Major League Baseball and Cincinnati Reds urban youth baseball academy in Roselawn. The tennis complex will encompass the complete refurbishing of the existing six tennis courts with new surfacing and fencing and the addition of two more outdoor courts. There will also be a two-story indoor tennis facility with eight courts and men’s and women’s locker rooms, offices, a lounge, a conditioning room, and classrooms. There will also be 50 additional parking spaces created. The indoor courts will be located along our rear property line adjacent to what were the old railroad tracks and is now the Wasson Way bike and walking trail. The Xavier and UC tennis programs will be partnering on this project and will serve as mentors and coaches to the young players. Local area tennis pros will also work with the players. This facility will be used mainly by Cincinnati Public School students, but will also be open to the public on a limited basis. Hopefully, this is the beginning of bringing a tennis program back to Withrow after an absence of many years. The complex has been approved by the CPS Board of Education and the goal is that it be open in 2022. It will be a great addition to our baseball/softball complex, which opened in 2015 and was funded by Major League Baseball, the Cincinnati Reds, and Withrow Alumni. Read more about the new Urban Youth Tennis Academy by clicking HERE.

Chuck Knight, Jr., John Ruthven and Withrow Honor Societies
The Withrow Alumni Association Board of Trustees welcomes its new member Chuck Knight, Jr., Class of 2002, left. We look forward to Chuck’s active participation.

Withrow recently lost a dear friend and active alum John A. Ruthven, class of 1942, right. Please read more about his accomplishments, contributions and activity as a Withrow alum by clicking HERE.

In his continuing series about Withrow’s first 50 years, Bob Linnenberg ’63 has authored an article about Withrow’s Honor Societies. You may read this article by clicking HERE.

COVID Cancels HOF Induction Ceremony
The Withrow Athletic Hall of Fame 2021 induction ceremony had to be cancelled due to Covid restrictions. We will hold a combined 2021 and 2022 induction ceremony next February.

Yearbooks Needed (and not)
We are looking for yearbooks from 1977, 1980 and 1987 to complete our permanent collection of yearbooks in the Alumni Center. We could also use yearbooks from 1963 on for our inventory. We do not need nor are we taking any yearbooks prior to 1963.

Repairs to Iconic Clock Tower and Bridge Underway
Thanks to your generous donations and the funds we already had in our campus maintenance account we were able to pay for the entire cost of the new copper roof for the balcony level of the clock tower and two-thirds of the cost of the structural engineering work for the bridge repairs. Thank you, donors. Inclement weather prevented us from starting the roof work until March 1st. As I write this, the old roof has been torn off; the ice and water shield underlayment has been installed and the drains cleaned; and the sheet metal workers have almost finished installing the copper roof. We are also implementing an annual maintenance agreement with the roofing company for an annual inspection and drain cleaning to protect our investment. This will include the upper cupola area copper roof, too.

The structural engineering construction documents for the bridge repairs are done and we have received bids from four quality contractors. We are now in the process of reviewing the bids and selecting a contractor to work with. Once we fine tune the cost of the project we will approach CPS Facilities for funding for the repairs. The Facilities Director has indicated to us that she will try to find the funding despite the cuts that CPS has made because of the pandemic. It is our hope that repairs can be made this summer while students are not on campus.

Help Us Keep Up the Good Work
I would be remiss if I didn’t make a request for donations! If you received a federal stimulus payment and are fortunate enough not to need all of the money, a donation to Withrow Alumni would help us support our students, teachers, staff, and campus. Honestly, our donations are down slightly this year, due to Covid, I assume. We sincerely appreciate any donation you can make by clicking HERE. The clock tower has been repaired; bridge repairs will begin soon. Your donations are always welcome.

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