Classroom Confidential

Remember that hockey stud, the theater geek or the cut-up in the school variety show? Bet you can't wait until the next reunion to find out what ever happened to them. Well, we couldn't either. So we caught up with some notable alumni of Northeast Ohio

Sean Faris
Padua Franciscan High School, Class of 2000

For Sean Faris, high school was "a four-year block in the way of what I wanted to do with my life." Don't get him wrong, the rising-star actor, who appeared in this summer's teen flick "Sleepover" and will star in ABC's new fall drama "Life As We Know It," certainly learned some useful tidbits during his time in school. Though he didn't take acting classes there, Padua prepared him for Hollywood. "While I was in school, I put up with a lot of grief [about becoming an actor]," he recalls. "It drove me to achieve. In the industry, on a daily basis, you deal with rejection. The daily barrage of comments that I received in high school prepared me for dealing with the industry. Other than the rejection, high school really did nothing for me."

What were you like in high school?

"I wasn't really popular, but I wasn't unpopular. I was into history and art. Stuff like math didn't have any interest for me. Anything that I could visualize was great, but if I couldn't visualize it in my imagination, I was bored."

What was your happiest moment in high school?

"Prom weekend. I had an absolutely wonderful time. I knew at that time I was weeks away from moving to California."

Who are your inspirations?

"I've always looked at Kevin Bacon's career as a wonderful one to have. He's a wonderful actor and he's underrated. He has his own life."

What are your dreams for the future?

"I don't care to be famous. I don't care to be rich. I just want to have a career. I'd rather be on set working than be on vacation. It's what makes me happy. [In the future, I'd like to] stretch my legs a bit and try some new things like producing and directing. I'm never going to stop acting. I'm living my dream right now."

Mary Jordan
Mexico bureau chief for The Washington Post
St. Joseph Academy, Class of 1979

Whether it was entertaining the whole school for an hour with skits and comedy during unity hour or having after-school discussions with teachers, Mary Jordan's four years at St. Joseph Academy were both fun and busy. "I loved it," she recalls. "Absolutely much more fun than college. It was both a comfortable and comforting place." As reporters for The Washington Post, Jordan and her husband, Kevin Sullivan, won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting "for their exposure of horrific conditions in Mexico's criminal justice system." Earlier this year, Jordan, who's still close with her high-school friends, completed the circle, serving as St. Joseph's commencement speaker.

What was your favorite year?

"There cannot have been a better year than my senior year of high school. I felt that all was possible, that wonderful feeling of an 18-year-old that the world was yours for the taking. They helped me feel confident and optimistic, and when I look back -- my senior year is this fabulous feeling because of great teachers who helped build confidence."

Defining moments in high school?

"The father-daughter dance was a wonderful idea. You got to get all dressed up and wear a pretty, long dress, and you knew your date so you didn't get all stressed out. It was so much fun. There aren't many chances like that except when you get married. They have it every year. I remember my senior year especially because I was 18. I wore a blue-and-white lace dress."

Michael Ma
Executive assistant to National Security Council director Dr. Condoleeza Rice
Hawken School, Class of 1984

Most everything that goes to the president is examined by the eyes of Michael Ma. As executive assistant to National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice, Ma travels the country at her side. So here's hoping the longtime Boy Scout is living up to the Scout's Law to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. Ma attended Hawken School from kindergarten through graduation and palled around with the same six friends. The group still remains close. "I actually ended up marrying my best friend's girlfriend from college," explains Ma. (We wonder what the Scouts would say about that one.)

What kind of teen-ager were you?

"A quiet teen-ager. I had a fairly close group of friends and was active in sports. I was captain of the wrestling team, played football and did pole vault."

Did you have any memorable teachers or coaches?

"Coach [Cliff] Walton was my wrestling and football coach. I was not a very physically big guy, so he gave me a lot of encouragement. He gave me the chance to play football. Coach Walton used to say a quote and I still use it to this day: •You get better or you get worse every day.' "

What did Hawken teach you?

"I really learned more at Hawken than all of my schooling since then. I learned about community service, and the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. At Hawken, I learned the idea about hard work and the importance of studying. Also about loyalty to friends and to yourself."

Mike Rupp
NHL player, Phoenix Coyotes
St. Edward High School, Class of 1998

Mike Rupp has tasted hockey's greatest success: As a little-used rookie, the St. Ed's grad scored the winning goal in Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals for the New Jersey Devils. His efforts earned him a day with the coveted trophy and a chance to taste another favorite: Honey Hut ice cream right from the Stanley Cup. (The Cup paid a visit to his alma mater, too.) Rupp, who started playing at age 6, now skates for the Phoenix Coyotes and enjoys the time he can spend with his family. "St. Ed's helped discipline me in all areas, including hockey, which carried over to bring my grades up because they had to be good in order for me to play," he recalls.

What was high school like?

"Everything was centered around hockey. It consumed most of my time. I played for Team Ohio before my high-school season and I played hockey every weekend. I didn't have time for other extracurriculars."

Any memorable teachers?

"Coach [Greg] Urbas • was also the football coach at St. Ed's and also taught algebra. He was neat because if he had a point to get across to you, he would tell you stories."

High-school impression?

"Since it's an all-guys school, I thought I wouldn't like it. But since there was no competition between the guys for any girls, people were cool with one another. There was more of a bond, and people followed the sports closely."

George Samenuk
Chairman and CEO, McAfee Inc.
St. Ignatius High School, Class of 1973

As St. Ignatius' center on the football field, George Samenuk's job was to protect the quarterback from harm. That's good training for a guy who would go on to be CEO of one of the biggest computer-security companies in the nation. "I was one of the slowest [players]," he recalls, "but the smartest." Samenuk's 1972 team captured the city championship with a 14-12 win over Collinwood. "They wanted to excel and achieve, and so they sacrificed their personal inclinations for the common good," said Coach Paul Nemec in the 1973 yearbook. Samenuk, who worked throughout high school to pay for his education, attributes his success to his years at St. Ignatius, his family and to his Brown University education.

Was St. Ignatius your parents' choice or yours?

"My twin brother and I chose St. Ignatius for the academics and athletics. Seven out of eight of us went to St. Ignatius. We were the first to go."

Any defining moments in high school?

"One that sticks above all others and goes back to the football field is when we beat [No. 1-ranked] Cathedral Latin my senior year, 7-6. We were 100-point underdogs going into the game, but we beat them. That's a game we still talk about."

Did you enjoy school?

"I absolutely loved St. Ignatius. It taught me two critical things to be successful in business. Number one is teamwork. We had nine wins and one loss. We were an overachieving football team. The other is St. Ignatius teaches how to read, write and speak effectively with the benefit of a Catholic education."

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