Students will play key role in Oct. 14 Open House

Volunteers will serve as tour guides and answer questions


Karstyn Ward

A sign outside the main entrance promotes this year’s Open House.

Ashlynn Bakemeyer , Co-Editor-in-Chief

The annual Open House is set to take place live and in person on the Hill on Oct. 14 for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic hit. The event is one of the school’s top opportunities to display all that the Irish have to offer for prospective students and their families.

Associate director of admissions Mrs. Beth Wissler said that the importance of the Open House for the school lies in “showcasing the new Innovation Center, showcasing our academics, athletics and clubs to potential students and parents.”

Because the Open House is influential in presenting everything that students and staff members love on the Hill, there is a multitude of work involved in the event. Wissler said, “Preparing the buildings; recruiting volunteers; sending, receiving, sorting invitations; advertising; planning the menu because food will be served; planning the Mass because Mass will be held; giveaways and brochures” were only some of the different activities included in the preparation and presentation of the Open House. 

Although the Open House was virtual for the past two years, Wissler said that there was still a great deal of planning involved. But Wissler said, “It’s a different kind of planning. (For) the virtual Open House, we needed less volunteers, but we needed to be more deliberate of what we were showing. This year we need all hands on deck, every staff member to help, every student to help. But knowing that we are going to be live is significantly easier because every staff member and every student has their own personal Cathedral story that they can’t wait to tell.”

Several students and most if not all members have signed up to volunteer and tell these stories. Wissler estimated that “40 parents, 100 staff members and around 300 students” are volunteering on the night of Open House. Wissler added, “We can never have too many volunteers.”

Tour guides and National Honor Society members make up a large portion of the student volunteers. Wissler noted the differences between the tour guides’ and NHS volunteers’ jobs and said, “Tour guides will specifically be showing the school. National Honor Society volunteers will be more like live question and answer kiosks. 

“The National Honor Society students’ job is to answer questions and give directions as needed. They are a live talking Q&A kiosk, whereas a tour guide is more specifically getting you throughout the building.”

Student-led tours and Q&A stations would not be possible during a virtual Open House. The in-person contact at this year’s Open House is expected to create a more personal experience for visitors.  “I think any time you can have a face-to-face conversation, it’s always going to be more effective. Knowing that we are all so hungry for that face-to-face conversation, I think our guests will be very receptive. And then you throw in the brand new Innovation Center and dining hall, and that’s just icing on the cake,” Wissler said. 

The Innovation Center is anticipated to pull a large crowd. “I think we will have so many people who come just to see the new building. It’s going to be a ginormous draw, which is wonderful,” Wissler said. Several parents of current students still have not had the opportunity to tour the new building. Wissler said, “We’ve all been living through this transition, and how fun it is to be able to show this transition.”

Although Wissler said Open House’s impact on admissions is “not really quantifiable,” she added that “it certainly doesn’t hurt” the process. “With more and more information being available on the Internet, the necessity to visit a school live — although it’s important — is not as imperative as it used to be.  Our prospective families have so many ways to visit our school now, open house instead of being the main opportunity, it has become one of the opportunities.” Wissler said. 

Social media, websites and other online programs contribute to the array of experiences prospective families can participate in. 

While more and more opportunities arise for potential students and their families to experience life on the Hill, Wissler said she still values Open House as a unique event where the school is able to showcase everything it takes pride in. “Quite frankly, I think it’s good for our community. I think it’s good for our own Cathedral family to get to show off and be proud of what we’re representing that night. I think we are our best spokespeople for the school. When we show off something that we’re proud of, that in itself is just a wonderful way to advertise our school.” 

Wissler added the similarities between a school’s open house and a family’s open house.  “Think about when you host an open house in your home. You’re excited to show something off in your home. But we’re hosting an open house in our school because we’re so excited to show off our school,” Wissler said. 

Open House is on Oct. 14. Participants have two options for signing up. Wissler said, “You can register online or you can register the night of. The front door, Door 4, will be the entrance for all attendees. If you have not registered, you can register that night.” Wissler added that it’s highly recommended that families register before the night of the event, but it is not required to do so. 

Wissler said she is “excited to show off the building for the first time in two years” post-quarantine. Wissler said, “My favorite part of Open House is watching our students show off their school. That’s when you know we have truly made an impact on our current students.”