Mardi Gras 2022: Seven questions with Maid, Captain

Just a few days ago, the McNicholas gym and lobby was transformed into a “City Shining on a Hill” to celebrate this year’s 70th Mardi Gras Pageant and Dance.

In 2021, the celebration was limited to a pageant only, but for 2022, the dance returned for students. Due to Covid 19, the pageant was optional this year for both students and faculty, although everyone was encouraged to attend, especially if they had not experienced a McNicholas Mardi Gras in the past. Prior to Sunday’s event, the King and Queen were a secret until announced among the Court before the pageant, but the Captain and Maid were named at the same time as the honor guard and senior court. The Captain of the Ball and the Maid of Honor for 2022 are seniors Jack Spears and Stephanie Schmitt. They received the second-highest votes over the course of their past four years at McNicholas. The Milestone talked with each of them about how they felt about being chosen for this honor by their peers as well as their devotion to service that also earned them this recognition.

Q: Describe what you were feeling in the moment when they announced your name. What were you immediately thinking when you heard your name as the Maid/Captain?

Schmitt: I was very surprised.  I wasn’t expecting to be the Maid of Honor, but I was flattered!

Spears: Being named captain is something I never expected. I was hoping just to hear my name being called for court so when I heard I was captain I don’t think I processed what an honor it was rather I was just happy to make it alongside all the other members of the court.

Q: What do you consider to be your major achievement at McNick?

Schmitt: One of my major achievements would have to be achieving over 200 hours in community service.

Spears: I would consider being a part of the initial leadership team of SVdP Youth Conference to be my major achievement. Being a part of this team has shown how important it is to help those in need. Also, it has shown me how important it is to build not only the McNick community but also the broader Cincinnati community.

Q: What advice do you have for underclassmen about service to McNick and the greater community? 

Schmitt: Doing service is so important!  It isn’t hard at all to get involved and put your feet in the street.  Serving the community not only touches the lives of so many, but it has definitely impacted my life tremendously.  My best advice is time goes way too fast to not get yourself involved in the McNick community and the Greater Cincinnati Community.

Spears: Find something that compliments your talents and aspirations, and don’t give up when they seem overwhelming at first. 

Q: Please answer this question about the other person. So, Jack, how did you feel when you heard Stephanie’s name announced as the Maid? and Stephanie, what did you think when you heard Jack’s name announced as the Captain?

Schmitt: I had a feeling Jack’s name was going to be called!  He is such a bright light and important person in the McNick Class of 2022.  He is an amazing leader of the St. Vincent DePaul Youth Conference as well as an amazing National Honor Society Officer.  He does so much for this school inside and outside of the school day and even more in the Cincinnati community!  Jack, this was so well deserved, proud is an understatement.

Spears: When I heard Steph’s name announced as Maid I thought she was a great choice. I don’t know many other people who devote more time to McNick than Steph. She is a part of numerous clubs, leadership roles, and sports. She is always trying to improve, works hard in all her activities, and sets a great example for the underclassmen.

Q: Looking ahead five or ten years, what “good” do you hope you left at McNicholas after graduation?

Schmitt: I hope to leave my high spirits and morale at McNick as I graduate from here.  I hope my example encourages so many students to take that leap and get involved.  I hope every student leaves with no regrets!  Get involved while you can at the best high school on earth!

Spears: I have been fortunate to be a part of many organizations that recently have been created so I hope to see those organizations continue to thrive and improve. I also hope to see some of the service projects I helped start continue to happen for years to come.

Q: What are your plans after high school? 

Schmitt: My plans after high school are to attend either The University of Cincinnati or The Ohio State University in the College of Nursing.

Spears: I’m thinking about going to college for business or engineering; however my dream is to build a company that makes tiny homes, so I don’t know if those are going to be useful degrees for my ambitions. 

Q: Is there anything else you would like to include or anything you would like to say while you “have the stage”?

Schmitt: I would just like to give the McNick community a special thanks for giving me this special opportunity!  I am forever grateful for Rocket High!

Spears: I’m thankful for my McNick experience.  I had the support of my teachers, administration, my family and made great friendships that will have a lasting impact on my life.

Captain Jack Spears and Maid of Honor Stephanie Schmitt join the newly crowned King Connor Dute and Queen Lauren Keith at the 2022 Mardi Gras Pageant on Sunday, Feb. 20. This marked the 70th Mardi Gras ceremony, which was started by the founders of McNicholas, the Sisters of St. Joseph as a way to honor students who had devoted their four years at McNick to service. The sisters chose Mardi Gras as the theme to honor their roots from New Orleans. To read more about the history of Mardi Gras, click here to read Ava Wille’s Jan. 31 article “Everything you need to know about Mardi Gras.” To read the article about King Conner and Queen Lauren, click here to read the Feb. 23 article by Director of Communications Anne Jones.

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