Bio

DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for AIA365.com, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Retired teachers, staffers helped XCP stay on course

One of the most enjoyable things about being at Xavier Prep is its sense of community.

And a big part of that is the interaction that the faculty and staff have with the students as well as with each other.

When faculty and staff members retire, it leaves a significant void.

Five important members of that group said farewell to the school on June 30. They were Gary Cochran (Plant operations/facilities), Kathleen Conway (English faculty), Mark Maresca (World languages/Spanish faculty), Paula Petrowski (Admissions) and Mike Williams (Sports/security).

All are profiled here except for Williams, who was recognized by The XCP Files in an April 1 post.

Gary Cochran
Keeping the facility humming along has its share of challenges, and Cochran survived at XCP for 32 years. His most recent title was Director of Plant Operations.

Cochran laughed while describing his job duties:

“If it broke, I fixed it!’’ he said.

Gary Cochran (Xavier photos).
One of his first projects was remodeling a space at Fitzgerald Hall that used to be the site of the school’s theater. Plays and musicals later shifted to the new Virginia G. Piper Performing Arts Center. Before coming to XCP, his focus was on the electrical trade.


He has enjoyed dealing with staff people like himself, faculty personnel and of course, the students.
“I have tried to get along with everyone,’’ he said.

On occasion, Cochran has run into XCP students in stores around the community and has stopped to chat with them.

“Some of them worked there,’’ Cochran said. “It was good to see them trying to earn money, with some of it going to help themselves through school.’’

Cochran, who grew up in central Illinois, inherited the fixer-upper touch from his father, as did one of his sisters.

Now he will hang out for awhile and perhaps help his son, who also is handy, start a business.

Kathleen Conway
Dr. Conway wrapped up her 26th year at Xavier and is looking forward to spending more time with her husband and other family members. However, she acknowledged that it is not an easy thing to do and has its emotional moments.

“I have made a lot of beloved friends such as Paula and Mark and have seen many, many changes,’’ she said. “The sense of community and love here has been wonderful, including the students. And the Sisters (Joan Fitzgerald, Joanie Nuckols and Lynn Winsor) have done a great job helping to create a good environment.’’

Kathleen Conway
Conway was the English Department Chair/Co-Chair for many years. She also taught English and/or Theology at schools that go back to the East Coast, to Philadelphia and New York.

She looks forward to see how 2020-21 unfolds for the Xavier students, especially the incoming freshmen. After having her final year here and those of the seniors disrupted, she hopes for a better fate for all.

“The administration did a great job organizing things for us (faculty) with the electronic curriculum, as well as the tech (technology) people,’’ she said. “The students were thrown into the situation and handled it very well. They are funny. Some of them would say, “Hey, we get to sleep in, and we don’t have to wear the uniforms!’ ’’

Mark Maresca
When asked about his 30 years at XCP, Maresca, who taught Honors Spanish II, and received teaching awards, did not hesitate to answer.

“It was a wonderful experience, a great experience,’’ he said. “I have nothing but respect for the Sisters and all of the help they gave me.’’

Maresca also was helpful in the area of athletics, where he served as an assistant coach in track for head coach Dave Van Sickle for 12 years, and as an assistant for Van Sickle in cross country for 14 years.

“I still miss that (coaching). I really enjoyed it,’’ he said.

Mark Maresca
Maresca also enjoyed interacting with students, “getting to know them as people,’’ he said.


He grew up in New Jersey and moved to Arizona with his parents in 1974. He also was immersed in the Spanish language while living in Mexico for three months and eventually returned to the Valley, where he worked at some of the Phoenix Union High School District magnet schools.

After leaving Xavier, he remains active in various endeavors, most notably as a Park Steward for the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department. He began the volunteer work about a year ago.

The steward duties include park cleanup, trimming some of the vegetation, restoring some of the hiking trails and doing some painting.

One of his recent assignments was at South Mountain Park in Phoenix, one of the largest municipal parks in the nation.

Paula Petrowski
Petrowski was XCP’s Director of Admissions, helping to organize events for prospective students and their parents.

The process includes an Open House, admissions testing and the application process.

Paula Petrowski
The three-person admission staff “puts in a lot of work,’’ according to Petrowski. “There are all sorts of questions to be answered for those who are interested in their daughters coming to Xavier. You get to interact with so many people, and you are letting them know about the rich history we have had at the school.’’

A Phoenix native, Petrowski was in Admissions for 16 of her 35 years at Xavier, also serving as a teacher (French and Economics) and as the Director of Development.

“I’ve watched the girls at Xavier grow in so many ways, and so have I. It has been worth it,’’ she said.

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