Riordan teachers got talent


Edward Ramos '23

English and Social Science teacher Bob Harrington displays his artwork.

Caitlin Dowd '25, Staff Reporter

Riordan is full of talented teachers. Some are very well known such as Bob Harrington’s paintings. But who knew we had so many talented teachers?

English teacher Kevin Estrada was part of a band for 14 years. Riordan alumnus Phil Radiotes, Estrada, and a few of their friends started a band upon moving to New York.

Estrada shared how his band started out in their living room, but expanded to something big. He stated, “When we moved to New York, I didn’t even have drums. The first show we played together, I literally banged on pots and pans. At first, we practiced in our apartment (as long as we stopped playing by 8pm) before we had our own practice space.”

Math teacher Mary Ann Datoc is a whiz on the piano.

It quickly took off and they played at music festivals and were openers for some popular artists.

Math teacher Mary Ann Datoc is a whiz on the piano. She started when she was young after first hearing her mom play piano. She fell in love with the instrument after noticing the rate at which she was improving. Playing the piano has taught her important lessons.

She stated, “Piano has taught me patience that I could not learn how to play just by one try. It taught me discipline to practice so I can get better each day. I learn to appreciate music and feel my reaction to the music when I play or just listen in general.”

Band teachers Kyle Hildebrant and Lance Ohnmeiss both developed their love of music in the 4th grade, and it grew from there as the people around them provided inspiration to pursue music.

Hildebrant said, “My grandma was a musical person. She played piano and organ when I was growing up. Even though she passed away, having that when I was 5 and 6 made a lasting impact on me.”

Band teachers Lance Ohnmeiss and Kyle Hildebrant are talented musicians. (Joseph Zuloaga ’23 )

Ohnmeiss said, “Kids need to realize this is something they can do for the rest of their lives. When things get hard, they can still play music.”

When Social Science and English teacher Bob Harrington was just 8 years old, he drew a humpback whale surrounded by a dynamic sea for his Cub Scouts group. He won the art award for his group.

Harrington stated, “Being a teacher inspired me to become an artist. I realized a long time ago that students respond well to art-based assignments. Deep down, students know that art is difficult and time- consuming; and, deep down, they respect people who work hard. Due to these realizations, I have chosen to keep creating artwork and keep sharing that artwork with my students.”

Art teacher Irman Arcibal discovered his talent at an early age. He said, “In preschool I drew the Superman logo every time we were asked to paint. In high school I would draw my own shoe designs and alternate versions of NBA jerseys.”

Art teacher Irman Arcibal works on a process based drawing for his show. (Photo provided by Irman Arcibal)

However, “As an adult I felt fully ‘realized’ as an artist when I got into the Master of Fine Arts program at UC Davis, which I completed in 2008,” he confided.

Currently, Arcibal creates “process based drawings.”

“The pieces in my most recent work are drawn on packaging paper crumpled by whomever put it into a shipping box—an unconscious collaboration. The title, “Shipped,” refers to the practical, previous use of the paper, but also the migration of peoples, around the world. This re-purposed paper is a connection to Mother Earth as well,” he said.

Science teacher Colleen O’Rourke shared how she has been able to growl since she was a kid. She discovered this because as a child, she would run around pretending to be a dinosaur and discovered her talent for such a sound.

Social Science Department Chair Cory Nelson and biology teacher Colleen O’Rourke can make unusual sounds. Scan the QR Code to watch the videos. (Joseph Zuloaga ’23 )

This talent is more of a party trick. She shared how, “One time on a family vacation to Oregon I was visiting an underground lava tube with my dad and while we were walking through the dark, I tried growling behind him. The sound echoed off the walls and really freaked him out. In a wholesome way, of course.”

Similarly, Social Science Department Chair Cory Nelson can create a horn noise out of his mouth. As a naturally loud child, one day at a baseball game, he was looking for ways to distract the opposing team, and he found he could “do air horn noises for a baseball distraction.” He has never found anyone else who can replicate it.

Scan the QR code to watch the videos of Cory Nelson and Colleen O’Rourke perform their talented sounds.

For students, Arcibal said, “Try a million different things and then try more. You never know where your art will take you, or what kind of art you will be making. Do not put limits on yourself. Let the art take you where it takes you.”