Harry Markopolos (’74) addresses Prep students at Quarter Sessions assembly


November 19, 2013
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Harry Markopolos (’74) addresses the student body at Cathedral Prep’s Quarter Sessions assembly on Friday, Nov. 15

On Friday, Nov. 15, the first of three Quarter Session assemblies was held in the Cathedral Prep auditorium. The assembly is essentially a presentation of honors, a way to commend all of those students who have put forth extraordinary effort in the classroom. First honors go to students who receive a 90 percent or higher in all of their classes, and second honors go to students who received an 85 percent or higher in all of their classes.  Additionally, pennants and scholastic pins are given to the members of each class with the highest cumulative QPA for the quarter.

As with every Quarter Sessions assembly, a long list of names is rattled off by Mr. Murnock with the students listed going up on stage to receive their honor card and a hand shake from Father Jabo. After all awards are given out, a Prep alumni is present and gives a short speech. While all speakers are noted for being highly successful, this Quarter Sessions was special in that the speaker was someone famous with a name well known around the entire country.

The speaker at the first Quarter Sessions assembly of the 2013-2014 school year was Harry Markopolos, a Cathedral Prep graduate of the class of 1974. Markopolos is well known for his exposing of Bernie Madoff and the largest ponzi scheme in history. For his efforts, Markopolos appeared on 60 Minutes, had a book published, and is also featured in a documentary about the investigation.

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Fr. Jabo, president of Prep and Villa, alongside Markopolos

Markopolos was raised in Erie and attended St. Luke’s for grade school. He attended Loyola University in Maryland for his undergraduate studies and Boston College for his Master of Science in Finance. Markopolos credits Cathedral Prep for his excellent background in mathematics, in particular Mrs. Mullen, and also says he learned many valuable lessons at the school.

Now living in Boston with his three sons—two of which are identical twins named Harry Louie and Louie Harry—and his wife Faith, Markopolos slotted out a time to come to Erie over a year in advance. Along with speaking to students at the assembly, he also spoke to a sold out auditorium that Friday night.

Markopolos’s message was one of realism. While some may have expected the speech to center around his investigation into Madoff’s ponzi scheme, in reality, it only took Markopolos five minutes to realize what Madoff was doing didn’t add up. As he told me, “math is truth.” Instead, he gave many pieces of advice to the students at Prep.

One of Markopolos’s messages was that real life is a lot harder than school. Markopolos said that at Prep, we students are sheltered from much of the evil that does in fact exist in the world.  An example of this evil, said Markopolos, was Bernie Madoff. Ultimately, it was up to Markopolos to stop Madoff. When we are exposed to evil, we can either run from it or confront it. Markopolos was not paid for this investigation, and noted that the most important things we do in life we do for free. In the end, what will matter is not the grades we recieved, but rather what we’ve done for society.

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As a token of their appreciation, Cathedral Prep presented Markopolos with a Ramblers track jacket

Markopolos shared a few other bits of advice that were not related to the investigation. He urged students to pick a major and to stick with it, to always be street smart as opposed to book smart, and to get a master’s degree, as if we are devoted enough to something to pursue it in such a way, it is our true passion.  Markopolos told students that failure is a great teacher and that overnight success isn’t possible without years of failure. In order to succeed we must challenge ourselves continuously.

All the lessons shared by Markopolos were insightful and helpful, and Cathedral Prep is certainly lucky to have such a high profile alumni, especially one who is willing to venture back to his roots. It’s safe to say Cathedral Prep will not have such a high profile speaker at Quarter Sessions for quite some time.

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