For 37 years, Mr. Mike Alexa has taught at Cathedral Prep, and he has left behind an outstanding legacy. Whether it was his work with the football team, organizing intramural sports, or helping out students in the classroom, it will be hard to forget what he has done for this institution.
“I started my career in education by teaching summer school at Prep,” Alexa said, “I loved it so much that I approached the diocese and requested a full time position in teaching. With the help of the diocese, I was able to obtain my first teaching position at Sacred Heart Grade School.”
During his tenure at Prep, Mr. Alexa has taught a variety of subjects. “I’ve mainly taught geometry throughout my career,” Alexa said. “I also taught Algebra 1 & 2, Basics of Computer Science, and one year of Pre-Calc.”
Mr. Alexa shared some of his favorite memories while teaching at Prep. One of his favorite recollections was a memorable Prep vs. McDowell rally where the school had all dressed up in farming apparel.
“I still remember coming in that day for the rally dressed up like a farmer. I had brought a live chicken with me in a cage to class, which upset Mrs. Mullen a lot.” Mr. Alexa laughed and continued, “And then one of our quarterbacks at the time brought in live piglets without any restraints or cage; that was funny.”
Mr. Alexa also brought back intramural sports to Cathedral Prep in 1994 in conjunction with the school’s athletic director at the time, Ron Sertz.
“One of the things that I miss most about my time coordinating intramurals was the golf tournament I ran with the help of Mr. Achille,” Alexa recalled. “It was very fun and organized. We had JV and Varsity divisions for students and faculty that obviously depended on skill. I enjoyed it a lot.”
Besides intramural athletics, Mr. Alexa helped coach multiple varsity teams for Prep. He had helped coach the tennis team for a whopping 17 years with Mr. Peightal, who is coincidentally retiring as well this year. And disregarding tennis, it is hard to forget that Mr. Alexa has also been an assistant coach for the football team for decades.
And perhaps one of his most well-known held positions at Prep was head coordinator of ski club and the ski trip to Vermont.
He explained that his last ski trip, taken this past winter, was one he will not soon forget. “The students also gave me gifts on the way back home, which really made my day,” he said.
But above all of these achievements, Mr. Alexa will miss the students the most.
“I’m definitely going to miss the kids the most. I enjoyed helping the kids whether it was offering extra help or getting them involved in new things like intramurals,” Alexa continued. “I also feel partly responsible for introducing some kids to their future careers as well. There were a couple former students I introduced to keeping stats on the football team who went on to continue a career in sports statistics.”
Regarding his retirement, Mr. Alexa had wanted to retire when he and his wife had both reached 65 years old. So once he had turned 66 this year, he made his decision to retire and continue life outside of Cathedral Prep.
“My wife and I still plan on living in Erie for the foreseeable future,” he said. “I’ll also continue helping out the [football] team with stats for at least another year.”
At the end of our interview, I asked Mr. Alexa about any possible regrets or missed opportunities that he would like to change in the past tied to his experience at Prep.
“Nothing,” Mr. Alexa responded frankly. “Every morning, I wake up and ask myself where I would rather be. And guess what, that answer has never been not here.”