Saint Viator News

Delivering the latest news from Saint Viator High School.

Services for Coach Joe Ryback

Dear Lions,

2012 baseball regionalI am sad to report the death of Saint Viator Head Sophomore and Assistant Varsity Baseball Coach Joe Ryback, who passed away unexpectedly last weekend. Coach Ryback served as an Assistant Freshman Football coach in 2010 and 2011. He played an important role in the Saint Viator Baseball program since 2011.  Please keep the Ryback family in your prayers.

ryback stateMemorial visitation will be held on Friday, September 22 from 3-9 pm at Glueckert Funeral Home, 1520 North Arlington Heights Road, Arlington Heights.  A funeral Mass will be offered at 10:00 am, Saturday, September 23 in Cahill Gymnasium. For additional information, please contact Glueckert Funeral Home.

 May Joe rest in peace, bathed in Divine Light.

Thank you for your prayers.


Brian Liedlich

National Merit Semifinalists Announced

Clockwise: Thomas Stanila, Jeremy Yoder, Nicole M, Joyce, Matt

Clockwise: Thomas Stanila, Jeremy Yoder, Nicole Marcinkus, Kevin Joyce, and Matthew Zawilenski.

Saint Viator High School learned Wednesday that five seniors had been named semifinalists by the National Merit Scholarship Program. That’s the most Saint Viator has had since 2014, when they also had five semi-finalists.

Seniors Kevin Joyce, Nicole Marcinkus, Thomas Stanila, Jeremy Yoder and Matthew Zawilenski joined this elite group based on their preliminary SAT scores taken when they were juniors, in 2015.


They emerged from a pool of 1.6 million juniors from 22,000 high schools who took the PSAT that year, which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

Officials with the National Merit Scholarship Program said this year’s semi-finalist pool represents the highest scoring entrants in each state or less than one percent of high school seniors.

“These five students represent academic leadership in our school but also in music and theater and athletics,” says Principal Karen Love. “They are well-rounded representatives of a Saint Viator education that promotes excellence in all that they do.”

These students now will have a chance to advance to the finalist level, and continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million that will be offered next spring.

National Merit Scholarship officials say 90 percent of semifinalists advance to become finalists. They must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by the high school principal, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

Last year, Saint Viator’s three national merit semifinalists all were named finalists and each won a merit scholarship. Zac Jones went on to attend Yale University, while Grace Nessen-Gilligan went to Fordham University and Katilyn Solarz attends the University of Notre Dame.

Children of Abraham Coalition Potluck Dinner for Peace Draws Record Crowd

9:11A movement is growing of people wishing to learn more about other faith traditions and Saint Viator students have been part of the change.

The sixth annual “9/11 Potluck for Peace” dinner on Wednesday drew more than 200 guests, up by more than 50 from the year before, and nearly filled Querbes Hall with people of all ages and faith traditions.

“I’m thrilled to see so many people here,” said Devon Sheehan ’18, who is a member of the Children of Abraham Coalition, which hosted the event. “It gives me hope that we can be agents of change in some small way.”

Fr. Corey Brost, CSV, helped to form the Children of Abraham Coalition in 2011 as a way to confront religious-based hatred. Its signature potluck dinner is designed to draw families to come together and share food from different cultures while hearing from young people from Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh faith traditions.

The dinner always takes place near the anniversary of 9/11 and offers guests a positive way to fight religious-based hatred.

Abbey Finn, a sophomore at Buffalo Grove High School who is Jewish, was one of three young speakers. She described visiting the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York, on the exact day as the events that took place in Charlottesville, VA.

“Now more than ever we need to come together,” Abbey said. “We, the next generation need to create peace.”

Sara Ahmed, 17, of Barrington told of attending the funeral of Muhammad Ali last year, of how he was an agent of peace working to bring people together.

“Tonight gives me great hope,” Sara said, “when I see how many people want to learn about different faith traditions and work toward interfaith dialogue.”

Students who attended included members of Saint Viator’s Justice League, who look for ways to advance positive social change.

Mary Peterson ’18 said she has attended the potluck dinner all of her four years and she enjoys the great variety of foods displayed, but she also found the event’s mission inspiring. Mary joined the Justice League freshman year and this year she is one of its core leaders.

“I just find the whole aspect of coming together, as one community, really powerful,” Mary said.

The dinner drew Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes as well as Mr. Brian Liedlich, president. Both addressed the crowd before dinner.

Mr. Liedlich described how Saint Viator is rooted in the Viatorian mission of “raising up communities where faith is lived, deepened and celebrated,” and he commended the group for its mission of encouraging–especially students–to look for ways to learn from one another.

In closing, he drew on the words of Fr. Louis Querbes, founder of the Viatorians: “People are bolder when they dream they are doing God’s work.”

International Students Address the Faculty

international2At a professional development meeting for faculty members on Tuesday, Joanne was the leading voice when she and a few of her international classmates, mostly from China, shared their hopes for the year ahead as try to assimilate into the American and Saint Viator culture.

In all, there are more than 85 international students attending Saint Viator this school year, making it the largest group since the school instituted its Rev. Mark R. Francis, CSV, International Program. Launched in 2012, it was designed to provide a supportive environment that helps students develop cultural understanding necessary to succeed in school.

“I wanted to come to America because I knew I’d have a better chance to learn and experience more,” Joanne said, echoing the sentiments of her classmates.

Alice Wang ’18, a native of China, hopes to attend medical school and she said Saint Viator could help her get there, while senior Andy Wang said he wanted more opportunities and more choices in colleges, which Saint Viator could provide.

“I came here because I wanted to experience another culture and see other parts of the world,” said Krystal Zheng ’18. “And here, I found more activities to become involved with.”

In fact, Krystal plays piano in the music ministry ensemble, but her classmates also described playing in the band, participating in lacrosse, competing on the math team and playing piano in the jazz band.

internationalStill, they shared that they sometimes struggle with the language barrier and are too shy to ask the teacher for help. They also voiced concerns about making friends with American students.

“I think it’s important for American students to learn our culture, too,” said Yiran Liu ‘19. “If they knew more about our culture, maybe they would talk to us more.”

Mrs. Rose Ruffatto directs Saint Viator’s international program, with the assistance of Mrs. Stephanie Spiewak. At the faculty meeting, they urged club moderators to reach out to international students and invite them to participate.

“Our growing international program offers all of our students a chance to embrace cultural differences and create lifetime friendships,” Mrs. Ruffatto says. “As we get to know our international students better, we realize that learning about differences in our cultures doesn’t really make us different, it just makes us better.


#TeacherTuesday: All the World is a Physics Lab for Teacher Cate Majka

Majka_CatherineThis year, physics teacher Cate Majka puts on her lab coat to begin her 28th year of teaching at Saint Viator High School, and it promises to be fun.

Think labs and hands-on learning, both inside and outside of the physics lab.

Over the years, Mrs. Majka has seen many changes in the school and taught different courses, including integrated science as well as the variety of honors and AP physics classes. But this much she knows: She comes back each year because her students are excited to learn.

Cate Majka with students after the WYSE competition last year.

Cate Majka with students after the WYSE competition last year.

“We have wonderful kids who are kind, considerate, generous and eager to do well,” Majka says. “They keep me young.”

Her labs are definitely for the young at heart. Some of her more memorable ones take students out onto the football field for orienteering, using walking vectors, as well as for projectile labs.

One of her favorite trips is taking physics students to Physics Day at Six Flags Great America, where its carnival rides transform into an outdoor learning lab to study the difference between velocity and acceleration.

Cate Majka with Class of 2017 alumni and former honors physics students, Aria Bernardi, Luke Koehler, Charlie Trunk and Charlotte Aichele.

Cate Majka with Class of 2017 alumni and former honors physics students, Aria Bernardi, Luke Koehler, Charlie Trunk and Charlotte Aichele.

Hands-on learning drives her classes, consequently, Majka is as comfortable demonstrating electrical circuits as she is around airplanes, teaching students about riveting and their role in aircraft design.

In July, she returned from taking junior and senior Querbes Scholars on a trip to Oshkosh to its world famous air show. Once again, it was more than a sightseeing trip. Students rolled up their sleeves and helped in the KidVenture area, which offers hands-on activities and learning opportunities to young, aspiring pilots.

Which is exactly the type of learning that Majka delivers in her classroom each year, hands-on labs and learning opportunities.

“To me everything is physics,” Majka says, “so I try to give real world applications and practical labs.”

Cross Country Invitational Proves a Popular Draw

At the second annual Saint Viator Cross Country Invitational on Aug. 19, the junior high runners from St. Thomas of Villanova in Palatine proved their mettle. Both their boys and girls teams successfully defended their titles and retained the heavy hardware, the Saint Viator Traveling Trophy.

Jason Kuffel, who helped bring the event to Saint Viator, said the event was successful on several levels, including its growing popularity. The pre-season invite drew nearly twice as many young runners as last year.

“It was an unbelievable day to be a Lion and a member of the Saint Viator High School Community,” says Jason Kuffel, director of recruitment. “The outpouring of thanks from parents, grandparents, coaches, athletes, and siblings was overwhelming.”

In all, the event drew nearly 482 youngsters from 15 different feeder schools in the surrounding suburbs. That’s nearly 200 more runners than last year and from three new feeder schools, located mostly in Lake County. They ran a course that stretched around the Saint Viator campus before returning inside the Boler Center for the awards ceremony.

Participating schools included: Our Lady of the Wayside and St. James schools in Arlington Heights, St. Mary School in Buffalo Grove, St. Alphonsus School in Prospect Heights, St. Gilbert School in Grayslake, St. Hubert School in Hoffman Estates, St. Emily and St. Raymond schools in Mount Prospect, St. Thomas of Villanova, St. Theresa and Immanuel Lutheran schools in Palatine, Sts. Peter and Paul in Cary, Frassato Academy in Mundelein, St. Francis de Sales in Lake Zurich, and St. Patrick in Wadsworth.

Members of the Saint Viator cross country team took a lead role in the event. Two members led each race, carrying the Saint Viator flag, while other students helped encourage runners around the course. Each runner wore a traditional cross country bib with a number and crossed the finish line in front of a crowd of parents and coaches.

“We pride ourselves on running a great event that showcases these young student athletes,” adds Mr. Kuffel, who also is an assistant boys’ lacrosse coach. “Our goal is simple: To make it fun, introduce cross country to new and young runners, and provide times for runners and their coaches at the beginning of their season, to work toward improving throughout the season.”

Mr. Kuffel adds that the event was designed as an opportunity for students to visit Saint Viator’s campus and meet student athletes and coaches.

“I think it created some team camaraderie early in the year,” he adds, “and went a long way toward giving these kids a chance to envision themselves as high school cross country runners.”

Welcome Back, Fr. Charlie Bolser

Bolser&FriendsFr. Charlie Bolser is no stranger to the halls of Saint Viator. Serving for 12 years as President, which included the transition to a coeducational institution, and even taking a Spanish class here in 2016.

Fr. Bolser will be taking on a new role within the Viatorian community; this time as the school’s Chaplain. His office will be located in the Marie Gallagher Academic Commons (formerly the library).

While Bolser admits he, Fr. Dan Hall and Fr. Dan Lydon ’73 are still evaluating the position, “with the strong academic presence we felt like there needed to be a strong Viatorian presence to help out with Spiritual life.”

Fr. Bolser will be available to celebrate liturgy, help with reconciliation at retreats, will be involved with Family masses, and available to students and faculty.

Fr. Hall joked, “trying to get office hours out of Fr. Charlie is like pulling teeth.” So if you don’t find him in his office he is probably on the golf course or cheering on the White Sox. We’re happy to have Fr. Bolser back in the building.

Needless to say, we’re happy to have Fr. Bolser back in the building.

Alumni Ambassador Q&A: Chuck Heinrich ’65


Chuck Heinrich, Class of 1965, Monaco, April 2017.

Chuck Heinrich ’65, Monaco, April 2017.

What are you doing professionally?

I’m a retired United States Department of Homeland Security agent and Arlington Heights police department officer.

Did Saint Viator/Sacred Heart have any impact on your career choice or success you have had?

It had no influence on my choice of career but definitely in my success over 43 years of investigating criminal activity and being able to think, assemble and write complex reports, interact with individuals from every walk of life and do the best job possible.

What are some of your favorite memories from high school?

Opening day of Saint Viator High School, September 1961; 1965 State Baseball Championship game; my teammates on four football and four baseball teams; classmates and everyone I ever shared a lunch with in the old Red Lion room.

Did any teachers have a positive influence on your life?

Yes, every one of them, especially Fr. Dan Mirabelli, the late Paul Gilgallon, Fr. Ed O’Neill, Fr. Gene Mierzwinski, Coaches Frank Mariani and Joe Gliwa.


Chuck (center) with classmates from the Class of 1965 at Night of the Lion 2016.

Have you stayed close to any friends from high school?

Definitely! Teammates, classmates, and class reunion committee members.

What advice would you give to current students?

Do the best you can in every undertaking while at Saint Viator and after graduation, make time to keep in touch with your classmates and attend your class reunions!

What would you say to parents who are considering sending the children to Saint Viator?

Expensive but worth the sacrifices that will have to be made.

What one high school moment would you like to go back and experience again?

1965 State Baseball Championship game but with a different final score.

What team, group, club or organization was important to you in high school?

Every team I played on while at Saint Viator.

Why have you decided to take on the role of Alumni Ambassador?

I hope to help guys and girls stay in touch with their fellow classmates and inform them about what is happening on East Oakton Street.

Saint Viator Students To Collect Data for NASA during Eclipse

eclipseFor the first time in 99 years, a total solar eclipse will be visible across the entire continental United States—and the science department at Saint Viator High School is ready.

For starters, the Academic Commons will run the live stream of the eclipse through NASA’s coverage, which will be captured by 11 spacecraft, at least three NASA aircraft, more than 50 high-altitude balloons, and the astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

Saint Viator students also will have access to an app designed by NASA allowing them to become global observers and collect data to report back to the space agency.

“The science department will be collecting data to report as well as researching and discussing a wide range of topics related to the eclipse,” says Mrs. Eileen Cairo, science department chairperson. “While we are not taking the students outside for the viewing, we are excited to be a part of this event.”

Some of those topics they will explore include how the eclipse will affect animal behavior, how solar power will be affected, and what physical changes will occur on earth, including temperature and atmospheric pressure.

“The last solar eclipse in our area was in the beginning of my teaching career when we watched it through eclipse viewers we made from shoe boxes,” Mrs. Cairo adds. “It is so fun to see the advancements in technology that give us so many opportunities, as well as the excitement in the students as we witness this rare event.”

The science department recommends the following resources to prepare for proper viewing:

Freshmen and New Principal Start School Year Together

IMG_0265Wednesday was a day of firsts at Saint Viator High School.

Consider one new principal, seven new faculty members, 30 new transfer students and 223 new freshmen—up 10 percent from last year.

Yet, they all walked the same hallways where Saint Viator students have crossed for more than 50 years.

IMG_0290“This is such a welcoming place,” said Mrs. Karen Love, who officially began her first day of school as principal on Wednesday with the rest of the freshmen. “You feel the warmth. I love the fact that we’re walking this path together.”

Trusty LINK Crew leaders helped roll out the welcome mat. Dressed in neon green T-shirts, the 49 upperclassmen outfitted their respective groups with distinctive props, from cereal boxes for the Breakfast Club, to beads and crowns for the “Mardi Graw krewe,” to Christmas decorations and patriotic gear.

IMG_0281Beyond the wacky antics, serious business was going on, says Mrs. JoAnne Francis, director of student activities.

Students sat in on two large group assemblies as well as small group discussions with their two LINK leaders, before having the tour of the school and photo sessions. They enjoyed lunch in the air conditioned Querbes Hall before going through a mini-schedule of their classes and meeting their teachers.

However, there was no homework assigned. This was orientation and a relaxed introduction to the school environment. Students were told to leave their iPads at home.

IMG_0285“We’ve been using LINK Crew as a high school transition program for more than 10 years,” Mrs. Francis says. “It’s built on the belief that students can help students succeed.”

That was the case for Kate Orrechio ’18, who vividly remembers her freshman orientation and the great friends she met her first day. Now a LINK leader herself, she knew just what sort of tone she wanted to set for her group.

IMG_0300“I want them to feel comfortable and connected,” Kate said. “I know that it can be scary starting freshmen year, so we want them to feel welcome at Saint Viator.”

Mrs. Francis points to studies that indicate that if students have a positive experience their first year of high school, their chances of succeeding in high school go up dramatically. The key, she feels, are the mentors that help them along the way.

IMG_0296Saint Viator’s LINK Crew leaders are recommended for the program by their teachers. They serve as mentors for freshmen and transfer students throughout the year, helping them to discover the culture of the school and what it takes to be successful.

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