Saint Viator News

Delivering the latest news from Saint Viator High School.

Month: May 2015


Congratulations, Class of 2015

Congratulations to the Graduates of the Class of 2015

Faculty and Staff Members Awarded at Annual Luncheon

Fr. Dan Hall, C.S.V., is on a roll. In each of the last two months, he has been recognized for his outstanding leadership, both in the Saint Viator community, and in the larger Northwest suburbs.

The latest award came at the faculty luncheon, when Fr. Hall was chosen by his colleagues to receive the Fr. Louis Querbes Award, given annually to a faculty or staff member who best represents the spirit and mission of Saint Viator High School.


Fr. Dan Hall, C.S.V.


Nora Boka

“He is a role model for so many of our students,” Fr. Corey Brost, C.S.V., president, said. “He models service to others, academic integrity and just being a mentor to young people.

“(Fr. Hall) shows me on a daily basis what it meant to sacrifice,” Fr. Brost added, “and what it means to be a priest.”

Fr. Hall has taught on and off in the social studies department at Saint Viator High School for 15 years, including serving as its department chair. Currently, he also serves as an assistant coach on the varsity football and wrestling teams.

However, this was his first award from his colleagues. In recognition of his deep commitment to the school and its students, his fellow faculty members gave him a standing ovation.

Fr. Dan Hall, C.S.V., working with a student in the Viatorian Community Garden during Service & Song last July.

Fr. Dan Hall, C.S.V., working with a student in the Viatorian Community Garden during Service & Song last July.

The award came a little more than a month after officials with Wheeling Township honored Fr. Hall for his leadership with the Viatorian Community Garden. Located on the grounds of the Viatorian Province Center, it has raised fresh vegetables for the township food pantry, and last summer produced nearly one ton of produce.

Fr. Hall’s award came at the end of a luncheon which noted milestone years of service by dedicated faculty members, as well as three other special awards.

Fr. Brost recognized Mrs. Nora Boka, controller of the school, with guiding all of the financial decisions needed to complete the recent capital improvement campaign. Though it is not given every year, Fr. Brost honored Mrs. Boka with the President’s Service Award.

“The school has remained financially sound,” Fr. Brost said, “as we construct new buildings to serve a next generation of students.”

Mrs. Eileen Manno, principal, also bestowed a service award. She chose staff member, Mrs. Karen Buchek, to receive the Principal’s Service Award, for her willingness to take on added responsibilities within the department and keep the Principal’s office running smoothly, despite losing some key personnel within the last year.


Karen Buchek


Mary Lanus

Finally, parent John Conerty returned to present the Greatest Gift Award. Designed to honor a faculty member who consistently models an example of God’s presence in students’ lives, he turned to Fr. Brost, who awarded it to Mrs. Mary Lanus, one of the faculty members in the Scanlan Center.

“She works with kids every day, helping them prepare for tests,” Fr. Corey said. “She makes a scary place feel a little bit warmer for some of our students.”

Her colleagues gave her a standing ovation, as Mrs. Lanus emotionally accepted the award.

“I’m stunned — and speechless,” Mrs. Lanus said. “I am grateful from the bottom of my heart, and feel so not worthy of this.”

Awards were also presented to long-standing faculty and staff members who are celebrating important milestones in their career at Saint Viator.

Faculty Milestone Awards

 25 Years of Service
Cate Majka

20 Years of Service
Br. Rob Robertson, C.S.V.

15 Years of Service
Cathy Abrahamian
JoAnn Francis
Peggy Gosch
Fr. Dan Hall, C.S.V.
Jennifer Ruege
Mirella Rullo
Deborah Scerbicke

10 Years of Service
Jennifer Kottra
Mike Manno
Cheryl Nowak
Kurt Paprocki
Bill Sanford
Jim Williams



Pair of Longtime Saint Viator Teachers to Retire

Saint Viator High School is losing a pair of veteran teachers, who collectively represent 44 years of teaching and commitment to Saint Viator High School.

English Department Chair Nancy Kieffer and Chemistry Teacher Liz Englbrecht both are retiring this year after long and successful careers.


Mrs. Englbrecht teaching in the early 2000’s.

Mrs. Englbrecht leaves after 26 years in the lab. Over the years, she has taught nearly every science subject, including physical science, chemistry, honors chemistry, AP chemistry, chemistry II, astronomy, and physics.

In looking back, Mrs. Englbrecht describes astronomy as one of her favorite classes. She especially enjoyed leading trips to the Adler Planetarium, as well as Nickol Knoll Golf Club in Arlington Heights, to help students learn the constellations.

“I have a couple of telescopes we would set up to look at the moon, as well as Jupiter and its moon,” Mrs. Englbrecht says. “The kids really enjoyed that. Many came back and told me when they look at the night sky they can still find the constellations.”

Outside of her classroom, Mrs. Englbrecht spent four summers doing research in nanotechnology for Dr. John Ketterson, a physics and astronomy professor at Northwestern University. Her progress in the field convinced Dr. Ketterson to make a special guest appearance, speaking to Saint Viator High School physics students.


Mrs. Kieffer teaching in the early 2000’s.

Students know Mrs. Kieffer from one of the core classes in Saint Viator’s college prep curriculum: Lit and Composition.

“I have taught at every grade level, but my favorite level is the freshmen,” she says. “They are so excited to start high school, but at the same time, they are little intimidated.”

Her foundations in writing and analysis, formed during freshmen year, set them on a path for success. Not surprisingly, Mrs. Kieffer has had the same effect on international students.

While taking some post-graduate classes, Mrs. Kieffer earned an ESL endorsement and for the last several years has started out her day teaching international study skills.

“Regardless of what country our students come from, we all blend together in this class,” she says, “and celebrate everyone’s culture while embracing life in an American school.”

In all, Mrs. Kieffer has taught English at Saint Viator for 18 years. If you ask her for her favorite unit, she answers unequivocally: Shakespeare.

“I love teaching his plays and sonnets,” she says, “and hopefully my enthusiasm for the Bard has translated to my students.”

When she’s not teaching students, Mrs. Kieffer leads her department’s eight faculty members. As a group, they strive to provide students with critical thinking skills as well as clear writing skills, articulate speech, thoughtful decision-making, intellectual risk-taking, and respect for others.

Her success in leading the department, can be seen in the numbers: Last year’s average ACT score in English was 27.3 as compared to the state average of 20.3. Additionally, more than 90 percent of students taking the AP exam in English, earned college credit.

Varsity Lacrosse Team Wins Sports Faith International Prayers for Life, Pro-Life Award

Listen to Michael Carens ’16 accept the Prayers for Life, Pro-Life Award on behalf of the Saint Viator Varsity Lacrosse team at the Sports Faith International 2015 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. The team was inducted into the Sports Faith Hall of Fame Sunday, May 24, 2015. (Read his full speech below.)

“Good Afternoon,

As Coach Sanford said, thank you to Sports Faith International for putting on such a fantastic event and recognizing our team. Also congratulations to the many others being honored this afternoon, for I am truly inspired by your stories and how you integrate your faith into sports.

When Coach Sanford first asked me to do speak at this event, I was quite shocked but honored that he chose me. To be honest, I kind of feel uncomfortable accepting this award with just Coach Sanford and myself because I would have liked everyone from the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation and our entire school community, including my teammates, up here on this stage to accept this award. Although that would be impossible, I truly feel this award reflects the values emphasized by the Saint Viator community. This is not simply an award for our lacrosse team, but this is an award for all of “Viator Nation.”

When I think about the meaning of the Prayers for Life, Pro-Life award, I interpret it as our community stressing the promotion and protection of the life and light of Christ in our world. I believe the way in which we cherish and celebrate life is what makes our community stand out. This was something I considered when choosing what high school to attend before my freshman year. There is so much more to life than thriving academically, in sports, or other extracurricular activities. In reality, it is most important that we seek to model our lives after Christ and to form positive relationships with the people around us. The Saint Viator community and lacrosse team embodies these ideals whether it be through our friendship with Dylan Full, completing service in our local communities, or simply cleaning up after ourselves and using our manners when we are at an away game or traveling out of state. Most of these examples come from an area beyond the classroom or athletic field. Saint Viator High School and the lacrosse program is changing the lives of their students to carry these contagious attitudes into the real world.

I have witnessed these attitudes create bi-products of success in our lacrosse program as we have become a well-respected lacrosse team across the Midwest (and nation). A consistent off-the-field attitude translates on the field. The combination of faith and sports is so unique because of the commitment, passion, pride, and tradition involved in both. These shared characteristics in both faith and sports make for a successful sportsman and faith-filled person. I am grateful to have experienced the power of sports and faith in harmony and for the opportunity to attend Saint Viator and play on the lacrosse team.

God Bless.”

Physics Students Converge on Great America: the Ultimate Teaching Laboratory

Velocity, acceleration and torque, oh my!

Saint Viator physics students experienced Six Flags Great America in a whole new light this week.IMG_1955

Led by physics teachers, Mrs. Jan Grana and Mrs. Cate Majka, 118 juniors traveled to the amusement park for its annual Physics Day, where the carnival rides transformed into an outdoor learning lab.

Suffice it to say, they will never look at roller coasters the same way again.

“We discussed the big differences between velocity and acceleration,” Mrs. Majka said, “and how the potential and kinetic energies are managed on each ride.”

They measured why bank turns are needed to provide inward force, allowing a ride to maintain a certain speed, and how the mass of the people riding in the roller coaster cancels out the formula.

sixflagsStudents recorded data and analyzed the numbers—and their sensations—in coming to understand torque, rotational inertia, angular velocity, acceleration and friction.

“It was cool to experience the forces we talked about in class—and actually have them act on us during the rides,” said junior Mary O’Connell.

Her classmate, Liam Warner, described the outing as fun and informative.

“Beneath all of the shrieking and gut-twisting plunges, it was fun to know that the concepts of inertia, centripetal acceleration and angular velocity were privately at work,” Liam said.

Both teachers said they hoped that by seeing the physics principles at work in the rides, that students would begin to see physics at work in their daily lives.

“Amusement park rides demonstrate nearly all of the concepts the students have studied this year,” Mrs. Grana said. “It’s a great way for them to see that these concepts are not isolated, that they are all occurring simultaneously.”

Freshman Swimmer Heading to Olympic Training Center

Freshman swimmer, Michael Balcerak, broke a 30-year school record for the 100-yard freestyle during an away meet this winter. Can the Olympics be far behind?


Michael Balcerak ’18 at nationals in March.

Turns out, it’s not that big a stretch.

Michael and his private club team, the Alligator Aquatics—which practices at Saint Viator—leave Wednesday, May 20 for a rare training trip at the elite U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

Of the 30 Alligators making the trip, Michael is one of three nationally ranked swimmers, and he is considered a realistic shot at making the Olympic trials, that open June 26 in Omaha and determine the USA swimming representatives to the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“The toughest challenge will be getting used to the elevation, but I think that will help me build my endurance,” Michael said. “I want to go further in swimming, and this can take me there.”

The Alligators will spend four days at the Olympic training facility, practicing two hours each morning and two in the afternoons at the Aquatic Center. They also will hear from its staff about the dangers of drugs in the sport and complete SafeSport training, created by U.S. Olympic Committee.

Back in February, Michael was the only Saint Viator swimmer to qualify for the IHSA state championships. He medaled in both of his individual events, and was the only freshman in the 200-yard freestyle finals.

His Alligator coach, Mary Ruffin, says the possibilities are endless for this up and coming swimmer.

“He went to nationals one week (after state) and swam even faster,” Ruffin said. “He just keeps getting faster. He’ll have Olympic trial times, for sure.”

Saint Viator Lacrosse Team to be Inducted into Sports Faith Hall of Fame

The Saint Viator lacrosse team just won the ESCC conference title and they head into playoffs next week. But recently, they learned they were recognized for a higher calling.

Dylan Full with lacrosse team members at his induction last spring.

Dylan Full with lacrosse team members, Kevin McMahon ’14, Brian Julius ’15, Peter Schmidt ’16, at his induction last spring.

Head Coach Bill Sanford was notified the team would be inducted into the Sports Faith Hall of Fame, led by Patrick McCaskey, president of its advisory board and senior director of special projects for the Chicago Bears.

Sports Faith International is a Chicago-based initiative dedicated to transforming today’s secular culture through the world of sports. The organization will induct its 8th Hall of Fame class on May 24 at the Lincolnshire Marriott.

Saint Viator lacrosse players join an impressive class. Among the dozen recipients are Bonnie Blair Cruikshank, the five-time gold medal winning Olympic speed skater; as well as former Chicago Bear Hall of Famer, George Connor; and the 1953 Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Lattner.

Angela Tomlinson co-founded the organization with her husband, Matt. She pointed to the lacrosse team’s support of 9-year old Dylan Full, inducting him last year as their youngest team member, and including him whenever possible, as he recovers from a brain tumor.

“We were really touched when we learned of their relationship with Dylan,” Ms. Tomlinson said. “The leadership they showed and the exemplary role models that they are, is what triggered the award.”

Junior midfielder Michael Carens said Dylan sits on the bench when he can attend games, and he even delivered an inspiring halftime speech recently, telling the team to “start playing better.”

“Dylan just inspires us,” Michael said. “Just knowing all that he and his family have gone through, is incredible. And yet his attitude is always positive. He’s just one tough guy.”

Fr. Corey Brost, C.S.V., president, says the team’s commitment to Dylan, and their efforts to uplift him and his family, reflect the school’s commitment to lifelong spiritual growth and community service, as well as excellence in education.

“I’m proud of our athletes,” Fr. Brost said, “of what they show on the field, in the classroom and as leaders of the faith.”


Fine and Performing Arts Hit All the Right Notes in Spring Arts Festival

From the ballad, “Someone Like You,” by pop star, Adele; to Elton John’s “Circle of Life” from “The Lion King,” and Chuck Mangione’s classic, “Children of Sanzhez.”

Those were just a few of the selections featured—by the choral ensembles, jazz and combined bands, percussion ensemble, theater students and Orchesis members—at the recent Spring Arts Festival, that drew a packed house to Saint Viator’s Jeuck Auditorium.


“All the choirs performed at an extremely high level, but I was particularly proud of their performances of the classical pieces,” Mrs. Kristina Sandrock, choral director, said.

She pointed to the Treble Choir’s a cappella piece, “Lift Thine Eyes,” as well as the Chamber Singers fiery performance of the Latin piece, “Salmo 150,”and the Concert Choir’s performance of Eric Whitacre’s “The Seal Lullaby.”

“(Seal Lullaby) showcased so many things we have been working on this year,” Mrs. Sandrock added, “creating pure vowel shapes and carrying the breath through long phrases, as well as performing expressively.

SVHS_0165Even before entering the auditorium, guests viewed the more than 300 pieces of art work on display, which represented the work of students throughout the year.

Visual arts awards opened the second half of the show. Senior TaeHa Lee’s paper relief sculpture was awarded Best in Show, much to his surprise, while freshman Fiona Conneely received the Promising Artist Award, and sophomore Bryan Rapala’s digital art painting was chosen by Fr. Corey Brost, C.S.V., as the President’s Purchase Award winner.

“I was immediately drawn to the vibrant colors and sense of movement and energy in the image,” Fr. Brost said. “I was also drawn in by the balance of the lights and darks in the picture.”

Orchesis members, performing under the direction of Ms. Jennifer Cupani, opened with, “What is Jazz,” choreographed by Ashley Downs of Giordano Dance Chicago, before senior members performed “Waiting,” choreographed by senior Kimberly Harris.

In between acts, students from Mrs. Kate Costello’s Theater II class, performed improv sketches, while juniors Megan Drake and Meredith Solari served as program emcees.

The various band ensembles performed a variety of styles, from the big band sound of “Orange Sherbert,” performed by the jazz band, to “Uptown Funk,” performed by the percussion ensemble. The combined bands also played “American Elegy,” a haunting score composed in 1999 in memory of those who lost their lives at Columbine High School.

“This year has been full of extra challenges with the major construction going on in the band, choral and visual arts areas,” Mr. Bill Faltinoski, fine arts department chair, said. “But the quality of work has thrived. The performing arts groups have been outstanding and the visual arts display had more work in it than it has in years.”

Congratulations to the winners of the 2015 Spring Arts Festival:

1st: Lexy Lyman ’15
2nd: Lexy Lyman ’15
3rd: Hee Seung Noh ’16

1st: Jin Woo Lee ’16
2nd: Lexy Lyman ’15
3rd: Lexy Lyman ’15

1st: Danielle Laterza ’16
2nd: John Duffy ’16
3rd: Fiona Dolce ”16

1st: Lin Cao ’15
2nd: Michelle Trovato ’15
3rd: Yihan Liu ’16

1st: Zachary Benson ’15
2nd: Nadia DiClementi ’15
3rd: Adeline Swiderski ’17

1st: Tyler Colon ’15
2nd: Lauren Kohn ’16
3rd: Lauren Kohn ’16

Fiona Conneely ’18

Bryan Rapala ’17

TaeHa Lee ’15

Math Team Brings Home a Second Place Finish From State Contest at University of Illinois


Fr. Corey Brost, C.S.V. and the winning Math Team pose for a celebratory selfie.

After competing in tournaments all year, the Saint Viator Math Team finally prevailed: For the first time in school history, the entire team qualified for the state championship, hosted by the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

The championship took place last weekend, in historic Altgeld Hall, home of the mathematics department, on the campus of the University of Illinois at Champaign.

After a day filled with competition, Saint Viator’s 8-person, junior/senior team finished second in the state. Members included: Jaiyi Lu, Jiajun (Michael) Zhuang, Nicholas Spanier, Bo Peng, Xiangxi (Simon) Mo, Jae Heuk Jung, Ziling Zheng and Lin Cao.

Individual qualifiers to the state competition included Mincheng Ying in geometry, Xiangxi (Simon) Mo in Algebra 2, Taesik Won and Jae Heuk Jung, as a junior/senior, 2-person team; Reinaldo Limantara, Niall Stanczak and Peter Wilson as a calculator team; and Kaitlyn Solarz, Patrick Harris, Migheng Ying and Orest Byskosh as a geometry team.

Mrs. Cheryl Nowak, who teaches AP calculus and algebra, moderates the Math Team and Saint Viator’s Math Club.

“The Math Team had a very successful year,” Mrs. Nowak said. “At state, the Saint Viator team took 16th overall, out of 51 schools in our division. We had a great time and I am very proud of the team.”

Mrs. Nowak points to these individual students who helped advance the team’s standings: Freshman Thomas Stanila placed 23rd in the Algebra 1 competition, while Xiangxi (Simon) Mo took 16th in the Algebra 2 competition, and helping the Algebra 2 team place 11th in state.

Kaitlyn Solarz and Thomas Stanila made up the freshman/sophomore 2-person team, which took 12th, while the 4-person freshman/sophomore team took 16th. And the junior/senior relay team placed 14th. Finally, freshman Orest Byskosh placed 12th in oral competition, assisted by Nicholas Spanier.

“These kinds of results are unprecedented for Saint Viator,” says Fr. Arnold Perham, CSV, who co-moderates the Math Club. “When you consider the kind of competition they faced, it’s a huge accomplishment.”

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