Saint Viator News

Delivering the latest news from Saint Viator High School.

Month: April 2016 (Page 1 of 2)


Saint Viator Students Lead All Teams at Relay for Life in Arlington Heights

DSC_0532If there’s one event that Saint Viator students are committed to, it’s the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Since 1999, they have participated in the overnight event in Arlington Heights, and nearly every year they have been the largest team in attendance and raised the most money.

This year was no different. A total of 106 students participated this year at Arlington Park and raised more than $13,000 for American Cancer Society programs and ultimately to find a cure.

Over the last 12 years, Saint Viator students and their families have raised $138,346 for cancer fighting programs.

Survivors from the Saint Viator faculty led the team onto the track during the opening survivor lap, including Fr. Arnold Perham, CSV, Dean Deborah Scerbicke, Mr. John Paulik, Mrs. Vicky Giusti and student survivor, Michael Dziedzic ’17.

More faculty members came out to support the students and their fundraising efforts, including: Fr. Corey Brost, CSV, Br. John Eustice, CSV, Mr. Kevin Hogendorp, Mrs. Barb D’Urso and Mrs. Lynn Slezak, also a cancer survivor.

DSC_0489Students, however, drove the success of the event, says Mrs. Cathy Abrahamian who has moderated the event since 2005. She pointed to the midnight prayer service they led for everyone in attendance, as well as active participation throughout the night.

“Our students were involved in every event during the night,” Mrs. Abrahamian said, “and they exhibited a never-ending willingness to help.”

She points to her superstar fundraisers, who led the team: Briana Kapka ’17, who raised more than $900; Claudia Russo ’17, who raised $500 and Carolyn Bielawski ’17, who raised more than $350.

Mrs. Abrahamian and her husband, Don, served as overnight chaperones, as well as Mrs. Rita Scully, Mrs. Jean Dziedzic, Coach Eric Abrahamian ’10 and parents, Mrs. Sheryl Wolf and Jim McGuire ’89.


Immersing Girls into Science Career Possibilities at Argonne National Laboratory

IMG_2640Incorporating STEM programs is one of the driving forces of the new Illinois Learning Standards adopted two years ago, but Saint Viator High School has been at it long before that.

For the 10th straight year, members of the science department faculty took six junior girls to the 29th annual Science Careers in Search of Women conference at Argonne National Lab.

“There were so many opportunities to interact with working scientists throughout the day,” said Mrs. Cate Majka, physics teacher who has accompanied the students nearly every year.

The annual event is part of the outreach program at Argonne, specifically aimed at drawing more girls into science and technology.

Its stated mission is to “provide female high school students an extraordinary opportunity to explore STEM careers through a variety of interactions with Argonne’s world-class researchers and mission-support employees.”

Throughout the day, girls toured some of Argonne’s engineering and research projects, including its advanced photon source building, genetics and microbiology advances, as well as three different tours of experiments for cost effective batteries. Another group toured the Argonne Tandem Linear Accelerator System and learned about its super conducting possibilities.

Even lunch was a working event. Students shared their meal with scientists from different fields and they learned firsthand about their jobs — and how they got there.

“This trip was an amazing opportunity which allowed me to further investigate a STEM career,” said junior Kaitlyn Solarz. “It opened up a world of new possibilities for my future and I am eager to find a path which blends my passion for both math and science.”

Her classmate, Isabelle Brown, agreed: “I really enjoyed learning more about all of the different options in STEM. I especially enjoyed talking over lunch with a couple of researchers who work at the lab because they were really open about their journey to their current career and offered advice that gave me a new—and less stressed—perspective on my future.”

The day concluded with a panel discussion among the Argonne scientists and a career fair for students to attend and learn more about different math and science careers.

“The visit to Argonne was an empowering and valuable experience,” said junior Paulina Piwowarczyk. “It was so encouraging to speak to women who are successful in the fields that
I am interested in.”

Photo courtesy of the Daily Herald.

Class of 2007 Alumna Finds Healing in Music

Alexis Ross '07 in her home studio.

Alexis Ross ’07 in her home studio.

Nearly two years after a serious motorcycle accident, Alexis Ross ’07, is finding new life in her successful business of teaching piano students, and in particular of teaching students with special needs.

Her journey to overcome her life-threatening injuries led her to a new appreciation for her students who have disabilities. In a recent newspaper account, her story of recovery and empowering her students inspired readers and even prompted the president of a major music publishing company to reach out to her and offer to donate supplies to her students.

“It just keeps getting better,” Alexis says.

During her years at Saint Viator, Alexis never could have predicted this kind of journey for herself.

She played trombone in the jazz and symphonic bands, while leading the tennis team as one of its top players. In her spare time, she studied multiple instruments privately, including piano, guitar and drums.

Ross would go on to pursue music—and tennis—at Elmhurst College, where she ultimately earned a degree in music education, while playing in several of its ensembles and on its tennis team.

While she could have taught music at a school, Ross says she chose to teach piano because of its many, overall benefits for students, including promoting growth in language, reasoning and spatial intelligence.

After college, Ross developed a studio in her Arlington Heights home and grew her business to include nearly 40 students, from age 6 to 63.

Photo courtesy of the Daily Herald.

Ross with student Aidan McCurley. (Photo courtesy of the Daily Herald)

“I really love working students one on one,” Ross says.

Nearly two years ago, however, tragedy struck when Ross was involved in a serious motorcycle accident. She was rear-ended by a driver traveling at 50 miles per hour on the expressway that hadn’t seen Ross stop for a traffic backup.

The accident left Ross with a fractured right pelvis and left collarbone, as well as six fractured vertebrae, two torn eye muscles and massive bleeding in the brain, resulting in traumatic brain injury.

Her recovery has been slow, but steady. Music has helped, Ross says, describing how she played piano to strengthen her right hand, and how reading music helped her to overcome double vision caused by her eye injury.

“I’m still healing,” Ross says, “but it has been one very intense learning experience and journey.”

Alexis Ross '07

Ross ’07 performing with the Saint Viator Band in 2007.

Part of that journey has been to come to a new appreciation for her students with special needs, she says.

“My patience was pretty good before the accident,” Ross says, “but now it’s at a new, higher level.”

She teaches nearly 20 students, who range in age from 5 to 47, at a studio housed in the Northwest Special Recreation Association building in Rolling Meadows. They range in ability, and many are on the autism spectrum, like 10-year old Aidan McCurley of Palatine.

His mother gathers up her three younger children, which includes a newborn, every week to take Aidan to his lesson.

“I never would have dreamed he could play the piano, let alone take lessons,” says his mother, Arron McCurley, who chairs the ESL program at Fremd High School. “But I play piano and his father plays guitar. I thought it would help with his fine motor skills, and his reading.”

Brian Selders, one of the administrators with Northwest Special Recreation Association, says Ross teaches the majority piano students in its cultural arts program and she has built up the numbers.

“There are a lot of benefits in experiencing music,” Selders said. “It helps with fine and gross motor skills—and it’s therapeutic. Our students really enjoy it.”





#TeacherTuesday – Br. Robert Ruhl, C.S.V.


Br. Ruhl in 1980.

Chances are that if you attended Saint Viator from 1970 through 2008, you knew (or knew of) Br. Robert Ruhl, C.S.V. He taught English.

While all teachers are memorable to an extent, Br. Ruhl’s impression on his students was lasting.

He’d say things like, “Now we’re cooking with gas,” and “Put on your scuba gear, kids, we’re going deep today,”–seemingly strange things his students will never forget, and when heard, will always associate with him.  

Remembered in a Saint Viator & Sacred Heart of Mary Alumni Update after his sudden passing in February of 2008, Paige Smoron Wiser ’88 wrote, “There was something about the man that stuck with you as you went through life, carefully avoiding “very” (“a useless word,” Ruhl would say) and “like” (a word is not like anything, a word simply is”).”

Br. Ruhl (center) with Kevin Huidobro ’08 and former social studies teacher, Mr. Thomas Nall.

“Alumni that visited the school found that Ruhl never changed much. He was intimidatingly tall as you remembered, and always had the same energy and enthusiasm–even for such pedestrian entertainment as the reality show, ‘Big Brother,’” wrote Wiser.

Along with reality television, he had many passions–some known by his students. He loved opera singer, Maria Callas, Shakespeare, and bar trivia.

“He managed to perfectly balance deadly seriousness with the wackiest whimsy I ever saw in a classroom,” Paul Noble ’82 wrote on the message board set up on the school website after his death. “He made us want desperately to learn, to be knowledgeable, to be insightful.”



Saint Viator Band Members Learn From a Master: Professional Trumpet Soloist Aaron Romm

IMG_5898 - Version 2The lyrical sounds of trumpet solo filled the hallways of Saint Viator High School on Thursday afternoon, drawing faculty members and administrators to peak into the auditorium to see who was playing.

Sure enough, it was professional trumpeter, Aaron Romm, rehearing with Saint Viator’s symphonic band before tonight’s Spring Awards Concert at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium.

Romm is the first guest soloist to perform with the band. Together, they will play a pair of pieces written by Rafael Mendez, including the melodic “Romanza,” written for the composer’s wife and the traditional bull fighting song, “Virgen de La Macarena.”

While the latter features much of the brass section playing behind Romm’s solo, he asked for the trombone section and lower brass to play out more, during today’s rehearsal.

IMG_5877“As the soloist, I’m listening to the lowest voice,” Romm told them. “Overall, it sounds great. Nice work.”

Romm earned his undergraduate degree in music at Vanderbilt University, where he also played in its marching band during its years of football led by quarterback Jay Cutler, before going on to earn his master’s and doctorate in music at the University of Illinois.

He has played in orchestras across the Midwest and in Mexico and regularly tours with a brass quintet, Nightmusic. As an educator, Dr. Romm has maintained a studio of pre-college students at The Conservatory of Central Illinois since 2011. During the summer months, he coordinates the Illinois Summer Youth Music Trumpet Camp, an intensive program for pre-college trumpet students wishing to hone their skills in all aspects of solo and chamber performance.

IMG_5875On Wednesday and Thursday, Romm held a series of master classes where he talked about the power of setting goals, approaching music positively and the benefits of listening to other musicians.

“Have a concept of what you want to sound like,” he told them. “Listen to other musicians and focus on good tone. If you can make one long note sound interesting, you can make many notes sound interesting.”

Senior Liam Warner was a fourth place winner in English. Junior Stephen Hannon was a sixth place winner in English.

A Pair of Saint Viator Students Medal in Champaign at Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering Academic Challenge

Senior Liam Warner was a fourth place winner in English. Junior Stephen Hannon was a sixth place winner in English.

Senior Liam Warner was a fourth place winner in English. Junior Stephen Hannon was a sixth place winner in English.

Saint Viator students love an academic challenge, so it comes as no surprise that a pair of upperclassmen—and veteran members of the Scholastic Bowl team—came away as winners at the Academic Challenge, sponsored by the University of Illinois and its Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering initiative.

Senior Liam Warner came away as a fourth place winner at state in English, while junior Stephen Hannon was a sixth place winner in English. Joining them at the state competition were seniors Mark Perkowski, who finished as a state finalist in biology, and Simon Mo who was named a state finalist in math.

“This was our first year participating and we are very proud of our students,” said Mrs. Eileen Cairo, science department chair. “They emerged from the hundreds of schools and thousands of students who participated.”

Saint Viator students began the challenge in February, when they won the regional meet before advancing to sectionals, where again they had a strong showing and four students earned their way to state after medaling in their respective events.

“We had a really strong showing at both regionals and sectionals,” said Mrs. Cate Majka, who accompanied the team with Mrs. Jan Grana, both physics teachers. “It speaks to the rigor of our school-wide curriculum.”

2016 WYSE state competitors.

2016 WYSE state competitors.

The Academic Challenge dates back more than 25 years. Its immediate goal is to attract a greater number of talented and diverse students to careers in engineering and the sciences.

Each year, the contest is offered to high school students in Illinois and Missouri by more than 50 community colleges and universities. Test material is drawn from senior high school and freshman level college curricula and is written by teams of college and university faculty. The level of difficulty increases at each stage.

State finals took place April 13 at the University of Illinois in Champaign. Mrs. Cairo and Mrs. Vicky Giusti accompanied the Saint Viator students to the competition and awards ceremony.

The student competitors and alternates were:

Simon Mo
Liam Warner
Mark Perkowski
Emily Hayes
Ryan McMahon
Matt Trimberger
Thomas Swiderski
Paige Smith
Paulina Piwowarczyk
Drew Morton
Stephen Hannon
Max Paulus
Patrick Harris
Nick Spanier
Justin Cruz
Kaitlyn Solarz

Saint Viator students with Corporate Work Study Program partners .

Corporate Work Study Program Expands to Offer More Jobs and Valuable Work Experience

In its first summer, Saint Viator’s Corporate Work Study Program placed three students in entry-level summer jobs at two local corporations, providing them with invaluable work experience along with a $3,000 discount on tuition.

In its third summer, the program is thriving, as more than 100 new jobs will be made available to qualifying students.

Macbook1The Corporate Work Study Program’s significant growth is credited to a new partner and Saint Viator parent, Tony Graffia, of Encore Repair, a consumer electronics company located in East Dundee, specializing in repair and refurbishing. Mr. Graffia’s company will welcome up to 100 Saint Viator students to gain experience working with hi-tech devices, testing them and performing auditing procedures.

“It’s a great opportunity to get involved with the school and help out the students,” Mr. Graffia said. “It also helps my employees learn about the importance of giving back.”

The Corporate Work Study Program was designed to make a Catholic education more affordable for families with limited income.

“This program helps Saint Viator be even more true to its mission – to prepare kids for the professional world, not just college, while giving them the best faith and academic formation in the area,” according to President Fr. Corey Brost, C.S.V.

Saint Viator students with Corporate Work Study Program partners .

Saint Viator students with Corporate Work Study Program partners .

During its first summer, interns worked at a pair of law firms, including Kelleher & Buckley in North Barrington and at Niro, Haller & Niro in Chicago, gaining real work experience while adapting to a professional setting. Both of those firms continue to support the program.

Andy Kelleher said his firm felt it was important to give students a chance to learn and gain new skills, and all in a safe environment.

“The biggest gift was their presence,” Kelleher said, “seeing their excitement and desire to learn, working to improve themselves and making a positive impact on the business they were supporting.”

Subsequent partners now include: Lavelle Law, Cashman Stahler Group, Faith Community Homes, Journeys: The Road Home, Village Bank & Trust, Nippon Life Benefits, Directions AV, and Rose Packing. Students also work at non-profit agencies serving the poor. Those positions are funded by Saint Viator donors and allow the program to further the school’s Catholic mission to train young people to serve those forgotten in society.

Anna Krause '17 working at Prospect Heights Village Hall to complete her required hours for Saint Viator's Corporate Work Study Program.

Anna Krause ’17 working at Prospect Heights Village Hall to complete her required hours for Saint Viator’s Corporate Work Study Program.

Joining with Encore Repair this summer in offering corporate work study positions are Arthur J. Gallagher, which is offering an internship in sales and marketing, as well as the IT firm, MotherG, both located in Itasca, and the city of Prospect Heights.

Jobs with the Corporate Work Study Program are limited. Student selection is based on maturity level and financial need, with priority going to students in need of more than a half tuition scholarship.

Students who pursue the program gain valid work experience, while building their college resume. They also develop relationships in the business world, while learning workplace skills that will help them in college and beyond.

Anna Krause ’17 has been involved with the Corporate Work Study Program since its launch in 2014. Her first position was with Niro, Haller & Niro when she was going into her sophomore year. She spent last summer working at Village Bank & Trust, and she is now completing her final stint with the program at the Prospect Heights Village Hall.

“I’ve learned how to work with and talk to adults in a professional way,” she said, “and also, that I can work diligently while still having fun.”

Interested in learning more about the Corporate Work Study Program? Attend an Information Night on Monday, April 18 at 7 p.m. in the Jeuck Auditorium.


Fr. Thomas von Behren, CSV, Provincial of the Clerics of St. Viator, introduced Saint Viator High School's new president, Brian Liedlich, in an early morning meeting with faculty and staff on Tuesday.

New President of Saint Viator High School Named

The newly named president of Saint Viator High School, Brian Liedlich, greets the school's assistant principal, Mary Lee DeBelina.

The newly named president of Saint Viator High School, Brian Liedlich, greets the school’s assistant principal, Mary Lee DeBelina.

A former Saint Viator High School administrator, who is a sitting member of its board of trustees as well as a current parent, was named its new president.

Brian Liedlich was introduced Tuesday to the faculty and staff at an early morning meeting by Fr. Thomas von Behren, CSV, Provincial of the Clerics of St. Viator and President of Saint Viator’s Board of Governors.

“At the beginning of the search process, it was our hope that the new president, as he walked through the front doors of the school, would be someone we knew and who knew the school community well,” Fr. von Behren said. “And in fact, we have found our candidate.”

Liedlich brings solid experience in Catholic education to the role. He served at Saint Viator from 2003 until 2008 as executive director of institutional advancement, and he also brings his experience as a managing director of regional development for Marquette University to his new position. Most recently, he has served as a vice president of development with Advocate Health Care and on its leadership team for Advocate’s charitable foundation.

The Barrington resident has two daughters who graduated from Saint Viator, a son who is a current senior and a seventh grader at St. Anne School, who plans to attend.

“I am honored, humbled and privileged to have been selected as the next president of Saint Viator High School,” Liedlich said at the faculty meeting. “I look forward to working with the board of governors in providing a continued successful direction for this wonderful institution.”

At the same time, Fr. von Behren announced the creation of a new position at the school, the Vice President for Viatorian Identity and Mission.

Fr. Thomas von Behren, CSV, Provincial of the Clerics of St. Viator, introduced Saint Viator High School's new president, Brian Liedlich, in an early morning meeting with faculty and staff on Tuesday.

Fr. Thomas von Behren, CSV, Provincial of the Clerics of St. Viator, introduced Saint Viator High School’s new president, Brian Liedlich, in an early morning meeting with faculty and staff on Tuesday.

“We created this position to guarantee that the Viatorian identity continues to flourish and that our mission guides everything we do here at Saint Viator High School,” Fr. von Behren said.

Fr. Daniel Hall, CSV, has agreed to take on this new ministry — in addition to his full time teaching load. Fr. Hall has been a member of the Saint Viator faculty for 15 years, including serving as chair of the social studies department.

This past year, he also served as an assistant football and wrestling coach, while also serving on the Provincial Council. Fr. Hall has been a member of the Viatorian Community for nearly 35 years and this year he will celebrate 28 years in the priesthood.

“Mr. Liedlich and Fr. Hall join with our principal, Mrs. Eileen Manno, and the other administration members of the school in beginning an exciting new chapter for Saint Viator High School,” Fr. von Behren added. “I believe this change will bring new life to the school community and create new educational programs that our students will excel at — and embrace.”


Alum Celebrates a National Championship with his Villanova Wildcats

novaMatt O’Neill ‘14 had a courtside seat for Villanova’s buzzer beater on Monday to win the men’s basketball national championship over North Carolina: He is a student manager for the Wildcats.

“Congrats to one of the hardest working and best teammates I ever coached,” tweeted former Saint Viator basketball coach, Mike Howland.

Matt is in his second year as a manager, working under the leadership of Head Coach Jay Wright. According to his LinkedIn profile, his responsibilities include supporting games and practices, maintaining travel plans and itineraries, managing uniforms and equipment, organizing statistics, recording and organizing game and practice film, as well as assisting the coaching staff in creating scouting reports for future opponents.

He is one of nearly one dozen student managers, who work directly with Coach Jay Wright and his staff to ensure team efficiency.

“I played basketball and baseball in high school, but unfortunately my skill set didn’t translate to the Division I Basketball level,” Matt said last week in a Q & A with a Villanova news website. “I still wanted to be involved with basketball in some capacity, so I figured being a manager would be a good way to stay involved. I still am exposed to the sport, but I am also learning valuable skills that I can apply to a future career in sports.”

At Saint Viator, Matt played baseball and basketball. Ironically, in joining the Wildcats in a support role, it brought him face to face with former Stevenson High School standout, Jalen Brunson — starting freshman point guard — who nearly singlehandedly eliminated the Lions from sectional play the last two years, including Matt’s senior year.

But they’re both part of the Wildcat family now, led by Coach Wright, whom Matt says instills that feeling throughout the program.

“The family atmosphere that Villanova Basketball creates is something I truly cherish and motivates me to work as hard as I can every day at practice and behind the scenes,” Matt said last week. “It is satisfying to see our handwork translate to success on and off the court.”










Sophomore Guard Recognized for Three-Point Shooting

IMG_5662Sophomore Myia Clark had an unusual visit during her literature class on Tuesday: a representative from Country Financial came calling to present her with an award recognizing her outstanding three-point shooting at last month’s state finals.

Country Financial is the presenting sponsor of the three-point shooting contest. This year’s Country Financial Three-Point Showdown took place at Red Bird Arena, one day before the state semi-finals and championship game.

Country Financial representative, Alexander McElroy, arrived with a green and white basketball in hand—Country Financial’s colors—to present to Myia, as well as a certificate, all in front of her surprised classmates.

“We had 252 participants in the Country Financial Showdown, at the Class 3A regional level,” McElroy said, “and 1,000 participants overall, throughout the four regions.

“By qualifying to get to the state finals,” he added, “it shows you are one of the top 32 shooters in the state. Congratulations.”

SVHS_205This was the latest award for Myia, who was the Lady Lions’ leading scorer this season and helped lead her team to the sectional final.

She was all-conference in the ESCC, named to the Daily Herald’s all-area team for the second straight season and featured as a Daily Herald player of the week.

“I love playing basketball,” Myia says. “I’ve been playing since I was in first grade and in AAU basketball since I was in fifth grade.”

When she’s not playing basketball, Myia plays soccer in the spring and cross country in the fall. That is, when she’s not studying for her literature class.

Congratulations, Myia!

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