Saint Viator News

Delivering the latest news from Saint Viator High School.

Month: July 2016


Service & Song Returns for Fourth Summer

There was a buzz of excitement last week at Saint Viator High School, as more than 120 students—incoming freshmen, current students, and young alumni—gathered for the fourth annual Service & Song camp.

Praise. Serve. Live! That’s the theme that drove the camp, which took place every afternoon during the week, under the leadership of Fr. Corey Brost, C.S.V., Mrs. Norma Garcia, music director, and Mr. John Paulik, religion teacher.

“As we go about this, there are people in the world who are hungry, lonely, and sick and alone,” Fr. Brost said on the opening day. “This week we’re going to feed the hungry and visit the lonely. We’ll be changing the lives of people by the work you do. You’ll be changing the world because you had the guts to come this week.”

Saint Viator senior Carolyn Bielawski returned for her fourth straight summer. When she first attended the camp, she was an incoming freshman not knowing anyone, but for the past two summers, she has served as a leader.

“I really want to make sure the new campers feel welcomed and connected,” Carolyn says. “That’s the way I felt after my first year.”

One of the first time campers in her group was eighth grader, Logan Gryzlo. He followed his older brother, Matt, who had attended the camp.

“I was surprised it was so much fun,” Logan said.

Saint Viator junior Thomas Stanila returned this year with his violin to serve as a leader in the “song” track. Working with 20 student singers and musicians, they opened and closed each session with inspiring songs and also learned new liturgical music.

“I didn’t know anyone the first year I came,” Thomas says, “but I started making connections with other participants and I saw how much unity there was in the music. That’s when I was hooked.”

Students like Logan participated in the “service” track, doing everything from light maintenance for local seniors to making lunches for the homeless and blankets for hospice patients, to sharing an afternoon with grandparents and listening to their wisdom.

One group spent a hot afternoon pulling weeds at the community garden, on the grounds of the Viatorian Province Center, which grows fresh vegetables for families served by local food pantries.

A highlight for Logan’s group was volunteering at the Feed My Starving Children facility in Schaumburg, where the entire camp worked in teams to pack specially formulated meals for malnourished children in Third World countries.

Their service week ended with campers following up in the surrounding neighborhoods, collecting nonperishable food for the Wheeling Township food pantry.

“Our intention was to let students directly serve those most in need in the local community,” Fr. Brost added, “and learn why service is at the heart of a lived‐out Catholic faith.”

Saint Viator officials were thrilled with this year’s response to the camp, which ultimately fulfilled 20 hours of service per student. A requirement of the school is for each student to complete 25 hours of service per year, as part of a goal of building lifelong spiritual growth—in a community inspired to serve.


Class of 2016 co-salutatorian, Mark Perkowski.

Second Saint Viator Senior in Three Years Wins National Spanish Exam Scholarship

Class of 2016 co-salutatorian, Mark Perkowski.

Class of 2016 co-salutatorian, Mark Perkowski.

Mark Perkowski graduated in May as a National Merit Scholar and co-salutatorian of the Class of 2016, but the honors keep on coming for this high achieving student.

This week, Mark learned he had won a first place scholarship—worth $2,000—from the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese for his performance in the National Spanish Exam. The award also acknowledged his oral interview, essay, and application.

“This is our second winner in three years. It’s quite an accomplishment,” says his teacher, Mr. John Fuja, who taught Mark in his AP Spanish Language and Culture course.

In 2014, Lexi Glinos performed just as well on the National Spanish Exam and earned a first place scholarship. She just finished her second year at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio—and spring semester studying in Mexico—where she is double majoring in Spanish and biology.

Mark took Spanish all four years at Saint Viator and he participated in its Spanish Club. His AP Spanish class was a college level course, which focused on interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational language skills.

Look for his Spanish proficiency to help in his future medical career. In keeping with the family tradition—his father, Dr. Adam Perkowski is a cardiologist on staff at Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village—Mark has been accepted into the University of Illinois at Chicago’s pre-med program, which guarantees him a spot in its medical school.

“I’m excited,” Mark says, “to get ahead on something I feel so passionately about.”

Mark also follows in the footsteps of his older brother and sister, who both were salutatorians of their class—Greg in 2011 and Renee in 2014. Both went on to major in pre-med, and Greg now is enrolled at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, while Renee just completed her junior year at Loyola University.

Justin Johnson '11 running for Clemson University.

Class of 2011 Alum Advances to Olympic Track & Field Trials

Justin Johnson '11 running for Clemson University.

Justin Johnson ’11 running for Clemson University.

Justin Johnson ’11 is one of the first Saint Viator alumni in recent memory to qualify for the Olympic Trials. The former standout in track and field—who broke five school records while at Saint Viator—competed in the men’s 110-meter hurdles this month at the trials in Eugene, OR.

Justin, a 2015 Clemson University graduate, was among more than 200 collegians to compete for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. He advanced through to the quarterfinals, but he ultimately had to withdraw due to a recurring injury that had returned.

Saint Viator boys’ track coach, Rodero Warren, and the rest of the team were following his progress. After all, he felt like one of their teammates.

In May, Justin had returned to Saint Viator to train for the trials, after the same injury forced him out of the NCAA national championships.

“As with all the kids who come to Saint Viator, they become family no matter where they go from here,” Coach Warren added. “He jumped right into our workouts, which is a tradition with many of our alumni.”

Justin arrived the week before the ESCC Conference meet and was there to support the Lions at the IHSA sectional meet.

“We had our highest placing in conference history and sent the most athletes to the IHSA State meet ever,” Coach Warren says.

Johnson broke multiple school records as a standout on Saint Viator’s Boys Track and Field.

Justin’s berth to the Olympic trial capped an astounding college career, which was especially surprising since he wasn’t recruited out of high school.

“Dedication and perseverance were two things that I learned at St. Viator,” Justin says. “I was able to grasp those concepts and put them to work in many facets of my life.”

Justin applied that kind of work ethic when he went to St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisc., whose athletes compete at the Division III level within the NCAA. As a freshman, he would bring home the 110m hurdles national championship and set the D-III meet record, which still stands today.

While at St. Norbert, Justin competed on the football team and on track, while also co-founding the Diversity Club and pursuing his degree in communications.

He transferred to Clemson before the start of his junior year and stepped up his track and field competition to Division I in the hotly contested Athletic Coast Conference (ACC).

Justin would go on to win the 110-meter hurdles at the ACC championships in 2015 and ultimately be named first-team All-American, but his success did not come easily.

“After I transferred to Clemson, the head coach and hurdle coach were fired,” he says. “The new coaching staff told me I was not cut out for 110-meter hurdles and attempted to medically white shirt my career. This all changed after I became a first-team All-American.”

Coach Warren says Justin brings his heart to every race and every situation he faces, even in his battle with epilepsy, which resurfaced recently.

“He is still very shy and soft spoken, and I couldn’t get him to give a speech to our team,” Coach Warren says. “Instead, he jumped into our workouts. You have to appreciate his silent service.”

Justin himself says that when he’s up against odds—in life—he perseveres and tries harder, just as he does in every race.

“Life puts hurdles in your path,” Justin says, “but the key is not to focus on the hurdles, but focus on the finish and reaching your dreams.”

CRS RiceBowl English

Faith, Action, Results: Saint Viator Partners with Catholic Relief Services as a Global High School

CRS RiceBowl EnglishEarlier last month, officials with the religion department quietly pledged Saint Viator High School would step up to become a gold level global high school, partnering with Catholic Relief Services.

The decision came one year after the school participated as a silver level school, but now teachers are upping the ante.

“We’re basically making a commitment to heighten global awareness and service among our students,” says Mrs. Barbara D’Urso, religion department chairperson.

Catholic Relief Services started its global high school program in order to immerse students in Catholic social teaching and enable them to advocate for the global poor.

As part of the program, students explore critical policy issues related to improving the lives of the vulnerable, worldwide. Saint Viator’s religion classes also will receive action alerts from Catholic Relief Services regarding current global concerns and ways to respond.

As a member school, Saint Viator students participated in Operation Rice Bowl last year through Catholic Relief Services. Beyond raising money, students heard daily reflections and stories of hope from people in Third World countries whose lives were improved from the program.

Students in Saint Viator’s Justice League also organized a collection project for a school in Dago, Kenya. By the end of the year, they had raised enough money to fund nearly three years of tuition for one student.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.23.14 AMNow, as a gold level school, Saint Viator has pledged to carry out two, schoolwide projects, beyond participating once again in Operation Rice Bowl.

Once again, students in the Justice League will help decide the direction of those projects, but this much they acknowledge: one of the projects will involve advocacy for the poor on a global level, while the other will involve Eucharistic adoration during Lent when students are able to feed people physically and spiritually.

Partnering with Catholic Relief Services as a gold level school reinforces Saint Viator’s mission to inspire students to serve while following a curriculum in line with the social teachings of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.



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