Saint Viator News

Delivering the latest news from Saint Viator High School.

Month: August 2016 (Page 1 of 2)

Boys Varsity Soccer Team 2016.

Varsity Soccer Players Join Other Teams in Stocking Activity Rooms at Senior Citizen Facilities

boysoccerSenior defender Tom Scully remembers playing board games with his grandmother every time she visited their house. Now, along with the rest of the members of the varsity soccer team, Tom had a chance to pay it forward.

Several of the Lions joined with from more than 200 other players from teams across Chicago and the suburbs last weekend as part of a one-day service project in advance of the PepsiCo Showdown. The project took place on National Senior Citizen Day, and the overarching theme was “Making a difference—on and off the field.”

To participate, each player was encouraged to bring a gently used board game and contribute $1 to Buddy’s Helpers, the charitable arm of the soccer tournament. On Wednesday, those board games and the proceeds raised were donated to various senior citizens’ facilities, along with notes written by the players.

Both Tom and goalie, Kyle Borst, brought the game of Life to the event, while their teammates brought games of checkers and chess, as well as Clue.

“It was just a good chance to give back to the community and help senior citizens,” Kyle said. “I always remember playing board games with my grandparents.”

Coach T.J. King said his players learned a number of life lessons through participating in the project.

“We spend a lot of time conditioning, weight training, at summer camp, scouting, watching film as we prepare for the season, which make a huge difference in our on-field performance,” Coach King says. “But it’s equally as important that these players understand that putting in effort to make a difference off the field is just as important.”

All of the players from the different teams wore their uniforms for the service day, but working together to help seniors seemed to overcome any rivalries.

“It was good to talk to other players,” Kyle added. “We talked about the season coming up, but there was no competitiveness.”

Instead, they found common ground in their love of the game and in serving others. They’ll bring their game soon enough. The PepsiCo Showdown—one of the largest high school tournaments in the country—opens Sept. 10. Brackets and seeding will be revealed Sept. 5.


Saint Viator Senior Explores the Mysteries of the Mind at Harvard Medical School

image3170019Senior Vicky Garro approaches her science courses this year with a renewed excitement, after her hands-on experiences over the summer at Harvard Medical School, where she attended a leadership conference in psychology and neuroscience.

The program allows high school students to explore the relationship between the brain and human behavior, by sitting in on clinical psychology simulations and hands-on neurology labs.

Just to be accepted, she had to be recommended by one of her science teachers and meet the grade point standard. Vicky passed with flying colors, but she also brought an international background to the program.

Vicky is an exchange student, whose home is in Rome. She is in her fourth year attending Saint Viator, where she is a Querbes Scholar and a LINK Crew member, who helped international students during the opening orientation day.

“The leadership program was an amazing experience,” Vicky says. “I got the opportunity to combine my interests in medicine and neuroscience.”

image2The labs were designed to help students examine the anatomy of the brain, by learning the science behind neurotransmitters as well as comparing the scans of normal and abnormal brains.

“I learned more about the complexity of the human brain through lectures by various neuroscientists,” Vicky adds, “and do labs on various bugs as well as on animal brains and eyes.”

Students transferred what they learned about the brain to diagnosing young patients, after listening and assessing patients during a clinical simulation.

Ultimately, the program allowed Vicky to perhaps experience her future. She donned a white coat in Harvard’s nationally renowned medical facilities and found herself interacting with clinical psychologists and neurologists, researchers and medical students.


Cross Country Team Draws More Than 200 Runners to its Inaugural Feeder School Invitational

DSC_0849A new tradition stepped off last week: the Saint Viator Grade School/Middle School Cross Country Invitational.

The premiere event drew nearly 250 youngsters from a dozen different feeder schools in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. They ran a course that stretched around the Saint Viator campus before returning inside the Boler Center for the awards ceremony.

“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.”

DSC_0931Participating schools included: Holy Family Catholic Community in Inverness, Our Lady of the Wayside and St. James schools in Arlington Heights, St. Mary School in Buffalo Grove, St. Eugene School in Chicago, St. Alphonsus School in Prospect Heights, St. Anne Catholic School in Barrington, St. Gilbert School in Grayslake, St. Hubert School in Hoffman Estates, St. Raymond School in Mount Prospect, St. Thomas of Villanova School in Palatine, and MacArthur Middle School in Prospect Heights.

Members of the Saint Viator cross country team took a lead role in the event. One member led each race, carrying the Saint Viator flag, while other students helped encourage runners around the course. Junior Kevin Goss donned the Lion costume, encouraging runners as the mascot.

In all, some 100 medals were awarded to the top 25 participants in each race, while a special award—the Saint Viator DSC_0899Traveling Cup—went to the varsity boys’ team that won their division as well as the varsity girls’ team.

As it turns out, St. Thomas of Villanova boys’ and girls’ varsity teams won both. Consequently, two of the Saint Viator Traveling Cups are now being prominently displayed at their parish.

“This inaugural event was a great opportunity for students to visit our campus and meet our student-athletes and coaches,” Mr. Kuffel says. “It also had a practical side. They now have an official time to work toward beating over the course of their new season.

“It also 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.”

Here are the final results for the varsity and junior varsity divisions:

Junior Varsity Boys

  1. Our Lady of the Wayside
  2. James
  3. Mary’s

Junior Varsity Girls

  1. James
  2. Raymond’s
  3. Our Lady of the Wayside

Varsity Boys

  1. Thomas of Villanova
  2. Our Lady of the Wayside
  3. Raymond’s

Varsity Girls

  1. Thomas of Villanova
  2. Raymond’s
  3. Eugene’s



Color Crest

Class of 2016 Sets New Record with ACT Scores

It’s official. The results are in and they are impressive. Saint Viator students continue to score well above the state and national averages on college-readiness exams, outpacing their state counterparts by nearly six points in nearly every subject area.

Mrs. Eileen Manno, principal, announced Wednesday that the average ACT score for Saint Viator’s class of 2016 was 26.6, based on each student’s highest composite score.

A closer look reveals even more good news: of the 228 Saint Viator students who took the ACT, the top 25 percent of the class averaged 32.1, while the middle 50 percent averaged 26.5—all well above the state average of 20.8 for the class of 2016.

“These scores are exceptional,” Mrs. Manno says. “It’s our highest composite so far, but it doesn’t happen overnight.

“They reflect the rigorous education students receive at Saint Viator,” she adds, “over the course of four years.”

This was the fifth year in a row that Saint Viator students averaged over 26 on the curriculum and standards-based readiness test, and in doing so scored above the college-readiness benchmarks in individual subject areas set by the ACT.

In English, Saint Viator students scored an average of 27.1 or nearly seven points higher than the state average of 20.5 and nearly 10 points above the benchmark score set by the ACT of 18.

In mathematics, Saint Viator students scored an average of 25.1 or nearly five points above the state average of 20.6 and three points higher than the 22 benchmark score set by the ACT of students’ readiness to tackle college level algebra.

Saint Viator students scored an average of 26.3 in reading—more than five points higher than the state average of 21—and a 25.5 in science, or nearly five points higher than the state average of 20.6.

“Our scores were up in every subject area over last year,” Mrs. Manno adds, “and well above the benchmark scores set by the ACT.”

Officials with the ACT say that the test results reflect students’ readiness for college-level work and that the test itself measures the skills needed for success in first-year college coursework.

By any measure, Saint Viator students reflect their college-prep curriculum, first-year president, Mr. Brian Liedlich says.

“These are terrific results,” Mr. Liedlich said, “that reflect our consistent commitment and dedication to our students’ intellectual growth.”

Elias Rivera, Jr. '17.

Senior’s Film Qualifies for Prestigious High School Film Festival

Elias Rivera, Jr. '17.

Elias Rivera, Jr. ’17.

Senior Elias Rivera, Jr. cannot imagine his life without art. He loves to write and this semester alone he is taking film study class while serving as a staff photographer and entertainment editor of the Viator Voice. But he also is immersed in art outside the classroom walls.

Three years ago, Elias started his own production studio, THISKID, and together with his Saint Viator classmates, he is committed to producing all forms of art including photography, film, and poetry.

Now, his work is drawing notice. His latest short film, “Waves,” was named an official selection finalist in the 2016 All-American High School Film Festival in New York City. With more than 1,850 submissions, the festival is the largest international high school film festival in the world.

This year’s entries are coming from 40 states across the country, as well as from Iran, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Turkey, Chile, Norway, Singapore, New Zealand, Israel and Denmark.

It is only the third film for Elias and the first one he has submitted to a film festival. It was filmed on location near his home on the Northwest side of Chicago, and he says he was so immersed in every detail on the set that he never thought it would earn recognition.

“Getting this kind of validation, from such a prestigious film festival, means everything to me,” Elias says.

Elias’ film was submitted in the drama category, and will be screened and evaluated by a panel of industry judges. The three-day film festival runs Oct. 7-9, and Elias plans to attend.

'Waves,' a festival-qualifying short film by senior Elias River Jr., was shot on Chicago's northwest side.

‘Waves,’ a festival-qualifying short film by senior Elias River Jr., was shot on Chicago’s northwest side. Zac Jones ’17 stars as the lead character, Waves.

The seven-minute short film takes a quick look at coming of age questions that go through the mind of a graduating senior, called Waves by his friends. Zac Jones ’17 stars as the lead character and his co-stars include Peter Beiswenger ’18 and Aria Bernardi ’17.

Crew members include a trio of alumni, Erin McDermott 16, Kevin Nolan ’16 and Maya Nudo 16, as well as current upperclassmen Sheila Cavanagh ’17, Bryan Rapala ’17 and Matt Wear ’18.

Beyond having his work evaluated, Elias will have the chance to meet with more than 20 college representatives interested in up and coming filmmakers, and he can compete for some of the $400,000 available in scholarships and awards to high school filmmakers.

Tom Oliva, one of the co-founders, says they created the festival to establish a premier destination for young filmmakers, where they could connect with other resources and receive the recognition they deserve.

“These students are not just filmmakers,” Oliva says, “they are true entrepreneurs who work tirelessly throughout the year to create art with purpose that inspires on every level.”


Class of 2014 Alumnus Raises Money and Awareness for Brain Cancer Research

timTim Gruensfelder ’14, just started his junior year at St. Louis University, where he is double majoring in accounting and entrepreneurship. He returned to the campus early, in time to resume his role as a campus ambassador welcoming incoming freshmen.

Among his many college activities, one of the roles he cherishes most is being part of a service organization at SLU known as Oriflamme, which in French means a banner, symbol or idea inspiring devotion or courage. In Tim’s case, it fits.

He was four years old when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The tumor eventually moved to his spine and resulted in his move to a wheelchair in fifth grade. In July, he underwent his 14th surgery to remove tumor growth in his spine.

“The pain is a lot better,” Tim says. “In fact, I haven’t had any pain since getting back to school.”

His cancer diagnosis hasn’t held him back, as evidenced by his success at SLU, where he received a presidential scholarship.

One of the organizations he credits with supporting him and his family is the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, whose sole mission is to raise money for this deadly disease affecting children.

tgRight from the start, Tim and his family have worked to create successful fundraisers since his diagnosis to support the agency, raising more than $200,000 in the process.

“We’ve had incredible support from our family, friends, and neighbors,” says Denise Gruensfelder, Tim’s mother, “and from the St. Raymond School community and Saint Viator. They have gone out of their way to support us.”

The Gruensfelder family is immersed in the latest event, the Starry Night 8.5K walk/run, to raise more money and awareness. The unusual distance of the event reflects the 28,000 steps it takes to complete the course, in honor of the 28,000 children living with a brain tumor each year in this country.

Registration opens at 4 p.m. before the 5:30 p.m. start on Sunday, Sept. 18 at Arlington Park Racecourse. The highlight of the event, the lantern lighting ceremony, shines a light on individual children diagnosed with brain cancer and those who are being remembered.

Now in its third year, Starry Night organizers include Saint Viator parents Mary Ann Kouvelis, of Mount Prospect; Julie Zahrebelski of Hoffman Estates and Denise Gruensfelder.

“Tim has inspired this community to create this new fundraising event,” says Bob McNamara, campaign chairman for the Illinois chapter of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, based in Park Ridge. “Friends of his family and from his schools, have rallied around our organization and allowed us to continue our quest to find a cure.”

McNamara maintains that the Asheville, North Carolina-based foundation is the leading funder of pediatric brain tumor research, outside of the federal government, and support is building.

“We’re really starting to change the conversation,” McNamara said, “all across the country.”

To donate or to join our Saint Viator Team at Starry night, visit our team page.


Freshmen Orientation: It’s More than Meets the Eye

IMG_7865Students paraded the hallways in costume on Tuesday—in beachwear, Mexican sombreros, reindeer antlers and Christmas stocking caps—and they could be heard laughing and giggling as they followed their fearless leaders on a tour of the school.

It was all part of freshmen orientation led by junior and senior members of the LINK Crew, and even first-year president, Mr. Brian Liedlich, said the introduction to the school was “fun.”

Beyond 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 a 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.

DSC_9000However, 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.

“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.”

She 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.

Saint 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.

Assistant coach Sam Wilcher leans on the new starting blocks while talking to team members.

The Olympics Inspire Saint Viator Swimmers and Their Starting Blocks

new pool lookA new season, new coaches—and a new look to the Saint Viator pool greeted girls who went out for the swim team this week.

The entire pool area was repainted—bright white glass tile at the ground level, topped with creamy white paint up to the ceiling—and trimmed in Saint Viator blue colors with its traditional lion mascot.

A new, six-foot lion was painted at the bottom of the pool, replacing the large ‘V’ and two smaller lions, and the entire basin of the pool was repainted.

“It’s so much brighter—and more welcoming,” says junior captain Ashley Alteri. “Everyone used to call it the dungeon, but not anymore.”

The centerpiece of the upgrade project is the new starting block for swimmers, complete with a track start wedge, side step entry and trimmed with the lion image on each. Track start starting blocks were approved in 2013 by the National Federation of High School Swimming and Diving Rules committee.

Assistant coach Sam Wilcher leans on the new starting blocks while talking to team members.

Assistant coach Sam Wilcher leans on the new starting blocks while talking to team members.

Steve Burks, director of building and grounds for Saint Viator, oversaw the upgrades to the pool over the summer.

“It’s a much-needed facelift,” Mr. Burks says. “The last improvement we made was the new scoreboard, but we hadn’t touched the aesthetics in more than 10 years. It was time.”

He describes the new starting blocks as state of the art and ones that will bring Saint Viator swimmers in line with starting blocks used at club and college level swimming—and the Olympics.

A pair of Olympic qualifying coaches head up the team this season. Dillon Thompson, who qualified in the 400-meter individual medley in 2012 and swam competitively for Yale University, is the head coach. He also is a senior level coach with the Palatine Park District.

His assistant is Sam Wilcher, a three-time Olympic qualifier who came up through the ranks of swimming with the Arlington Alligators and swam competitively at Purdue University.

“I’m really excited to be here and working with the girls,” Coach Thompson says. “The facility is beautiful. There’s a lot of history here and we want to uphold that, but also put our own stamp on the program.”

New head coach Dillon Thompson goes over spirit wear options with co-captains Georgia Christy, center, and Ashley Alteri, right.

New head coach Dillon Thompson goes over spirit wear options with co-captains Georgia Christy ’18, center, and Ashley Alteri ’18, right.

Both the coaches and swimmers are watching the Olympics and stars like Katie Ledecky, who already has three gold medals and a silver.

“She’s not that much older than us,” says Georgia Christy ’18, who also swims freestyle events. “She’s a huge inspiration.”

Her coaches admit that the Summer Olympics spike an interest in swimming every four years and they hope to reap the benefits.

“I use it as inspiration,” Coach Thompson says. “I tell the girls that all of these Olympic swimmers started out in high school swimming.”


Meet the Gatekeeper of the Viatorian Mission at Saint Viator High School: Fr. Dan Hall, C.S.V.

Fr. Dan Hall, C.S.V. next to the Fr. Louis Querbes bust in the Alumni Memorial Chapel. Fr. Querbes founded the Clerics of St. Viator.

Fr. Dan Hall, C.S.V. next to the Fr. Louis Querbes bust in the Alumni Memorial Chapel. Fr. Querbes founded the Clerics of St. Viator.

As Fr. Dan Hall, C.S.V., prepares his classwork for the upcoming semester—and the special teams players he will coach in varsity football—he looks ahead to an added role this year: Vice President of Viatorian Identity and Mission.

“I admit, it’s a lot of hats to wear,” Fr. Hall says with a smile.

He describes his new role as something of a spiritual advisor to the administrative team. Within that context, Fr. Hall will coordinate aspects of Campus Ministry, the religion department, and outreach initiatives—to make sure they reflect the Viatorian mission.

“At the end of the day, we hope students leave here with the idea of a life of service,” Fr. Hall says. “That’s the Viatorian understanding of living a Christian life.”

Fr. Hall entered the Viatorian Community nearly 35 years ago—after a distinguished military career—and he celebrated 28 years of priesthood in May. He has been a member of the Saint Viator faculty for 15 years, including serving as chair of the social studies department.

He also taught and coached for two years at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas and he helped establish the Viatorian mission in Belize, starting in 1998.

This semester Fr. Hall will teach sections of U.S. History, Global Economics and Contemporary World Issues, along with his administrative role.

Beyond his longevity, Fr. Hall is ideally suited to further the Viatorian identity and mission within the school. Along with serving as a teacher and coach, he plays a key role on the leadership team of the Viatorians, as a member of the Provincial Council and he serves on the board of governors of Saint Viator High School.

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


Meet the new President of Saint Viator High School, Mr. Brian Liedlich.

Mr. Brian Liedlich.

Meet the New President of Saint Viator High School: Mr. Brian Liedlich

Mr. Brian Liedlich.

Mr. Brian Liedlich.

Brian Liedlich has walked through the front doors of Saint Viator countless times as a former administrator, Board of Trustee member, and as a parent. But as of July 1, Mr. Liedlich now enters the building with a new role: president.

“It’s an exciting new chapter for Saint Viator High School,” says Fr. Thomas von Behren, C.S.V., provincial and president of the Saint Viator Board of Governors. “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.”

Mr. Liedlich says he is up to the challenge.

For starters, he is a parent of three alumni: Sarah ’10, Emma ’13, Andrew ’16 and an incoming son, Jack, in 2017. Mr. Liedlich also worked at Saint Viator from 2003 to 2008, serving as Executive Director of Institutional Advancement, working closely with Fr. von Behren.

When he left, Mr. Liedlich remained involved in Catholic education, serving as a managing director of regional development for Marquette University.

Most recently, Mr. Liedlich served as vice president of development with Advocate Health Care and as a member of its leadership team for its charitable foundation.

“Our family’s experiences of being part of the Saint Viator High School and larger Viatorian communities have been life-changing,” Mr. Liedlich says. “I’m blessed to have the chance to work with a talented and dedicated administration and faculty, accomplished and committed trustees and a very supportive and engaged Board of Governors in creating an even brighter future for this wonderful school.”

Mr. Liedlich is a California native, who says he first became aware of the Viatorians more than 20 years ago when his sister’s children were taught by Viatorians at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas. He wanted the same education for his own family.

“Our children take pride in being Lions for Life,” Mr. Liedlich says, “and have become people of service, who actively live out their faith.”

Mr. Liedlich will work closely with Fr. Dan Hall, C.S.V., the newly named Vice President for Viatorian Identity and Mission, as well as the rest of the administration, led by Principal Eileen Manno.

“I look forward to working with Mrs. Manno, our excellent principal, in leading our academic efforts and charting a new course in some exciting areas,” he adds. “I also appreciate Fr. Hall’s willingness to serve in the newly created administrative position, ensuring that the Viatorian charism continues to be at the heart of our school’s mission and is present in all that we do.”


Meet the new Vice President of Viatorian Mission and Identity, Fr. Dan Hall, C.S.V.

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén