One of Saint Viator’s most prestigious awards announced at graduation, reached a milestone this year. The Christopher Cup, created in memory of Christopher Erdmann ‘68, who passed away from leukemia during his senior year, turned 50 this year.
Its latest recipient, Jeremy Yoder ’18, was recognized during commencement exercises and his name will be the 50th to be etched on the historic cup. Formerly, the trophy sat on a pedestal in the president’s office, but it now sits on display in the school’s main hallway, along with a portrait of its latest recipient.
Turns out, that’s all there is room for: 50 names.
“I can’t imagine that it won’t continue,” says Fr. Mick Egan, CSV, ’69, former president of the school and chairman of its board of governors. “In my mind, it is the oldest and most prestigious award the school gives.”
The award was created in 1968 by Erdmann’s parents after the loss of their son, who passed away in the fall of his senior year, on Oct. 1, 1967, at Oak Park Hospital.
According to an archived story in the Daily Herald from 1968, George Erdmann and his wife donated the trophy “to show our appreciation to the school, faculty, and students in the hopes that a perpetual trophy would be a reminder and inspiration.”
The first recipient was Gary Rogowski, who ran track, played football, served on Student Council and in the Sodality Club, as well as on the yearbook and newspaper staffs, and was an honor roll student.
Rogowski now lives in Portland, Oregon, where he designed custom furniture for 25 years before he opened The Northwest Woodworking Studio, where he teaches classes and continues to promote the art medium. He majored in literature in college and for 15 years was a contributing editor to Fine Woodworking magazine.
His most recent literary pursuit was a book, “Handmade: Creative Focus in an Age of Distraction.” In it, he describes how the discipline of working with one’s hands to create beautiful things, shapes the builder into a more complete human being.
Fifty years later, Rogowski still remembers winning the Erdmann Award at his 1968 graduation ceremony.
“It was a big deal and I’m quite proud of it,” he says. “Of course, I didn’t know the history of it or what it would become.”
In thinking back to his days at Saint Viator, Rogowski points to Fr. Arnold Perham, CSV, as his favorite teacher. In fact, Rogowski vividly remembers competing on the math team, moderated then by Fr. Perham.
“I use math a lot with my students now and I often think of Fr. Perham,” Rogowski adds. “He had an openness to education and was able to communicate without talking down to people. He was a huge influence on me.”
Ironically, Jeremy also worked with Fr. Perham, who continues to tutor math team members and create projects for Querbes Scholars, of which Jeremy was one. Jeremy also was an active member of Student Council and Link Crew, as well as the academic team. He had principal roles in the musical, played trumpet in the band and most recently qualified for state in the long jump. He will attend the University of Notre Dame this fall, following his brother, Matt, ’14.
In announcing the first recipient, the Daily Herald described its requirements as a senior who “best exemplifies the ancient legend of St. Christopher and the living tradition of St. Viator.”
Over the years, the award has grown to recognize a student who has taken active involvement and leadership in the improvement of Saint Viator High School.
The cup itself was designed by Persin & Robbin Jewelers in Arlington Heights and had room for winners from 50 graduating classes.
Over the years, the selection process has not changed. Seniors vote for the recipient during the first round that narrows it down to the top five, from which faculty members vote to determine the winner.