Saint Viator News

Delivering the latest news from Saint Viator High School.

Category: Academic Advancement (Page 1 of 5)

Saint Viator Welcomes Chinese Educators for the Week

Tracy and AllenA pair of teachers from China visited Saint Viator this week to observe American teaching styles and curriculum, and they were surprised at the response they received.

“The teachers and students are very friendly and kind,” said Ms. Yu Ling, an English and humanities teacher. “They see us in the halls and ask if they can help. We feel like superstars.”

Ms. Ling and Mr. Hang Yu Zheng teach at Summit International School, a private school in Chengdu, which is the capital city of the Sichuan Province. In all, they are visiting three American schools to compare methods and scout out potential schools for their students to study abroad.

“I tell my students if you have the chance to come to America, you should,” Mr. Zheng said.

After two days, their observations ran the gamut. Mr. Zheng, who teaches math in China, noticed how much Saint Viator students use their calculators in all levels of mathematics.

“Our teachers do not let students use a calculator since the calculator influences the calculating ability,” Mr. Zheng said. “But when I go back, I will talk about this with our teachers.”

Ms. Ling was delighted to see a pair of programs in English and history classes, that she uses with her students, including Quizlet and Kahoot.

“No matter how old or experienced students are, they still like (learning) games and competition,” Ms. Ling said.

Overall, the Chinese educators said they were impressed with Saint Viator’s students and learning environment.

“In our school, I am the teacher and my students are the audience,” Mr. Zheng said. “Here, it’s more open and active. Students can ask questions and participate.”

Mrs. Rose Ruffatto, who coordinates Saint Viator’s international program, arranged their daily schedule so that they could visit a variety of classes, at different levels, and most included Chinese students in them.

“Our international program has grown over the past few years,” Mrs. Ruffatto said, “so our students are very welcoming and accepting of our international students.

“Meeting these Chinese teachers gives us the opportunity to understand a little more of the education system and culture,” she added, “where some of our current international students come from.”

History Comes Alive for Querbes Scholars on Untouchables Tour

IMG_0488All four levels of Querbes Scholars traveled last week into Chicago for an unforgettable enrichment trip. Literally, when they started their tour at Holy Name Cathedral and learned about a hit on a Northside mobster, that took place on its front steps, they knew this was not just any other tour.

Sure enough, students and their moderators traveled back in time to Prohibition-era Chicago, during the 1920s and ’30s to learn about rival gangsters, think Al Capone, Bugs Moran, and John Dillinger, to name a few, and see some of their hangouts.

Saint Viator students filled up two buses to take the Untouchables Tour, one of Chicago’s Original Gangster Tours, for a firsthand view of the city’s mob era history.

IMG_0492“I liked learning about the criminal history in Chicago, which isn’t what you typically learn,” said Kate Hannon ’21.

Her classmate, Ryan Jusinski ’21, agreed, adding: “To learn about such famous parts of Chicago history that textbooks don’t teach us, was really neat.”

The gangster tour was the first trip of the year for these Querbes Scholars. As part of the academic and enrichment program, scholars leave Saint Viator at least one time each semester for extended learning outside the classroom walls.

These trips, combined with invited speakers and challenging coursework fulfill the program’s mission, which is to foster personal growth, intellectual independence, and faith enrichment.

IMG_0486Matt Rapala ’19 said he was fascinated to learn just how these different mob bosses rose to power: “It was interesting to learn how Chicago was split into factions under the different crime bosses, the Irish, Italian and Sicilian.”

Finally, Allison Bosshart ’19 said that going on the Untouchables Tour opened up a whole new chapter of Chicago history that she was eager to learn more about.

“From listening to our tour guide’s authentic Chicago accent to seeing famous sites, like the Biograph Theater where Jon Dillinger was killed; or the site of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre,” Allison said, “the Untouchables Tour revealed an interesting side of Chicago’s history.”

Saint Viator Celebrates Launch of New Incubator Program

DSC_0007A standing-room only crowd filled a classroom in the Boler Center Tuesday night. Parents, alumni, students and administration members all attended the launch of Saint Viator High School’s newest initiative: its incubator program.

Called INCubator.Edu, the year-long entrepreneurship class will help students conceptualize an idea for a product or service, and take it through development and its business plan, through marketing, financial budgeting and ultimately making a pitch to investors.

“It’s an exciting opportunity and new addition to our curriculum,” said Brian Liedlich, president. “This new class can help students develop critical thinking as well as important, marketable and valuable skills.”

Both he and Principal Karen Love described the new course as one that embodies the school’s vision statement, “Where innovation and tradition meet.” In fact, a mural with that tagline etched across the school’s logo graces the back wall of the classroom.

DSC_0003Fr. Charles Bolser, CSV, former president of the high school who now serves as chaplain, was on hand to bless the incubator. He professed to love the new venture, describing the class and its students as “our future.”

“Seize the day,” he said. “Dreams are our hope, our inspiration, our life.”

David Lyons, a first-year teacher who formerly taught entrepreneurship at York High School in Elmhurst, will be working with John Aiello ’86, who has reached out to the alumni base to serve as coaches and mentors.

Aiello is the former founder, CEO and chairman of SAVO, a cloud-based software company, who after selling his company now teaches entrepreneurship at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.

DSC_0018He and the coaches and mentors he has recruited, are eager to share their unique stories and experience with young students.

“The best innovation ideas do not come from a desire to make money,” Aiello said, “but from a desire to solve a problem.”

Students are brainstorming ideas right now and will begin streamlining the process next week. Soon after, they will divide into groups of four or five and be assigned a mentor, who will meet with them regularly to help advance their business concepts, while coaches will come into class regularly to teach their area of expertise.

Among the students on hand was Anna Haas, who came directly from her volleyball practice.

“I want to major in management in college,” Anna said. “This is a great opportunity to get some business experience before I get to college and just understand how things work.”

DSC_0019Her classmate, Jimmy Hamilton, agreed, adding: “I always wanted to learn about start-ups, and what it takes to develop new ideas to solve problems.”

This is the first year of what administrators hope will be a successful collaboration between young entrepreneurs and their mentors and coaches.

“We’re definitely looking to grow the program,” Mr. Liedlich adds, “and would welcome any additional funding to help us accomplish this.”

Interested supporters should contact Tom Ramsden, director of institutional advancement, at



New Faculty & Staff 2018-2019

Join us in welcoming Saint Viator’s newest faculty and staff members:

Theology Department

Patrick McGarry joins the Theology department from Mount Carmel High School with a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies from Saint Xavier University. Patrick will be teaching Christian Discipleship.

Zach Wulbert comes to Saint Viator after completing his BA in Theology and Secondary Education from Creighton University with field experience in four Catholic schools in the Omaha area. Zach will be teaching Fundamentals of Catholic Faith and Catholic Exploration of the Bible.

Science Department

Neil (Nels) Flink joins the Science department from Wauconda High School with a BS in Chemistry from Northeastern Illinois University and a BA in Communication from the University of Illinois. Nels will be teaching Chemistry.

Rachel Mroz comes to Saint Viator from Trinity High School with a BS in Biochemistry and MA in Teaching from Dominican University. Rachel will be teaching Biology and Mobile Apps.

English Department

Adam Galvez joins the English department from Judge Memorial Catholic High School in Salt Lake City with a BA in English from Gonzaga University and an MA in Education from the University of Portland. Adam will be teaching American Literature and British Literature.

Scanlan Center

Br. Peter Lamick ’07 joins the Scanlan Center as a full-time program assistant after completing his MA in Education and Secondary History at DePaul University. Peter will be teaching Learning Strategies III and IV.

Counseling Department

Claudia Carone comes to Saint Viator from North Cook Young Adult Academy in Des Plaines with a BA in Psychology and Sociology and an MA in School Counseling from Roosevelt University. Claudia will be our Counselor for the Class of 2020.

Fine Arts Department

Joleen Sievers-Kragt joins the Fine Arts Department from Johnsburg High School as our Choral Director and Vocal Musical Director. Joleen has a BA in Music Education from the University of Northern Iowa and an MA of Music in Voice Performance and Opera from Northwestern.

Social Studies Department

Andrew Weber ’12 comes back to Saint Viator from St. Colette with a BA in History and Secondary Education and is working on his MA in Teacher Leadership. Andrew will be teaching World History, Civics and US History.

David Lyons joins Saint Viator from York Community High School with a BS in Business Management and will have an MA in Teaching and Secondary Education in August. David will be teaching US History, Intro to Entrepreneurship, and Personal Business Computing.

Math Department

Katie Anderson joins Saint Viator from Loyola Academy and will be teaching AP Computer Science. She holds BS in Mathematics with Computer Science from Loyola University Chicago and an MS in Mathematical Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Chicago as well as a Teaching Certification Secondary Education with a Mathematics Endorsement from National Louis University.

Assistant Principal

Mike Field joins Saint Viator from Deer Path Middle School in Lake Forest with a BA in American History from DePauw University and an MA in Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University. Mike has taught Social Studies, been the Director of Educational Technology at District 225, and was an Assistant Principal at the 7th & 8th-grade level.

Director of Student Activities

Anne Marie Lowery joins Saint Viator from Loyola Academy with a BA in History and Human Development from Boston College and an MA in International Education from NYU. Anne Marie has taught German and Social Studies, coached basketball and was the Director of Student Activities at Loyola Academy.

Director of Enrollment

Christine Bremner joins Saint Viator from Our Lady of the Wayside as our Director of Enrollment. She has a BS in Elementary Education with a concentration in Biology from the University of Illinois-Champaign. Christine has taught Science and was the Technology Coordinator at Our Lady of the Wayside.

Assistant Director of Enrollment

Patrick Gaeger ’08 comes back to Saint Viator from St. Laurence High School as our Assistant Director of Enrollment. He has a BA in Business Communication and a Masters of Management from Robert Morris University. Patrick was the Admissions Recruiter and Head Lacrosse Coach at St. Laurence.

Return to Oshkosh: Querbes Scholars Immersed in Aviation Engineering

image1For the seventh time, Saint Viator students in the Querbes Scholars Program traveled to Oshkosh, WI, for its world-renown air show, run each year by the Experimental Aircraft Association.

It turned out to be a win-win. Not only did they experience the thrill of seeing so many aircraft in one place, not to mention meeting pilots and engineers, but they accrued service hours toward Saint Viator’s STEM designation since they were immersed in aircraft engineering.

IMG_0380The trip also offers hands-on service opportunities. Students worked with youngsters in the KidVenture area, which is set up in three hangars and offers hands-on activities and learning opportunities, but it turned out that the Saint Viator students learned as much as their pupils.

Mrs. Cate Majka, who teaches physics and moderates one of the Querbes’ homerooms, led the scholars to the annual fly-in convention, which this year drew a record crowd, or more than 600,000 people last week and 10,000 airplanes.

IMG_0370Dan Majka, a former Saint Viator teacher, provided the scholars with their credentials. He serves on the EAA board of directors and he chairs the KidVenture booths.

Their day started out in the morning, when Saint Viator students rolled up their sleeves and taught youngsters how to rivet—construct the standard aviation fastener using state-of-the-art rivet guns—shape props, and check electrical circuits.

“It was so much fun to work with children and learn more about airplanes,” said Katie McManaman ’20. “I was able to learn how carbon fiber is made and other STEM-related topics.”

IMG_0390Madi Walker ’19 agreed: “At KidVenture, I learned about airplane safety and then had the opportunity to share that knowledge and assist children in exploring aeronautical mechanics.”

They capped their day off by watching the air show itself, which showcased F-16 flights and the Blue Angels, as well as historical aircraft, warbirds and acrobatic displays.

IMG_0382“There were so many interesting people and planes, including the helicopters and drones, I would never have experienced without the opportunity to visit AirVenture and KidVenture today,” Brooke Puccini ’19.

Mrs. Majka has organized the trip every year and this time she was accompanied by staff member, Mrs. Donna Benedict.

“It was a long but fun, educational and rewarding day,” Mrs. Majka said. “I really enjoyed watching my students learn how to rivet so they could teach younger kids. It was great to see how excited they were about their volunteering experience and how much fun they had learning about aviation.”

The Sound of Innovation

dm2This past year, the Saint Viator music department upgraded its curriculum to incorporate the latest technology and innovation into the classroom with a Digital Music and Production class.

Led by Director of Bands Vince Genualdi, students in the class explored music composition and recording skills, developing knowledge of the music business, copyright laws, studio recording, and basic music theory needed to create electronic music. The class resulted in a SoundCloud account featuring music composed and performed by the students.

dm3“Over the last year, we’ve been collaborating with some of the industry’s leading artists, sound engineers, and producers. It’s such an amazing opportunity to learn the industry standard and gain real-life perspective and experience regarding this field,” said Genualdi. “The students are exposed to a whole new sector of the music industry and we were able to modernize our program, giving students access to the latest technology.”

New classes like this exemplify Saint Viator’s vision for the future – using the latest technology and innovation in the classroom while adhering to the tradition of academic excellence.

digital music“We thank the alumni and donors whose generosity allows us to continually serve the needs of this generation of students,” said Genualdi. “The tradition of Saint Viator calls upon Lions of the past to ensure innovation and opportunity exist for those in the future.”

Visit Saint Viator’s SoundCloud account and stay up to date on our students’ creativity and innovation and watch for other school updates with the Saint Viator & Sacred Heart Alumni Association Facebook page and LinkedIn group.

Querbes Scholars Expand Classroom Walls with Visit to Chicago Botanic Garden

IMG_3489Saint Viator’s Querbes Scholars hit the road again last month, this time to head to the Chicago Botanic Garden. However, they did more than take a tour. These students came to work, specifically to carry out biodiversity tests on their ponds and prairies.

Freshmen worked with staff and volunteers to conduct water quality tests on some of the garden’s ponds, part of their 81 acres of waterways, while sophomores and juniors conducted biodiversity studies on some of the 15 acres of prairies located within the gardens.

Afterward, each group’s work was combined into one result and conclusions were made as to how healthy and diverse the prairies and ponds are and what can be done to make them more diverse.

IMG_3474Of course, it was not all work and no play. After lunch they enjoyed a 40-minute tram ride across the entire grounds with a tour guide pointing out some of the highlights. As luck would have it, the scholars were there to see Spike, the 8-foot tall corpse flower, bloom. This rare, tropical flower blooms every seven to 10 years, and when it does, it remains open for only 24-36 hours.

“We learned a lot about gardens, flowers, prairies, wetlands and how they are interrelated with wildlife, and why we need healthy biodiverse spaces,” said Mrs. Cate Majka, who accompanied her junior Querbes Scholars, along with Mrs. Julie Reedy, freshmen Querbes Scholars moderator; and Mr. Matt Hynek, who leads sophomore Querbes Scholars.

Students said they found the trip enlightening, adding that they may never look at a garden the same way again, and just how much they found the trip applied to their science classes.

IMG_3479“I appreciated learning about the biodiversity of prairies and looking at diverse plants from all over the world,” said Allison Bosshart ’19.

“It was interesting to learn that scientists have a precise way to determine the biodiversity of a prairie and whether it is healthy or not,” added Matthew Rapala ’19. “I didn’t know it could be actually measured.”

Finally, Katherine Quinn ’19 added how fortunate she was to have the opportunity to go on field trips with the Querbes Scholars.

“The trip helped me to enjoy nature more,” Katherine said, “and to look at grasses and weeds in a whole new way.”

Spring Break Means Travel for Modern World Language Clubs

Think spring break is about rest and relaxation? Think again. Every other year, clubs in Saint Viator’s Modern World Languages Department take trips, extending the classroom walls.

This was the first spring break for Principal Karen Love and she spent it traveling to Coast Rica with Mr, Kurt Paprocki and 14 members of the Spanish Club. While they spent their first day in the capital city of San Jose, they spent the majority of their time in the country’s lush mountains, nature preserves and on its beaches.

IMG_20180329_102334487_HDR“We had lots of active days spent outdoors during our week in Costa Rica,” says Mr. Paprocki, a 2000 Saint Viator graduate who teaches all of the accelerated Spanish classes.

Students saw beautiful waterfalls and unique wildlife at a pair of nature parks before ziplining over the canopy of a cloud forest. They also visited a coffee plantation, where they learned how coffee is produced and about its economic impact and relaxed on the beach.

IMG_20180327_104852876_HDROne of the highlights for the students was visiting a residence for teenage mothers. Many of these young mothers had been abused and because of having a child they could not continue in school or work, which made a big impact on Saint Viator students, who were about the same age.

IMG_0452“In Costa Rica, our students had the opportunity to use what they’ve learned in Spanish class and interact with locals in real-world situations,” Mr. Paprocki said. “We hope this trip sparked an interest in travel and an opportunity to experience the unique Latin American culture.”

At the same time, Mrs. Mirella Rullo and Dean Deborah Scerbicke led members of the Italian Club on a grand tour of Italy. Their trip began in Venice, where they toured a glass factory and saw the city’s major sites, before heading to Verona to see where Juliet appeared on the balcony before a lovesick Romeo and tour the Arena of Verona, where operas are performed.

IMG_2038The group walked the city of Florence, taking in the Medici and Pitti palaces, among other famous sites, and all before visiting the mountain city of Assisi, where they toured the Basilica of Saint Francis and the Basilica of Saint Chiara, before climbing to the top of the Rocca Maggiore fortress.

IMG_2057Rome was their final destination, and they again did a walking tour that included the Pantheon, Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, as well as the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Colosseum all the next day. Their last night, they dined in Rome’s famous Trastevere, where they walked its cobbled streets and took in the buzz of the city.

“Our kids were absolutely wonderful and they made a true effort to speak in the language,” says Mrs. Rullo, a native speaker. “They even asked the local tour guides to speak in Italian!

IMG_2054“All in all, it was a great opportunity to be immersed in another culture,” Mrs. Rullo adds, “utilize our Italian and extend learning outside the classroom walls.”

See more photos from the Costa Rica trip here.

Saint Viator Math Team Qualifies for State Contest

image1It’s official. For the fourth straight year, Saint Viator’s entire math team earned a berth to the state championship, hosted by the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics and taking place at the University of Illinois at Champaign.

Fittingly, the competition will place in the historic Altgeld Hall, home of the mathematics department, in the heart of the campus.

Saint Viator’s team advanced as a result of placing third at regionals, held Feb. 24 at Niles West High School, and finishing 7th overall in its division of 63 teams.

image3 (1)“The whole team worked hard all year to prepare for this competition, and we are looking forward to a strong performance at state,” says Mrs. Cheryl Nowak, who coaches the team along with Ms. Brigette Brankin and Fr. Arnold Perham, CSV.

In particular, she credited team captains Thomas Stanila and Marcus Lannie, with setting the bar for excellence.

image3“These two gentlemen worked very closely with Fr. Perham to prepare for the difficult oral event, and they did a fantastic job presenting during the regional competition,” Mrs. Nowak added. They follow in the footsteps of last year’s oralists, Orest Byskosh and Patrick Harris, who won the state title.

Here’s how Saint Viator’s team did it this year:

  • The calculator team took first, paced by team members: Daniel Fecko. Marcus Lannie, Joanne Jun, and Thomas Stanila
  • The oral team of Marcus Lannie and Thomas Stanila placed second
  • The pre-calculus team took second, led by Yiran Liu (3rd)
  • The algebra 2 team placed second led by Amy Gao (3rd)
  • The frosh/soph 8-person team placed second. Team members include: May Liu, Nora Tang, Matthew Onischuk, Eric Ryu, Esther Moon, Juanxiang Tao and Elaine Lyu
  • The junior/senior 2-person team also placed second, led by Hanger Yang and Tiffany Song
  • May Liu took 3rd in algebra I
  • Eric Ryu took 1st in geometry

Here are the rest of the team members who competed:

  • Algebra 1 Team: May Liu, Nora Tang, Matthew Onischuk
  • Geometry Team:  Daniel Fecko, Eric Ryu, Esther Moon, Angel Cheng, Elaine Lyu and Jianxiang Tao
  • Algebra 2 Team:  Ella Shi, Amy Gao, Tiffany Song,  Hanger Yang, Yiran Liu and Marcus Lannie
  • Pre-Calculus Team:  Thomas Stanila, Joanne Jun, Will Sheriff, Ben Rizner, Yiran Liu and Alice Wang
  • Frosh/Soph 2 person team:  Eric Ryu, Angel Cheng
  • Junior/Senior 2 Person Team:  Hanger Yang, Tiffany Song
  • Junior/ Senior 8 Person Team:  Ella Shi, Amy Gao, Alice Wang, Ben Rizner, Will Sheriff and Yiran Liu

Saint Viator Senior Earns Second Perfect Score

Stanila_ThomasThomas Stanila ’18 already had a perfect ACT score in his repertoire, but one of the colleges he applied to needed his score from the writing test in order to consider his application.

“You can’t just take the writing portion, so I had to take it all over again, this time with the writing,” Thomas says.

No sweat. He not only got a perfect 12 in the writing test but he, in fact, bettered his perfect score from last year. In 2017, he earned a 35 out of 36 in reading, but his overall composite score was a 36. This time, Thomas earned a perfect score in every subject area.

Here’s hoping that the one college who asked for his writing test score, Harvard University, finds him worthy of admission.

Thomas has little time to dwell on his accomplishment. On Tuesday, he earned a second place individual medal in biology while competing with Saint Viator’s Academic Team at the Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering regional.

One week before that, Thomas and Marcus Lannie ’19, took second in the oral competition, hosted by the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics and now they await state berth consideration.

Through it all, he credits his Saint Viator experience with helping him develop his love of learning.

“In my classes, I learned to take a more analytical look at the text and to look for a deeper meaning,” Thomas says. “That was cultivated here. I really think the rigor of the coursework helped me succeed.”

Thomas manages a heavy academic load of five AP courses, as well as an online course in multi-variable calculus, after completing Saint Viator’s highest course, calculus BC last year. He also serves as world editor on the Viator Voice, and when he’s not in school, he performs in the Elgin Youth Symphony on violin.

As for college, he plans to major in biology with an ultimate goal of going to medical school, but his dreams all began at Saint Viator.

“It’s such a rigorous academic environment, and all my teachers have encouraged me to cultivate my skills,” he says, “but through service, I’ve learned that it is equally as important to apply those skills to the world.”

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