Saint Viator News

Delivering the latest news from Saint Viator High School.

Category: Academic Advancement (Page 2 of 6)

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.”

Faculty Members Share Apps that Work at Tech Showcase

IMG_9323On the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, students in accelerated Spanish classes felt as if they traveled from the site of the apparition, at Tepeyac Hill, to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. Using Google Maps, they went right to street level and traced the exact directions for their fellow classmates.

Mr. Kurt Paprocki described the enhanced features of Google Maps to his colleagues, encouraging them to extend learning beyond Saint Viator and down to the street level—and even inside certain locations—expanding the classroom walls.

The presentation was just one of the segments in a Tech Showcase on Tuesday that featured all sorts of programs and applications that teachers are using to enhance learning.

IMG_9331“It’s good for teachers to share best practices,” said Maggie Miskowicz, instructional technology coordinator. “So often, our teachers talk only to their colleagues in their own department. This was a great way to hear what other teachers are using, that works.”

Mr. Cory Jensen shared how Social Studies students are using Esri Story Maps to create works of historical fiction that draw from the program’s collection of maps and geography to tell their story visually. One of his assignments was for students to tell a migration story.

“It allows the student to visualize their journey,” Mr. Jensen said, “in a more dynamic way than say, PowerPoint, which just uses photos and text. These stories can include maps, graphs and video as well as text and photos. As long as it includes locations, you can tell a story.”

Science department teachers shared how to use Google Forms for completing and grading homework assignments as well as ACT prep questions, while English teachers demonstrated how to use TurnItIn to give formative feedback on students’ essays and check for originality.

“I could see using that in my Leaders’ Prep course,” commented Mr. Dan Edminster, physical education teacher.

IMG_9326Speaking of P.E., health instructor, Ms. Lisa Wilson, demonstrated how to use the Fooducate app to read and evaluate food labels, while math teacher, Mrs. Julie Reedy, described how advanced math students are making iMovies to present topics to their classmates. They range from Pascal’s triangle, to graphing transformations and synthetic division.

“The kids are always amazed at how well they have to know what they’re doing in order to make one of these movies,” Mrs. Reedy says. “I think of them as creating tutorials.”

IMG_9316A stop in the art studio proved fascinating as faculty members watched objects being created by the 3-D printers in the art department. Right before their very eyes they watched a three-dimensional red lion come to life.

However, gone are the days when it took 24 hours for a 3-D printer to produce. The department’s two new printers are much faster, says Mr. Bill Faltinoski, fine arts department chairman.

“We can make a red lion in under an hour,” he said.

Two more stops during the showcase featured a demonstration in the religion department of EDPuzzle, the innovative video app, which allows teachers to take any video and adapt it at different stop points with notes and questions for students to answer. Teachers also were intrigued with a brief video on entrepreneurship in the business department.

The Tech Showcase was part of the weekly professional development sessions for faculty members, but Ms. Miskowicz suspects it won’t be the last.

“There are just so many apps to share,” she says. “But for our first time, it was a success.”

AP Italian Students Experience College Class at Loyola

IMG_1944Seniors taking AP Italian know they are working toward earning college credits through Saint Viator’s dual credits program with Loyola University, but last week they got an added bonus: they traveled to Loyola’s lakeshore campus and sat in on two classes.

However, they did more than sit in the back. In an Italian literature class, Bennett Rizner ’18 presented a PowerPoint presentation on a sonnet written in the late 1200s in old Italian, while in another class Joy Bertagna ‘18 and Eleanore Kelleher ’18 actively participated in a grammar review.

IMG_1928Other seniors who made the trip included: Arianna Arthur, Angelica Ingraffia, John Hegerty, Catherine Kelleher, Gina Pieri and Anthony Maraviglia.

“It was fantastic to see how great our kids are,” said Mrs. Mirella Rullo, AP Italian teacher, and native speaker. “I am truly proud.”

Both classes at Loyola were taught by Prof. Anna Clara Ionta, a native Italian speaker and 30-year teacher at Loyola.

“We have planned this day since school started,” added Mrs. Rullo. “We thought that it would be fun for one day to be part of a college class and would translate into a positive experience, especially since they are all seniors.”

IMG_1936AP Italian is just one of the classes participating in the dual credit program with Loyola. Others include AP Biology, AP Math, and AP Spanish. Its teachers are considered adjunct instructors at Loyola, and in fact, Saint Viator’s AP Italian has been designated as Italian 104 at Loyola, where it is required for all language students if they want to enroll in advance classes such as literature.

At Saint Viator, AP Italian students are able to understand and write increasingly complex Italian sentences and paragraphs, and speak coherently about Italy, its cultural distinctness and its differences from the United States.


Saint Viator High School Named Apple School of Distinction

DSC_0009The journey continues. After five years of working to integrate technology into its curriculum, Saint Viator High School now has again been recognized as an Apple Distinguished School for 2017 -2019.

The Apple Distinguished School recognition is reserved for schools that meet criteria for innovation, leadership and educational excellence and demonstrate a clear vision for exemplary learning environments.

“We are grateful to be named an Apple Distinguished School for the second time,” says Principal Karen Love. “It affirms the good work our faculty and students do on a daily basis to transform teaching and learning through creative and innovative outlets.”

“The formation of our students as digital citizens, learning transferable skills, will hopefully make the world a better place,” she adds. “That is what a Viatorian education is all about.”

DSC_0083This is the fifth year of the school’s 1:1 iPad program. As a result, everyone in the building utilizes iPad and 98 percent of all textbooks are available on iPad. Students use apps like iMovie to bring to life to what they have learned, Keynote to present main points of a novel, iStudiez Pro to organize and plan their schedules, to name just a few.

Overall, administrators believe the integration of iPad has proven highly successful with students and teachers alike, who continue to display a new excitement about learning.

Faculty members point to the advances made in their daily data collection as a result of iPad. Teachers can monitor student understanding through a variety of apps, including Examplify, Socrative, Kahoot! and Quizlet.

IMG_2873“These apps allow for quick results, so students and teachers can see strengths and weaknesses almost immediately, and whether students are mastering content and skills,” says Maggie Miskowicz, instructional technology coordinator.

Saint Viator’s commitment to technology permeates many aspects of the school’s environment. MacBook Airs are also used in the computer lab for coding and programming apps as well as AP Computer Science Principles, while iMacs recently were added to the Academic Commons in order to provide students access to Apple technology during their free periods.

Even athletics has embraced technology. Real-time communication apps compile stats and record game plays in baseball, basketball, and football, while the lacrosse team uses a drone during practice and game footage to get a different perspective on plays as well as player strengths.

A rigorous education has been the hallmark of a Saint Viator education, since its inception more than 50 years ago, but administrators continue to look into the future, as they advance the school’s innovative curriculum redesign, which leverages technology—with academics.

Querbes Scholars Try Their Hand at Robotic Surgery

57C11737-F0F7-4599-9C82-B6F238FAD5B1Senior members of the Querbes Scholars program took a test drive last month, and it had nothing to do with driving a new car. Instead, they took a test drive with a robotic simulator, operating the cutting edge da Vinci surgical robot.

For the second straight year, Querbes Scholars interested in science and technology attended a robotics surgical event at Amita Health St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates. Dr. M. Susan Scanlon hosted the event as part of her ScanlonWorks initiatives, aimed at giving students hands-on opportunities in the fields of science and technology.

Specifically, this event gives students an understanding of how technology has advanced the field of surgery in recent years. And that’s just what intrigued these Querbes Scholars.

ED711DBD-DE69-4F05-BB38-FE44340D4062“The technology was fascinating to me, just learning how the machine works,” said Rebecca Wolf ’18. “I’m trying to decide between engineering or medicine, so this was really intriguing to me.”

Her classmate, Drake Imhoff ’18, agreed.

“I’ve dreamed of becoming a doctor all my life,” he said, “so this confirmed my passion.”

The simulation was very realistic, students said. While working with robotic surgeons and surgical nurses, they took control of the robot’s two working instrument arms and one camera arm, as if they were a surgeon conducting a laparoscopic abdominal operation from the next room.

When not doing surgery, they learned how to tie surgical sutures and surgeon’s knots as well as talk to the health professionals who were there.

“I looked at it as career exploration,” said Jeremy Yoder ’18. “I don’t know if doing surgery is for me, but the machine aspect of it was fascinating.”

Querbes Scholars Soak Up Chicago Architecture on Cruise

querbesboatAn architectural cruise along the Chicago River drew all four levels of the Querbes Scholars program to see the city’s skyline from a whole new perspective: on the water.

“The city looks so different when you’re on the water,” said Patrick Burns ’21. “You can really see how the buildings are connected.”

Ritarose Battin ’19, added: “I thought I knew the city so well, but I had never seen it from this view.”

Students and faculty members traveled by bus to Navy Pier, where they boarded a boat operated by Shoreline Cruises and managed by alumni parent, Larry Van der Bosch.

querbes3Their tour guide pointed out historical and architectural landmarks throughout Chicago. Students heard the story of the Great Fire of 1871, which ultimately led to the rebuilding of the city and eventually establishing Chicago as home of the skyscraper.

During the 75-minute tour, students also learned the history behind some of the city’s most prominent buildings, including those designed by famous architects like Helmut Jahn, Mies van der Rohe, and the firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill.

“It was fascinating to learn about the different designs of the buildings and how they reflect the many time periods of Chicago,” said Sara Hankinson ’19.

querbesboat2Freshman Keely McClellan added that she especially enjoyed learning more about the Great Chicago Fire.

“I was intrigued with the story about the Chicago fire and the rebuilding of the city,” Keely said. “It was great to see where it actually took place.”

The cruise 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.

National Merit Semifinalists Announced

Clockwise: Thomas Stanila, Jeremy Yoder, Nicole M, Joyce, Matt

Clockwise: Thomas Stanila, Jeremy Yoder, Nicole Marcinkus, Kevin Joyce, and Matthew Zawilenski.

Saint Viator High School learned Wednesday that five seniors had been named semifinalists by the National Merit Scholarship Program. That’s the most Saint Viator has had since 2014, when they also had five semi-finalists.

Seniors Kevin Joyce, Nicole Marcinkus, Thomas Stanila, Jeremy Yoder and Matthew Zawilenski joined this elite group based on their preliminary SAT scores taken when they were juniors, in 2015.

They emerged from a pool of 1.6 million juniors from 22,000 high schools who took the PSAT that year, which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

Officials with the National Merit Scholarship Program said this year’s semi-finalist pool represents the highest scoring entrants in each state or less than one percent of high school seniors.

“These five students represent academic leadership in our school but also in music and theater and athletics,” says Principal Karen Love. “They are well-rounded representatives of a Saint Viator education that promotes excellence in all that they do.”

These students now will have a chance to advance to the finalist level, and continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million that will be offered next spring.

National Merit Scholarship officials say 90 percent of semifinalists advance to become finalists. They must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by the high school principal, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

Last year, Saint Viator’s three national merit semifinalists all were named finalists and each won a merit scholarship. Zac Jones went on to attend Yale University, while Grace Nessen-Gilligan went to Fordham University and Katilyn Solarz attends the University of Notre Dame.

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