Saint Viator News

Delivering the latest news from Saint Viator High School.

Category: Student Accomplishments (Page 1 of 14)

Holiday Giving Nears Record for Payton Toy Drive

file-6It’s a wrap! Saint Viator families once again gave generously to a holiday toy drive that has a long tradition in the school: the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation Holiday Gift Drive.

The drive is named for Hall of Fame Chicago Bear and former Saint Viator parent, Walter Payton. His son, Jarrett, graduated from Saint Viator in 1999 and he continues to be an ambassador for the school.

For the last 14 years, Saint Viator students have worked to help the foundation distribute toys to children in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, as well as individual families and the families of veterans in need

This year, Emma Abrahamian ’19, Tara Valentino ’20 Jack Ziebka, ’21, Maeve McDonough, ‘22 and Jasmyn Alaba ‘22 led the drive as class leaders. Together with ICC Co-Presidents Emma Hogaboom ’19 and Danny Thompson ’19, they began fundraising for the project as far back as Halloween.

According to Mrs. Anne Marie Lowery and Mrs. Cathy Abrahamian, who moderated the drive, students and faculty raised nearly $2,500. From those funds, each class was able to purchase toys while faculty members purchased new bicycles.

Students and their families also donated individual toys and stuffed animals. In fact, it was a common sight to see teens walking into school with bags of gifts.

“So many students came to school in the morning with their Target, Kohl’s, or Walmart bags,” Mrs. Lowery said, “and placed their purchased items in the collection boxes, with pride.

“As we sorted through them I was so proud to see the variety of items,” she added. “It was clear that they had put great care into choosing a present a child would enjoy.”

When the drive ended on Nov. 30, students and their families had filled 25 large boxes of toys and seven bicycles, including two which were donated. Last week, on the delivery date, student leaders filled four pick-up trucks, two cars and an SUV to the brim with toys.

For Mrs. Lowery, who is in her first year as Student Activities Director at Saint Viator, she was amazed at just how much students got into the drive and worked to make Christmas merry for other children.

“Their spirit of generosity,” Mrs. Lowery said, “just blew me away.”

Congratulations to all Mu Alpha Theta Inductees

20181115_192010Last month, Saint Viator held its second annual Mu Alpha Theta Induction Ceremony.

Mu Alpha Theta is a national math honor society that was formed in 1957 at the University of Oklahoma. The society is dedicated to inspiring keen interest in mathematics, developing strong scholarship in the subject, and promoting the enjoyment of mathematics in high school and two-year college students.

Congratulations to the following students for distinguishing themselves in mathematics by achieving top grades and by participating in
math competitions:
Elise Bollard ’20
Andrew Bremner ’20
Shiyun Cheng ’20
Thomas Consterina ’19
Alexandra Marie DiMarco ’20
Yunrui Huang ’19
Chenhong Huang ’20
Daniel Kim ’20
Yinan Lyu ’20
Bryce McDonnell ’20
Katherine McManaman ’20
Yewon Moon ’20
Nate Peters ’19
Jooyoung Ryu ’20
Nicholas Surdo ’19
Jianziang Tao ’20
Xiwei Yuan ’20
Yi Zhu ’19

Special thanks to Marcus Lannie, Matthew McManaman and Sumin Yu for assisting with the induction ceremony.

Cross Country Teams Return to State Meet

DqxLgyRUwAApWc9The boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams left with a bang on Wednesday for the IHSA state finals. Literally, Saint Viator’s drum line led them through the hallways as teachers and students alike cheered on these state-bound runners.

After the excitement, the two teams and their coaches boarded buses bound for Detweiler Park in Peoria, where the state finals will take place on Saturday. Coach Wayne Edeleman leads both the girls’ and boys’ teams, with the help of assistant coaches Bill Stanczak, John Curtin and Trisha Stapleton.

While both teams have run at the state meet before, this year’s berths are special, their coaches say.

“The girls embraced one another, starting with June summer camp, and they are now reaping the rewards of morning runs and tempo runs, with a run at Detweiller Park on Saturday,” says Coach Stanczak.

The boys’ team lost five seniors off last year’s state team, and they feared they might not make it out of sectionals, Stanczak adds.

“Their regional and sectional championships came through hard work and determination,” Coach Stanczak adds, “and the energy of a freshman runner (Mike Schumacher) who split the lead running role with Patric Natindim.”

Dqid0DhXgAE4kPUEven though the boys’ team made it to state last year, this year’s team won its first sectional title in program history. In all, Saint Viator boys are making their seventh state appearance, all coming since 2011.

At last weekend’s sectional, the Lions were led by Mike Schumacher (10th, 16:44), Matt Goss (15th, 16:58.5), Patrick Natindim (16th, 16:59.5), Jason Doland (25th, 17:24.4), Patrick Schumacher (27th, 17:27.3), Nathan Kochera (56th, 18:08.6) and Connor Flynn (58th, 18:15.1). Also accompanying them to state are Dan Bottcher, and Richard Varvara.

The girls’ team is just as strong. They qualified for state for the fourth time in program history and second year in a row, while also winning regionals. Among recent years, they also have qualified for state in 2009 and 2012,

Leading the Lions and heading to state are Katie Castelli (4th, 18:44.5), Payton McDonnell (5th, 19:09.9), a four-time state qualifier, Joy Bergstrom (7th, 19:39.4), Maura Hogaboom (16th, 20:30.5), Mary Grace Hegberg (17th, 20:30.6), Claire Bottcher (18th, 20:32.6) and Mia Rafferty (33rd, 21:41.3). Alternates also making the trip are: Sophis Limberakis, Celia Carnel, Natalie Krause, and Holly Ferrara.

Saint Viator Announces National Merit Semifinalist and Commended Students

Hogaboom_MauraMaura Hogaboom ’19, just added another feather to her cap: She was named a semifinalist by the National Merit Scholarship Program. Her distinction as a National Merit semi-finalist comes on top of her achievement last spring of earning a perfect score on the ACT.

This high achieving student also runs cross country and plays soccer in the spring, while performing in the musical during the winter. Among her many club activities, she participates in Saint Viator’s Justice League and Students Against Destructive Decisions and serves as co-president of the Interclass Council.

Maura now will have the 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.

NMSThat’s not all. Saint Viator also learned that 11 seniors had been named National Merit commended scholars. They include Ritarose Battin, Allison Bosshart, Thomas Constertina, Zachary Evans, Nikolas Hohlweg, Marcus Lannie, Nicholas McCaulley, Matthew McManaman, Brooke Puccini, Nicholas Surdo and Kevin Wilhite.

They received letters of commendation from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, in recognition of their outstanding academic promise.

“These students represent the Saint Viator community with a strong work ethic and a high level of engagement in a rigorous course load,” says Mrs. Karen Love, principal. “All 12 seniors are Querbes Scholars and future leaders wherever they land.”

NMS2Mrs. Love adds that these students represent not only academic leadership at school, but also in their involvement in school, in activities that include music, theater, and athletics.

“They are well-rounded representatives of a Saint Viator education,” Mrs. Love says, “who promote excellence in all that they do.”

They joined this elite group based on their preliminary SAT score, taken when they was juniors, in 2017. 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 semifinalist pool represents the highest scoring entrants in each state or less than one percent of high school seniors.

Come See Shakespeare in a Whole Nutty, er New Way

IMG_8785 (2)Saint Viator’s fall play features madcap comedy, wacky double entendres, improvisation and even audience participation. And did we mention that it’s Shakespeare?

That’s right, this cast of more than 40 students, divided into two casts, tackle all 37 works of Shakespeare, in 97 minutes. Officially, the play is called The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), but Mrs. Kate Costello, director, refers to it simply as, Shakespeare in a Nutshell.

IMG_9090 (2)“It’s like Monty Python meets William Shakespeare,” Mrs. Costello says.

Costello has directed Saint Viator students in three prior Shakespeare works, including Romeo and Juliet, and twice in a Midsummer’s Night Dream, but this abridged version looks at the Bard in a completely different way.

IMG_8571“It’s a wonderful comedy that pokes fun at the playwright I love,” Mrs. Costello adds. “It’s the same reason I love Forbidden Broadway revues, that parody current show tunes.”

The play opens with a spoof of Romeo and Juliet, including a fight between the Capulets and Montagues, before Romeo recites his famous lines from the balcony scene.

IMG_9218For Austin Jones ’21, who shares the role with Chris Sevilla ’20, he follows in the footsteps of his brother, Zac Jones ’17, who played Romeo four years ago.

“It’s fun to say these lines, but in a different way,” Austin says. “It gives new meaning to Shakespeare.”

IMG_8522Students in the cast come from all grade levels, including freshmen, who have never encountered Shakespeare before going out for this show.

Take Michelle Nagle ’22. She shares the role of Horatio with Livie Augustine ’20. Both have had to learn to deliver their lines as a rapper, which Michelle estimates is more than 20 lines.

“It’s been difficult to tackle Shakespeare and kind of hard to understand what we’re saying and meaning,” Michelle says. “But the script overall is teaching me more about Shakespeare and his writing.”

IMG_8289 (2)James McManus ’19 and Daniel Ornelas ’20 are charged with delivering an actual monologue from Hamlet in the show’s second act. It’s one of the only straight scenes in the show and both students say they are enjoying the chance to perform real Shakespeare.

“It took a while to master (the iambic pentameter),” James says. “It’s so different from anything we’ve ever done. But once you get it, it’s poetic, and I’m enjoying the challenge.”

IMG_8844 (2)Mrs. Costello says she chose the show, in part, because the works from Shakespeare mirror some of their class material. But she also knew she had the students to pull it off.

“We have some of the most clever, witty character actors our school has had in years,” she says. “They have been able to tackle some very challenging material and comic timing.”

Saint Viator figure skater to be recognized by U.S. Figure Skating Association

image2After four years of training, including getting on the ice as early as 5:30 a.m. for lessons and heading to the rink immediately after school, Jessica Johnson ’19 is getting her just rewards.

This month, Jessica learned from the U.S. Figure Skating Association that she had reached the Platinum level or the highest level of skating in its graduating seniors’ program.

The USFSA created the program to recognize achievements of skaters who are graduating from high school after maintaining their figure skating training while pursuing their academic studies.

Jessica and her family acknowledge Saint Viator administrators with helping her to reach this distinction.

“Thank you again for being so supportive of Jessica’s skating and all the absences due to travel that she’s endured for competition,” her mother, Leanne Johnson, wrote to school officials. “It’s very much appreciated!”

To earn the distinction, Jessica had to pass all the moves in the field at the senior level, as determined by the USFSA, and be an international competitor. Check and check!

Jessica skates with the Chicago Jazz Synchronized Skating Team, based in Rolling Meadows. Just last year, she advanced to its highest team, the juniors, which took her to international competitions in Scotland and Sweden.

This year, she and her team will compete at the USFSA national championships in January in Detroit, while her team awaits their international destination for this spring.

Jessica has been skating since she was 3 years old and has been involved in synchronized skating for the last 13 years. Not surprisingly, she hopes to continue her passion for the sport in college, at Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan, where synchronized skating is a varsity sport.

“Moving to the junior level last year was a big jump,” Jessica says. “I had to get used to the speed and higher level of difficulty, but now I’m used to it. I just love the feeling of being on the ice, of the speed and precision, and just being part of a team.”

image3While competing at the next level collegiately and internationally is Jessica’s next goal, her ultimate dream would be to skate in the Olympics.

It’s not a pipedream. The USFSA recently re-applied with the International Olympic Committee to accept the sport. While synchro won’t be in the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, there is still a chance it will appear in the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.

According to reports, the International Olympic Committee will make the decision after the 2018 Games. Jessica, who would be a junior in college in 2022, is hopeful!

Three Saint Viator Students Chosen for Highly Competitive District Music Festival

Jonathan Ngoy

Jonathan Ngoy

After months of preparations, three fine arts students learned recently that they are among an elite group. Jonathan Ngoy ’21, Daniel Fecko ’20 and Caroline Lavender ’19 all have been selected to represent Saint Viator High School at the Illinois Music Education Association District 7 Music Festival on Nov. 10.

“Auditions are highly competitive,” says Mrs. Joleen Kragt, choral director, “where students are judged on the performance of challenging repertoire, sight reading, scales, and triads.”

The district festival takes place at New Trier High School and will feature the best band and choral students from the North and Northwest suburbs. Being selected is something like making it to sectionals in a sporting event since students now are eligible to be considered for selection to the All-State Festival, which takes place in January in Peoria.

Caroline Lavender

Caroline Lavender

“Earning acceptance takes a high level of commitment and a strong work ethic,” says Mr. Vince Genualdi, director of bands. “These students have proven their dedication and commitment to a high caliber of music performance.”

He points to Jonathan Ngoy, the only band member to advance. Jonathon plays trombone in Saint Viator’s symphonic band, and he recently was accepted into the Chicago Youth Symphony’s concert orchestra.

At the district festival, he will take his seat with other talented band students from across northern Illinois. Together, they will rehearse and perform under the direction of Dr. Elizabeth Peterson, associate director of bands and clinical professor of music at the University of Illinois in Champaign.

“Jonathan is a passionate musician who takes his craft seriously,” Mr. Genualdi adds. “He has proven to be a great musician and leader within the ensemble. We’re very proud of his work thus far, and we’re very excited to see how he progresses in the years to come.”

Daniel Fecko

Daniel Fecko

At the same festival, Daniel Fecko and Caroline Lavender will represent Saint Viator’s choral programs. Both are talented vocalists, who participate in many of the school’s choral offerings, musicals, and including its new show choir. These well-rounded students also compete in sports as well.

“Besides having beautiful voices, solid musicianship and strong work ethics, students who enter these competitions need a certain tenacity as we are up against schools several times bigger than we are,” Mrs. Kragt adds. “Both of these students possess those necessary characteristics and are just terrific people as well.”

Caroline is a part of “The Revelations” show choir and music ministry, while also competing on the girls’ golf team. Just last summer, she added another feather to her cap by earning a perfect score on the ACT.

Meantime, Daniel anchors Saint Viator’s new men’s a cappella ensemble, The Viatones, singing bass, and he also performs in the Chamber Singers. When he’s not singing, he plays soccer in the fall and volleyball in the spring.

At the festival, both students will be performing under the direction of Dr. Eric Esparza, director of choral activities and vocal area coordinator at DePaul University, in a difficult program that ranges from spirituals and gospel to a romantic ballad.

Saint Viator Golfer Leads Team to ESCC Championship

CrawfordTimmy Crawford ’19 has been medaling at IHSA golf tournaments since his freshman year, but now as a senior co-captain, his golf game took on a new challenge.

“It’s a different kind of pressure,” Timmy says. “Now, as a senior, I know I’m expected to medal.”

And medal he did, at last week’s ESCC conference meet. Timmy earned the first-place medal, for the second time in four years, and led his team to a conference championship. He is the first in Saint Viator’s boys’ golf program to take first in conference, two times.

“It’s a pretty awesome achievement,” says Coach Jack Halpin, of Timmy, who scored a 70 at the tournament, or two under par.

Timmy’s latest medal capped a season where he finished in the top five in every tournament and took first in four of them. Over the summer, he competed in American Junior Golf Association tournaments in Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, South Carolina, and Wisconsin, and all before prospective college coaches looking on.

Still, he says, if there’s one thing he’s learned during his four years in Saint Viator’s golf program, it’s that it’s not about individual honors.

“Playing at Saint Viator has taught me a ton about the team aspect of the sport,” Timmy says. “Before my freshman year, all I did was play for myself, but now I realize that every shot counts toward the team score. You want to play better to help the team.”

Timmy grew up playing golf with his grandfather, Bob Brehm, and his uncles, including Greg Brehm ’79, and so along with his love of basketball, he knew he wanted to play golf in high school and beyond.

In order to advance his game, Timmy works out in the weight room at Saint Viator, while playing four to five times a week indoors during the offseason. He also works with John Perna ’00, who played golf for Coach Halpin and later at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Perna now runs a golf academy, TPS Player Service, where he trains professional, collegiate and top junior players. At his Downers Grove facility, he and his staff work with players to understand ball flight physics while improving performance under the most intense tournament pressure.

“It’s not golf instruction, it’s golf training,” Timmy says. “He uses a launch monitor to measure our ball flight and other technology to help with putting while helping with the mental aspect of the game and course management.”

Still, Timmy and his teammates have more pressing things on their mind than mechanics. They hope to advance out of regionals, which take place Tuesday at Old Orchard Country Club in Prospect Heights.

“We finished second last year at the state championships,” Timmy says. “This year our goal is to get back to the state championships, and this time win it.”

Alumna Wins Animation Award as part of the 70th Annual Emmy Awards

Photo by Invision/AP.

Photo by Invision/AP.

As far back as she can remember, Barbara Benas ’06 has loved to draw, and as a teen, she attended classes at the School of the Art Institute while attending Saint Viator. Consequently, when it came time to think about college, she knew just what she wanted to pursue: fine arts, and in particular, animation.

She would go on to attend the Columbus College of Art & Design, one of the oldest art schools in the country, where she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in animation, in 2010.

1019_001Benas has worked in the animation field ever since and her passion for the medium paid off: Earlier this month, Benas was part of a team of animators who won an award for outstanding individual achievement in animation. Specifically, Benas and her team won the award for outstanding motion design for their work on the Comedy Central show, Broad City, and its episode, called “Mushrooms.”

Benas accepted her award at the Creative Arts Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, as part of the 70th annual Emmy Awards, which took place a little over one week later.

Mr. Matt Gruenfeld remembers having Benas in his Art 2 class and that she participated in the National Art Honor Society.

“She was a gifted art student during her time here at Saint Viator,” Mr. Gruenfeld said. “It’s good to see she found success in a career creating art.”

Barbara Benas-Animation Emmy 2018Benas now lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she works as a freelance animator. She also serves as an adjunct professor at her alma mater, the Columbus College of Art & Design.

While her primary specialty is hand-drawn animation, she has adapted with the industry and uses such digital tools as Flash, Photoshop, TV Paint and After Effects. With Saint Viator’s state of the art fine arts department, students now explore these same tools in such classes as Introduction to Adobe Photoshop and iPad Media Arts.

It’s all part of Saint Viator’s vision statement: where tradition and innovation meet.

New Show Choir Strikes All the Right Chords

DSC_0027Auditions just wrapped up for Saint Viator’s newest choral ensemble: The Revelations, a co-curricular show choir, and the excitement is contagious.

More than 50 students tried out for this high-energy, vocal performance ensemble, which includes choreography as well as dynamic singing on a grand scale. In all, more than 40 students will participate during this inaugural year.

Saint Viator’s new choral director, Mrs. Joleen Kragt, brought the idea to the school. She has been involved with show choirs at Fenton and Johnsburg high schools, as well as volunteered at Hersey High School’s Chicagoland Showcase and show choir camps at Millikin University in Decatur, IL.

DSC_0004“When I looked at the talent we have here, I realized we have super dynamic kids, who wanted to create something even more musical and they’re so happy doing it,” Mrs. Kragt says.

That excitement was palpable at their first rehearsal Tuesday night, when they learned of the music they will perform this semester. They range from Broadway, pop and swing selections to their finale from “The Greatest Showman.”

“I like to sing and I like to dance, so this is good combination,” said Ava Zawilenski ’21.

DSC_0007Freshman Julia Domagala is one of the few members who has performed in a show choir before auditioning. While in middle school, she performed with Center Stage, based in Arlington Heights.

“It’s exhilarating to perform on stage with such a large group,” Julia said. “There’s just so much energy that you can’t get from just dancing or singing alone. When you put them all together, it’s pretty exciting.”

Principal Karen Love welcomed this new fine arts opportunity for Saint Viator students, but already she has been surprised at how much excitement it has generated.

“Show Choir has created a buzz at Saint Viator,” Mrs. Love says, “and we’re excited to share the journey with this talented group of students.”

DSC_0018Mrs. Kragt stresses that while they build the program in this first year, The Revelations will not compete. Instead, look for the group to perform at school events and out in the community.

“They’re just learning the ropes,” she says. “And it’s not just the choreography. Show choir is a vocal style that is much more dynamic and broader than traditional choral music. Everything is amped up.”

Mrs. Kragt stresses that this new vocal ensemble offers more than a new performance venue for students.

“Students not only blossom in their musical abilities, but they gain a huge amount of confidence,” she says. “We call it, the show choir swagger.”

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