Saint Viator News

Delivering the latest news from Saint Viator High School.

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Faculty Members Complete Service for the Marginalized

IMG_0542A quiet tradition played out earlier this month when faculty members gathered in Querbes Hall to pack sack lunches for the homeless, served by Catholic Charities.

Faculty and staff are committed to regularly completing some kind of hands-on service. Each month, they alternate between volunteering for Catholic Charities in Des Plaines and serving a hot meal to those served by Journeys from PADS to Hope in Arlington Heights.

As Catholic educators at Saint Viator, they are carrying out part of the Viatorian charism, which is to embrace “those accounted of little importance.”

IMG_0543“We are walking in the footsteps of Fr. Querbes,” says Mrs. Rita King, who coordinates the adult faith formation program with Mrs. Ann Perez, a fellow religion teacher and Viatorian associate.

For this month’s project, faculty members signed up in advance to contribute sandwiches, fruit, beverages, individually wrapped snacks or desserts. They then worked in assembly-line fashion to pack the lunches after school.

The lunches are meant to compliment Catholic Charities’ evening suppers, which feed an average of 100 every Tuesday and Thursday night. Since the center does not provide them with a dinner every day, they receive a sack lunch on their way out, so they have food the next day.

IMG_0540While faculty members are not required to participate, more than 40 percent do, Mrs. King reports. The monthly service projects are an extension of the wider faith formation program, which also offers regular prayer services, quarterly family Masses, more service opportunities and even a Lenten book club.

These experiences are provided in order to offer faculty members, as well as parents and alumni, ways to foster personal and spiritual growth as part of a wider faith community.

“As a Catholic Christian community,” Mrs. King adds, “Saint Viator is committed to proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ through our words and our actions.”

Inaugural Pat Mahoney Golf Classic a Hole in One

IMG_1198Saint Viator’s inaugural Pat Mahoney Golf Classic welcomed alumni, friends and Mahoney fans from his nearly 50-year history with the school. 7o guests came out to Old Orchard Country Club to support “the man, the myth, the legend” and raise funds for the Alumni Scholarship Endowment for legacy students, which provides critical tuition assistance for second and third generation Lions.

“Pat Mahoney was an integral part of our school for a long time and is still a mentor to many of us today. Thus, we can’t think of a better way to honor him than with this outing,” said Tom Ramsden, Vice President of Development.

IMG_1188Before the group teed off, Mahoney thanked everyone for being there and encouraged them to continue supporting Saint Viator. He stressed that the school has not changed over the years. It remains the same loving, caring community he joined in 1967 and he’s forever proud to be a part of it.IMG_1209

While on the course, golfers participated in hole-in-one, longest drive, and closest to the pin contests. There was also a ball launcher on hand that propelled balls toward the pin.

After the 18 holes, guests enjoyed a happy hour and then ended the day with awards.

Thank you to the Saint Viator and Sacred Heart of Mary Alumni Association, including chair, Rhonda Starr ’87, Jim Bristol ’73, our alumni chaplain, Fr. Charlie Bolser, Jason Kuffel ’99, our athletic director, and Bill Senchuk, parent of three alumni, for all their help and support in promoting the event. Finally, to all who joined us, thank you for coming and supporting Saint Viator High School!




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.”

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.”

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.

Volleyball Teams Hold 10th Annual Volley For a Cure

DSC_0011Bright pink camouflage T-shirts dominated the Cahill gym on Wednesday. Literally, players of every level of girls’ volleyball donned the shirts, as well as their opponents, the Wheeling Wildcats, their coaches, the referees, officials at the scorer’s table and even fans in the stands.

Add in all the decorations around the gym—from balloons, ribbons and the pink electronic sign, to a banner that people could sign—it was a total pink-out!

For the 10th year, Saint Viator’s girls’ volleyball team partnered with the IHSA in a fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, whose mission is to end breast cancer, forever.

“Working for a cause like this makes us stronger as a team,” said Kate Nottoli ’19, co-captain, “but working with another school shows us all that we can make a difference.”

Both Nottoli and her co-captain, Carrie Leazer ’19, led the 65 girls in the Saint Viator program in all aspects of the event, from designing and selling more than 300 T-shirts, to obtaining prizes for the raffle baskets, decorating the gym and even spray painting their hair pink.

“This is one of the highlights of the season for us,” Leazer said. “It’s just he best environment, with everyone feeling so passionately about this cause.”

DSC_0026Coach Charlie Curtin is in his 17th year as head varsity coach, and his teams have participated every year since the IHSA began the event. In his case, the cause is personal, since his mother died of the disease when he was 12 years old.

“As I’ve gone on in coaching, I realize it’s more than what happens on the court,” Coach Curtin said. “It’s the life lessons, about helping others and realizing the impact of what they’re doing on the court that can have such a positive effect on someone else.”

This was the first year the Lions partnered with Wheeling High School on the event and Wildcat Coach Jason Kopkowski said his team was thrilled to participate. Each girl raised money for the cause and the volleyball program matched their proceeds.

DSC_0003In the end, he expected the Wildcats to donate $1,000 toward the joint contribution from Wheeling and Saint Viator to the Susan B. Komen Foundation.

“I love the fact that my players are involved in something larger than themselves,” Coach Kopkowski said. “As female athletes, they should be involved in this cause that celebrates and honors those fighting breast cancer.”

Alumni Update: Katie Barrett Ford ’89

katie fordAlumni Profile: Katie Barrett Ford ’89

Favorite high school memory: Powder Puff of senior year

Faculty member who influenced you the most: Madame Rowley, French teacher

College: University of Dayton, BA Marketing and French

Current workplace & position: Chief Client Officer at Amobee, a global marketing technology company that provides innovative data-driven cross-channel digital advertising solutions for the world’s leading agencies and brands

What you like most about what you are doing now: Learning the adtech side of advertising business. I spent 23 years of my career on the media agency side of business with Publicis media and I now get to work with amazing engineers to create what is next in the digital advertising space.

Biggest lesson learned in your career to date: Dream big and never doubt yourself and the courage you have to overcome challenges. Always be your authentic self and never make trade-offs from your core values.

How does what you are doing now compare to what you thought you would be doing when you graduated high school? I wanted to be in the advertising business so I am in the industry that I thought but didn’t have any idea about how digital would transform the industry and our lives, and never imagined that I would be crafting the future of digital advertising. We didn’t even have cell phones until post-college so it has been a significant transformation in past 20 years.

Family: Living in Arlington Heights with my husband and three wonderful children ages 12, 10 and 5. I am truly blessed.

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.”

Interfaith Dinner for Peace Fills Querbes Hall

IMG_0211One week before the 17th anniversary of 9/11, a potluck dinner took place at Saint Viator High School that was designed for students and adults alike to learn about other cultures and faith traditions, while building bridges toward peace.

Called a “Potluck for Peace,” the dinner was hosted by members of the Children of Abraham Coalition, which includes Saint Viator students, as well as those from Jewish and Muslim communities. Fr. Corey Brost, CSV, started the movement in 2011.

IMG_0198“We can’t stop all the religious-based hate in the world, but we can do our part,” Fr. Brost says. “We can be people of peace in our corner of the world, especially on Sept.11, a day that showed how deadly religious hate can be.”

Attendance at the dinner has grown each year. One Tuesday, more than 200 people filled Querbes Hall, bringing with them food items from their respective cultures. But more than a smorgasbord buffet, this dinner party came with instructions: Sit at a table that includes someone from a different religion than yours, and introduce yourself.

IMG_0169From there, the conversation and stories flowed naturally.

“What impacted me the first time I came is that you’re able to sit with a complete stranger and you connect with them,” said Sarah McDermott ’19, who now serves on the board of the coalition. “People can be so different, but you don’t have to focus on that. You share a meal together and find out just how much you have in common.”

IMG_0181Another teen, Barrington High School senior, Haider Ali, found himself to be one of the only Muslims sitting at his table. When asked to describe what he does on the Children of Abraham Coalition board, Haider described working to host the first Peace Camp that brought children of different faith backgrounds together to advance interfaith understanding.

He also conceded that his mother made him join the coalition, but now he enjoys working together with other teens from different backgrounds.

IMG_0165“We really working to spread the interfaith message,” Haider said. “It’s interesting to see how other people react. I’m enjoying it.”

Class of 2008 Alumnus Named New Boys Lacrosse Coach

Gaeger_PatrickRecently appointed Athletic Director Jason Kuffel has announced the appointment of Patrick Gaeger as the new Lacrosse Head Coach at Saint Viator High School. Gaeger, a 2008 graduate, recently joined the staff as Assistant Director of Enrollment. He returned to his alma mater from Saint Laurence High School in Chicago where he had served as head coach of the lacrosse team.

“We are extremely fortunate to have a coach who helped build our young but successful tradition of success in lacrosse as a player, join us as our coach,” said Kuffel. In addition to his stint as head coach at Saint Laurence, Gaeger was Associate Head Coach at Robert Morris University and has been involved in the sport at the club level. After a stellar career at Saint Viator, Gaeger played collegiately at Adrian College. He replaces Bill Sanford who finished his head coaching career 3rd all-time in wins for Illinois Lacrosse, a 4x ESCC coach of the year and the 2011 IHSLA coach of the year.

“We fully expect that the standards established by Coach Sanford will continue under the stewardship of Patrick Gaeger,” said Kuffel. “We continue to raise the bar on expectations for our student-athletes not only in the field of play but in the classroom and in the community. Our athletics program stands firmly on our pillars of academic success and faith formation for young men and women, and as a graduate and employee of Saint Viator, Coach Gaeger is well-equipped to meet and exceed our expectations.”

In addition to his work in the Enrollment Department, Gaeger is also working as an Assistant Coach during the football season. “I am honored and humbled by this opportunity, and welcome the challenge of upholding the standards established at Saint Viator,” Gaeger said. “I look forward to getting to know our athletes and their families, and pursuing excellence in all we do in the lacrosse program.”

Last season the team finished with an overall record of 16-5, bowing out of the IHSA State Playoffs at the hands of the powerful New Trier program.

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