28th Annual Caritas Valentine Dinner Dance Is A Success

Front Row: St Rita Faculty members and administrators: Br. Joe Ruiz, O.S.A., Fr. Paul Galetto, Ph.D., O.S.A, Fr. Bernie Scianna '83, Ph.D., O.S.A., Fr. Richie Mercado, O.S.A.

The inaugural St. Rita Valentine Dinner Dance began on a snowy night,--Feb. 15, 1990. Only 50 of the 100 registered guests were able to make their way through the snow-filled Chicago streets to the event. 

Dr. Gerardo Grieco '72 and family

How far we have come since that night 28 years ago! Since its inception, Caritas Valentine Dinner Dance has raised over $4.7 million for St. Rita High School.

Jen and Chuck '92 Volpentesta

This year's event, held on Saturday, Feb. 11 at the Lowes Chicago Hotel in Streeterville, was another successful event. Many first-time guests joined long-time attendees in forming a crowd of over 400 members of the St. Rita Family at the dinner dance. The event raised $306,015 for scholarships and tuition assistance.

This year's award winners include Couple of the Year Chuck '92 and Jen Volpentesta. The Tolle Lege Community Service Award was presented to Jim Brasher '71. The Crest of St. Augustine Award was earned by Dr. Gerardo Grieco '72 and the Company of the Year was the law firm of Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP, with former chairman Don Mrozek '65 accepting the award on behalf of the organization.

Mr. and Mrs. Don '65 Mrozek 


One of the highlights of the evening was remarks given by student speaker Louis Cox '18. Louis spoke about his commitment to academics, his love for and support from his parents and how he expects his St. Rita education to help him continue on to his goal of one day becoming an orthopedic surgeon.

Thank you to all the 28th Annual Caritas Valentine Dinner Dance committee members for your commitment to the event and to St. Rita of Cascia High School.

Front row, center: Jim Brasher '71

Photos courtesy of Mike and Kim Patton of Portraits Plus.

Louis Cox '18

Cook County Farm Bureau Presents St. Rita Students With Plaque

Pictured: L to R: Brian Murphy '17 (St. John Fisher),  Nino Rizzi '17 (Infant Jesus of Prague), Charlie Coughlin '18 (Christ the King), Orlando Rojas '17 (St. Benedict), Victor Martinez '18 (St. Barnabas), Diane Merrion. Not Pictured: Nick Durham '17 (Central Jr. High)

On Monday, Feb 13, Dianne Merrion from the Cook County Farm Bureau visited St. Rita student members of the Ronald McDonald House Teen Board with a plaque in appreciation of St. Rita's donation of 977 pounds of food and household items collected during a St. Rita Spirit Day on Thursday, Feb. 2.

St. Rita Welcomes Exchange Students from Argentina

Saint Rita of Cascia High School is pleased to welcome Mr. Alejandro Alurralde and his students (Julio, Justo, Antonio, Nico, and Juan) from Saint Martin de Tours school in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

Mr. Alurralde is the principal of the secondary school and he is here with his students as part of a student exchange program. 

The exchange students are living with five host families from St. Rita. In June, those five St. Rita students will travel to Buenos Aires for two weeks and attend Saint Martin de Tours school. Both schools are Augustinian all-boy schools. While St. Rita participates in exchange programs with many Augustinian schools, this is the first student exchange between these two Augustinian Schools.

St. Rita Appoints New Athletic Director

Chicago – Fr. Paul Galetto, Ph.D., O.S.A, St. Rita’s Head of School and CEO, has appointed Roshawn Russell, M.B.M., a 2008 St. Rita alumnus, athletic director of the 112-year-old institution--effective July 1, 2017. Russell will immediately retain his position as assistant director of admissions and head sophomore basketball coach while adding duties as assistant athletic director through June 30, 2017. St. Rita President Mike Zunica (Hon.) will retain the athletic director position until July 1, 2017. He has held the athletic director position since the fall of 2009.

Mr. Roshawn Russell '08

Prior to becoming assistant admissions director at St. Rita in Sept. 2015, Russell earned his master of business management degree at Fontbonne University. He also served as assistant men’s basketball coach, after two years as a graduate assistant. Russell enjoyed a very successful playing career on the hardwood. He finished his career with the North Park University Vikings ranked number one on the all-time free-throw-shooting charts both for his career and for a single season. He shot a career-best 88 percent from the line over his career and shot a record 90 percent during his freshman year. He also ranks tenth all-time in total assists at North Park and scored 939 points over his four-year playing career. Russell is ranked seventh all-time at North Park for career three-point field goals made with 117 and ranks eighth all-time in career three-point percentage with 38.5%. Russell graduated from North Park University in the spring of 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education.

Russell attended St. Rita where he enjoyed a stellar prep career. He was a four-year starter for the basketball team and earned All-Chicago Catholic League Second Team honors as a junior and First Team as a senior as well as All-Area honors from the Southtown Star. He was voted the team MVP his senior year and earned All-Tournament honors at the McGovern Classic. He averaged 18.7 points, 4.1 assists and 2.1 steals in leading the team to an 18-11 record his senior year. Russell also played in the Catholic League All-Star Game in the spring of 2008.

Fr. Galetto said, “St. Rita is in a very strong position. We understand the winning formula that makes our school a sought-after choice for young men. Roshawn also understands our winning tradition, which emphasizes academics and athletics. He is ready to continue our legacy as we move confidently into a new era of building championship teams with student-athletes who succeed on the court, in the field or on the ice and in the classroom. Roshawn’s status as an alumnus and as a championship athlete when combined with his youth and personality make him a great choice for St. Rita.”

Zunica added, “It seems I have known Roshawn forever. His older brother Rashay came to St. Rita in the fall of 1999 when Roshawn was nine years old. Since that fall, 17 years ago, I have admired Roshawn and his family in every aspect of their interaction at St. Rita. For me personally it is a great testimony to Catholic education to watch Roshawn go from a little brother at St. Rita to a St. Rita student, coach, employee and now a member of our administration as our athletic director.”

About St. Rita High School

St. Rita High School is a college-preparatory, Augustinian Catholic high school located on a beautiful 37-acre campus at 7740 S. Western Avenue on Chicago’s south side. The all-boys St. Rita has a 112-year old tradition and legacy, is over 24,000 alumni strong and offers 15 athletic teams competing in the Chicago Catholic League and 30 clubs and activities.

Captain Herbert T. Johnson Scholarships Awarded to St. Rita Students

On Wednesday, February 1, 2017 The St. Rita Family gathered in the St. Rita Shrine Chapel for weekly all-school Mass. After Mass a student award ceremony occured, including the presentation of the Herbie Johnson Scholarships -- awarded by the Herbie Johnson Foundation and the Ignite the Spirit Fund.

St. Rita High School Hall-of-Fame member Herbie Johnson '76 was a staunch St. Rita Alumnus, husband to wife Susan and parent to sons Tom '04 (St. Cajetan), Mickey '11 (St. Cajetan) and daughter Laurie. Chicago Fire Department Captain Herbert T. Johnson died on November 2‚ 2012‚ at a working fire in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. Herbie was extremely entertaining to anyone who met him; he had a great sense of humor and was‚ without a doubt‚ larger than life. Herbie helped people see the funny side of almost every situation. Besides being a wonderful husband to Susan‚ Herbie was a loyal friend‚ brother‚ and father. With his gift of storytelling and genuine concern for everyone‚ he was the glue keeping his friends‚ family‚ and department together. Read more about Herbie Johnson here.

The Captain Herbie Johnson Foundation's mission is to keep the charitable spirit of Herbie Johnson alive by assisting others. The Foundation's main event is a charity golf outing each summer attended by hundreds of Herbie's friends and family members. The next Herbie Johnson Golf Classic is scheduled for June 26, 2017. 

Ignite the Spirit Fund is a charity founded in 2003. Since then it has helped over 500 families and donated over $1 million to help ease hardships on Chicago Fire Department families. They run and are involved in several events throughout the year. Ignite the Spirit continues on without much fanfare, embodying the spirit of the Chicago Fire Department slogan: “We are here when you need us.”

The Herbie Johnson Scholarship is given to a St. Rita student based on excellence in and out of the classroom. The Ritaman must display the same great leadership qualities that made Herbie Johnson the leader he was. Herbie's legacy will live on in this scholarship. 

This year, three St. Rita students won the Herbie Johnson Scholarship--Seniors Jimmy Otto '17 and P.J. Marth '17. Otto is a graduate of Queen of Martyrs grammar school and Marth is a St. John Fisher grammar school alumnus. Sophomore John Cleary '19 from Christ the King was the third recipient of the Herbie Johnson Scholarship. The scholarships will go directly towards the students' St. Rita tuition.

The St. Rita Family especially thanks Susan & Laurie Johnson for being on hand, along with Captain Herbie Johnson Foundation and Ignite the Spirit Fund representatives, to present the the scholarships to the Ritamen.