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Augustinian Tradition

St. Rita of Cascia High School is a Catholic college preparatory school for young men, rooted in the Augustinian philosophy of education. Six Augustinian priests and brothers live on campus to serve the community as teachers and campus ministers.

While not all students who attend St. Rita are Catholic, we help to develop each student’s relationship with God and his faith.  The Office of Student Life and Ministry program is rooted in our three core values: Truth, Unity, and Love.

Each student takes eight semesters of Theology, attends all-school mass once a week, and celebrates all Holy Days of Obligation.  Mass is also offered each morning at 7:15 a.m. in the St. Augustine Chapel, which is located within the St. Rita Shrine Chapel.  Additionally, every Thursday, students are invited to a four-minute Novena Prayer to St. Rita, in which we pray for our daily intentions and sing the hymn to St. Rita of Cascia.  Prayer is a focal point of the school day as well, as we pray in the first, fifth, and seventh periods of every school day.

Each student will participate in a yearly religious retreat culminating in the four-day Kairos retreat that all students experience their senior year.  Students are required to do R.O.S.E. (Reflective Outward Service Experience) hours as part of the Theology program.  These can be done away from St. Rita in a student's church, parish, or neighborhood, or at St. Rita through various service opportunities.  Students will not receive a final grade in Theology until all R.O.S.E. hours are completed and a reflection essay is submitted.

See also: Academics

St. Rita of Cascia High School is a 100% College Preparatory curriculum. All students are placed in an academic program that is tailored to meet their needs. Our course of studies will challenge each student to fully develop his intellectual talents.

The Augustinian Academy allows qualified students the opportunity of accelerated course work. The Mendel Academic Program provides students all the essential tools for success at the college level. The program structured through the Villanova Academic Study Center provides individual attention, small group work, and advice regarding study and organizational skills to those who need some assistance.  Students may take classes in any level, and are not grouped into "tracks."  If a student excels in one subject, he can take an Augustinian Academy class for the subject, but may take the Mendel Program for other subjects if he is not as strong in them.  This flexibility allows students more freedom in their studies. All students, regardless of their academic program, may avail themselves of the services offered by the Villanova Academic Study Center.  

St. Rita’s 2016 graduating class of 148 seniors earned over $16.1 million in college scholarships (an average of $108,000 per graduate) with 94% of that dollar amount awarded for academic-based scholarships.  98% of the 2016 graduates are attending over 60 different colleges this year.  Over the last five years, St. Rita graduates have earned nearly $75 million in college scholarships.  In the last two graduating classes alone, St. Rita graduates have earned over $33 million in college scholarships.  

Recent St. Rita graduates are attending (or have recently graduated from) prestigious universities and colleges such as: Dartmouth, Penn, Yale, Cornell, Notre Dame, Northwestern, University of Chicago, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Saint Louis University, Pepperdine, Villanova, Duke, Marquette, and many others.  Since 2010, St. Rita has sent over 100 graduates to schools in the Big Ten Conference and ten to Villanova University St. Rita’s average ACT score is 23, while students in the honors program average over 28 on the ACT.

Students may take a variety of electives, beginning in their sophomore year, ranging from Forensic Science, Chicago Authors, Irish-American Literature, Sports Journalism, African American Literature, Sports Medicine, Introduction to Guitar, Digital Photography, British Literature, Computer Web Design, and others.  Students may take one of our 15 Advanced Placement classes beginning in their sophomore year, and can earn college credit by scoring high enough on the placement test.  All 15 of St. Rita High School's Advanced Placement classes are 100% certified by the College Board.

St. Rita High School is in its third year as a 1:1 iPad school, as students and teachers alike are benefiting from the wide range of uses this technology offers.  St. Rita principal, Mr. Brendan Conroy, states, "Integration of this tool into our curriculum offers exciting opportunities in teaching and learning, student initiative and leadership, presentations, streamlined communication, organization and innovative assignments and assessments.  The iPad opens up new possibilities for teacher creativity--in creating their own 'text' books, developing interactive lessons that provide important feedback to students, and incorporating the relevant world seamlessly into the classroom experience."

St. Rita also offers dual-credit opportunities for its students, currently partnering with Grand Canyon University to offer online courses in a variety of subjects that students can take advantage of.  We are working with other programs at different colleges and universities as well to expand our dual-credit opportunities.  More are set to be secured in the 2016-17 academic year.  We also are excited to announce a STEM program initiative that will launch in 2017 to provide students at St. Rita with even more exciting learning opportunities.

An important aspect concerning academics is the Counseling Center at St. Rita.  Each student has their own counselor and will meet with him/her every semester (or upon request) to discuss what classes they should take, what clubs/activities they are involved in, how their experiences are going, etc.  When sophomores/juniors/seniors meet, their counselor will discuss college planning, such as what schools to apply to, how to pursue financial aid for college, and other key aspects.  The counseling center will also work hand-in-hand with all teachers if students' grades slip and extra tutoring is required.  Students know they should make a strong one-on-one relationship with their counselor to get the most out of them.  

Finally, beginning in the 2016-17 academic year, St. Rita has instituted a "rotating schedule" for its students.  The new bell schedule means that students do not take the same class at the same time every day.  Students learn differently at different times of the day, and our new bell schedule allows them a chance to learn at their peak performance for all classes.  Students take seven classes in total, and six classes will meet every day, meaning there is one class each day a student does not take.  Our new bell schedule also has built-in Activities periods throughout the day.  A 22-minute break is given to students after second period, where they can meet with Clubs/Activities, get a jump-start on homework, review for a test or quiz, or seek the help of a teacher to ask questions.  Freshmen mentoring is also held during this time, as well as Study/Review sessions for many classes.  We also allow our students to "decompress" and use the facilities of our school for recreation.  A six-minute break is at the end of the school day, before the final period, to use the washroom, re-hydrate, or talk to friends.  Last, but not least, is we have created a 42-minute lunch period for our students.  We feel that our students need time to socialize and be themselves, and the longer lunch period affords them time to interact with their fellow Ritamen and enjoy a full lunch with relaxation. 

See also: Athletics

St. Rita offers 15 sports, many of which have three levels (Freshmen, Sophomore/JV, Varsity) and we encourage multiple-sport athletes.  All sports (with the exception of golf and hockey) participate on our 37-acre campus, with no need to practice at outside venues.  We enjoy a proud tradition of athletics and are a consistent contender in the Chicago Catholic League, Regional, Sectional, and IHSA state divisions in all sports.  During the 2013-14 school year, St. Rita became the second school in over 100 years of Chicago Catholic League athletics to capture the league titles for varsity football, basketball, and baseball in the same school year.  

We are proud of our Tony Lawless Award Winners, which is the top honor given to a senior in the Chicago Catholic League.  Recently, Ritamen given this prestigious award include: Jake Shepski (2014, baseball), Dominique Matthews (2014, basketball), Joe Lopez (2014, lacrosse), Nick Goldsmith (2014, soccer), Treston Forbes (2014, track-and-field), Charles Matthews (2015, basketball), Marty Bechina (2015, baseball), Jake Silzer (2016, wrestling) and Austin O'Connor (2017, wrestling).  Also, Todd Kuska '90 (football), Jim Juchcinski '97 (lacrosse), Gary DeCesare (basketball), Mike Zunica (baseball), Brian Hagen '04 (volleyball) and Dan Manzella '03 (wrestling) have all won the Lawless Coach of the Year Award in the last three seasons.  

Ritamen often go on to participate in athletics at the collegiate and professional level upon graduation from St. Rita.  Since the 2014-15 school year, eight seniors have signed national letters-of-intent to play college basketball, 16 seniors have signed on to play football at the collegiate level, 31 seniors signed for college baseball and many others have continued their playing and academic careers in track-and-field, lacrosse, wrestling, volleyball, hockey, and other sports.  In fact, as of the beginning of the 2016-17 academic year, over 100 St. Rita alumni are currently playing at the collegiate level in football, basketball, baseball, wrestling, lacrosse, track-and-field, volleyball, hockey, soccer, cross country, and more.

They join the ranks of St. Rita alumni currently playing at the collegiate level, including football players Thomas Stacker Jr., '16 (South Dakota State), Drew Walega '16 (Eastern Illinois), Brandon Williams '16 (Arkansas State) Tom Rehfeld '15 (Western Illinois), Brandon Gaston '15 (Western Illinois), CJ Weydeman '15 (Western Illinois) Tommy Mister '14 (Northern Illinois), Nick Goldsmith '14 (Pittsburgh), Matt Byrne '14 (Indiana State), Michael Zunica '12 (Kansas), Pat O'Connor '12 (Eastern Michigan), Will McNamara '12 (Dartmouth), Kenny Golladay '12 (Northern Illinois), Nick Dachota '12 (Indiana State), and many others.

Current basketball players include: Chris Williams '16 (Central Connecticut), Charles Matthews '15 (Michigan), Kain Harris '15 (Tulane), Myles Carter '15 (Seton Hall), Brandon McRoy '15 (Concordia College), Armani Chaney '15 (Tennessee State), Vic Law '14 (Northwestern), Dominique Matthews '14 (UIC), Scott Kingsley '13 (Northeastern State University), A.J. Avery '12 (Western Michigan), Tony Hicks '12 (Louisville), and others.

Ritamen playing college baseball include:  Mateo Zunica '16 (Kansas), Dan Gleaves '16 (Michigan State), Dominic Sarro '16 (Villanova), Marty Bechina '15 (Michigan State), Shane Peisker '15 (US Naval Academy), Matt Ryan '15 (Butler), Jake Shepski '14 (Notre Dame), Nate Soria '14 (Xavier), Mike Costanzo '14 (Austin Peay), Jake Drada '14 (Western Michigan), Andrew Massey '13 (Tennessee-Martin), Eddie De La Riva '12 (Purdue), Zach Soria '12 (Florida International), Brian Sicher '11 (U.S. Air Force Academy), and others.

Other student-athletes include:  Jake Silzer '16 (wrestling, Illinois), Tyrique Thomas '16 (track, Concordia College), Eric Walker '15 (track, Minnesota), Treston Forbes '14 (basketball & track, Caldwell University), Bailey Marth '15 (lacrosse, Illinois Wesleyan), Jack Sampson '15 (lacrosse, Illinois Wesleyan), Austin Tiernan '15 (lacrosse, Xavier University), Eric Houlihan '15 (lacrosse, Xavier University), Nick Diettrle '15 (lacrosse, St. Ambrose), Joe Lopez '14 (lacrosse, Davenport) and many, many more.

Since 2012, five St. Rita graduates have played in the National Football League, including Mike Kafka '05 (quarterback), Ryan Donahue '06 (punter), Matt Conrath '07 (defensive line), Darius Fleming '08 (linebacker, Super Bowl XLIX champion), and Bruce Gaston '10 (defensive line).  Mark Payton '10 is a member of the New York Yankees AA-minor league affiliate, the Trenton Thunder, Anthony Ray '13 is with the St. Louis Cardinals organization, Joe Filomeno '11 is playing within the Texas Rangers organization, and Tony Zych '09 is currently pitching for the Seattle Mariners.

St. Rita athletics, however, will never come before a student's academics.  Every Wednesday, grade checks are done for all student-athletes.  If a student is not academically-eligible, he will not participate in that weeks' games and practices.  A student is also expected to maintain good standing in the school across the Campus Ministry and Student Activities Offices.

 
View and download the 2015-2016 St. Rita Viewbook

View and download the 2015-2016 St. Rita Viewbook

 

See also: Activities

Involvement at St. Rita is essential to the full development of each young man, and the Activities department is designed to help each Ritaman find their niche in some way.  In the 2015-16 school year, 93% of students were involved in at least one club, activity, or sports team, making their time at St. Rita High School more than an 8:00 a.m.--2:30 p.m. day.  The campus really comes to life after the last bell has rung, with the clubs, student organizations, activities, and sports teams kicking off their meetings and practices.  We offer 30 different types of clubs, student organizations, and service groups at St. Rita.  There is so much to get involved in and Ritamen want to be active in their groups and clubs.

In the 2014-15 school year, the Student Life & Ministry Department added three new clubs: the Outdoors Club, the Rock-and-Roll Club, and the Computer Programming Club.  These new clubs joined other clubs created in 2013, such as the Cooking Club, Video Games Club, and Fantasy Sports Club.  Other clubs of interest include the Paintball Club, Bass Fishing, Role Playing Club, Spanish Club, French Club, the NATIR (a satirical newspaper), Drama/Theatre, Creative Arts Society, National Honor Society, Student Government, Band (Marching, Symphonic, Jazz), Broadcasting, Seinfeld Club, Stock Club, Soccer Club, Chess Team, Scholastic Bowl, Yearbook, Photography, School Choir, and many others.  View the full list of clubs HERE.

By offering diverse clubs with various backgrounds, every Ritaman can find something for them.  And if there is not currently a club being offered, students can start their own club by simply having a faculty member become their club moderator.  

Activities and clubs at St. Rita are also about service.  We develop young men spiritually, socially, academically,  and physically and by serving our community, the young men realize these traits are being instilled in them.  Every Wednesday evening, a group of 4-6 students attends a nearby PADS food and clothing shelter to assist the homeless.  Our entire student body is active in a Thanksgiving Food Drive, a Christmas Toy Drive, and other Clothing Drives throughout the year.  Another highlight of the year are service trips with Habitat For Humanity, where students spend time volunteering over the summer in a poor, rural part of the country.  They live a week of service and prayer, helping the less fortunate people in their area.  Recent trips have included Burnsville, North Carolina, and Lexington, Kentucky.

Of course, there are other ways to get involved in Student Life & Activities at St. Rita, especially at all-school masses, where alter servers, lectures, and liturgical members are needed.  Students are encouraged to participate and get involved in these areas as well.

Activities also leads to fun, and our students have fun!  Every year, there is Homecoming Week in the first semester, Pride Week in the second semester, intra-murals for various sports, dress down and spirit wear days, and lots of other great things.  The McCarthy Student Center is a beehive of activity after school, with billiards, foosball, and ping-pong tournaments held for any interested student.     

Another important aspect of activities at St. Rita--and getting involved in general--is that studies show students do better academically when they're involved in extra-curricular activities.  These teach students how to better balance their time and how to be disciplined in their academic work.  Academics always comes first at St. Rita, and students that are involved tend to that first, before extra-curricular programs.  The activities program at St. Rita has never been better and it truly is one of the key components to being a well-balanced, hard-working Ritaman. 

Activities also exist for current St. Rita parents!  Our Mother's Club and Father's Club engage in several fun events throughout the year and are always looking for great new members.  Support your Ritaman by supporting one of these great clubs!

 
View and download 2015-2016 St. Rita Viewbook

View and download 2015-2016 St. Rita Viewbook