St. Rita High School Starts Partnerhip With IBEW 134

On Wednesday, September 18, St. Rita High School partnered up with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 134 Union, based out of Alsip, for an interactive, hands-on experience for our Ritamen. This is the beginning of our partnership with IBEW Local 134 which will stretch out over the coming school year and beyond. Seventeen St. Rita seniors were at Local 134 for the day. They met with four apprentice school instructors. The day began with a little “PT”—physical training or exercise that apprentice students do every day, to give our young men a realistic look at the things they may do in the first 11 weeks of their electrical construction program.

The Ritamen also took a tour of the facility, while wearing hard hats, gloves, glasses and tool bags, to simulate the equipment needed and used for Electrical workers. Among the demonstrations seen, Ritamen learned measurements and how to do quick math work in their heads, and also spent hours on tasks such as bending pipes, climbing pipes, and solar paneling work. The director gave them information about applying for this trade and what the benefits were. The 17 Ritamen also had the opportunity to meet several Illinois state representatives and state senators that were spending the day there as well. Our St. Rita STEM program will be competing in a STEM competition later this year, which will be sponsored by Local 134, and members of the junior class will be able to visit in the coming months as well. It was a fantastic day for our Ritamen and we are fortunate to be able to provide interesting experiences and opportunities for outside the classroom learning.

Thank you to the staff and instructors at Local 134, we look forward to continuing our partnership!

New Faculty Highlight: Dan Bowers

What is your name? Daniel "Dan" Bowers

Dan Bowers, St. Rita Mathematics Teacher

Dan Bowers, St. Rita Mathematics Teacher

Tell us a little bit about your background: I am originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I come from a family of five, I have a younger sister and brother. I moved to Chicago after doing the Lasallian Volunteer Program and getting placed here for two years of service teaching. After those two years I decided to stay in Chicago and continue teaching. I currently live in the Bridgeport neighborhood.

What is your educational background? I attended an all-boys Lasallian high school in Philadelphia similar to St. Rita. I then earned a degree in Secondary Education and Mathematics from La Salle University in Philadelphia where I was also heavily involved in the University Ministry and Service program.

Tell us a little bit about your previous employment positions? Before St. Rita I worked as an 8th Grade Teacher at the San Miguel Chicago middle school located in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. I taught Math, Science, Social Studies, and Reading. I also was very involved in the athletic program coaching soccer, basketball, and volleyball.

What do you teach at St. Rita? I teach in the Mathematics Department, teaching Algebra 1, Geometry and Honors Geometry.

Will you be getting involved in any coaching or activities? I plan to get involved with various aspects of St. Rita including athletics, clubs, and campus ministry.

What are you excited about with your new position or what goals do you have for this new year? I am excited to teach again in a high school environment and get involved outside the classroom. Two goals I have this year is to get to know my students on a personal level as well as help erase the "I Hate Math" stigma that many high schoolers have.

Do you have any interesting facts about yourself that you can share? I am a huge Philadelphia sports fan (for better or worse). I also enjoy playing in Chicago Sports Leagues around the city.


Large Crowd Attends St. Rita's Annual Andrew Smialek '08 Leadership Awards Ceremony

2019 Andrew Smialek Award Winners

2019 Andrew Smialek Award Winners

The word “leadership” has many definitions and meanings. It can be defined as “the action of leading a group of people or an organization.” It can be defined as “having a vision and sharing it with others.” It can be defined as “creating an environment that will encourage all the members of a team to develop their skills.” There are dozens of ways to describe leadership. But what does leadership mean to you? When you hear the word “leader”, who do you think of? You may think of a teacher, or a coach, or a doctor or a community organizer.

On Tuesday, August 27, 2019 The St. Rita Family thought of 38 of the best and brightest 8th graders in the Chicagoland area in regards to leadership, as they received the Smialek Leadership Award.

The Andrew Smialek Leadership Award, formerly known as the Mustang Award, originated in 1983 to recognize young men of exceptional caliber and who have great potential for the future. 

Andrew Smialek, St. Rita Class of 2008, was a strong person who handled his battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with grace and humility.  Andrew loved his time at St. Rita and cherished the Augustinian values of truth, unity and love.  While maintaining a strong GPA, he was involved in many school activities and always put others before himself.  He was a wonderful role model for us all.

All of the recipients of the 2019 Andrew Smialek Award demonstrated their leadership skills already. To be named a winner of this award, the young men had to undergo an intense application and interview process. First, they were to submit their application, grades and a student essay that told us what they thought leadership was. Student recommendation letters were submitted as well, along with many letters of support from teachers, coaches and family friends. Then came the hard part: a 20-minute, face-to-face interview with a St. Rita faculty member. No doubt, the young men may have been nervous before their interviews, but they handled themselves quite well and were very impressive.

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Over 250 people joined in the celebration at the St. Rita Shrine Chapel on Tuesday evening. After remarks by Assistant Admissions Director Sharon Smolik about Andy Smialek and his legacy, each student leader was presented a Smialek Award plaque by Wes Benak ‘81—St. Rita’s Interim CEO and VP of Academics, and VP of Student Life Josh Blaszak ‘02.

Following the ceremony, a group photo was taken with Andy’s family and families were invited to the many shrines around the chapel for prayers, pictures, and finally a light reception in the St. Rita’s breathtaking chapel foyer.

Congratulations to the 2019 Andrew Smialek Leadership Award Winners.

New Staff Highlight: John Anderson '12

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• What is your name? John “Johnny” Anderson ‘12

• Tell us a little bit about your background (where are you from, family members, current residential area, etc.)? I grew up in Tinley Park, and I am the oldest of two siblings.

• What is your educational background? I am a proud St. Rita graduate, Class of 2012. I continued my education at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville where I earned a Bachelor of Arts-English.

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• Tell us a little bit about your previous employment positions (if applicable)? Before St. Rita, I worked in Human Resources and IT sales.

• What will you be doing at St. Rita? I will be working with the awesome Admissions Team! (Ed Leiser ‘04, Mike Swanson, Sharon Smolik)

• Will you be getting involved in any coaching or activities? I am the Head Wrestling Coach for St. Rita and I also plan to get involved with other clubs, activities, and retreats.

• What are you excited about with your new position or what goals do you have for this new year? I’m very excited to be back at my alma mater! My main goal is to ensure current and future Ritamen to have the same great experience I did or a better one!

St. Rita Honors Physics Class Holds Regatta

The Honors Physics class spent more than three weeks planning for the event. They began by learning about Archimedes’ Principle and how an objects density, weight, and how much fluid it displaces all relate to if an object sinks or floats. They did practice problems, a demonstration in which we had to manipulate an object to make it sink and float (without adding water to the object), and followed that all up with a lab on Archimedes’ Principle.

From there students made scaled prototypes out of index cards and packing tape and tested how much mass (pennies) their boat could hold before sinking. After analyzing the test, some had to redesign and others were ready to move on to sketches and calculations. Before they could build their life size boat, they had to complete multiple 3D sketches to scale, pages of calculations such as the cost and weight of their boat, surface area, volume of boat, and the waterline to ensure their boat would not sink, as well as analysis questions.

Once approved, they were able to begin constructing their boat. They had constraints to work within such as a length and width, the use of only corrugated cardboard and duct or packing tape, using no more than 2 inches of tape on either side of a seam, thickness of cardboard not exceeding one inch and no trapping of air between layers, etc. There were 26 constraints they had to work within! The day before the race they had to complete a technical inspection and any rules they did not adhere to had to be fixed before the race. Grading on race day pertained to things like safety, how much of the race they were able to complete and average speed. Students were also to create a theme for their boat and crew. Students worked in groups of 4-5 and two members were in each boat. There were nine boats total.

The Awards were:

The Titanic Award: Flying Dutchman

People’s Choice (for best theme): Hawaiian 

Innovator (for out-of-the-box thinking in construction): The Bobcat

1st place (for speed): the Quinjet

2nd place: Racecar

3rd place: Noah’s Ark