St. Rita's Inaugural Minimester Week Is A Big Success

By: Ed Leiser '04

At the conclusion of the 2017-18 school year, St. Rita held its inaugural “minimester week” for students in the freshmen, sophomore, and junior classes. The new minimester program is a required 30-hour course incorporated into the academic calendar of the school and is designed to teach students outside the classroom. The philosophy of minimester is that students sometimes learn by touching, seeing, and doing things outside the traditional classroom setting. By selecting their own high-interest experience, unique life lessons could be learned by our Ritamen.

Some minimesters occurred during the school year (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter breaks, etc.) or over the weekends during the year, but “minimester week” removed the last week of classes for all students, to allow faculty to chaperone trips and make the necessary accommodations.  Students who already had their minimester were not required to go to school during the week of May 29 – June 1 (they were NOT complaining about that!)

Several minimesters took place in Chicago or nearby areas, while others featured travel to various parts of the United States.  There was even one minimester trip that went to France and Italy for touring and site-seeing, as well as learning about culture, art and much more. Some minimesters required no cost to enroll in, while others required a small fee to be paid by parents. The larger trips that required travel cost a little bit more, but all costs were kept as low as possible by the St. Rita administration to ensure as many students could attend as were interested. 

See below for some of the highlights of the minimester week trips and outings that were done by St. Rita freshmen, sophomores and juniors and their dedicated faculty and staff chaperones. By all accounts, minimester was a success this school year!

Austin, Texas

Forty Ritamen and four chaperones flew to Texas for a week and represented well in the Lonestar State. Students had Mass at the San Fernando Cathedral and took a trip to the Enchanted Springs Ranch for line-dancing and to see actual longhorns in person.  They also had an on-field tour of Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, the home of the University of Texas football team.  The Ritamen also visted St. Edward’s University, the alma mater of Theology teacher, Brother Joe Ruiz, O.S.A.  The trip was made complete with a day visit to San Antonio for a cruise on the Riverwalk, a trip to the San Antonio missions, and of course, they remembered to visit The Alamo!

Water Water Everywhere!

This minimester focused on, you guessed it, water in the Midwest and how we use it.  Students and faculty experienced the water by kayaking on the Chicago River, and travelling to Wisconsin for a boat cruise to learn about water depth, shipwrecks and they learned how to operate a sailboat, too. Luckily, no one fell in the water from what we gathered! St. Rita students learned about our countries’ sometimes careless use of water and how we can properly conserve it as well, throughout their week on the water.


Nearly 40 students and adult chaperones boarded a plane and headed west to visit Colorado on a three-day minimester trip. The students enjoyed all that Colorado has to offer, visiting the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs for a day-long tour of the facility, a definite highlight of the trip. Students also spent time hiking and doing outdoors activities, while squeezing in a trip to Coors Field in Denver for a Colorado Rockies game, too!  They also started off their Sunday the right way, with Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

Washington D.C.

Approximately 40 Ritamen visited our nations’ capitol for an unforgettable experience to learn about our great nations’ history. Upon arrival, the trip visited the Lincoln Memorial and spent Sunday morning at Mass at the National Basilica underneath the Holy Trinity Dome. As the week continued, the minimester visited Arlington National Cemetery, The White House, and the Capitol Building. Ritamen spent Memorial Day at the parade, and visited the Archives, Portrait Gallery, the Newseum and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Upon visiting the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, students and faculty were able to identify St. Rita graduates who lost their lives in the Vietnam War, a very moving experience for all.  Somehow, the minimester group managed to fit in a baseball game at Camden Yards to see the Baltimore Orioles play, too. The trip ended on a high note before the long bus drive back to Chicago, with a visit to the Washington Monument!

The Smoky Mountains

A group of 12 students and two teachers got their adventurous side out of them, and braved a trip to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina. Ritamen spent a lot of time outdoors as you’d imagine, with various hiking trips and outings throughout the week. Students got a chance to do zip-lining and white water rafting, in between the hikes on the trails. The pictures looked amazing, and one Ritaman was heard to say “This feels like I’m in the Amazon!” For most of the students, they had certainly never experienced anything quite like mountain-life.

Chicago History and Architecture

Some students opted to “stay home” for minimester and sleep in their own beds, so the Chicago History minimester was just right for them. They lucked out with sunny days and temperatures in the 80s and 90s for their week-long visits to some of the famous sites of Chicago. Our students took a Chicago Crime Tour on a guided tour bus, visited the Chicago Theater downtown and spent time at Wrigley Field for a visit to the field, dugout, press boxes and locker room areas of the 2016 World Champions. The Sox fans may not have loved that, but it was non-negotiable! They also had a boat tour down the Chicago River on one of their days, and learned all about the unique architecture and developments of Chicago’s beautiful downtown area. Last but not least, was a trip to the Chicago History Museum. Even though many of the students live in Chicago, it was amazing to see the number of them that had not experienced all that our great city has to offer! 

High Tech Chicago

This minimester offered our students a chance to see a different aspect of Chicago, namely that of innovation and technology in various sectors. Students toured the NBC 5 News studio and learned about the technology involved in collecting, organizing and broadcasting the daily news segments.  The 24 Ritamen also visited Loyola University to see undergraduate tech projects from students there and saw a robotics demonstration. They enjoyed the opportunity to meet and interact with college students, especially ones that are in fields they wish to someday pursue. 

Earlier minimester outings in the school year occurred in Philadelphia/New Jersey, college visits to Boston, Europe, and a college football spring practice tour to the University of IllinoisNorthwestern University, and Northern Illinois University. There was also a trip to Charleston, South Carolina for our baseball team on their annual spring trip where their minimester was held.

Local minimesters also included a holiday baking minimester, genealogy and family history, introduction to astrology, and several more also. In total, there were nearly 20 minimester options for our students to choose from. It all depended on their interest level, cost (if any) associated with the program, and their schedules with school, sports, work, etc. The courses concluded with an assignment (paper, quiz or test) to be submitted to the faculty and staff moderators. 

We are already excited to launch year #2 of minimester and already have some new minimester ideas to make the experience even better!



St. Rita Graduates Receive Awards

Congratulations to the entire St. Rita Class of 2018!

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Louis Cox - Caritas Award
Awarded to a senior who best exemplifies a genuine care for others, especially among those in the St. Rita Family but also other in the world through their everyday actions.

Kevin Healy - Veritas Award
Awarded to the senior who best exemplifies living out his faith and a pursuit of knowledge and God, searching to better know God, the ultimate Truth, through others and the world around him.

Charlie Selke - Unitas Award
Awarded to the senior who best exemplifies uniting various groups of people in a positive manner both in and out of the classroom and who promotes unity among all members of the St. Rita Family.

Connor Cahill - Mr. Mustang Award
Awarded to the senior who best exemplifies being a True Ritamen, living out the core values of Truth, Unity and Love.

St. Rita's ABC's Program Holds Awards Dinner

By: Ed Leiser '04

Four years ago, Nick LoMaglio ’04 had a simple idea - how can we give our students the tools they need to be successful in college and beyond?

Known simply as the “ABC’s Program" (Professional ABCs: Advice Beyond the Classroom), it has become an important staple of the St. Rita experience for many students.

The mission of the Advice Beyond the Classroom program (a nonprofit organization focused on professional development education) is simple: To “manufacture luck.”  Nick and his team instruct Ritamen that luck occurs when preparation meets opportunity; this program is designed to help students establish the foundation of their future professional success.

The program, established in 2014, is now a networking giant featuring over 75 alumni, 50+ mentors and advisors and 25 current students in the sophomore, junior and senior classes.  Nick LoMaglio, a St. Rita board member and father of four, has assembled an All-Star team of St. Rita faculty, board of directors members, and various outside parties in the business, financial and marketing sectors.

The program is competitive, both in gaining entry and in sustaining success.  To obtain a position in the ABC’s program, a student completes a rigorous application and must receive recommendations from St. Rita teachers and staff.  If awarded a position, the members of the program are ranked throughout the year and meet on Monday mornings at 6:45 a.m. (even though the school day officially begins at 8:30 a.m.).

Students are offered a core curriculum of professional skills such as the art of small talk, time management, teaming, etc. Students are ranked and scored on team and individual activities and treat the ABC’s program like any other at St. Rita.

For the hardest-working and most dedicated students, there are significant rewards and advantages that can be achieved. Some of these opportunities include college scholarships, networking opportunities, off-site trips to local investment firms, marketing agencies, and manufacturing firms.  In years past, groups have visited the Chicago White Sox, Baker-Tilly Accounting Firm and JB Industries, to name a few.

On May 9, Mr. LoMaglio and the ABC’s board of directors held their annual awards dinner with a crowd of 150 in attendance in St. Rita’s Dining Hall.  Current college students (and St. Rita/ABC’s alumni) were on-hand to speak to the audience, as well as the current students in the program.  The current students spoke on what they learned this year, including how to network, the importance of staying persistent, relationship building, teamwork and efficient communication.

Several students received recognition, including sophomore Connor Earley (Christ the King), who gained automatic entry into next year’s ABC’s class.

Junior Michael Henze (Everest Academy, Lemont) was named Managing Partner for the 2018-19 school year and will work with Nick one-on-one to develop course curriculum and layout and topics for the class to address.

Senior Liam Connolly (St. Barnabas) was the top winner for the year, earning a $2,000 scholarship along the way, which he’ll take to Kansas University next year.

As mentioned above, members of the ABC program also work together as teams and are scored based on performance of team-based activities and competitions. The top scoring team this year was Team Amazon and was awarded a week-long externship this summer with Mr. LoMaglio.  Team members consisted of seniors Steve Viz and Jake Zylman, juniors Chris Bruglio, Stedmon Ihejirika and Kyle Somrek, and sophomores Earley and Josh Joiner.

The week-long externship experience consists of a rotational program that will give them exposure to some of the top Chicago area businesses.

The St. Rita Family is grateful for the efforts of Nick LoMaglio, as well as fellow board members Jim Brasher ’71, Paul Dachota ’84, Sal Valela ’94, and teacher Dave Conrath (Hon.)  Additional support comes from many sources, including Mrs. Ann Berzin, Mr. Bernie DelGiornio (Hon.), Mr. Brendan Duffy ’12, and Mr. Teddy McDermott ’16.

A main goal of the ABC Program—and of Nick’s personally—is to help young Ritamen find their career path and discover success.  ABC’s professional development curriculum will give our students a leg-up on many of their competitors in college and the professional world.  The real-life experience and skills being taught truly do go “beyond the classroom” at St. Rita.

A sincere “Thank you” to all involved!

For more information on the Advice Beyond the Classroom program, please visit their web site at:







Mrs. Sue Whooley Krystof Set to Retire From St. Rita

Students gather for Mrs. Krystof's very last AP Chemistry Class

By:  John Nee '93

In 1975, St. Rita had an all-male faculty made up of several priests and brothers along with lay teachers and coaches, but that year it all changed as Ms. Sue Whooley was hired as the first female teacher in St. Rita of Cascia High School history.  As difficult as it may have been at the time being the only female in an all-male community, her courage and determination paved the way for many other women to follow in her path in making St. Rita what it has become today.

Mrs. Krystof and AP Chemistry class in front of the "Mole Hill" for the Mrozek Family Fitness Center.

At the conclusion of the 2017-2018 academic year, Mrs. Sue Krystof will officially retire from her position in the science department at St. Rita, ending a tenure that has lasted off and on for over 40 years.

In 1986, Krystof, with the blessing of St. Rita Principal Fr. Flach, decided to leave St. Rita to have children, of which she would eventually have three.  After a short stint at Moraine Valley from 1989-1993, she returned to St. Rita in 1993 until now.

St. Rita has been a family affair for the Krystofs with Sue’s husband Don completing two stints in the science department at St. Rita (1981-1988, 2008-2012).  She also lists as her greatest privilege the opportunity to teach both of her sons, St. Rita grads Leo ’04 and Don ’06.  While her daughter Emily (Queen of Peace Class of ’05) was not able to attend St. Rita for obvious reasons, she did share in the family Augustinian experience by graduating from Villanova University in 2009.

Mrs. Krystof is very grateful for everything St. Rita has done for her and her family through the years.  She is grateful to all of her family and friends, including her parents Tom and Anne Whooley, who supported her going all the way back to the beginning of her career.  She is thankful to all the past and present St. Rita teachers that she has been able to share great experiences with for all these years like seeing so many St. Rita grads become positive influences in the community.  She shares in the successes of her former students who have become doctors, chemistry majors, engineering majors, policemen, and firemen, among other things.  She also lists the fact that she has taught so many father-son combinations of St. Rita grads through the years as something for which she is exceptionally proud.  St. Rita recognized Krystof in 2015 as she was inducted into the St. Rita Hall of Fame for her many years of exceptional service and for her courage in becoming the first female faculty member at the school.

To those of us who know her best -- her friends, colleagues, and former students --we will miss her out-going personality, her genuine smile, and even her stories that at times seem to go on and on and on.  St. Rita will be losing a great woman at the end of this school year.  Someone who will not be easily replaced, but as they say, don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened!

Thank you Mrs. Sue Krystof for everything YOU have done for St. Rita, and for the countless number of lives you have touched over the past 40 years!