January Mustangs of the Month

From L to R:  Principal Mr. Brendan Conroy, Graham Zelek '20, Emilio Alvarez '21, Paddy Jacobus '19 and Head of School Fr. Paul Galetto, O.S.A. (not pictured:  Jacob Pellegrini '18)

Each month St. Rita of Cascia High School honors one student from each class to be the Mustang of the Month.  In order for a student to be considered for the Mustang of the Month Award, he must excel or stand out in at least two of the following areas: academics, activities, athletics, spirituality or community service projects or programs.  Nominees for Mustang of the Month are those students who are vital elements to what St. Rita of Cascia High School is all about and whose efforts, accomplishments and contributions to our community sometimes go unnoticed.

Nominations are open to all faculty and staff and final selection is determined by members of Administration and Student Life & Ministry.

Freshman Mustang of the Month – Emilio Alvarez

The member of the Class of 2021 chosen to be our January Freshman Mustang of the Month is Emilio Alvarez.  Emilio comes to us from St. Walter School where he is also a member of the parish community.

Emilio is already a very active member of the St. Rita Family.  He is a member of the beginning band, played on the Soccer Team and is currently on the Track Team.  Emilio is also an Altar Server and Eucharistic Minister.  In the future he hopes to get involved with the Baseball Team, Cooking Club and Spanish Club.  In addition to being recognized by St. Rita Faculty and Staff for his achievements, Emilio has been awarded the Medal of Merit Award by the American Legion Post 50.

One member of our St. Rita staff said of Emilio, “I have witnessed Emilio asked by many people in the building on various occasions if they are in need of help or assistance with something and he NEVER hesitates to help!  He is very involved in his home parish of St. Walter with various activities and he always accepts the challenge Emilio lives the core values of St. Rita daily.”

When asked about his experience as a Ritaman, Emilio replied, “Being at St. Rita has been the most fun I have had.  I love coming to school every morning and seeing my Rita Brothers.  I am excited for what my future holds.”

Sophomore Mustang of the Month – Graham Zelek

Representing the Class of 2020 as our January Sophomore Mustang of the Month is Graham Zelek.  Graham is a graduate of St. John Fisher School and is a member of St. John Fisher Parish.

Graham is a member of the Soccer and Volleyball Teams and is an Alter Server and Eucharistic Minister.  Graham also helps out at one of his old parishes St. Stanislaus with various activities.  In the future he hopes to be a part of NHS and the French Club and to become a Big Brother and Lector.  He was honored to receive the Andrew Smialek Award and was the 3rd person in his family to do so.

The following was said of Graham, “Graham is a caring and nice young man who never has anything bad to say and strives to do the best he can at everything put in front of him.  He leads by example and is dedicated to St. Rita.”

When asked to speak about his experience as a Ritaman, Graham replied, “My time at St. Rita has been better than I have ever expected.  I have made many new friends that are now my brothers.  Thank you for being by my side.”

Junior Mustang of the Month – Paddy Jacobus

Representing the Class of 2019 as our January Junior Mustang of the Month is Paddy Jacobus.  Paddy attended Queen of Martyrs School and is also a member of Queen of Martyrs Parish.

Paddy is a member of the Varsity Volleyball Team, Stock Club, Latin Club, Knights of Augustine and Student Government.  Paddy also represented St. Rita at the Student Augustinian Values Institute (S.A.V.I. 9.0) last Spring when it was held at Providence Catholic.  Outside of his time at St. Rita Paddy plays club volleyball and helps to coach volleyball at Queen of Martyrs.

In his nomination the following was said of Paddy, “Paddy is a quiet leader. He excels academically.  He is respectful and well-liked by his peers. He is generous with his time and mindful of the needs of the community. He is a great representative of and for St. Rita.”

Paddy spoke of his experience as a Ritaman by saying, “My time at St. Rita has been awesome.  I have made friendships here that will last a lifetime.  I am very grateful for such a great opportunity to be able to come to St. Rita.  I cannot believe that I am halfway into my junior year, but I am excited for the next year and a half with my brothers.”

Senior Mustang of the Month – Jacob Pellegrini

Leading the Class of 2018 as our January Senior Mustang of the Month is Jacob Pellegrini.  Jacob is a graduate of St. Barnabas School where his is also a member of the St. Barnabas Parish Community.

Jacob excels in the classroom and is a member of the National Honor Society.  He is also involved with the Spanish Club and is on the Varsity Lacrosse Team.  Outside of his time at St. Rita, Jacob is a grade school coach for Beverly Lacrosse and often assists with the Special Olympics.

One teacher said of Jacob, “Jacob is very respectful, hardworking, mature, contributes in class and most of all takes pride in his work.  He is very easy going and gets along with everyone in class. I think he more than deserves this recognition.  Jacob always has a smile and great disposition.”

Speaking about his experience as a Ritaman, Jacob said, “The past three and a half years at St. Rita have been a truly unforgettable experience.  I cannot wait to make these remaining months special with my Rita Brothers.  I love you all.”

Eric Whitaker '83 Is Revamping The Youth Program That Got Him Into Medicine

By: SHIA KAPOS, Chicago Magazine

After years being known as the pal and golfing buddy to former President Barack Obama, Eric Whitaker slipped out of the spotlight to start a company. 

St. Rita Graduate Eric Whitaker '83  (Photo Credit: Shia Kapos, Chicago Magazine)

St. Rita Graduate Eric Whitaker '83  (Photo Credit: Shia Kapos, Chicago Magazine)

Now the self-described health-care investor is back in. The 53-year-old has joined the board of the DuSable Museum and Education Center and he’s rebuilding the little-known youth program—the Chicago Area Health and Medical Careers Program—that closed down 18 months ago when state funding dried up.

The program started in the late 1970s at the Illinois Institute of Technology as a mentoring program for students looking for careers in health care and medicine. (It’s for years been nicknamed “Champ” because the real acronym—CAHMCP—is hard to pronounce.) Whitaker was one of the first students to enroll in Champ when he was in high school on the Southwest Side.

St. Rita to Honor Sally Deenihan at the Annual Caritas Valentine Dinner Dance

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St. Rita’s former principal and teacher, Mrs. Sally Deenihan will be honored with the Crest of St. Augustine Award at this year’s Caritas Valentine Dinner Dance.  Mrs. Deenihan served the St. Rita community from 1985 until her retirement in 2010.  She held several positions at St. Rita, including mathematics teacher, Department Chair, Assistant Principal and Director of Studies before becoming the first female principal of any Augustinian high school.  

The Crest of St. Augustine award is presented to members of the immediate St. Rita family.  The award recognizes individuals who set a special standard of generosity as they bring light and life to charitable and community endeavors.  They accomplish this with not only their financial contributions but also their time and talents. 

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A standout math teacher who was greatly respected by her students and faculty, she worked long hours after the school day to tutor countless students.  When you talk to graduates about who their favorite teacher was during their time at St. Rita, Sally’s name is frequently at the top of their list.

The Valentine Dinner Dance is St. Rita’s largest fundraiser which raised more than $308,000 for student tuition assistance last year.

We hope you will be able to join us at the Ritz Carlton Chicago on February 3, 2018.  However, if you are unable to attend, please consider placing an ad in the evening’s program.  In doing so, you will be honoring Sally while making a gift to St. Rita High School.

St. Rita to Honor Mark '90 and Mindy Hacker with the Couple of the Year Award

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St. Rita Alumnus Mark Hacker, Class of 1990, and his wife Mindy will be honored as the Couple of the Year at this year's Annual Caritas Valentine Dinner Dance.

The Couple of the Year award is presented to honor a couple who is closely tied to the St. Rita family.  The couple is recognized mainly for their direct involvement and support of the mission of St. Rita.  They are also recognized for the support of other charitable endeavors outside of the St. Rita community.

The Valentine Dinner Dance is St. Rita’s largest fundraiser which raised more than $308,000 for student tuition assistance last year.

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We hope you will be able to join us in celebrating Mark and Mindy at the Ritz Carlton Chicago on February 3, 2018.  However, if you are unable to attend, please consider placing a congratulatory message, or ad in the evening’s program.  In doing so, you will be honoring Mark and Mindy while making a gift to St. Rita High School.


St. Rita Minimester begins!

St. Rita students and Lucy the Elephant in Margate NJ as the students visit the Jersey Shore.

Joe Corbo, Chief Legal Counsel for the Borgata Casino, takes the students to see the rooms that the casino reserves for high rollers. The Borgata Casino is located in Atlantic City, NJ.

This year, St. Rita introduced the "minimester" requirement which is an extra 30-hour course incorporated into the academic calendar. The minimester is an effort to offer students education through high-interest experiences and unique life lessons outside the traditional classroom setting. The minimester is a required course for freshman, sophomore and junior students and is optional for seniors. Students can select courses local to Chicago or they may select a course that includes traveling within the United States and even overseas.

Joe Corbo, Chief Counsel for Borgata Casino gives the students a behind the scenes tour of the the Borgata and helps the boys understand the kinds of job opportunities that are available.

The Philadelphia/New Jersey minimester is taking place this Christmas break. The first part of the trip involved visiting the Jersey Shore where among other activities, students visited a casino in Atlantic City to get a behind-the-scenes look at its operation and also made a visit to St. Augustine Prep. Other plans include visits to Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Constitution Center, Olde St. Augustine Church (where the Augustinian Order first served our country), a walking tour of Philadelphia, Valley Forge National Park and surrounding sights such at Villanova University, Malvern Prep, St. Joseph University, the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University. Also on the agenda was a visit to the Art Museum and a run up the Rocky steps. 

The students visit St. Augustine Prep in Richland, NJ.

The students visit Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA as they examine the origins of the American Revolution. The students also visited the Museum of the American Revolution, the Liberty Bell, Ben Franklin’s home and Franklin’s grave as well as the National Constitution Center. The students also got to experience a true Philly Cheesesteak - the culinary highlight of the trip!

The students visit Malvern Prep outside of Philadelphia during a snow storm.  The students are pictured with Fr. Donald Reilly, OSA, Head of School.

St. Rita students on the campus of Villanova University during the snowfall.