"Once a Ritaman, always a Ritaman.” That sentiment was palpable on Friday, April 20, 2018 as St. Rita High School held its 82nd Annual Alumni Banquet and Hall of Fame Dinner. St. Rita’s Alumni Banquet is one of the longest-running alumni banquets in the nation. It can accommodate hundreds of guests on campus and its mystique is legendary.
The event was a major success as 500 Ritamen, their families, and friends of the school filled the gymnasium (which was transformed into a banquet hall), the McCarthy Center, and the Van Leuven Center.
This year’s man of the year was Ernie Mrozek ’71, who recently gave a lead gift to the “Champions Will Be Made” capital campaign to help fund the Mrozek Family Fitness Center and John McNicholas Baseball Clubhouse construction.
We also celebrated all Ritamen and welcomed back alumni from the Class of 1942 to recent graduates–and everywhere in between.
Our special anniversary classes, 1958 (60th reunion), 1968 (50th reunion), 1978 (40th reunion), 1988 (30th reunion) 1993 (25th reunion), and 2008 (10th reunion) were honored and celebrated as each class got together to share memories of high school and all the legendary events that took place in the hallways of St. Rita High School both on the 63rd Street Campus and the 77th Street Campus.
The event began with a cocktail hour at 6:30 p.m., which allowed all members to greet each other and enjoy hors d’oeuvres. Families and guests of our award winners and honorees gathered in a private reception in the school’s McCarthy Student Center and the Class of 1968 got together in the Van Leuven Family Research Center.
After thumbing through the 1968 yearbook and swapping stories, the Class of 1968 gathered for a class picture. Other groups had photographs taken as well, later in the night.
At 7:30 p.m., it was time for dinner! After seating all guests and their families, the Class of ’68 was welcomed into the gymnasium, by a standing crowd, with the St. Rita Fight Song performed by the mighty St. Rita Jazz Band. The class was seated front-and-center. While a fabulous, plated meal from Country House Restaurant was being served, everyone watched a 20-minute video presentation
The video presentation featured pictures and biographies of all St. Rita Alumni Banquet award winners, honorees and hall of fame inductees. Captured were the highlights and key moments of each Ritamen with pictures from their days as St. Rita students and pictures with family and friends. The video was a major high point of the evening for many of our guests, and is the capstone to the unique format of the banquet that has become the premier event for St. Rita graduates.
After the video and scrumptious dinner, everyone hit the bar for another drink and continued to enjoy one another’s company and revel in the fun of the night. The gymnasium transformed into a sea of Ritamen--young and old--getting reacquainted and showcasing the tight-knit, yet diverse community that is St. Rita alumni.
Thanks to all Ritamen who attended the banquet for making the night truly special. Thanks for the help of all St. Rita High School staff and the advancement office, and many others who contributed to the success of the night. We are already looking forward to the 83rd annual banquet.
Up next, mark your calendars for Friday, July 20, for our 43rd Annual Scholarship Golf Outing to be held at Gleneagles Country Club in Lemont, IL. All St. Rita alumni are welcome for 18 holes of golf, fun on the course, raffle and door prizes, excellent food and drinks packages, and much, much more! Online registration for the golf outing will be open soon, so check back often.
The 2018 St. Rita Alumni Banquet and Hall of Fame Honorees:
Man of the Year: Ernie Mrozek '71
Hall of Fame: Ted Boundas '57, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia '74, Jeff Jestadt '88, Art "Buddy" Pauls '65, Jim Prunty (Hon), Charlie Yerkes (Hon), Mike Zunica (Hon)
Loyalty Awards: Ray Bugal (Hon), Bob Fitzgibbon '68, Wally Slezak '68, Chuck Zeman '68
Athletic Awards: Kevin Downs '68, John Nee '93, Bob Wagner '93,
Honorary Alumni: Brendan Coughlan, Gary DeCesare, Al Grzyb, Joseph Kuska, Jr.