St. Rita's Academic Convocation Marks the Beginning of 114th Year

By: Mike Swanson

A convocation is a group of people that comes together, formally assembled for a unique purpose. St. Rita of Cascia High School is a very unique and special institution for many Chicago-area families.

On the morning of Wednesday, August 22, 2018 the St. Rita of Cascia High School community, including parents, gathered in the St. Rita Shrine Chapel for the Annual Academic Convocation that has quickly become a cornerstone ceremony for the members of the St. Rita family. The tone of the day was set by the music which was provided by the legendary St. Rita Band under the direction of Mr. KC Perlberg. The convocation (which marks the official beginning of St. Rita’s 114th academic year) celebrates the school’s academic excellence, ancient and venerable Augustinian heritage and the traditions that developed over the course of the last 113 years the greatest of which is the bond that exists among all Ritamen brothers.

"We are indeed blessed and that is why the theme of this year will be “Thankfulness.” We have been given much and so we must give back much." - Fr. Paul

For this year’s freshmen class, that bond is especially relevant. The 158 freshmen, the Class of 2022, physically signed their names on parchment paper, enrolling them in the sacred “Book of Brotherhood” at St. Rita. After signing, each freshman received from a student government representative his St. Rita chapel tie which is worn each Wednesday for all-school Mass.

The event's master of ceremonies, Dean of Student Leadership Mr. Josh Blaszak '02 introduced three student government leaders, Stedmon Ihejirka, Michael Henze and Liam Ohle who spoke about St. Rita’s core values: Veritas (Truth), Unitas (Unity) and Caritas (Love), respectively.

As the ceremony continued, the crowd heard remarks about St. Rita’s academic excellence and college-preparatory curriculum from Mr. Wes Benak ‘81, Dean of Academics. Mr. Mike Zunica, President, gave remarks about the storied history of St. Rita.

Finally, St. Rita’s Head of School and CEO, Fr. Paul Galetto, O.S.A., Ph.D., gave the crowd an overall “State of the School” address and then took the time to speak directly to the freshmen telling them what is expected of a Ritaman and what the school community has to offer them. At the end of his remarks, Fr. Paul lit the 2018-19 “Lamp of Learning” from the flame of the Easter Candle in the St. Rita Shrine Chapel.

Fr. Paul said, "St. Rita of Cascia High School is a Catholic college-preparatory high school in the Augustinian tradition. The beginning of the academic year is a rite of passage for our freshmen. The Academic Convocation marks this important milestone while teaching new students and families the history and traditions of our school and reminding us all of the unique opportunities that exist here. This is a very exciting time at St. Rita with multiple new construction projects nearing completion and enrollment increasing. The excitement for our future was palpable at the Convocation. People want to be a part of St. Rita. I’m very pleased with the direction our school is headed thanks to our dedicated and talented faculty, staff, parents and students. We are indeed blessed and that is why the theme of this year will be “Thankfulness.” We have been given much and so we must give back much. We must be the example for others to emulate."

After the formal gathering was over, St. Rita parents and students enjoyed a quick reception with light refreshments.

St. Rita’s Academic Convocation is a unique tradition. It’s very important to Ritamen and their families because it is a public statement of all that St. Rita stands for: academic and athletic excellence, student involvement and Catholic, Augustinian affiliation and leadership. The Convocation displays and solidifies St. Rita’s welcoming environment for all to see.

St. Rita's Senior Engineering Class Holds Trebuchet Competition

By: Mike Swanson

A trebuchet is a type of catapult that uses a swinging arm to throw a projectile. At 7740 S. Western Ave, those projectiles are simply tennis balls, instead of the more dangerous projectiles you might see on the battlefield in centuries long ago. St. Rita High School’s senior engineering class could tell you much more about trebuchets, as they recently built their own from scratch in preparation of the annual trebuchet competition.

The spring weather could not have been more perfect on the afternoon of Thursday, May 10 for the competition on St. Rita’s expansive North Lawn, tucked along stretch of tidy Queen Anne-Style and Georgian houses. Eight teams formed from Matt Petrich’s engineering class gathered for the competition. Several faculty and staff members were also on hand to watch the competition and cheer on the student engineers.

Teams were given one practice shot. After the practice shot they were able to place a small target on the ground anywhere from 30-60 feet from the catapult. Once the target was in place teams tried to hit the target. They were given two more shots. The team coming closest to the small target on one of their tries was to be the winner.

All the students successfully completed their trebuchet projects and competition, and certainly had fun during the process. They even named their trebuchets. In second place was the “TrebuBeast” team formed by Mike Mitchell, Tyler Cichy and Dave Gleaves. The first place team was “iMacBeth” built by Ozzie Gutierrez, Tyler Franco, and Ryan Caufield.

The Class of 2019 is already looking forward to next year's competition!






St. Rita NHS Inducts New Members from the Class of 2019

"Scholarship means a commitment to learning...Leadership should exert a wholesome influence on the school...Character is the force within each individual that distinguishes one person from another...In the routine of the day’s work, many opportunities arise to help others." Those are some excerpts from the descriptions of the pillars of the National Honor Society.

 Louis Cox '18 addresses the crowd.

Louis Cox '18 addresses the crowd.

On the evening of Monday, May 7, 2018, 53 members of the St. Rita Class of 2018 were inducted into the National Honor Society. The ceremony was held in the St. Rita Dining Hall, where students were joined by hundreds of family members including parents and brother and sisters. 

After NHS Moderator, Ms. Socorro Yáñez, gave some welcoming remarks, Head of School, Fr. Paul Galetto, O.S.A., Ph.D. led the opening prayer.

 The St. Rita NHS Class of 2019

The St. Rita NHS Class of 2019

 Kyle Gustafson '19 speaks at the NHS Induction Ceremony

Kyle Gustafson '19 speaks at the NHS Induction Ceremony

Lastly, outgoing NHS President Louis Cox '18 gave the presidential address, and then incoming NHS President Kyle Gustafson '19 said, "Two areas I would like to focus our attention on and attempt to improve are the brotherhood at St. Rita and also our commitment to service. One of the things that makes St. Rita so great is how personable everyone is. In your four years at Rita you truly get to know nearly everyone in the school. This makes for a tight-knit group that to some feels like a second family. I would like for every student to feel that brotherhood, and doing that starts with participation. If we can get more students in clubs and activities during school and more students to attend things like sporting events or theater productions after school students can form a much closer bond with their peers."

The evening concluded with the group enjoying some refreshments during the after-ceremony reception

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St. Rita Band Shines at Concert

By: Mike Swanson

It was a beautiful, sunny, Spring day on Sunday, May 6, 2018; but there are no windows in the auditorium at 7740 S. Western Avenue. The St. Rita Band provided the needed brightness during its annual Spring Band Concert. They shined in their performance on St Rita's newly-named Bernard J. DelGiorno campus.

 Photo credit: Mike Morgan

Photo credit: Mike Morgan

Over 70 young men performed in four different ensembles on stage, to the delight of hundreds of concert-goers. This year, over 20 band members were part of the beginning band. These Ritamen never picked up an instrument before they walked into St. Rita last August. Now they are performing in public. They have made tremendous strides.

Another highlight of this year’s concert was the addition of the newly-formed St. Rita Choir. Most everyone on campus can’t recall exactly how long it has been since St. Rita offered choir; but everyone is in agreement that the choir is a big success and growing in popularity, despite the long absence from school.

 Photo credit: Mike Morgan

Photo credit: Mike Morgan

St. Rita Band Director KC Perlberg said, “I’m happy that the concert was a success this year. We’ve been on a tremendous upward trajectory in both participation and skill levels, and I predict both with continue to rise. Even greater things are ahead for the St. Rita Band. I’m happy that our current young men are able to add to legendary history of this important part of St. Rita.”

The St. Rita Band is currently conducting a fundraising campaign for new uniforms. Please visit to make a donation.

2nd Annual St. Rita Night At Sox Game Becomes New Tradition

St. Rita and the Chicago White Sox—two legendary south side institutions with intertwining histories. Both were founded in the first years of the 20th century. The White Sox were founded in 1901 and St. Rita started in 1905. Many students from the 63rd Street Campus fondly recall the Opening Day walk-a-thons from 63rd and Claremont to Comiskey Park at 35th and Shields. The walk-a-thon partnership was so strong that the White Sox granted tickets to St. Rita for the Opening Day of the New Comiskey Park in 1991, when the walk-a-thon originated at the new 77th Street Campus. St. Rita Hall of Fame member Ed Farmer ’67 was a standout pitcher for the Sox and is currently the Sox radio announcer. The histories almost seem more than coincidental. For instance, did you know that the last weekend of games for Comiskey Park in 1990 was also the last weekend that St. Rita Stadium at the 63rd Street Campus hosted a St. Rita Football game? Fr. Bernard Danber, O.S.A. ‘68 who was St. Rita principal at the time, remembers WGN-TV covering the significance of the simultaneous end of the line for the two iconic stadiums. Also, not-so-coincidentally, Fr. Danber is the White Sox chaplain. The Sox and St. Rita even have similar lines in their fight songs, with the Sox using "Go Go White Sox!", and of course, all Mustang fans know the line "Go Rita Go!"

Nick Schultz, Kevin O’Hara, Ryan Caulfield, and JP Hernandez perform the National Anthem before the Sox Game on Monday, April 23, 2018

Ernie Mrozek ‘71 Throws out first pitch

It just seemed right to revive and strengthen the St. Rita/White Sox partnership in 2017 with a St. Rita Night at the Sox game. That tradition continued this year with the second annual St. Rita Night at Guaranteed Rate Field for the Sox vs. Mariners game on Monday, April 23. The first 750 Fans purchasing tickets through a special link provided by the White Sox were given free co-branded St. Rita/White Sox Hats. Also, a portion of the proceeds was donated by the White Sox to St. Rita.

Before the game, the St. Rita Jazz Band, under the direction of KC Perlberg played the National Anthem and our very own Chairman of the Board Ernie Mrozek ’71 threw out the first pitch. The Sox even played a St. Rita video on the scoreboard video screen for the entire crowd to see. Needless to say, the Sox did not disappoint the St. Rita faithful, securing a 10-4 victory with hot bats on a chilly night over the Mariners.