St. Rita Earns Top-Ranked Catholic School Finish In STEM Competition

On Thursday, October 3rd, St. Rita sent six teams (comprised of four students each) to compete in the inaugural IBEW-NECA STEM competition, hosted by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers - Local 134 and co-sponsored by Northwestern University. St. Rita students performed exceptionally well, and St. Rita took home 3rd Place overall honors and was the top-ranked Catholic school in the competition.

Overall, 40 teams competed from 10 high schools in the Chicagoland area. The competing schools were:  St. Rita, Downers Grove North, Maine East, Stagg, Lockport, Downers Grove South, Andrew, Chicago Agriculture of Science, Brother Rice and St. Laurence. St. Rita’s top-ranked team scored 292.5 points which was just five points away from first place. The top-ranked St. Rita team consisted of seniors Nick Adent (Mt. Greenwood), Justin Darwin (St. Christina), Ryan Fidler (St. Barnabas) and junior Eric Seo (Lakeview Junior High). They went by the name of “Team Ric”.

St. Rita’s other teams placed very well, too.  Team members include:

  • Team Pangrazio: (named after Department Chair, Mrs. Maureen Pangrazio): Junior Brian Deenihan, Junior Noah O’Grady, Junior Mike Gaughan, Junior DJ Luckett

  • Team Mustangs: Junior Quincy Sanders, Junior Jesus Flores, Junior Saul Garcia, Junior Nick O’Neill

  • Team “Todd Father”: (named after Science Teacher, Mr. Todd Kuska ’90): Senior Pat Cranley, Senior Jake Kuska, Senior Chris Cherullo, Senior Connor Earley

  • Team #StangGang: Senior Tito Reyes-Binfa, Senior Justin Rosenau, Senior Peter Viz, Junior Evan Schoenberger

  • Team Two-Star Athletes: Senior Jimmy Larkin, Senior Brendan Breslin, Senior Luke Manning, Senior Evan Wojcicki

 The competition consisted of three phases for all teams to complete, and these were timed events that tested not only getting the work done, but also stressed time management. 

Phase One was Residential Load Analysis, where competitors had to collect energy consumption data from appliance and equipment specification sheets. As the teams began Phase One, Phase Two was announced: Solar Photovoltaic Equipment Selection. This phase required teams to evaluate the power-producing system equipment and examine solar PV modules, record data and perform calculations. 

Phase Three, the final test of the competition, was Practical Application of PV System Design. There, teams had to assess the physical area where the PV systems would be mounted and finalize their choices of solar PV equipment by applying their calculations of available space to their equipment options.

After all was said and done, St. Rita’s “Team Ric” was in 3rd place overall among the 40 teams there with their 292.5 points. St. Rita also had another team score 279 points, which was also more than any other Catholic school.

Senior Ryan Fidler, St. Rita Student Government President and member of the St. Rita Band said that the competition “was nothing like I thought it would be, but we absolutely loved it.  The entire day was cool…we felt we learned a lot.”

Of the 24 Ritamen who participated, they represented a total of 10 sports, and over 20 different clubs and student activities groups, which showcased the overall balance of our St. Rita students.

All participants received a ticket to a Northwestern Wildcats football game, and St. Rita’s 3rd Place overall team received tape measurers as their take-home prize. 

This competition was the latest example of St. Rita’s new partnership with the Local 134 Electrical Union, based out of Alsip.  Earlier in the school year, St. Rita students visited Local 134 for a full day of activities, hands-on learning and demonstrations by the staff and workers of Local 134.  St. Rita also plans to launch partnerships with other trades in the coming year and continues to seek options for our students in our College Prep-Plus curriculum.

The competition was certainly one to remember for our students and was another great event in what’s been an amazing start to our 115th year of educating some of the finest young men on the south side of Chicago.