Student Government

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 Kicks Off Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive

On Wednesday November 9th St. Rita kicked off its annual Thanksgiving Food Drive to assist food pantries of Visitation/St. Basil and St. Rita Parishes as well as Angel’s Touch, an organization run by our very own Pat Mitchell to assist families in need during the holiday season.

The Food Drive, which is run by the Junior Class Officers, will run through Friday November 18th with the school setting a goal of 4,000 non-perishable food items. There will be competitions amongst the classrooms with the winning classroom receiving a Spirit Day along with a hot breakfast. Second and third place classrooms will receive juice and donuts.

On Thursday, November 17th the junior class will sponsor a Spirit Day for all students and faculty. Any student or faculty member who brings in three non-perishable food items on the 17th will be allowed to dress down for the day.

In conjunction with the Food Drive, the Knights of Augustine will be joining in a national movement and will be sponsoring Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week at St. Rita. Hunger and Homelessness Week is held each year nationally the week prior to Thanksgiving with the purpose of bringing awareness to the ever-growing problem of homelessness around the country. The Knights of Augustine will be making daily announcements to the student body to bring more awareness to this problem especially in and around our local communities.

St. Rita High School Holds Mock Election

On Tuesday, November 8, 2016--one of the most-anticipated election days in recent history, the St. Rita Social Sciences Department held a mock presidential election. They have been discussing the election and the highest-polled issues of its cycle in class sessions. They learned that although it has been a challenging election for Americans, it is still critically important that we display thoughtful citizenship and educate ourselves on democracy. 

Students had the opportunity to vote for president during their lunch periods. The ballot, an electronic form, is directly reflective of the Illinois ballot without the opportunity to write-in candidates. In order to reflect the national election as much as possible, St. Rita organized an electoral college.  "A" period classes, represent a “state”.  Each class will be allotted a number of our national 538 electors based upon the percentage of students within it. We are all aware that this is, by no means, reflective of teacher opinions, of course. It is simply a reflection of student votes. At the end of the day on Tuesday, St. Rita will announce the results of the popular vote and the electoral college.  

The St. Rita Family Supports St. Baldrick's Efforts to Battle Childhood Cancer

On Friday, February 26th St. Rita held it's annual St. Baldrick's Fundraising Campaign kickoff event. The St. Rita family was honored to welcome special guests Tom and Dee McNamara (St. Barnabas Parish), of Pat Mac's Pack organization. Pat Mac’s Pack is a group of people dedicated to keeping the memory of Patrick Thomas McNamara alive through participation in service projects and fundraising efforts. Patrick was 13 when he died after an 11 year battle with a brain tumor. Many current Ritamen were friends with Patrick.

Mr. and Mrs. McNamara helped the St. Rita Student government and Patrick's friends encourage the entire St. Rita community to support the St. Baldrick's Campaign by shaving their heads or donating. St. Rita will hold it's St. Baldrick's headshaving event at school on St. Patrick's Day, March 17th.