The word “leadership” has many definitions and meanings. It can be defined as “the action of leading a group of people or an organization.” It can be defined as “having a vision and sharing it with others.” It can be defined as “creating an environment that will encourage all the members of a team to develop their skills.” There are dozens of ways to describe leadership. But what does leadership mean to you? When you hear the word “leader”, who do you think of? You may think of a teacher, or a coach, or a doctor or a community organizer.
On Tuesday, August 27, 2019 The St. Rita Family thought of 38 of the best and brightest 8th graders in the Chicagoland area in regards to leadership, as they received the Smialek Leadership Award.
The Andrew Smialek Leadership Award, formerly known as the Mustang Award, originated in 1983 to recognize young men of exceptional caliber and who have great potential for the future.
Andrew Smialek, St. Rita Class of 2008, was a strong person who handled his battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with grace and humility. Andrew loved his time at St. Rita and cherished the Augustinian values of truth, unity and love. While maintaining a strong GPA, he was involved in many school activities and always put others before himself. He was a wonderful role model for us all.
All of the recipients of the 2019 Andrew Smialek Award demonstrated their leadership skills already. To be named a winner of this award, the young men had to undergo an intense application and interview process. First, they were to submit their application, grades and a student essay that told us what they thought leadership was. Student recommendation letters were submitted as well, along with many letters of support from teachers, coaches and family friends. Then came the hard part: a 20-minute, face-to-face interview with a St. Rita faculty member. No doubt, the young men may have been nervous before their interviews, but they handled themselves quite well and were very impressive.
Over 250 people joined in the celebration at the St. Rita Shrine Chapel on Tuesday evening. After remarks by Assistant Admissions Director Sharon Smolik about Andy Smialek and his legacy, each student leader was presented a Smialek Award plaque by Wes Benak ‘81—St. Rita’s Interim CEO and VP of Academics, and VP of Student Life Josh Blaszak ‘02.
Following the ceremony, a group photo was taken with Andy’s family and families were invited to the many shrines around the chapel for prayers, pictures, and finally a light reception in the St. Rita’s breathtaking chapel foyer.
Congratulations to the 2019 Andrew Smialek Leadership Award Winners.