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.
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!
"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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 www.stritahs.com/band to make a donation.