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Mustang Stampede: October 6, 2013


The 14th Annual Mustang Stampede will be held at St. Rita on October 6, 2013.  Featuring over 20 bands, this competition is sponsored by the St. Rita High School Band and Band boosters and is coordinated byC indy Gradek, Director of Bands.  The bands will be adjudicated by top university and Drum Corp International judges.

The competition begins at 1:00pm and will be open to the public. Tickets for adults are $10, senior citizens are $6, and children under five will get in for free. There is also a Family Plan ticket for $25 (2 adults, 2 students or senior citizens, $5 each additional student or senior citizen). Concession will be available all day and the festivities will end with an award ceremony at 6:45pm

Schedule of Bands

Class Band Performance Time

Performance Time Band Class
1:00 p.m. Thornwood     A
1:15 p.m. Niles West     A
1:30 p.m. Evergreen Park     A
1:45 p.m. Peotone     A
2:00 p.m. Eisenhower     A
2:15 p.m. Antioch     A
2:30 p.m. BREAK
2:45 p.m. T. F. South    AA
3:00 p.m. Crete-Monee    AA
3:15 p.m. Evanston Township    AA
3:30 p.m. Providence Catholic    AA
3:45 p.m. Rolling Meadows    AA
4:00 p.m. Romeoville    AA
4:15 p.m. BREAK
4:30 p.m. Grayslake North  AAA
4:45 p.m. Glenbrook South  AAA
5:00 p.m. Maine West  AAA
5:15 p.m. Joliet West  AAA
5:30 p.m. Carl Sandburg  AAA
5:45 p.m. Grayslake Central  AAA
6:00 p.m. Elk Grove  AAA
6:15 p.m. Hinsdale South  AAA
6:30 p.m. Exhibition St. Rita of Cascia

Join Fr. Tom and Fr. Bernie in Support of Pope Francis' Angelus Appeal for Peace


On Saturday, September 7, Fr. Tom and Fr. Bernie will attend the Vigil and are asking all to join with Pope Francis in an appeal for Peace in Syria.

From the Order of St. Augustine:

The members of the General Chapter of the Order of Saint Augustine gathered in Rome, declare this day our full support for of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, in his cry for peace and for an end to the violence in Syria. Together with him we appeal to the international community to put aside weapons of war and threats of violence, and to follow the path which leads to peace through dialogue and discussion.

As a sign of our solidarity with the Holy Father we pledge to observe the date of September 7, 2013, as a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and we urge our Augustinian brothers and sisters everywhere, religious and lay, to join with us in this initiative. May this gesture of unity and act of prayer strengthen the bonds that unite all men and women of good will who yearn for peace, and introduce in our day a new era of understanding, cooperation, and hope for people everywhere.

Fr. Michael Di Gregorio, OSA, President of the Chapter

September 4, 2013, Feast of Our Mother of Consolation


From His Holiness, Pope Francis:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Hello! Today, dear brothers and sisters, I wish to make add my voice to the cry which rises up with increasing anguish from every part of the world, from every people, from the heart of each person, from the one great family which is humanity: it is the cry for peace! It is a cry which declares with force: we want a peaceful world, we want to be men and women of peace, and we want in our society, torn apart by divisions and conflict, that peace break out! War never again! Never again war! Peace is a precious gift, which must be promoted and protected. There are so many conflicts in this world which cause me great suffering and worry, but in these days my heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming. I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from the deep within me. How much suffering, how much devastation, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake in that martyred country, especially among civilians and the unarmed! I think of many children will not see the light of the future! With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons: I tell you that those terrible images from recent days are burned into my mind and heart. There is a judgment of God and of history upon our actions which are inescapable! Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence. With all my strength, I ask each party in this conflict to listen to the voice of their own conscience, not to close themselves in solely on their own interests, but rather to look at each other as brothers and decisively and courageously to follow the path of encounter and negotiation, and so overcome blind conflict. With similar vigour I exhort the international community to make every effort to promote clear proposals for peace in that country without further delay, a peace based on dialogue and negotiation, for the good of the entire Syrian people. May no effort be spared in guaranteeing humanitarian assistance to those wounded by this terrible conflict, in particular those forced to flee and the many refugees in nearby countries. May humanitarian workers, charged with the task of alleviating the sufferings of these people, be granted access so as to provide the necessary aid. What can we do to make peace in the world? As Pope John said, it pertains to each individual to establish new relationships in human society under the mastery and guidance of justice and love (cf. John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, [11 April 1963]: AAS 55, [1963], 301-302). All men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursuing peace. I make a forceful and urgent call to the entire Catholic Church, and also to every Christian of other confessions, as well as to followers of every religion and to those brothers and sisters who do not believe: peace is a good which overcomes every barrier, because it belongs all of humanity! I repeat forcefully: it is neither a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict which builds harmony within and between peoples, but rather a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue; this is the only way to peace. May the plea for peace rise up and touch the heart of everyone so that they may lay down their weapons and be let themselves be led by the desire for peace. To this end, brothers and sisters, I have decided to proclaim for the whole Church on 7 September next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative. On 7 September, in Saint Peter’s Square, here, from 19:00 until 24:00, we will gather in prayer and in a spirit of penance, invoking God’s great gift of peace upon the beloved nation of Syria and upon each situation of conflict and violence around the world. Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace! I ask all the local churches, in addition to fasting, that they gather to pray for this intention. Let us ask Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children! Help us, Mary, to overcome this most difficult moment and to dedicate ourselves each day to building in every situation an authentic culture of encounter and peace. Mat, Queen of Peace, pray for us!

Text from page of the Vatican Radio website


Congratulations to May Mustangs of the Month: Senior Conor Wilson, Junior Zachary Schultz, Sophomore Ben Hardy and Freshman Jack Danaher

May Mustangs of the Month:  Senior Conor Wilson, Junior Zachary Schultz, Sophomore Ben Hardy and Freshman Jack Danaher.

St. Rita of Cascia High School bestows the “Mustang of the Month” award every month during the academic year to notable students from each class. Faculty and staff nominate students based on the student’s overall achievements and involvement at the school. The award winners are then selected from those nominated by an award committee comprised of members from the Activities Team, Athletic Department, Guidance Office and Dean’s Office. The following students were selected the May 2012 Mustangs of the Month:

Freshman – Jack Danaher

Jack comes to St. Rita from Christ the King parish and grammar school. As a freshman, Jack played football and basketball. During his free time, Jack helps coach his younger brother’s T-ball team and volunteers at the Christ the King food drives. According to Jack, “St. Rita has been great to me. The classes and teachers are so much fun. The friends I have made in the past year will last a lifetime. The decision I made to come to St. Rita is the best one I’ve ever made.”

Sophomore – Ben Hardy

Ben hails from St. Connor Fisher parish and grammar school. Since coming to St. Rita, Ben has been a member of the volleyball team, Knights of Augustine, French Club and Stock Club . He also attended the trip to Paris, Cascia and Rome during spring break. Outside of St. Rita, Ben participates in the youth group at St. Connor Fisher and helps umpire Little League Baseball. Ben says: “During my first two years at St. Rita I have learned many lessons and skills that will help me to succeed in my future. I am looking forward to the next two eventful years here.”

Junior – Zachary Schultz

Zach attended Connor C. Dore Elementary School, where he continues to volunteer at the fun fair every year. Over the past three years at St. Rita, Zach has been an active member of the St. Rita community: Freshman year he was on student government and filmed lacrosse games, and sophomore year he was part of the softball club. During his junior year, Zach has continued his commitment to the Knights of Augustine while also joining the yearbook club, managing sophomore baseball, and tutoring students during his lunch. About his time at St. Rita, Zach says: “The journey has been long but fast. I can’t believe I will be a senior next year. My time at St. Rita has meant our three core values – veritas, unitas, cartis – truth, unity, love. It has also meant friendship – I am grateful to know so many wonderful Ritamen and there is no other class I would want to graduate with than the class of 2013!”

Senior – Conor Wilson

Conor comes to us from St. Patricia Grammar School and Parish. Over the course of his time at St. Rita, Conor has been a member of the Band, the Knights of Augustine for all four years and the Scholastic Bowl club for three years. Conor has played lacrosse and been on the bowling team for all four years as well. According to teachers, Conor totally gets what it means to be a Ritaman and is a true leader. When describing his experience at St. Rita, Conor says: “I came to St. Rita as a scared freshman. Four years later I’m leaving with great friends, unforgettable memories and tools to help me in college. Thank you to the faculty and my fellow Rita brothers for making these past four years amazing.”

St. Rita Teacher Joe Partacz named Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction

Mr. Joe Partacz of St. Rita of Cascia High School was recently selected as a Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction by the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS).  A role model to pupils, Joe was nominated by student Christopher J. Ciciora for outstanding dedication and commitment to excellence in the classroom. Student members of NSHSS have the opportunity to nominate the educator who made the most significant contribution to their academic career.  The Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction award recognizes teacher role models who have made a lasting difference in their classroom by encouraging students to strive for excellence.

“Dedicated educators who exhibit a commitment to excellence deserve our highest praise and appreciation,” said NSHSS President James Lewis.  “We’re excited to provide an ongoing means to do so, and we encourage our members to nominate teachers who have contributed to their academic success.”

St. Rita Athletic Director Mike Zunica Inducted into the Chicago Catholic League Hall of Fame

On May 3, 2012, St. Rita Athletic Director and Varsity Head Baseball Coach, Mike Zunica was joined by family, friends and colleagues at the 52nd Annual Hall of Fame Induction Banquet of the Chicago Catholic League. Zunica was one of fifteen men honored by the Chicago Catholic League Coaches Association for their contributions to academic and athletic excellence within Chicago Catholic high school athletics

Coach Mike Zunica is currently entering his 16th season as Varsity Head Baseball Coach at St. Rita High School. He has amassed an overall record of 440 – 141. During his tenure, he has lead the Mustangs to 9 regional championships, 4 sectional championships, 4 super-sectional championships, and 9 Elite 8 appearances, including summer state championships in

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2005 and 2009, and a 2nd place finish in both the spring of 2009 and 2010.

In addition to their success on the field, the St. Rita Mustangs Baseball team is proud of their comparable achievements in the classroom. This year’s Varsity Mustangs have 17 student members of the National Honor Society. During Mike’s tenure as head baseball coach, he has witnessed four members of his team earn the distinction of Class Valedictorian. Overall, 143 St. Rita Mustang baseball players were named to the National Honor Society and 127 players went on to compete in collegiate athletics - 26 of whom are currently competing at the collegiate level. St. Rita principal, Brendan Conroy said, “We are fortunate to have a baseball coach and athletic director like Mike, whose passion for St. Rita and commitment to the growth and improvement of his athletes and all our students is truly an inspiration.”

“I believe the greatest gift you can give your kid is a Catholic education,” said Zunica, who gave special thanks to his parents for the sacrifices they made to send him to Catholic schools. Zunica’s wife, Jacqui and three children, Camille, Michael and Mateo were also present at the induction ceremony. During the past four years, Zunica had the opportunity to coach his son, Mike, who will be graduating from St. Rita this month and entering Columbia University in New York to play football in the fall.

St. Rita High School Blood Drive Yet Another Way Students Hope to Save Lives

Throughout the month of March, the students, faculty and staff of St. Rita of Cascia High School have been committed to saving lives.  The St. Rita Family started the month raising thousands of dollars in the fight against childhood cancer, and immediately jumped into yet another way they hope to save live, St. Rita’s Annual Blood Drive.

This live saving event, sponsored by the St. Rita’s Student Government, was held on Thursday, March 22, 2012.  Everyone at St. Rita was invited to participate throughout the day and by the conclusion a total of 108 pints of blood was collected.  According to O’Brian Jenkins from LifeSource Blood Services, the donations made at St. Rita’s Blood Drive will help to save 324 lives.

“While the Annual St. Rita Blood Drive once again proved to be a huge success, it is the hundreds of lives that will now be saved with these donations that really matters.  We are proud of our Student Government Representatives for working together to make the Blood Drive happen and to all our Ritamen who stepped up to donate the gift of life.  This year's Blood Drive was yet another example of how we witness our Ritamen truly living out their Catholic and Augustinian values,” said Mr. Josh Blaszak, Student Government Moderator.

Photo: On Thursday, March 22, St. Rita’s gym was transformed into a blood donation center for the annual blood drive.

St. Rita French Club Visits Alliance Francaise

The St. Rita French Club has had an exciting and eventful year.  They attended a performance of Cyrano at the House Theatre, dined at La Sardine, attended a performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and hosted Christmas and Mardi Gras celebrations. On March 7th, the French Club visited the Alliance Francaise, Chicago's French cultural language and learning center.  The French Club members partook in a French cooking class conducted in French and then enjoyed the fine meal that they prepared.  They then enjoyed watching several prize winning French short films in the Alliance's theatre and ended their day with a discussion on the themes addressed in the films.  

St. Rita Symphonic Band takes 1st Place in Catholic Schools Band Competition

Congratulations to the St. Rita Symphonic Band and its director Ms. Cindy Gradek for their outstanding results in the recent 32nd Annual State of the Art Catholic Band Competition.  On Saturday, February, 19, St. Rita made its 32nd appearance at the annual competition sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. St. Rita took first place in the Class “AA” division and Best Woodwinds Award in Class “AA”.  They also received the Leo J. Henning Most Improved Band Award overall.

St. Rita finished with a score of 94.17 points, second only to Marian Catholic who performed in the “AAA” class of the competition, which took place at St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights.  Adjudicators for the event were Stacey Larson, Associate Director of Bands at Vandercook College of Music, Dr. Kenneth Dye, Director of Bands at the University of Notre Dame and Judy Grimes, Associate Director of Bands at Elmhurst College.


Ten Mustangs Sign National Letters of Intent

Ten members of the Fighting Mustangs, St. Rita of Cascia High School’s football team, signed national letters of intent on Wednesday, February 1.  Among the players, three are headed to the Ivy League, four to Division I schools and three players will be playing on teams that are current National Champions.  The players’ family members were present for the signing, along with Head Football Coach, Mr. Todd Kuska, Athletic Director, Mr. Michael Zunica and President, Fr. Tom McCarthy, O.S.A.

Michael Zunica (RB) signed a letter of intent to attend Columbia University in New York City.  Mike attended St. Alexander Grammar School and resides in Palos Park, IL.

Max Kurucar (DB/P) signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.  Max attended Oak Lawn Hometown Middle School and resides in Oak Lawn, IL.

Will McNamara (LB) signed a letter of intent to attend Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH.  Will attended St. Catherine of Alexandria Grammar School and resides in Oak Lawn, IL.

Dan Fitzgerald (OLB) signed a letter of intent to attend St. Xavier University in Chicago.  Dan attended St. Christina Grammar School and resides in the Mt. Greenwood neighborhood of Chicago.

Dan Ladd (WR) signed a letter of intent to attend St. Xavier University in Chicago.  Dan attended St. Cajetan Grammar School and resides in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago.

Ricardo Valadez (LB) signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Wisconsin Whitewater in Whitewater, WI.  Ricky lives in the Ashburn neighborhood of Chicago and attended St. Bede the Venerable Grammar School.

Kenny Golladay (WR) signed a letter of intent to attend the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, ND.  Kenny resides in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood of Chicago and attended St. Ethelreda Grammar School.

Nick Dachota (OL) signed a letter of intent to attend Indiana State University in Terre Haute, IN.  Nick resides in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago and attended St. John Fisher Grammar School.

Patrick O’Connor (DL) signed a letter of intent to attend Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, MI.  Pat attended Mt. Greenwood Elementary School and resides in the Mt. Greenwood neighborhood of Chicago.

Charles Elmore (DB) signed a letter of intent to attend South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD.  Charles resides in Bridgeview, IL and attended George Washington Elementary School in Lyons.

Photo: Ten members of the Fighting Mustangs, St. Rita of Cascia High School’s football team, signed national letters of intent on Wednesday, February 1.  Pictured (standing, left to right): Head Football Coach, Mr. Todd Kuska, Michael Zunica, Max Kurucar, Will McNamara, Dan Fitzgerald, Dan Ladd, Ricky Valadez, St. Rita Athletic Director, Mr. Mike Zunica.  (seated, left to right): Kenny Golladay, Nick Dachota, Pat O’Connor and Charles Elmore.

St. Rita Announces Jasica Art Scholarship Winners

St. Rita of Cascia High School recently announced the winners of the 5th Annual Joseph J. Jasica Art Scholarship.  The program was founded by St. Rita alumni Mr. Raymond Jasica ’55 and Mr. Robert Jasica ’57, in memory of their brother, Joseph, who was a 1952 graduate, now deceased.  Each winner was awarded a $500 grant that goes toward the current school year’s tuition. The Joseph J. Jasica Art Scholarship Competition encourages art students and the entire student body to create a piece of art.  There were six entries this year, which in some way relate to St. Rita’s mission and tradition.  While all demonstrated the talents and perspective of the artists, two were selected as scholarship winners.  The winning entries were submitted by senior Charles Elmore (Bridgeview, George Washington-Lyons) and junior Nick Henrichs (Oak Lawn, St. Gerald).

The winners were announced at an all-school Mass on January 6th and the awards presented by St. Rita Principal Mr. Brendan Conroy, President Fr. Tom McCarthy, O.S.A. ’83, art teacher Mrs. Robyn Kurnat, and scholarship coordinator Ms. Martha Dion.  Also present for the ceremony were Mr. Raymond Jasica, his wife Jeanine, and Mrs. Karen Omastiak, daughter of Joseph and mother to Ritamen Mark ’08 and Brian ’11 (St. Bede the Venerable).  The other contest participants were presented with a commemorative glass keepsake.  Those students were senior Ryan Tomlinson (Chicago - Grand Boulevard, Dawes School), Juniors Anton Thauer (Evergreen Park, Most Holy Redeemer), Sophomores John Carpenter (Chicago-Bridgeport, Bridgeport Catholic Academy) and Charles Henrichs (Burbank, St. Gerald).

Congratulations to the winners and all who participated, and special thanks to the Jasica family for giving back to the fine arts program and students at St. Rita while keeping the memory of Joseph alive.

Photo: St. Rita of Cascia High School recently announced the winners of the 5th Annual Joseph J. Jasica Art Scholarship.  Pictured back row from left to right, St. Rita Art Students Ryan Tomlinson, John Carpenter, Anton Thauer, Charles Henrichs, Charles Elmore and Nick Henrichs.  Front Row:  St. Rita President, Fr. Tom McCarthy, O.S.A., Art Instructor, Mrs. Robyn Kurnat, Mrs. Karen Omastiak, Mrs. Jeanine Jasica, Mr. Raymond Jasica and Scholarship Coordinator, Ms. Martha Dion.

St. Rita Students Deliver Donation to Advocate Center for Breast Care

On Monday, December 12, St. Rita of Cascia High School Senior Student Government members along with Student Government Moderator, Mrs. Jodi McLawhorn and their teacher, Mrs. Mary Misora, delivered a check to the Advocate Christ Center for Breast Care in Oak Lawn.  The donation, totaling more than $2,200 was collected through various fundraisers led by student government.  These include the sale of pink rally towels, pink bandanas and pink ribbon suckers.  Student Government also planned a student dress down/spirit day, where students are entitled to dress out of uniform in St. Rita Spiritwear for the day if they make a donation to the cause.

 The donation to the Advocate Breast Care Center in Oak Lawn was especially meaningful to the St. Rita students because one of their own teachers is a patient there.  Mrs. Mary Misiora, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, accompanied the students who thanked the nurses and staff for taking such good care of their teacher, “Ms. Mis.”

 Patrice A. Stephens, MS, APN, AOCN, Breast Health Specialist for Advocate Christ Medical Center and the Advocate Christ Center for Breast Care, thanked the students and said the donation would be used for a variety of breast cancer projects at Christ Medical Center.

 Photo: St. Rita students deliver a donation to the Advocate Center for Breast Care. Pictured  Standing from left to right St. Rita Senior Student Government Members: John Johnson (Chicago Beverly, St. Cajetan), Shakir Spells (Chicago Morgan Park, St. Ethelreda), Mike Murphy (Evergreen Park, Central JHS), Brendan Duffy (Palos Heights, St. Alexander) St. Rita Augustinian Volunteer, Dan Madden, Max Kurucar (Oak Lawn, OLHMS) Mark Murphy (Burbank, St. Albert the Great), Chris Ciciora (Chicago Mt. Greenwood, St. Christina), Albert Alfano (Chicago Beverly, Morgan Park Academy) and St. Rita Director of Student Activities and Student Government Moderator, Mrs. Jodi McLawhorn, along with Advocate Center for Breast Care Staff and St. Rita teacher, Mrs. Mary Misiora.

23 Seniors Recently Named Illinois State Scholars



Illinois applauds success of 23 St. Rita of Cascia High School students

St. Rita of Cascia Principal, Mr. Brendan Conroy, is pleased to announce that twenty-three St. Rita students have been recognized as 2012-13 Illinois State Scholars.

The prestigious award, given annually by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC), recognized 17,515 high school students from across the state as this year’s State Scholars.

Illinois State Scholar winners rank in the top ten percent of high school seniors from 773 different high schools across the state. Selection is based on SAT, ACT and/or Prairie State Achievement Exam scores, and/or class rank at the end of the junior year. High school guidance counselors work in conjunction with ISAC to determine the winners.

St. Rita students include:  Cody J. Akel (Evergreen Park, Central JHS), Christopher J. Ciciora (Chicago-Mt. Greenwood, St. Christina) David W. Ciciora (Chicago-Mt. Greenwood, St. Christina), Joseph P. Dorken (Chicago-Ashburn, St. Germaine), Anthony G. Gleason (Oak Lawn, St. Gerald), Jacob R. Golding (Palos Park, Palos South Middle School), Devereux Hall (Chicago-Marquette Park, St. Walter), William T. Henry (Orland Park, Jerling JHS), Connor B. Hughes (Burbank, St. Albert the Great), Martin J. Kelly (Chicago-Mt. Greenwood, St. Christina), Max Kurucar (Oak Lawn, Oak Lawn Hometown Middle School), Matthew R. Marciano (Chicago-Morgan Park, St. Walter), Mark T. Murphy (Burbank, St. Albert the Great), Michael J. Murphy (Evergreen Park, Central JHS), Michael R. Prado (Chicago-Westlawn, St. Mary Star of the Sea), Kevin L. Regnier (Chicago-Beverly, St. John Fisher), John E. Reynolds (Chicago-Beverly, Cajetan), Craig T. Sabath (Chicago-Brighton Park, Bridgeport Catholic Academy), Peter M. Vanek (Oak Lawn, St. Gerald), Theodore J. Verdun (Homer Glen, Homer JHS), Zachary B. Wagner (Chicago-Mt. Greenwood, St. Christina), Kevin J. Zawaski (Oak Lawn, St. Germaine), and Michael L. Zunica (Palos Park, St. Alexander.)

“Illinois State Scholars represent the best in educational excellence in Illinois,” said John Sinsheimer, ISAC Interim Executive Director. “The Commission applauds their success and salutes their families and the teachers at St. Rita of Cascia on this achievement.”

While the prestigious recognition does not include a monetary award, recipients are encouraged to cite the honor on applications for college admission and scholarships in addition to completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) after January 1 to determine eligibility for federal and state aid, including Illinois’ $420 million need-based Monetary Award Program (MAP).

“Each of twenty-three St. Rita students should take pride in their accomplishment and what it says about their commitment to academic attainment,” Sinsheimer concluded.

St. Rita Principal, Mr. Brendan Conroy added, “As a school, we are incredibly proud of these senior students.  They demonstrate day in and day out what it means to be a Ritaman--a man of Truth.  Their diligence in school and dedication to their studies shows a great maturity and foresight on their part.  Because of their hard work, doors for college opportunities will be open to them.  I thank them for their academic leadership at St. Rita of Cascia.”

Originally formed as the Illinois State Scholarship Commission in 1957, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission provides students of all ages and backgrounds with the resources and support to obtain financial aid for higher education. A state agency, ISAC has paved the path to postsecondary education with innovative programs for over 50 years. In academic year 2010, the commission helped make college accessible and affordable for Illinois students by administering over 199,000 grants and scholarships totaling over $429 million. More than a half million Illinois State Scholars have been recognized by ISAC since the program’s inception.

The Commission provides educational funding via numerous programs such as the Monetary Award Program (MAP), the Illinois Veteran Grant Program and various other grant, scholarship, loan repayment and prepaid tuition programs. Students and families have free access to a wealth of financial aid and college planning information at ISAC’s family of websites available at

Freshman Brendan Murphy, Sophomore Mario Hart, Junior Troy Payton and Senior Jack Reynolds named December Mustangs of the Month

St. Rita of Cascia High School bestows the “Mustang of the Month” award every month during the academic year to notable students from each class.  Faculty and staff nominate students based on the student’s overall achievements and involvement at the school. The award winners are then selected from those nominated by an award committee comprised of members from the Activities Team, Athletic Department, Guidance Office and Dean’s Office. The following students were selected the December 2011 Mustangs of the Month:

Freshman – Brendan Murphy (Chicago-Beverly, St. Cajetan) As a freshman, Brendan is a member of the soccer team, the ping-pong club and will be joining the lacrosse team in the spring. During his free time, Brendan makes food and cookies for families living at the Ronald McDonald House.  He also helps out with the Play for Maeve Foundation. Brendan says, “St. Rita has meant so much to me because of the sports, academics and the family that is so welcoming to me."

Sophomore – Mario Hart (Chicago-South Loop, South Loop Elementary School) Mario is a parishioner at Old St. Mary’s where he is an altar server. He volunteers his time at his grammar school by reading to kindergartners and assisting with different school events. Since he started at St. Rita over a year ago, Mario has been a member of the football and lacrosse teams, as well as the French Club and the Knights of Augustine. Mario says, “My time at St. Rita so far has been a blast.  I’m glad to be a part of the St. Rita community and can’t wait to see what the next two years have in store for me.”

Junior – Troy Payton (Orland Park, Orland JHS) Troy is a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish.  While at St. Rita, Troy has been a member of the baseball team and the Knights of Augustine for all three years, and a member of the Spanish Club for two years. Troy commits a lot of his personal time to volunteering with special needs baseball clinics, the Ronald McDonald House, PADS, and Cystic Fibrosis charity work. About his time at St. Rita, Troy says, “These past two and a half years have helped shape me into the person I am today.  I’ve developed great friendships that will last a lifetime.  I know I will carry the Rita spirit with me the rest of my life.”

Senior – Jack Reynolds (Chicago-Beverly, St. Cajetan) Jack comes to us from St. Cajetan Grammar School and Parish, where he is an altar server.  Over the past four years at St. Rita he has been a Football Manager and a member of the Video Games Club. Jack has also been a manager for the lacrosse team and a member of the Knights of Augustine for 3 years, Computer Club, Bass Fishing Club.  Jack has also participated in the Foreign Exchange Program and fundraising for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. When describing his experience at St. Rita, Jack says, “With only about a half a year left of my four years at St. Rita, I am beginning to learn that I will miss my times as a student, knowing that they taught me what I needed in order to succeed in my future.”

The Mustangs of the Month awards were presented at an all-school mass on December 8th.  Each student was presented with a personally engraved Mustang statue.

Photo: St. Rita of Cascia High School announces the Mustangs of the Month for December 2011.  Pictured:  Sophomore Mario Hart, Freshman Brendan Murphy, Junior Troy Payton and Senior Jack Reynolds.


St. Rita of Cascia High School Players Named to Illinois Academic All-State Squad

Four St. Rita of Cascia football players were recently named to the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association All-State Academic team. Defensive Back Max Kurucar (Oak Lawn Hometown Middle School), Fullback Michael Zunica (St. Alexander), Linebacker William McNamara (St. Catherine of Alexandria), and Defensive End Daniel Fitzgerald (St. Christina) were recognized as outstanding student-athletes. This is the 2nd year in a row that McNamara was selected.

Each year high school football coaches across the state nominate players for their outstanding achievements in the classroom as well as on the field. In order to be nominated each player must have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher and be selected as a 1st team All Conference player.

See What ESPN Chicago says about this year's Mustang Basketball Team

By Scott Powers
9. St. Rita: This looks to be the year coach Gary DeCesare turns St. Rita’s program completely around. After going 12-14 last season, the Mustangs return 6-7 senior forward AJ Avery, a Western Michigan recruit, 6-2 guard Tony Hicks, a Penn recruit, senior point guard Cullen Foulks, sophomore forward Victor Law and sophomore guard Dominique Matthews. There also will be a couple freshmen who will contribute immediately. St. Rita will be the team to beat in the Catholic League.

Beverly Review: Schaible caps stellar year with solid state meet

by Scott Fredericks As a freshman last year, Peter Schaible was the best runner on the St. Rita High School cross-country team.

This year, he became one of the best in the Chicago Catholic League and the entire state.

Schaible recently finished 52nd in a field of 209 runners in the Class 2A state crosscountry meet at Detweiler Park in Peoria on Nov. 5, completing a season that saw the talented sophomore achieve some impressive milestones.

He wasn’t fazed by his initial trip to the pinnacle of Illinois prep cross-country.

“I was ecstatic to get there, but I was getting more nervous as the race got closer. Once I started, I started thinking to myself that it wasn’t that bad and I was doing pretty well,” said Schaible. “I’ve never experienced anything like it. It was a dream come true for me. I had been dreaming about it the whole year. It was my motivation for going to practice and working hard. Our coach would always remind us about our goals of making it to state, and that kept me going.”

Schaible recorded a personal- best time of 15:44, shattering his previous personal-best by 14 seconds. He ran a 4:52 first mile to put himself in a good position.

Schaible navigated the second mile in another strong split before pushing himself through the most difficult part of the course in the final 800 meters.

“I knew the hill was coming at the end of the race, and I knew it was going to be brutal,” said Schaible. “Once I got to the hill, I just started pushing myself as hard as I could. It was my last race of the year, and I wanted to leave everything out there. I just kept thinking about my mechanics and kept my knees up and trucked through the hill. The crowd was going nuts, and that helped pushed me through.”

Schaible is already thinking about returning to the state meet and finishing even higher next season.

“I’m starving to get back down there,” said Schaible. “The whole atmosphere makes you want to keep coming back. Everything I do during track and field, the miles I put in during the summer and the cross-country workouts next season will all be geared to me getting back to state. I’m going to work as hard as I can, and hopefully I’ll get back there.”

Schaible’s state meet was just one of many successful races this season for the talented sophomore.

He was eighth in the varsity race at the Chicago Catholic League championship at Midlothian Meadow on Oct. 15. Schaible, who broke 16 minutes on the 3.1-mile course, was the only sophomore among the top eight finishers.

He parlayed that momentum into a regional championship the following week at the Class 2A Riverside-Brookfield regional at Sundown Meadows Forest Preserve in Countryside.

Schaible then punched his ticket to the state meet with an 11th-place finish in the challenging Nazareth Academy sectional at Niles West High School. He was the top individual qualifier in the sectional.

Schaible’s improvement from his freshman campaign to this year was astounding. Last year at regionals, he clocked in with a time of 16:55 before completing the difficult course in the Lockport sectional in 17:55 to end the season. Schaible’s sectional performance this year was more than 90 seconds quicker than last year’s.

“Peter has the ability to find a personal challenge in each race, and then he takes that as motivation to battle through the grueling pain that will inevitably arrive as you push yourself past old limitations and out of your comfort zone,” said St. Rita cross-country Coach Rory Haran. “He comes from a family that believes in working hard and striving for higher standards, and he takes great pride in that. He races with a chip on his shoulder, which is necessary for success in cross-country. The Catholic League and the state of Illinois are both loaded with talented distance runners. To make a name for yourself requires untold months and years of quiet, unrecognized work to improve. Most kids don’t want to do that. Peter does.”

In recognition of his success as a student-athlete, Schaible was recently selected as the St. Rita sophomore class Mustang of the Month for November.

St. Rita Senior Devereux Hall Receives National Recognition

St. Rita of Cascia High School senior, Devereux Hall (St. Walter), was recently named an Outstanding Participant in the National Achievement Scholarship Program. Devereux scored in the top 3 percent of more than 160,000 African Americans who requested consideration in the 2012 National Achievement Program. The National Achievement Scholarship Program was started in 1964 specifically to honor academically promising Black American high school students. The annual scholarship competition is conducted by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC).

Devereux is currently ranked in the top 6% of his class, a member of the Varsity Soccer team, a member of the Spanish club, and was recently inducted into St. Rita’s chapter of the National Honor Society.  Devereux has yet to decide where to continue his education but has applied to such prestigious universities as Northwestern, Cornell, IIT, and Villanova.

“Devereux embodies our values at St. Rita. He seeks the truth through his studies and his academic ability and his gifts and talents give us not only great pride in him but also great hope for the future. His leadership, work ethic, and the way he conducts himself at St. Rita assure me that his future is bright and limitless,” said Brendan Conroy, Principal of St. Rita High School.

Devereux was also recently selected by the Illinois Institute of Technology as part of the inaugural cohort of Boeing Scholars. The Illinois Institute of Technology Boeing Scholars Academy is a year-round academic enrichment program enabling access and exposure to STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). The inaugural class includes a total of 94 exceptional students who were chosen for their outstanding commitment to academics, promise as future leaders, and vision for positively impacting their communities.

Six Mustangs Sign for Division I Athletics

Six members of St. Rita of Cascia High School’s Senior Class recently signed national letters of intent to play Division I athletics next year.  The players, TJ Verdun (Homer Glen), Eddie De La Riva (Blue Island), Stefano Belmonte (Munster, IN), Zack Soria (Homer Glen), Tony Hicks (South Holland), and A.J. Avery (Chicago - Jackson Park Highlands) are among the top high school athletes in Illinois.  The students’ family members were present for the signing ceremony, along with Athletic Director and Head Varsity Baseball Coach Mike Zunica, Associate Head Varsity Baseball Coach John Nee ’93, Head Varsity Basketball Coach Gary DeCesare, President Fr. Tom McCarthy, O.S.A. ’83 and Principal Mr. Brendan Conroy.

TJ Verdun (Baseball - OF) signed a letter of intent to attend Saint Louis University.  He was congratulated by his parents, Ski and Beth.  “In choosing Saint Louis, it felt like I was picking St. Rita all over again because of the close family-like environment.  I like the baseball program’s direction and thank St. Rita and the coaching staff for all their hard work and efforts,” said Verdun.

Eddie De La Riva (Baseball - P) signed a letter of intent to attend Purdue University.  He was congratulated by his parents, Hector and Teresa. “I felt right at home on their campus and feel the coaching staff at Purdue is very knowledgeable about the game of baseball.  St. Rita was the best decision of my life so far and I’m excited to play at a major level next year and beyond,” said De La Riva

Stefano Belmonte (Baseball - 3B) also signed a letter of intent to attend Purdue University.  He was congratulated by his parents, Tony and Norma. “I like the Big 10 atmosphere of Purdue and their coaching staff will help me excel.  St. Rita taught me how to play the game of baseball right and become a man on and off the field, “said Belmonte.

Zack Soria (Baseball - C, SS) signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Louisville.  He was congratulated by his parents, Bob and Debbie. “The staff at Louisville really gets after it and their goal is to win a national championship, which is mine as well.  From my experiences at St. Rita, I’ve learned that every day is a gift and that nothing is guaranteed—I’ll be prepared for the next level now,” said Soria.

Tony Hicks (Basketball - Guard) signed a letter of intent to attend The University of Pennsylvania.  He was congratulated by his mother, Yvette. “I felt very comfortable with the staff and administration at Penn, and the chance to receive an Ivy League education is wonderful.  I feel very prepared for the next level based on my experience here at St. Rita,” said Hicks.

A.J. Avery (Basektball - Forward) signed a letter of intent to attend Western Michigan University.  He was congratulated by his mother, Daphne. “It seemed like Western Michigan really wanted me, and it is a great atmosphere in their basketball program.  St. Rita helped me mature and I feel ready to take on the challenges at the next level,” remarked Avery.

Athletic Director and Head Baseball Coach Mike Zunica is proud of all the athletes.  “We’re proud of the accomplishments of these young men both on the athletic fields and in the halls and classrooms of St. Rita.  We’re excited for all six young men as they take the next step in their lives,” said Coach Zunica.