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Augustinian Tradition & Spirituality

St. Rita of Cascia High School is a Catholic college preparatory school for young men, rooted in the Augustinian philosophy of education. Six Augustinian priests and brothers live on campus to serve the community as teachers, campus ministers and spiritual support staff.

While not all students who attend St. Rita are Catholic, we help to develop each student’s relationship with God and his faith.  The Office of Student Life and Ministry program is rooted in our three core values: Truth, Unity, and Love.

Each student takes eight semesters of Theology, attends all-school mass once a week, and celebrates all Holy Days of Obligation.  Mass is also offered each morning in the St. Augustine Chapel, which is located within the St. Rita Shrine Chapel.  Additionally, every Thursday, students are invited to a four-minute Novena Prayer to St. Rita, in which we pray for our daily intentions and sing the hymn to St. Rita of Cascia.  Prayer is a focal point of the school day as well, as we pray several times every school day.

Each student will participate in a yearly religious retreat culminating in the four-day Kairos retreat that all students experience their junior or senior year.  Students are required to do R.O.S.E. (Reflective Outward Service Experience) hours as part of the Theology program.  These can be done away from St. Rita in a student's church, parish, or neighborhood, or at St. Rita through various service opportunities.  Students will not receive a final grade in Theology until all R.O.S.E. hours are completed and a reflection essay is submitted.  

Our seniors also must complete a unique service program called the Caritas Project, which they design themselves and implement in their own way.  They work closely with our Student Life and Campus Ministry offices in completing their Caritas Project.  The Caritas Project teaches our students to put others first and to raise awareness to an idea or social issue that needs more attention.  By selecting a cause near and dear to their heart, they find a passion to go above and beyond the call of help.  They submit a portfolio, hold an interview with faculty members, and are evaluated on an extensive criteria.  Ritamen in the Caritas Project have the ability to change people's fortunes and bring about improvements to their family, community, or city in which they live. 

See also: Academics

St. Rita of Cascia High School is a 100% College Preparatory curriculum. All students are placed in an academic program that is tailored to meet their needs. Our course of studies will challenge each student to fully develop his intellectual talents.

The Honors Program allows qualified students the opportunity of accelerated course work. The College Prep Program provides students all the essential tools for success at the college level. Students may take classes in any level, and are not grouped into "tracks."  If a student excels in one subject, he can take an Honors or Advanced Placement class for the subject, but may take the regular college prep level for other subjects if he is not as strong in them.  This flexibility allows students more freedom in their studies. All students, regardless of their academic program, may avail themselves of the services offered by the Student Success Center.  This room is open during lunch periods and after school and is staffed by a member of the Counseling Department or a faculty member.  There, students have the chance to receive tutoring and homework help through the counselors there, and also members of the St. Rita chapter of the National Honor Society.  Additional after-school tutoring can be arranged through the Guidance Department as well.

St. Rita’s 2019 graduating class of 153 seniors earned just over $20 million in college scholarships (an average of $130,000 per graduate) with 91% of that dollar amount awarded for academic-based scholarships.  98% of the 2019 graduates are attending over 65 different colleges.  Over the last five years, St. Rita graduates have earned $86 million in college scholarships.  In the last two graduating classes alone, St. Rita graduates have earned over $37 million in college scholarships.  

Recent St. Rita graduates are attending (or have recently graduated from) prestigious universities and colleges such as: Dartmouth, Penn, Yale, Cornell, Notre Dame, Northwestern, University of Chicago, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Saint Louis University, Pepperdine, Villanova, Clemson, Duke, Marquette, and many others.  Since 2010, St. Rita has sent 140 graduates to schools in the Big Ten Conference and 14 to Villanova University. St. Rita’s average ACT score is 23, while students in the honors program average over 28 on the ACT.  The average class size is 21 students, while the Advanced Placement program has an average class size of 15.

Students may take a variety of electives, beginning in their sophomore year, such as Forensic Science, Engineering, Chicago Authors, Irish-American Literature, Sports Journalism, STEM, African American Literature, Sports Medicine, Introduction to Guitar, Beginner Band, Digital Photography, British Literature, Computer Science Principles, 2D/3D Animation, Graphic Design, Computer Web Design, Apple App. Design, and others.  Students may take one of our 15 Advanced Placement classes and can earn college credit by scoring high enough on the placement test.  All 15 of St. Rita High School's Advanced Placement classes are 100% certified by the College Board.

In 2017-18, St. Rita launched a new program called minimester, a 30-hour course that takes place outside the walls of St. Rita High School.  Students in the freshmen year attend, and then go again as either a sophomore or a junior. They may go all three years if they desire. Some take place in and around Chicago, others require significant travel to different parts of the United States, and there are even overseas minimesters.  Minimester trips have included the following:  Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Colorado, Texas, the Smokey Mountains, Alaska, Las Vegas, New Orleans, New Mexico, Poland/Germany, France/Italy, Australia, college football spring practice tour to Northwestern, University of Illinois, Purdue and Northern Illinois and Chicago trips including Water Travel, Chicago Media/Technology, Chicago History and Architecture, Astrology, Genealogy, Baking/Cooking, and many more.  St. Rita believes there are some things that can not be taught in a classroom, but rather by seeing, touching and smelling, and we hope to expose our students to areas of the state and country outside their comfort zones.

St. Rita High School is in its 6th year as a 1:1 iPad school, as students and teachers alike are benefiting from the wide range of uses this technology offers.  Students have their books on their iPads, taking away the need for individual books for their many classes (saving money along the way).  Homework is often submitted through various apps or through e-mail to teachers.  The goal of the 1:1 iPad Program is not to make students merely good iPad users--as nothing will ever replace our student-to-teacher interaction--but to make the students smart, ethical, users of the important device and to see it as a learning tool.

St. Rita also offers dual-credit opportunities for its students, currently partnering with Saint Xavier University to offer courses in Business that students can take advantage of.  We are working with other programs at different colleges and universities as well to expand our dual-credit opportunities.  St. Rita will launch its STEM program initiative in the 2019-20 school year and will provide students at St. Rita with even more exciting learning opportunities.

Students may take online classes in their junior and senior years. Online class offerings have expanded to include courses such as: Business, Engineering, Marine Science, Astronomy, French, and several others. Students who take an online class will get a free period off in which to complete them, either in the first or last period of the day. Parents, the student, and the St. Rita Counseling Department will receive a weekly status report for each students’ progress. 15% of eligible students take advantage of this program currently during the 2019-20 school year.

An important aspect concerning academics is the Counseling Center at St. Rita.  Each student has their own counselor and will meet with him/her to discuss what classes they should take, what clubs/activities they are involved in, how their experiences are going, etc.  When sophomores/juniors/seniors meet, their counselor will discuss college planning, such as what schools to apply to, how to pursue financial aid for college, and other key aspects.  The counseling center will also work hand-in-hand with all teachers if students' grades slip and extra tutoring is required.  Students know they should make a strong one-on-one relationship with their counselor to get the most out of them.  During the school day at lunch time (and after school), students can drop-in to our Student Success Center to meet with a counselor, do homework, or study in the quiet environment, distraction-free.  

Finally, St. Rita has instituted a rotating schedule for its students.  The new bell schedule means that students do not take the same class at the same time every day.  Students learn differently at different times of the day, and our new bell schedule allows them a chance to learn at their peak performance for all classes.  Students take seven classes in total, and six classes will meet every day, meaning there is often one class each day a student does not take.  Our new bell schedule also has a built-in Activities period in the day.  A 19-minute break is given to students after second period, where they can meet with Clubs/Activities, get a jump-start on homework, review for a test or quiz, or seek the help of a teacher to ask questions.  Study/Review sessions can take place during this time as well for various classes and teachers.  We also allow our students to "decompress" and use the facilities of our school for recreation.  A six-minute break is at the end of the school day, before the final period, to use the washroom, re-hydrate, or talk to friends.  A 32-minute lunch period for our students allows them time to socialize and affords them time to enjoy a full lunch with relaxation.  Our school day begins at 8:30 a.m. and dismissal is at 2:35 p.m.  Some classes meet for 55 minutes, while others meet for 52 or 42 minutes, depending on the rotation that day. 


See also: Athletics

St. Rita offers 15 sports, many of which have three levels (Freshmen, Sophomore/JV, Varsity) and we encourage multiple-sport athletes.  All sports (with the exception of golf and hockey) participate on our 37-acre campus, with no need to practice at outside venues. Our students take advantage of our beautiful facilities, which are among the best in the state of Illinois!  We enjoy a proud tradition of athletics and are a consistent contender in the Chicago Catholic League, Regional, Sectional, and IHSA state divisions in all sports.    

We are proud of our Tony Lawless Award Winners, which is the top honor given to a senior in the Chicago Catholic League.  Recently, Ritamen given this prestigious award include: Jake Shepski (2014, baseball), Dominique Matthews (2014, basketball), Joe Lopez (2014, lacrosse), Nick Goldsmith (2014, soccer), Treston Forbes (2014, track-and-field), Charles Matthews (2015, basketball), Marty Bechina (2015, baseball), Jake Silzer (2016, wrestling), Austin O'Connor (2017, wrestling), Joe Horn (2019, volleyball) and Mick Doyle (2019, Track and Field).  Also, Todd Kuska '90 (football), Jim Juchcinski '97 (lacrosse), John Nee ‘93 (baseball), Brian Hagen '04 (volleyball) and Bob Kellam ‘92 (soccer) have all won the Lawless Coach of the Year Award in the last three seasons.  

During the last three school years, St. Rita has had many notable athletic accomplishments, including:

  • 11 varsity IHSA Regional Championships:

    • Basketball (2017 & 2018)

    • Baseball (2017, 2018 & 2019)

    • Volleyball (2017, 2018 & 2019)

    • Wrestling (2018)

    • Golf (2018)

    • Water Polo (2019)

  • Varsity Track-and-Field Sectional Championship (2017)

  • Varsity Track-and-Field 4 x 100 meter relay team placed 8th overall at the IHSA state meet (2017)

  • Varsity Track-and-Field 8th Place overall team finish in Class 2A at IHSA State Meet (2019)

  • Varsity lacrosse State Quarter-Finalist appearances (2017 & 2018)

  • Varsity hockey Kennedy Cup Semi-Final appearances (2017, 2018 & 2019)

  • Varsity wrestling team 3rd Place overall at the IHSA Class 2A State Meet (2018)

  • Varsity volleyball team IHSA Elite 8 finalist and Sectional Championship (2018 & 2019)

  • Varsity football Class 7A quarter-finalist (2017)

  • Varsity football Chicago Prep Bowl Champions (2018)

  • Varsity baseball team Steve Bajenski Memorial Tournament Champions (2017)

  • Varsity baseball IHSBCA Summer State Tournament Champions (2017)

  • Varsity baseball 3rd Place overall in Class 4A at IHSA Baseball State Finals (2019)

  • Varsity Water Polo Sectional Finalists (2019)

  • 83 seniors out of 407 (20%) signed national letters-of-intent to continue their athletic and academic careers in college.

  • Austin O'Connor '17 winning his 4th straight IHSA Wrestling State Championship (2017)

Ritamen often go on to participate in athletics at the collegiate and professional level upon graduation from St. Rita.  Since the 2014-15 school year, 14 seniors have signed national letters-of-intent to play college basketball, 48 seniors have signed on to play football at the collegiate level, 55 seniors signed for college baseball and many others have continued their playing and academic careers in track-and-field, lacrosse, wrestling, volleyball, hockey, and other sports.  In fact, as of the beginning of the 2019-20 academic year, over 115 St. Rita alumni are currently playing at the collegiate level in football, basketball, baseball, wrestling, lacrosse, golf, track-and-field, volleyball, hockey, soccer, cross country, and more.  29 of those alumni are participating in athletics at the Division One level. 

St. Rita alumni currently playing at the collegiate level, include football players Hayden Ekern ‘19 (South Dakota), Kempton Shine ‘19 (Eastern Michigan), Chris Bruglio ‘19 (Eastern Michigan), Javon Venson ‘19 (Bowling Green State), Jake Stefanski ‘19 (Illinois), Gavin Mottl ‘19 (Miami, OH), Chris Childers '18 (Indiana State), Louis Cox '18 (Davidson), Marc Mondesir '17 (Illinois), Jake Stover '17 (Illinois), Sean Coghlan '17 (Illinois), Tim Zaleski '17 (Wyoming),  Thomas Stacker Jr., '16 (South Dakota State), Drew Walega '16 (Eastern Illinois), Brandon Williams '16 (Arkansas State), Brandon Gaston '15 (Western Illinois), Tom Rehfeld ‘15 (Western Illinois) and others.

Current basketball players include: Stedmon Ihejirika ‘19 (North Central), Cameron Bartmann ‘19 (Augustana), Chris Williams '16 (Central Connecticut), Charles Matthews '15 (Michigan), Kain Harris '15 (Kent State), Brandon McRoy '15 (Concordia College), Armani Chaney '15 (Tennessee State), Myles Carter '15 (Seattle) Dominique Matthews '14 (UIC), and others.

Ritamen playing college baseball include:  Brendan Carrane ‘19 (Saint Louis), Steve Washilewski '17 (Kansas), Dan Gleaves '16 (Michigan State), Dominic Sarro '16 (Villanova), Jake Shepski '14 (Xavier), and others.

Other student-athletes include:  Hugh Gorman ‘19 (wrestling, Illinois) Austin O'Connor '17 (wrestling, North Carolina), Theo Phipps '17 (track, Southern Illinois), Jake Silzer '16 (wrestling, Illinois), Eric Walker '15 (track, Minnesota), Tim McCarthy '15 (wrestling, Illinois), Keith Burchette '13 (hockey, UMass-Lowell) and many, many more.

Since 2013, there have been 18 St. Rita graduates to play (or currently play) professionally in the National Football League, Major League/Minor League Baseball, and the National Basketball Association or Euro Basketball League. The lists includes Mike Kafka '05 (Northwestern, quarterback for several NFL teams and current Kansas City Chiefs Quarterbacks Coach), Ryan Donahue '06 (Iowa, punter for Detroit Lions), Matt Conrath '07 (Virginia, defensive line for St. Louis Rams), Darius Fleming '08 (Notre Dame, linebacker for New England Patriots, Super Bowl XLIX champion), Bruce Gaston '10 (Purdue, defensive line, Detroit Lions), Kenny Golladay '12 (Northern Illinois, wide receiver, Detroit Lions), and Pat O'Connor '12 (Eastern Michigan, defensive line, Tampa Bay Buccaneers).  Mark Payton '10 (Texas) is a member of the Oakland Athletics AAA-minor league affiliate, Anthony Ray '13 is with the St. Louis Cardinals organization, Joe Filomeno '11 (Louisville) is a member of the Texas Rangers AA-minor league affiliate, the Frisco RoughRiders, and Zack Soria '12 (Florida International) is a member of the Atlanta Braves minor league affiliate, the Danville Braves.  In 2018, Mike Costanzo '14 (Austin Peay) was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays and Nate Soria '14 (Xavier) signed a minor league contract, also with the Tampa Bay Rays.  In 2019, Jalen Greer ‘19 was a 4th round draft pick by the Oakland Athletics and Marty Bechina ‘15 (Michigan State) was also an Oakland Athletics draftee. Tony Zych '08 (Louisville) pitched for the Seattle Mariners as recently as 2017, and is currently on the disabled list. Also in 2019, Vic Law ‘14 (Northwestern) was signed by the Orlando Magic of the NBA.

St. Rita athletics, however, will never come before a student's academics.  Every Wednesday, grade checks are done for all student-athletes.  If a student is not academically-eligible, he will not participate in that weeks' games and practices.  A student is also expected to maintain good standing in the school across the Campus Ministry, Student Activities, and Discipline Offices.

See also: Activities

Involvement at St. Rita is essential to the full development of each young man, and the Activities department is designed to help each Ritaman find their niche in some way.  In the 2018-19 school year, a whopping 93% of students were involved in at least one club, activity, or sports team, making their time at St. Rita High School more than an 8:30 a.m--2:35 p.m. day.  The campus really comes to life after the last bell has rung, with the clubs, student organizations, activities, and sports teams kicking off their meetings and practices.  We offer 30 different types of clubs, student organizations, and service groups at St. Rita.  There is so much to get involved in and Ritamen want to be active in their groups and clubs.

Some of the current club and activity offerings include:  Outdoors Club, Computer Programming Club, Cooking Club, Video Games Club, Fantasy Sports Club, Paintball Club, Bass Fishing, Spanish Club, French Club, Flag Football, STEM Club, the NATIR (a satirical newspaper), Drama and Improv Club, Theatre, Student Exchange Program, S.A.D.D. (Students Against Drunk Driving), National Honor Society, Student Government, Band (Marching, Symphonic, Jazz), Broadcasting, Seinfeld Club, Stock Club, Soccer Club, Chess Team, Scholastic Bowl, Yearbook, Photography, School Choir, and many others.  View the full list of clubs HERE.

By offering diverse clubs with various backgrounds, every Ritaman can find something for them.  And if there is not currently a club being offered, students can start their own club by simply having a faculty member become their club moderator.  

Activities and clubs at St. Rita are also about service.  We develop young men spiritually, socially, academically,  and physically and by serving our community, the young men realize these traits are being instilled in them.  Every Wednesday evening, a group of 4-6 students attends a nearby PADS food and clothing shelter to assist the homeless.  Our entire student body is active in a Thanksgiving Food Drive, a Christmas Toy Drive, and other Clothing Drives throughout the year.  Another highlight of the year are service trips with Habitat For Humanity, where students spend time volunteering over the summer in a poor, rural part of the country.  They live a week of service and prayer, helping the less fortunate people in their area.  Recent trips have included Burnsville, North Carolina, and Lexington, Kentucky.

Of course, there are other ways to get involved in Student Life & Activities at St. Rita, especially at all-school masses, where altar servers, lectures, and liturgical members are needed.  Students are encouraged to participate and get involved in these areas as well.

Activities also leads to fun, and our students have fun!  Every year, there is Homecoming Week in the first semester, School Pride Week in the second semester, intra-murals for various sports, dress down and spirit wear days, and lots of other great things.  The McCarthy Student Center is a beehive of activity after school, with billiards, foosball, and ping-pong tournaments held for any interested student until 6:00 pm on all school days.     

Another important aspect of activities at St. Rita--and getting involved in general--is that studies show students do better academically when they're involved in extra-curricular activities.  These teach students how to better balance their time and how to be disciplined in their academic work.  Academics always comes first at St. Rita, and students that are involved tend to that first, before extra-curricular programs.  The activities program at St. Rita has never been better and it truly is one of the key components to being a well-balanced, hard-working Ritaman. 

Activities also exist for current St. Rita parents!  Our Mother's Club and Father's Club engage in several fun events throughout the year and are always looking for great new members.  Support your Ritaman by supporting one of these great clubs!