All-State Chorus for 2 Fenwick Singers

Tom Latz repeats as member of ILMEA All-State Chorus, joined by fellow senior Grace Toriello.

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Grace Toriello (left) is an All-State soprano vocalist, while repeat All-State performer and senior classmate Tom Latz brings up the bass.

Two Friars have been chosen for the Illinois Music Education Association (ILMEA) All-State Chorus in Illinois. Grace Toriello ’18, a soprano, was named to the All State Chorus; and bass singer Thomas Latz ’18 has achieved the highest choral level of All State Honors Chorus. “This is Thomas’ second year of All-State participation,” points out Fenwick Choral Director Suzanne Senese. “We are very proud of both of our talented performing artists.”

District auditions were held in October at Sandburg High School, and the District Festival was hosted by Elmhurst College in November. Ensembles consist of Senior Chorus, Band, Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, Vocal Jazz and 9/10 Chorus. (See related story https://www.fenwickfriars.com/a-dozen-very-musical-friars/) Of the 41 instrumental and choral students who auditioned, 10 choral students, two orchestra students and three 9/10 Chorus students were chosen to participate in the District 1 Festival ensembles held at Elmhurst College. More than 500 musicians and singers from District 1 participated in this event.

From the District Festival students are then chosen to participate at the next level, which is All State or All State Honors ensembles. These ensembles will rehearse and perform with students chosen from all districts in the state of Illinois on January 27, 2018, at the All-State Conference in the Peoria Civic Center. The ILMEA’s primary function of the audition process is to determine which students are best suited to effectively participate in the performance organizations at the district and state levels, and to rank those students as necessitated by standard organization processes within each division (i.e. part assignments, solo assignments, seating, etc.).

ILMEA is a non-profit association representing every level of music education, in every discipline. The association exists to advocate for universal access to comprehensive music education; deliver exemplary professional development for educators; and provide outstanding musical experiences for all Illinois learners facilitated by licensed music educators. It is the only professional association in Illinois dedicated to the support of a comprehensive, standards-based and assessed program of music education. With more than 3,500 members, it is one of the largest of the 52 affiliates of NafME, the National Association for Music Education, which is over 75,000 members strong. ILMEA is among the largest fine-arts education organizations in the nation and is the largest in Illinois, featuring nine districts throughout the state.

Statue of St. Dominic Finds a New Home Among the Fenwick Friars

Was it fate that reunited Amedeo Carzoli’s 104-year-old creation with his great-great-granddaughter on Chicago’s West Side?

By Mark Vruno

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Joe Carzoli (from left), Fr. Woerter ’86, Bob Carzoli and Gina Carzoli ’19 pose with the statue that the patriarch of their family created 104 years ago.

There was much sadness in June when Queen of Peace High School (QOP) in southwest-suburban Burbank closed due to financial hardship brought on by declining enrollment. Founded in 1963 by the Sinsinawa Dominican Order of Nuns, the all-girls Catholic school had capacity for 1,400 students, but its 2016-17 enrollment had dwindled to below 300 girls. Nearby St. Laurence has gone co-ed, in hopes of drawing in female students that Marist and Mother McAuley don’t lure.

Beyond the tears for the school that was, there were her remnants – several statues among them. Everyone, it seemed, from former faculty and alumnae to members of QOP’s final Class of ’17, wanted a piece of Peace. One underclasswoman got permission from her family to claim the convent’s statue of St. Dominic; her consenting parents assumed its height was under 24 inches, not realizing that the religious artifact was, in fact, life-size.

“It stands nearly six feet and is just too big for a home,” explains Father Dennis Woerter, O.P. ’86, Fenwick’s Director of Campus Ministry who himself towers tall at 6’4” and had been saying masses at Queen of Peace. Sister Trina Marie Ulrich, Fr. Dennis’ campus-ministry counterpart there, thought the Friars would appreciate the statue. Fr. Woerter had said baccalaureate masses at QOP and presided over its final all-school mass. Fenwick President Fr. Richard Peddicord, O.P. accepted the Sisters’ gracious offer.

“So, I folded down all the seats and put the statue in my car. It looked like dead body lying flat in my red Prius,” Fr. Woerter recalls with a laugh, “with St. Dominic’s head resting against my right arm.” After the 12-mile transport north on Harlem Ave. to Oak Park, he spotted a signature under its base. He explains, “Student helpers in the Maintenance Dept. were helping to unload the statue when I first saw it:” Amedeo Carzoli 3-7-1913. The last name rung a bell, but why?

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The sculptor’s signature on the statue’s base, dated 3-7-1913.

A young woman by the name of Anjelina Carzoli ’19 happens to be a junior at Fenwick. Could there be a connection, he wondered, or was it a coincidence? “I picked up the phone and called Gina’s father, Joe, and as soon as I said the name Amedeo, he said, ‘That’s my Great-Grandfather.’” It was around Father’s Day, and when Joe called his Dad in Arizona with the news, Amedeo’s grandson, Robert (Bob) Carzoli, had chills running down his spine. Bob’s father was one year old at the time.

Continue reading “Statue of St. Dominic Finds a New Home Among the Fenwick Friars”

Visualizing a Peaceful World (in the mid-1940s)

A Fenwick alumnus saved his valedictory address from 72 years ago. We publish it here to commemorate Pearl Harbor Day.

By Jim Wilson ’45

706 stars: A Service Flag hanging in school depicts the number of Fenwick alumni serving in the U.S. Armed Forces during Wilson’s junior year in 1943-44 (Yearbook photo).

In 1945, Fenwick Commencement Exercises took place on June 10th, one month after Germany’s surrender from World War II. In August of that year, the United States would drop two atomic bombs on Japanese cities.

For the past four years Fenwick’s graduates have been embarking on a pretty dark world. They have shouldered this responsibility of freeing that world from fear, slavery, and oppression. Because of the zeal with which they have met this responsibility we, of the class of 1945, are able to look beyond the tragedy of war and visualize a peaceful world, void of fear and oppression. We realize the responsibility of procuring a Christian peace that will be a fitting memorial, especially to those 38 Fenwick graduates who have given their lives in this conflict, and thereby made our graduation a step into a more peaceful world.

But some will ask: “Are we prepared for such a job? Are we taking enough with us from Fenwick? What have we achieved during our last four years?” These questions make us look back and meditate on our years in Fenwick. We see the progress we have made and the change that has come over us since we first became Fenwick boys. What we see makes us certain that we are ready to assume the responsibilities that the world will impose on us.

Scholastically we are prepared. We have learned how to think, how to reason. We have delved into many different fields, into the arts and sciences. We have not only learned how to form our own ideas but how to express them, both by speech and by the pen. Our high school days have been spent with our teachers, men expert in their fields, with whom association alone was enough to stimulate our intellects in the pursuit of knowledge. Intellectually, Fenwick has abundantly prepared us.

Wilson was the 1945 valedictorian at FHS.

But a full education depends upon much more than scholastic or intellectual training. The mere sharpening of wits, the sheer procuring of knowledge can be used either for good or for evil. Intellectual enlargement is dangerous unless it is accompanied by a corresponding moral growth. Our years at Fenwick have certainly been a stimulus to this moral growth. This development, however, has not been entirely dependent upon religion classes. The application of God and of moral standards to the other subjects, the discipline, the religious opportunities at Fenwick have all been instrumental in giving us a full Christian education. The faculty itself is composed of men, of priests who have devoted their lives to the development of this moral growth and education. Continue reading “Visualizing a Peaceful World (in the mid-1940s)”

Faculty Focus: December 2017

Brigid (Baier) Esposito

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Mrs. Esposito is in her 14th year of teaching science at Fenwick.

What is your educational background?

BE: I am a Fenwick alumna and member of the 1996 first co-educational class. After high school, I attended Washington University in St. Louis and completed degrees in Chemical Engineering and Systems Science. In college, I developed a passion for service through active participation in the Catholic Student Center. I worked two wonderful co-operative experiences at DuPont (making soy protein) and Proctor and Gamble (making Cascade) and enjoyed both experiences immensely. After college, I decided to pursue my passion for education by participating in the Notre Dame ACE (Alliance for Catholic Education) program. Through that program, I taught in a Catholic high school in St. Petersburg, FL, for three years and earned a Master’s in Education.  After returning to teach at Fenwick, I attended night school and finished my Master in Applied Physics at DePaul University.

What are you currently reading for enjoyment?

BE: I have a five-year old and an eight-year old boy so, more often than not, I find myself reading parenting books in my downtime. I am currently reading “UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World” by Dr. Michele Borba.

What interests do you pursue outside of the classroom?

BE: Taking care of my family is already an active job, but I also try to squeeze in a workout whenever I can. I recently started taking Tae-kwan-do with my two boys. My eight-year-old, Stephen, is a brown belt and my five-year-old, Johnny, and I are both white belts. My husband, Steve, earned his black belt when he was in high school. I have also enjoyed doing a little amateur fitness boxing with other Fenwick alumnae.

My Catholic faith is an important part of my life and I enjoy spending quality time praying, listening to Catholic hymns, and reading spiritual books like Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation.

To what teams and/or clubs did you belong as a student?

BE: As a student at Fenwick, I was involved in Blackfriars Guild, Marching and Concert Band, State Math Team, Soccer and Running. Blackfriars is such a wonderful organization because it always felt like family to me. I have many wonderful memories of the late-night dress rehearsals, snack trips to 7-11 and cast parties. State Math Team is the activity that provided the best preparation for engineering school as we learned to solve problems quickly and think outside of the box.

Which clubs/Sports/Activities do you run at Fenwick?

BE: I coach the Oral Event of the State Math Team. Each year we have a different topic, and the students work hard to become experts on that topic and prepare for an oral exam and presentation in front of a panel of mathematics experts. This year’s topic is Markov chains.

What quality/characteristic marks a Fenwick student?

Continue reading “Faculty Focus: December 2017”

Found Classroom, Found Community

What is ‘social capital,’ and how do we measure it?

By Gerald F. Lordan, O.P., Ph.D., Social Studies Teacher and Faculty Mentor

Antoine de Saint-Exupery, the author of The Little Prince, was a novelist and Free French Army aviator lost missing in action in 1944 during World War II.  He is paraphrased to have said, “The most important things in life are invisible and impossible to measure.”

For many years this statement applied to the benefits of Catholic education.  A recent book, Lost Classroom, Lost Community by Margaret Brining and Nicole Stelle Garnett, helps to quantify the value of Catholic education to the community.  The authors, both of whom are Notre Dame University Law School professors, studied demographic, educational and criminal statistics in Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. They found a close connection between the presence of a Catholic school and community social capital.  This connection can have a positive impact not only on the life of the community as a whole but also on the lives of the individuals within that community.

Social capital can be defined as the social networks and norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness shared by members of a community with one another.  Brining and Garnett found high levels of social capital among the administrators, teachers, parents and students of Catholic schools.  Social capital can be considered a factor of production similar to physical, financial and human capital.  According to Brining and Garnett, social capital can be viewed as something that helps to produce a better society, less crime, less disorder and more trust.  When Catholic schools are closed in a community, the community suffers.  Many people who support Catholic education sense these findings intuitively.  Saint-Exupery to the contrary, notwithstanding, Brining and Garnett help to quantify those intuitions. Continue reading “Found Classroom, Found Community”

The Impact of Your Gift to Fenwick

Having a 15-month-old baby brother helps to keep precious life in perspective for one Fenwick student.​

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Sophia, a Fenwick senior, is the second of nine children in the FioRito household.

 

“I will always be appreciative of everything I’ve been blessed with,” proclaims Fenwick senior Sophia FioRito ’18 of Oak Park, which is where her growing family moved from suburban Addison a few years ago. “Having an excellent education, like Fenwick’s, can open so many doors to opportunities for success,” notes Sophia, who is a member of the National Honor Society and maintains a 3.6 GPA.

“I have eight siblings, seven of whom are younger,” continues Ms. FioRito, whose brother, Danny ’20, is a sophomore Friar and older sister, Isabella ’16, is a sophomore at the University of Chicago. Helena, one younger sister, is an eighth grader and future member of the Fenwick Class of 2022. Their father, Dan ’88, is a Friar alumnus along with his brothers, Kevin ’83 and Jim ’92. As the second oldest of her brothers and sisters, “I’ve had to learn to care about others’ needs and put them first.”

Her parents agree. “Sophia often takes on the responsibility as a ‘second Mom,’ caring for her younger siblings and always having fun with them,” says her mother, Deborah. The summer and fall of 2016 were far from fun, however. Sophia’s youngest brother was born four-and-a-half-months early and was hospitalized from August to December of last year.

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Tiny Thomas FioRito was born four-and-a-half months early last August.

Many in the Fenwick Community will remember praying for baby Thomas. It was a tense four months for the family while they lived at the Ronald McDonald House in Hines, IL, as their brother and son was being cared for in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at nearby Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood. “Sophia really helped pull her siblings together to continue their studies and establish as much of a ‘normal’ routine in these not-so-normal circumstances,” adds Dan, her dad.

The Miracle Boy

Continue reading “The Impact of Your Gift to Fenwick”

Personal Reflections on JFK, Dallas and the Day that Forever Changed America

One Fenwick priest was there in Texas on November 22, 1963, when our country and a new Catholic high school in Dallas were brought to their knees.

By Father Richard LaPata, O.P., President Emeritus of Fenwick High School

Photo courtesy Los Angeles Times

There are some memories that are fleetingly dismissed as soon as they surface in our minds. They are recalled for a split second and then disappear, perhaps never to return again. Other experiences in our lives are sometimes deeply embedded, often return and impress themselves once more in all their detail.

A memory that I will never forget has never laid dormant for long. It visited me once again as I read of the recent release of documents concerning the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

It was the summer of 1963. I was a young priest, happily engaged in my first teaching assignment at Fenwick. But Fr. Marr, our Provinicial, had other plans for me and eight other Dominicans. We were assigned to help found a new Catholic high school in Dallas, TX.

I was not particularly pleased to go to Texas, a place I had never been and knew very little about. But I found wonderful families down there who were welcoming, generous and delighted to have nine new priest-teachers in their community. At any rate, we opened the school in late August and shared an exciting time creating a new educational endeavor with eight Dominican Sisters who also were assigned to Bishop Lynch High School.

Then fall came and November came, and an American tragedy occurred. On November 23rd, President Kennedy and his wife came to Dallas. Riding in a motorcade on downtown Dallas streets lined with thousands of people, he was shot and killed, seconds before reaching his planned destination.

One Boy’s Lament at Bishop Lynch

Meanwhile, at school, our noontime classes were interrupted with the news that the President had been shot. All faculty and students were asked to “get Continue reading “Personal Reflections on JFK, Dallas and the Day that Forever Changed America”

Faith, Family and Fenwick

These three F’s have set the foundation for young Jamal Nixon ’17, helping him to find his way — from Chicago and Plainfield, IL, to Oak Park and Mankato, MN, and beyond.

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An injury can’t hold back a leader of Friars. Facing “minor” knee surgery, Jamal says he will be ready to hoop again for the Minnesota State Mavs in the New Year.

By Mark Vruno

Jamal Nixon ’17 is a winner: off the basketball court as well as on it. His father, outplacement services professional William Nixon, credits Friars’ Head Basketball Coach Rick Malnati with nurturing Jamal’s competitive edge, which transfers from sports to school. “Teachers have the ability to tap into this and allow kids to achieve at their highest levels,” Mr. Nixon believes. “At Fenwick, they are willing to develop you as a student.”

William watched pridefully as his son developed and flourished. Jamal’s natural leadership abilities were enhanced in the classroom and in the gymnasium. William and his wife, Loretta (Moore) Nixon, employ basketball as a platform to tell a Friar’s story that is much bigger than athletics. Jamal and his family came into Fenwick with an open mind but didn’t really know anything about the “Catholic thing” and the school’s culture, says his mother, who is Manager of IT Audit and Advisory Services at Health Care Service Corp.

Loretta and William were teenage sweethearts at Westinghouse High School in Chicago. When the curious parents inquired about Fenwick, they began hearing words such as, “legacy,” “tradition” and “multi-generational families.” They noticed how many alumni come back to teach at the private school. “We found all of that very impressive,” Loretta admits, including the relationship-building and connection aspects of “Friar Nation” and all its devoted alumni. “Fenwick offers so much in terms of mentoring, community and the alumni network,” praises her husband.

The parents wondered how structured or strict the Fenwick environment was – academically and behaviorally. They have very high expectations of their sons, and they wanted to ensure that their expectations for Jamal matched the school’s.

“I was pushed and challenged by my teachers in the classrooms of Fenwick,” Jamal says now, in his first semester at Minnesota State University, Mankato. “Mike [Smith, a teammate and friend] warned me about the challenging academics, but I wasn’t prepared as a freshman.”

Looking back on the experience, Jamal believes that success in school also has helped to build his self-confidence. His mom concurs: “There is an even playing field with kids coming in [to Fenwick],” she reports with hindsight. “You have to have an open mind and embrace the culture. Fenwick is more than willing to help you succeed.”

Christian values also are very important to the Nixons, whose religious roots are planted firmly in the Baptist tradition. The spiritual aspects of Fenwick and the core Dominican values were strong selling points, they say. “My family is Christian, but I had never studied Theology before [coming to Fenwick],” Jamal notes. Adds his mother, “Community service is huge at Fenwick, and Jamal learned to give back.”

“Fenwick is the place we knew we wanted Jamal to be,” she asserts. And the Nixons were willing to sacrifice to make sure he could come. “I was okay with borrowing from my 401 (k) for Jamal to get the education he deserves,” explains Loretta, “but we still needed some help financially. It all has been worth the price.”

William notes that he and his wife are thoroughly grateful to the benefactors who make this high level of education possible for kids. “The assistance we received was very much appreciated,” he says, then adds quickly: “But Fenwick also benefited by having a great kid in Jamal as part of the community!”

Historic Hoops

Continue reading “Faith, Family and Fenwick”

If Geese Flock, How Will Your Child React?

Being a kid today is not easy. But then again, it never was, which is why Catholic schools such as Fenwick teach both ‘résumé virtues’ and ‘eulogy virtues.’

By John Paulett

Mr. Paulett is a Golden Apple-winning Moral Theology Teacher at Fenwick.

One of our graduates, currently a student at a university in Indiana, sent me a copy of an article she wrote for the college publication. Her essay told about a college student being transported to the hospital for excessive consumption of alcohol.

“’Four guys carried this kid downstairs limb by limb and they sat him down, and he could barely sit in the chair, and we tried to wake him up, but he was unconscious,’ (a witness) said.”

The article, written on October 10th, stated that, “21 students were hospitalized for alcohol consumption in the fall semester of last year, 20 students have already been hospitalized in the first half of the fall semester this year.”

I am a parent as well as a teacher, and I know these are frightening stories to read. They remind us that young people often face situations that are new and uncertain. Young people can make bad decisions, sometimes because pressures take the place of good judgment.

When I think about young people confronted by difficult choices, it brings to mind a dramatic incident from 2009. On January 15th of that year, minutes after takeoff, US Airways flight 1549 struck a flock of geese. The collision happened at 3:27:11. The plane’s pilot, Captain Chesley Sullenberger (Sully, they called him,) radioed a Mayday call at 3:27:33. At 3:31 p.m., less than five minutes later, the pilot landed the plane in the Hudson River. His recognition of the problem, creation of a plan, and execution of the action happened in minutes. Like most people, I found the Captain’s ability to solve the problem and land the plane in such a short time almost unbelievable. (Actor Tom Hanks portrays him in the 2016 motion picture, “Sully.”)

Captain Chesley Sullenberger

I read an interview with Sullenberger in which he was questioned about his ability to act so well so fast. He said, “I had to very quickly come up with a paradigm of how to solve even this problem.”

His response reminds me of what happens in Catholic education. Continue reading “If Geese Flock, How Will Your Child React?”

2017 VETERANS DAY TRIBUTE: Defending the Shield

Military Friars who have served and presently are serving our nation, fighting for freedom.

By Mark Vruno

The fall issue of Friar Reporter, Fenwick’s alumni magazine, features a tribute to U.S. military veterans.

Patriotism rings out loud and proud within the Fenwick community. The Catholic school in Oak Park, Illinois, may be best known for turning out top-notch doctors, lawyers, business leaders, educators and politicians, but the Fighting Friars make good soldiers, too. And there are and have been a lot of them. One covert, black-ops Friar alumnus prays the rosary every morning at 5 a.m.

Editor’s note: If you know of Friars who have served in the military and are not mentioned in this story, please email us at communications@fenwickfriars.com.

 

Two recent graduates from the Class of 2017, Will Flaherty and Kyle Gruszka — one a wrestler from Riverside and the other a soccer goalie and baseball player from Chicagoare among 4,000 cadets enrolled at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. Senior Alex Pup ’18, a baseball player for the Friars, will join them next year.

Back home in Chicago, former Fenwick running back Josh McGee ’15 enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps after high school and now is working in communications while attending community college. Jimmy Coopman ’14 enlisted in the Marine Corps Infantry after Fenwick, while Steven Barshop ’17 recently completed his USMC basic training. Kyle Graves ’15 has enlisted in the Navy and ships out early next month. Michael Sullivan ’12 was Army ROTC at Indiana University and now is commissioned in the reserves.

Kruszka and Buinauskas

Out east Mike Kelly ’14 is a senior at the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) in Annapolis, Maryland. Erin Scudder ’16, a standout swimmer from Western Springs, is in her second year at the Naval Academy. She aspires to become a Navy or Marine Corps pilot. When Scudder thinks to her influential teenage years, she recalls the value of a Moral Theology course her junior year at Fenwick, where she “learned lessons that I can apply to my life outside the of the classroom.” Joining her at Annapolis will be River Forester Brooke West ’18, who recently received an appointment to swim for Navy. Another Western Springer and Scudder’s classmate, Malone Buinauskas ’16, also a member of USNA (Class of 2020) and plays forward on the Navy women’s hockey team. Buinauskas says her first choice for service selection is to become a Naval Flight Officer.

Trent Leslie ’16 from Chicago is in his second year at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, NY. “I want to be an aviation officer and potentially work for the FBI after my time in the Army is finished,” explains Leslie, who played ice hockey, rugby and chess while at Fenwick.

Otto Rutt, Jr.

Career Marine Otto Rutt, Jr. ’79 retired in 2013 as a colonel in the Corps. Rutt went to the Ivy League after Fenwick, graduating from Harvard in three years with an economics degree. In 1982 he entered the Marines and became an F/A-18 pilot, serving two combat tours: one in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and one in Operation Iraqi Freedom II in 1994. In between those tours, he received an MBA with concentrations in Finance and Business Policy from the University of Chicago. Rutt has been decorated with the Meritorious Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Selected Marine Corps Reserve Medal, the Seas Service Deployment Ribbon and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal.

By 2000 he was flying airplanes commercially while serving as a Marine Reserve Officer. In 2006 he received the distinction of “honor graduate” from the Air War College. “I relish both the history of the Marine Corps and Fenwick,” the former fighter pilot has said. “They are similar in many ways, particularly in the context of excellence and expectation.

“I have a great affinity for my Fenwick experience, particularly spiritual development. One of my most momentous experiences was a midnight mass Christmas Day in the Arabian Desert prior to the invasion of Kuwait,” Col. Rutt continued. “Without Fenwick, I would not have nearly the personal growth and inner strength to face such challenges.”

Sibling Military Rivalries? Continue reading “2017 VETERANS DAY TRIBUTE: Defending the Shield”