Cold War on the Airwaves: The Radio Propaganda War Against East Germany

Almost 50 years since graduation, this loyal alumnus still is writing book reviews for Fenwick!

By Timothy Fitzpatrick ’71 (MAJ, USA, Ret.), HHC Berlin Brigade and 4th BN, 6th in 1980-1983

In 1970 I was bombarded with images of the world as seen through U.S. media and prevailing opinion-makers in the United States as the Vietnam War was dragging on and numerous Communist challenges were confronting our country. I was a 17-year-old Fenwick High School rising senior that summer and took my first flight ever, on my first overseas experience ever, and landed in Berlin for 10 days of my six-week Foreign Study League German immersion program led by Father Nicholas Aschenbrenner, O.P., our Fenwick German instructor. Our group took some of our meals in the Free University dining hall where tables covered with Marxist and Maoist literature were hawking their wares mostly to students trying to ignore them. I bought an ITT Schaub – Lorenz radio and listened across many bands to various broadcasts and was surprised at the clarity of BBC world broadcast and Voice of America compared to other nation’s broadcasts. I even tuned into Radio Albania, which would turn anyone away from Marxism by their heavy-handed diatribes.

As a group, we began a tour of East Berlin by walking through Check Point Charlie. In contrast to the relaxed, confident and friendly U.S. MPs [military police] at Checkpoint Charlie, the East German foreign visitor checkpoint was designed to intimidate — with your passport disappearing and sense that the wait gave them time to begin a file on you and make you nervous; both, in fact, true. Once through and walking along Friedrichstrasse towards Unter den Linden, there were numerous anti-USA posters in English, clearly aimed at me.

East Berlin was a sad contrast to West Berlin in all things. I was saddened to see a burned-out Cathedral and nearby the twin French and German Churches barely standing in the shell of their walls with trees growing through. The Alexander Platz shopping area and the newly opened (October 1969) Berliner Fernsehturm or Pope’s Revenge (we mistakenly called it the funkturm) were clearly meant to be a showcase for DDR [German Democratic Republic] progressiveness, but the lack of goods in shops gave away the lie. I was amazed that East Berlin youth were not listening to Radio Berlin DDR broadcasts emanating from that tower, but to RIAS (Radio in the American Sector) and U.S. Military Armed Forces Network broadcasts. The contrast between communism and its threat to freedom and Western democracy and capitalism and freedom could not be made starker to me, and this is where I decided to join the U.S. Army.

My experiences as a youth in Berlin, as a member of the Berlin Brigade and as a Psychological Operations Officer, have always made me appreciate RIAS, but I never knew the breadth and depth of what RIAS meant to U.S. efforts in Berlin and to the people of East Germany. Nicholas J. Schlosser, in his book Cold War on the Airwaves: The Radio Propaganda War against East Germany, has given us a precious gift to our understanding of the contributions of RIAS to the psychological combat between the Soviet block and the United States and between the contrasts in freedom between East and West Germany. The book sums up the importance of RIAS to East Germans, Berliners and the United States powerfully when Schlosser writes “….RIAS went from being just a purveyor of news and information to a quasi-United States Embassy, a representative of the United States  in East Germany.” RIAS was founded by and controlled by the United States but staffed by German-Berliners and engaged in the front lines of influence and political warfare against communism.

Schlosser relates the early foundations of RIAS to counter Radio Berlin that the Soviets took despite being in the British Sector (the Eifel Tower-like Funkturm) and refused to share with the other occupying powers. To compete, though late, the American Forces initiated broadcasts on the old, Nazi-wired (telephone line) radio system developed so allied WWII bombers could not home in on Berlin through a signal. This Wired (Drahtfunk) Broadcasting in the American Sector (DIAS) initiated U.S. broadcasting in its sector as the voice of the U.S. Occupation Government. It soon began radio broadcast and became Radio (Rundfunk) in the American Sector (RIAS).

Schlosser relates the stages of RIAS effort over time and in reaction to Berlin and world events. Throughout its history, RIAS emphasis on credible and objective news from a United States perspective and calling out DDR and communist failings were its hallmark. The people of East Germany came to rely on this during crisis after crisis, starting with the Berlin Airlift during the 17 June 1953 East German uprising and Soviet suppression, the Berlin crisis and the construction of the wall, and during the long period of the Cold War, easing tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, the collapse of the wall, and Berlin and German reunification.

Schlosser writes this book not in a technical manner, but in very human terms that goes to the heart of RIAS’s dedicated staff and their understanding of the information (and entertainment) needs of their audience in clear contrast to communist deterministic programming. 

I strongly recommend this book for all students of history as you explore the totality of what the U.S. meant to Berliner’s on both sides of the wall and to complement our own understanding of RIAS giving voice to what we in the U.S. and allied forces physically stood for. 

RIAS still exists as the RIAS Berlin Commission. The RIAS Berlin Commission was founded in 1992 as a binational organization for the promotion of German-American understanding in the field of broadcasting and promotes the exchange of persons and information in the field of broadcast journalism between the two countries.

Cold War on the Airwaves: The Radio Propaganda War against East Germany by Nicholas J. Schlosser is Published by the University of Illinois Press (1st Edition November 3, 2015) and is available at Amazon.

What Fenwick Means to Me

By Johnny Lattner ’50 (originally published in the Chicago Sun-Times, May 30, 2007)

Growing up on Chicago’s West Side near Cicero and Madison, I could have gone to St. Mel, St. Phillip, Austin or St. Ignatius. I decided on Fenwick because I knew it was a good academic school and I had heard about the football program coached by Tony Lawless.

I was a big kid in eighth grade, 6-1, more recruited for basketball than football, and I almost went to St. Phillip because of coach Bill Shay, who later coached at Fenwick. But I wanted to see if I could play football at Fenwick. It was a challenge.

Lattner, who passed away in 2016, was an All-State football player for the Friars in 1948 and ’49 and won the Heisman Trophy at the University of Notre Dame in 1953.

At the time, I didn’t know if I would go to college. Neither of my parents nor my older brother and sister went to college. They couldn’t afford it. At Fenwick, I learned a lot. I wasn’t dumb, but it took me a year to acclimate to the school. And Lawless taught me so much.

Fenwick had won the city championship in 1945. I went to the game at Soldier Field and was impressed. I knew Lawless was a hard-nosed coach who taught the fundamentals of blocking and tackling. He was a winner, a legendary figure on the West Side.

He taught me persistence and fundamentals, not to think of today but of tomorrow, how to compete, to keep improving.

“[Coach] Lawless taught me … persistence and fundamentals, not to think of today but of tomorrow, how to compete, to keep improving.”

the late, great John Lattner ’50

Lattner (left) with Coach Lawless and John Carroll ’54.

I never regretted my decision to go to Fenwick.

Learning to play both ways – I also was a defensive back – helped me to win the Heisman Trophy at Notre Dame. I went there because, like Fenwick, it was a challenge. Some people said I wasn’t fast enough and never would play at Notre Dame, that I’d just be another number on the roster.

But Lawless taught me to stick to my books, to hang in there, to play when you’re hurt.

It helped me to get through Notre Dame. I was in awe of the program … Frank Leahy, Leon Hart, Terry Brennan, Johnny Lujack, George Conner.

They were unbeaten for four years. I hoped to make a name for myself.

READ MORE ABOUT MR. LATTNER

“Fenwick Community Gathers to Say Goodbye to Johnny Lattner.”

I Walked — But Not Alone

A look back at the Friars’ “Walkathon” 40 school years ago, when 900+ students walked 15 miles – at about $2.50 per mile – to help pay for renovations to the Fenwick gym.

“Oak Chips” by Harriet Vrba
(column originally published in the Oak Leaves, October 8, 1980)

I put on my loafers and went walking Friday, accompanied by some 900 students of Fenwick High School.

Fenwick held its first Walkathon that day, and I predict it won’t be the last. The jaunt kicked off the school’s homecoming weekend and, at the same time, raised a nice sum to help pay for the new gymnasium.

The morning of the walk was cloudy and cool. Every once in a while the sun smiled down on the walkers. And occasionally a cloud wept.

When I started the trek, which bordered much of Oak Park and River Forest, the hikers were filled with enthusiasm and raring to go. That spirit stayed with them.

The Class of ’84 raised the most money.

I DROPPED OUT after the first mile or so, retraced my steps and watched the last bunch of walkers step off.

After completing the 15-mile circuit, the students still had enough energy to spend on a boisterous pep rally.

Walkers were hoping to collect approximately $2.50 a mile.

Fortunately, the young hikers had such generous backers that the Walkathon brought the school $56,000 instead of the hoped-for goal of $39,000.

Thanks to good friends, Steve Bory of Monroe Av., River Forest, a freshman, received the largest contributions for his efforts. Bory raised $1,225, an equivalent of $81.66 for each mile he walked.

Students stop at a check point.

THE FRESHMAN CLASS topped the school with $19,000.

Several teachers accompanied the students on the brisk hike. Terry Buckley took his 4-year-old malamute on the circuit. Sister Mary Meegan of the religion department changed her shoes three times.

When it was all over, principal Father William Bernacki breathed a sigh of relief. And smiled.

Homecoming weekend kept lots of villagers busy.

Saturday afternoon the Rev. Malachy Dooley, director of development and alumni affairs for the Dominican high school, and Leo J. Latz, assistant director, spent a few hours chopping up pieces of the old gym floor and shaping the wood into small blocks which sold for $25 each.

(All photos from 1981 Blackfriars yearbook.)

A LEGEND WAS attached to each block, explaining why the old gym floor means so much to the alumni.

In part, it said, “I am part of a noble and glorious tradition. Thousands played, prayed and paid on me. I am the Fenwick gym floor.”

Those who love that much-used floor added, “Born Nov. 23, 1929. Died Aug. 12, 1980. Rest in Peace.”

At half-time period of the homecoming football game which Fenwick lost to Loyola by two points Saturday, 11 members of Fenwick’s first football team, who played 50 years ago, gathered on the field. The late Tony Lawless had been their coach. Later the 11, seven of whom still live in either Oak Park or River Forest, were honored at a reception at the school.

They are Bob and Ray McGrath, Ed Muholland, Bob Collins, Dr. Arthur Wise, Frank McShane, W.A. Brandt, Vince Dierkes, Bob Hanson, Jack Hardin, John Lilly and Andrew McElligatt.

Dierkes said he couldn’t remember against which school the first team played its first game 50 years ago. “But I do remember we lost.”

Teaching to be a Champion: Vocation and Unity in Christ

How a young alumna’s Fenwick education has influenced and informed her understanding of and action on behalf of her vocation.

By Tierney Vrdolyak ’14

One motto of the Dominican Order that has resonated with me these six years out of Fenwick is contemplare et contemplata aliis trader – “to contemplate and hand on to others the fruits of contemplation.” In my experience with Catholic educators there, so many have lived this truth: to contemplate Christ and share with others (students, specifically) the mystery of Christ through their words and works, their lessons and lives is the Divine call of the teacher. Through their witness and God’s grace, I have come to realize my vocation as teacher, too. I’d like to relay one person’s authentic witness as teacher to you in the hopes that you might contemplate and share with others this fruit.

As I have come to believe through education observation, theory and practice, a teacher succeeds when the student develops; the teacher more than less fades into the background.[1] The teacher leads only when he or she serves; the teacher imitates Jesus Christ, the Divine Teacher, who freely humbles Himself to the point of death to Himself (the words “humble” and “human” are derived from the Latin humus, meaning “earth” or “soil” – that is, what is on the ground). The truly successful teacher is the one who stimulates the student’s receptivity – qualifying the pupil for all vocations (priesthood, religious life, married life, single life) and opening up avenues for vocations within vocations (professional life) – and remains humble by letting God lead, the students follow, and oneself adapt to their promptings. The teacher, therefore, takes on the “He must increase, I must decrease,” dynamic of which the Gospel speaks (John 3:30), adjusting his or her view of the harmonious human person to the individual student’s personality. Fenwick teachers have helped countless students come face to face with reality, welcoming our vocation and that of others with joy.

Friar tennis alumni/former teammates Annie Krug ’14 (from left), Tierney Vrdolyak ’14, Coach Tom Draski and Kaelin Schillinger ’14 during the 2014 Summer Tennis Camp.

Mr. Draski was my tennis coach during the Frosh-Soph fall seasons of 2010 and 2011. From the first week of tryouts through the last banquet, Coach Draski encouraged the team to seek and find wonder in all things. His practices, lectures and personal example oriented us toward our good as individuals and as a team. Although his teams had an 11-peat at that point, winning wasn’t the goal. Growing into our authentic selves was.

Practice

The “Ten Ball Drill” was certainly an example through which we learned to love building speed, stamina and strength during practices. It was a joy to place each ball on the racket before our teammates’ feet on the doubles’ sideline as we ran to collect the next ball from the opposite side.

Lecture

Coach Draski’s words, too, and the way in which he spoke, encouraged us to be nourished and renewed together. Before each tournament, Coach Draski called us together to pray through Our Lady and read a poem entitled, “The Champion.” He divided the poem into stanzas, which some players would recite and on which all would reflect. These words – which to me point to our universal call to greatness, which is holiness – have stuck with me in small and large decision-making moments. Before I took part in a city-wide half marathon last May, for instance, I warmed up with a prayer and this poem. Some phrases that resonated while I ran the race were: “You’ve got to think high to rise./ You’ve got to be sure of yourself before/ You can ever win a prize./ Think big and your deeds will grow, think small and you’ll fall behind./ Think that you can and you will; it’s all in the state of the mind…Our Lady of Victory, pray for us!” I was able to run at a personal-record pace among many others – perhaps tennis players themselves – keeping Coach’s words in mind. Before your work or school day today in these times, we can ponder these lines again.

During each tournament, Coach would invite us to “give a love tap” to our partner after every point – win or lose – letting our partner know that she is good, she can do it and you are there for her. He would invite us, too, to come to him in difficult situations during breaks in a game, set or match. Coach Draski would then poke his pointer through the wire for us to each tap it and afterwards ask, “How are we doing?”

Personal Example

Not only did his practices and words inspire my teammates and me, but his personal example reflected all that he tried to teach. I will never forget Coach Draski’s smile, finger taps, fist bumps or chuckle at some pasta party conversation. I will never forget his personal stories that shed light onto the words we spoke in the “Champion,” making me think about the wonderful power of our minds to think well and wills to act well, no matter the situations within our societies, families or selves.

Working together on hatching and raising chickens, learning the life cycle first-hand.

After graduation from college in 2018, through the guidance of grace, my human nature, mentors, courses and many more encounters, I realized my call to be a Catholic educator. For two years, I attended graduate school in theology while teaching theology within a Catholic middle-school setting. Following this program, beginning this August, I was led into teaching in the home-school setting using the Montessori and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd model as guides. Here, I have the opportunity to walk with three children, fostering a relationship with each child and God through formative learning experiences.

Continue reading “Teaching to be a Champion: Vocation and Unity in Christ”

If Dogma Won’t Save Us, Nothing Will

Remembering Fenwick and Fr. Regan in the 1940s: “There was a reason for burning incense. Father James Regan knew it and explained it.”

By James Bowman, Sr. ’49 (originally published The Alumni Wick Magazine, spring 1985)

Father Jim Regan, O.P. taught at Fenwick High School for 29 years and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame posthumously in 2002. His picture first appears in the 1943 yearbook and every year afterwards through and including 1971. Fr. Regan was born to eternal life in the year 2000.

At Fenwick in the middle and late ’40s, there was this bald, big-eyed priest, always with the armful of papers and pencil, walking along the corridor taking everything in, or sitting as study-period prefect in the library, also taking everything in. He looked like he knew more than he was saying.

A freshman might know him from the servers’ club, where this priest made the point that the incense better be well lit so the smoke could rise high and full. Why? Because smoke rising stood for prayers rising to heaven, that’s why. The freshman had never thought of it that way. There was a reason for burning incense. Father James Regan knew it and explained it.

For the senior who had him for religion, the message was much the same: there’s meaning in religion you haven’t even thought of. Gospel passages were memorized, such as “Behold the lilies of the field, they neither reap nor sow, etc.” with its punch line, “Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and its justice.” He said lines as if he meant them, and knew whether you knew them by use of the daily quiz.

Fr. Regan in the early 1940s.

That’s what all those papers in his arms were, daily quizzes from four or five classes. There was a lot of tedious work correcting those quizzes. But if he didn’t correct them and get them back, the senior didn’t know where he stood. Lots of them didn’t want to know, but that’s another question.

He quoted a lot from Time Magazine. A man bet he could drink a quart of absinthe in one gulp and live. He did it and died. Nice, obvious mortality for 17-year-old ears.

Or the story of Franklin D. Roosevelt riding in an open car in the rain without a hat on, to make the point that he was vigorous and capable of leading the country. It was one of the anecdotes Father Regan used to point up the Gospel saying, “The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.” That is to say, followers of Jesus don’t work as hard at following Jesus as others at achieving their worldly ambitions.

Father Regan intended to make points with his seniors. He was very serious about it (entertaining too), and he had a plan: if dogma (doctrine) won’t save them, nothing will. He meant to inundate us with church teaching. He believed in church.

Skip Mass to go fishing on Sunday?

He could be stunned by disbelief or disloyalty. The student who said it was O.K. to miss mass on Sunday to go fishing, became the center of his attention. How could this be? Whence came this creature into our midst, or this idea anyhow? Skip Sunday mass to go fishing?

Not histrionics by the aggrieved father, but genuine amazement (though played out for effect, to be sure). We heard about it in his high-pitched voice, fast-paced speech (mind and lips working at high speed) and windup pause and slight smile for effect. Silence spoke as well as words.

Fr. Regan in the early 1970s.

Discipline … seemed secondary to the business of the classroom or study hall, the classroom especially. It was basically a college-style classroom, senior religion under Father Regan: daily quiz, return of the previous day’s quizzes and extended discussion of missed answers.

He repeated questions time and again until enough of the students got them right. The quizzes were teaching devices, not just checks on retention. Then lecture. The 42 minutes went fast, and up and out we went with books, gym bags and the rest to what the next 42 had to offer, which was rarely better and usually not as good.

He took religion seriously, aided and abetted by the school’s policy which put it on a par with the other four subjects. He took the Scriptures seriously, extracting meaning from gospel sayings that we’d heard from pulpits for years, thinking they had no meaning.

He used the classroom for what it’s good for: indoctrination and motivation. Counting on his students’ faith to supply the impetus, he would put the question about daily mass: what else can you do daily that is worth as much? Time and again, he asked it in those quizzes. He couldn’t force you to go to mass, but he could drill you in the reality of faith, forcing you to choose.

That’s not bad. It took a lot of work and commitment to the life he had chosen. It’s a lesson for us all. It was then for us 17-year-olds, and given a little thought on the matter, it is now, too.

Read more recollections of Fr. Regan from alumnus James Loverde ’64:

About the Author

In addition to being a member of Fenwick’s Class of 1949, Jim Bowman is a long-time Oak Parker and former newspaper reporter. Mr. Bowman wrote the “Way We Were” column for the Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine as well as corporate histories and other books, including books about religious issues. His eighth book, Illinois Blues: How the Ruling Party Talks to Voters, was published in 2016.

Read more about him.

“So, You Two Wanna Fight, Do Ya?”

A 1958-62 alumnus takes a fist-in-cheek look back at Fenwick’s lost ‘art’ of pugilism, which began at the school in 1930 as an intramural activity.

By Jim Fineran ’62 (originally published in Fenwick’s First 75 Years, 2005)

It was called the boxing tournament but it actually was ‘fighting’ with gloves and rules, because [for many students] the boxing instruction lasted about two minutes. Tony Lawless was the instructor for what he called the ‘Art Course.’ It was strictly voluntary in that Mr. Lawless decided who was to volunteer and who was not. It was not a good time of year (early February) to be on his bad side. Doctors all over the West Side were exhausted from writing excuses for boys to not participate in the ‘Art Course.’

A left uppercut by freshman Ray Heinz slowed fellow frosh Bob Denvir, who recovered to win the 100-lb. class title in 1960.

The bouts consisted of three one-minute rounds with Referee Lawless intoning ‘That’s a round!’ when the minute was up. Of course, if a couple of guys were really going at it, Mr. Lawless would let the rounds go on longer. The tournament commenced on a Friday night in March with ‘The Silver-Gloves:’ a big night of runner-up and championship fights in eight different weight classes. The gym was always packed. [In 1960, some 1,500 fans jammed into the bleachers and balcony.] Tony would bring in ex-pug ‘Tuffy’ Griffiths to referee. ‘Tuffy’ appeared to have taken a few too many shots during his career because it was not unknown for him to ‘put ’em up’ and start feinting when the bell would sound.

Fenwick’s “Silver Gloves” tourney received prominent coverage in Blackfriars’ yearbooks for more than three decades.

I don’t know when Mr. Lawless started all this [it was in 1930, during Fenwick’s infancy], but I do know it came to an end when Fr. Thomas Cumiskey became principal/president (1962-69). More than once he told me that he thought the whole thing was too brutal. Maybe yes, maybe no, but I never knew anyone who got hurt and I think the boxing did a little character-building.

Continue reading ““So, You Two Wanna Fight, Do Ya?””

Common Sense and the Importance of Obeying Rules

What Fenwick was and is: from the school vault …

Bernardi as a Fenwick student.

“I have been thinking about the anecdotes I recall from my years at Fenwick …,” alumnus Judge Donald Bernardi ’69 wrote some 20 years ago from his Bloomington, IL office to then Social Studies Teacher Mr. Louis Spitznagel. More than three decades had passed since Mr. Bernardi’s high-school graduation:

I will go to my grave recalling the image of Tony Lawless standing on the balcony of the pool prior to our exercise and lecturing on the importance of common sense. Mr. Lawless (see above) was fond of reminding all of us that, although we may walk around with a stack of books a foot high under our arm, it doesn’t mean anything if you ‘don’t have common sense.’ These comments were usually preceded by some event that occurred that day which demonstrated a lack of common sense on the part of one of the students.

Fr. Robert Pieper, O.P. was Fenwick’s Director of Discipline at the time.

The second memory that I recall vividly would be that of either an AM or PM assembly resulting from student rule violations. Generally, the assemblies were not pleasant occurences because we were typically advised of what the rules were and who had been breaking them — and then warned not to break them again in the future. Father Pieper would always end these speeches with the following words: ‘Those are the rules, and if you don’t like it, there is the door,’ as he pointed to the back of the auditorium.

The most vivid recollection I have of being at Fenwick in the 1965-69 era was the atmosphere of discipline created by the faculty and staff. The notion of group discipline was foreign to me when I arrived at Fenwick and it caused me to be on edge and alert to problems constantly throughout the school day. I recall numerous ‘Class JUGs’ [detentions] as a result of various persons in my class having misbehaved ….

“Overall, the high quality of the students and the intense academic competition [at Fenwick] made the transition to college remarkably easy.”

Ret. Judge Donald Bernardi ’69
Continue reading “Common Sense and the Importance of Obeying Rules”

Collegiate Friars: September 2020

Catching up with Friar young alumni Karina Banuelos ’18 and Luke Cahill ’16.

KARINA BANUELOS

Fenwick Graduation: 2018
Hometown: Chicago
Grade School: St. Richard
Current School:  University of Illinois at Chicago
Major: Pre-Med Neuroscience with a minor in Psychology

Summer Internship: I had originally planned to intern as a part of the “Women in Science” Field Museum summer program, researching plant and fungal interactions in their lab, but due to the ongoing pandemic, these plans had to change. Instead, I currently volunteer at the UI Health Hospital in the Inpatient/Outpatient Pediatric Center, helping children and their families before their appointments, reading to babies, and trying to bring the most fun, interactive engagements I can to patients, even with COVID limitations. Additionally, I volunteer in the Surgical Services Department of the hospital, assisting nurses by providing pre-op and post-op patients with warm blankets, informational take-home folders, and contacting families after surgery. This experience has allowed me to make connections within medicine and view firsthand the intensive work and passion these women and men put into what they love. I also had the opportunity of completing two neuroscience courses offered through Harvard University this summer!

Career aspirations: Ever since I took Ms. Lilek’s [now Mrs. David] Psychology course senior year, I realized my love and fascination of the human brain and its complications, making it more invigorating to learn about! She made the class interactive, challenging us to create our own experiments, testing them out, and then sharing our unique results with the class. These research experiments peaked my interest into what is now my focus in college and career aspiration for the future! After touring the University of Illinois College of Medicine, I was offered the opportunity to be recently placed with a medical student who is now my Neurology mentor throughout my undergraduate career, which I could not be more thankful for! After undergraduate school, I would love to go onto medical school and accomplish my long route dream of becoming a future neurosurgeon.

Fenwick Achievements/Activities: H.O.L.A Club, Medical Club, German Club, Girls’ Water Polo, Girls’ Bowling, St. Catherine/St. Lucy Tutoring

Fenwick teacher who had the most influence on you: I had a couple of faculty members who had much influence on me throughout high school, such as my German teacher, Frau Strom, and my counselor, Mrs. Docherty. They both immensely aided and guided me when I had several questions about the college process and financial aid, needed help with tutoring, or was just someone to help me catch myself when I felt overwhelmed. If it wasn’t for my sophomore chemistry teacher, Ms. Timmons, I don’t believe that I’d be where I stand today. When there was something I didn’t understand, she always offered to stay late and give extra help before class until I confidently understood the lesson, which later led me to my love of science to this day. Even outside of academics, Ms. Timmons made a memorable impact on me that I will always cherish: When I joined water polo my freshman year, I had absolutely no experience competitively swimming and playing sports in the water. From day one, Coach Liz asked me to set goals for myself and constantly pushed me to achieve my best. In the pool and in the classroom, she made me realize that there is no shame in struggling and making mistakes, because that’s how we learn to build that greater version of ourselves and grow into what we want to accomplish. We should also never be afraid to ask for help, because there is probably someone else out there who has the same question as you!

Fenwick class that had the most influence on you: I had the fortunate and beautiful chance of taking Fr. Joe’s theology class my sophomore year. Fr. Joe is someone you can never forget — always happy, laughing and loving life, and putting others first before himself.  He didn’t care who you were or where you came from; just that he loved each one of us individually, and that’s how he went about his teaching. With the same passion and love he had for God, he displayed it onto the students in an interactive way: By dancing, praising and singing to the Lord, and always praying for one another. Much like Kairos, Fr. Joe’s theology class incorporated the Dominican Catholic pillars of prayer, study, community and preaching into our academic and personal lives, which has allowed me to deepen my relationship with God and remind myself to take each beautiful day as it comes. 

Best Fenwick experience/the one you would like to live again: My freshman year at Fenwick, I knew no one going in. Keeping this in mind, I decided to join clubs that I’d thought would help me meet new people. Joining H.O.L.A (Hispanic Outreach and Latino Awareness Club) was probably one of the best decisions I made early on and would love to live again. I was able to connect and share my story with incoming freshmen during open houses and fortunate enough to meet many families from all backgrounds who were interested in learning more about our culture! Mrs. Gallanari also made this club a safe, inviting, fun and informational place where I was able to meet students from similar backgrounds, take part in food drives and Day of the Dead celebrations, learn more and inform others of the Latino culture within the Fenwick community, and ultimately create relationships with the people who are now my closest friends to this day.  

Fenwick experience that changed you the most: I am blessed and forever grateful to have gone to a school that allowed me to open myself to new surroundings, people and experiences, while having an extensive support system to creating my own path. Attending Kairos was the experience that motivated me to grow into the woman I want to be and realize that we should not take our everyday interactions for granted. Life can be simply based on how you perceive it: “Is your glass half full or half empty?” In other words, never be afraid to compliment or share a smile with that random stranger or to just give your family member an extra- long hug or even check up on your loved ones. Be happy and always spread that love around you, because you never know when someone could be needing it. I also learned that we tend to get ahead of ourselves and become so preoccupied with the world around us, that sometimes we need to hit “pause” on our life, and be thankful for what and whom we have. So, to everyone at Fenwick who has watched me grow as a student, friend, athlete and, now alumna, and to those who have helped me when I struggled, a huge THANK YOU for everything you’ve given me those four years and now!

LUKE CAHILL

Fenwick Graduation: 2016
Hometown: Naperville, IL
Grade School: Washington Junior High
College: Graduated from Regis University (Denver, CO) in May 2020
Major: Finance & Accounting

Summer Internship: 2019 internship – Marathon Petroleum Corporation

Career aspirations:  I started a full-time position in June 2020 working for Prologis, a real estate investment trust, as a Capital Expenditure Specialist in Denver.

Continue reading “Collegiate Friars: September 2020”

Collegiate Friars: August 2020

Catching up with recent college graduates and 2016 Fenwick classmates Bridget Corcoran and Brendan Jones.

BRIDGET CORCORAN

Fenwick Graduation: 2016
Hometown: Elmhurst, IL
Grade School: Visitation
College: Saint Louis University
Major: Investigative and Medical Sciences (IMS)

Internship: My sophomore year at SLU I accepted a position at St. Louis Children’s hospital as a phlebotomist and laboratory assistant. I had the opportunity to work with the greatest kids, exercise the diagnostic laboratory science I learned at SLU, and collaborate with some of the most prestigious pediatric medical professionals.

Career aspirations: I am applying to Physician Assistant (PA) schools all across the country. I have three interview offers already and cannot wait to see where I end up!

Fenwick achievements/activities: Some of my activities at Fenwick included: 4 years on the Poms team, 3 years on the soccer team, Banua, Write Place tutor, Friar Mentor, Latin Club, Illinois State Scholar and Student Council.

Fenwick teacher who had the most influence on you: Although it is almost impossible to pick just one, I would have to say Mr. Trankina. Taking Anatomy with Mr. Trankina my senior year was my first didactic medical experience and really got me excited about pursuing a career as a PA. He also went out of his way to help tutor me in AP Chemistry during my study hall, which really showed his dedication to his students and their success.

Fenwick class that had the most influence on you: Besides Anatomy, a close second in my most influential Fenwick classes would have to be AP Language and Composition (APLAC) with Mrs. Visteen and Mr. O’Connor. It was my first purely discussion-based class on such a wide variety of topics that it undoubtedly prepared me the best for college classes.

Best Fenwick experience/the one you would like to live again: I would easily choose to relive my Poms performances at the homecoming pep rallies every year. During these performances, I felt so much pride in being a Friar and loved every minute of energizing the crowd with a dance we put so much hard work into. I can definitely still remember the choreography for these dances four years later!

What Fenwick experience changed you the most: My four years participating as an Irish dancer in Banua taught me so much about supporting my classmates, appreciating our talent diversity, and working hard to put on the best show. The love and support I felt from the Fenwick community during Banua season was undeniable and showed me how lucky I was to attend a high school with such an uplifting environment.

BRENDAN JONES

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Fenwick Graduation: 2016
Hometown: Riverside, IL
Grade School: St. Mary’s
College: Marquette University
Major: Economics

Post-graduate plans: After graduating from Marquette University in May, I was fortunate enough to accept a position as an Operations Assistant at Guaranteed Rate in Chicago. I help mortgage brokers and their clients throughout the lending process. During these hard times, it is rewarding to help people make their dreams of buying a home come true.

Continue reading “Collegiate Friars: August 2020”

Collegiate Friars: July 2020

Catching up with 2019 classmates Laura Durkin and Samuel Saunders at the University of Illinois and Syracuse University, respectively.

LAURA DURKIN

Fenwick Graduation: 2019
Hometown: Riverside, IL
Grade School: St. Mary’s
Current School: University of Illinois (Gies College of Business)
Major: Finance and Information Systems

Summer Internship: A summer internship I am currently pursuing is branching off of the Venture Capital Association club that I participated in my freshman year at U of I. This internship involves working with private equity firms across the United States to provide financial analytics and exit-strategy consulting. This summer I will be continuing research and performing quantitative due diligence to identify potential target investments for a private equity firm that I have been on a project with since the beginning of my second semester. This internship will be paired with an internship through COVID-19 Business Fellowship Program where I will help small businesses throughout the Chicago area to reimagine and redefine how they reach customers, achieve business objectives, and help them to adapt to the new normal by mobilizing in the face of adversity.

Career aspirations: I will be a sophomore in the Gies College of Business, still mainly exploring my career options and aspirations. I am looking into a career potentially involving computer science and finance.

Fenwick achievements/
activities: National Honors Society, Latin Club Dictator, Cross Country 4 years, Track 3 years, Cross Country and Track captain 2019, Freshman soccer; Varsity soccer sophomore year, Girls Bowling record holder, Kairos Leader November 2019.

Fenwick teacher who had the most influence on you: I was taught AP physics by Mr. Kleinhans and AP Econ by Mr. Gallo. A mixture of both the enthusiastic, heartfelt, and informational lessons I learned that apply both in and out of the classroom by these two teachers is what has been guiding me to find my interests and career aspirations so far in college. I was also blessed to be taught by Mr. Rodde, Mr. Roche and many more influential teachers while at Fenwick High School.

Fenwick class that had the most influence on you: Moral Theology my junior year with Mr. Slajchert and Dominican Spirituality my senior year with Fr. Peddicord. I was lucky enough to have Mr. Slajchert my freshman and junior year. By the time I had him for moral theology my junior, I was very comfortable with his teaching style, and I was able to explore the material of moral theology with his guidance and see the importance of the theology class at Fenwick first hand. My senior Dominican Spirituality class, led by Fenwick President Fr. Peddicord was influential because it was a perfect conclusion to my time at Fenwick learning of the history, pillars, and virtues of what living as a Dominican truly means.

Best Fenwick experience/the one you would like to live again: I was recently reflecting on this answer this past weekend as I was updated with my one year memories on snapchat of my senior track state and senior prom weekend. I would relive this Fenwick experience in an instant surrounded by teammates, coaches, friends, and family celebrating the culmination of my four years of training and closing out my highschool experience with a sunny weekend out of a fairytale book.

What Fenwick experience changed you the most: My participation on the cross country team changed me the most through my four years at Fenwick. I had never run before high school, but before my first day of classes even began I had already met a group of driven, talented, compassionate, beautiful girls that would be my best friends even after graduation. I learned innumerable hard lessons and built a strong character and culminated my highschool running career by qualifying for state individually. I am now taking the love for the sport that was formed and developed through highschool and currently training for the Chicago Marathon in the fall.

SAMUEL SAUNDERS

Fenwick Graduation: 2019
Hometown: Wheaton, IL
Grade School: St. Petronille
Current School: Syracuse University (Syracuse, NY)
Double Major: Finance & Entrepreneurship

Involvement on campus: I’m currently a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity, NYA chapter where I’m on the Finance Committee. This is a great experience because I get the opportunity to manage a $100,000 budget. Last year, I was elected to be the RHA (BBB) Director of Administration and Finance where my role was to govern student life for the 730 students in my hall and oversee Syracuse’s housing budget. I’m also an active member in Cuse’s Entrepreneurship Club where we bring in prosperous entrepreneurs such as Kenneth Langone Sr. — investor, philanthropist, and co-founder of Home Depot — to guest speak at our business school.

Continue reading “Collegiate Friars: July 2020”