3 Alumnae Siblings Share High-speed Internet (and Precious Time)

The Lombard sisters — one law-school student, one med-school student and one undergrad — returned home to Western Springs, IL, for eStudy this spring.

The trio of Lombard sisters came home to Western Spring, IL, this after college campuses shut down earlier this spring. “We haven’t all lived together or studied together for almost 10 years, so it’s been really memorable,” says Lauren, the family’s “baby” and a 2017 graduate of Fenwick.

Elizabeth, the eldest, adds, “In many ways, in sharing homework space, fighting for Wi-Fi capacity and complaining about exams and tough assignments together, it truly reminded all of us of our Fenwick days.”

Elizabeth Lombard ’11 (University of Notre Dame ’15 – Double Major: Accountancy and English) was a Friar cheerleader and earned a varsity letter at Notre Dame as Senior Football Manager. She worked for two years as a certified public accountant at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (Chicago), then returned to ND. Earlier this month, she graduated with an accelerated joint degree: a Doctor of Jurisprudence (JD) in law and Master of Business Administration. Elizabeth soon will head to New York City to take a job in the corporate practice division of law firm Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. Here are her and her sisters’ “quarantine” stories:

Elizabeth Lombard ’11

I just completed my third degree at the University of Notre Dame. My last semester certainly did not go as planned with the onset of eLearning. However, I felt lucky to have my family by my side throughout all of the chaos, to tackle this challenge together. We have not all been together, living in our family home in Western Springs, since I graduated Fenwick in 2011.

This semester I was enrolled in Trust and Estates Law, Intercollegiate Athletics Law, an Intercollegiate Athletics Externship, a Venture Capital and IPO Law Seminar, and a Law and the Entrepreneur Seminar. Most of my professors decided to still hold live, discussion-based Zoom meetings in lieu of our in-person classes. I loved these live Zoom meetings, as it made me feel like I was still in the classroom (minus being able to stare at the Golden Dome through the windows).

In addition to complications with moving the actual classroom learning online, I also faced graduation celebration planning complications. This year, I served as the 3L Class Representative for my law-school class on our Student Bar Association (similar to a Student Council). A vital part of my job was planning ‘3L Week’ celebrations, for the week prior to graduation — including a Chicago Cubs game, a winery tour and a massive banquet with our entire class. Obviously, when school was canceled, these opportunities to celebrate our achievements as a class were eliminated. I decided that we still needed to celebrate in some capacity digitally. I created a virtual ‘banquet’ for my class — complete with a digital congratulatory video from our professors and administration and a ‘Class Slideshow,’ with a slide for each student showing their favorite law-school photo, moment, class, as well as a senior superlative. It was very rewarding for me to put this together and know that my classmates felt loved and celebrated. Additionally, I coordinated a “Professor Send-Off” where five beloved professors gave our class some words of wisdom and congratulations. Notre Dame has rescheduled our official graduation for May 2021.

Fenwick has prepared me and my sisters well for our various career paths. I would particularly like to thank Ms. Logas for inspiring my interest in the law from her AP Government class; Mrs. Macaluso for inspiring my passion for writing and analysis in AP Literature; and Blackfriars Guild (BFG) for giving me confidence in my public speaking abilities. My time at Fenwick cultivated in me a hunger for learning and diligent work ethic, without which I would not have been able to excel during the demanding JD/MBA program. I look forward to joining Fenwick’s network of attorneys and continuing to grow my Fenwick family in the future.

Rachel Lombard ’13
Notre Dame ’17

Rachel Lombard completed a degree in Science Business at the University of Notre Dame in 2017. A few weeks ago, she began her fourth year of medical school at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago (Class of ’21). She is the recipient of the Medical Student Council’s Tom C. Reeves Memorial Award, which recognizes a third-year med student who exhibits outstanding leadership, volunteerism and character.

Rachel Lombard ’13

Before the pandemic hit, I had spent my entire third year of medical school completing clinical rotations in the different fields of medicine such as OBGYN, Pediatrics, Surgery, Internal Medicine and Psychiatry. While on my Surgical Rotation, the attending physician I worked with was also a Fenwick graduate and we bonded over our time at Fenwick. We both agreed that Mr. Farran was one of the best teachers we ever had and inspired both of us to pursue a career in medicine. It is really amazing how the Fenwick connections can always be found. Clinical rotations have by far been the best part of medical school, so far, because I finally got to work with actual patients and really feel like a part of the medical team.

 I was just about to start my final rotation of my third year in Family Medicine when the pandemic intensified. My medical school, along with almost all other medical schools in the United States, decided to pull all medical students from in-person clinical rotations to help do our part in minimizing the spread of the virus and conserve the already very limited amount of personal protective equipment. Like so many others, my life drastically changed overnight. I went from learning medicine from real-life patient encounters to learning from virtual online patient cases. Additionally, I had online lectures over Zoom from our clinical professors. Some of my clinical professors had just come off treating patients in the COVID unit and would teach us about their experiences firsthand fighting the virus, which was quite interesting.

Continue reading “3 Alumnae Siblings Share High-speed Internet (and Precious Time)”

Praying for Nurses and Medical Professionals with Fenwick Ties

The observation of National Nurses Week, celebrated May 6 – May 12, has extra-special meaning this year.

As is the case with many care-givers, the hard work of dedicated nurses often is taken for granted. Sometimes, it takes a health crisis such as the Coronavirus pandemic to bring these medical heroes into the spotlight.

Pictured above is alumna Julianne (Comiskey) Heinimann ’01, who works as a NICU nurse at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. She is one of at least 34 Friar alumni — women and men — who are registered nurses or nurse practitioners (see list below) across the United States: from Chicago, Oak Park, Downers Grove and Indiana to Washington (DC), Ohio, Arizona and San Francisco. (We know there are many more who are not in our system.)

Nurse Meade

Kathryn Meade, the mother of Fenwick senior Jack Meade (Lombard, IL), is one of at least nine parents working in the nursing field (see below). ” I had contracted COVID-19 from work,” shares Mrs. Meade, who has been a nurse since 1994, working as a NICU nurse for 22 years until recently becoming a Lactation Consultant. “Thankfully, I am on the mend and am humbled by the outpouring of love and support I received,” she says.

In observance if National Nurses Week, we want to publicly thank these moral servant-leaders for all that they do for their patients – especially by putting themselves and their families at risk during the COVID-19 crisis. You make us all proud to be fellow Friars!

Mary Berkemeyer ’11 Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago Emergency Room Registered Nurse
Monica Bomben ’11 Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago Registered Nurse, Neuro/Ortho
Allison Borkovec ’07 Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Registered Nurse
Marco Candido ’03 Independent Registered Nurse
Katie Dalton ’06 Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago Registered Nurse
Jennifer Dan ’08 Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago Cardiac Cath
Lab Nurse

Lauren


Sarah

Dillon-Ellsworth

Finan

’99


’04
Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, IL

Lurie Children’s Hospital, Chicago
Nurse



Nurse, neurointestinal and motility
Shannon

Daniela
Flannery

Giacalone
’14

’07


Northwestern Memorial
University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital

Registered Nurse

Registered Nurse
Margaret Grace ’13 Rush University Medical Center, Chicago Registered Nurse
Sharon Grandy ’01 Presence Health (Arizona) Emergency Room, RN
Julianne

Michelle
Comiskey-Heinimann

Androwich- Horrigan
’01

’05
Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago
Northwestern Memorial
Registered Nurse (Neonatal ICU)
Dana Jakoubek ’01 UCSF Medical Center, San Francisco Kidney Transplant Nurse Practitioner
Bridget Kern ’07 Rush University Medical Center, Chicago Registered Nurse
Amy Konopasek ’01 Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, IL Registered Nurse Multidisciplinary Coordinator
Alexis

Grace
Kozyra

Lattner
’12

’15
AMITA Health

Cleveland Clinic
Registered Nurse

Registered Nurse
Robert Lewis ’71 Emory University Emergency Medicine, Atlanta Nurse Practitioner
Anne Loeffler ’06 Rush University Medical Center Nurse Assistant 2
Mark Manankil ’86 Advocate Healthcare/Good Samaritan Hospital, Downers Gtove, IL Nurse/Psychiatry
Madalyn

Molly
Mazur

McHugh
’11

’13
U. of Chicago Hospital – Stem Cell Transplant Unit

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, D.C.
Charge Nurse/ Floor Nurse

Registered Nurse
Martin Mikell ’86 Zablocki VA Medical Center, MilwaukeeRegistered Nurse
Elissa Mikol ’04 Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Pediatric Surgery, Nurse Practitioner
Kyle

Nora
Morris

Napleton
’97

’15
Saint Mary’s Medical Center, Chicago
Loyola Medical Center, Maywood
Registered Nurse

ICU Nurse
Thomas Papadakis ’01 Rush Oak Park Hospital Registered Nurse, Emergency Department
Rachel


Katherine
Koranda-Plant

Racanelli
’00


’08

Loyola Medical Center (Chicago)

AMITA Health Medical Group

Registered Nurse


Family Nurse Practitioner
Terri Ferrera-Salinas ’09 Magnificat Family Medicine, Indianapolis Registered Nurse
Pamela


Andrew
Chase-Smith

Straub
’97


’87

Champaign, IL

UnitedHealth Group, Ohio

RN

Nurse Practitioner
Brittney Woosley ’08 Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, Melrose Park, IL Permanent Charge Nurse/RN

According to the Fenwick database, another 225 people (including alumni) have listed either “medicine” as their business/industry or “nursing” or “physician” as their profession. They are:

Continue reading “Praying for Nurses and Medical Professionals with Fenwick Ties”

Remote Collegiate Friars: May 2020

Fenwick 2017 alumnae the Ritten triplets are eLearning together (but separately) in Oak Park, as they finish their junior years in college. The sisters reflect on the Coronavirus pandemic’s effect on their experiences.

Maria Ritten ’17 (at right) is majoring in political science (and minoring in poverty studies and sociology) at the University of Notre Dame:

In these strange and unprecedented times of COVID-19 and social distancing, the last phrase I ever want to hear again is “in these strange and unprecedented times.” After being away from Notre Dame for over a month now, I have seen, heard and said this phrase more times than I ever could have anticipated. I hate the formality of it. While “in these strange and unprecedented times” is undeniably accurate, I think that its use is basically us saying, “now that I’ve addressed the elephant in the room, we can get back to how we normally act.”

But nothing is normal.

ND students haven’t seen the Golden Dome on campus since early March.

Fortunately for me, several of my professors seem to be on the same page. During our Zoom sessions, one of my professors has made it a point to ask each student how they are doing, really doing. Rather than beginning class with a quick hello and diving into material, he gives us time to talk about our real feelings about this pandemic. Our conversations have included topics such as how to celebrate a birthday during quarantine, good TV shows to binge, and how it is nice to be spending more time with our families.

While these positive conversations have been a source of light for me, we have also discussed the situations of classmates who are away from home and missing their families, or how the seniors felt after their graduation was postponed until next year. These conversations, although limited, have been one of the few formal settings during this quarantine in which I have felt encouraged to talk about my real experience. In asking us about our feelings, whether good or bad, my professor is enabling my classmates and me to acknowledge that nothing is normal, and that our thoughts, fears and hopes are all valid. While these are “strange and unprecedented times,” I am grateful for these Zoom sessions because they have taught me one of the most important lessons of my college career: When life throws a curveball, it is more important to reflect on the situation and acknowledge its impact than to pretend it never happened and just move on.

Missing New Orleans

Bridget Ritten ’17 (center) has a double major in public health and sociology at Tulane University:

For most people, New Orleans is a place to party and eat great food. However, New Orleans is much more than that, and for the last three years I have been lucky enough to call it my home.

The Tulane campus in NOLA.

I love New Orleans because it is the opposite of every city in America. Most cities are fast-paced and stressful while New Orleans is slow, easy-going and fun. New Orleans reminds me of a party that celebrates life that everyone is invited to. Unfortunately, there is not much to be celebrating these days as Coronavirus has spread throughout the nation, and particularly in New Orleans.

Fortunately, my family and I are healthy and have been sheltering in place in our home in Oak Park. Over the last month, many college students have been thinking about and missing their friends, classmates and classes. Although I have also been missing those things, I have often found myself thinking about New Orleans and wishing I were there.

Continue reading “Remote Collegiate Friars: May 2020”

Why Do Teachers Stay at Fenwick?

At the Faculty Retreat in early March, an alumnus and English Chairperson (who also teaches French and Italian and directs the fall play) shared with colleagues two reasons why he hasn’t left the Friars.

By John Schoeph ’95

One of the things for which I’m most grateful is that I work in an environment that fosters scholarship. I can recall from Dr. Lordan’s class the importance of scholasticism as a facet of Thomism, as an important component to Dominicans’ approach to education. That approach continued when I attended a Dominican university. I feel blessed to work in, of all Catholic environments, a Dominican one that prizes scholarship.

We don’t try to keep up with teaching trends. We aim to be innovative within fields our teachers know well and continue to advance in. English teachers here don’t ‘kind of’ know English; they know it. Continued learning in our fields is important to us. So a personnel of scholars has tended to abound here, and I love being in that company and in a place that embraces that.

As department chair, how blessed am I to observe other teachers and get to witness the high level of preparation through conscientious and attentive research in varied aspects of English:

Shana Wang
  • Shana Wang’s research on the reportage of Isabel Allende and its effect on her fictionalization of the televised death of Omaira Sanchez.
  • Theresa Steinmeyer’s [Class of 2012 alumna] research on revolutions throughout Central and South America as reflected through Magical Realism.
  • Kyle Perry’s [Class of 2001 alumnus] research on Said’s Orientalism, its reactions, and observations of both in art and literature.
Kyle Perry ’01

This is an environment I want to be in.​

At Fenwick, I can teach up! At Fenwick, I have to be on my A-game; I wouldn’t want to be at a place where I can get away with winging it, where students wouldn’t be sharp enough or smart enough to call me out on a misspeak or a gap in knowledge. My primary goal here is not to motivate students because, by and large, they come to class excited and willing to learn.

I can recall a group of students who used to spend their lunch period in my class so that they could take notes on my lessons when I wasn’t their teacher that year; I can recall discussing a picture book on words that have no translation in other languages, or at least no direct translation to English, and three students stopping after class to ask me for the title and author of the book so that they could buy their own; one of my talking points at Open House is the time the football team called me over to their lunch table to weigh in on whether or not I thought Willie Loman was a tragic hero in Death of a Salesman because they were duking it out — at lunch!

I can recall when Mr. Finnell assigned me A Midsummer Night’s Dream for my directorial debut [in 2009] after eight years paying my dues as his assistant director. After working with the students on Shakespearean language, delivery and pacing, sitting through the first off-book rehearsal, which was all of Shakespeare’s ACT I — unabridged — I was smiling from ear to ear because no one called for a line — not even once. They had worked that hard on it. 

Best students in the land

And let’s face it, whether they’re the brightest scholar or lover of academics or not, they’re the best students in the land. I have many friends who are teachers at many schools, and when I’m out with them, it’s inevitable that I will run into my students. Every time I do, my friends are flabbergasted by my students’ comportment and interaction with me. Every time, my students run over to me and greet me, excited to see me.

One time, I walked into Chipotle where about 12 Fenwick students, juniors at the time, had formed one long table. I had taught only one of them as a freshman and didn’t know the others. I got my food and was heading to the counter when they waved me over to join them. I didn’t want to intrude, but they all immediately made room for me, welcomed me, and brought me over to eat — again, I had taught only one of them.

Another time, I was with my friends at the Oak Brook Mall when a group of students ran up to me. My friends were blown away that my students didn’t see me and walk the other way. Instead, they respectfully greeted my friends, chatted with me, and then suddenly darted away —because across the mall, they spotted Mrs. Megall and wanted to go say hi to her! And I know the same goes for so many of you. We could take this for granted — the academic caliber of our gifted and talented students, and the welcoming and warmth of our kind-hearted students — but knowing what other teachers experience helps me realize this gift. And I haven’t even talked about how great our students’ families are!

Continue reading “Why Do Teachers Stay at Fenwick?”

Full Scholarship for Fenwick Senior!

NHS member and Bellwood resident Craig Butler ’20 to attend University of Wisconsin – Madison on a full-tuition “ride” from the Posse Foundation.

By Mark Vruno

Craig Butler, a senior at Fenwick High School, has been named a 2020 Posse Foundation Scholar. Butler will receive a full-tuition scholarship to the University of Wisconsin – Madison, which is one of nearly 60 schools that collaborates with the Posse program. “It’s crazy. I thought it was a dream,” admits Butler, who commutes to Fenwick from Bellwood, IL.

“I was going home after school when I got the phone call from Posse,” he says. The 17-year-old was not sure what to expect. “I explained to the person why I thought Wisconsin was a good fit for me, and he said, ‘Craig, we have good news for you. You’re a Posse Scholar!’ I was somewhat surprised because I know only about 10 students from Chicago get it [the scholarship] to UW.”

The first call Butler made to share the big news was to his mother. “My Mom was so excited and proud,” he reports. “She knows my personality and how I work well with others. She’s always so optimistic.” The second call Butler made was to Mr. Daryl Richardson, his mentor at LINK Unlimited Scholars, who nominated him for the Posse leadership scholarship.

Fenwick Class of 2020 Counselor Emily Anderson praises, “Craig is an incredibly determined, hard-working and deserving individual. I couldn’t be more excited for him. He will be among the first in his family to attend college, and I have no doubt he will prove himself to be a grateful recipient of the Posse Scholarship.” After applying, Butler progressed through an intense, three-stage interviewing process, explains Ms. Anderson.

The speedy Butler runs track for the Friars, making All-Catholic League in the long jump his first year. He tried out for the football team as a senior this past fall. A versatile student-athlete, Butler also is a member of the Fenwick chess and bowling teams as well as the National Honor Society (NHS) and Black Student Union. “Craig has volunteered his time every Tuesday morning to Friar Mentors, providing tutoring for those who need help in Spanish,” Anderson notes.

Outside of Fenwick, he is a recipient of the LINK Unlimited Scholarship and has been awarded its Academic Gold-Tier for his classroom success. Butler also won the 2019 Nissan Resume Challenge.

“Craig is a kind, thoughtful and respectful individual,” Anderson concludes. “I am in awe of all that he has been able to accomplish — and he has done so with grace and tenacity.”

About the Posse Foundation

The Posse Foundation was founded in 1989 because one student was heard saying, “I never would’ve dropped out of college if I’d had my posse with me.” The foundation identifies students with extraordinary potential who might be overlooked by the traditional admissions process of elite schools. Now in its 31st year, it grants more than 700 scholarships annually to students selected from Chicago and nine other metropolitan areas throughout the United States: Atlanta, the Bay Area, Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York City and Washington, D.C. Butler and the other scholarship winners will attend college in supportive, multicultural groups of 10 students — posses. The program is recognized as one of the most comprehensive college success and leadership development initiatives in the country, as 90% of Posse Scholars go on to graduate.

READ ABOUT THE 2019 POSSE SCHOLAR FROM FENWICK

How High School Defines Us

At the Faculty & Staff Retreat earlier this month, a senior “mathlete” from Elmhurst shared a heartfelt reflection of his time at Fenwick.

By Nathan Crowell ’20

The four years of high school are some of the most influential years of our lives. Our lives change so much — from the things we learn about, to the friends we have, to our identities that we discover. High school molds us into the people we will be for the rest of our lives.

Good morning, everyone! For those of you who do not know me, my name is Nate Crowell. My story is all about finding my true identity and the role that I play in the Fenwick Community. I’m on the Math Team and the Scholastic Bowl Team. I play volleyball, I do TEAMS, WYSE, Friar Mentors and the Write Place. All the while being active in my church’s youth group. As you can probably tell, I’m what some would call “a nerd.” Now, I don’t think it is an insult at all because I love the activities that I do, and so what if I like math? It’s a part of my identity that I found here at Fenwick.

Who I am all begins with my family. I have two loving parents and two brothers: an older one named Ian and a younger one named Nolan. My family has had a big influence on the person I have become. Up until about my sophomore year of high school, I looked up to my brother for everything. From baseball to school, I always tried to do what he did. He batted lefty, so I had to bat lefty; he played the percussion, so I played percussion. He went to Fenwick, so I had to go to Fenwick. His influence on me has impacted my life more than I realize. I entered Fenwick trying to live up to the reputation he set before me. I tried my hardest to be as similar to Ian as I could. 

Other than my brother’s influence, my mom has also impacted my life a lot. From when I was young and still today, my mom and I love to do jigsaw puzzles. We would sit in the family room for hours doing these 550-piece jigsaw puzzles. It was doing these puzzles that molded the way I think, and they developed my love for problem solving. 

Family and Faith

Now, my parents have been bringing me to church for my entire life. But I never made my faith my own until middle school. It was the youth group that got me engaged in my faith, and to this day I’m very involved in my church. As my faith journey progressed and as I became more and more engaged at church, I grew to love the people in my youth group. As 7th grade began, I met one of my best friends and mentor. He was one of my small-group leaders then and, to this day, he is still my mentor, small-group leader and best friend. He has been there to guide me along my faith journey, helping me through my biggest times of doubt. 

My mentor is one of the most influential people in my life, and having someone there for you, no matter when or where, is crucial for every high schooler. The best part is, you all get that opportunity here at Fenwick. Many of the students here are going through some very stressful situations, and if you are able to be there for them, it makes a world of difference. So I encourage you to always be there for the students, because you never know what they may be going through or how great of an impact you can have on their life.

Faculty members listened intently to young Nate’s story in the library on March 6, 2020.

When 8th grade rolled around, I had to decide what high school I was going to go to. I was choosing between here and York, and the thing that sealed the deal for Fenwick was the community. The students, and especially the teachers, are all so welcoming. When I shadowed here, I felt like a part of the family already. I could tell that the Fenwick Community is there for each other no matter what. The biggest thing that I noticed was how nice everyone in the faculty was. You all are the reason Fenwick is the way it is. Without you, our community would not be as tightly knit and our students would not see Fenwick almost as a second home. You all foster a warm feeling that reminds the students of home, no matter how much we may hate doing school work.

Starting freshman year was scary. I didn’t know what to expect, especially only knowing two other kids going into Fenwick. I didn’t know what the other people would think of me. 

Now, I spent most of freshman year trying to find my place within the new school and getting to know all the new people. The only important things I remember from freshman year are being “invited” to join the Math Team (like I had a choice) and trying out for volleyball. However, the most impactful thing to happen to me freshman year was meeting THE Joe Zawacki. We met in Spanish class, where on the first day he got sniped with his phone out by Ms. Carraher. Later that day, we ended up sitting at the same lunch table. And, well, the rest is history.

Identity Crisis

When sophomore year rolled around, I found out that I had every class except two with Joe. We did everything together, and after all the time I spent with him, I thought I had to be like Joe. I “stole” Joe’s identity. I took it as my own and tried to be the person he is, not the person God made me to be. Besides adopting his identity as my own, I compared myself to him a lot, and I started to feel like I wasn’t special and that I didn’t have a place here in the Fenwick community. An emptiness started to grow inside of me. It quickly started to eat away at me. The emptiness got so bad that I almost transferred to York. I was strongly considering leaving this amazing community. I thought I didn’t have anything special that I could add to Fenwick.

But, preparing for junior year soon consumed my thoughts because I had a lot of decisions to make. What classes would I take? What activities would I do? How can I make myself look the best for colleges? 

“Our culture today puts so much value in doing.

Nate Crowell

As the school year began to pick up pace, I was bombarded with assignment after assignment. My day consisted of waking up, going to school, going to any after-school activity I had that day, going home, barely finishing my homework, then straight to sleep. My daily routine was jam-packed, and God slowly transitioned from being a part of my life to an afterthought, then to the point where I would go entire weeks without even thinking about Him. Our culture today puts so much value in doing. I especially felt that this year, as I wrote college apps. I had to do every after-school activity, be a part of every club I could; I never had time to slow down and connect with God. One thing I have learned is that we all need a break. We can do this by just spending time alone, without distractions.  It can be as short as 10 minutes or as long as two hours. 

On an annual trip my youth group would take, we would go to Arkansas and spend a week on houseboats, living on the lake. One thing that we did every year was, on the third morning, we would start the day in total silence. We woke up silently; we made breakfast silently; then we spent about another hour and a half in silence. We were supposed to just sit there and look out over the lake. Now, as a freshman and sophomore that task was DAUNTING. Being silent for two hours? I could barely stay quiet for a meal. Now, as a young freshman and sophomore, the challenge wasn’t being quiet for an hour and a half, it was staying awake for that hour and a half. I ended up asleep both times, but as successful as I was at being quiet, I totally missed the point of the activity. 

Being vs. Doing

The whole point wasn’t to torture us but to refect on life, and take a MUCH needed break from the busy-ness of today’s society. When I went before junior year, instead of taking a nap, I was actually able to stay awake the whole time! I just sat on the back of the boat, looking out across the lake. It was after that hour and a half that I realized I feel most at peace in nature. I was able to forget about all of the stresses of everyday life and just breathe. Now, whenever I need a break from the world, I’ll go out into nature and just take a walk. I now know about the importance of just being. There is so much doing in our world, that we forget to just BE. We all just need to take a break from the constant hustle and bustle of our lives.

First semester of senior year was full of constantly filling out this application, writing that essay, and just stressing about my future. But a quote I read last year said to: “Never let fear decide your fate.” I had to put my trust in God and His plan for me and my future. God is always here with us, whether we feel His presence or not. As the great Mr. Mulcahy said, “Our oneness with God is realized not created.”

Throughout my journey at Fenwick, I have wanted to make a huge impact here. I thought that when the time came, I could do some great action. When I reflected on how foolish that thought was, I was reminded of a quote from Mother Teresa that my mom keeps on her desk at home. It says: “We can do no great things; only small things with great love.” 

Continue reading “How High School Defines Us”

A Month in Vietnam: Dominican Government in Action

Seven months later, Fenwick’s president reflects on his trip last summer to Southeast Asia.

By Fr. Richard Peddicord, O.P.

From the outside looking in, it would seem that religious orders are very much alike: they share many of the same practices, profess the same vows, serve in very similar ministries. What, then, distinguishes the various religious communities from each other? Apart from the most obvious — the style of religious garb, for example — it is the emphasis placed on the component parts of the life of the community. One order might focus on communal prayer more than another; another may be differentiated, say, by its ministry to the sick.


The floor plan for the General Chapter (the Central Province delegates at nn. 68-70).

Not surprisingly, the Order of Preachers is unique among the other orders in the Church in its focus on the ministry of preaching. The uniquely democratic government of the Dominican Order might not be as well known: indeed, it is recognized as being among the most democratic in the Catholic Church.

The Order’s Book of Constitutions (n. 252) explains that: “The Order of Friars Preachers, which is ruled by the general chapter and the Master of the Order, is made up of provinces, each of which is ruled by a provincial chapter and a prior provincial. Each province is made up of convents and houses, each of which is governed by its own prior or superior.”

The Central Province contingent: Fr. Peddicord, O.P. (from left), with Fr. Thomas McDermott, O.P. and Provincial Fr. James Marchionda, O.P.

The first constitution, written by St. Dominic and approved by the first friars, mandated a representative form of democratic governance for the above-mentioned structure. All of the superiors in the Order are elected and there are term limits for office holders. On the local level, all members have a voice in communal decision-making: It is never a matter of the superior having total decision-making authority. Dominicans see their vow of obedience to be supremely communal in its observance. One is obedient to the decisions of the community — the community in which one has an important role to play.

On July 13, the Order of Preachers welcomed the 87th successor of St. Dominic de Guzman, in the person of Fr. Gerard Francisco Parco Timoner III, O.P., a son of the Dominican Province of the Philippines and first Asian Master of the Order.

Every three years, at the international level of the Order, a general chapter is held in one of the provinces of the Order. Delegates elected from each of the Order’s 33 provinces participate. (On average, there are three delegates per province.) Every third general chapter calls for the election of the Master of the Order — the friar who will serve as the successor of St. Dominic.

From July 5th to August 4th, 2019, an elective general chapter of the Order was held in Biên Hòa, Vietnam. I was honored to be a delegate to the general chapter. As well as being a once-in-a-lifetime spiritual and cultural experience, it was also an experience of “Dominican government in action.” Delegates from all 33 provinces of the Order participated in the chapter and were assisted by a team of translators. (Simultaneous translation was available in the three official languages of the Order: French, Spanish and English.)

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Student Preacher for Ash Wednesday

Fenwick Preaching Team member and the Class of ’20 president reflected on the Lenten Season at Mass on February 26.

By Patrick Feldmeier ’20

Caddie and football player Patrick Feldmeier is one of four Chick Evans Scholarship recipients from Fenwick (to date) this school year.

40 days. 40 nights. Students and faculty, now is the opportunity to move forward as followers of Christ. Lent is the time to evaluate our connection to God, and make an honest effort to strengthen our faith. Through the trials and tribulations of the following 40 days, let us ask God for trust, for trust will empower us through all of life’s challenges.

At the end of His 40 days in the desert, the devil tested Jesus like never before with short term pleasures and materialistic possessions. Yet, Jesus stayed resilient, and refused to give in to the Devil’s temptations. Jesus trusted that God’s love would triumph any benefit received from giving into the Devil, and God prevailed. This trust, this faith that God is the answer in our lives, will guide us through these next 40 days. We are constantly surrounded by unfulfilling passions that make us happy for a short period of time, then leave us drained shortly after. The Devil works through these passions, but our heart yearns for more. A strong faith in God throughout Lent will orient ourselves to strive for fulfilling pleasures, which will bring us the long-lasting happiness we all desire. Everything begins with a trust in God, and the confidence that He knows what is best for us. Trust in God’s plan, the lessons he teaches, and the love he gives us every day; and rest assured you will enter Easter Sunday a changed person.

This Lent, don’t just give something up, like pop, candy, fighting with your siblings, whatever. Lent is about giving more to God, who calls on us to make a greater effort to pray more, attend mass more often, and embody a Catholic conscience in our daily lives.

We don’t know how our lives will be in 40 days. Life may be better, worse, or a complete transformation because of certain situations. Jesus conquered death merely days after his journey because He believed in the power of God. As Christians, if we can commit to strengthening our relationship with God in the next 40 days, we will see ourselves change right before our eyes. Jesus’ journey in the desert prepared him for his ministry, death and resurrection. I will leave all of you with one simple question. What are you preparing for in the next 40 days?

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Alumni Spotlight Shines on Physics ‘Star’ Daniel H. Chang, PhD., Class of 1985

28 years after earning dual degrees from MIT, a fellow Friar let present-day students glimpse his Jet Propulsion Lab work for NASA.

By Mark Vruno

When alumnus Dan Chang, PhD. ’85 returned to Fenwick last November, he felt right at home talking to students in the school library. Ever since immigrating to northeast Illinois from Taipei, Taiwan, in 1976, Dr. Chang has had an affinity for libraries and books.

Chang was a National Merit Scholarship Finalist in 1984-85 (Blackfriars yearbook photo).

Ten-year-old Chang spoke no English when he came to the United States. His father was a diplomat for the Taiwanese consulate in Chicago. During the summer, when their mother was working as a medical technician, his sister Anne and Dan went to the public library “almost every day,” he told the Forest Park Review eight years ago, “and I read every book about physics, space and aviation.” Before applying for a scholarship to Fenwick as an eighth grader, the future rocket scientist attended Grant-White, and then Field-Stevenson elementary schools.

“Let’s talk about the universe,” Chang engaged one group of science students last semester, as he booted up a customized PowerPoint presentation. Over the past four decades, there have been some rather astonishing developments as the field of astronomy became less Earth-centric, he told present-day Friars: “When I was in high school, we didn’t know there were other stars with planetary systems. Now, we know there are nearly 4,000 exoplanets!” (An exoplanet, or extrasolar planet, is a planet outside of our solar system.)

“Did you know there are more planets than stars in the galaxy?” Chang continued. “Small planets are common, even in the Habitable Zone, but they are too dim to see through a telescope,” he added. In astronomy and astrobiology, the circumstellar habitable zone (CHZ) is the range of orbits around a star within which a planetary surface can support liquid water given sufficient atmospheric pressure. Such complexity is par for the course for Chang, who was a straight-A student at Fenwick, a National Merit Scholar Finalist and one of three valedictorians from the Class of 1985. (Chris Hanlon and Ray Kotty are the other two.)

Chang went on to study at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He says he “held my own” at the private research university and earned a bachelor of science in aeronautics/ astronautics, then a master’s degree in dynamics/control. After moving to the West Coast to work for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL, see below), he would go on to a doctorate, in electrical engineering and photonics, from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2002.

Dr. Chang reunited on Nov. 22 with Math Coach Mr. Roger Finnell ’59 (center) and old pal, classmate and Fenwick Math Teacher Ray Kotty ’85.

In the aforementioned newspaper article, ’85 classmate Kotty, who has taught math at Fenwick since 1993-94, described his former Computer Club and “mathlete” teammate as “a little bit more [of] a risk-taker than the other guys in the math-club group. He was always going to go ahead and blaze his trail.” Outside of school, the two mathematical whizzes attended weekend astrophysics classes together at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium — and have remained friends over the years.

Chang told students in November, “For the record, Mr. Kotty beat me in just about every math competition at Fenwick!”

Demanding yet kind

Former Chemistry Teacher and JETS Coach Mr. Ramzi Farran (in 1985).

As a high-school student, Chang never experienced faculty legend Roger Finnell ’59 (long-timeMath Department Chairman) in the classroom per se. Mr. Finnell was — and is — moderator of Fenwick’s storied Math Competition Club. Chang fondly remembers what he calls “rigorous” teachers, including Mr. Ramzi Farran (chemistry and JETS coach) and Mr. John Polka (biology), both recently retired, as well as the late Mr. Edward Ludwig (calculus) and Fr. Jordan McGrath, O.P. (pre-calc.), who passed away in 2018.

Chang calls the late Mr. Ed Ludwig, who taught calculus, Fenwick’s “Director of Happiness.” (1964 photo)

“They all were very kind but very demanding,” he remembers, adding that Ludwig and McGrath were not perceived as being kind, initially. “They seemed harsh at first. They pushed us,” explains Chang, who jokingly refers to Ludwig as the Fenwick’s “Director of Happiness.” Looking back, however, the former student appreciates these teachers’ collective toughness.

Other Fenwick teachers were as influential, if not more so, to Chang’s developing, teenage brain. “Math always was easy [for me] to do,” he admits. “It is a rich but one-dimensional subject. Large, open-ended subjects, such as history and literature, are different.” As a sophomore in 1982-83, he discovered cognitive enrichment in honors English with Fr. Dave Santoro, O.P., honors history class with Mr. John Quinn ’76 and speech class with Mr. Andrew Arellano. In those courses of study, “I learned how to think and debate. I developed political opinions. The strategic thinking and soft-skills I began to glimpse then are arguably as important to my job today as the technical, ‘hard-skills.’”

“The strategic thinking and soft-skills I began to glimpse then [at Fenwick] are arguably as important to my job today as the technical, ‘hard skills.’”

Dr. Dan Chang

Back to school

Dr. Chang talks with students in Fenwick’s John Gearen ’32 Library.

This past November, Chang explained to students the discovery of exoplanets by employing the so-called “stellar-wobble” method, as well as the transit photometry method. Doppler spectroscopy (also known as the radial-velocity method, or colloquially, the wobble method) is an indirect method for finding extrasolar planets and brown dwarfs from radial-velocity measurements via observation of Doppler shifts in the spectrum of the planet’s parent star; while the transit method essentially measures the “wink” of a star as an exoplanet passes before it. (The Nobel Prize in physics for 2019 was awarded partially for the first exoplanet discovery, employing the radial velocity method.)

Chang spent several years of his career on JPL’s Stellar Interferometry Mission (SIM), which was an attempt to discover exoplanets using yet another method – direct astrometry, but with unprecedented precision. SIM proved to be too much of a technological stretch and was cancelled in 2009. “The technology is very difficult,” Chang stressed, “measuring angle changes down to approximately 4 micro-arcseconds,” which is about a billionth of a degree. (An arcsecond is an angular measurement equal to 1/3600 of a degree.)

During his nearly 29-year career at JPL, Chang’s technical contributions and leadership have been recognized with numerous individual awards, including the NASA Honors Award in 2007. For the past three and a half years, he has been the project manager of JPL’s Program Office 760, which is known as the “Technology Demonstrations Office.” While details cannot be disclosed, he is responsible for the management and technical direction of the more than 100 people who work within the classified program. Chang, who reports to  JPL’s Director for Astronomy and Physics, was Office 760’s chief engineer for two years prior to overseeing the program.

“This part of astrophysics is close to my heart, but let’s now look at an engineering tour de force,” he proclaimed to the young, fellow Friars, switching gears and delving into the basics of how the Mars landing system works.

No crash landings with Sky Crane: NASA has spent more than
$200 million to develop a propulsive, soft-landing system using a massive parachute for potential use on Mars. The helium balloon has a 110-foot diameter – a canopy big enough to fill the Rose Bowl football stadium in Pasadena, California!

“The United States still is the only country that has successfully landed vehicles on Mars (the massive Curiosity rover in 2012 being the most recent),” he informed the students. “We have been [remotely] driving around up there for seven years.” From 2004-07, Chang served as a principal investigator under the Mars Technology Program (MTP), for which he helped to develop LIDAR for lander terminal guidance.

Mars 2020: Set for launch this coming July, the new, yet-to-be-named rover is powered by plutonium and may carry a helicopter, a NASA spokesperson says.

With all the Martian craters and high-wind dust storms (up to 70 mph), “how do you safely land a probe?” he asked.  JPL succeeded in 1997 with its toy-car sized Pathfinder robotic spacecraft, which employed the new (at the time) technology of airbag-mediated touchdown. JPL returned again in 2004 with MER, again using airbags and a crude, wind-compensating rocket system called DIMES. However, for the Mars Science Lab mission in 2012 that landed Curiosity – “essentially a nuclear-powered, 2,000-pound MINI Cooper – we had to resort to lowering the probe on a tether to solve the egress problem and other challenges.” This technology is NASA’s rocket-powered Sky Crane, developed for the Curiosity landing and will be used again when the Mars 2020 mission attempts its next landing. “It was surprising to us that it worked!” Chang remarked.

Animation of Mars Helicopter: The small, autonomous rotorcraft is designed to demonstrate the viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on the Red Planet. “The idea of a helicopter flying the skies of another planet is thrilling,” says NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

In less than 12 months, another robotic rover could be roaming and exploring the “Red Planet” in a quest to answer that age-old question: Are we alone in the universe? Scheduled for a July 17 launch, Mars 2020 should touch down in Jezero crater (on Mars) on February 18, 2021. NASA has invested some $2.5 billion in the eagerly anticipated mission. The new, yet-to-be-named rover is expected to carry a small, autonomous rotorcraft known as the Mars Helicopter, Chang shared excitedly.

1-MINUTE VIDEO: How Do You Land on Mars? Very Carefully!

The Fenwick Standard

Chang (far left in 1989) rowed crew all four years as an ungrad at MIT: “Most of my varsity years were spent in the bow seat,” which is the front. “Rowers sit facing backwards,” he notes.

In college, when Chang wasn’t studying or reading in the Cambridge, MA campus library, he blew off steam by rowing crew on the Charles River. These days, when he is not working at JPL or consulting for firms such as Skybox Imaging (acquired by Google and recently sold again to Planet Labs), his hobby is aviation. “I like fixing (mostly) and flying – when I’m not fixing – my plane,” says Chang, who owns a single-engine aircraft.

He also enjoys spending time with his wife, Malina, and their teenage daughter, Natalie. While Chang contends that values, work ethic and good study habits begin at home with the family, he wishes he could find a private secondary school in the Los Angeles area more like Fenwick, which he considers the standard. “I’d gladly pay for rigor and discipline, which are critical,” he says. “Unfortunately, most private schools where I live primarily offer social segmentation.”

“Merit and accomplishment are what matter at Fenwick.”

Dan Chang, PhD. (Class of 1985)

Whether at Fenwick or MIT, “the textbooks teachers use are the same as at other schools,” adds Dr. Chang, who has been interviewing under-graduate candidates in the LA area for his collegiate alma mater since 2006. “The quality of the student body is what determines how far teachers can go, how much they can push [their students].” The Dominican friars foster an egalitarian atmosphere, he concludes: “The relative wealth of the student body doesn’t matter at Fenwick. One’s own merit and accomplishments are what matter.”

Could one of these new NASA astronauts one day travel to Mars or another planet? NASA thinks it will happen before the year 2045.
Continue reading “Alumni Spotlight Shines on Physics ‘Star’ Daniel H. Chang, PhD., Class of 1985”

Alumnae Spotlight Shines on Cortney Hall: Class of 1999

The local television anchor/host remembers a lot about her days at Fenwick, where she received a detention on her first day as a freshman student in 1995.

By Mark Vruno

Cortney Hall remembers feeling nervous – again. The Fenwick alumna (’99), now an Emmy-nominated TV journalist, was back among Friars, preparing to deliver the commencement address to the Class of 2016. The problem: She was sitting near Andy Arellano, her old speech teacher. Twenty years earlier, Mr. Arellano had seemed “so scary,” not just to Ms. Hall but to generations of Fenwick sophomores. Contrary to her on-air vivaciousness on NBC-TV’s “Chicago Today” show (Channel 5), Hall insists she was a shy 15-year-old.

“We looked at speech class as a ‘gateway to graduation,’” she recalls, adding that she felt prepared four years ago. “That’s what Andy does. He prepares his students and makes them feel confident about getting up and talking in front of other people. Speech class was tough at the time, but he also made it entertaining. He taught skills that I have carried with me throughout my life and career.”

Hall’s 1999 yearbook photo from Fenwick.

Hall grew up in the south/western suburbs of Downers Grove and Oak Brook. Comparatively, “Fenwick was diverse – and I don’t mean just racially or ethnically,” she explains. “The school pulls people from all over the Chicago area, with different life experiences.”

But no matter where Fenwick’s student live, physically, their families all seem to have one thing in common: “They all care and have similar core values,” she believes. “Going in [to Fenwick], you know you’re among like-minded people whose parents want structure and discipline for them; who want their children to learn and have morals.”

It takes time and “some distance” to appreciate many aspects of what makes Fenwick such a special place, admits Hall. “Is it strict? Yeah. We weren’t allowed to hang out in the hallways like kids at other schools,” she continues. “As a teenager, you worry about things like wearing the Catholic-school uniform. However, as an adult, you look back and understand that there was a different purpose. We weren’t caught up in the brand of jeans our classmates were buying. We heard about bullying incidents at other schools, but I don’t remember stuff like that happening at Fenwick when I was there. We were a different group of kids.”

The stress of Mr. Arellano’s speech classes is not Hall’s only faculty memory of Fenwick. “Fr. Joe [Ekpo] was a character, with his chants of ‘Up, up, Jesus! Down, down, Satan!’” she remembers. Hall played tennis, and Mr. Bostock was her soccer coach. “I was mildly terrible,” she self-assesses. “And Dr. Lordan [retired in 2019] was a Fenwick staple, of course.” She remembers (fondly?) getting JUG on her very first day as a freshman student — for a skirt infraction. “There were two tricks for shortening our skirts: We’d either roll them at the top or staple them at the hem,” she laughs.

From the 1998-99 Yearbook: “Cortney Hall, the Fenwick Fashion Diva.”

Hall adds that she had fun as a Blackfriars yearbook staffer (she was student life editor) and wrote a “column” her senior year. “It was a parody on uniforms: shirt colors (blue!) and shoe options.” She also was active in Campus Ministry, NHS, SADD and The Wick.

Hall’s absolute favorite memory as a Friar? Hands down, it was “going downstate for boys’ basketball in 1998,” she exclaims of her junior-year experience in Peoria, IL. “I went with friends to cheer them on!”

Life after Fenwick

Ms. Hall’s lifelong love of basketball led her to moonlight as the official, in-arena host for the NBA’s Chicago Bulls at the United Center.

From Fenwick, Hall moved on to Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.), where she majored in marketing at the McDonough School of Business. “Georgetown was my first choice,” she notes. “I’ve always been a big basketball fan, and the Hoyas were really cool in the ’90s.”

Being from Chicago, she wanted a school in a big city and was accepted at Columbia and NYU in New York. “Applying to colleges was a great experience,” she shares. “I received a lot of great guidance. Fenwick put me in a good position to get into my ‘reach’ schools.” A visit to Georgetown’s campus sealed her fate.

As an under-grad at Georgetown, she says she really didn’t know what she wanted to do. After graduating, “I worked at the World Bank in D.C. for a while but decided that wasn’t for me. I didn’t want to sit in front of a computer all day long.”

Her game-changer turned out to be media coverage of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Like many Americans, “the powerful images coming out of New York captivated me,” she says. “I was in college when it happened, glued to my TV set and the news [reports].”

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