The mom of five Friars addressed fellow Mothers’ Club members at the 2019 Fenwick Senior Mass & Brunch celebration earlier this month.
By Susan Lasek
Good afternoon Fenwick mothers, guardians, the Senior Class of 2019, Father Peddicord, Mr. Groom and Faculty. I am honored to be here speaking to you about my family’s Fenwick experience: a faith-filled journey that began in August of 2009 and will end on May 24 of this year.
Boy, 10 years go by quickly, especially with five
children, all with different personalities and interests who participated in a
variety of clubs and sports offered at Fenwick. Why did my family choose
Fenwick? Well, I go back to two very precious gifts that were given to me and
the gift of family and parenthood
the gift of faith
Both Mark and I were lucky enough to grow up in
families that were very close and where family was always #1. We also feel the
gift of faith is immeasurable — one that our families value very deeply. This
is why Mark and I decided to send our kids to a Catholic high school. After
researching all the private and public schools, Fenwick was our first choice,
hands down, no questions. We felt that it was important for our kids to be
reminded of their faith every day. We felt they would have an excellent
education that would prepare them for college. Bottom line, as a mother: It was
most important for my kids to be in a safe and faith-filled environment.
Why Fenwick? “It was most important for my kids to be in a safe and faith-filled environment.”
What made Fenwick unique in our mind was the entire Fenwick community. You are not just going to high school; you are joining the Fenwick family. You are joining a community that will be with you for the rest of your life. Whether you are the class of 2019 or the class of 1990, it doesn’t matter because you are all part of the Fenwick family.
Some of the things that make Fenwick unique and stand
Prayers are included in every aspect of a
student’s life, from the start of the day, to sporting events, theater and
How beautiful it is that Father Peddicord
greets everyone by name after school and wishes them a good rest of the day?
Kairos is one of the most emotional,
faith-filled experiences that touches every student. The three-day retreat
brings students together who may not know each other very well and provides an
opportunity for support and friendship.
Fenwick is truly a college-prep school.
Every one of my children that went off to college thanked us for sending them
to Fenwick because they felt so well prepared for their college education and
What is Friar Nation: “You are joining a community that will be with you for the rest of your life.”
To sum it up, we are thankful for the leadership that
helped guide our children from being impressionable kids to strong,
independent-minded young adults. We are grateful for their experiences that
provided a strong base of faith and knowledge that will carry them into the
next phase of their lives. We are appreciative of the entire leadership and
staff at Fenwick for genuinely caring for each and every student. Teachers at
Fenwick forge great relationships with their students, providing support,
guidance and instruction.
Overall, Fenwick instilled a sense of tradition in our
kids that make them feel as though they are a part of something bigger. I’d
like to close with the following phrase our kids hear during the morning
announcements at the beginning of every school day:
our experiences are defined by our choices. Today, make great choices. Make
today a great day or not, that choice is yours!”
Fenwick is forever in our hearts and minds. God Bless
About the Author
Sue Lasek and her husband, Mark, reside in Hinsdale. All five of the couple’s five children have attended Fenwick. A quick update on each one:
Mark II, a current graduate (Class of ’19), will attend the University of Wisconsin – Madison this fall and study physics with a minor in finance.
Josephine ’18 just finished her freshman year at the University of Arizona in Tucson. She is studying nursing.
Charlotte attended Fenwick from 2011-13. She will graduate from DePaul University on June 15, 2019, with a degree in neuropsychology. Charlotte had the opportunity to work with DePaul/NASA on a project that involved researching astronauts’ brains.
Chris ’14 is currently working on his degree in architecture at College of DuPage and is working on a few projects with area architectural firms.
Rich ’13 graduated from University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2017 with a degree in economics. He is employed by Core Spaces, one of the country’s top leaders in student housing. Rich manages the Ambassador Program across the United States and conducts market research for the firm; he also is involved with business development.
If Fenwick seems a little brighter lately, that’s because it is. Beyond the sharp, young minds honed in classrooms, we literally are talking light bulbs – namely, vibrant ones employing LED (light-emitting diode) technology.
From the John Gearen ’32 Library to labs and classrooms; from the Fieldhouse Gym to the Dan O’Brien ’34 Aquatics Center and adjacent locker rooms/showers; from hallways, stairwells and the Auditorium to parking lots and emergency-lighting systems; the LED lights shine more brightly nearly everywhere in our building, parts of which are 90 years old come fall. In the past year or so, hundreds of fluorescent and metal-halide fixtures have been replaced by Custom Light Solutions (CLS), a retrofit firm based in Roselle, IL. CLS is a business agent for American Green Lights, a manufacturer of LED and induction lighting headquartered in San Diego, CA.
“Thanks to the Fenwick facility team’s leadership and foresight, the school has quite a story to tell from a savings, energy and environmental perspective,” says CLS principal and Fenwick alumnus Dave Segerson ’71, who grew up on Chicago’s West Side and attended old St. Thomas Aquinas Church in the Austin neighborhood. The latest Friar lighting “footprint” improvements since 2016 have resulted in “a significant reduction in electricity expenses,” according to Mr. Segerson’s calculations.
Fenwick Operations Director Jerry Ruffino notes, “The savings is not only in energy but also in ‘man power’ and labor. My guys don’t have to replace bulbs and ballasts nearly as often with these LED lamps.” Adds Denis McCauley, Special Projects Manager at Fenwick: “They last substantially longer [than fluorescent and metal-halide ones], with warranties of five years and longer.”
More than four years in the making, the lighting conversion project is spearheaded internally by Mr. McCauley and overseen by Mr. Ruffino. The total team effort is led by President Fr. Richard Peddicord, O.P., Chief Operating Officer Nancy Bufalino and the school’s Finance Committee.
“Upgrading our lighting from incandescent, fluorescent and metal halide [MH] to LED has reduced the load on our existing electrical system,” McCauley says. (A type of high-intensity discharge (HID) gas lamp, MH produces light by an electric arc through a gaseous mixture of vaporized mercury and metal halides — compounds of metals with bromine or iodine.) He cites as an example the building’s upper West Wing hallway, where 77 single fluorescent lamp fixtures have been replaced with 41 LED units. “We went from 2,464 kilowatt-hours [kW⋅h] to 1,640 kW⋅h. So we are saving more than 800 kilowatts just there, every hour of every day. The payback comes quickly!”
Another dozen fixtures in each of the wing’s 11 classrooms also were replaced, he adds. Electricity provider Commonwealth Edison (ComEd)/Exelon estimates that, since incorporating the LED technology, Fenwick is saving about 40 cents per watt reduced.
energy and money
As down in the pool, MH fixtures were replaced upstairs in the new gym – 48 of them, each with two lamps – with 144-watt LED high-bays. The energy/wattage savings amounts to 68% per fixture, according to CLS statistics, which translates to more than $11,300 off Fenwick’s electricity bill in the Fieldhouse alone (factored on a cost of 10 cents/kWh). Nearly 100 more LED installations can be found in the Fenwick Auditorium, including house lighting and on-stage “show” lights.
Tack on another almost $6,000 a year in maintenance savings
and more than $26,000 in federally funded incentive rebates from ComEd as well
as state-funded Illinois Energy grants, and the cost benefits become apparent.
Similar savings (of nearly $40,000 annually) are being realized in the pool
area. The total 12-month savings for those two areas adds up to $83,424, which
is the equivalent to about five full tuitions for the 2019-20 school year.
McCauley adds that the brightness effect is no optical illusion. Everything under roof at Fenwick “looks more brilliant,” he explains, because LEDs offer a high color rendering index (CRI) — the measurement of how colors look when compared with sunlight. The green tint under fluorescent lights is noticeable, he adds. (See graphic.)
Going forward, “every replacement bulb at Fenwick High School is going to be LED,” Ruffino announces. Or at least until a newer, more energy-efficient lighting solution is invented in a near-future decade or two.
Editor’s note:CLS supply partner American Green Lights is one of only eight such companies in the Greater Chicago Area — and approximately 200 nationwide — recognized with an Illumination Merit Award from the Illuminating Engineering Society in 2017.
Bye, Bye “Big Bertha”
As part of the construction preparation for Fenwick’s new, six-level Michael R. Quinlan ’62 Parking Center, set to break ground in June, McCauley and Ruffino also are supervising another massive undertaking: the replacement and relocation of the school’s back-up generator. The existing 500-kVA diesel model from Generac Power Systems “is absolutely huge,” McCauley observes, “and pumps out half a million watts of power.” (1 kilo-volt-ampere is equal to 1,000 volt-ampere.)
This past weekend, power was shut off to the entire school building(s) as “Big Bertha” was disconnected. In her stead is a pair of smaller, natural gas-fueled Generac units (250 kVA each) installed atop the Priory roof. The end result is the generation of cleaner-burning power when the need arises during a power-outage emergency. “Without a doubt, these gas generators burn cleaner [than diesel], resulting in the discharge of fewer emissions” into the atmosphere, say thermal engineers from ThermFlo, Inc., the Buffalo Grove, IL-based firm working on the project. LaCrosse Electric Co. (Bensenville, IL) is the other key contractor.
“Plus, we won’t have to rely on a tanker [for diesel fuel],” McCauley notes. “This is a more up-to-date system for our purposes.” So far as the nuts, bolts and piping of the operation, the rooftop is a natural choice that provides convenient service access. “The Priory is built like a fortress,” he says. The choice of location on this sturdy structure is ideally suited to handle the weighty steel of the two gas generators. “The West Wing or the Link simply couldn’t handle them,” McCauley points out. “The main [old] building could, but it’s farther away. The piping runs up to the Priory are minimal.”
To ensure that his calculations were correct, McCauley sent his drawings to structural engineer and Friars’ alumnus David Fanella, Ph.D. ’78, Senior Director if Engineering at the Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute (CRSI) in Schaumburg, IL. “Dave came highly recommended by another alum, Tony Garippo ’76, who is a Fenwick Life Trustee and serves on the Facilities Committee.”
Each generator unit is enclosed in boxes to
muffle the noise if and when they run. “We don’t want them roaring across the
neighborhood,” McCauley concludes. “That’s not fair to the residents who live
across the street and nearby.” As for Big Bertha, a crane and flatbed truck
soon will take her away to be recycled and reused.
How LEDs Work
In scientific terms, a light-emitting diode is
a semiconductor light source that emits light when current flows through it.
Electrons in the semiconductor recombine with electron holes, releasing energy
in the form of photons. This effect is called electroluminescence.
According to the howstuffworks.com website: LEDs are just tiny light bulbs that
fit easily into an electrical circuit. But unlike ordinary incandescent
bulbs, they don’t have a filament that will burn out, and they don’t get
especially hot. They are illuminated solely by the movement of electrons in a semiconductor material,
and they last just as long as a standard transistor. The lifespan of an LED
surpasses the short life of an incandescent bulb by thousands of hours.
An electrical ballast is a device placed in line with the load to limit the amount of current in an electrical circuit. (It may be a fixed or variable resistor.) In a fluorescent lighting system, the ballast regulates the current to the lamps and provides sufficient voltage to start the lamps. Without a ballast to limit its current, a fluorescent lamp connected directly to a high voltage power source would rapidly and uncontrollably increase its current draw, according to the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), which for nearly 30 years has sought to “advance the effective use of light for society and the environment.”
Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22. Worldwide, various events are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day now includes events in more than 193 countries, which are now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network.
And yet another differentiator that makes Fenwick special is that six administrators also teach courses to students.
This last point of differentiation is akin to the difference at universities and colleges where actual professors teach under-graduate classes (as opposed to those taught by teaching assistants enrolled in graduate school). The six Fenwick administrators in the classroom are (from left in the above photo):
Director of Scheduling & Student Data Mickey Collins ’03 – Accelerated Anatomy
Assistant Principal Laura Pendleton – Orchestra Director
Principal Peter Groom – Foreign Policy (History)
President Fr. Richard Peddicord, O.P., PhD – Dominican Spirituality (Theology)
Assistant Principal Eleanor Comiskey ’06 – Algebra
Student Services/Enrollment Director James Quaid, PhD – Advanced Placement U.S. History
Every weekday afternoon for 45 minutes, you won’t find Fenwick President Fr. Richard Peddicord, O.P. in his office or on the phone. Instead, he’s in a classroom teaching Theology (Dominican Spiritualty) to senior students. Principal Peter Groom, who teaches History (Foreign Policy), has said that teaching and interacting with students in the classroom is the highlight of his work day. What is it that they enjoy about the teaching portion of their day-to-day responsibilities?
“Teaching is a way for me to be connected to the students on a personal level,” explains alumnus Michael “Mickey” Collins ’03, who teaches a science course in Accelerated Anatomy when he’s not overseeing the scheduling and data of Fenwick students. “I spend most of my time seeing names, test scores, course requests and schedules of students, but not as much face-to-face [time] with those students,” Mr. Collins adds.
“I think the fact that our administrators still teach keeps them more connected than most administrators at other schools.” – Assistant Principal/Orchestra Director Laura Pendleton
Assistant Principal Laura Pendleton notes, “The unique thing about being an education administrator is that none of us chose this profession. We all chose to be teachers first and then ended up in administration for a variety of reasons and circumstances. To be able to work in administration and continue to teach, which was my first passion, is a gift,” says Ms. Pendleton, who also is Fenwick’s Orchestra Director. “It takes you back to your early career, and I enjoy having the time working with the students vs. the adults. They keep you close to the pulse of the school.”
Why They Teach
“I think the fact that our administrators still teach keeps them more connected than most administrators at other schools,” Pendleton continues. “Also, most days teaching my class is a stress reliever!
“It is important for school leaders to stay connected with the student body because,” she says, “first and foremost, we are here for them. I can imagine that if you are not in front of students every day you might start to get a little disconnected. Teaching my own class is very beneficial for me when supervising teachers. Being in their classroom becomes more than just an isolated event and more of a collaboration: I’m also in a classroom with these students every day; I have the same issues. It gives us a very up-to-date understanding of what our teachers are going through. We have a unique student body here at Fenwick, and it’s important to know their needs specifically.”
Dr. James Quaid, former Fenwick Principal and current Director of Student Services & Enrollment, returned to Fenwick this school year. “I began my career as a teacher and always loved working with students as a teacher, coach and/or moderator,” Dr. Quaid shares. “Administrative work involves planning and finding ways to help students, teachers and parents/guardians. It also involves a lot of reaction to issues in which people are frustrated or upset. When I am in a classroom, I get to work in a very positive environment and enjoy watching students learn and grow. If you plan, communicate and react properly, there really are not that many negative things that happen. For one period each day I can just enjoy the experience.”
8 Friars’ Teachers and/or Administrators Hold Advanced, Doctoral Degrees in Their Fields of Expertise
Fenwick’s academic doctors (from left): Drs. Lordan, King, Woerter, Porter, Quaid, Slajchert and Peddicord. (Dr. Kleinhans is not pictured.)
In addition to Fenwick President Fr. Richard Peddicord, O.P., who has a Ph.D. in Moral Theology from the University of Ottawa/St. Paul University, seven of his colleagues also have earned advanced, doctoral degrees:
Dr. Jonathan King
Ph.D. in Historical Theology, St. Louis University
Dr. David Kleinhans
Science Dept. Co-Chair
J.D. (Juris Doctor) in Intellectual Property, John Marshall Law School
Dr. Gerald Lordan, O.P.
Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, Boston College
Dr. Marissa Porter
Ph.D. in Classics, University of Texas – Austin
Dr. James Quaid
Director of Student Services & Enrollment Management/Social Studies Teacher
Ph.D., Educational leadership, Foundations and Counseling, Loyola University Chicago
Dr. Michael Slajchert
J.D., Loyola University Chicago
Dr./Fr. Dennis Woerter, O.P. ’86
Director of Campus Ministry & Chaplain
D.Min., Preaching in the Practice of Ministry, The Iliff School of Theology (Denver)
A recent Pew Research Center national poll revealed that a majority of Americans believe that science and religion are “mostly in conflict” with each other. In light of this, people may be surprised to learn that the theorist behind the Big Bang Theory (Georges Lemaître), the founder of genetics (Gregor Mendel), the father of modern geology (Niels Stensen), and the discoverer of sunspots (Christoph Scheiner) were all Catholic priests. It’s as if the 17th century Galileo affair is taken as the norm for understanding the relationship between science and religion—when, according to Dr. Stephen Barr, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Delaware, the Catholic Church has been one of the greatest patrons of the sciences.
Dr. Barr was at Fenwick High School on September 14th to engage theology and science teachers from around the Archdiocese of Chicago on the relationship between science and religion. The day-long in-service day was sponsored by the Science & Religion Initiative of the McGrath Institute for Church Life of the University of Notre Dame. It was organized by Fenwick’s Theology Department Chair, Br. Joseph Trout, O.P., and Science Department Chair, Marcus McKinley. Dr. Barr was joined by colleagues Dr. Chris Baglow (above) and Dr. Philip Sakimoto (left) — both of the University of Notre Dame.
According to Br. Trout, like Americans in general, a good number of high school students believe that science and religion are implacable enemies. Their sense is that one must choose one or the other. Moreover, many believe that science has outright disproved religious truth claims. When all is said and done, there is a sense that accepting the theory of evolution means that one must deny the existence of God.
In his presentation, Dr. Baglow admitted that some Christian groups do indeed attack and deny Darwin’s theory of evolution. They hold that it is contrary to biblical teaching. They espouse a literalist interpretation of the Book of Genesis, and deny the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community on the propriety of an evolutionary account of the origins of the cosmos, life and humanity. This is a real conflict; one cannot harmonize the science of biological evolution with a literal read of the first three chapters of Genesis.
A dialog between faith and reason
The Catholic tradition of theological reflection, however, is not committed to a literal approach to biblical exegesis. Over 1,500 years ago, St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430) espoused a metaphorical and symbolic approach to interpreting the sacred text. St. Thomas Aquinas (c. 1224-1274) argued that the Bible teaches that God created the world, but “the manner and the order according to which creation took place concerns faith only incidentally.” In the 20th century, Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Humani generis paved the way for Catholics to hold that God creates through the process of evolution. Theological propositions can and do develop over time, given the growth of human knowledge and more penetrating insights into reality.