Fellowship among fellow teachers and their students is a key factor as to why faculty members stay with the Friars.
By Laura (Dixon) Gallinari, English Teacher
In the spring of 2011, on the verge of graduation from my MFA poetry program, I applied for every high school English and Spanish opening in Chicagoland, from Waukegan to Wheaton to Orland Park. I grew up in south Oak Park, and my husband and I had just purchased a house here. On a lark, I submitted my resume to Fenwick, even though no job was posted. So, why am I here? To start with, I figured it would be cool to live seven blocks from school.
Having attended OPRF, I was minimally familiar with Fenwick, aware of it as the local Catholic school that went co-ed while I was in high school. Kathy Curtin called to set up an interview. At the time, one of my mom’s best friends, Kathy Miller, had a sister who taught at Fenwick and agreed to meet with me in the teacher cafe before my interview. So my introduction to Fenwick was coffee with the unforgettable Mariana Curtin, who charmed me with her sincerity, warmth, wisdom, humor and occasional curse words.
To my great fortune, it turned out that Fenwick did have a need for one more English teacher, in a year that saw 17 new Fenwick teachers, several of them in the English department. I walked home from the interview, not quite a mile, and when Pete Groom called to say yes, it felt like providence.
That year marked a huge transition for me. I had taught and coached for 10 years before taking a break for my MFA, but for the past three years I had been paid to attend a few classes and write poetry. I read for hours every day and wrote hundreds of poems. I played basketball every week and even watched TV. It was dreamy. Then, I graduated, moved back to Chicago, bought a house, got married, got a dog, got a new job, and — yep, got pregnant. You know, just a few small changes.
I had long been told by doctors that it might be hard for me to get pregnant or to carry a pregnancy to term due to my unusual womb that has an extra wall in the middle, like a valentine heart. So Gabriel, our wedding-night baby, came as a bit of a surprise. In August before school started, I walked over to Fenwick and found Pete Groom shooting baskets with one of his kids in the gym. I sheepishly informed him that I hoped I would need a maternity sub in March, and in the meantime I would need to back out on coaching volleyball and basketball due to the high-risk nature of the pregnancy. I was more than a little nervous to be such a ‘problem child’ right out of the gates, but Pete met the news with a resigned but affable, nodding, red-faced smile that seemed to say, ‘Ah. Of course you do.’ (You all know that look.) I then apologetically explained the situation to Trish [Grigg in Human Resources], who just smiled and said, ‘That’s what God wanted.’ Somewhere else I might have been at risk of a pink slip, but not at Fenwick.
That first year, so many people helped me to find my way — both figuratively and, indeed, literally (as in the time I was assigned to sub in, uh, Room 46??). Andy Arellano, Jerry Lordan, Mary Marcotte, and John Schoeph shepherded me through. And a quick shout-out to Rick O’Connor, too, whose camaraderie in our first year meant the world.
Mutual respect and blessings
The first and most compelling reason that I have stayed at Fenwick is the people. I both like and respect all the people I answer to, and I have never before at another school been able to say that so uniformly. And my colleagues, all of you, are amazing. Truly. I am wowed by your dedication, expertise and enthusiasm every day. If I’m having a tough time, Pete Gallo will both crack me up and pray for me. When I need to respond to a tricky email, John Schoeph will sit down and talk it through with me. Coach [Kevin] Roche sets the bar so high that he makes us all better people. Arthur [Wickiewicz] greets me with an exploding fist bump daily. Hope [(Feist) Zelmer] gives me Hope. Maria Nowicki gives me hugs and pumpkin bread. Theresa Steinmeyer tells everyone, ‘You’re my favorite and sincerely means it every, single time. When I suffered my second of three miscarriages, Brigid Esposito brought me two roses and made me feel seen. Time and again, we lift each other up.
I am also here because I have a deep and abiding love for grading. KIDDING. NO. Like all of you, I am primarily here because of my students. Because my students are motivated, engaged, prepared, respectful and helpful, I am able to do my best work in the classroom. I can manage serious discipline issues, but here I mostly don’t have to. My students are allies in learning, and their intellectual curiosity propels us forward. With students so ready and eager to learn, I am free to show them what more is possible, to acquaint them with new ideas and engage in closer readings. Beyond their high level of academic accomplishment, my students’ decency, kindness, creativity and insight daily show me what more is possible. I’m here because Nate Jakaitis [Class of 2016] still sends me the latest cool thing he wrote in college; because Abbey Nowicki [also ’16] also sends me pumpkin bread; and because Robert Metaxatos [’17] takes the time to write me a letter by hand because he is reading Crime and Punishment and I first introduced him to Dostoevsky years ago in our Brothers Karamavoz reading group. My students are incredible people. They are incredible blessings.
I have been fortunate to teach subjects here that speak to my own intellectual passions — American literature and creative writing. And I think it’s an open secret that I sneak in 12 chapters of Moby-Dick when everyone else does two. I’m at Fenwick because six years ago my AP students were jealous of the Honors classes who got to read those 12 chapters and asked me to stay after school with them on Mondays to discuss the entire book. I’m here because every year since then, my Moby-Dick readers have recruited the next year’s crew. I’m here because when I brought our lunatic notion of Moby-Con to Pete Groom and Jerry Ruffino, they didn’t say no. They came aboard, as did dozens of you. I’m here because you tolerate (or dare I say even enjoy?) my whaling and sailing puns. It made my heart full that so many colleagues stepped up to chaperone and read at Moby-Con, that Father Peddicord was game to play Father Mapple, that Ernesto screened four film versions, that Rick O’Connor live-streamed the whole event with his Broadcasting club. Those students will never forget our marathon voyage, and I don’t know whether it would have happened at another school.
All of this adds up to true community, and people filled with genuine affection and compassion for their coworkers and students. People say teaching is a thankless job, but at least at Fenwick, I disagree. My students depart class daily with a parade of thank-yous — I mean, even in study hall! Seriously!
‘God wants me to be here’
One thing that makes Fenwick special is that we treat our work here as a vocation, a ministry. We are called to this work, and we are here to shape more than minds. Nowhere is this more apparent than in our Kairos program and the teachers and student leaders who work tirelessly to offer that spiritual experience to our students.
As a Protestant, I had no idea what to expect in coming here. Would I be out of place? How would people here treat the non-Catholic minority? Would even the statues give me the side-eye? I could not have imagined that Lucy White would ask me to speak at Kairos about the Christian Family or that Maria and Mary Beth would invite me to speak today at a Dominican spiritual retreat.
I am here because God wants me to be here. (Please write this down and look up when you have finished: I am here because — sorry, Kairos humor — but that is why I’m here.) As a religious institution, we are a community of learning and also a community of prayer. We celebrate God in our service to one another. And when you’re in need you can always be sure that Pete Gallo is not the only one praying for you.
To wrap up, I’d like to just tell a few anecdotes that speak to my time at Fenwick:Continue reading “Fenwick’s Staying Power Is Its People, says 9-year Friar Teaching Veteran”
Seven months later, Fenwick’s president reflects on his trip last summer to Southeast Asia.
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.
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 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.
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.)Continue reading “A Month in Vietnam: Dominican Government in Action”
Two dozen Fenwick students, including members of the Respect Life Club, traveled to Washington, D.C., last month.
Thirty-three representative of Fenwick High School, including 24 students, attended the 46th annual March for Life on January 22-24 in Washington, D.C. “To represent Fenwick at the March for Life was so special, and I am proud to be a part of this amazing group of students,” states Kate Turner ’21, co-president of the Respect Life Club. “It was so motivating and affirming to see how many people our age had traveled from all over the country to participate in the march. We came home inspired to promote a culture of life and love in our community.”
Ms. Turner’s parents, Deborah and Dan Turner of Hinsdale, IL, organized the trip; her sister, Mallory ’23, a Fenwick freshman, also attended. (Debbie’s father, the late Emmett Malloy, Jr., was a member of the Friars Class of 1953.)
“We will never be able to repay the Turners for all of the planning and administrative work they contributed,” praises Social Studies Teacher Gary Richied ’95, who was one of nine adults to attend the trip. “Everything went so smoothly,” Richied continues, “and all the participants had a transformative, life-affirming experience because of the passion that this family has for the cause — and the desire they have to see others affirm human dignity from conception onward. We would not have been in D.C. without them.”
Mr. Richied, who moderates Fenwick’s Respect Life Club, reflected: “I am so blessed by God to have witnessed the most beautiful sort of things. A group of 24 Fenwick students took from morning Mass exactly what they were supposed to: Fed by the King of Life and Hero of Heroes, they marched in defense of the most vulnerable: our brothers and sisters in the womb. They were all heroes that day. And, I echo the words of Fr. Peddicord at the end of our trip here: I was never more proud to be — in my case — a Fenwick alum, a Fenwick teacher and Fenwick Director of the Pro-Life Club.”
As Richied mentioned, another adult chaperone in attendance was Fenwick President Fr. Richard Peddicord, O.P., who said, “It was important for us to take part in the March for Life. It was clear for all to see that standing up for life is not a purely partisan or sectarian matter. It is a matter of human rights and justice,” Fr. Peddicord continued. “This point was made powerfully when we saw some marchers carrying signs proclaiming ‘Atheists for Life.’”
Griffin Vrdolyak ’21, a Fenwick junior from Hinsdale, calls his experience at the march “very joy-filled and hopeful. We marched with tens of thousands of people all in support of protecting human life. I was amazed that most of the crowd were young high school and college students,” Vrdolyak notes. “I also enjoyed spending time with and getting to know the other Pro-Life Fenwick students.
WATCH THE WEEKEND’S VIDEO produced by senior Kate Hackett ’20 (Western Springs, IL):Continue reading “Friars Marching for Life”
As the Friars’ young, female hoopers get healthy and march toward maturity, a Hall of Famer — with 40+ years of coaching experience — smiles at their timing.
By Mark Vruno
Chalk up another 20-win regular season for Fenwick girls’ basketball Head Coach Dave Power. But he says his young team (23-8, 3-3 in the GCAC) is not finished. In fact, the once injury-plagued Friars finally may be gaining momentum heading into post-season play.
Two weeks ago “marked the first game all season where we had every player fully healthy,” reports alumna and Assistant Coach Erin Power ’07, Dave’s daughter and once a stellar point guard for the Friars. “Sheila Hogan returned from an ACL [rehab]. Lily Reardon was out for several weeks with a separated shoulder. Mia [Caccitolo] had her knee injury. Mira [Schwanke] and Audrey [Hinrichs] both were out with ankle injuries at certain points. Katie Schneider was out for a few games with the flu.”
While their head coach isn’t in the habit of making excuses, he can confirm the busier-than-normal athletic training room traffic. “We’ve had at least nine players out for something,” a frustrated, elder Power says, lamenting that his squad lost games last month that they probably would have won at full strength. “We’ve had about 15 different starting line-ups this season. It’s hard to prepare for opponents when key, position players are out,” he explains, “be they rebounders or shooters.”
The strength of Fenwick’s sometimes-daunting schedule did not help matters. During a particularly difficult stretch in January – one that Athletic Director Scott Thies ’99 referred to as “the gauntlet” — Fenwick lost badly to Montini and then dropped consecutive games to four more Catholic-school rivals: St. Ignatius, Benet (which was close), Mother McAuley and Marist.
The Powers know, as experienced coaches do, that they can control only certain factors when it comes to their teams. Injuries, while preventable, are not necessarily controllable. Age is another element out of their control. Make no mistake: the Friars are young (five sophomores and four juniors). However, the youth is buoyed by strong leadership from upper-classwomen, Dave Power points out, giving a nod to his quartet of seniors, who all are guards: Hogan, Stephanie Morella, Reardon and Schneider.
Like most coaches, the Power duo dislikes distractions. But how do good Catholics say “no” to the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago? When Cardinal Blase Cupich informed Fenwick President Fr. Richard Peddicord, O.P. last Thursday that he’d like to attend the next evening’s girls basketball game, the scramble began! But Power really didn’t mind. His Eminence’s presence was icing on the cake for the Friars’ Senior Night. The Cardinal sat on both sides of the bleachers, cheering for the Catholics. Our team was victorious, 58-50, over the Carmel Corsairs of Mundelein (18-8, 3-3).
Another welcome distraction came this past Tuesday night, as Power’s girls capped a four-game winning streak by defeating top-ranked Evanston (20-4, 9-0) in their regular-season finale. A thrilling, half-court buzzer-beater by 6’0″ forward Elise Heneghan (24 pts.), one of the sophomores, sealed the deal: 45-43 in favor of the Friars.
The Wildkits fourth-year head coach is Fenwick alumna and All-Stater Brittany Johnson ’05 (Chicago). Johnson, who played at Boston College, averaged 18 points per game, six rebounds and five steals as a senior for the Friars. “I’m so proud of Britt,” Power beams. “She had a great career at BC and got her master’s degree. Hers is a great success story!”
In a pre-game ceremony, after Power hugged his former-player-turned-opposing-coach, the school officially named the locker room in its Fieldhouse Gym after him. Fenwick President Fr. Richard Peddicord, O.P. was in Florida visiting with alumni, but he sent a statement from afar: “It is a privilege to honor Coach Power’s commitment to our community with this dedication, along with a corresponding, generous gift of $500,000. The donor family wishes to remain anonymous, but their gesture truly is heartfelt.” (Read more.)
In Father Peddicord’s stead, President Emeritus Fr. Richard LaPata, O.P. ’50 stepped onto the Fenwick hardwood, talking about Dave Power’s legacy and their friendship, which now spans three decades. AD Thies also spoke, sharing stories about how Power has made an impact on his life and continued to pursue excellence relentlessly. “Coach Power [has] impacted so many lives, so many who have gone on to be successful in life,” Thies said.
Of The Power Locker Room naming and half-million-dollar donation, the coach himself says: “The generosity of this person – and I really don’t know who it is – is beyond overwhelming. I’m blown away that someone would be so generous – not for me, but for all the success the program has had; all the wonderful coaches and girls who’ve played for me … all their successes. I think of it as a dedication to them. It’s a great thing for Fenwick!”
One of the coaches sharing Power’s legacy is his late brother, Bill, who passed away in 2018. Another faithful assistant is Dale Heidloff, a science teacher at Fenwick who also is the head coach of the girls’ track team and an assistant coach for boy’s golf. “When I first started coaching with Dave 20 years ago, I had a much different view on the game of basketball,” Coach Heidloff shares. “I always believed strongly in playing defense, but Coach Power’s philosophy has always been to just ‘score more points than the other team.’ This simple philosophy has won him nearly 1,000 games, so I’ve learned to trust the methods, the madness and the magic of Coach Power.
“Beyond the X’s and O’s, however, I’ve been able to share unforgettable memories with a man who has become like a brother to me,” Heidloff continues. “We have both been fortunate enough to share in winning a state championship with our daughters [Kristin ’04 in 2001 and Erin in 2007] and have had the opportunity to coach the next generation of Friars alongside our daughters. His coaching legacy speaks for itself, but his true legacy is the impact he has had on his players and coaches, the fierce loyalty he has towards those he cares about, and his unwavering commitment to the Fenwick community.”
Power acknowledges that coaching with daughter, Erin, at his side these past four years has been quite special. He adds that her title of assistant coach really is a disservice. “Erin’s role goes way beyond that,” he says. “She can relate to the young girls and is the definition of a role model: strong, intelligent and demanding. She demonstrates [techniques] in practice on the court, which I can’t do so well anymore. Plus, she knows how to do all that social media stuff!” he laughs.Continue reading “Finally at Full Power: Fenwick 2019-20 Girls Basketball”
As autumn dawns, a Fenwick faculty member reflects on a special summer journey abroad with President Fr. Richard Peddicord, O.P.
By Korin Heinz, Fenwick French Teacher
On June 26th, 28 people from all over the United States came to the village of Fanjeaux, France, to spend 10 days together exploring faith. What drew us to this beautiful and remote region of Southwestern France was the Dominican Spirituality Pilgrimage: “Deepening the Dominican Spirit.” Organized by the Sisters of St. Dominic and Fenwick President Father Richard Peddicord, O.P., this trip traces the footsteps of St. Dominic. He began his mission in the 13th century in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains in Fanjeaux.
We stayed in the convent of Ste. Dominique. Our days were comprised of day trips, talks on Dominican life and spirituality, mass, reflection, free time and daily communal meals of delicious French food. The places we visited included:
- Toulouse, the city where Dominic gathered the first friars.
- Carcassonne, the walled medieval city where Dominic preached.
- Montsegur, the mountain refuge of the Cathars.
- Prouilhe, the first convent founded by St. Dominic in 1206 and still running today.
- Sorèze, the village where Father Lacordaire established a Dominican school.
Fr. Peddicord led the talks, including “Truth as a Motto of the Dominican Order,” “Art as Preaching” and “The Life of St. Dominic.” We learned that Dominic was a holistic thinker who valued the quest for truth and believed in contemplation, prayer and sharing one’s knowledge. I was impressed by his faith, his commitment to truth and his compassion for all people. Dominic’s vision for spreading the gospel led to the creation of the Order of Friars in 1216.
Fun fact: Do you know the difference between a friar and a monk? A friar goes into the world and shares his faith through preaching and good works, while a monk is cloistered.Continue reading “U.S. Pilgrims in France Explore Their Christian Faith”
The Catholic high school’s spiritual leader does not take for granted the partnership forged with the greater, local community over nine decades.
By Fr. Richard Peddicord, O.P., President of Fenwick High School
Ninety years ago next week, the Dominican Order established a college-preparatory secondary school on Washington Blvd., bordered by East Ave., Scoville Ave. and Madison St. When Fenwick High School opened on September 9, 1929, some 200 boys ventured through its wooden, church-like doors. Many of them walked to school from their homes in Oak Park and on the West Side, while others coming from farther away in Chicago took streetcars.
Over these many years, Fenwick has survived and thrived, despite the Great Depression (which started six weeks after the school opened!), world wars and changing times, including enrolling female students in the early 1990s. However, the mission at the outset has stood the test of time: Guided by Dominican Catholic values, our priests, instructors, coaches, administrators and staff members inspire excellence and educate each student to lead, achieve and serve.
Fenwick today has a co-educational enrollment of nearly 1,150 students as well as two Golden Apple-winning teachers on its esteemed faculty. Our school’s impressive list of alumni includes a Skylab astronaut, Rhodes Scholars, Pulitzer Prize winners, a Heisman Trophy recipient and other leaders making a positive influence locally and internationally.
From our beginning, Fenwick and Oak Park always have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship. “Fenwick and the Village of Oak Park have a long history of working together,” Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb has stated. “From its inception, our fortunes and our futures have been intertwined.”
As an investment in our future in Oak Park, last month we began construction on a six-story parking structure seeded with generous funding by former McDonald’s CEO and alumnus Michael R. Quinlan, Class of 1962. By next summer, some 325 cars will be taken off the streets, so to speak.
“With this new garage, Fenwick will be taking a major step toward reducing its impact on the neighborhood,” Mr. Abu-Talen noted at the August 13 garage groundbreaking ceremony. The private school “has always worked to be a great neighbor …,” and “also is a key partner in the development of the Madison corridor.
“Fenwick has been a great contributor to Oak Park in many ways,” the Mayor continued: “first, as an educational institution of national reputation; second, as a Catholic school filling the needs of a diverse and inclusive community.”
We are, indeed, proud of our racial and socio-economic diversity. More than 30% of our talented student body identifies as something other than Caucasian, and we provide nearly $2.5 million in need-based financial aid annually to our students through the generosity of many benefactors.
They come to Oak Park
As Mayor Abu-Taleb notes, “Fenwick always has been a reason why many families choose to live in Oak Park — and the reason many others visit the Village and support our local economy.” Last school year, our students came from more than 60 cities, towns and municipalities, including these top 20:Continue reading “As Fenwick Turns 90, ‘We Give Thanks to You,’ Oak Parkers!”
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 my husband:
- 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 out:
- Prayers are included in every aspect of a student’s life, from the start of the day, to sporting events, theater and other activities.
- 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 campus life.
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:
“Remember. 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 the Friars!
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.
EARTH DAY SPECIAL
Green initiatives on campus, including “smart” lighting upgrades, keep Fenwick’s facilities cleaner and more energy-efficient — while saving the school nearly $84,000 last year!
By Mark Vruno
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.
$aving 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.
Green Photo Gallery
At Fenwick, six top-level administrators also (still) teach. Here’s why.
By Mark Vruno
What sets Fenwick apart from other high schools in the Chicago area and surrounding suburbs? Four differentiating aspects of the school come to mind:
The seven Dominican priests and brothers present daily in the building is one major distinction.
There also are eight PhD-degreed leaders among the Friars’ faculty and administration.
Another impressive statistic is that more than one-quarter of the teachers working at Fenwick also are alumni.
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.”