St. Mary’s Students Pay It Forward

In October, St. Mary’s High School took part in the “School Pride” Food Drive, sponsored by the Village of Depew and Tops in Education Program.  The food drive brought together St. Mary’s, Lancaster High School, and Depew High School for a friendly, service-based competition to see who could bring in the most non-perishable foods to benefit three local pantries.

On Saturday evening, St. Mary’s received its prize for winning the food drive.  The school hosted a dance for students, sponsored by the Village of Depew, with the music provided by Ultimate Events and a pizza party, with pizza donated by Lynn’s Wings & Things of South Buffalo.  The Depew Village Mayor, Jesse Nikonowicz, and Depew Village Trustee member, Audrey Hamernik, also made an appearance to wish the food drive winners well.

Some very special St. Mary’s students saw this prize not as a reward, but as an opportunity to pay it forward.  The Marian Chapter of the National Honor Society at St. Mary’s turned the dance into a service project, charging $5 admission and holding a bake sale at the dance, with all proceeds going to benefit Make-A-Wish of Western New York.  Many National Honor Society members related to Make-A-Wish’s mission and loved the idea – as kids themselves – of helping other kids: “[Make-A-Wish] children are so brave, and their stories are truly humbling,” said Chelsea Okon, president of the Marian Chapter of National Honor Society.  “We are so fortunate for our health and the lives that we have, so we wanted to do our absolute best to change the lives of some very deserving children and families.”

St. Mary’s raised over $700 at the dance and plans to hold another fundraiser later this month to help bolster the total donation to Make-A-Wish.

Picture Caption: (From left to right) Depew Village Trustee member Audrey Hamernik, St. Mary’s National Honor Society President Chelsea Okon ʼ18, National Honor Society member Stephanie Baran ʼ18, and Depew Village Mayor Jesse Nikonowicz pose with the plaque gifted to St. Mary’s for winning the “School Pride” Food Drive outside of the St. Mary’s school dance this past weekend.

Leadership Classes Put Theory Into Practice

 

St. Mary’s leadership classes completed acts of service this semester to help better the community.  Students were tasked with coming up with a cause or finding an organization that could use a helping hand to demonstrate the kind of positive impact young people can have in their communities.

The first class organized a supply and toy drive for the SPCA of Erie County, collecting pet toys and blankets from the St. Mary’s student body as well as hand-making 30 blankets for the cause.  The second class contacted Bowmansville Volunteer Fire Association to see if they could use any help around the station.  The class hosed down the fire trucks, mopped the floors, and did other little, odds-and-ends jobs that really impressed those at the fire hall.  While the organizations surely benefitted from the students’ hard work, the Lancers from St. Mary’s say they also received more than they gave: “To know you’re helping out someone else and making a difference, that’s really a life-changing thing and makes you want to continue to give back more,” said St. Mary’s senior, Andrew Wargo.

St. Mary’s has made leadership a mandatory class for all students, alongside other classes like public speaking and personal finance, as components of a new life major curriculum, which better prepares students for life beyond the classroom: “We have really begun to implement a curriculum at St. Mary’s that focuses on more than just the usual subjects,” said Keith Junik, Dean of Academics and Curriculum.  “Learning key leadership skills and the importance of public service will be incredibly beneficial to our students in college and beyond, and that is what St. Mary’s is all about.”

St. Mary’s to Pilot New Adjunct Professor Program

St. Mary’s High School is beginning a new Adjunct Professor Program that involves bringing in accomplished professionals and college-level professors to guest lecture in certain classes throughout the semester.  The goal of the program is to take the theories and concepts students learn in the classroom and expose them to the next-level thinking and application from someone who has real-world experience in the appropriate fields.

St. Mary’s Head of School, Kevin Kelleher, brought this idea to the Board of Trustees and is excited about its potential: “There is really no limit to ideas for a program like this because we have such a knowledgeable and successful alumni and friends base here at St. Mary’s, with experienced professionals in so many different fields, ranging from college professors and judges to wealth management professionals and neurologists.  The possibilities as to what our students can learn are endless and will hopefully give them the edge when it comes to gaining extra experience and maybe even choosing a career path.”  St. Mary’s will work various adjunct professors into different departments throughout the spring semester, growing the program each year.

The Adjunct Professor Program will begin in January, with Dianna Cichocki, Clinical Assistant Professor in Management Science and Systems at the University at Buffalo School of Management, joining the St. Mary’s Mathematics and Finance Departments.  Cichocki teaches Statistical Decisions in Management and Statistical Foundations in Analytics with a focus on incorporating technology into her curriculum.  Cichocki has her Bachelor’s Degree from St. John Fisher College and Master’s Degree from Oswego State University.

Professor Cichocki really wants to add a new dynamic to the typical high school classroom: “Most of my lectures at UB are set up online, so I would love to set up something similar to an online lab for St. Mary’s students to get them exposed to a different kind of classroom setting,” Cichocki said.  “…and to really introduce them to [Microsoft] Excel because there is rarely any time to learn these skills in a regular high school stats or precalculus curriculum.  Just having a basic working knowledge of the program can really give St. Mary’s students a leg up in college.”

The business world is clearly in need of people who can work with and manipulate “big data,” and Cichocki says the field is only going to grow: “Data analytics is a huge field to get into, so if students have some exposure to these concepts, that’s huge for colleges and employers,” Cichocki said.

Dean of Academic Affairs, Keith Junik, expects students to respond well to the program as a whole: “The kids will get excited to have a ‘guest lecturer’ – just to have the opportunity to mix things up on this level is exciting for us all,” he said.  “The teachers themselves are excited as well, as they are always looking for new things to incorporate into their lesson plans, and this provides them with a challenging, unique way to do just that,” he added.  Junik emphasized that the ultimate goal of St. Mary’s as an academic institution is to leave students as well prepared as possible for life after high school, and this Adjunct Faculty Program will only bolster this goal: “Academically, we want to expose our students to as many things as we can, so that the things they try in the future won’t seem so abstract and they have confidence to not only succeed in college but also in life beyond the classroom,” Junik concluded.

Cast List Announced for Spring Musical

 

St. Mary's Performing Arts Department is proud to announce the cast for this year's musical, Once On This Island!  Without further ado, here is who you will see take center stage March 15-17, 2018:

 

TiMoune

Mackenzie Kwilos

Erzulie

Christina Federico

Asaka

Shala Wright

Mama

Julia Hartloff

Andrea

Kerry Sullivan

 

Daniel

Alex Denz

Papa Ge

JefFrey Rosner

Agwe

Marten Linnan

Tonton

Isaac Stearns

Armand

Patrick Basil

Storytellers

Shannon Murty

Nicole Norton

Julia Soluri

Jillian Vitale

 

 

 

Stephanie Baran

Madeline Benzer

Scott Benzer

Molly Callahan

Hannah Carrow

Jake Cianciosa

Rachel Cichocki

Ja'shawn Collins

Ashley Cruz

Conor Dunne

Bryanna Ely

Claire Fahey

Riley Fay

Sarah Filion

Dino Fudoli

Nicole Gorny

Ensemble

Heather Gotro

Derek Johnson

Kailey Kline

Vincenza Lamagna

Joe Lebron

Victoria Loniewski

Caleb Mangan

Saige Maniscalco

Jaquan Manuel

Madison Meredith

Sara Micholas

Sam Mickel

Cali Nazzarett

Riley O’malley

Mary Owczarczak

Sarah Pasternak

Ahmad Powell

Brianna Propis

Zachary Ratcliff

 

 

 

Emma Ridolfi

Susan Romance

Ben Stegmeier

Jessa Syracuse

Jillian Szeluga

Lauren Vilardo

Kylie Wagner

Matthew Walter

Makenna Wanat

Jacob Was

Madeline Was

Mekensie Weinholtz

Toriann Wipperman

Jeffrey Zoyhofski

 

St. Mary’s Holds College 101 Night

St. Mary’s welcomed back some recent alumni to discuss their experiences about their college application processes and life on campus thus far in College 101 – A Panel Discussion.  The panel was also on hand to answer any questions from the audience, which consisted of current St. Mary’s sophomores, juniors, and seniors along with their families.

The College 101 Panel is part of a series of efforts by St. Mary’s to offer students different opportunities to learn more about life after graduation as early and as often as possible.  St. Mary’s also offers a college tour program twice a year that invites students and their parents to tour 6-8 schools over a weekend in different parts of the country, where transportation and lodging are provided for a nominal fee.  For example, last year’s fall tour visited schools along Interstate 90 West, including Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, and University of Pittsburgh, among others.  St. Mary’s also has a Director of College Counseling on staff who specializes in helping students through the rigorous college application process.  Throughout the year, college admission counselors from around the area are also available for small group meetings on the St. Mary’s campus, and the school holds several college fairs for sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

Mr. Kelleher knows the importance of offering these types of programs for the families at St. Mary’s: “At St. Mary’s, we’re constantly striving to open our students’ eyes to different life experiences to really prepare them for college and beyond,” Kelleher said. “We believe it is in everyone’s best interests for our students to start thinking about college as soon as possible, so the admissions process as a whole doesn’t seem so daunting to them.  We have the programs and staff in place to prepare our students to take that next step in their education, which is really what a college-preparatory school should be all about,” Kelleher concluded.

The panel members consisted of eight St. Mary’s graduates who are currently enrolled in some of the nation’s top schools― local and across the country and large and small in terms of enrollment.

Pictured  from left to right are: Leah Meyer ʼ15 (Duke University), Caitlyn Meyer ʼ17 (James Madison University), Danielle Hockwater ʼ16 (University at Buffalo), Brad Berchou ʼ16 (Canisius College), Maddie Wnuk ʼ16 (University at Buffalo), Kendra Ciezki ʼ16 (University of Alabama), Collin Tytka ʼ17 (Rochester Institute of Technology), and Erin Hufford ʼ17 (Canisius College).

St. Mary’s Participates in St. Luke’s Family to Family Drive

 

St. Mary’s participated in St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy Family to Family Program this Christmas season.  Under the leadership of the religion department, each class – freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors – “adopted” a family to buy Christmas gifts for to make their Christmases a little merrier. 

St. Mary’s students and families collected thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts throughout the month of December for 23 family members, ranging from coats and grocery store gift cards for the adults, to toys and Star Wars clothes for the children, and everything in between. 

Deacon Robb has a few connections to St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy and knew the program would be a perfect fit to help students remember the reason for the season: “The response has just been tremendous.  It is a true blessing for these families who are going through a difficult time, and having an opportunity to help children seemed to especially resonate with our students,” Ciezki said.  Religion department chairperson, Cindy Powers, was inspired by her students’ responses: “Their enthusiasm and genuine desire to help these families has truly been an inspiration to me,” she said.  “Prayers have been answered, and 23 people will have a Merry Christmas.”

After the collection of the gifts, students then wrapped each present, and Deacon Ciezki took the gifts, like Santa in his sleigh, to St. Luke’s where the gifts will then be distributed to the appropriate families to open on Christmas. 

Mr. Kelleher is incredibly proud of what St. Mary’s students have accomplished in terms of service and giving back to others this holiday season: “It is truly heartwarming to see our students step up and help others, especially at this time of the year,” he said.  “They are seeing just how big of an impact they can have with their actions, and that’s what we really preach here at St. Mary’s.”

Junior Heads Up “Ornaments for Elderwood” Drive

 

SMH junior, Matthew Rosinski, has made Christmas merrier for so many people this holiday season.  Rosinski took it upon himself to put together an “Ornaments for Elderwood” drive at his high school to honor his late grandmother, Ruth Pearce, who was a resident at Elderwood for a few weeks before her passing.  Rosinski noticed many residents did not have Christmas decorations and thought bringing some ornaments to them could ring in some holiday cheer.

The ornament drive at St. Mary’s High School ran from November 27-December 8, and what started off as a goal of collecting 20 ornaments quickly blossomed to over 200 new and handmade ornaments thanks to the generosity of the students at St. Mary’s.  Head of School, Kevin Kelleher, is thrilled to see Rosinski take such initiative to make a difference in the community: “We always tell our students how important service is and the amazing feeling you get by giving more than you receive,” Kelleher said.  “To see our kids put that theory into practice is all we can hope for.  We’re so proud of Matt and the entire student body’s response.”

Rosinski himself was the mastermind behind the cause for one simple reason: “To give back to Elderwood,” he said.  Rosinski doesn’t necessarily love all the attention that has come with doing good deeds like this, but that won’t stop him from continuing to make a difference in the future: “I want to continue the drive next year, and say a big thank you to everyone who helped make Christmas so special for the residents of Elderwood,” Rosinski concluded.

 

St. Mary’s Helps with Breakfast with Santa

 

A group of Lancers helped out at Trinity Episcopal Church in Lancaster with a Breakfast with Santa! Students helped with different crafts and pictures with the big guy himself. There were so many wonderful families there to ring in the holidays. Thank you for letting us be a part of such a wonderful morning!