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.
St. Mary’s very own, junior Athena Mohamed, was named one of the Diocese of Buffalo’s Altar Servers of the Year! Athena will be honored at the 49th Annual Altar Servers Mass & Awards Ceremony at St. Joseph’s Cathedral this March. Congratulations, Athena!
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.
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).
The Class of 2018 set off for a their senior trip to Walt Disney World. An amazing time was had by all and memories were made that will last a lifetime.
Can’t beat that view!