St. Mary’s participated in the Lancaster Youth Bureau’s annual trivia night. Two St. Mary’s student teams competed against other youth groups from the Lancaster-Depew area. St. Mary’s National Honor Society Team took first place! Congrats to the winners (all wise seniors): Jake Was, Ryan Tytka, Zack Laistner, and Chelsea Okon. You did St. Mary’s proud!
St. Mary’s celebrated Pi Day on March 14th (3.14) by bringing in pies for a cause. All store-bought pies brought in were donated to Lancaster food pantries. In total, over 500 pies were donated in just one morning. What an accomplishment!
St. Mary’s hosted a Unyts – Donate Life blood drive. When all was said and done, 55 students and faculty members donated blood, meaning 165 lives were saved today at SMH!! We couldn’t be prouder! Thank you to Unyts for doing such a wonderful job, as always!
For the first time, St. Mary’s sent a student contingency along with religion teacher and Campus Minister, Deacon Robb Ciezki, to the Diocesan Youth Convention at the Adams Mark Hotel & Events Center in Downtown Buffalo. From the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo website: “The convention is a weekend conference for high school youth and their adult chaperones. The weekend includes liturgy, reconciliation, keynote speakers, breakout sessions, award presentations & dance. It is a powerful experience combining faith, fellowship, and fun.”
Take a look at some of our students mixed in with other conventioneers!
Let's take a look at a recap of Spirit Week from junior Nicole Gorny, whose article below was included in the February edition of The Marian Gazette. Take it away, Nicole:
Spirit Week is a time for the classes of St. Mary’s High School to come together and compete, with hopes to beat the almighty Seniors. In my opinion, this year’s Spirit Week was definitely the most successful, especially considering the grand prize was, once again, a day off from school.
To start off the week, each class came together to play bingo in the Gus. The first bingo winner happened to be Junior Jacob Wilk, who then earned his class some points. Surprising virtually everyone, the Juniors started off strong this year, as Ashley Cruz soon followed with another bingo win. Monday also offered amazing costumes. Although many people simply glued a black circle on their shirts and claimed they were a domino, some went above and beyond for their costumes. A group of Juniors created their own Hungry Hippos costumes, and Sophomores Sam Mickel, Kerry Sullivan, Rebecca O’Conner, Mary Owczarczak, Jillian Szeluga, and Madison Nuttle all dressed up as the characters from Clue.
As Tuesday rolled around, the dress was “Mathlete vs. Athlete,” and students certainly didn’t disappoint. The majority of St. Mary’s students wore athletic attire, while a small percentage dressed as nerds. Every Senior and Junior dressed up, earning them both a substantial amount of points. While the outfits were memorable, it was the games that made “Mathlete vs Athlete Day” a success.
It started off with each class participating in a timed, extravagant relay. The Juniors made it to the end, but couldn’t handle the “Mathlete” multiplication tables. The Sophomores and Freshmen put up valiant efforts, but the Seniors took the win. After some other games, the overall class scores were close, with the Juniors and Seniors leading the way.
On Wednesday, the dress was class colors: Seniors wore blue, Juniors wore green, Sophomores wore yellow, and the Freshmen wore red. There were no scheduled events, but Mr. Junik decided that every period he would email all the students a challenge that would allow each class the chance to receive extra points.
The week ended with a pride day dress, and everyone was getting nervous for the talent show performances. As always, it was Freshmen first. Despite being the youngest class, they undoubtedly displayed confidence and enthusiasm, with a stellar performance.
The Sophomores performed next and brought something original to the table, which got the other classes pumped for what was in store. There was a hilariously “dramatic” video, featuring a few Sophomore boys regarding their “redemption,” since they were struggling to maintain third place after winning Homecoming Week a few months prior. One of the more memorable “talents” involved Zach Charvat eating thirty-five chicken nuggets in under two minutes.
The Junior class took a more unique approach to the talent show. Donald Trump, played by Alex Denz, read poetry written by Brianna Propis to introduce each portion of the show that incorporated the Spirit Week theme. Hannah Mulhern ran around in her t-rex costume holding posters with board games drawn on them by Josh Weiss that corresponded with the talents displayed.
Lastly, the Seniors brought energy, comedy, singing, and dancing to the table. They put their own spin on the well-known High School Musical story, and ended with a giant “We’re All in this Together” flash mob.
The results were in from the judges: Juniors get first place for the talent show! So, who would be the overall winners? The Seniors ultimately won Spirit Week and the day off with 230 points (while the Juniors came in second with 228 points).
In a recent edition of Buffalo Business First, enrollment numbers were released for the private high schools in Western New York.
A somewhat disconcerting trend is developing among many area schools, like Canisius, St. Joe’s, and Sacred Heart, in that enrollment is on the downward trend over the past five years or so.
St. Mary’s, however, is bucking this trend and has become the fastest-growing private high school in Western New York. SMH shows no signs of slowing down either. This year’s Freshmen Registration was the most successful one in years, and the size of the incoming Class of 2022 will surpass the size of the graduating Class of 2018, resulting in another year of positive enrollment growth in Lancerville.
The future is bright at St. Mary’s High School!
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 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 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.