The Victoria Connection

Holy Family’s Year-Round Victoria Connection

By Joseph Oakman, Holy Family Class of 2016

I look back on my Holy Family Catholic High School experience, and the first things that come to mind are those after-school runs to the local Holiday gas station for a snack before sports practices, or those ice cream stops in downtown Victoria after a baseball game on a warm summer night. My high school experience wouldn’t have been the same without the city of Victoria.

It seems Holy Family and Victoria are connected. While the city is quickly growing around Holy Family, the bond between school and community is also growing stronger as the school enters its 19th year.

Don’t take my word for it. Longtime Victoria resident Kelly Owens Hagel shared this thought:

“Holy Family is a warm welcoming community,” she says. “Even without having kids, I feel a sense of belonging. I feel like I am a part of the Holy Family community. I especially enjoy Friday nights in the fall when the (football field) lights are turned on and I drive by the field. It makes me think back to my days in high school.”

What residents of Victoria are learning is the connection to Holy Family Catholic High School extends year-round. Many students work for surrounding businesses and local restaurants that have become “unofficial” Holy Family gathering spots before or after home games and continue to be favorite stops in summer. And while it’s not documented anywhere, it has often been said Holy Family is one of the largest employers in Victoria.

To keep that community feeling going this summer, there are a number of events that connect Holy Family with Victoria. It’s not too late to enjoy more than one of these happenings that will keep you and your family coming Victoria during warm summer months.

JUNE

Holy Family Robotics Demonstration, Victoria Library 

Members of the Holy Family Robotics team visited Victoria and Waconia Libraries In June.

Members of the Fire robotics team demonstrated their skills at the Victoria Library on June 12, just a week after school let out for the summer. Besides demonstrating a competitive robot, team members worked with kids of all ages eager to build cars, trucks and their own creative engineering marvels. 

Adopt a Highway

Holy Family’s student council maintains County Road 18 between Bavaria Road and Co. Rd 11. Students met June 1 to clean the roadway, and will organize a follow-up cleaning in early November so the Victoria community shines. Students are encouraged to keep the roadway clean all year as there is a posted “Adopt a Highway” sign indicating Holy Family maintains this stretch of road.

Running on Enki 5K

June 23 marked the inaugural “Running on Enki 5K” event, co-sponsored by Holy Family and the hometown Enki Brewing Company. The event also had a purpose—to enrich the lives of students and engage the local community with Holy Family. Missions accomplished!

Over 200 runners took part in the first ever Running on Enki 5K including HF staff, alumni, and students.

A few highlights:

-The event drew more than 200 participants, including many students, alumni and faculty who had a chance to visit and connect during the summer break.

-100% of the proceeds support Holy Family’s student activities and the Victoria Lions Park Baseball Field.

-Holy Family student Tyler Franck came in second followed by Holy Family Spanish instructor Jorge Oconitrillo.

See a photo gallery of the event by Holy Family student Collin Nawrocki ’21

JULY

Ready Tee Fire

The annual Ready Tee Fire Golf Classic was held July 16, 2018 at Victoria’s beautiful Deer Run Golf Course. The golf tournament is sponsored by the Holy Family Booster Club with proceeds raised supporting HFCHS activities.  It is one of the biggest fund-raisers of the year, and all are invited to play:

129 golfers participated in this year’s tournament.

– Alumni receive special ticket pricing and, for the past several years, have been a part of at least one winning team.

– The event is an opportunity for alumni to reconnect with each other, as well as parents and supporters of Holy Family.

– Over 30 Holy Family students and parents volunteer at this event each year.

Legion Baseball

During the summer, many Fire baseball players continue to play for the Holy Family Legion baseball team, which plays at Lions Park. These games are a fun way to get outside and enjoy the sun and warmth with your family and friends, and meet community spectators who enjoy the tradition of summer baseball.

St. Victoria Parish Outdoor Mass
Once per summer, Holy Family hosts a morning outdoor Mass for the St. Victoria Parish.  Mass is set up on the front lawn and guests are invited to fellowship following Mass. This year the Mass is on Friday, August 3.

AUGUST

Volksfest

A fun celebration of music and local eats, Volksfest is celebrated every summer in downtown Victoria and is put on by the Victoria Business Association. This summer, Volksfest will be held August 17-18, ending on Saturday with a spectacular fireworks display. Holy Family students volunteer to help set up for the event, supporting one of the city’s biggest events of the year.

St. Victoria Sunset Fest

St. Victoria Parish will be the hub of Victoria activity on Saturday, August 25 for its 21st annual Sunset Fest. The event, held on the parking lot of St. Victoria on Hwy. 11, has a packed schedule of activities:

– Kickoff to Sunset Fest starts with Mass at 5 p.m.

– An all-you-can-eat buffet follows at 6 p.m.

– Entertainment includes the Chmielewski Polka Band.

– Games for all ages, including Bingo, Lucky 13 Raffle and 18 kids games.-

– This year’s event includes an NCAA-style elimination corn-hole tournament with two age divisions—19 and older or 18 and younger. The Holy Family Catholic High School Football team has volunteered to run the first ever tournament.

“Our parishioners have a lot of kids that go to Holy Family and it is a great partnership for us,” says John Abel, Director of Shared Ministries at St. Victoria. “Our pastor, Fr. Bob White, has supported HFCHS from the very beginning.  We’re very pleased to come together for this ‘fun-raising’ event as another great Minnesota summer begins to wind down.  Sunset Fest is a wonderful opportunity for the Victoria community to come together.”

Game Plan for Every Student’s Success

Students at Holy Family start Day 1 with an eye toward a successful future. From the moment each ninth grader steps through the front doors—below the words “Live Jesus in our hearts…Forever”—the journey begins.

Every part of the Holy Family High School experience is a building block to a personalized and successful future. For 99 percent of the students, this means attending college. Whether they realize it or not, planning for post-high school academics has already begun.

To ensure every student gets the support needed to navigate the crucial years ahead, Holy Family Counseling has developed a four-year game plan. Helping each student complete the plan is one of five experienced guidance professionals, teaming up with a student all four years.

“Holy Family’s counselors are personally invested in students’ futures,” says Melissa Livermore, Dean of Academic Support. “It’s a holistic approach to academic preparation and the college search and application procedures, personalized to each student’s specific needs, goals and dreams.”

With a counselor-to-student ratio of 1:98, which is well below the American School Counselor Association’s recommended 1:250, Holy Family Counseling is well equipped and eager to meet the needs of each student. Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect from Day 1 to graduation.

Ninth Grade: The year of discovery

It goes without saying that the first year is a critical year for high school students. While most students and parents are focusing on transitioning from middle school to the demands of high school, counselors are already looking ahead. To do that, they make it a three-way conversation right from the start, hosting a parent meeting to map out the next four years and shed light on the process. These parent-focused sessions continue for all four years.

“It’s very important to get parents into the loop because it’s a partnership—students, parents and school,” says counselor Laura Horton. “Being able to share things about kids (with parents) helps us support the students and create open lines of communication, so we’re all on the same page.”What else can first-year Holy Family students expect?

They begin learning about personal interests and strengths in new ways:

  • Career inventory and interest assessments are taken with the help of the MN Career Information System (MCIS), a portal for college preparation and application activities.
  • One-on-one guidance sessions are held between students and counselors.
  • Students take the PSAT9 exam, a predictor for future PSAT scores. These scores also direct students into Advanced Placement (AP) course options and chances to qualify for National Merit
    Scholar status.

Tenth Grade: Road map for the future

Armed with information gathered in ninth grade, students now have a road map that points in many exciting directions beyond Holy Family. What are the first steps students take to help navigate it? They begin pulling information through their MCIS portals and match it up with potential college options that are a strong fit. Exciting time? You bet!

But wait, there’s more…

  • ACT® prep begins through MCIS and by way of integrated ACT elements in HF curriculum.
  • During Leadership Institute, a required tenth-grade course, students take the StrengthsQuest test to identify their top talents, to gain a better sense of who they are as
    individuals. Counselors help students dive into the results to understand what they mean for each individual, their college search and career choices.
  • The guidance team also helps students build their portfolios and begin crafting academic resumes. These resumes bring students to a higher level of self-awareness. It’s a critical
    time to ask: What have I been doing? What do I need to be doing? Where can I take a leadership role?

As Horton explains to students in tenth grade: “Hone in on your strengths. Be a leader.”

Eleventh Grade: Dreams become plans

This is a critical year for high school students. It is the time when dreams become attainable. Guidance counselors help students zero in on college choices and ensure their Holy Family course loads meet the academic requirements for the schools on their application lists.

“Typically, by junior year, students have an idea of where they’re headed, what career fields they’re looking at,” Livermore says. “It’s a time to make sure they are on track and can reach their goals.”

    • This is also the year of college admissions testing. Early fall finds 100 percent of Holy Family eleventh graders taking the ACT® or PSAT Some students have been preparing through the summer to reach a goal score, after establishing a baseline test in tenth grade or earlier.
    • In the spring, members of the English Department meet with students to guide them in the college essay writing process. By the end of the academic year, students have a solid version of their college essay ready for college applications.

Twelfth Grade: Preparing for new beginnings

In a year filled with lasts, counseling is focused on ensuring students are ready for their next beginning beyond Holy Family. Deadlines are important and checked off, and assistance is given in making sure college financial commitments do not become barriers to achieving dreams.

Holy Family hosts a workshop in August to show students how to utilize Parchment, a digital transcript delivery service, and fill out the Common Application. Students can receive one-on-one assistance in filling out the Common Application, used by more than 750 colleges and universities around the country.

• 100 percent of Holy Family seniors successfully complete the college application process by November 1.

• A Financial Aid Workshop is held to guide students and parents through the process and identify opportunities.

• Students are constantly updated on scholarship offerings, and staff reaches out to students who fit criteria for specific scholarships.

• Excitement builds as the future is in sharp focus. Soon, acceptance letters hit students’ mailboxes.

According to Livermore, a counselor’s work isn’t quite finished.

“There’s still a lot of checkpoints to meet,” she says, and staff takes steps to ensure students are meeting all the important post-acceptance deadlines, including a critical one: May 1, National College Decision Day.

Horton sums up the Holy Family four-year game plan with a very simple, succinct sentence: “It’s how we make each student’s future dreams reality.”

Click on the button below to read our blog article, ” Three Reasons Holy Family Students Succeed.”

Three Reasons Holy Family Students Succeed