New Girls Soccer Coach Hired

Holy Family hires Michael Murray from Dallas’ Bishop Dunne Catholic School to lead Fire Girls Soccer 

Holy Family Catholic High School in Victoria, MN, is pleased to announce the hiring of Michael Murray as the school’s new head girls soccer coach.

Michael Murray begins his work with the Holy Family soccer program immediately with a team and parent meeting on August 2nd.

Coach Murray arrives at Holy Family with a wealth of experiences at Catholic schools across the country.  A product of Conwell Eagan High School, in suburban Philadelphia, Murray excelled in soccer and in the classroom – earning admission to the University of Notre Dame where he earned Academic All-American honors, with a double-major in Physics and Mathematics.  Murray went on to receive a master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame’s prestigious Alliance for Catholic Education program.

Since 2014, Murray has been teaching at Bishop Dunne Catholic School in the Diocese of Dallas, Texas.  During his time in Dallas he served as a varsity assistant and junior varsity soccer coach, and a mentor to high school student athletes from all walks of life.

In addition to his soccer duties, Coach Murray will also be joining Holy Family Catholic High School as a math instructor.

Holy Family Activities Director Nick Tibesar is thrilled to snag such a strong and enthusiastic leader to lead the Fire Girls Soccer program.  “We were wowed by Coach Murray’s positivity, intellect, commitment to Catholic education, and passion for the game.  He is a caring and hardworking teacher and coach, with an immense capacity for leadership, and a heart for service. Our ability to have him in the building as a full-time educator and a resource for our players and program is invaluable. Holy Family is blessed to welcome Michael Murray into our community to lead the Fire Girls Soccer program into the future!”

Murray officially begins his work at Holy Family on August 2 with a meeting for players and parents at 7pm in the Holy Family Cafeteria, and with the start of practice on August 13 at 3pm.

Additional information about Michael Murray:


University of Notre Dame- South Bend, IN – BS in Physics, Mathematics

University of Notre Dame- South Bend, IN – M.Ed. Master of Education

Contact Information:

Nick Tibesar, HFCHS Activities Director –

Michael Murray, HFCHS Head Girls Soccer Coach –

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.


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


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.



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

Turner Hired as Girls Basketball Coach

Holy Family hires Chanhassen Assistant to lead the Fire Girls Basketball Program

Holy Family Catholic High School Activities Office is pleased to announce the hiring of Adrian Turner as the school’s new head girls basketball coach.

Coach Turner has been an integral member of the girls basketball coaching staff at Chanhassen High School since he joined in 2012, and he was named the Section 2AAAA Assistant Coach of the Year in 2014. His duties at Chanhassen also include working full time in academic support and coaching baseball.

Prior to coming to Chanhassen, Turner earned his bachelor’s degree from Grambling State University, where he was a highly decorated 4-year scholarship athlete on the university’s baseball team, being named captain twice and earning South Western Athletic Conference Tournament MVP on the way to leading his team to a conference championship in 2010.

Holy Family Activities Director Nick Tibesar is thrilled to bring in such a strong leader, experienced coach, and man of character to lead the Fire Girls Basketball program into the future. “We were wowed by Coach Turner’s commitment to leading through service, his leadership capacity, and his passion for helping young people achieve their goals and dreams. He is an effective communicator, a student of the game, and an experienced and well-connected coach in the area. Holy Family is excited to welcome Coach Turner into our community to lead the Fire Girls Basketball program into the future.”

Turner officially begins his work at Holy Family on June 18 with an open meeting for parents and players at 3pm in the Holy Family Performance Center, and with summer skills programs and Holy Family’s youth basketball camp starting on June 25th.

Additional information about Adrian Turner:


Grambling State University- Grambling, LA – BA in Kinesiology – Sports Management

Contact Information:

Nick Tibesar, HFCHS Activities Director –

Adrian Turner, HFCHS Head Girls Basketball Coach –

Visit Our New Activities Site

Alumni Spotlight: Joe Salz ’12

A Numbers Guy with a Heart for People

While at Holy Family, Joe Salz ’12 was an honor student, a member of the State title winning baseball team, a musician, a campus minister, and a teammate on the Math League team.  And he was just getting started! Read on to find out what Joe says led him to his current career and how participating in multiple activities helps him succeed even today.

Current Employer: Deloitte Consulting
College: University of St. Thomas
Major: Bachelor of Science at University of St. Thomas, major in Actuarial Science, minor in Mathematical Statistics, Associate of the Society of Actuaries (ASA), Member of the American Academy of Actuaries (MAAA)
Middle School: St. Joseph C-Stem School in Waconia

HF: How did you become interested in actuarial science? 
JS: I was a junior in high school and had an interest in math, but I was unsure about being an engineer. While deciding between a math-oriented career path and a people-oriented path (like business), I heard about actuarial science and how it combined both math and business. One of my friends (Steven Guillemette ’11) mentioned that his dad, Scott, was an actuary, and after meeting with him, I was sold.

HF: What do you consider to be your greatest personal and professional accomplishments?
JS: My greatest personal accomplishment was being asked to lead our Catholic Men’s Leadership group my senior year of college. It is humbling to know that other members of our group looked up to me and trusted me as a leader. 

Professionally, my greatest accomplishment is passing my first actuarial exam. I remember being intimidated by how difficult the exams were (pass rate of 40-50%, depending on the exam), so passing really instilled confidence in me to continue pursuing an actuarial career.

HF: What do you enjoy most about your current position?
JS: Employers value actuarial expertise and encourage their employees to progress through the actuarial exam process; at many companies, you are able to continue your education while on the job (not to mention incentives for passing exams as well!). As a recent college graduate, being able to learn on the job while simultaneously progressing in my career is what I enjoy most about my current career position.

HF: Did your experiences at Holy Family help you to overcome obstacles you’ve faced in college or now as an actuary?
JS: Balancing exam studies and a full-time job is definitely the most challenging part of my current position. As a consultant, working hours can vary widely in any given week, so adhering to a strict study schedule can be very difficult and requires solid time management skills.

I believe Holy Family prepared me for my current career because I was able to participate in many activities such as baseball and Jazz Band while also taking Advanced Placement courses. There were numerous times when these activities overlapped, and it required time management to stay on top of it all.

HF: STEAM careers sometimes incorporate one or more elements of science, engineering, technology, art, and math. Clearly your career involves math, but do you see elements of others in it?
JS: In almost every situation I experience at my job, we are required to combine math, science, technology, and – believe it or not – art into our projects and solutions for clients. A topical example is helping a state government find new ways to lower healthcare costs in its Medicare and Medicaid population. Clients rely on our creativity and technical expertise to come up with practical and effective answers to their problems.

HF: In what ways, if any, did a Holy Family course and/or teacher impact on your career choice?
JS: Mr. Kannel is one of the smartest teachers I’ve ever had, including collegiate professors. His love for math and ability to explain things clearly helped establish a solid foundation crucial to my understanding of advanced topics such as multi-variable calculus and probability.

Mrs. Livermore was my AP Calc teacher and taught me how to really learn the material. She gave homework assignments each week that weren’t graded, but instead were for us students to practice the material learned on our own. This in turn helped me develop the discipline to put in adequate study time despite not getting a grade, and was the basis for developing study plans for future actuarial exams.

As a high school student interested mostly in math, I never felt that English was a strength of mine; however, after having Mr. Unverzagt for Honors American Literature and AP English, I realized how fun writing can be, and saw how much better my persuasive papers became right before my eyes. Mr. Unverzagt was able to take something that was somewhat unknown to me and many other students and explain it in a process that was logical and easy to understand. Further, he knew how to challenge his students while keeping the class engaging and fun.

HF: What advice would you give to younger alumni or current Holy Family students who aspire to follow a similar career path?
JS: The actuarial field is getting more and more competitive, and we see students continue to attack exams earlier and earlier when we attend job fairs. If you are a high school student interested in actuarial science, take advantage of the math classes that Holy Family offers to help put you in the best position for progressing through college.

HF: What do you enjoy doing with your free time?
JS: I spend my free time playing in a band with some friends from college (including Danny Gilles ’13 and Dan Klauer ‘10). In fact, not all actuaries are nerds – my boss and I hosted a “Battle of the Bands” between his band and my band this past summer. It was awesome!

I also teach confirmation at Our Lady of Grace in Edina once a week, where I lead a group of 7th graders. It is a great chance to practice my faith while being immersed in the real world.

HF: What would you say to a student considering Holy Family?
JS: Holy Family gives students the opportunity to both refine their current interests, and to explore new ones. If you enjoy playing sports but want to try out a music class, go for it! Holy Family’s class sizes give access to not only a wide breadth of activities, but also to a faculty that is there to help you. I owe a lot to my teachers and coaches at Holy Family, who helped shape me into who I am today.


New Fire Football Coach Hired

Holy Family hires UST assistant coach to lead football program

Holy Family Catholic High School is pleased to announce the hiring of Tim Triplett as the school’s new head football coach. Triplett comes to Holy Family with 12 years of college football coaching experience, at Division I, II, and III levels, most recently as an assistant coach for Glenn Caruso at the University of St. Thomas.

Caruso supports Triplett’s move to Holy Family, stating, “We are tremendously excited for Tim and his opportunity at Holy Family. Tim has been a big part of our success and culture here at St. Thomas. We look forward to watching him bring those core principles to Holy Family. We are big believers in teaching our young men the most important life lessons through the sport of football; Tim takes that responsibility very seriously, and I think that the future of Holy Family Catholic will benefit from his vision.”

Triplett leaves his current position as the recruiting coordinator and wide receiver coach at UST to lead the Fire Football program and make the transition to working with high school student-athletes. “The high school experience has a significant impact on the rest of their lives. It is my charge to create an environment where they can thrive and embrace the experience in a manner befitting a first-class football program and Catholic community.”

In addition to his four years at UST, Triplett’s coaching resume includes football programs at several D1, D2, and D3 Programs: University of South Dakota (2010-2014), South Dakota State University in Brookings (2009), Wayne State University (2007 and 2008), and Cornell College in Iowa (2006).

For Triplett, the son of former University of South Dakota Head Coach Dave Triplett, family and football have intertwined throughout his life. Dave Triplett served as the head football coach at USD from 1979-1988, leaving as the second-winningest coach in school history, and was a 2003 inductee into the University’s Athletic Hall of Fame.  Tim, along with his two brothers, all went on to play college football.

Holy Family Activities Director Nick Tibesar is thrilled to snag such a highly credentialed coach to lead the program.  “I couldn’t be more excited to welcome Tim into our Holy Family community.  His experience as a key contributor to a winning culture at a flagship Catholic university in our area makes him the ideal person to lead the Fire Football program into the future.  Tim’s football acumen is impressive, but he also comes to us with a clear understanding of what it means to lead young men during an important time in their lives. Additionally, his college recruitment experience will be invaluable to our student-athletes as they look to make connections to college programs.”

Triplett officially begins his work at Holy Family on June 1 with the summer conditioning programs and Holy Family’s youth football camp with NFL MVP Rich Gannon. He will also support all HF activities in the role of Assistant Activities Director.

Additional information about Tim Triplett:

Wayne State University- Wayne, NE – ME in Sports Management
The University of South Dakota- BS in Media and Journalism

Published Author:
Author: The Leadership Papers – Copyright 2017 – RoseDogs Books Publishing, Pittsburgh, PA
Content Consultant: Make Me the Best Football Player – Abdo Publishing, Minneapolis, MN

Additional information about Tim Triplett:

Wayne State University- Wayne, NE – ME in Sports Management
University of South Dakota- BS in Media and Journalism

Published Author:
Author: The Leadership Papers – Copyright 2017 – RoseDogs Books Publishing, Pittsburgh, PA
Content Consultant: Make Me the Best Football Player – Abdo Publishing, Minneapolis, MN

Contact Information:
Nick Tibesar, HFCHS Activities Director –
Tim Triplett, HFCHS Head Football Coach –


Holy Family’s Quest for Knowledge Bowl Success

The Long Road to the State Knowledge Bowl

Like athletes who use the preseason to stretch their abilities, fine-tune skills and develop a strategy to focus on a big goal, this year’s Holy Family Catholic High School Knowledge Bowl teams were no different during the off-season.

Want to give it a try? Here are a few warm-up questions:

Question 1: All atoms of any given element have the same number of what subatomic particles?


Question 2: Name the best-known opera by the Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov, the title of which is based on a character from “The Arabian Nights.”

That’s just a small sample of questions students on the Holy Family Knowledge Bowl team encounter as they planned and prepared for competition. (Ready to throw in the towel? Not so fast. Test your knowledge at the end!)

Before this year’s season, the Knowledge Bowl team, led by science teacher Jim Walker, was hard at work building its knowledge base and practicing “buzzer rounds” as a means to launch the team into April’s Minnesota State Knowledge Bowl Meet. Thirty-three students are on this year’s roster: 13 seniors, 12 juniors, five sophomores and three freshmen. Participants are broken into four- to five-member teams.

Holy Family team, “Thought Patrol,” earned their way to a second placer finish in the regional competition earning a trip to the State Tournament.

“Every year, the goal of our team is to make it to state, and this year was no different,” says senior Mitchell Jans, whose team is only the second in school history to qualify for the Minnesota State Knowledge Bowl Meet. “The difference this year was not the goal. It was the determination that the goal was reasonably attainable.”

Jans and four other team members—seniors Thomas Farrell, Walter Treat and Leo Pinamonti and new addition sophomore Lucy Treat—are one of 48 teams that qualified for the state Knowledge Bowl Meet April 12-13 at Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd. Advancing to the final round, the team finished 5th at the Minnesota State Knowledge Bowl Meet.

To put that accomplishment into perspective:

  • More than 800 teams compete statewide in Knowledge Bowl events.
  • Nearly 300 school districts from across Minnesota are represented.
  • Only 48 teams qualify for the Minnesota State Knowledge Bowl Meet!

7 Reasons for Holy Family Knowledge Bowl Success

What’s the secret to this year’s success? And what can teams that follow learn?

“We did a lot more preparation this year than ever before,” Farrell explains. “This team took time to make notecards, study previous years’ questions and zero in on topics we weren’t familiar with.”

Besides dedication and focus, here are some other tangible and intangible factors that play into their success:

  1. Summer Buzzers. “During the summer, our team practiced Knowledge Bowl questions, and this helped us get a jump-start on the season,” Jans says. “The best preparation we did was buzzer practices, which are practice rounds. Having those buzzer practices is vital to our team, and we owe a great deal of gratitude to the other Knowledge Bowl participants because without them, we would not have enough practice to gain the ‘buzzing’ skills.”
  2. The Daily 10. Walker knows that frequent quizzing has its rewards, so he puts all of his students to the test. “The kids answer a daily quiz (10 questions), starting on the first day of school,” Walker says. While Knowledge Bowl practices start the first week of November, early quizzing builds confidence and excitement.

    Teams compete against each other in weekly “buzzer rounds” to prepare for the upcoming meets.
  3. Team chemistry. “We’ve had good teams that could have gone to state, but the chemistry just wasn’t really there,” Farrell says. Walker explains it this way: “Many team participants develop individual strengths. Part of the fun is finding a group of kids who trust each other enough to buzz in on a question when they know a teammate has the knowledge to answer.”
  4. Experience. “All of us understand each other and have competed together for years,” Jans says. “I feel as if this season is the one to leave it all on the table and hold nothing back. In years past, there was always next year and well, this is our senior year—the year of lasts.”
  5. Postseason seasoned. If the pressure of postseason competition affects performance, Walker thinks this year’s group can shake that off. “Our highest finishing team last year missed qualifying for state by one tough round,” he says. “I think that motivated the team this year. This particular group of seniors has always been a strong group—they enjoy the meets and are pretty competitive, which helps too.”
  6. Students v. Teachers. Whether they admit it or not, a few brave Holy Family teachers did their part as well. “Our team practiced against (five) HF teachers,” Mitchell shares. “Overall, the practice went well—and we beat the teachers by a fair margin.” Score one for the team!
  7. Bragging Rights. This year’s team is only the second to qualify for the State Knowledge Bowl. “The last time was in 2010, and the team (with its previous coach, Tom Walker) finished fourth,” Walker says. “That gives us something to shoot for.”

No matter how the team does at the Minnesota Knowledge Bowl Meet, it is fair to say this year’s team has already earned its place among the best of the best.

Which leads to one last question:

Question: What coach says, “I am inspired by their tenacity and confidence. Part of doing well is knowing that you are not going to give up, and that winning is possible.”
Coach Jim Walker, Holy Family Knowledge Bowl Team

5 Questions to Test Your Knowledge

Question 1: What enterprise laid the foundation for the wealth of the Medici family?

Question 2: In 2016, archaeologists discovered a massive platform with columns and a gigantic staircase buried in the sands of Petra in what country?

Question 3: George Washington’s surprise attack and victory at what New Jersey town in December 1776 increased morale and provided enough of a recruiting boost to keep his army from disbanding?

Question 4: What does the “E” stand for in OPEC?

Question 5: What part of the body are these structures located? Vomer, ethmoid bone, sphenoid bone, lachrymal bone, palatine bone and zygomatic bone

Questions are samples from a recent Knowledge Bowl competition.*


Alumni Spotlight: Catching Up with Rollie Lacy

Rollie Lacy: He’s in his first full season as a professional baseball player with the Chicago Cubs organization. We asked fellow Holy Family grad and sports writer Alex Smith 10 to catch up with Rollie and get the scoop on life in the Minor Leagues.

“Throwing on a high-school field—just for the love of the game, not really knowing that it would take me anywhere—to professional baseball is crazy.” —Rollie Lacy, 2013 Holy Family graduate

Alumni Profile: Rollie Lacy

Graduated: 2013

Elementary/Middle Schools: Shirley Hills Primary School, Mound (first and second grades); Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School, Mound (third to eighth grades)

University Attended: Creighton University, Omaha

Degree: Bachelor’s Degree in Finance/Entrepreneurship

Holy Family Activities:

  • Baseball
  • Football
  • Hockey
  • Lasallian Youth


ALEX: How is Arizona?


AZL Cubs relief pitcher Rollie Lacy (51) delivers a pitch to the plate against the AZL Mariners on August 4, 2017 at Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona. AZL Cubs defeated the AZL Mariners 5-3. (Zachary Lucy/Four Seam Images)

It’s been great. It’s an exciting time. I’ve always heard about spring training, whether it be through TV or the movies. It’s fun to see all the Big Leaguers and the guys you’ve looked up to for a long time. It’s fun, because it shows you kind of belong a little bit. It’s a new level of competition that makes you want to work even harder.

ALEX: Have you been…not “starstruck,” but excited about running into certain players since you were drafted last year?

ROLLIE: There’s Major League guys all the time who are down on rehab assignments and things like that. Every once in a while, guys like Javy Báez and (three-time MLB All-Star Anthony) Rizzo and (National League MVP Kris) Bryant will come down to get swings in lower-league games. So, it’s pretty cool to see them. And then some of the pitchers are role models, like (four-time All-Star) Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks. It’s a pretty open locker room and weight room, and they’re really nice guys. It’s a really good environment down here.

ALEX: So, this is a little bit of a dream scenario?

ROLLIE: It’s one of those places you always pictured going to. It’s an opening to professional baseball. I had some time last year after the draft, but this is the real welcome to the organization. It’s a time that really allows you to feel like you fit in, and you’re finally a part of the team.

ALEX: People probably forget that you walked on at Creighton. Did you have any other options, as far as baseball was concerned?

ROLLIE: I actually talked with some schools out East, like Holy Cross and schools in Carolina. I talked with the University of Minnesota about playing there. But, you know, baseball wasn’t really a fixture in my mind in terms of the future. I kind of just liked playing in high school. I liked all sports, really, so it wasn’t something that came to be “my thing” until my time at Creighton. But I chose Creighton because of the academics, and it was just far enough away that I wouldn’t be coming home all the time. It was a good chance to grow up, and baseball kind of took over my life. (Click HERE to see a recap of Lacy’s career at Creighton University)

ALEX: Did Creighton reach out to you? Or vice versa?

ROLLIE: Yeah. Their coach had seen me in some camps and had seen my stats from high school. I was a really late addition; there wasn’t a scholarship available. So they just said that I had to wait it out until the next year.

I wouldn’t say I was heavily recruited. I wasn’t very proactive in the recruiting process as a high school junior and senior. I had a belief that if you were good enough, teams would find you. Now, after (getting more familiar with) the recruiting process over the last 6 years, I know that unless you’re a high (MLB) draft pick out of high school, you’ve got to be proactive about the schools you want to play at. That was my mistake. But it ended up being a great time.

ALEX: Yeah, I’d say it worked out pretty well. That was only half a decade ago, and now you’re hanging out with Yu Darvish. Has this journey been a whirlwind since Holy Family?

ROLLIE: Actually, funny story. Facebook does that “share your memories” thing. And 6 years ago, Connor Riddle and I were driving to a high-school (baseball) practice. It just kind of rung a bell in my head that it’s been that long since Holy Family, which is really crazy. But throwing on a high-school field—just for the love of the game, not really knowing that it would take me anywhere—to professional baseball is crazy. College baseball was crazy in itself. It’s a little bit surreal. I’m just going with the flow here.

2017 Preseason All-BIG EAST
2016 All-BIG EAST First Team
2015 Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American
2015 All-BIG EAST First Team
Photo provided by Claudia and Tim Lacy

ALEX: What sticks out about your time at Holy Family?

ROLLIE: My favorite thing about Holy Family has to be the culture and the closeness of the community. Public schools have that, too, but the group of friends I have (from Holy Family) I still talk to almost all of them at least once a week, if not every day. They’re always asking me how I’m doing, and I’m excited to see how they’re doing. If anything, that’s probably the most important thing I’ve taken from school, is just friends. Lifelong friends.

ALEX: Is there anyone from that community who really made an impact on you?

ROLLIE: Yeah, a lot of great teachers. Coach (Bryan) DeLorenzo obviously was a huge part of my time there, just as a coach. He had to make the decision to put me on the field, and if I wasn’t on the field, all of these things don’t happen. Coach (Pat) Hallahan was there my freshman year. He instilled some confidence in me early; told me that I had a good arm and I had to work at it and I couldn’t just go out there every day and throw. I had to do some stuff off the field as well.

Mr. (John) Dols was always very helpful for me. I wouldn’t say I was the most well-behaved student in high school. I definitely had some growing up to do. But he showed me some good things along the way. I don’t think I had a bad experience with any staff there. Credit to them.

ALEX: Do you have a favorite memory from your time at Holy Family?

2012 MSHSL State Class A Champions

ROLLIE: The state championship my junior year in baseball. That was a surreal experience. Being at Target Field, a professional stadium. With all the guys. Of course, we had a really good team that year. Going up through state. That was a really fun time.

ALEX: When the MLB draft was approaching last summer, did you have a good idea of where you were going to be picked? What were you hearing?

ROLLIE: I was almost 100 percent sure that I was going (to be drafted). But there’s always that fear in the back of your head that you weren’t going to be picked. I was actually talking to four or five teams to get a deal done in the fourth through eighth rounds, pretty early on. But the draft was pretty hectic, and they ended up saying I could sign for more money late—in the 11th round—instead of being a money-saving pick early on. It ended up working out really well. I’m glad I’m with the Cubs—a great organization. When I was drafted, I was on the golf course with my family. It’s a great memory to have.

ALEX: And who was there with you, exactly?

ROLLIE: My dad, brother and one of my good friends from college. But 5 seconds after it happened— and I didn’t even know about it (the pick) before a lot of people did—my phone just shut down. I couldn’t open it. There were a lot of people to talk to, and it was really fun to have all of those people pulling for me and happy for me.

ALEX: Enough people to shut your phone down, huh?

ROLLIE: I got all these calls and notifications. The one call that came through at the time that I could answer was the head executive of Chicago asking me if I wanted to be a Cub, and welcome to the organization. That was pretty funny. But I was fielding calls and texts for a long time after that. It was tough to finish the round (of golf). I actually had to shut my phone off for the back nine.

ALEX: You mentioned a lot of people reached out to you after the draft. Were there any “surprising” people from Holy Family that congratulated you?

ROLLIE: Absolutely. It’s more of a rag on myself for not staying in contact with a lot of these people. There’s people that were part of my life and helped me in ways that were hard to see at times. I’ve gotten thank-yous from people who had no business needing to say thank you. They just went out of their way to be kind and supportive. That’s a tribute to how good the people are at Holy Family. There’s always people reaching out and congratulating me, even this late after the draft, and giving support. It’s definitely a humbling experience having those people contact you.

ALEX: Even when you were pitching well in high school, did it ever cross your mind that you might be a draft pick one day?

ROLLIE: Personally, no. I didn’t think it was something that was that great of a chance. But Kasey Ralston (’12) my junior year, he was a pretty big prospect, going to Indiana. We hoped he was going to be drafted. And my dad told me, just keep working out and maybe one day you’ll be seeing that, too. I remember laughing and going, “Yeah, I don’t think so.” And then it ended up happening. I guess your parents always think the best about you, but I was never thinking about being a professional baseball player until the later years of college. Not until then.

ALEX: I’ve been reading that, besides the signing bonus, Minor League players make next to nothing on a weekly basis. What’s the “job” like? How do you deal with those infamous bus trips?

Lacy’s 2017 Official Baseball Card

ROLLIE: The pay is definitely tough. But they make it up in your bonus. They try to make it what you would’ve gotten in your years of work out of college. And we don’t really have any living expenses or food expenses, per se. So that’s nice.

Being away from friends and family is definitely tough. My girlfriend works in North Carolina, and we talk all the time. Fortunately, in today’s day and age, it’s pretty easy to talk and communicate with people. But it is tough to get my friends together and go on trips and stuff. I’m pretty booked from about March 1 until the end of September. There is some sacrifice, but it’s worth it in the end if you make it to the top.

ALEX: Do you have any time to be a tourist? Or is it go, go, go?

ROLLIE: It’s go, go, go. I think the assumption is that the team is always together, 24/7. It’s more like a desk job, but you’re playing baseball. We have our schedule, and we have our free time. All the towns have their own things to offer, and we definitely have our share of free time, depending on if you want to use that to rest, which is probably what about 90, 95 percent of the guys do.

But I’m a big adventure guy. So I’m excited for the flights and bus trips and seeing different parts of the country. Sure, it can be a grind sometimes. I don’t really sit on buses too well. Nor do the other guys. But it’s something where you roll with the punches on that. And it’s something you’ll look back on in 15 years and wish you could still be doing. So I’m trying to have as much fun as I can.

On April 2, Rollie was assigned to the Cubs’ Class A team in South Bend, Indiana. You can read more about his journey in the latest edition of Passages.

UPDATE: As reported by,

Rangers’ Rollie Lacy: Traded to Texas

Lacy was dealt to the Rangers on Thursday alongside Eddie Butler and a player to be named later in exchange for Cole Hamels.

He will report to High-A Down East upon his arrival after compiling a 2.02 ERA over 16 appearances (10 starts) with Low-A South Bend earlier this year. He was recently moved up to the Cubs’ High-A club and will continue his progression at that level with the Rangers.

Visit Holy Family Fire Baseball’s website to learn more about our teams.

Meet the Writer. Alex Smith is currently working as a full-time journalist for Cox Media Group in Nashville, Tennessee. His first book, SEC Football’s Greatest Games, will be available from Rowman & Littlefield in September. Alex is married to fellow Holy Family alum Bridget Smith, née Stone (’10).

Behind the Scenes: Holy Family Robotics

What is it? Holy Family’s robotics club, competing under the team name PyroBotics, is an opportunity for students interested in programming, engineering and robotics classes to form a competitive team of robo-builders. The team competes in competitions sponsored by FIRST®, encouraging students to immerse themselves in science and technology.

  • FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC): Small-scale, regional autonomous robotic competition open to middle- and high-school students. Offered fall semester.
  • FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC): Industrial-scaled autonomous robots designed by high-school students compete in a full-scale worldwide game. Offered spring semester.

What is the FIRST® Robotics Competition? Think NASCAR meets Transformers, giving students a chance to experience what professional engineers do every day. Billed as the “ultimate sport for the mind,” this competition is all about teamwork. Students build and program an industrial-scale robot that performs programmed tasks in a competitive arena. With more than 10 members on a team, working with professional volunteer mentors, the competition combines the excitement of sports with the rigors of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

Brandon Bueltel working on protype for cube intake with programmers Colin Dosedel and John Vogel.

Who can compete? Students completing Holy Family’s Technical Studies and Engineering Graphics II.

Do students earn credit? Students enrolled in Robotics 1, 2 or 3 earn .5 credit for each course. Middle-school students can now take these courses and earn Holy Family credit, enabling them to participate in robotics in ninth grade.

What skills do members of the robotics team learn?

  • Team collaboration
  • Leadership
  • Problem solving
  • Programming
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • CAD
  • Design
  • Pneumatics
  • 3D printing

Learn About Holy Family’s 60+ Extracurricular Activities HERE.

Robotics: Holy Family’s Engineering Tradition

Look Where He Is Now!

Long before 2012 graduate Brian Kubisiak began high school at Holy Family, he was already rock solid on the fundamentals of computer programming. It is something his dad taught him early on, a second language that came completely natural to him and immediately drew him into the Innovation Lab at Holy Family.

“I started taking engineering classes with Nick (Livermore) my freshman year,” Kubisiak recalls. “When he proposed starting a robotics team, I eagerly accepted this opportunity to further my education in technology. I was looking for any chance to gain experience in programming, both through classes and extracurricular activities.”

In 2009, Kubisiak and a handful of like-minded students joined Livermore to launch the robotics team at Holy Family. They competed in the FIRST® Tech Challenge , a competition sponsored by FIRST® -For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. The organization, founded long before the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) acronym caught on, focuses on inspiring young people to immerse themselves in science and technology.

Taste of Engineering

Competing in FIRST events offers students opportunities well beyond building robots. FIRST gives students a chance to experience and pursue STEM-related fields, inspiring them to become leaders and innovators while gaining important life skills, like collaboration, teamwork and problem solving.

“Robotics was a great learning experience for me, and many of the lessons I learned about working with a team are still relevant to my career,” Kubisiak says.

Kubisiak graduated from Holy Family with 5 credits of technology, 4 more than are required to graduate. He and his teammates also led the robotics team to the next level, launching the school’s entry into the FIRST® Robotics Competition, where teams of students build industrial-sized robots to compete in an intense game of survival against high schools from around the world. It’s billed as the “ultimate sport for the mind.”

Building on Tradition

Dosedel releasing the rope for the robot to climb.

Early success has led to a thriving Holy Family robotics team. Last year’s team qualified for the World Championships held in St. Louis, the second to do that since the program began. Perhaps that was the motivating factor that brought 10 of the 18 robotics students to the Innovation Lab on Student Assistance Day (SAD) on a chilly January morning this year.

With just a few weeks left to troubleshoot and fine-tune, it was all hands on deck. “Mona Lisa,” the name given to this year’s robot, needed to be “bagged up” and shipped to the FRC district competition site by late February. The competition, however, won’t start until a month later, March 28 to March 31, at the University of Minnesota’s Williams Arena. Follow their matches at where you will find updates and links to live video.

If there were such a thing as a card up your sleeve in robotics, it would have to be a second bot the team built named “Frankenstein.” A replica of Mona Lisa, this spec-bot allows the team to test, tweak and troubleshoot in the weeks leading up to the competition. Any modifications made to Frankenstein will be applied to Mona Lisa in the “pits” during competition weekend.

Commitment to Team

What’s most impressive-the students, eager to push the boundaries of their technical comfort zones, come to the Innovation Lab on their own time. Just as they have each weekend since January 6, when the details and tasks for this year’s FIRST® Robotics Competition were streamed live worldwide.

“One of the biggest goals of robotics is to understand the teamwork that goes with it,” Livermore says. “I’m always impressed by their resilience not to give up. Some kids stay here for 10 hours on a Saturday, and will not give up until the robot is working.”

The group works in small teams, each playing a vital role to the completed project. Some build, others program. They test to see who is best at driving the bot in a makeshift arena that emulates what they’ll face during competition, built by volunteer parents. Adult mentors, including Livermore; math teacher Gary Kannel; career engineers Bill Barnett and Tom Barrett; and Tufts University student and Holy Family grad Claire Pernat help students troubleshoot the robot or system programs.

Programmers Dosedel and Vogel and Advisor Kannel work on programming autonomous phase for the robot.

Despite homework, winter sports and other club activities, robotics team members have only six weeks to complete their FRC robot. Robotics captain Nikolai Charchenko works around his varsity hockey schedule, as does sophomore Sydney Paulsen (shown in the top image).

Lead programmer Colin Dosedel, in his second robotics year as a junior, is captain of the Math League and is involved in Mock Trial, Knowledge Bowl and Honors Society. Freshman Jeremy Schumacher competes in the Math League, Quiz Bowl and Mock Trial. They all agree robotics is something that has to take priority in their busy schedules.

“It’s a team,” says Schumacher, who was introduced to robotics when Holy Family’s team visited his middle school, St. Hubert Catholic School. “People are counting on you to get the work done. If you don’t come in, that means you’re letting the whole team down.”

Paulsen, one of three girls competing on this year’s team, says, “You have to make sacrifices. This is important-you can go out with your friends other times.”

The Task at Hand

Teams design their bots to compete in a full-scale robo-battle with new rules and tasks to accomplish each year. This year’s game, called “FIRST® Power Up,” requires each robot to lift square weights up to 7-1/2 feet in the air and place them on a large balance scale, with the goal of tipping the scale in your team’s favor. The task put so much stress on the robot’s lift that the Holy Family team was forced to disassemble and redesign the lift arms to add more support.

Adam Beer and Nikolai Charchenko work with Livermore on the elevator to lift competition cubes.

Charchenko is in charge of keeping the entire team on task, making sure there is plenty of time to have all the bugs worked out before it’s “go time.”

“It (robotics) makes me think in a critical way while also working as a team, to get a big project done,” he says. “That’s something you can’t get from other extracurricular activities.”

Dosedel agrees the deep-thinking collaboration robotics requires is something unique.

“I like working together to accomplish one goal,” he says. “A lot of people might want to do it all themselves. But you really can’t do that. It takes lots of ideas and to be open, not closed-minded on your own opinions.

Many Doors and Possibilities

While Charchenko’s sights are set on a career that includes hockey, engineering is his fallback plan.

“Robotics will definitely play a part in what degree I’ll take in college,” he says. “I heard that mechanical engineering is improving past inventions and making them better today. It’s hands-on engineering. I like having that visual idea and showing people.”

For Paulsen, robotics provides her an opportunity to try new things before committing to a degree track in college.

“I think being in robotics will confirm that I want to go into engineering in college,” she says. “I like solving a problem and getting my hands dirty until it gets done. It’s helpful knowing there are more females going into engineering and knowing that there are other people interested in the same things as me.”

Dosedel likes trying new things, and programming is just another challenge.

“I’m open to every thing,” he says. “I never thought I’d come to Holy Family and program a robot. I want to have an open mind to try new activities and learn new things.”

Picking Up STEAM

The future of Holy Family robotics is bright. This year at the Spirit of Fire Fundraiser, the fund-a-need focus was STEAM education (the added “A” stands for Arts). A portion of the $98,000 raised was invested into the Innovation Lab, where two additional 3D printers have been added, with plans for a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine this summer.

“All robots in the competition have to have at least one 3D printed piece,” Livermore explains. “Next year, we’re hoping to make an entire 3D printed robot. The only thing metal will be the motors and gears.”

Livermore is proud of his students accomplishments during and after they are a part of the robotics program.

To get middle-school students into Holy Family tech program and robotics quicker, Livermore started a pilot program three years ago. Tech classes are offered free to seventh and eighth graders during the first period. They can earn up to .5 technology credit for each class, which can be applied to Holy Family graduation.

“By completing both Technical Studies and Engineering Graphics II in middle school, ninth-grade students can immediately join robotics their first year,” Livermore says.

And that is called opportunity.

“Sometimes I’m kind of jealous,” he admits. “We have kids come through robotics that are now in biomedical engineering. They’re working on drones for Amazon. We have kids who are now programming at Rockwell Collins. They’re accomplishing things for huge companies and out there doing what they started in high school.”

Find out 3 Reasons Why Holy Family Students Succeed in College

Holy Family English Department’s Connected Curriculum

Techno Teachers: Holy Family English Department’s Connected Curriculum

Today’s students are driving change faster than ever before with their intuitive use of technology. For Holy Family Catholic High School’s English Department, that means changing the ways of teaching too.

“Technology is a tool that cannot and should not be ignored,” says English teacher Carlee Kocon. “It’s our responsibility to help prepare 21st-century learners for the 21st century with tools that are applicable and relevant to their current and future learning.”

Holy Family’s English department has teamed up to make sure students are ready for the future, weaving in technologies that emulate what students will experience in college and through real-world experiences. Their methods are the result of a focused effort led by English teacher Case Unverzagt, who created an ad hoc committee to explore teaching with technology and best practices.

“Technology remains a tool that students use in every facet of life, so I figured our teaching must incorporate technology to better reach and teach students,” Unverzagt says.

The English Department’s fresh mix of teaching and tech is a peek into how the Holy Family classrooms are evolving in a time of rapid change driven by a digital revolution.

“Technology is a tool and will never replace the ‘teacher,’” says Holy Family President Michael Brennan. “And it is far more than hardware and devices.

“I view technology as a key with the ability to transform student learning. The right technology in the hands of the right teacher is a recipe for transformational learning.”

Tech Advances Language Skills

Unverzagt points out that technology, like English, is textually focused. Therefore, the correlation between them is natural and encourages stronger writing and communication.

“Code is syntactical, and so is English,” he says. “Mistakes in coding change or destroy meaning analogous to poor grammar that obstructs meaning—text messages, Tweets, message board posts and emails all require compositional skills for creation. Many an adolescent spends time pondering the tone and context of the last Tweet or text.

“The skills we use to analyze literature and communicate ideas effectively and clearly translate immediately to reading, analyzing and creating content on technological platforms.”

The marriage between language and technology, he points out, dovetails with the English department’s overall mission:

  • Develop each student’s reading skills
  • Encourage interest in the language arts as research and leisure activities
  • Introduce students to a variety of writing styles and authors
  • Hone students’ listening skills
  • And, most importantly, develop writing as a process geared to create written pieces for a variety of purposes and audiences.

English teachers at Holy Family have collectively found ways to thread technology into their current teaching methods. Unverzagt, who teaches AP English and Honors American Literature, relies on multiple digital platforms, including Twitter, MS365, MS Teams, OneNote, various Google platforms and digital content.

Senior Creative Writing students write their pieces and share them during editing sessions.

“I try to use technology to meet students where they are in the digital universe and help them learn with and through technology,” he says.

Kocon, who has a master’s degree in Learning Design and Technology from the University of St. Mary’s, is driven to help students use technology to advance learning and creativity.

“Using technology just to use it isn’t popular, and students can sense that,” she says. “However, if you can point out the usefulness the technology provides, they’re usually all in. It’s all about balance and finding the right technology tool for the task at hand.

“In my Freshman World Literature classes, we use technology to share and edit work,” she says. “We create short slide presentations regarding chapters of text we are reading in class. Students also create their own quizzes to share to prep for later assessments, and some make online flashcards. For my Senior Creative Writing classes, students write their pieces and share them during editing sessions.”

Kocon is also quick to point out that technology has helped from the teaching perspective, too, making her more responsive and timely with instruction and feedback.

“I use various software to edit their papers and give feedback more efficiently and more quickly with voice comments, video comments or stamped comments, eliminating lengthy return time on writing pieces,” she says.

Quizzes, Apps and Creativity

Zach Brown, who teaches Honors British Literature, Speech, Contemporary Issues and College Prep Writing, utilizes Google surveys, online quizzes and collaborative documents, so students can work together and participate in class in new ways.

“Kahoot! is a great app for making a review or quiz similar to a game, and it engages students far more than raising their hands to demonstrate their learning,” he says.

Google surveys, online quizzes and collaborative documents allow students to work together and participate in class in new ways.

Brown also stresses the importance of discerning credible information sources from questionable ones, and making sure students are aware of singularly shaded information and insulated viewpoints. Instead of diving deep into the technology, he focuses on how students can use tech to better present ideas with substance. With this thinking, Brown has turned a new page on the way students “author” book reports.

“I can make the presentation of learning more inviting, so the reading and completion of the assignment isn’t as onerous,” he says. “For example, making a movie trailer in a video editing program encourages students to entice a viewer, so students work to make their work exciting and prove they can make something great. This requires students to read the book, but without the additional work of an essay looming ahead of them.”

The New Standard: Tech Competency

As Holy Family students move through various English classes, the staff has developed a benchmark of key technology competencies students need to master. Likewise, every teacher has been trained to help implement these competencies through their curriculum.

“Students need to know how to create meaningful presentations, so that they can convey their ideas in a powerful way,” Brown says. “Since new programs will always replace the old, I need to teach them how to navigate through confusion.”

“Ultimately, it comes down to successfully transitioning students from high school into college, so they are prepared to articulate their opinions and beliefs, which are subjective, as well as objectively present arguments and sides to issues. When students realize that technology can help give their voice a platform, I feel they are more engaged.”

See 2018-2019 Holy Family Course Descriptions