Alumni Spotlight: Tom Mahota’s Bright Future

Tom Mahota: Known for putting his best effort into everything he takes on, this 2017 Holy Family Catholic High School graduate explains opportunities and those around him helped shape a path for success.

“My family has always encouraged me to do well in school and work to become a better person, but being around people and friends who strive for the same things makes it much easier and more natural. Holy Family is an easy place to do this because there are so many good people who want success for themselves and others.” —Tom Mahota, 2017 Holy Family Graduate

Graduated: 2017

Elementary/Middle School: Our Lady of the Lake School, Mound

Attending: University of Minnesota–Twin Cities

Major: Engineering Mechanics and Astronautics

Holy Family Activities:

  • Baseball
  • Soccer
  • Nordic Skiing
  • Football
  • Robotics
  • Knowledge Bowl
  • Eco-Freako Club
  • Bowling Club
  • Honor Society
  • Campus Ministry
  • Empty Bowls
  • Art Fairs

HF: What is your definition of “success?”

TOM: I think that someone who is successful in life is someone who has found happiness in themselves and in others. I’ve met a lot of people—good, bad and everything in between. One thing I’ve learned is that people who can recognize that their happiness doesn’t come from just themselves treat others with a particular kind of kindness.

Everyone has ups and downs in life, but the people who are able to find happiness in others are the ones who stand out to me. I would definitely consider this success.

HF: How have your varied experiences connected to the person you are?

TOM: One of the most valuable things that I’ve found in being involved in such a wide scope of things is how to deal with many different types of people.

It is amazing to experience the difference between the atmosphere of a locker room and an art fair. Neither one is better than the other, yet the people, the atmosphere and the temperament are completely different.

There is value in both, and the people I have met in both have definitely shaped me.

Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m a very competitive person. A big reason for this is from the years of sports and having such a large part of my life be competitions with amazing coaches and mentors.

Then there is also the creative side. I’ve been building things for as long as I can remember, and the people I’ve met at places like workshops or art fairs are some of the most interesting and kind people I’ve encountered. I’m hoping that those traits are rubbing off on me as much as the competitiveness.

HF: With so many interests, how do you remain focused on what is important?

TOM: I think the best way is to simply surround yourself with the right people. My family has always been encouraging me to do well in school and work to become a better person, but being around people and friends who strive for the same things makes it much easier and more natural. Holy Family is an easy place to do this because there are so many good people who want success for themselves and for others.

HF: How do your interests transform how you perceive the world?

TOM: My perception of the world is through a lens of all the different things I do and the connections I can make between them. I’ve found my experience with things that seem totally different helps me excel when I bring qualities from each together.

One example is robotics. When designing and developing a machine to shoot balls, I used concepts and ideas from baseball pitching machines. I’d been around them my whole life and was able to draw a similarity from baseball to benefit what we did in robotics.

HF: Now that you have graduated, do you see yourself as a role model for other high school students?

TOM: The way I perceive myself is no differently than the way I see other people. Everyone has his or her own talents, interests and shortcomings, including myself.

I feel like a lot of times people see someone do something amazing and say, “Oh, there’s no way I could do anything like that,” before even trying it.

The only thing I would say that has helped me succeed is this: I never tell myself I can’t do something, or that something isn’t for me before I try it and decide for myself.

SHARE YOUR HOLY FAMILY EXPERIENCE. If you have a unique story, experience or twist in life because of the influence Holy Family Catholic High School has had on you, share it with us. E-mail your story to: communications@hfchs.org. We’ll spotlight stories from Holy Family parents, students and alumni.

What they knew four years ago…

Four years ago the parents of the HFCHS Class of 2017 were looking for much of the same things that today, the parents of the Class of 2021 are seeking. They wanted a welcoming environment where their children would be known, challenged, supported, and would discover new talents and passions. We are proud of our Fire 2017 graduates, and we can’t wait to start the journey with our Fire 2021 incoming 9th graders!

Our graduates attend some of the best college and universities across the country. Click here to see a list of the schools of our 1673 alumni. The National Student Clearinghouse®, the leading provider of educational reporting, tells us our students are two times more likely to graduate from college than the national average.

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Dedicated Teachers

“At Holy Family, I was able to form and run a club, play sports, and challenge myself academically because of the teachers’ never-ending support and dedication. They create an environment where learning is the focus, not the deadlines. Education at Holy Family is more than just educational; it prepares you for the future.”

Lorena Palattao 17, College: UCLA, Major: Mathematics

$10 Million in College Scholarships

The 103 graduates of the Class of 2017 earned $10.32 million in college scholarships and they accepted over $3.5 million of those scholarships. As she announced the scholarship amounts at graduation, President/Principal Kathleen Brown stated: “With these awards, colleges and universities acknowledge in our students a skill set they may not otherwise see in other students. They want our students to attend their institutions.”

Opportunities to Excel, Lead, and Participate

Holy Family offers students the opportunity to participate and excel in college preparatory academics, service projects, and over 50 clubs and sports. The Class of 2017 includes:

  • 4 National Merit students
  • 9 AP Scholars
  • Athletes continuing to five Division I and multiple Division II and III athletic programs
  • 10,000 Lakes Regional First Robotics Competition Winner and World Championship Qualifier
  • State Math League Second Place Team
  • Presidential Service Medal recipients

MSHSL superior-rated vocalists, instrumentalists, and artists

Application totals for Class of 2021 largest since 2010

Applications for the Class of 2021 are approaching the highest we’ve seen since 2010. The Class of 2021 students and families are excited to be a part of the FIRE! Admissions work continues all summer long and we welcome new families every week!

Our sophomore class is expected to grow by 10-15% by the end of summer.  Why are those students looking to make the move to Holy Family? Here’s what one recent transfer told us in his application, “I would like to attend Holy Family because of the small class sizes and the sense of community. I enjoyed my visit and felt welcome. I know Holy Family will offer me a better high school experience and prepare me well for my future.” 

Tuition assistance and a limited number of transfer grants are still available.

Fire Track and Field Athletes Look Forward to Section Meet

With the track and field championship season now in full swing, the primary goal of every track and field athlete is the same: perform well enough to advance to the next round. When the bus left Jordan High School, host of the Section 2A, Sub-Section 8 Championship meet on Thursday, May 25, many Fire athletes met that goal. Holy Family will send a large contingent to sections.

Holy Family Girls Team Fared Well

The Holy Family girls fared well as a team, battling their way to a third-place team finish in the seven-team Sub-Section. The Fire’s 140 points trailed team champion and host Jordan’s 234 points. The Holy Family team attack was spurred on by qualifying efforts in three of the four relays, three event titles, three Honor Roll standards, and 12 Section 2A Championship meet qualifiers.

With the top four athletes in individual events and the top two relays qualifying for the next round, the Fire needed great performances.   Holy Family would boast the winner in two of the individual events led by senior captain Kendra Franck, who rolled to another victory in her primary event, the 800m run. Franck’s winning time of two minutes, 25.07 seconds was just off of her personal best time, but almost two seconds ahead of the next competitor and a Section 2A championship qualifying performance. The Fire received another Section 2A meet standard in this event courtesy of junior Megan Beulke, who ran a personal best time of 2:30.63 to advance to the 4th and final qualifying position. The final individual Fire victory belonged to sophomore distance specialist Ellie Marschall, who paced herself to an easy victory in the 3200m run with a winning time of 12:58.23, over 17 seconds faster than the next competitor. Also sparking the Holy Family distance attack was senior captain Abby Ernst, who qualified for sections with a 4th place time of 5:49.80, a new personal best, in the 1600m run.

Senior captain Emily Willenbring advanced to the Section 2A meet in three events. Willenbring set a new Holy Family Catholic school record in the long jump competition, stretching the tape to a new personal best mark of 16 feet, 11 inches to place 2nd overall. Willenbring then also set a new personal-best time in the 200m dash, shaving almost 1.5 seconds off her previous best. Her time of 26.14 seconds was a Minnesota Class A Honor Roll Standard and placed her in 2nd overall, just 0.04 of a second out of 1st place. She then capped her day by anchoring the Holy Family 4 x 200 relay to victory in a time of 1:48.54. Willenbring’s relay teammate junior Emma Terris also qualified for the Section 2A meet in three events: the high jump competition with a second place 4’7” effort, the 4 x 200 relay, the Fire 4 X 100 relay with Section 2A second-place qualifying time of 51.97.

Also qualifying in more than one event were Holy Family sophomore sprinter Evelyn Willenbring in 4 X 100 and 4 X 200 relays, and junior Alexis Pricco in the 4 X 100 relay, and as an individual in the 300m hurdles with a personal best time of 50.85 seconds and a 4th place finish.

Junior Maggie Mahota advanced to sections with the top Fire time in 300m hurdles and second place 49.75-seconds. Mahota (5th) and Pricco (6th), also posted personal bests in the 100m hurdles but did not advance to sections in this event. Mahota then teamed up with fellow juniors Casey Krasowski and Gracie Lund along with sophomore Grace Conroy to claim Holy Family’s 4th and final event win of the day in the 4 X 400 relay with a time of 4:20.34, almost 8 seconds better than the next team, and just off a season-best mark.

“Our girls took care of business today by advancing to the Section Meet in multiple events,” noted Fire head coach Ian Parzyck. “Emily had a great day with the school record in the long jump, we had two individual champions, and our relays were good again. All in all it was a good day for our girls, but our multiple personal best performances show us that everything is coming together for them at the right time with the Section meet on the way.”

Fire Boys Track and Field Athletes Fight to Move On

The Holy Family boys were able to fight their way to 5th place in the team standings behind Jordan High School’s Sub-Section 8A Championship 280 points at Sub-Section 8A meet. Staring down the possible end to their track and field season, a number of Holy Family boys showed their fight by demonstrating that they were far from finished; as they sent six athletes in four events on to compete at the Section 2A meet.

Leading the way in the individual events was Fire sophomore and middle distance specialist Zyler Niece, who paced himself to a 2nd place finish in the 800 meter run with a time of 2:10.37. Holy Family would see one more distance runner advance as sophomore teammate Jack Fink grabbed the 4th and final Section qualifying spot in the 1600m run with a time of 4:54.64. Fink became the Fire boys’ only two-event qualifier when he anchored the Fire 4 X 400 relay team of junior captain Joe Olson, with sophomore teammates Nick Lynch and Brendan O’Connor to 2nd place in a near season-best time of 3:35.47.

The Holy Family boys would also see success in the field, as senior throws captain Daniel Trieff punched his ticket to next week’s section meet with the 4th and final qualifying spot in the shot put competition. Trieff threw a personal-best mark of 44 feet, 2 inches to ensure his season would continue. “I was really pleased to see Daniel chuck out that personal best throw with his season on the line,” exclaimed Coach Parzyck. “And while there were a couple of near misses from some of our athletes in other events, I was truly happy to see our boys battle back and eek out one more Section qualifying performance in the 4 X 400 in exciting fashion at the end of the meet.”

The Holy Family Catholic track and field teams will now set their sights on Mankato West High School, host of the Section 8AA championship meet. The top two individuals and top relay teams, plus any qualifying standards, will earn the right to compete at the MSHSL State Championship meet in June. “All of our Section qualifiers performed well on Thursday, and will now see the best in the Section 2A Meet on Saturday, June 3. We have 18 girls and boys who are set to compete at Mankato this week for an opportunity at State. It should be a lot of fun for our athletes to perform at their best to see just how far they can go.”

Photo by Paige Wicka

Holy Family Catholic High School Announces New President

After an intensive search led by current and former members of our Board of Directors, in collaboration with Cohen Taylor Executive Search Services and Holy Family administration, we are pleased to announce the appointment of Michael Brennan as the new president of Holy Family Catholic High School. The Most Reverend Archbishop Hebda gives his blessed approval.

Brennan will succeed Kathleen Brown, who has served the high school in a dual role as president and principal since 2010. Brown is eager to focus on the role of principal, allowing her to continue to enhance the strong college preparatory curriculum of our school and execute the academic initiatives of the 2017-2021 strategic plan: Growth & Excellence. She describes the partnership with Brennan as “a gift that will strengthen our commitment to touch the hearts and minds of students, thereby transforming lives.”

A product of Catholic education, Brennan has a bachelor of arts degree from Boston College, a Master of Education and a Master of Educational Administration from the University of Notre Dame. His career in Catholic education includes five years as a teacher, four years as a principal, and, most recently, six years as the Director of Catholic Schools in Rochester, MN.

As the Director of Rochester Catholic Schools (RCS), Brennan oversaw a unified school system that provides high-quality Catholic education to more than 1,600 students living in the greater Rochester, Minnesota area and the Diocese of Winona. He managed a $15 million budget, oversaw a $34 million building project, managed a team of 250 staff, and cultivated extensive community relationships.

Brennan and wife, Denae, along with their four young children, will relocate to the southwest Twin Cities metro this summer. Brennan looks forward to bringing to Holy Family his passion for helping youth develop a love of learning and faith.

Holy Family Board Chair Chris Moakley shared his sentiments about the hiring of a new president, “As a school community, we will begin our 18th year in Catholic education with an increase in enrollment, continued commitment to high academic achievement, and a diverse program of athletic and extracurricular activities. The success of Holy Family is a direct result of the leadership of Kathie Brown, the administration, teachers, and our dedicated students. Our current families will immediately benefit from the energy and experience Michael Brennan will bring to this role. Our future students, including the children of our more than 1600 alumni, can look forward to a school characterized by Christian values and a continued pursuit of excellence.”

Holy Family faculty and staff will have the opportunity to meet Mr. Brennan before the end of the school year. More information regarding a community-wide welcome reception will be announced in the coming weeks.

 

Art on Display

Over the course of the coming week, Holy Family artists will have their pieces displayed in three exhibits– the Holy Family Spring Art Show held in the school’s bus lobby next Thursday and Friday, and two hosted by organizations outside of the building, going on now.

Over 100 pieces of ceramic, painting, drawing, photography, and video will be on display in the hallways on Thursday, April 27, and Friday, April 28. The show will remain open for guests attending the Friday music concert held in the Performance Center.

The artwork of twenty Holy Family students is currently on display at Charter Bank High School Art Exhibit at its Chanhassen branch until April 28. There is a special artist reception on Sunday, April 23, from Noon-1:30 p.m.

Ten additional Holy Family student pieces are part of this year’s Third Congressional District High School Art Competition and Exhibition hosted by Congressman Erik Paulsen. Their works and those of students from ten area high schools are available to view now through April 24 in the lobby of the Bloomington Center for the Arts. Winners are recognized both in their district and at an annual awards ceremony in Washington, DC. The winning works will be on display for one year at the U.S. Capitol.

Ms. Gamble encourages students to enter art shows and exhibitions, stating, “The semester art shows held on campus in the winter and spring are a great way for family, friends, staff, and students to see the work of our students. Taking it outside of our building gives students an opportunity to have their art seen by a much broader audience. Being selected to be in exhibits such as these is an incredible honor for our students and our school.”

 

 

 

 

New Girls Hockey Head Coach Hired

This afternoon Holy Family Activities Director Nick Tibesar announced the hiring of Randy Koeppl, as the  new head coach for the Wildfire girls hockey  program. Coach Koeppl comes with a wealth of coaching experience, including 15 years of coaching at the high school and club levels.

After a standout career at Bloomington Jefferson, where Coach Koeppl played goalie on back to back state championship teams, he went on to play in the USHL, and eventually for Coach Woog at the University of Minnesota. He’s remained active in the game ever since, coaching varsity boys hockey at Holy Angels, and most recently at Hopkins High School.  In addition to his high school hockey coaching commitments, Coach Koeppl has also been serving as a leader and mentor in Winny Brodt-Brown’s OS Selects all-girls hockey program, and coaching in the Eden Prairie youth association and Team MN.

Coach Koeppl will email families regarding a team meeting and summer training opportunities in the coming days.

Voices of Fire to host Harmonic Convergence for Vocal Jazz Concert

Holy Family Catholic High School’s vocal jazz ensemble, Voices of Fire,will host Harmonic Convergence in the HFCHS Performance Center on Wednesday, March 22, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is just $5 and parking is free.

This select six-member vocal jazz ensemble has gained a reputation for its dedication to preserving the art of vocal jazz. Directed by Lucas Mattson, Harmonic Convergence performs extensively throughout the United States and Canada and has shared the stage with artists such as Groove for Thought, New York Voices, and The Real Group. Harmonic Convergence also serves as the ensemble in residence at the School for Music Vocation’s vocal jazz workshops help each summer.

Lucas Mattson holds an Associate of Applied Arts degree from Southwestern Community College as well as a B.A. in Piano Performance from Northern Arizona University. While attending Southwestern Community College, Lucas was a member of Voices Iowa and performed at Carnegie Hall in 1997, 1998, and 2002. He also performed at the New York IAJE conference in 1998 and the World Choral Symposium in the summer of 2002. Mr. Mattson is active throughout the country as a performer, arranger, and clinician.

Holy Family’s vocal jazz ensemble, Voices of Fire, is directed by Holy Family, Southwest Community College School for Music Vocations, and University of Wisconsin graduate Annelise Brown. More information about our vocal music program can be found on our vocal music web page.

Looking for more great music? Join us for our Contest Recital and Concert on Thursday, March 16. Admission to the recital concert is free.

Drama program announces spring musical

This May, Holy Family drama department presents a musical for the spring play: James and the Giant Peach. This funny and heartfelt production is adventurous and perfect for an audience of all ages.

The play is based on the popular book by Roald Dahl. James is a young orphan who is taken in by two evil aunts. He acquires a magical potion, causing a peach to become gigantic and insects to become human. James then travels with the insects on his giant peach across the ocean, undergoing many adventures.

The cast has a minimum of 9 people, but the theater director, Ms. Olson, is hoping for as many as 35-40 participants.
Ms. Olson’s goal for this play is to set a high standard for what will hopefully be a tradition of musicals at Holy Family. She hopes that this production will help students gain interest and excitement to participate in future plays.

Ms. Olson chose James and the Peach because the show has a cartoony yet approachable mood. It’s also an appealing production because not many people have seen James and the Giant Peach, so they have no preconceived notions about the characters or the performance.

Auditions will be in the Performance Center on Monday, March 6 and Tuesday, March 7 after school, followed by callbacks, Thursday, March 9.

There are also 4-10 roles available for middle schools students. Auditions for middle school students are on March 20 between 4-6 p.m. Anyone interested in auditioning should contact Anna Olson at olsona@hfchs.org

Holy Family’s James and the Giant Peach will premiere May 12 and 13.

JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH is presented through special arrangement with Musical Theatre Internationl (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. www.MTIshows.com

by Mary Seifert ’17

Fire hockey finish best season in program history

By Trey Cavello ’17 Photo: John Grunow

Fire hockey made their first-ever Section 2AA Championship appearance on Wednesday night at Mariucci Arena. The Fire ranked 5th in the state, faced off with Eden Prairie, ranked 1st in the state and carrying a 14 game winning streak.

The team was seeking revenge for elimination last season in a hard-fought semifinal against Eden Prairie. Going into the game, Ben Almquist said, “We need to score on our chances and play strong defensively. We also need to stick to our system.”

The Eagles struck first midway through the first period when Spencer Rudrud found the net for EP. The Fire, however, were quick to respond when junior Joe Hankison tied the game on an unassisted even-strength goal.

Eden Prairie then took a penalty with around 12 minutes left in the second period. Senior Nick Michel deflected a shot from Matt Anderson into the net to give the Fire a power play goal and a 2-1 lead, sending Holy Family fans into a frenzy. Eden Prairie responded quickly when Casey Mittelstadt tied the game 9:23 into the second period.

After a scary moment, when Fire captain Matt Anderson was checked from behind and slid head-first into the boards, a 5-minute major penalty was assessed to Eden Prairie. It was divided into the second and third periods, giving the Fire a huge opportunity. It took the team a few minutes to capitalize, but Senior Mack Byers scored on an assist from Ben Almquist 30 seconds before the penalty expired, to give Holy Family a 3-2 lead.

Once again, the Eagles battled back from a deficit, scoring two unanswered goals to take a 4-3 lead. With time running out, Eden Prairie took a penalty, giving the Fire an opportunity to pull their goalie and pressure the Eagles with a 6 on 4 for the final minute of the game. The team peppered the Eden Prairie goalie with shots, and hit a post with moments remaining, but were unable to tie the game before time expired.

Holy Family finished what is undoubtedly their most successful season in school history. They defeated some of the best programs in the state, made it to their first-ever section championship game, and won another conference championship in decisive fashion.

If not for their placement in the challenging Section 2AA, the team’s chances of a State Tournament appearance might have improved considerably. Regardless, the team left an impression on the Minnesota hockey community by taking the #1 ranked Eagles, winners of 4-straight section championships, to the wire in an intense game at Mariucci.

The Holy Family community and hockey program says goodbye to an amazing group of seniors and looks forward to more exciting seasons to come.

To see a slideshow of the game, check out the images by student photojournalists Claire Melander and John Grunow and their Section Final Slideshow.

This story was originally published in our schools online newspaper, The Phoenix.

Holy Family music students earn excellent and superior ratings

Holy Family instrumentalists earned all superior and excellent ratings for their performances at this year’s Section 2AA Solo and Ensemble Music Contest on Monday, February 13. Judges rate the performances on eight factors of five points each: tone quality, intonation, rhythm, balance and blend, technique, interpretation/musicianship, articulation, and other performance factors. Scores of 35-40 points earn a contest top rating of Superior, 28-34 points an Excellent rating, 22-27 points a Good Rating, and 21 or below a Fair Rating.

The woodwind performances included Natalie Wideman’s clarinet solo and her clarinet duet with Mitchell Hausback. Both pieces earned Superior Ratings. While most musicians prepare for about 6-8 weeks, Natalie and Mitchell had just 3.5 weeks, due to a back order on their music.

Also performing a solo was Giselle Shannon on the cello. Accompanied by alumni parent and talented pianist, Pat Schaffran, she earned a Superior Rating and a perfect score of 40 on her performance of W.H. Squires’ “Fairytales.” Giselle began playing the cello 18 months ago and spent over four weeks preparing for the music contest. When asked why she chose to enter the contest she answered, “I take every opportunity to perform I can. A performance or contest motivates me to practice, not just for practice sake, but with the intention to improve and give my best performance.”

Giselle joined violinists Nicole Espinoza, Melissa Espinoza, and Maddy Kohrman to form a string quartet. The quartet earned an Excellent Rating for their ensemble performance of Bach’s “Brandenberg Concerto 5.” The Excellent Rating is an impressive feat for a quartet with two members with fewer than two years experience playing a stringed instrument.

Holy Family’s final entry Jazz Ensemble, a group of select musicians from the school’s jazz band, also earned a Superior Rating. Musicians in the ensemble are Anna Alleven (alto sax), Daniel Trieff (trumpet), Giselle Shannon (piano), Sam Winfield (bass keyboard), and Ryan Jandl (drums). Jazz Band will compete in the Large Group Contest in just a few weeks.

Director of Instrumental Music, Mrs. Laura Boillat, encourages all band students to participate in the contest each year for the satisfaction they receive from preparing and performing for the contests. She comments, “The ratings the students earned are great! But the best part of participating in solo & ensemble contest are the feelings of accomplishment students get from performing their very bests; the time and effort are all worth it!”

On March 16, Holy Family’s music department is offering a Contest Concert and Recital in the Performance Center at 7:00 p.m. This free concert is an opportunity for the Holy Family extended community to hear the performances from the solo & ensemble contest including those of the band and chorale from the Large Group Instrumental and Vocal Contest still to come.