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

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?

Protons

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.”
Scheherazade

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?
Banking

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

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?
Trenton

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

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

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?

ROLLIE:

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.

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 https://www.thebluealliance.com/events 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

Alumni Spotlight: Ella Dahlin, 2014

Ella Dahlin: Using her gifts and sense of justice, this 2014 Holy Family Catholic High School graduate brings opportunities to others. She credits Holy Family for positively influencing and nurturing her in and out of the classroom.

“One of the most powerful aspects of Holy Family’s community is the support system that believes in its students. In high school, I felt important and valued by my teachers, staff, coaches and peers. I was taught to own who I was unapologetically. It gave me the confidence to make decisions and believe in them.” Ella Dahlin, 2014 Holy Family graduate

Alumni Profile: Ella Dahlin
Graduated: 2014
Elementary/Middle School: St. Joseph Catholic School, Waconia
University Attended: Loyola University Chicago, graduated in 2017
Degree: Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services
Holy Family Activities:

  • Campus Ministry
  • The Phoenix
  • Yearbook
  • Cross Country
  • Lacrosse
  • Nordic Skiing
  • Volleyball

HF: Catch us up—what are you doing today?

ELLA: I am an elementary site supervisor with the Boys and Girls Club of Garden Grove (BGCGG) in Southern California, where I’m responsible for the implementation of an after-school program for 100 students. BGCGG provides free after-school programs that focus on academic success, provide positive role models and create opportunities for children to realize their worth.

HF: What are you most proud of at this point of your life?

ELLA: I am proud of working hard to graduate a year early from Loyola, taking a risk and moving to California, and for pursuing my true passion by working towards social equity with the Boys and Girls Club. As blessed as I am, I know it is not by some coincidence. I have been able to achieve what I have today because of my amazing family, friends and educational opportunities. I was extremely lucky to attend a high school and university that shaped me into the person I am.

HF:  How did Holy Family influence your extracurricular activities while at Loyola?

ELLA: My favorite club at Loyola was the Women’s Lacrosse team, where I was a captain, treasurer and board member. If it were not for Holy Family, I would have never been introduced to the sport in the first place, so I am very grateful for my high school program.

During my time at Loyola, I was also a resident assistant and worked as a student office assistant with Residence Life. In many ways, these roles were just the continuation of (Holy Family’s) campus ministry, as I was responsible for programming, decorations and welcoming new students on campus.

My activities also included:

  • Social justice internship program
  • Volunteering at Catholic Charities Madonna House
  • Alpha Phi Omega (a service fraternity)
  • Alpha Sigma Nu (a Jesuit honors society)

Loyola is an amazing university with an abundance of opportunities, so I was able to pursue the interests that started with my time at Holy Family. Although I have some innate interests in these activities, it was Holy Family that started the fire that encouraged me to pursue them.

HF:  Did a Holy Family teacher have a particularly positive impact on what you are accomplishing today? 

ELLA: The strongest asset Holy Family has is its amazing, committed teachers. I will always remember the way Mr. (John) Dols encouraged me to take on opportunities and let my light shine. Mr. (Jacob) Dueck provided insight, created community and always acted from a place of care. Mr. (Andrew) Witchger challenged and supported me, and Dr. (Holly) Pottebaum encouraged me to dig deeper into the history of social justice in our country.

The list could continue forever, but the point is—every teacher impacted the way I thought and helped shape me into the critical thinker I am today. I am so appreciative of the holistic, caring education I received that prepared me for college and my life after college.

HF:  Do you have a favorite memory from Holy Family?

ELLA: A collective feeling that is present in all my favorite memories is one of accomplishment—planning a trip to Haiti, scoring a goal in lacrosse or contributing to Christmas convocation. Holy Family does a fantastic job at offering opportunities that actualize students’ efforts and ideas. With a strong support system, I was empowered to be uncomfortable, take risks, and work hard to make my ideas a reality.

HF:  How have you changed since leaving Holy Family?

ELLA: I have grown into a more educated and experienced individual. When I was younger, I was idealistic to a fault and have become more realistic through the years. Although slightly jaded, I am still an optimist who believes in the potential of every person. Through my experiences after high school, I realized the world is much more gray. I am and always have been an opinionated person, but I have learned the importance of listening to those who contradict me. I must understand other people’s life experiences to create a community that can come together.

HF: How did Holy Family help you be successful in pursuing your dreams? 

ELLA: Holy Family taught me that hard work, determination and a passion for what I believe in is powerful. I will never forget the class where Mr. Dols shared a quote that says:

“Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us…Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you.”  — Marianne Williamson, author

The staff and students at Holy Family embody that idea. I was fortunate enough to receive an education that molded my character and empowered me to believe in myself. My education challenged me to apply for challenging jobs, to take on opportunities that make me uncomfortable and to own who I am as a person.

HF: How did Holy Family help build your confidence and skill set in a highly competitive world?

ELLA: One of the most powerful aspects of Holy Family’s community is the support system that believes in its students. In high school, I felt important and valued by my teachers, staff, coaches, and peers. I was taught to own who I was unapologetically. It gave me the confidence to make decisions and believe in them. I was no longer uncertain or half-hearted in my ideas but rather fully committed. This skill set prepared me both for college and now my life after college.

I’m not afraid to ask questions. I am not afraid to admit my own mistakes. I am not afraid to learn. Since I was believed in, I believe in myself, so I do not fear a competitive world. I will work hard, I will show up, I will follow my passions, and I know that with time, I will succeed.

HF: What advice do you have for current and prospective Holy Family students? 

ELLA: Take on the opportunities that Holy Family offers. Since Holy Family is smaller in size, I was able to participate in sports, clubs, and events that I may not have been able to at other schools. I started Nordic skiing my sophomore year because I wanted something to do. I joined Math League because my friends wanted to try it. I fell in love with writing when I joined The Phoenix. If you want to feel valued, if you want your name remembered, if you want to be able to join any team or club simply because it interests you—then this is the school for you.

If you already attend Holy Family, join those activities! There is nothing to lose and everything to gain.

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

Wonder where our graduates go to college? Visit http://www.hfchs.org/follow-graduates/ to see a list of colleges.

60-Plus Holy Family Extracurricular Activities

We’ve all been there. We invest in all kinds of activities for our kids to pursue. It’s part of the growing process: developing the whole person, not just academically, but physically, socially and emotionally.

Then, as high school nears, that little voice sounds the alarm in the back of a parent’s head. Is my daughter or son good enough to make the team? Can they continue with music? Get a part in the play? Compete with other students? Is high school the end of the line?

“It’s interesting comparing Holy Family to other large schools in the area,” says Activities Director Nick Tibesar. “We have kids staying with programs longer than what I saw in public schools. So often, in other schools, kids come in playing ball with friends during their summers and evenings, sometimes for years, and all of a sudden they end up as a high school freshman and sophomore not on a team anymore.”

Not at Holy Family Catholic High School. Here, students get an opportunity to participate in the sports and many other activities they are most passionate about. Plus, they often discover a wide variety of other sports, academic teams, clubs and activities they never considered.

“We encourage kids to try new things and stretch limits,” Nick says. “We want them to be involved in multiple things to fight some of the outside pressure to specialize in just one of them.”

Smaller School Size, Big Opportunities

With a student body of 400 kids, Holy Family provides unlimited opportunities to explore new things. Students often participate in more than one activity, not just during the school year, but also during a single season.

“When looking at sports, there are students who were on the trap and lacrosse teams, or tennis, track and baseball,” Nick says. “But more common is a kid who participates in both a sport and one of our academic competitions.

“We had a player on our basketball team who also was on our varsity Math League team. As a coach, I recall a half dozen times he had to go to Math League. No one acted like that was strange or gave him a hard time. We said, ‘How did Math League go? And cool you’re doing so well.’

“It’s fun to be in a culture where someone is not ostracized for picking academics over athletics.”

Endless Opportunities

With over 60 extracurriculars to choose from, your Holy Family student is destined to pursue his or her talents, while trying new activities outside of the classroom.

“There are a lot of people who chose Holy Family for the right reasons—faith-based environment, college prep, joining a community where their student is known and cared for,” Nick adds. “All of those things extend to our classroom, lunchroom and after-school activities.

“We consider extracurricular activities the last class of the day. And, they provide the same values as everything else at Holy Family.”

QUICK FACTS:

92% of Holy Family students participate in extracurricular activities

90% of Holy Family students participate in multiple extracurricular activities in a school year

60+ Holy Family extracurricular activities are offered each school year

(more…)

British Isles Capitals Tour

By Maggie Berg ‘19

In June, a group of 50 Holy Family students, adult chaperones, and teachers traveled to the capitals of the British Isles for an educational enrichment summer trip. Junior Maggie Berg ’19 kept a travel log to share their experiences.

Thursday, June 15, 2017 – Off to London

Our large group showed up at the MSP airport for an early flight to Chicago. After a quick flight, we made our way onto the largest plane that most of us have ever been on with nine seats across. Filled with so much excitement, many couldn’t sleep while others dozed during the 8-hour flight.

Friday, June 16, 2017 – Our First Day in London

When we got off the plane, it was technically Friday; we gained six hours flying from the Midwest to London. We scrambled off the plane filled with excitement and climbed on a bus for our first day of touring London.
The first thing we noticed is that in Europe, they drive on the left side of the road and the drivers’ seats are on the right side of the car. This is because when people used to ride horses they would ride on the left so they could hold their swords in their right hand during a duel or, instead, extend a hand peacefully.

Our first stop in London was the Covent Garden for lunch, shopping, and entertainment. In the main square, there was an entertaining street performer on a unicycle and lots of different types of architecture. To get around the city, all 50 of us took London’s subway transportation, the Tube, for the first time. We were overwhelmed by the new experience of subway lines and routes, but would soon master them.

Everywhere we went there were new people to meet and we enjoyed listening to their British accents. Our next stop was Trafalgar Square, which had the National Gallery, Nelson’s Column and multiple statues. From the top of Nelson’s Column we could had a perfect view of Big Ben and Buckingham Palace. These breathtaking sights made us excited for the rest of the journey. We enjoyed a dinner of chicken and mashed potatoes at a pub and then headed to the hotel.

Saturday, June 17, 2017 – Visits to famous places and glimpse of the Queen

Today our local tour guide took our bus around the bank area of London. We jumped off the bus in front of building across from St. Paul’s Cathedral and took a quick elevator to the top for the best view in all of London. All of London’s most famous buildings were visible in the distance.

Our next stop was the Prince Albert Memorial commissioned by his wife, Queen Victoria, after his death. She lived 40 years longer and only wore black after he died.

We visited Westminster, which has Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the Parliament building. The tower that everyone thinks is Big Ben is actually called the Elizabeth Tower and the bell inside is Big Ben.

From Westminster we hopped onto the bus to Windsor, a small town where Windsor Castle, the residence of Queen Elizabeth is located. Windsor had fun shops and restaurants. At the top of the hill was Windsor Castle. The castle has multiple buildings; the oldest was built in 1070.
While we were there, the Queen was returning from her “birthday” celebration in London, and we saw her she rode by in her black Range Rover.

After visiting the castle, we returned to London for fish and chips, a classic British meal. That night, the majority of our group went on the Jack the Ripper tour. The tour brought us to the East End of London, away from tourists. The tour put us back in the late 1800’s and we were brought on the path of the murders committed by a man no one has ever been able to convict or identify. We were able to put ourselves back in time as witnesses as we listened to the tour guide explain to us the evidence and different conspiracy theories that are still being discussed to this day. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017 – Sunday Mass at St. Paul’s Basilica

In the morning, we went to St. Paul’s Basilica for Sunday Mass. This service was different from home for all of us; it was a music-less Mass, everything was spoken. Everything was nice and direct and finished in 45 minutes. The rest of the day was free time until dinner. Most of us checked out the infamous luxury department store, Harrods. Others went on a Harry Potter tour, which brought them to different locations where the movies were filmed.

Monday, June 19, 2017 – Leaving the busyness of London

Today we took a train all the way through England north to Scotland. There were many rolling green hills and a calm peacefulness compared to the busyness of London. We toured Edinburgh on the bus and then drove up the hill to Edinburgh Castle. The castle overlooks the entire city of Edinburgh. After we toured the castle, the time was ours to explore different parts of the town and shops. The roads were filled with hundreds of people and many bagpipe players. For dinner we ate at the Spirit of Scotland. Some people tried Haggis, which is a traditional Scottish meet, or sheep heart. We ate and enjoyed a traditional Scottish performance from singers, dancers, a violinist, and a bagpipe player– a true delightful taste of Scottish culture.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 – From Scotland to Northern Island

We all took a bus to Cairnryan, Scotland, and then a ferry to Belfast in Northern Ireland. The ferry was similar to a cruise ship with lots of seats, entertainment, and food. After we arrived in Belfast, we enjoyed a beautiful view of the Irish Sea. Of course, we had a potato dinner, a typical meal in Ireland. It was fun to think that today we woke up in Scotland and went to bed in Ireland.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 – On the edge of Ireland

In the morning we all drove to Bushmills, Northern Ireland. The drive was beautiful with rolling green hills and many sheep, but on top of that was a stop to Giant’s Causeway. We walked down and we were literally on the edge of Ireland and could see where the land cuts off at a cliff. As we walked down toward the shore, there were these amazing hexagonal shaped rocks to climb. They were formed from volcanic activity over 60 million years ago. We soon learned of the legends of the rocks that say they were rocks thrown into the sea by giant Finn McCool.
Later, we visited the other side of Northern Ireland called Londonderry or Derry, a naming dispute between the nationalists and the unionists. Derry has a recent history of attacks from the Irish Republican Army, also known as the IRA, and lots of peaceful movements to unite the Protestant and Catholic sides of town. There were many peace murals and a peace bridge connecting the two sides of town. After a long day of touring all of Northern Ireland, we landed back in Belfast for dinner at our hotel.

Thursday, June 22, 2017 – An afternoon at the Titanic Belfast

Today we took a tour around Belfast and got off the bus to sign the peace wall and leave our mark in Ireland. We learned some Irish slang like the word “crack” means “fun” and “boot” is a trunk of a car.

After the tour we visited the Titanic museum. The museum is as tall as the original Titanic and is built to look like the iceberg that it hit. The Titanic was constructed in Belfast and cranes used to build the ship remain standing. We were supposed to drive straight from the museum to Dublin, Ireland. We left Belfast and 15 minutes later, our bus broke down. After two hours waiting for bus, we were began the 2-hour bus ride to Dublin, Ireland. We enjoyed the whole Irish experience by eating dinner at a pub and then we were off to the “hotel”.

It wasn’t quite a hotel. Technically called “student accommodations”, it was a boarding school and its property was quite cool. We were all able to explore the grounds including an old castle on campus. There was a tunnel made out of bushes tall enough to fit our whole tour group. They also had “footgolf” which is like a combination of soccer and golf. A small group of us took a walk from our accommodations to the Irish Sea. The ocean was beautiful and we found some great shells and met an adorable puppy.

Friday, June 23, 2017 – A day to explore

Today was our exploration day in Dublin, Ireland. We saw many important landmarks including St. Patrick’s Cathedral. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. We saw the Book of Kells, which is the oldest book containing the four Gospels and is housed at Trinity College. We then had free time to shop around and visit different museums. We met for an Irish meal of beef and potatoes. Some people stayed at the dinner longer for an Irish dance performance while others went back to the accommodations for free time. For our last night in the British Isles we ordered a late night snack of many giant pizzas for all of us to share.

Saturday, June 24, 2017 – Back to home

We woke up at five in the morning to start our long trek home. After a flight delay we finally made it on the plane for an 8-hour flight to Chicago. Because our flight was delayed, we missed our connection, so instead were once again on a bus for six-hour ride home. We were reunited with our families, dogs, and friends. We also brought back many new experiences and stories to share.

The opportunity to travel throughout the British Isles was an amazing experience. Seeing the sights we’d only read about in our textbooks helped us all learn so much more about the history and cultures of the countries we visited. We have gained a new knowledge of people and places around the world and let’s hope that’s just the beginning. The whole experience made the countless hours of traveling and the patience needed to enjoy a new part of the world worth it.

See a video of their trip HERE. View a gallery of Maggie’s photos from the trip HERE.

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.