3 Reasons Holy Family Students Succeed

If you’re numbers driven, it is unquestionable that Holy Family Catholic High School students succeed. The numbers prove year, after year, after year that they are prepared for college.

What are the indicators? Here are some of the biggies:

  • College Completion Rate 6 years out of high school: 84% (National Avg. 53%) Source: National Student Clearinghouse, tracks students for six-years in 98% of all colleges
  • College Attendance (2022): 91% – College attendance/100% Acceptance Rate (2022); Gap Year/Undecided(2022) – 7%; Athletic Opportunity (2022 with plans to attend college: 2%)
  • More than $11 million in sholarships earned by the 105 graduates of the Class of 2022

What the numbers don’t tell is…WHY?

  • WHY do Holy Family students routinely outperform Minnesota students taking the ACT by an average of 5 points over the past 5 years?
  • WHY do Holy Family graduates succeed their first year in college?
  • WHY do Holy Family students graduate from college way above averages from other high schools, according to The National Student Clearinghouse?

“One of the things people always point to is ACT test scores,” says John Dols, Holy Family Catholic High School principal. “Yet test scores are not everything. It’s important to be a thoughtful, reflective, rational thinker, and to take action when you have strengths to be active. You can’t have other people think and do things for you. That is what is important in post-secondary education.”

With that, we set out to put our finger on some of the specifics that answer why Holy Family Catholic High School students succeed in college. We asked five experts, all of whom have worked with Holy Family students and seen them succeed in college and beyond. They are:

  • John Dols, Holy Family Catholic High School Principal
  • Jeanne Weber, Owner, collegeONE, helping students organize and streamline the college application process
  • Melissa Livermore, Assistant Principal for Academic Support
  • Josh Rutz, Holy Family Counselor

Three Reasons Holy Family Students Succeed

Based on independent interviews with each of these experts committed to helping students achieve success beyond Holy Family, there are a number of reasons why they are successful in college, starting with year one. But these three stand out:

1. Students Leave with Exceptional Writing and Communication Skills. Brown admits this can be a challenge in a society driven by digital devices. But that doesn’t change the need to be articulate, she says. When it comes to excelling in college, students with exceptional writing and verbal skills stand out among peers.

John Dols: “Our kids are not afraid to express their ideas. They can speak in public and they know how to write when they leave here. They frequently wind up helping their peers in college.”

Jeanne Weber: “There seems to be an emphasis on writing (at Holy Family) in more than just English class. I see a focus on writing in history and many of the other classes. This makes Holy Family kids stronger communicators than what I see from other schools. Even when they sit down with an adult, they are a little more at ease. They listen and have great communication skills.”

Josh Rutz: “One thing we consistently hear is that the workload, particularly the written papers, helps our students succeed in college. Alumni often say when it comes to knowing how to study, knowing the expectations of how to be good students and writing papers in college, they say they are well prepared. Doesn’t matter what college they attend. It seems every single student is saying they are well prepared.”

2. Opportunities Build Leadership Skills. Small numbers seem to deliver big results at Holy Family. With an average student-teacher ratio of 13:1, students can’t fly under the radar at Holy Family. Plus, they participate in extracurricular activities in extremely high numbers. The result is an expectation that Holy Family students lead.

Melissa Livermore: “Almost 100 percent of our students are involved in something, and many in more than one thing. By the time they leave Holy Family, our students have excellent time management skills because they are so involved.”

Josh Rutz: “(Holy Family) Students are not just focusing on school, but every other aspect in their lives—volunteering, work, sports, clubs, activities, and in faith and religious aspects. If anything, they’re too busy. Sometimes, they overwork themselves because they are such great leaders and want to have an impact on all aspects of life. One example: We bring kids on service trips all over the world. Those experiences change our kids in great ways. That’s why they do so well in college and after.”

Jeanne Weber: “When I look at Holy Family kids, the biggest advantage they have is the ability to participate. They have great social interactions, which comes from being in a small school, expecting students to take leadership roles and help out others. Participation helps them with leadership skills. They understand the nature of college, and that they’re going there to learn stuff. They’re just a little more well rounded and make good decisions while in college. They are substantially prepared to take that on.”

3. Holy Family Students Advocate for Themselves and Others. Often overlooked, this skill possibly should be at the top of this list. It shows confidence, drive, leadership and independent learning at a very high level.

Jeanne Weber: “Holy Family students are very confident. They’re not boastful, but they are confident. If they see something that needs to be done, they do it. And they know when they need help. At Holy Family, there is an expectation that you are going to do well. Whatever that well is for you. And that’s a reflection of college.”

Josh Rutz: “Holy Family students are not afraid to ask questions. They become great self-advocates and advocates for others. We push and see growth in that from 9th to 12th grade. No matter where they are at, they are willing to ask for help or help each other out when in need. It provides that feeling of never being alone.”

John Dols: “Holy Family students believe in goals. They know it takes practice and time. They know that, ‘Just because I want, doesn’t mean I can have.’ They keep going after it. Especially during this unusual year, they have proven to be both persistent and flexible, but still eager to pursue their education.”

Holy Family students become critical thinkers.

While those three reasons are the consensus favorites, there are many more reasons Holy Family students succeed in college. Here are a few additional thoughts from our experts on why Holy Family Catholic High School students are ready for a successful college experience, starting with day one.

  • Holy Family Students Think About Thinking. It is almost a lost skill in the digital age, says Dols. “They reflect about what they do and why they do it. They have great thoughts and are not afraid to express ideas.”

Livermore agrees: “We want to make sure students are geared toward learning and understanding. Not just for a grade or to check a box. We want them to learn and understand, and think about thinking.”

  • Students Experience Challenging Course Rigor. “We have high standards and hold all students to them,” Livermore adds. “This gives them confidence to take reasonable risks, such as trying new classes that they wouldn’t have before. It doesn’t scare them off, because they know how to do it, and that they can do it.”
  • Life Skills Are Taught at Holy Family. “Students leave here knowing what they need for a successful future,” Dols says. “They’re able to collaborate with peers; work with professors and faculty; and develop a sense of service and true caring for others. These all translate into aspects they’ll use in their lives and the working world.”
  • “Family Network” = Success. “The family atmosphere here pushes kids at a different level,” Rutz says. “When they have hard times and fall, they know where to turn. They come back here, turn to their families and turn to their experiences here at Holy Family that helped them grow. They have the confidence to tackle life. And life is not always easy.”
  • A Sense of Sacrifice and Direction. “I do think Holy Family kids, because their family is paying for high school, have a sense that people are sacrificing to send them there,” Weber adds. “And, maybe because of that, they have a better sense of what direction they want to head in. They can confidently take that step into college.”

Attend our a Fire Family Visit or schedule a tour with a member of our admissions team.

Schedule a visit



Want to keep up to date on the day-to-day happenings at Holy Family? Follow us on Instagram or like us on Facebook!

Amy Dean Named Head Coach

Holy Family hires Amy Dean to lead the Fire Girls and Boys Tennis 

Holy Family names Amy Dean to lead tennis program.

Holy Family Catholic High School in Victoria, MN, is thrilled to announce the hiring of Amy Dean as the school’s head girls and boys tennis coach.

Dean assumes the Holy Family Tennis programs’ leadership responsibilities immediately, building on her five years of successful experience as an assistant coach in our programs. During her tenure at Holy Family, Dean helped coach the Fire Girls team to state appearances in 2016 (Consolation Champions) and 2017 (State Runner-Up), along with numerous individual state appearances. Dean also earned 2018 State Assistant Coach of the Year honors for Boys Tennis from the Minnesota State Tennis Coaches Association.

A highly-decorated player, Dean played four years of Division 1 tennis at the University of Cincinnati (OH). She ended her college career as a co-captain, ranked #5 all-time in career doubles wins, and #9 all-time in career wins for the Bearcat Women’s Tennis team. Before her time at Cincinnati, Dean was a four-year state qualifying player at Illinois’ Naperville High School. She continues to play competitively and teach tennis lessons in the area.

Holy Family Activities Director Nick Tibesar is overjoyed to announce Ms. Dean as the Fire Tennis programs’ new head coach. “Coach Dean’s experience both coaching and playing tennis at an extremely high level have been an asset to our programs for the past five seasons, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to see her step up to lead our programs into the future! Her steadfast commitment to our student-athletes, along with our school community and its mission, is commendable, and we look forward to the future growth our students will experience under her leadership.”

Additional information about Amy Dean:

Education: University of Cincinnati – Cincinnati, OH – Bachelor’s in Business Administration, Accounting



Contact Information:

Nick Tibesar, HFCHS Activities Director – tibesarn@hfchs.org

Amy Dean, HFCHS Head Girls and Boys Tennis Coach – amykdean@hotmail.com

Two Athletes Sign National Letters of Intent

Two Holy Family Athletes Sign National Letters of Intent

The NCAA estimates the percentage of high school athletes continuing to compete in organized athletics at the D1 or D2 collegiate level to be between 1-2%. Today Jillian Oncay and Carver Kasper added their names to those select few when they signed their National Letters of Intent.

Jillian Oncay signed her National Letter of Intent with the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, to continue her rowing career and fulfill her desire to serve her country. During the presentation, Jillian’s coach from Twin Cities Youth Rowing, Rebecca Newman, shared her observations of Jillian’s college search, “Jillian was recruited by Cornell, UVA,…all these lovely schools, but she kept saying ‘I want to serve my country. I want to go to the Naval Academy.’ After receiving a commitment from UVA, a phenomenal school, she was accepted to USNA.”

Coach Newman went on to describe her reaction when Jillian shared her decision to attend the U.S. Naval Academy, “I was so proud when she told me. Not only because she will row there, but she is going to serve all of us. And that is truly what Jillian is all about. She’s about team. She’s about family, and she’s about country.” (See Coach Newman’s full presentation HERE.)

Following Jillian’s signing,  Holy Family Baseball head coach, Bryan DeLorenzo, led Carver Kasper through the signing of his National Letter of Intent to play baseball for Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri. Coach DeLorenzo recalled Carver earning a varsity starting position as a freshman—a unique achievement for the deep-benched Holy Family baseball program. He described Holy Family’s baseball program as “growing stronger since Carver arrived.”

Coach DeLorenzo reminded the audience that the cancellation of the Spring 2020 high school season was not nly difficult for seniors looking forward to completing their high school careers, but for juniors looking to be recognized by college programs as well. Carver didn’t allow that to impede him. This summer, he played baseball in Missouri before returning to Minnesota to play with Holy Family’s summer league team. He helped Holy Family finish the summer league season with an 11-2 record and the Metro Baseball Alliance Tier A Region 2 League title. In closing, DeLorenzo said, “Carver is a great teammate and has always been a pleasure to coach. Both myself and the entire Holy Family baseball program wish you (Carver) good luck at the next level.” (See Coach DeLorenzo’s full presentation HERE.)

The opportunity to continue athletic careers at the college level is a reflection of Jillian and Carver’s work ethics and commitment to improvement. We caught up with the two athletes to learn more about them and their approach to being student-athletes. 

Jillian Oncay signs her NLI to the U.S. Naval Academy

Jillian Oncay | U.S. Naval Academy, NLI to join the USNA Women’s Crew

Additional Activities:  Honor Society, Fire Ambassador, Holy Family Girls Hockey, ACT tutor for students outside of HFCHS

Many people are unfamiliar with rowing/crew teams. Can you describe the sport in 2-3 sentences and what you enjoy about it?
Rowing, also called crew, can be either an individual or team sport. Rowing is very versatile as the boat sizes change from between 1 rower to 8 rowers and two different kinds of rowing, sweeping and sculling. Many people compare it to canoeing; however, rowing is an entire body workout involving the main movements driving from your legs, body, and arms.  

 Coach Newman described you as one of the top rowers in the country. When did you begin rowing, and what kind of time and effort did you put into improving your skills as a rower?
I started rowing during the winter of my sophomore year, which is common for people to begin during high school. During our time off the water, we focus on our strength and times on rowing machines. It was not until April that I was able to be in a boat on the water. After that spring season, My teammates, coach, and I noticed my varsity level times, strength, and potential. All summer, I spent 4 hours a day practicing on the water and then spent time with a personal trainer lifting. I had to build physical stamina and the mental fortitude to stick to a rigorous training program. I then earned a seat in the top boat (V1), which required rowing workouts to be completed before school and then have practice after school.

 What habits do you think have contributed to your success as an athlete and a student?
I believe that staying persistent in your academics and taking your mind off of schoolwork are crucial to juggling a rigorous school schedule and a demanding practice. Using your time efficiently outside of practice and school is a fundamental habit. I also believe that being competitive among your teammates will make your boat or team go faster.  

 How do you balance being in athletics/activities and school?
Especially in the fall, waking up at 5:30 a.m. to row and having practice after school is challenging, but having a goal to work towards makes the pain worth it. Because I know the school week will be busy, I try to get as much done on the weekends to keep my workload light.  

Any advice for a young athlete coming to Holy Family with hopes to continue to compete in college?
If you hope to continue a sport in college, commit to it because the effort you put in as an underclassman will transpire to success as an upperclassman. You must also be proactive in the recruiting process by exposing your success and strength online to coaches.  

What do you like best about Holy Family?
One of my favorite parts of Holy Family is the easy-going atmosphere created by the students and faculty.  

Anything else you would like to share:
The military aspect of my commitment is very important to me; not only am I committing to row to four years in college but a minimum of 5 years of service after I graduate from college. More students should look into a military academy or ROTC because of the apparent benefits like the military paying for your college tuition and the intangible value of serving your country.  

Carver Kasper official commits to Rockhurst University Baseball

Carver Kasper –Rockhurst University, NLI to play for the Rockhurst University Men’s Baseball program

Planned College Major: Management

Holy Family Activities: Baseball, Football, Student Council, Bible Study, and Robotics.

When did you begin playing baseball, and what associations outside of Holy Family have you played in?
I started playing baseball when I was five years old in my hometown of Millstadt, Illinois. I have played with many teams in that area, including town and school teams. The main teams I have played on throughout my baseball career (outside of Holy Family) are the St. Louis Pirates and the Minnesota Blizzard.

When you think back to your experience playing baseball for Holy Family, what are the best memories that come to mind?
One of my greatest memories is being able to play varsity as a freshman. It also would have to be getting my first hit during that year, which was in the first game. Honestly, the best memories are the people that I have played with over the years.

What habits do you think have contributed to your success as a baseball player?
A habit that contributes to my success is my work ethic because I work to improve my skills. Also, perseverance because baseball is a game of ups and downs, which I have had many.

How do you balance being athletics and school?
It is difficult to do, but I try to stay ahead of things the best I can, so I do not fall behind in school.

Any advice for a young athlete coming to Holy Family with hopes to continue in college?
The best advice I can give is if you work hard to improve your skills every day, you will be rewarded.

Click on the button below to schedule a visit to learn more about the incredible opportunities at Holy Family Catholic High School.

Schedule a Visit Today