Pass on the Torch of Loyalty.
It’s written right there in the Lake Catholic alma mater.
At this year’s President’s Circle Reception, the Torch of Loyalty was literally passed on to a Lake Catholic legend who has figuratively passed on that torch throughout his life – before, during, and since his time at the school.
President John Morabeto, in his first President’s Circle address, awarded Fr. Marty Polito with the Torch of Loyalty Award for his years of service to Lake Catholic and its entire community.
As Morabeto explained, “The Torch of Loyalty Award is the most prestigious award a Lake Catholic High School President can bestow upon an individual or family. This award is designed to honor extraordinary individuals demonstrating the core values of Lake Catholic and a commitment to the success of Lake Catholic for generations to come.”
Although Fr. Marty accepted the award to a standing ovation, he wondered aloud, “When Carla (Ronnebaum, Lake Catholic Director of Advancement) came to mass and told me that I would be honored with this award, I asked her ‘For what? What have I done?’”
From 1986-1996, Fr. Marty served as the Chaplain at Lake Catholic. His responsibilities included serving as the Spiritual Director, the key figure in faith formation for students through service, retreats, liturgical celebrations, and prayer services. He was inducted into the school’s Hall of Excellence in 1992.
Before coming to Lake Catholic, he served at Holy Redeemer Parish in Collinwood, where he now serves as the parish’s pastor. He has married many Lake Catholic alumni, baptized others, and performed other milestone sacraments – First Reconciliation, First Communion, and/or Confirmation.
“I was honored to be sent here,” Fr. Marty said. “I was honored that the Diocese and Lake Catholic trusted me. I’m honored by the parents who provided the opportunity for such a great education to their sons and daughters. And there have been honors along the way even after I left. A lot of former students keep in touch, some have stopped by Holy Redeemer to say hello or even became part of the community there.”
He went to tell a story from 10 years ago when he had to have quadruple bypass surgery. He was recovering from the surgery at his brother and sister-in-law’s house in Mentor, where he would take daily walks as he rebuilt his strength.
One day he came across a high-school-aged boy, who was wearing a Lake Catholic shirt while playing basketball in his driveway. Fr. Marty said he stopped to talk to the young man and asked him if he went to Lake Catholic, which he did. He asked him to tell him about it, what he liked about it.
“This was well after I had left Lake Catholic, so he didn’t know me.” Fr. Marty said. “But he told me that he liked his teachers and his classes. He liked his coaches. And then he told me that ‘they would give the students whatever they wanted or needed,’ it’s just the kind of place it was. And that’s the wonder of the Lake Catholic community.”
He again thanked Morabeto, Lake Catholic and everyone in attendance, and then spent the rest of the evening greeting and reminiscing with the more than 150 attendees.
In addition to the engraved Torch of Loyalty crystal, Fr. Marty was also presented with a custom stole with the image of the chapel's stained-glass window embroidered onto each side.
Prior to presenting the award to Fr. Marty, Morabeto spoke about his first six months as President and a few important plans for the future.
He thanked those in attendance for the gracious welcome he’s felt since arriving, reiterated the good work Principal Tom McKrill (’07) and the faculty continue to do, and noted the many successes the students have achieved in the classroom, spiritually, artistically, and athletically.
He went on to promote the return of the Hall of Excellence, which recognizes distinguished members of the Lake Catholic community for their professional success and commitment to service. New members of the Hall of Excellence will be honored at the 40th Annual Gala on March 23, 2024.
Morabeto announced the plans to completely renovate the school’s locker rooms.
“Spaces that have received little attention for decades will be transformed into college-style locker rooms that are open concept and allow for a common space for teams to gather with coaches and yet private restrooms and shower facilities.
“The entire project will cost $1 million and thanks to the good work done by my predecessor, Mark Crowley, we have already secured a generous $500,000 lead gift.”
The hope, Morabeto said, is for the project to begin after this school year.
He finished his remarks by reminding everyone of the important eight-month Strategic Plan process that was started last week when an initial survey was sent out to current students, parents, faculty and staff, alumni, donors, and other Lake Catholic stakeholders.
One of Lake Catholic’s longest-standing traditions continued Monday, Nov. 20, as the Class of 2024 participated in the 49th Annual Turkey Day.
What had started back in 1974 as a Thanksgiving feast for friends to enjoy each other as an entire class, has turned into much more for Lake Catholic students, as they live out one of the school’s core values – its willingness to serve.
“This is a very important day for our school and our senior class,” Mrs. Brandi Mandzak, a Theology teacher who coordinated the entire day, said to the seniors. “Everything you did today matters.”
The day started with a small prayer service, where there were prayers not only for the senior class but also for those who it was going to help. The seniors chose between 10 different service projects and headed out into the community.
The groups headed to:
- Lake Farmpark, where the students helped set up Christmas trees for breakfast with Santa and cleaned up the barns for when families go for country lights and horse races.
- Outdoor YMCA in Perry, where they cleaned up the area by raking and blowing leaves and moving large tree branches.
- Holden Arboretum, where they mulched 300 trees for protection during the winter.
- Lake Humane Society, where they cleaned cages, swept the floor, mailed envelopes to donors, but most importantly got to play with the cats and dogs.
“It was so fun,” Hannah Pattie said. “I really enjoyed seeing all the little dogs and cats, and how their faces lit up when we were playing with them.”
- Greater Cleveland Food Bank, where they sorted drinks and eventually packed 14,000 pounds of beverages.
- Broadmoor School, where they worked and played with the children.
- Karpos Ministry, where they baked desserts for Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless at St. Mary’s in Painesville.
- Willoughby Workshop, where they read to the adults there.
- Grateful Giving, where students baked in the school’s Campus Ministry center that will be brought to first responders.
- Project Hope, where the students, after a tour of the facility, made cards for the packed lunches that are handed out every day, as well as sorting donations and organizing their storage room.
“It was wonderful to have so many kids writing messages of positivity to put in the lunches of the homeless to help encourage them as they leave for the day after staying the night,” said Bryan Bossert, the property manager at Project Hope.
When the students returned to school, there was an all-class mass in the Chapel with Fr. Andy Gonzalez.
They then all moved to the Atrium for a catered Thanksgiving feast, which was what Turkey Day started as back in the ‘70s. Lunch was served by some parents of the students, who also served as chaperones throughout the morning.
The day ended in silence in the Auditorium as each student had time to reflect on their day, what their service meant to the community, and how thankful they were to be able to help those who need it.
“It really is a great day for all of us,” Pattie said. “I’ve never heard of other schools doing this kind of service for their communities. And it’s great that we can give back to places around here, keeping that connection with our entire community.”
All the pictures from today can be found on the Student Life / Traditions page of the website under Turkey Day.
A state championship. A state Final Four. The deepest playoff run in three years. A repeat state qualifier.
An annual fundraiser. A weekly halftime performance. A concert. A play.
These are the final results that the outside world sees from a successful athletic season and an award-winning performing arts department. Building to those results though, as everyone knows, are a lot of people spending hours of planning, practicing, rehearsing, and doing anything else to help ensure success.
Behind all those people though are two men, the two in charge – Athletic Director Erik Schroeder and Performing Arts Department Chair Scott Posey.
Schroeder and Posey have had a busy three-and-a-half months, which had really ramped up in the past few weeks and culminates (at least for now) today – Thursday, November 16. The back-to-back state champion volleyball team will be celebrated at an assembly this afternoon. A few hours later, the fall play – The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – opens to kick off its four–performance, weekend run.
To get to this point though, it’s been an absolute grind for both Schroeder, Posey, and their teams of colleagues.
Although many rehearsals took place well before, Posey’s first big event was the Choral Concert held in the school’s auditorium on Tuesday, October 10. Meanwhile, auditions and rehearsals for the play, as well as much of the planning for the 39th Annual Craft Fair (the Performing Arts Department's biggest fundraiser), were all ongoing.
The success of the Lake Catholic football team also meant the continuation of the marching band season. Posey designs all the marching and physical movements of the band, while Jim Slike (’07) preps all the music.
“We’ve had play rehearsals Sundays through Thursdays, with LC Singers and band practice alternating days during the week,” Posey said. “And then we were at the football games on Fridays. So it’s a pretty packed week.”
The Craft Fair, held on Saturday, November 4, welcomed 150 vendors and almost 2,000 patrons, as the department raised a substantial amount of money for its programs.
That weekend alone was enough for someone to want to take a two-week vacation.
Typically, the Friday before the Craft Fair school is not in session. Because of a scheduling conflict, classes did take place. Set up could not begin until after school (240p).
“We set up as much as we could after school, but then had to stop to get to the football game,” Posey said. “We were back here at 6a on Saturday to finish setting up and helping vendors unload. We finally finished tearing down around 5-530p, and we were back here the next day for play rehearsal. I would bet, when band was going on, I would be in the building for about 75 hours per week. We’ve been going hard for about 30 straight days now.”
Not to be outdone, just a short distance down Senior Hall, the Athletic Department had been on quite a busy streak of its own. Since the start of the postseason for the fall sports, it has hosted two sectional final volleyball matches (one of its own and one with two other schools), a sectional final in boys soccer, a home football game at Mentor, a district semifinal boys soccer game at Mentor, and a first-round playoff football game at Eastlake North.
“It’s great that our teams did so well this season, but it is a lot of juggling once you get to the postseason,” Schroeder said. “During the regular season, you know the schedule. You know where everyone is going to be and what time the games or matches start.”
All playoff competitions are run by the Ohio High School Athletic Association, so while dates are typically set ahead of time, many locations are not set until a few days before the next game or match.
“Once we get to neutral sites a lot of it is just coordinating transportation, administration coverage, and then hopefully medal distribution (for district, regional and state championships),” he said.
And there’s a lot of miles on the car.
Saturday, October 28, started with the boys soccer district final in Strongsville at 11a and finished with the volleyball district final at Grand Valley High School at 7p. The next week, there was a regional semifinal for soccer in Akron and for volleyball in Barberton.
That same Saturday, November 4 as the Craft Fair, the soccer team played in a regional final at 2p in Twinsburg, while volleyball was in Barberton again playing for its regional title, also at 2p.
“The state would not change the time of one of them,” Schroeder said. “It’s disappointing for our students and community that they couldn’t be at both, but the state said the schedules were already set and unable to be changed.”
Also that morning, senior Kelly Ward was running in her second straight state cross-country meet.
Then started Schroeder’s trip across Ohio, accompanied by Assistant Athletic Director Sam Colacarro – Wednesday, November 8 in Twinsburg for the boys soccer state semifinal; Thursday, November 9 in Dayton for the volleyball state semifinal; Friday, November 10 in Burton for the football regional semifinal; and finally back to Dayton on Saturday, November 11 for volleyball’s state championship match.
“We figured we were in the car 17 hours through those four days,” Schroeder said.
A lot of time was spent, behind the scenes, working to make these two departments some of the most successful in the area. After this weekend there is a small window for a break and to relax for Thanksgiving. But then it’s back at it as the winter sports season ramps up and heads toward another postseason, and performing arts puts on its Christmas Concert, and holds auditions for the spring musical ahead of it hitting the stage March 7-10.
"When you're leaning forward, it doesn't allow you to stop, or you'll fall on your face,” Posey said. “It forces you to get the job done, and makes you realize just how much you were capable of doing to start with."
Kate, Joe, and Nick Powaski have grown up in a tight-knit family. The three cousins were always together playing games, competing against each other and other family members in different sports. To this day, they are always supporting one another.
But now, in possibly the biggest week of their final year of high school, they won’t be able to be there for each other.
Kate, an outside hitter on the volleyball team, will be heading to Dayton with a chance to defend the Division III State Championship she and her teammates won a year ago. Meanwhile, Nick and Joe will be playing in a Division II state semifinal tonight with the boys soccer team with the hopes of playing for the school’s first state soccer championship.
And if they both win their semifinal games, the schedule gets even trickier.
Currently, the Division III volleyball state championship game is scheduled for Saturday at 11a in Dayton, and the Division II boys soccer state championship match is scheduled for Saturday at 1p in Columbus.
“I wish I could go see them, just be there to support Kate and the entire team. They’ve been to a few of our games this year,” said Nick, who starts on defense as the center back. “But we’re all working toward our goals. It would be absolutely awesome if we both came home with state titles.”
At the moment, Nick and Joe are focused on Richfield Revere, the No. 1 ranked team in Ohio in Division II. The Cougars are ranked No. 2. Revere is also the team that knocked Lake Catholic out of the playoffs last year. The game kicks off at 7p at Twinsburg High School.
“We have our team dinner tonight before we leave for Dayton, so I won’t be able to be at their game. Although I’d love to be there,” Kate said. “But we’ll definitely be watching the stream.” (The game can be seen on Twinsburg’s athletic streaming site.)
A win tonight and the boys will be playing in the program’s first state championship game.
Meanwhile, the volleyball team is heading to the state semifinals for the third year in a row and trying for its second straight state title and third in the program’s history, which would tie the football program for the most in school history.
“It was exciting last year for the whole family when the volleyball team won states,” Joe said. “She didn’t say much to Nick and I. She didn’t do any bragging.”
The volleyball team plays on Thursday at 2p against St. Henry, the No. 3 team in the state in Division III. The Cougars have been the No. 1 ranked team all season. They are a perfect 27-0 and, in fact, have only lost three sets all year.
Regardless of the ultimate outcomes, both seasons will end this weekend, but Joe will still have work to do. After dipping his toe in the performing arts last year, he was cast as the lead – Ichabod Crane – in this year’s fall play, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The play runs from Thursday, November 16-Sunday, November 19.
“I’m in the band too,” Joe said. “With football still playing, we’re still performing. So after school, I have band, soccer, and then finally rehearsals. I’m usually at school from 8 in the morning until 9 at night.”
The play is still two weeks away though. There’s still work to be done this week on the field and on the court for the Powaskis.
But by Sunday, when the Cleveland Browns play the Baltimore Ravens at 1p, all the Powaskis will be at their grandparents’ (Kathy and Stan) house for that game.
“We see each other almost every Sunday during football season for the Browns games,” Nick said. “We’re always at our grandparents’ house.”
This Sunday though, there might be more celebrating Kate, Joe, and Nick than actually watching the Browns.
“I can’t even imagine what it would be like if both teams win,” Kate said. “It would be super crazy.”
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