Eighteen Lake Catholic students were honored and awarded scholarships last night by the Christ Child Society of the Western Reserve.
The award ceremony was held at St. John Vianney and then Fr. Tom Johns held a mass for the students, their families and the Christ Child Society.
The chapter of the Christ Christ Child Society of the Western Reserve is an organization primarily dedicated to child welfare. Its motive and spirit shall be a love of Christ expressing itself in personal service for children and youth regardless of race or creed to honor the childhood of Christ.
The 40-year-old chapter serves "one child at a time" through many different programs, including scholarships. Scholarships are offered to students currently enrolled at Lake Catholic and Ursuline College for their current tuition.
Those receiving the scholarships for the 2023-24 school year are: Victor Arenas (Sr.), Carley Dondorfer (Sr.), Joey Lonchar (Sr.), Katie Morgan (Sr.), Alyssa Naro (Sr.), Mia Schaefer (Sr.), Katie Sowko (Sr.), Kyle Boyd (Jr.), Caden Boyes (Jr.), Carson Gilbert (Jr.), Megan Joy (Jr.), Luke Joy (Jr.), Jimmy Meden (Jr.), Angelina Capra (So.), Kaelyn Nemeth (So.), Kiera Nemeth (So.), Brayden Mann (So.) and Robert Vidmar (Fr.).
Lake Catholic, Other Schools to Leave Crown Conference; North Coast Conference to Begin Fall of 2024
Lake Catholic, along with Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin, Beaumont, and Padua, will leave the Crown Conference after the 2023-24 school. The Cougars will join those three schools, as well as Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (CVCA), Elyria Catholic and Holy Name in the new North Coast Conference. The new North Coast Conference will begin in the Fall of 2024.
“The transition to the North Coast Conference is a great opportunity for Lake Catholic and our partner schools,” said Lake Catholic Principal Tom McKrill (’07). “Our students work very hard in the classroom every day, and this will be a great opportunity for our student-athletes to continue to compete with other faith-based schools in interscholastic athletics.”
Similarly, Lake Catholic Athletic Director Erik Schroeder is excited about the competitive balance between all the schools.
“We're excited to be a part of the seven schools forming the North Coast Conference,” Schroeder said. “The NCC is going to be very competitive across all sports and is made up of schools of similar size. We believe that the new conference is a great fit for our student-athletes.”
All the schools will compete in their current conferences during the 2023-24 school year with North Coast Conference play beginning in the fall of 2024. Football will be the only exception, as not every school will play each other as most of the 2024 schedules have already been completed. Even though there will not be a football league champion in 2024, all-conference honors will be awarded.
“We are looking forward to the opportunities the North Coast Conference presents,” said Marty Gibbons (’11), Lake Catholic head football coach. “From a football perspective, this move enables us to increase the volume of conference competition, while providing a rigorous challenge to our program as we prepare to compete for championships at the regional and state level.”
This past school year (2022-23), the Cougars won four Crown Conference titles – volleyball, boys soccer, girls swimming & diving, and boys swimming and diving; had three coaches win Coach of the Year honors; nine Players of the Year honors; and 47 first team all-conference selections.
Coaches of the Year
Volleyball – Kara Oster ('13)
Boys Soccer – Kevin Pitorak
Girls Swimming & Diving – Matt Trem
Boys Swimming & Diving – Matt Trem
Players of the Year
Volleyball, Setter of the Year – Hannah Pattie
Volleyball, Libero of the Year – Emma Briganti
Boys Soccer, Defensive Player of the Year – Marko Odorcic
Girls Cross Country, Runner of the Year – Kelly Ward
Girls Swimming & Diving, Swimmer of the Year – Zoe Pesek
Boys Swimming & Diving, Swimmer of the Year – Owen Pesek
Girls Lacrosse, Offensive Player of the Year – Rylee Anderson
Girls Lacrosse, Defensive Player of the Year – Alexa Udovicic
Girls Track & Field, Runner of the Year – Claire Duricky
For the second year in a row, one of the Lake Catholic Robotics Club teams finished as runners-up at the AWT RoboBots Competition on Saturday, April 29 at Lakeland Community College.
Team Thunderstruck, with its bot Bolt, came out of the loser's bracket of the tournament and beat undefeated Ashtabula, and its bot War Machine, but then ultimately was beat in the winner-take-all final. Team Thunderstruck was comprised of Lauren Olenik, Jackson Aliff, Christopher Kelley, Jeremy Jones and Nick Hancock and Marty Johnson from Lakeshore Compact.
Thunderstruck and the other Lake Catholic team, Clean Sweep, both won their first round matches, but then had to face off against each other in the second round. Thunderstruck pulled off the victory, sending Clean Sweep, and its bot Mr. Clean, to the loser's bracket.
Thunderstruck lost it's next match in the winner's break semifinals to Madison's Athena. It fought back in the loser's bracket winning against Madison's second bot, Cataclysm, Auburn's Titanium Titan and then getting revenge and beating Madison's Athena to set the stage for the finals against Ashtabula.
Clean Sweep, with Jarred Smith, Nicholas Olenik, Tyler Duricky, Andrew Zalar and Ryan Dressler and Mason Sampson from Lakeshore Compact, put together a nice run after losing to its schoolmates in the second round. It beat Maplewood's Hope and Lakeside's Point Break before finally exiting the tournament with a loss to Auburn's Titanium Titan. Clean Sweep finished in fifth place.
RoboBots is a high school combat robotics competition that allows high schools to partner with industry mentors to build a 15lb combat robot.
The industry partner provides financial assistance and mentorship to the high school students through the six-seven month robotic build process.
This educational and workforce initiative was started by the AWT Foundation. The AWT Foundation promotes rewarding manufacturing careers for the long-term sustainability of manufacturing.
What's wrong with a little competition amongst friends?
Well on Friday, April 21st, it was all about competition amongst classes.
The classes of 2023, 2024, 2025 and 2026 all competed throughout the school day in the Third Annual Cougar Games - an Olympic-style competition in which the classes compete in certain games to determine an overall winner. The was finished off with the Annual Powder Puff game - pitting the senior girls against the junior girls in flag football.
For the second time in three year, the Class of 2023 (the seniors) won the Cougar Games.
But they fell to the juniors, who came from behind, scored on the last play of regulation and then won the Powder Puff game in overtime, 36-30.
The seniors won four of the eight competitions to score 28 points on the day-long event and outpace the rest of the school. The juniors (Class of 2024) finished second with 24 points. The sophomores (2025) were third with 20, and the freshmen (2026) were fourth with 8.
The seniors won the inaugural Games back in 2021 as sophomores and were runners-up to the Class of 2022 last year.
They got off to a hot start winning the first four events - dodgeball, basketball, speedball and the obstacle course. The juniors got their first win in soccer, and the sophomores got their only victory in kickball.
The juniors also won Mario Kart and the donation drive - a week-long competition to see which class could collect the most donations to benefit Birthright Lake.
The final results of all the competitions were:
- Dodgeball: 1. Seniors; 2. Juniors; 3. Sophomores; 4 Freshmen
- Basketball: 1. Seniors; 2. Juniors; 3. Sophomores; 4 Freshmen
- Speedball: 1. Seniors; 2. Sophomores; 3. Juniors; 4. Freshmen
- Obstacle Course: 1. Seniors; 2. Sophomores; 3. Juniors; 4. Freshmen
- Soccer: 1. Juniors; 2. Sophomores; 3. Seniors; 4. Freshmen
- Kickball: 1. Sophomores; 2. Seniors; 3. Freshmen; 4. Juniors
- Mario Kart: 1. Juniors; 2. Seniors; 3. Seniors; 4. Juniors
- Donation Drive: 1. Juniors; 2. Sophomores; 3. Seniors; 4. Freshmen
When a team gets the football back with only 11 seconds left and needs to score to just get to the game to overtime, it needs quick-strike capabilities. Luckily for the Class of 2024, that's all its offense was.
It took the juniors just two plays (calling a timeout between them) to tie the game up as the final horn had sounded.
Once in the extra periods, both teams took turns scoring during the first two overtime sessions. The third session say a new set of rules come into play - one play from the five-yard line. The only way to score was to pass.
Despite two players in the area, the seniors possession saw their pass fall to the turf. The juniors play developed slowly, but their pass found a receiver, who was shielding her defender, just over the goal line for the winning score.
The touchdown capped off a 12-point comeback for the juniors.
The seniors moved the ball methodically down the field on all three of their possessions in the first half - all resulting in touchdowns, including the last one with just less than two seconds left in the half. The juniors scored twice on only two plays, getting their fast athletes in space and letting them just run for the endzone. They might have scored on their last possession as well, but their final attempt ended as their runner stepped out of bounds.
The seniors started the second half on defense, but scored on a fumble recovery on the first play of the new period.
From there, it just the start of the comeback for the juniors.
The second annual Career Fair, which took place right before the Thanksgiving break, offered the entire Lake Catholic student body a chance to talk to many different professionals to get a glimpse of a few careers that might be options for them as they move on to the next steps of their lives.
For one senior, though, the Career Fair ended up being a springboard to a professional shadow day over the Christmas break, a set-up for his senior project and introductions to key contacts for a possible career after college.
David Mordini, who wants to have a career as a government analyst or investigator, turned a conversation at the Career Fair into a day at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cleveland Field Office and said he hopes it turns into much more after graduation.
“Two days after Career Day, Mrs. (Brandi) Mandzak (Lake Catholic theology teacher) called me and told me I was going to be able to get into the FBI headquarters,” Mordini said. “I freaked out.”
Mrs. Mandzak’s husband, Thomas Mandzak, who is the Captain in the Cleveland Division of Police, was the key contact for Mordini. He spoke with him at the Career Fair because of his interest in criminology and criminal justice.
“I want to be an analyst or an investigator,” Mordini said. “So, I was talking to Mr. Mandzak about possibly doing my senior project with the Cleveland Police.”
It was from that conversation that turned into his five-hour day at the Cleveland Field Office of the FBI. Mordini was with one of the FBI’s analysts, as she gave him a tour of the entire facility and introduced him to many members of the office – surveillance teams, cybersecurity, bilingual agents and international security.
“Even though each group has different roles and responsibilities, most all of them work in a big bullpen area,” Mordini said. “Everyone works together. They are all part of the same team.”
He also was given a look at the office’s clinic, drone room, media/conference room, gym, and cafeteria. He met a few of the lawyers, and the supervisor of specialized agents.
“The supervisor of specialized agents oversees all the agents,” he said. “We got to talk for a little bit. She gave me her card and even told me to reach out to her once I’m ready to take the FBI entrance exam.”
For now, Mordini will focus on finishing his senior year, including completing his senior project with the police and/or FBI, but then hopes to study criminology and criminal justice, probably at Kent State University, he said.
It’s a career path that might have been accelerated because of one simple conversation.
“Career day was initially started as a means to extend the senior project,” said Mrs. Mary Ridler, Technology and Innovation Department Chair and Career Fair coordinator. “It allows students an opportunity to connect with different careers prior to graduation. The hope is to make the connections with the career day speakers in the field of their choice and to allow an opportunity for our seniors to engage in those careers for even just a week (senior project) for a 'real life ' introduction to that professional world.”
As people continue to come out of what has been two to three years of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s sometimes hard to remember what life was like before it happened.
But some students at Broadmoor School in Mentor and the Senior Class at Lake Catholic High School remember how exciting and how much fun their joint Christmas party was in the past and were so happy to celebrate it together again.
For the first time since December 2019, more than 100 students from Broadmoor showed up at Lake Catholic on Friday, December 2, for their annual Christmas party held in the school’s gym. There were games, live music, cookie decorations and other arts and crafts, face painting, and, of course, the man of the season – Santa Claus.
“There are some students who were here three years ago who remembered coming and were excited to come back today,” said Liz Miller, the Early Childhood Supervisor at Broadmoor.
The Class of 2023 was just a group of freshmen, three months into their high school years, when the only Broadmoor Christmas party they’ve ever known took place. Back then some of them were just volunteers at the party.
“I like to get the underclassmen involved with the party, to not only set up and clean up, but also volunteer at the games, craft tables and other places, so they can see how special this day is,” said Meg Finegan, a math teacher at Lake Catholic and one of the coordinators of the party.
Each year then, the seniors have their own buddy to take to the party.
“It’s a completely different experience as a senior,” said Abbey Caine, who was one of those underclassmen volunteers three years ago. “We get to connect with our buddies, one-on-one. It’s such a great thing to see how happy they are and how excited they get. It really means a lot, especially this time of year.”
The first partnership between the two schools for the Christmas party was back in December of 1992. Some of the teachers and aides from Broadmoor have seen firsthand how special this day is, as their own sons and daughters who attended Broadmoor have participated in the party.
“This is the only event we do where the entire school is here,” Miller said. “We do other things throughout the year where just certain grade levels go, but this party includes everyone. That’s what’s special about coming to Lake Catholic and the partnership we have with them.
“The other big difference is that often we facilitate our other trips. Not this one. This is completely student-led. So the fact that the Lake Catholic community does this is amazing.”
A big thank you to Aladdin Rents, who donated the games, and to Longo's Pizzeria, who donated all the pizza for lunch.
What had started off as a Thanksgiving feast for friends to enjoy each other as an entire class, has turned into much more at Lake Catholic.
Turkey Day, one of the school’s longest standing tradition started back in 1974, continued on Monday, Nov. 21, as the Class of 2023 lived out one of Lake Catholic’s core values – it’s willingness to serve.
“This is one of the most important days of our school year,” said Alison Ellis, the Lake Catholic Theology Department Chair, and head of the school’s Campus Ministry. “It’s important for the seniors to go out and put our values into action. And we invite the entire school to the prayer service so the underclassmen can see what this means to all of us.”
The day started with an all-school prayer service, asking for prayers not only for the senior class, but also for those who it was going to help. The seniors chose between nine different service projects and headed out in the community.
Groups were sent off to clean up the Fairport Harbor beach, despite the snow and cold; Broadmoor School, to work and play with the children; Willoughby Workshop, to work and eat lunch with the adults there; Vocational Guidance Center, working with the adults there; Little Annie’s Hope Train, assembling toiletries for the homeless; Grateful Giving, baking cookies for first responders; Karpos Ministry, making hot meals for the homeless at St. Mary Painesville; the Food Bank in Geauga County, making hot meals for the homeless; and shoveling driveways for the elderly in Mentor (which was a change up from leaf clean up because of the weather).
The students came back to school for a catered Thanksgiving feast, which was what Turkey Day started as back in the ‘70s.
“This day originally started just as a way for us to have the entire senior class sit down and enjoy each other over a Thanksgiving dinner,” said Rich Troha, who was the originator of Turkey Day when he was a teacher at here. “It has grown into a day of service but bringing the kids back to school is a nice way to combine what it was to what it is now.”
The day ended with another new addition – a Community Action Poverty Simulation, which is an interactive immersion experience that sensitizes participants to the realities of poverty. The Simulation is a program run out of the Nonprofit and Public Service Center at Lakeland Community College. Dione DeMitro, who executed these simulations at Lakeland before becoming the President and CEO at United Way of Lake County, volunteered at Lake Catholic to head up the simulation.
She said when she works with a group entirely made up of students, that there is at least one who has that “ah-ha” moment to realize how blessed they are. She said she heard from a couple students afterward that they did have such a moment.
“My hope is that when you leave here, you understand how blessed you are,” she told the group as they wrapped up. “I hope you go out and share your time, talents, and gifts with your community.”
For the second consecutive semester, Ms. Tabitha Halcomb’s English classes were engaged in a week-long Shakespearean experience.
Two actors, as part of the Great Lakes Theater Company’s School Residency Program, were in school last week to work with students on Julius Caesar with the sophomore classes, Macbeth with the senior classes and A Midsummer Night's Dream with the senior honors class.
The full-participation classes brought Shakespeare to life in the Media Center, where the classes not only discussed the text and language, but also the movements and interaction of the characters.
Each day involved three components: acting, discussion, theater exercises. Earlier in the week the actors performed for the students, followed by actors and students rehearsing and performing side-by-side with each other, finishing the week off with students doing the acting while the actor-teachers serve as the directors. By the end of the week, the students reading Julius Caesar and Macbeth were acting out full-on fight scenes.
“This is a great chance for the students to get out of the classroom and bring Shakespeare to life,” Halcomb said. “It’s much easier to learn and understand a play, especially Shakespeare, when you can act it out and see what’s going on.”
One of the biggest functions of the Lake County Humane Society and Adoption Center is the pet adoption. It does promote all the animals on the website, but more publicity is always welcomed.
According to the Humane Society's website “Each year, over 1,200 pets enter our care. Once we nurse them back to health and prepare them for adoption, our team works to match our pets with the home and family that best suits their needs. We want all of the abused, abandoned, neglected, and unwanted pets in our community to find the loving forever home they deserve.”
Last week Ms. Laura Tyler's Creative Writing class went to the Humane Society in Mentor to meet and interact with the animals, but then write an advertisement from the point of view of the animal. The class wrote mostly about the dogs who are available, but there were some ads for a couple of cats and even a ferret.
Once turned in, the advertisements were sent off to the Humane Society to use.
Oftentimes high school students go into the unknown skeptical and passive. It didn’t take long on the morning of October 18, though, before Joe Melendrez knew he had the students at Lake Catholic.
“I try to connect with the 16-year-old me,” Melendrez said after his concert in the school’s gym. “But I knew I had them a few songs into the opening dance mix.”
Melendrez is one of America’s most exciting Catholic performers. His most recent album - Praiseship - is his fifth, and according to ChristianBeat.org “was birthed out of the pandemic, as a reminder that we are all called to praise and worship God, no matter the circumstance.”
Melendrez came to Lake Catholic out of the school’s participation in The FEST this past summer at the Center for Pastoral Leadership in Wickliffe.
Father Bob Stec, the pastor at St. Ambrose Parish in Brunswick and one of the coordinators of The FEST, reached out to new principal Tom McKrill almost immediately after he accepted the job. Fr. Bob asked for the school’s participation in The FEST and, in conjunction with that, if it would be interested in hosting two speakers - one in the fall and one in the spring, McKrill said.
Enter Joe Melendrez.
With the entire student body, faculty, staff, and even three elementary schools (St. Mary, Mentor; All Saints of St. John Vianney; and St. Gabriel) in attendance, Melendrez put on a 90-minute show that kept the kids on their feet and dancing to the music for the majority of the time.
But between sets, Melelndrez didn’t let the opportunity with a captive audience pass him by. He talked to everyone about how to live their lives Fully Alive, which came with four basic guiding principles.
- Get in the God Flow
- Let the Past Go
- Set a Clear Intention
- Consume Forever Food
“When I was 13, I was introduced to Jesus by Puff Daddy (Sean Combs) with his song Best Friend,” Melendrez said. “His best friend is Jesus. That really connected with me. So when I go into middle schools or high schools, my goal is to revive those feelings in others, to awaken something within them.”
After those 90 minutes, Melendrez can consider his goal accomplished.
“Today went really well,” he said. “The kids were really receptive to it and seemed to have a great time.”
Such a great time, in fact, that McKrill said the school hopes to continue to partner with The FEST for future events.
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