Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

DANBURY—Immaculate High School Class of 2022 student-athletes sign National Letters of Intent to continue their athletic careers at the collegiate level.

In 2022, Niche has ranked Immaculate an impressive #16 out of 270 schools in Connecticut as “Best for Athletes.” Athletic Director Nelson Mingachos ‘89 shares, “The success of Immaculate’s athletic programs is primarily due to our student-athletes and coaches demonstrating exemplary sportsmanship and competitive excellence on and off the field. This group of talented athletes embodies this and we wish them well in their future.”

Aimee Cirella (Danbury) goalkeeper for Immaculate will be playing soccer at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, CT, a Division III program.

Gabriella (Gigi) Amatulli (Danbury) the Forward/Mid-Fielder will play Soccer for Barton College, North Carolina in the Division II program.

Ashley Nicoletti (Sandy Hook) has signed to compete in Division II Track and Field for Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina.

Cody Meier (Newtown) will play Baseball for Eastern CT State University, CT a Division III program.

Jack (JT) Gunzy (Danbury) has committed to Roger Williams University, RI to play Baseball for the Division III program.  Gunzy was recognized with the senior leadership award for the South-West Conference representing Immaculate.

Emily Rerick (Newtown) has committed to play Division III Softball at Husson University, Maine.

Sara MacKinnon (Danbury) signed with Providence College, a Division I program to play Softball.

Walter Brady (Sandy Hook) has committed to Manhattan College to compete in Track and Field.

Justin Acevedo (Danbury) will attend St Lawrence University, and has committed to play Football for the Division III program.

Immaculate High School is a private, non-profit Catholic college-preparatory institution serving students from 28 communities in Connecticut and New York. Founded in 1962, Immaculate High School also allows students to focus on academic excellence, spiritual development, service to others and personal goals.  Located in Danbury, CT, Immaculate High School is part of the Diocese of Bridgeport’s school system.

DANBURY—Immaculate High School sophomores Julia Jamba and Isabella Raduazzo both of Ridgefield, CT have been commissioned to design an art mural for The Art Project in Las Vegas, NV.

The first of an ongoing series of art murals that The Art Project will produce, Jamba and Raduazzo’s mural will be on display at Booker Elementary in Las Vegas, NV upon completion.  Jamba and Raduazzo’s design, consisting of an intergalactic space theme, was selected over submissions from higher education institutions and other high schools throughout the country.

Jamba and Raduazzo, along with other students in the Immaculate Graphic Design II class submitted design concepts and artwork that was reviewed by a selection committee including The Art Project founder Kristin Richmond, and Booker Elementary school administrators. “It is beyond exciting that Immaculate was the first to submit mural entries and their work was the ones to be chosen,” offers Richmond. “Now from across the country, the talented design by Immaculate students will be seen by many and will benefit my local community here in Nevada.”

All mural designs will be transferred to canvases via projection by local Las Vegas, NV artist Richmond who hopes to bring awareness to the community organizations that will house each of the murals on display. Jamba and Raduazzo’s mural will consist of 30 canvases total, in a grid pattern.  Once the design is outlined on canvas completed by Richmond, students of Booker Elementary will paint the mural in a style similar to filling in a coloring book. After the mural is finalized in a studio it will be delivered back to Booker Elementary for display for the upcoming academic year. A commemorative plaque size version of the mural will be presented to Immaculate.

The partnership between Immaculate and The Art Project was fostered Winter 2022 when Immaculate assistant principal, Steven Santoli connected Graphic Design teacher, Samantha Kohler and students to The Art Project after seeing an advertisement for mural submissions online.  Kohler shares, “I knew we as a school would be very proud of what the students would produce. I am pleased The Art Project saw their talent and will spotlight their work in this way.”

Immaculate High School is a private, non-profit Catholic college-preparatory institution serving students from 28 communities in Connecticut and New York. Founded in 1962, Immaculate High School also allows students to focus on academic excellence, spiritual development, service to others, and personal goals.  Located in Danbury, CT, Immaculate High School is a Diocesan-sponsored independent school.

DANBURY—Immaculate High School Athletic Director, Nelson Mingachos, announced that their D-1 Immaculate Ice Hockey team will have a new team of coaches for the 2022-23 season.

Patrick McLoughlin has been selected as the Head Coach and is stepping down as the Assistant Varsity Coach at Newtown High School.  He has also been Newtown High School’s JV Head Coach and has been a 14u Youth Travel Head Coach since 2017.

McLoughlin has attained many of his own athletic accomplishments as a player for Newtown.  He won the CT state title in 2014, was recognized as the team’s MVP, played a season for Brewster and three seasons for WCSU in ACHA. As a coach, McLoughlin earned many championships including the 16-17 championship for Newtown and the 14u youth team championships 2017-20.  McCloughlin shares, “I’m honored and humbled to join Immaculate as the new Ice Hockey coach. I look forward to working with the student athletes, administration and parents in building a program we can all be proud of. My long term goal is to help each student develop as a player and more so as a person, as they elevate through Immaculate High School.”

Ready for pre-season fitness training, McLoughlin’s coaching staff will include Will Schlichtig and Bill Garvey with Matt Grogan as a goalie coach. Schlichtig began his hockey career with the Western Junior Colonials and played for Fairfield Prep as their captain and state champion. He currently coaches at Bantams and in the U16 midget program.  Garvey is a Level 4 USA Certified hockey instructor, who spent the last 14 years coaching for the WCYHA and is a Bantam Dean of Discipline Director, Safe Sport Director. Grogan, a 2014 graduate of UCONN where he was a NCAA D-1 goaltending champion and was named 2012-2013 third team all-league. Most recently Grogan was the goaltending coach for the College of Holy Cross, Worcester, MA. Grogan also serves as an Assistant Coach, Goalie Coach and Video Coach for Applecore EHL.

“While getting to know Coach McLoughlin through the interview process, I’ve come to find that he is a leader of young student athletes and a dedicated coach that is ready to get to work. We are looking forward to a successful season with his experience, leadership, and strong faith. Everyone at Immaculate is very excited that he accepted the position and will carry on the Mustang Hockey Tradition,” offered Immaculate Athletic Director Nelson Mingachos.

Immaculate High School is a private, non-profit Catholic college-preparatory institution serving students from 28 communities in Connecticut and New York. Founded in 1962, Immaculate High School also allows students to focus on academic excellence, spiritual development, service to others, and personal goals.  Located in Danbury, CT, Immaculate High School is a Diocesan-sponsored independent school.

TRUMBULL—St. Joseph High School is pleased to announce the appointment of Jeff Bernardi as our new Head Boys Basketball Coach. Coach Bernardi brings a wealth of coaching and leadership experience to the position. For the past eight years 2014-2022 Coach Bernardi has been the Head Boys Basketball Coach at East Lyme High School. During his tenure at East Lyme, Coach Bernardi’s teams have been the ECC Div. I Regular Season Champions in 2018 and 2019 and this past year claimed the ECC Div I Conference Championship. In 2019 Coach Bernardi was able to develop and coach the CHSCA Player of Year for the State of CT.

Prior to East Lyme, Coach Bernardi held the position of Associate Head Coach at Valley Regional High School from 2009-2014 where he was instrumental in helping lead his teams to the Class S State Finals in 2014, Class S State Champions in 2011 and the Class M State Champions in 2013. Coach Bernardi has coached on the AAU circuit at the National level with the Connecticut Basketball Club at the U16-U17 levels to help athletes with college exposure and has been a Camp counselor with the prestigious Hoop Group camps for the New England Top 100, New York Top 100 and the Academic Elite Camp.

Coach Bernardi currently serves and is an advocate on the committee for Coaches Advancement for Racial Equality (CARE) in CT and in 2016 and 2018 his teams were awarded the Board 8 Howard Dickerman Sportsmanship Award by the regional basketball officials for conduct of his staff and players during games. Coach Bernardi is a Hamilton College graduate where he played all four years and was named captain of his college team during his senior year.

Director of Athletics, Kevin Butler remarks, “It was made very clear during the interview process Coach Bernardi’s attention to detail in coaching, his preparedness on and off the court and his ability for building a positive championship culture within his programs. Jeff is an outstanding role model and will lead our Boys’ Basketball program with enthusiasm, passion and a competitive drive within the FCIAC and at the State level. Jeff is a relationship builder and will be an ambassador for the young men he leads.”

Coach Bernardi will be formally introduced to the members of the Boys’ Basketball program in a meeting before school, Thursday, May 12 at 7:30am in the Auditorium.

FAIRFIELD—Notre Dame High School is proud to announce the return of the “Garlic Fest” on Friday, May 13 (5 pm-10 pm), Saturday, May 14 (noon – 10 pm), and Sunday, May 15 (noon – 5 pm) The GarlicFest was originally founded by Father Bill Sangiovanni, a long-time Notre Dame administrator and passionate supporter of Catholic education. 

Father Bill was intrigued when he visited the famed Gilroy Garlic Fest in California. He had the foresight to bring an all garlic-themed menu back to Connecticut in April 1992.  That year, nearly 10,000 people attended the event and enjoyed the incredible selection of garlic-flavored foods and dynamic entertainment. The rest is garlic history! After a 15-year pause, the GarlicFest returned in 2019 and will be back again this fall. Upon the passing of Father Bill, thousands of Lancers gathered to celebrate his life and many contributions to the community. Of the many memories recalled, the Garlic Fest was at the top of the list. It is in Father Bill’s honor that the tradition has returned to our school.

.Join us for an array of food trucks, beverages, craft and food vendors, the Garlic Bites children’s entertainment area with games and amusement rides, bingo and live music for adults and children. Garlic Fest will deliver tasty food and fun for every age group. Notre Dame alumni are encouraged to stop by the Alumni Tent for a chance to reminisce and reconnect with fellow Lancers.

Current ND Principal Chris Cipriano commented, “This is a wonderful way to continue living the legacy of Father Bill. No one can replace him at the Fest wearing his famous garlic hat, but the spirit of the festival and the tremendous community event it was is back.”

Event proceeds will benefit the Father Bill Sangiovanni Memorial Scholarship and the students of ND. Join us May 13-15 to celebrate the old and the new all in support of our Notre Dame.

(For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit NDgarlicfest.com or contact Karen Guastelle at kguastelle@notredame.org or Chris Cipriano at ccipriano@notredame.org).

DANBURY—The Brave Engineering team from Immaculate High School was invited to compete at the International Real World Design Competition in Washington, DC.  Team members Nikolas Badinelli ‘22 (Danbury), Paulina Garcia ‘22 (Danbury), Carolyn Jandura ‘22 (Redding), Mario Perez ‘22 (Newtown), Nicole Radlliff ‘24 (New Fairfield), Ava Viola ‘23 (Sherman) and Yipeng (Simon) Zhao ‘24 (Danbury) were successful in their N-21 BE Eagle drone presentation and received the 2022 United States Design Viability merit award.

The team, led by teacher advisor Jeanine Antonios and mentored by Mrs. Ruthanne Szumski of Pratt and Whitney Aircraft Engines was challenged to present their design evolution and final design which included the processes used to determine the viability of the specifications of their N-21 BE Eagle drone, command controls, operation center, ground control station, operations and safety measures, delivery capabilities, unplanned events and business model.  “I congratulate the brave engineers team for all the effort.  I am thrilled that their hard work paid off.  Most importantly the skills they learned and the experience they got through competing are priceless,” shared advisor Jeanine Antonios.

This year the competition was held virtually. The judges credited the Brave Engineering team with their exceptional effort on designing the detail of the UAS and their business model. “The detail of the operation was described in great detail in the presentation and the information of the design concept and the selection of individual components were presented very comprehensively.”

The Real World Design Challenge (RWDC) is an annual competition that provides high school students, grades 9-12, the opportunity to work on real-world engineering challenges in a team environment. Each year, student teams will be asked to address a challenge that confronts our nation’s leading industries. Students will utilize professional engineering software to develop their solutions and will also generate presentations that convincingly demonstrate the value of their solutions. The RWDC provides students with opportunities to apply the lessons of the classroom to the technical problems that are being faced in the workplace.

Immaculate High School is a private, non-profit Catholic college-preparatory institution serving students from 28 communities in Connecticut and New York. Founded in 1962, Immaculate High School also allows students to focus on academic excellence, spiritual development, service to others, and personal goals.  Located in Danbury, CT, Immaculate High School is part of the Diocese of Bridgeport’s school system.

 

TRUMBULL—St. Joseph High School is proud to announce that Sofia Papanikolaou and Amy Ogle are this year’s valedictorian and salutatorian respectively.

Sofia Papanikolaou resides in Shelton, Conn. Within the St. Joes community, she is vice president of the National Honor Society and has managed the 2021-2022 Freshmen Mentoring Program. Sofia has served as president of the Writing Center, president of the Film and Literature Club, secretary of the Future Healthcare Professionals Club, and member of Student Ambassadors and the Amaranth Literary and Arts Journal. Sofia is also a Harvard Book Award and Bausch + Lomb Honorary Science Award recipient and a member of the Math, English and Spanish Honor Societies. Outside of St. Joes, Sofia is a competitive dancer and assistant dance teacher at Thrive: The Essence of Dance in Monroe, Conn. In the fall, Sofia plans to attend the University of Connecticut as an Honors Scholar and recipient of the Nutmeg Scholarship (full cost-of-attendance scholarship) to study Physiology and Neurobiology on the pre-medical track.

SJ’s salutatorian, Amy Ogle, resides in Oxford, Conn. She is the literary editor of both the School’s Yearbook and the Amaranth Literary and Arts Journal. Amy is also involved in the Drama Club, Student Ambassadors, Music Ministry and the Writing Center. Outside of St. Joes, Amy teaches religious education to first and second graders at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish. She is a recipient of the Cornell Book Award and winner of “Best Literature” for two years in Amaranth’s annual contest. She is a member of the National Honor Society, as well as the English, Spanish and Music Honor Societies. In the fall, Amy will attend the University of Richmond as a presidential scholar to study English and Creative Writing.

“We are so proud of these two very accomplished students who embody all that is St. Joes,” said Principal, Nancy DiBuono. “Sofia is a great leader and is a perfect example of strength and character in our school community. Amy is an incredibly talented student with strong artistic skills and work ethic. Both of these students set high standards for themselves and are inspirations both in and out of the classroom.” 

About St. Joseph High School

St. Joseph High School (SJHS) strives to be the premier college preparatory school in Southern Connecticut. The school provides a learning environment that embraces the Gospel values of the Roman Catholic faith and promotes a commitment to family and community. SJHS prepares young women and men to realize their potential, helps them to excel in higher education, and provides a foundation to guide them throughout their lives. St. Joseph High School is a member of NCEA, NAIS, NEAS&C. www.sjcadets.org.

FAIRFIELD— Bridgeport’s Kolbe Cathedral High School hosted its second Kolbe Conversations celebrity breakfast on March 24, 2022, at the Patterson Club in Fairfield and raised $30,000. The event featured Pete Bevacqua, chairman of NBC Sports, and a theme of “Let’s Talk Sports Television.” Moderated by 11-time Emmy Award-winning sports journalist, Armen Keteyian, over one hundred attendees were treated to a wide-ranging discussion on the current state of sports television with unique insights related to the Olympic Games, NFL football, U.S. Open and PGA Tour golf, Premier League soccer, thoroughbred horse racing and Notre Dame football.

Pictured here with his personalized Kolbe Cathedral basketball jersey is Pete Bevacqua with Kolbe Cathedral student Christofer Rodriguez-Fico and basketball senior co-captains Jerome Shuler, Tyrell Staples-Santos and Udell Mason.

About Peter Bevacqua

Pete Bevacqua is chairman, NBC Sports. He was promoted in September 2020, becoming the third chairman in the history of NBC Sports. In this role, he oversees NBC Sports’ unprecedented collection of assets and platforms, which includes NBC Sports, NBC Olympics, Golf Channel, Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, NBC Sports Digital, and NBC Sports Next, which includes SportsEngine, GolfNow, GolfPass, TeamUnify, GoMotion, and NBC Sports Edge.

Together with his team, Bevacqua completed numerous key rights agreements. Most recently, in November 2021, NBCUniversal and the Premier League agreed to a six-year extension to serve as the exclusive U.S home of the Premier League. In March 2021, NBCUniversal and the NFL agreed to an 11-year extension and expansion for NBC Sports to continue as the home of Sunday Night Football, primetime television’s No. 1 show for an unprecedented 10 consecutive years. In addition, NBCUniversal re-acquired the complete U.S. media rights for all United States Golf Association championships, including the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open, through 2026; agreed to a nine-year extension of the company’s PGA TOUR rights; secured a new Sunday night NFL Wild Card playoff game, which was presented live across NBC, Telemundo, and Peacock in January 2021; and established NBCUniversal’s multi-year partnership with PointsBet, making PointsBet the official sports betting partner of NBC Sports.

Bevacqua joined NBCUniversal in September 2018 as President, NBC Sports Group, overseeing programming, marketing, digital, the NBC Sports Regional Networks, and all Golf businesses. In February 2019, Bevacqua assumed oversight of the entire sports division.

Previously, Bevacqua served as CEO of the PGA of America from 2012-2018. In this role, Bevacqua guided the business and overall strategy of one of the world’s largest sports organizations, serving the Association’s nearly 29,000 PGA Professionals.

Prior to the PGA of America, Bevacqua served as Global Head of Golf at Creative Artists Agency (CAA Sports). He was also Chief Business Officer for the USGA and served as the first Managing Director of the U.S. Open Championship. Bevacqua began his career as a legal associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP in New York City.

Additional roles Bevacqua has had include: World Golf Foundation Board of Directors’ chairperson; a PGA World Alliance leadership team member; chairperson of the International Golf Federation, a group that was instrumental in golf’s return to the Olympics; special advisor to the Captains Club for The Memorial Tournament; and a board member for RISE, an alliance of sports organizations that promote racial equality. A former SportsBusiness Journal “Forty Under 40” honoree, Bevacqua also received the 2016 March of Dimes Sports Leadership Award.

Bevacqua graduated from the University of Notre Dame magna cum laude (1993), with bachelor’s degree in English. He earned a Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center, where he graduated cum laude (1997). Bevacqua serves on the board of directors for Georgetown Law and Brunswick School (Greenwich, Conn). He and his wife, Tiffany, have three children.

(For more information, visit: www.kolbecaths.org.)

TRUMBULL—St. Joseph High School, Connecticut’s largest, co-ed, Catholic, college preparatory school, is proud to announce that Olympic Snowboarding Medalist, Julia Marino, will speak to their students at an all-school Pep Rally on Monday, April 4 at 1:15 pm.

Julia Marino is a Westport native and attended St. Joseph High School from 2011 – 2014 before departing the school in order to pursue her Olympic dream full-time. While at St. Joes, Marino was a part of the Varsity Soccer team and coached by staff member, Jack Nogueira, including in 2013 as a member of the Class LL Girls Soccer State Championship team.

“She is an incredible competitor,” Nogueira remarked. “She was fearless at soccer so, naturally, that competitive spirit translated with snowboarding.”

While at St. Joes, the faculty and staff would not only encourage but support Marino’s dreams. During the first semester, Marino would attend classes like a typical student; but during the second semester, as her cross-country training began, she was given the opportunity to turn in assignments online. In 2014, Marino completed her education via an online program in order to turn to the sport professionally.

On April 4, Marino will speak at an all-school assembly in St. Joseph High School’s gymnasium. She will speak on her experiences as a professional athlete; perseverance and dedication; and balancing her education both on and off the slopes. Marino will also take the time to answer student questions and take photos with Cadets.

“While she may not have walked across the stage with her fellow classmates at Commencement, Julia is and always will be a Cadet,” remarked Nancy DiBuono, Principal. “There are many faculty members here who still remember teaching Julia and will continue to cheer her on every step of the way.”

About St. Joseph High School

St. Joseph High School (SJHS) strives to be the premier college preparatory school in Southern Connecticut. The school provides a learning environment that embraces the Gospel values of the Roman Catholic faith and promotes a commitment to family and community. SJHS prepares young women and men to realize their potential, helps them to excel in higher education, and provides a foundation to guide them throughout their lives. St. Joseph High School is a member of NCEA, NAIS, NEASC.  www.sjcadets.org

Photo by Owen Bonaventura

NEWTOWN—Last week, students and faculty at St. Rose of Lima School had a blue and yellow dress down day to show support. They also each donated $2 resulting in a collection of $600 which was sent to the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth to support their 17 Sisters who are ministering in Ukraine.  As another amazing connection, the St. Rose School Art teacher, Mrs. Meagan Ferriter, has displayed artwork from students in Ukraine ranging from age 5 to 15.  Mrs. Ferriter is part of Fermata Arts, an international organization focused on promoting peace through art.  All St. Rose School students have been visiting the exhibit which is filled with beautiful work and provides a connection between them and the children in Ukraine.  It is also a helpful springboard for teachers to discuss the current situation at age-appropriate levels. Mrs.Ferriter is working with her St. Rose School students on creating “We are the World” themed artwork that will be sent to classes in Ukraine eventually.

DANBURY—As part of its effort to demonstrate support for those suffering in Ukraine, students and staff have been meeting in the Chapel at 7 am to pray the Rosary with the school’s chaplain, Deacon Jeff Font. On Thursday, March 10, the school welcomed Father Ihor Vorontsov, a priest from the Byzantine Catholic Diocese of Mukachevo to speak with our students. Born and raised in Ukraine, his family still resides in the western part of Ukraine in a town called Zakarpattia. Father Ihor has been in the United States for six years and currently serves at St. Nicholas Church in White Plains, New York.

In his address to the students and faculty, he shared, “There is such a disaster in our country. Churches are doing a great job helping particularly women and children. Seminaries have become refugee camps.” Students were able to ask their questions about NATO and the U.S. positions as well as about the Diocese of Mukachevo. “The diocese is located in the western part of Ukraine near the Romanian, Hungarian and Slovakian borders and is for now somewhat protected because of its mountainous location. We need everyone to not remain indifferent. I thank the Immaculate community for its prayers and for wanting to help the people of Ukraine,” stated Father Vorontsov.

Student Olivia McDonough ’25 also has family ties to Ukraine. Her maternal grandparents were born in Ukraine. The war brings back terrible memories for Olivia’s grandmother, who remembers when Olivia’s grandfather was taken from his home in Ukraine and sent to a concentration camp. Having several family members still living in Ukraine has been very difficult for her family. Olivia decided that she wanted to do more. She said that “there has to be a way to raise money for Ukraine and at the same time to keep this war in the minds of all non-Ukrainians.”

In response to the need expressed by Father Ihor, students hosted a blue and yellow dress down day, along with selling Olivia’s bakery-style cookies and collecting additional free-will donations.  Their efforts raised $7,040 for the Diocese of Mukachevo. Funds are being sent directly to the Diocese of Mukachevo to feed those people who are on the border waiting to leave the country and those who are in the diocesan churches and rectories waiting for their fathers and husbands to return. For more information about the Diocese of Mukachevo’s efforts, visit www.munkacs-diocese.org/en/2022/03/05/announcement-on-assistance-to-alleviate-the-consequences-of-the-war-in-ukraine or contact Father Ihor Vorontsov directly, at: frvorontsov@gmail.com.

Immaculate High School is a private, non-profit Catholic college-preparatory institution serving students from 28 communities in Connecticut and New York. Founded in 1962, Immaculate High School also allows students to focus on academic excellence, spiritual development, service to others, and personal goals. Located in Danbury, Conn., Immaculate High School is a diocesan-sponsored independent school.

BRIDGEPORT—Kolbe Cathedral High School in Bridgeport, Conn. announced today that it has been approved for a $500,000 grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. It is one of the largest single grant awards in the school’s 46-year history and funding will go exclusively to need-based financial aid and scholarships for its students.

“We are thankful to the Hilton Foundation for their generosity and thrilled with the size and scope of this grant,” said Kolbe Cathedral Principal Camille Figluizzi. “It comes at a particularly challenging time for our families, and it will be life-changing for many of our students.”

Kolbe Cathedral is a small, high-performing, Catholic, college preparatory school in “the Hollow” section of Bridgeport. Despite severe socio-economic obstacles in the state’s largest city, the school’s graduation rate is 100 percent with a nearly 100% percent college acceptance rate annually.

In 2021, and faced with serious pandemic interruptions, Kolbe Cathedral had a graduating class of 69 students of which 81 percent entered a four-year college upon graduation, 16 percent attended a two-year college and 3 percent enrolled in a trade/vocational school. This class received over $18 million worth of scholarships to attend these institutions.

While Kolbe Cathedral’s annual tuition of $8,650 is one of the very lowest in Connecticut, 95 percent of its students are still in need of substantial financial aid to attend. “We pride ourselves in doing more with less,” said Rick Ryan, Kolbe Cathedral’s director of development. “The Hilton Foundation grant will be split to benefit our disadvantaged students immediately and better position us to address their future tuition assistance through our endowment.”

International hotelier Conrad N. Hilton established the grantmaking foundation that bears his name in 1944 to help people living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage worldwide. Today, the work continues, concentrating on efforts to ensure healthy early childhood development and sustainable livelihoods for youth, support young people transitioning out of foster care, improve access to housing and support services for people experiencing homelessness, identify solutions to safe water access, and lift the work of Catholic sisters.

Additionally, following selection by an independent, international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $2.5 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to an organization doing extraordinary work to reduce human suffering. The Foundation is one of the world’s largest, with approximately $8.5 billion in assets. It has awarded grants to date totaling more than $2.4 billion, $339 million worldwide in 2021. Please visit www.hiltonfoundation.org for more information.

(For more information on Kolbe Cathedral visit www.kolbecaths.org.)

DANBURY—Immaculate High School announced that student Veer Chetal was selected for and successfully completed Harvard’s Future Lawyers Program, a unique pre-professional program where students, guided by qualified Harvard undergraduate instructors, learn how to read and build a case, how to write position papers, and how to navigate the path to law school.

Over two weekends, program participants acquire a better comprehension of legal systems and the inner workings of the court system. They develop teamwork skills, gain awareness of history, and recognize how current events contextualize law in society today. They also understand how to prepare for the LSAT.

Veer liked working with the Harvard undergraduate instructors. He said, “The most interesting part of the HSA Future Lawyers Program was the Mock Trial. A Mock Trial is an imitation of a real trial. Every student involved in the program was assigned a role in the trial and was given time during the week and in the class to fulfill their role to its fullest potential. On the last day of the program, everyone got together and went through the trial. It was honestly a great experience and gave a lot of insight into what happens during a real case.”

He encourages students who might be interested in the program to “just be themselves, to be curious and to engage in conversations with their peers as well as the instructors.”

Immaculate High School is a private, non-profit Catholic college-preparatory institution serving students from 28 communities in Connecticut and New York. Founded in 1962, Immaculate High School also allows students to focus on academic excellence, spiritual development, service to others, and personal goals.  Located in Danbury, Conn., Immaculate High School is a Diocesan-sponsored independent school.

Today (February 9) Dr. Cheeseman issued the following letter as a response to the State Department of Education.

Download the PDF version of the letter or read below.

Dear Parents,

I am writing today as a follow up to my message on February 7th regarding the mask mandate. In addition to the reasons stated in my letter, the decision to move to mask optional was made with the recognition that parental choice is foundational to our schools as we recognize the importance of parents as the primary educators of their children. While some may disagree with me, I truly believe moving to mask optional is in the best interest of our students.

As many of you have heard by now, I have been asked by the state to rescind my decision (Letter from state) as it stands to be in violation of pending legislation. Yesterday, it was announced that, the Executive Order of Governor Lamont will be extended beyond February 15th by an act of the legislature, which will result in an announcement by the Commissioner of Health to end the statewide mask mandate on February 28th. Decisions to extend any mask mandate beyond the 28th would then rest with local authorities (thus allowing us to make the decision). Because the Executive Order includes private schools, we would be in violation of the law if we were to end our mask requirement next week as I had hoped. While we make this decision under protest, we will postpone our transition to a mask optional policy accordingly.

Notwithstanding our decision to comply with the extension of the Executive Order by the legislation, I must express my sincere concerns with the position taken by the legislators to extend an Executive Order that was originally put in place during a time of extraordinary national crisis. There are legitimate concerns as to whether this legislative act, as it relates to private and religious schools, is within their authority.

To summarize our position:

  • We agree with Governor Lamont that now is the time to give discretion to Superintendents on this issue;
  • We believe that the extension of his Executive Order by the legislature is an overreach;
  • Including non-public schools in such legislation threatens the established relationships between Church and state;
  • We stand behind the principle that parents are the primary educators of our children; and
  • We seek to protect our right to make decisions without the constraints of the public education systems.

In short, the current legislation gives the state Department of Education increased control over Catholic schools and this sets a dangerous precedent.

I know many of you may be disappointed. I call on each of you, as well as our neighboring dioceses and leaders in faith across our communities, to recognize this infringement and join in the public discourse by standing up for the rights of parents and leaders in private religious schools. Recently, a parent advocacy group was formed in the Diocese and I encourage you to get involved as there are genuine religious liberty issues to consider with the recent legislative action—issues that we will continue to monitor and seek change where necessary. The debate goes well beyond masks and it is important that your voice is heard on these important matters.

As a result of your cooperation and commitment, we have had tremendous success over this pandemic keeping our schools open safely without any communal spread or transmission of the virus among our children, families and staff. For this we are extremely proud. It was our independence from the public school directives that allowed us to maintain an outstanding educational experience for our children throughout this pandemic.

In the past few days, I have heard from many of you, and I want to thank you for your support and ask for your understanding over the next two weeks. Together we have brought this important issue to statewide attention, and there is much more to say. While there may be genuine differences of opinion, we all want the best for our children, and we believe that preserving Catholic school independence is a challenge we enthusiastically accept both now and in the future.

May God bless you and may Our Lady shower us with Her blessings as we work together in service to Christ.

Sincerely,

Dr. Steven F. Cheeseman
Superintendent of Schools
Diocese of Bridgeport

DANBURY—At the Foundations in Education reception held at Sacred Heart University’s Discovery Museum, Immaculate High School teachers Anthony D’Ausilio and Anthony Pellegrini were awarded innovative teacher grants.

D’Ausilio, an AP Physics and Computer Science teacher, received $11,000 for his proposal “Integrate Real World Data Collection and Analysis into Physics Labs,” an initiative to enhance how students collect and interpret raw data using an Application Program Interface (API) and computer coding to replicate a college course environment.  Band and Recording Studio teacher Pellegrini was awarded $2500 to augment the current recording studio with a cardioid condenser microphone and audio interface package to provide a professional quality podcast communication program.

In her congratulatory remarks, Principal Wendy Neil expressed her gratitude for the efforts of both teachers to further enhance student learning. “Immaculate is honored to have such passionate, innovative teachers who are responding to our need to provide an exemplary college preparatory experience for our students.”

In its 5th year, the Foundations in Education program was the first of its kind to offer innovation and leadership grants to teachers and administrators. Grants funded through this program are intended for transformative initiatives that benefit multiple grade levels and have a long-term impact on student learning. “We encourage teachers to dare to dream to create an innovative opportunity for their students,” explained Foundations’ Executive Director, Holly Doherty-Lemoine, CFRE. “Donors to Foundations in Education make this program possible and we are grateful to all who value innovation and leadership in the classroom. Thanks to their generous support, we are able to help strengthen and transform Catholic education.”

The event was sponsored by Milestone C, a Connecticut-based education company whose mission is to shape future STEM leaders. Founder and CEO David Conelias commented, “Foundations in Education and Milestone C are like-minded organizations; supporting one another is the first step to securing the future of a young generation. Our primary focus is to help support schools to remain at the cutting edge of academics and leadership development.”

Immaculate High School is a private, non-profit Catholic college-preparatory institution serving students from 28 communities in Connecticut and New York. Founded in 1962, Immaculate High School also allows students to focus on academic excellence, spiritual development, service to others, and personal goals.  Located in Danbury, Conn., Immaculate High School is a Diocesan-sponsored independent school.