Lake Zurich Mayor Tom Poynton Memorial Day Speech

Good Morning … and Welcome! to Lake Zurich’s American Legion Post 964’s 100th Annual Memorial Day tribute to our fallen heroes and today’s Memorial Day ceremony. 

First off … How about Josh Thompson and the Lake Zurich High School Marching Band … they are out here every single Memorial Day … rain, sleet, snow, heat. 

Last year it was 95 degrees. It’s a bit more bearable today. Thank You LZHS Band!

I am again honored to be here with you this morning as we reflect upon the “usual” theme of Memorial Day  … “Remember”.  

As the only veteran on the Lake Zurich Village Board …  I Remember.

We celebrate Memorial Day with parades and picnics, and we welcome in the unofficial beginning of summer.    

But … We cannot and we should not forget what this day is really all about.

Remember … the men and women who died while serving our country … and the sacrifices that they and their families have made on behalf of our country.  

As I thought about today and what I would say … that hasn’t already been said about Memorial Day (some things will be included in the Proclamation I will read in a few minutes) … I had a thought about …  “the letter”.

“The letter” … the one that starts with the so very sad phrase, 

“It is with deep regret that I inform you of the death of …”  

and the unfathomable grief and sense of loss suffered by the spouses, parents and families who have received “the letter” … a grief that cannot be relieved.

I began to think about how Memorial Day means more than just honoring and revering our war dead, but also to honor and revere those families who lost their loved ones. 

These people truly know what sacrifice is, 

for it is they who have lost their loved ones, 

it is they who have had to go on and persevere, 

it is they whose lives have completely changed,

It is they who have made, and continue to make, a sacrifice, each and every day, for our nation 

For they did not die in defending our nation’s honor and protecting our freedoms, but their loss is forever felt, and must be, of equal importance. 

We must recognize that. 

In the name of duty and service to our country that cost their loved ones their lives, they are the true, living face of Memorial Day. 

“From our little community, many individuals left in the various services of our country. Why it was ordained that some individuals should not return we don’t know – 

But what we do know is that each soldier answered the call because they believed it was their duty. In their own thoughts nothing less would have satisfied them. 

Each left behind families and loved ones.

We want the families of these men and women to whom we make this remembrance to realize that the citizens of the Village of Lake Zurich honor and respect them for the sacrifice each of them has made. 

Today, we again honor, respect … and remember our fallen soldiers and their loved ones. 

Today we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we can continue that our special way of life.

So … Go home, enjoy your hot dogs and potato salad, but make certain to spend a least a bit of time remembering and thanking in your hearts the brave men and women whose sacrifices made all this possible … and all the families who received “the letter”.

Where once our mission was to serve …                                                                    

Today our mission is reflection and remembrance. Your presence here today and that of the people gathering all across America is a tribute to those lost troops and to their Families. REMEMBER, While we are here … and as I mention every year … let’s also take a moment to remember the brave men and women of our Police, Fire, and Rescue departments … our first responders, who gave their lives in the line of duty so that we could be here today. 

On behalf of all the families of the Village of Lake Zurich, I wish to thank all the Veterans and their families, all the local Veterans who could not attend today, and all our local sons and daughters presently serving in the military.  

I extend our sincerest gratitude and thanks for your sacrifices as you make our country a better place for all of us. 

I hope you enjoy the weekend … but I hope you pause to reflect and remember.

Freedom is NOT free!    

Now I would like to ask …

American Legion Post 964  Commander Mike Hudson 

VFW Post 11020 Commander Tony Roberti 

… to please join me. (READ PROCLAMATION)

Thank you all for attending. 

Emmaus House of Hospitality in its 19th year of ministry

For the past few years, we at Emmaus House had the privilege of providing a mass announcement about our ministry.  We are blessed to have the opportunity to do so again.

If you are new to the parish, or simply need a refresher, allow me to provide a brief description of what we do for the least of our brothers and sisters.

Each Sunday night, with a few exceptions, right below us in Father Valker Hall we provide a community dinner and perishable food pantry for those who face difficulties with feeding themselves and their families. The dinners themselves are generously provided by various groups looking for outreach opportunities such as: St Francis ministries, parish groups, civic groups, businesses, area churches and school organizations.

We hand out dairy, meat, bread and produce to our guests in the harvest room following dinner.  This bounty is designed to help our guests make it through the week more comfortably until our dinner the following week.  The food is donated by our generous retail partners in the area, such as Costco, Jewel, Mariano’s, Trader Joe’s just to name a few.  Our volunteers go out to each of these establishments each week to rescue this food that we provide in the harvest room.

In addition to Sunday dinner and food pantry Emmaus House also sponsors other important programs for our guests including: Jeepers Sneakers, which provides back to school shoes for children, Undie Sunday which distributes new underwear and socks for school age children.

Emmaus does other important work in our community. For example, in the past year, we have provided funding to pay rents, mortgages and utilities for people in danger of losing their homes or apartments. This critical funding provides people with much needed time to get back on their feet financially and to stay in their residencies.  These are just a few of the examples of the great things that the Emmaus House does each week.

As always, thank you to all who have volunteered or supported Emmaus House in any way by giving of your time, talents, resources and prayers. We could not do this without everyone’s help and we should be proud of this as parishioners in the Lord’s work.

Each year, we asked for additional support for our mission and the Lord answered our prayers. It is important to note that we are an entirely volunteer-led ministry.  We have no employees of any kind. All of our Board Members and volunteers carve out time from their other family and professional responsibilities to contribute to this ministry.  Each year following mass announcements we are invigorated by new members of Emmaus House who work at our dinners, or rescue food, or serve on our Board or in some amazing cases, do all of the above. We are so grateful for the extra sets of hands, hearts and minds. It is truly a blessing.

We pray that this year will be no different as we are still in need of new volunteers.  The good news is we have a great program set up by our founders. It’s our job to continue what they have put in place. You can help as little as you want or as much as you want. A much needed opportunity is to be Emmaus representative/coordinator for Rock the Block – for a third year Emmaus House will be the recipient of raffle proceeds that we will use to help us fund our important community projects. There are many more short or long term projects. The message is simply this. If you feel that you want to lend a hand, we will find a way for you to help as little or as much as you would like and fits your desires.

If you would like to learn more about Emmaus House and how you could help, I invite you to go to our website through the parish website, or give us a call. We are listed in the bulletin each week and the parish e-newsletter.

Finally, we cannot say it enough, on behalf of the entire Emmaus House, “Thank you Father Ryan for your support of our ministry”. We could not continue to function without your blessing. For the past several years Emmaus House has been the recipient of the raffle proceeds for Rock the Block. We would not be fortunate enough to have that benefit without the partnership and support of Father Ryan.  This is just one example, among countless other times, that Father Ryan looks out for opportunities to further the Emmaus House ministry.

Thank you again Father Ryan and thank you all for your support and for listening to our request for further help.

In memory of Cecilia Solecki, longtime tireless volunteer for Emmaus House and other parish ministries.

A Thank You from the Linares Family


From the bottom of our hearts, we extend our eternal gratitude for your love, support, and meals during our beloved Marcos’ short-lived illness and passing to our Father’s Celestial Kingdom.  We are heartbroken, but we have been able to understand and accept God’s plan because of our faith. Your prayers have carried us gracefully through this painful process. We have once again felt the presence of our parish family of 23 years.

Father Ryan, we will always treasure your visits, Masses, and words of encouragement, along with the unique gift of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, reassuring us that She was and will continue to be with us because of her clear signs of her presence in our journey.

A special thank you to Tricia Hupperich for helping us plan Marcos’ funeral with such love and compassion, and to Bonnie Balster, Mary Manson, other Bereavement Ministers, and Cindy Blank for assisting Tricia with the planning process.

Thank you so much to Father Róger Corrales-Díaz for being the Concelebrant, and to Deacon George Flaherty for being the Deacon of the Mass and for giving Marcos the final blessing at Ascension Cemetery!

We are also very grateful to Mary McCullough, Patricia Stewart, Diane Bryant, and the St. Francis Children’s Choir for providing the beautiful music!  You sounded like angels!!

Thank you so much to the Eucharistic Ministers, our longtime St. Francis friends Teresa and Chuck Bartels, Linda Dodds, Frank Johnstone, and Greta Rusk. Thank you also to the Altar Servers, Adam Galdoni and Nicholas Rodríguez.

Finally, a big thank you to Rose Weismann, Pam Urban, and Maureen Kowalski for organizing the Luncheon and coordinating the meals, as well as to the many volunteers that contributed with food and donations!  We will be forever grateful!!

May God bless ALL of you abundantly!!


Patricia, Estefan, and Natalia Linares

Yes, Virginia.  Miracles Still Happen! | Ray Urban

I have often felt disappointed that I didn’t have a closer personal relationship with our Lord.  I hear other people talk about being closely connected to Jesus on a daily basis. I pray but don’t seem to get a response.  Am I doing something wrong? Why isn’t my prayer life more fruitful? Can’t Jesus give me a sign that He hears me?

In mid-September I had a chest x-ray in a regularly scheduled physical that discovered a nodule in my upper right lung.  A quick series of medical tests resulted in surgery to remove the nodule (no one says the word that begins with the letter “c” but everyone knows that there is a risk of cancer) on October 2nd.  As I lay in recovery and regained consciousness from the anesthesia, the surgeon said all was well, and the nodule was benign.  Praise Be to God!

However, the story takes a strange turn at this point.  Much to the bewilderment of an experienced surgeon, the nodule was identified as a coccidioidomycosis fungus which is commonly called Desert Fever.  It affects about 100,000 people annually living in a dry, desert-like climate – 60% of the cases arise in the greater Phoenix area.  While my surgeon has seen this fungus in Chicagoland, these patients are “snow birds” who spend a considerable amount of time in Arizona during winter.  However, while I travel for business, the last time I visited Arizona was 10 years ago. The spores of the fungus do not travel far in the air and are not contagious from an already-inflected individual.

Because of the mysterious cause of this illness, we agreed I should seek counsel from an infectious disease specialist as a follow up.  Reviewing the paper work, the specialist initially thought that the pathologist mis-diagnosed the nodule and personally did a second analysis of the nodule removed from my lung.  He confirmed Desert Fever. He has seen this fungus in the Midwest but only in patients who are either snow birds or are lab technicians who accidentally expose themselves to the spores and become infected.

So, how did I contract a disease that modern medical science says it is impossible to contract?  The answer came to me at about 1 am in bed: maybe it was the Holy Spirit in action. In answer to my prayers, my family’s prayers, and the prayers of many in the St. Francis community, the Holy Spirit turned a potentially serious cancer into a harmless nodule.  Sound impossible? If God created the universe and can turn ordinary bread/wine into the Body/Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, changing the molecules of this nodule is no big deal. The Holy Spirit, however, has a sense of humor and turned the nodule into a fungus that is scientifically impossible for me to contract!  It’s like the Holy Spirit saying, “you wanted a sign that your prayers are heard and answered, Raymond – well, here it is.”

There is one last part to this story.  I saw my personal physician in Lake Zurich following my meeting with the specialist.  He told me that he had several phone conversations with the surgeon prior to surgery and that the pre-surgery prognosis was not optimistic.  After the exam, he left the room but returned about 30 seconds later. Standing at the door, he said “I don’t know if you are a religious man, but you are very lucky and have just been given a second life.  God must have something very important for you to do.” My doctor is Jewish and a good friend.

The whole saga of my illness has been very instructive.  It taught me that prayers do matter. Also, there are miracles happening around us every day, but we need to open our hearts and minds to their existence.  It also taught me that it is not possible for us to know God’s plan for us. We just need to trust Him, listen to the seeds He plants in our souls (even at 1 am in the morning), and treat every day as a gift that should be shared with others.  Amen?

Again, my most heart-felt thanks to everyone who kept me in their prayers.  A special thanks to Father Ryan who, with Deacon John, anointed me in the sacristy prior to surgery.  And, of course, to my very special wife, Pam, who was at my side – physically and spiritually – throughout the ordeal. THANK YOU!

May God bless you all,


St. Francis de Sales: Best School Ever! | An Essay by Daniel Barker (Jan 18, 2018)

St. Francis de Sales is a fantastic school full of wonderful people. It has an excellent education, many fun activities, as well as being accepting and helpful to all people. I used to wonder why my parents sent me to St. Francis instead of a public school, but after being here for nine years, I know why. I have had many unforgettable experiences and am extremely lucky to have attended the school for nine whole years.

St. Francis has an extremely good education and helps whoever attends the school to become better Catholics. We go to the same classes every day, but learn in different ways throughout the classes. Sometimes we make presentation so we can teach the class ourselves. We also do some projects so we aren't just reading from a textbook all day long. We even work in groups to learn how to solve problems better. These are just some of the examples we learn here at St. Francis de Sales. St. Francis also has great religious education. Every Wednesday the whole school goes to mass where Father Ryan ask questions to help us learn more about our Catholic faith. On the first Friday of the month, we go to First Friday Adoration. Along with going to Church and Adoration, we have religion class every day, where we learn about Jesus and his apostles. The variety of things we learn at St. Francis makes learning enjoyable and makes me want to learn more.

Along with school work, St. Francis has many extracurricular activities. For example, the play and the variety show give kids a chance to perform on stage and showcase their talents for the whole school. There is also various sports to play to stay active and have fun with your friends. Even if you aren't into sports there are still things for you to do. There's a band that performs concerts for the school, and there is many clubs that take place after or before school. The extracurricular activities gives you a break from the school work and a chance to have some fun with your friend. Having basketball or National Junior Honor Society after school gives me something to look forward to even if I'm having a bad day. These activities make St. Francis a great place to have fun and learn at the same time.

Even if you aren't Catholic or come from a different place than us, you are still welcome here and St. Francis. We are accepting to all people and welcome any new students that come here. When we go to mass on Wednesdays, you are still welcome even if you are a different religion. Not only are we accepting to people, but we try to help whoever we can. We make cards for people who are sick or for the veterans of the army. There is  different types of drives like the food drive, and clothing drive that we have to benefit people that are in need of certain things. Around Christmas time we have a tree that is decorated with mittens. The mittens have items that less fortunate people need. People take the mittens, buy the item that's listed on the mitten, and then return it to the church as a wrapped present. The present then go to the people who are in need. Finally, we have the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry. Every Thursday people who need food can come and get food from our food pantry. The ways that we try to help all people and accept everyone shows that St. Francis is not only a school, it is a community.

Some people may think that the cost is too high to attend St Francis. Although this is a big deal to some people, we will help you throughout your journey. We provide you with help if you are in need of the money. If you think that is just not worth it, it most definitely is. There is experiences here that can be matched in any other school and we want you to experience them with us. So if you think that St. Francis is too much money attend, know that we are here to help you.

St. Francis is a great school that people should attend. If you are in preschool or even an eighth grade, you are still welcome to come here. We have a great education, many fun activities, and are welcoming to all people. No matter what age you are we hope to see you soon at St. Francis de Sales and as father Ryan says “We are all for one and one for all in Jesus Christ.“

Catholic Schools Week | An Essay by Kaylie Freeland (Jan 17, 2018)

This week is Catholic schools week. Catholic schools week is a very fun time for all St. Francis de Sales students. One thing that my school, St. Francis de Sales, does during Catholic schools week is put on a variety show. It is very entertaining. Students get to show off their special talents. Even though Catholic schools week is very fun, it’s time to get down to business. Today I would like to give thanks to our St. Francis de Sales Parish church community.

First, thank you, to anyone who took time out of their day to find it in their kind hearts to donate even just a cent of their money to my school. My school wouldn't be possible without your donations. St. Francis has used your donations for things like Chromebooks and iPads for us students to use. There we can use apps to help us understand what we are learning or to learn something new. For example, there's an app called IXL that we use a lot in Language Arts. This app lets you practice your Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, and Spanish skills. I think this app is very helpful because it helps me learn new language arts skills. We also use the money to repave the front parking lot. This helped cover a potholes, so it would be safer in the parking lot. Thank you so much for donating money to my school. The students at St. Francis appreciate it very much.

Next, I would like to thank my parents. Thank you so much for sending me to St. Francis de Sales. I love the school so much, I have made so many amazing memories here. All the memory started the moment I walked in. Second grade I came to St. Francis. This was the first school I ever attended where I stayed longer than 2 years. This is because I kept on moving schools and houses. I've attended St. Francis for six years, and I am in eighth grade now. St. Francis is my second home. Thank you Mom and Dad, for sending me to St. Francis.

Finally, I will be telling you why you should send your child or children to St. Francis. Yes, public schools in this area of very good. Yet, Catholic schools have more to offer. First, at St. Francis you can talk about your religion freely. You can talk about God with your classmates. Typically at the end of the day, teachers teach their students a religion class. Also, every Wednesday we go to a school Mass. Usually children in grades one through eight attend Mass. Father Ryan asks questions about our faith during the homily. If you get one right you get a Three Musketeer bar. Next, school is fun. The students get to use technology, whether it's an iPad or a Chromebook. Plus the teachers are very nice and fun. For example, in math, we get to play a fun game called math land. It's a game where there are teams, and each team tries to answer questions right for their team to advance farther on the board. Next, they make the learning atmosphere very comfortable. In addition, St. Francis has many sports programs. Students can sign up for sports that they would like to play. They even play games and tournaments against many other Catholic schools. Finally you don't have to be Catholic to go to St Francis St Francis accepts everyone, no matter their religion. We have many students that aren't Catholic. For example, when they go up for communion at Mass, they get a blessing instead of communion. These are only a few reasons why you should send your child or children to St. Francis.

In conclusion, thank you so much St. Francis parish and parents for everything that you do for our school. I strongly suggest you to send your child to St. Francis. Tha is one decision that you will not regret. Thank you, everyone, for every single thing that you do for St. Francis de Sales Catholic school. It is very much appreciated.

Reflecting and Moving Forward | An Essay by Spiros Pissios (Jan 22, 2018)

My journey at St. Francis de Sales began on August 25th, 2006. I walked into my first day of preschool and never would I have expected to have such a great experience. This school is a place where I met my friends and grew closer to God for the next 11 years of my life. St. Francis de Sales has been my second home for 11 years and counting. Well being at St. Francis, I am learning beyond what’s essential. Besides learning the core subjects, teachers teach students how to treat others, how to blossom into the person he or she wants to be, and how to become a well-rounded individual. I value my educational experience at St. Francis de Sales because of the safe environment, religious opportunities, and high school preparation.

When I enter the doors of the school, I have this sense of security. It's the same feeling I get when I'm at home with my family. I feel this because of how every teacher and staff member treats each student with respect and kindness. They do whatever they can to make students feel safe and stay safe in the environment. For many of the children, the sense of security is good so they can focus on the class work. St. Francis also is a good place for students to learn more about their religion.

Attending St. Francis de Sales allows me to go to religion class every day for 45 minutes. It's a special time of the day to learn more about faith and how to stay closer to God. While in religion class, students can understand what it truly means to be Catholic. In religion we talked about the history of our church and how many early followers had to persevere to keep the church going throughout the years. Religion class is also a good time to reflect on what we can do to better ourselves and the people around us. Being reminded every day on how we should treat each other the same way we want to be treated.  It's good for every grade level to understand how to treat others with respect and kindness. St. Francis de Sales school not only prepares us spiritually, but also prepares us academically for the next chapter in our life, High School.

Our school is known to be great for high school preparation. Just recently, I shadowed at a Catholic High School. During my stay, the student I was shadowing was taking a test that same day. I took the test and later found out I received the third best score in the class. As the day continued, I felt like I was almost “re-learning”  what I have at St. Francis. This truly shows how well St. Francis prepares their students for the next level. Every year I see past students come back whether it's after graduation are on a day off, and personally thank teachers they've had in the past for helping them start on the right track. I know one day I'll be back doing the same.

Some people who are deciding if they want to send a child or children to St. Francis may be stunned by the tuition fee. It is definitely an investment. I say investment because you invest your money and time into your child's current and future success. I don't think I can ever repay what my parents invested in me between school, sports, and extracurricular activities, and for that I am very thankful.

When I come to the school, I can still remember being in three-year-old preschool with my friends who are still among me today. It's crazy thinking about all of the accomplishments in the last 11 years of my life. The friendships I've made, the knowledge I've gained, and how every action I have made has led me to the person I am today. Without everyone and everything in my life, the person I am today would be absent. When I think of my life, believe it or not, most of it is at Saint Francis de Sales because that's where I grew up. You gave me my morals, dreams, and education. Writing this has made me realize that it is time for me to start the next chapter in my life, but you never forget where it all began. As the Book of Matthew says in verse 16 chapter 18, “ on this rock I will build my church,”  for me, St. Francis is the rock of which I will build my life.

St Francis de Sales School: A Journey | An Essay by Meredith Modelski (January 17, 2018)

St. Francis de Sales School has shaped me into the person I am today, and there are many reasons why I value my educational experience at the school. It is very easy to take privileges for granted, but when I stop to think about the opportunities St. Francis de Sales School has granted me and so many other children, I learned to appreciate my educational experience even more. If a student attends St. Francis de Sales School, he or she will get a valuable education, will become prepared for high school, and will gain beneficial social skills and relationships.

One of the most important necessities people often overlooked is a valuable education. Sure, all of us here have received some sort of education, but have the things you learned in school helped you to better yourself in the future? Hopefully, your answer is yes, but at St. Francis, you won’t even need to hope; it is guaranteed that the information a student learns will help them later on in life. Not only do the children at St Francis de Sales become well-rounded students from the diverse classes, but they will also learn at a pace that is right for them. With multiple levels of each class, students can understand and grasp information at a rate that suits his or her learning capabilities.

Keeping up good grades is highly praised at St. Francis de Sales School. Since many students are taught to value the importance of keeping their grades up in elementary and middle school, they will be prepared to do the same in high school and in their years beyond. During my years at St. Francis, I have learned the benefits that come with carrying about the work, time, and effort being put into school. Because of St. Francis’ praise and encouragement to maintain commendable grade averages, I know that I will be determined to do just as well, if not better in my high school years, and years beyond.  One positive thing about the grading scale provided at St. Francis de Sales School is that it is more stringent compared to other schools, so the students that attend SFS are likely to easily succeed when they are presented with a more lenient grading scale in the future.

Along with education provided at SFS, the social skills and relationships that I’ve developed during my time at the school has had a positive effect on my life. Since the children at St. Francis de Sales School range in ages from 3 to 14, I’ve learned to socialize with many different children of all ages. The sports and clubs offered at SFS have helped me make so many friends during my experience here. I am involved in many school activities, but one that has really shaped me as a person are the musicals. I always had a goal to be in the musicals ever since I was very young at St Francis. Little did I know that I would end up creating so many friendships that would last forever just by being more involved. I developed a strong interest in singing, acting, and in general, entertaining just from being in the school musicals; they are always something to look forward to after the school day. Being in the oldest grade of the school automatically makes the 8th graders role models for the rest of the school students. This helps us to set a good example for the younger grades and to learn to be more aware of our actions.  Since all children are welcome at St. Francis de Sales School, the students here are taught to be kind and accepting towards each other. Something that brings nearly every student closer together is the faith-based education. If you send your child to St. Francis, they will develop a closer relationship with God. Not all schools offer religious education, but St. Francis de Sales School can help any student grow closer to his or her faith. When I came to St. Francis in first grade, I didn’t know much about my own religion. Now as an eighth grader, I have a much better understanding of my religion, and I have grown closer to God throughout my journey at St Francis.

Some people believe there are too many sacrifices families must be willing to take they are sending the children to St. Francis de Sales, but there are many more positive effects and benefits overall. Money is often a big concern, but the overall decision is worth it in the end and will benefit the student greatly in the future. I know that my parents feel they made the right decision when they sent me here, and I feel that the benefits of the great education outweighed any negative concerns. Another worry among incoming students at St. Francis maybe that they will have to wear uniforms. Coming from a school that didn’t have uniforms, at first I wasn’t all that excited myself. I can now confidently say that uniforms actually have had a positive effect on my life at school. Uniforms reduce the amount of time it takes for students to get ready in the morning, and they can eliminate judgment that comes with comparing clothing.

Overall, by sending your child to St. Francis de Sales School, they will receive a valuable education, they will become prepared for high school, they will gain valuable relationships and social skills. I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to learn and grow here for the past 8 years. It has taught me that I can accomplish my dreams and goals if I put my mind to it. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” St. Francis has taught me to believe in the beauty of my own dreams that I can accomplish anything. Children will thrive with St. Francis de Sales’ positive environment that will benefit them for their entire life.  I know I have, and all of the lessons I’ve learned here at St. Francis will stay with me forever.

A Blue Ribbon Thank You! A Speech given by Principal Kyle Schmitt

St Francis de Sales School Principal, Kyle Schmitt, spoke at all masses the weekend of November 24th & 25th to reflect on the Blue Ribbon Award. Below is his speech.

The occasion for my remarks today are to give thanksgiving. As some of you may have heard, or seen from the new banners flying on the parish buildings or in the narthex, our school has won its second Blue Ribbon Award. We won the award in 2007 and now again in 2018. I am here today to share with you what that means exactly.

I want to start with some facts. There are approximately 130,000 total public and private schools in the United States. Of those 130,000, 349 schools received the Blue Ribbon Award this year. That equates to 0.2% of the schools in the United States. 300 of those schools were public, and 49 were private. Right now, we are among the 49 best private schools in the country. That is what this award means and that is what we are claiming and celebrating today.

The Blue Ribbon Award program began in 1982 and since it’s inception over the last 26 years less than 9000 schools have received the distinction at some point which is ~14% of the 130,000 schools. Please note that a school is only eligible to apply once every five years. Of the 9000 schools that have received the award, less than 10% of schools have received it more than once. As a two-time award winning school we are part of that very select group.

Theresa Grom, our assistant principal, and I had the honor and privilege of traveling to Washington DC last week to accept the award at the ceremony. But it is the entire parish community that has won this award. We all had a hand in this achievement. God deserves the first praise. All the glory and honor are ultimately his and his alone. Our primary reason for existing as a Catholic school is to bring our students to know, love, and serve God the father, Jesus the son, and the Holy Spirit. That is our mission.

Without the support of Father Ryan and you, the parish, our school would not have won this award. Fr. Ryan’s unwavering commitment and support are inspirational. It takes a sizable investment of financial resources to build and maintain the program of academic excellence we have at St. Francis de Sales. Tuition, paid by families, covers a bit more than half of the total cost of education per student. Fundraising contributes a modest amount as well. The remainder of the investment, which represents about a third of the total cost per pupil, is provided by Fr. Ryan to the school on behalf of the parish. The parish investment allows us to not only keep our doors open, but to remain affordable to all families that seek a Catholic education, and to invest in achieving excellence in our programs.     

And of course we would not be a school of excellence without our wonderful students and parents, our dedicated faculty and staff, and our many generous volunteers, donors, and other special friends - many of whom were able to join us two Wednesdays ago in a celebration party.

So thank you for having me here to share this news with you and thank you for your support of our successes. After mass, I will be at a table in the gathering space if you’d like to stop by, ask questions about the award, chat about your alumni story, or buy Christmas Cards designed by our art club students.