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Lake Catholic Announces Hiring of Director of Enrollment Management

February 22, 2024
By Lake Catholic

Lake Catholic is pleased to announce the hiring of Diana Fogarty as the Director of Enrollment Management. 

“We are pleased to announce the hiring of Diana Fogarty as our Director of Enrollment Management,” Lake Catholic President John Morabeto said. "As we look to increase the number of students who receive an extraordinary Lake Catholic education, Diana provides the qualifications to execute the appropriate short- and long-term strategies."

Fogarty has worked at St. Joseph Academy in Rocky River for the past 14 years, most recently as the Director of Admission since 2019. 

In that role, she planned events including open houses, visit days, special events and testing; analyzed prospective student demographics and trends for increasing enrollment each year; processed student applications including transfer and international students; planned and executed summer camps; and much more.

Prior to her role as Director of Admission, Fogarty also served as Assistant Director of Admission (2014-2019) and Admissions Coordinator (2010-2014). 

Tess Connolly (’16) Returning Home as Head Volleyball Coach

February 05, 2024
By Lake Catholic

Lake Catholic is pleased to welcome home Tess Connolly (Lake Catholic Class of 2016) as its next head volleyball coach.

“We are very excited to announce Tess Connolly as the next head coach for the Lake Catholic volleyball program,” said Athletic Director Erik Schroeder. “Tess brings a ton of experience from her playing days here, playing Division I college volleyball, and coaching at her current school. She has demonstrated great leadership skills as both a player and a coach. It’s exciting to have an alum carry on the strong tradition of Lake Catholic volleyball for our players, school, and community.”

Connolly takes over for Kara Oster (’10) who stepped down after leading the Cougars to back-to-back Division III state championships to commit more time to her career and her family.

“Coming back to Lake Catholic means so much to me,” Connolly said. “I feel like I’m coming home. Lake Catholic gave me so many tools that helped me become the best person, student, and athlete I could be. I would not have had the same success in life without the guidance and support I received while at Lake Catholic.” 

Connolly was a four-year starter for Lake Catholic, earning all-conference first-team honors her senior season, before receiving a full scholarship to Iona College (New Rochelle, New York), where she was also a four-year starter. While at Iona, she was honored as Iona College Female Rookie Athlete of the Year (2016). During her junior season (2018), she was named Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Player of the Week, helped lead the Gaels to the MAAC regular season and MAAC tournament championships, while advancing to the NCAA Division I tournament. She was also named a team captain for her senior season (2019).

Since August of 2021, Connolly has been a teacher and volleyball coach at St. John’s Preparatory High School in Astoria, New York. She’s taught algebra, computer science, physical education, and child psychology. As a coach, she began the Red Storm’s boys’ volleyball program and serves as its head coach. She was also the head JV/assistant varsity coach for the girls’ team.

Connolly said she will finish out the school year at St. John’s before moving back to the area, where her parents and brother still reside. She said she plans on coming back to Lake Catholic for a few days later this month to meet the girls on the team in person.

The following is a brief Q&A with Connolly.

Why did you apply? Why was now the right time for you to come home?
I applied for the coaching position because I wanted to give back to Lake Catholic, my community and be closer to my family. When I heard about the open position, I got a gut feeling, and I could not stop thinking about it. Lake Catholic has a tremendous tradition, and the volleyball program has been very successful, and I want to help continue the positive impact that the school and the program have. I want to help all my student-athletes remember their time at Lake Catholic and be filled with fun and happy memories.

The program has such a strong tradition and successful history, what will you bring to the program?
I will bring skill/technique development, mental toughness, and leadership to the whole Lake Catholic volleyball program. I was taught by some of the best coaches in Ohio and New York, and I will teach those same skills to our players. I bring a history of success in high school, JO, and college. I know what it means to play in meaningful games, to play in front of hundreds and thousands of people, and to succeed in those situations.

What is your coaching philosophy?
I believe my coaching philosophy is surrounded by three key aspects: discipline, skill-based coaching, and motivation. Volleyball is a game, and it has to be fun. And it has to be a way for each player to grow and improve, both in volleyball skills and in life skills. My players learn volleyball, but they also learn teamwork and discipline. To be successful, each player has to develop skills around passing, hitting, communication, and defense, and, as a teacher, I take pride in teaching and developing those skills in each and every player.

Any added pressure knowing they are back-to-back state champs, have been to the state tournament three years in a row, and have a lot of talent returning?
Of course, I want to continue the great success the program has had over the years and in the past three years in particular. I have always been very competitive throughout my volleyball career, in JO, in high school, and at Iona College. I still have a strong competitive edge as a coach, and I believe that helps me to push myself and my student-athletes. I have seen how much talent the program has returning, and I am very excited to see what the future can bring for us. To improve as a team, each and every player has to improve, and I have the teaching skills across all positions to teach the proper fundamentals and to push each player to reach her full potential. Get better, every player, every day.

When will you get a chance to meet the girls on the team?
I will be traveling back to Mentor for a few days in February, and I will visit Lake Catholic to meet the girls on the team. I am very excited to meet them. I have heard amazing things about them all, and I can’t wait to help them grow both on and off the volleyball court.

Are you finishing out the school year in New York?
Yes, I will be finishing the school year at my current high school. As a teacher and coach, I strongly believe in finishing what you start and never leaving something unfinished. I have done a lot at my current school and could not imagine leaving all of my amazing co-workers, friends, students, and student-athletes without a proper goodbye.

Is your family still in the area? If so, how nice will it be to come home and be back around family and friends?
Yes, my family still lives in the area. My parents live in my childhood home, and my brother lives in Mentor. I truly missed my family and friends while in New York, and I cannot wait to be close to them again. I know they will continue to support me, and it will be easier for me to support them once I return to Ohio. Of course, a lot has changed since I left, but I am excited to have the support of my family and friends as I start the next chapter of my life.



Science Department Chair Chris Ronzi Awarded Another Toshiba Grant

December 14, 2023
By Lake Catholic

Giving money directly to teachers brings immediate results in the classroom.

It’s the approach Toshiba America Foundation (TAF) takes with its grants, funding projects designed by individual classroom teachers. 

Lake Catholic Science Department Chair Chris Ronzi is happy to benefit from the approach.

Earlier this month, Ronzi was presented with a grant of $2,646, which she’ll put toward the rebirth of the school’s vivarium. It’s the second grant Ronzi has received from Toshiba.

“We are renovating the space and want to incorporate (two) hydroponic gardens to educate our environmental chemistry class as well as our biology students,” she said. 

The two hydroponic towers will serve multiple purposes and lessons for those environmental chemistry and biology classes. Immediately, students will be able to grow different types of produce – lettuce, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, arugula, spinach, and kale, just to name a few.

“We want to be able to help out the Meal Ministry program,” Ronzi said. “Having the ability to provide fresh vegetables and herbs to prepare those meals would be awesome.” Meal Ministry meets once a month to cook a large hot meal in the school’s Campus Ministry office that is delivered to local shelters.

“With two towers, we would be able to also help our entire school community by allowing students in need to take some of the produce home to help out their parents,” she said.

Students will not only continue to grow plants in soil in the vivarium’s grow beds but having the hydroponic towers will help educate them on a whole different method of growing. A longer-term lesson for students will be on sustainability and climate change.

They will be able to investigate and observe the needs of plants in a different modality than the more widely used soil model. They will see the value of growing hydroponically in areas where water and soil are limited.

“They will see the value of growing hydroponically in areas where water and soil are limited,” Ronzi said. “In a world where global warming is an issue that we face, optimal conditions for plant growth will decrease. Having experience with hydroponics will give the students a certain level of expertise that they will feel confident to carry on in their adulthood, fostering a love of plants and healthy eating.”

Students will learn responsibility in managing the hydroponic systems by incorporating STEM concepts into their classroom experience. This will allow them to see how hydroponics can reduce human impact on the earth, helping to conserve water and to be able to provide a much more nutritious and sustainable product. 

In biology classes specifically, the students learn about macromolecules and nutrition, and having the towers would lead to a culminating project where they would plan a meal to assemble in our school kitchen focusing on the nutrition knowledge that they gained in the unit.

Ronzi’s first grant from TAF, for $5,000, was back in 2014. With those funds, she purchased Anatomy in Clay supplies for both her anatomy class and human biology to use. 
“Over the years, there has been proof to substantiate that hands-on experience with using the manikins has been valuable with them retaining the knowledge about bones, muscles, and organs,” she said. “Students remember them better when they have built them.”

Toshiba America Foundation’s grants funds projects designed by individual classroom teachers. This “direct-to-teacher” approach brings immediate results. Teachers are able to change the way they teach Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects because the grant supports equipment for hands-on experiments and inquiry-based approaches to the curriculum. At ATF, they believe STEM is a lot more fun than just reading a textbook. TAF grants provide teachers with the tools they need to be more effective educators. The grants make the classroom a more exciting place for both teachers and students.

Tags: Academics

Torch of Loyalty Awarded at President's Circle Reception

December 07, 2023
By Lake Catholic

Pass on the Torch of Loyalty. 

It’s written right there in the Lake Catholic alma mater.

At this year’s President’s Circle Reception, the Torch of Loyalty was literally passed on to a Lake Catholic legend who has figuratively passed on that torch throughout his life – before, during, and since his time at the school.

President John Morabeto, in his first President’s Circle address, awarded Fr. Marty Polito with the Torch of Loyalty Award for his years of service to Lake Catholic and its entire community.

As Morabeto explained, “The Torch of Loyalty Award is the most prestigious award a Lake Catholic High School President can bestow upon an individual or family. This award is designed to honor extraordinary individuals demonstrating the core values of Lake Catholic and a commitment to the success of Lake Catholic for generations to come.”

Although Fr. Marty accepted the award to a standing ovation, he wondered aloud, “When Carla (Ronnebaum, Lake Catholic Director of Advancement) came to mass and told me that I would be honored with this award, I asked her ‘For what? What have I done?’”

From 1986-1996, Fr. Marty served as the Chaplain at Lake Catholic. His responsibilities included serving as the Spiritual Director, the key figure in faith formation for students through service, retreats, liturgical celebrations, and prayer services. He was inducted into the school’s Hall of Excellence in 1992.

Before coming to Lake Catholic, he served at Holy Redeemer Parish in Collinwood, where he now serves as the parish’s pastor. He has married many Lake Catholic alumni, baptized others, and performed other milestone sacraments – First Reconciliation, First Communion, and/or Confirmation.

“I was honored to be sent here,” Fr. Marty said. “I was honored that the Diocese and Lake Catholic trusted me. I’m honored by the parents who provided the opportunity for such a great education to their sons and daughters. And there have been honors along the way even after I left. A lot of former students keep in touch, some have stopped by Holy Redeemer to say hello or even became part of the community there.”

He went to tell a story from 10 years ago when he had to have quadruple bypass surgery. He was recovering from the surgery at his brother and sister-in-law’s house in Mentor, where he would take daily walks as he rebuilt his strength.

One day he came across a high-school-aged boy, who was wearing a Lake Catholic shirt while playing basketball in his driveway. Fr. Marty said he stopped to talk to the young man and asked him if he went to Lake Catholic, which he did. He asked him to tell him about it, what he liked about it.

“This was well after I had left Lake Catholic, so he didn’t know me.” Fr. Marty said. “But he told me that he liked his teachers and his classes. He liked his coaches. And then he told me that ‘they would give the students whatever they wanted or needed,’ it’s just the kind of place it was. And that’s the wonder of the Lake Catholic community.”

He again thanked Morabeto, Lake Catholic and everyone in attendance, and then spent the rest of the evening greeting and reminiscing with the more than 150 attendees.
In addition to the engraved Torch of Loyalty crystal, Fr. Marty was also presented with a custom stole with the image of the chapel's stained-glass window embroidered onto each side.

Prior to presenting the award to Fr. Marty, Morabeto spoke about his first six months as President and a few important plans for the future.

He thanked those in attendance for the gracious welcome he’s felt since arriving, reiterated the good work Principal Tom McKrill (’07) and the faculty continue to do, and noted the many successes the students have achieved in the classroom, spiritually, artistically, and athletically.

He went on to promote the return of the Hall of Excellence, which recognizes distinguished members of the Lake Catholic community for their professional success and commitment to service. New members of the Hall of Excellence will be honored at the 40th Annual Gala on March 23, 2024.

Morabeto announced the plans to completely renovate the school’s locker rooms.

“Spaces that have received little attention for decades will be transformed into college-style locker rooms that are open concept and allow for a common space for teams to gather with coaches and yet private restrooms and shower facilities.

“The entire project will cost $1 million and thanks to the good work done by my predecessor, Mark Crowley, we have already secured a generous $500,000 lead gift.”
The hope, Morabeto said, is for the project to begin after this school year.

He finished his remarks by reminding everyone of the important eight-month Strategic Plan process that was started last week when an initial survey was sent out to current students, parents, faculty and staff, alumni, donors, and other Lake Catholic stakeholders. 

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