2020 Catholic Schools Week Alumni Highlights
During Catholic Schools Week 2020, we celebrated our alumni! We are very proud of all of our alumni! We hope you enjoy reading their reflections on their time as STA students and how STA prepared them for success in high school and beyond.
My name is Ivvy Hicks and I am currently a senior at Saint Ignatius College Prep. Before my time at Saint Ignatius, I attended St. Thomas the Apostle from second to eighth grade. Over the past four years, I have grown tremendously into the person I am today. However, this growth would not have been possible without the preparation I received at St. Thomas. During my middle school years at STA, I was exposed to various leadership positions and skills that I now use every day of my life. These skills have allowed me to assume impacting roles in my Ignatius community. I am currently the president of the Black Organization of Successful Students, the captain of the varsity tennis team, and I am a member of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps executive board.
Along with my leadership roles, St. Thomas has also taught me how to always prepare for education beyond high school. Since I was a young student at STA, I knew that high school and college were both options for my future. Now along with graduation from Saint Ignatius in the spring, I will also be attending the University of Chicago in the fall. At UChicago, I intend on studying biological sciences as well as becoming a member of the division three tennis team. I was also fortunate enough to receive the UChicago Promise merit scholarship, which will cover the full cost of tuition.
None of my accomplishments would have become possible without the values St. Thomas instilled in me from a young age. STA created an environment where I could be nurtured in a loving and safe setting. I was always encouraged to ask questions and find deeper meanings to the material in front of me. This amazing, unique environment is the reason why I am already so successful today, and my journey is just beginning!
It is an invaluable practice for me to reflect on my journey as a student, as it reminds me of how I got to where I am today as a student. St. Thomas the Apostle School (or simply STA) has been a very important part of that journey. I was a student at STA for two years but not just any two years. I attended STA for middle school, the two critical years prior to high school. This was at a time when I was learning how to navigate peer pressure, my emotions, independence, organization, and just stuff. I got to navigate these challenges in the supportive environment of STA. The Archdiocese of Chicago Schools has a reputation for providing students with a sound academic foundation, and STA follows in this tradition. However, it is a vision for its students beyond academics that was helpful to me. Another STA parent said it best when he called it “heart learning.” When I think of what best prepared me for high school in my two years at STA, I would not say the “head learning” or academics. It was the heart learning.
Here is some of what I learned at STA from the heart: (1) I learned what it means to be in a supportive academic environment. Not only did my peers and I learn what it means to be supportive and respectful to each other, we reaped the benefits of supportive adults. In turn, I am able to use this knowledge in high school in my relationships with my peers and with adults. (2) I learned to have a deeper understanding of myself and to appreciate my gifts. I know now that I cannot seek to understand and appreciate others, until I have an appreciation for myself. This is especially invaluable in high school, which can sometimes feel extremely competitive. (3) I learned to practice my faith. While I am not Catholic, I am Christian. What I learned at STA are principles of faith communities. I learned to incorporate tools and practices on a more regular basis than just Sunday. It is okay to pray in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, and at school. As a high school student, when I get frustrated over test results or I don’t fully understand a lesson or when there are conflicts with others, prayer, mediation and scriptural reading are important tools of my faith. (4) I learned how to be involved in my school community and be a leader among my peers. While all students at STA help cultivate this culture, in the middle school in particular, we were required to be intentional and mindful about how we use our down time and engage in non-academic learning opportunities. For example, we got the opportunity to earn positions of leadership in the middle school. This foundation gave me the courage to try different things in high school and become involved in my high school in meaningful ways, including governance. My mother says aspects of “heart learning” are really traits that prepare students for college and beyond. So, I guess that STA not only prepares students for high school, but it prepares students for life, including life beyond high school.
I am currently a sophomore at Francis W. Parker School, in Lincoln Park. I am a member of the orchestra, where I play violin. I am active in the WOCA club, which stands for Women of Color Affinity group. All students are active citizens in student government, where students have general, elected and appointed roles. I am a small groups leader, which is an appointed position. I also participate in the Parker Democrats Club. Parker has many traditions. Some traditions include, the freshmen paint the windows festively for the holidays; sophomores plan and operate an annual fall festival for the whole school; juniors study hard; and seniors organize their own rendition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Each class also goes on a retreat at the beginning of the school year as a bonding and unifying experience.
My freshman year of high school has been really good so far. Gaining independence has been a highlight of my high school experience so far. I’m responsible for myself, and other people in my classes don’t interfere with my learning. There have been multiple school events that are planned by the students like dances and themes for homecoming week that are really fun. The family feeling my school has is similar to St. Thomas. The student body and faculty have really good relationships, which makes coming to school more enjoyable all together. The workload and curriculum itself can be challenging at times, but I know I need to work hard in order to achieve my goals. I currently have a 4.33 GPA, and I have worked very hard to maintain all A’s. St. Thomas provided activities that taught me how to set long and short term goals, as well as how to build a plan to achieve those goals through our advisory class.
During my years at Mount Carmel High School, I have been able to succeed academically due to the excellent preparation that I received at St. Thomas the Apostle School. In middle school, my teachers taught me how to work hard and to take learning seriously. I took these important lessons with me after graduation to high school and, as a result, I have earned “high honor roll” status in most of my high school trimesters while completing over a dozen honors in AP classes. I was elected to the National Honor Society (NHS), and I have been accepted into numerous excellent universities as a computer science major, most of which have offered me major merit-based scholarships. Most importantly, St. Thomas the Apostle taught me traditional Christian values that have made me a better classmate and individual. I am grateful for my years at St. Thomas!
My experience applying to high schools from STA was very steady. Teachers and staff did not rush any decisions upon students. They made sure we were open minded about our choices and helped us choose a great high school for our future. I attended St. Thomas from preschool to middle school. I was taught virtues, values and self determination. St. Thomas has prepared me to be determined about my grades, to apply myself for greater outcomes, and to carry out Christian values in any setting. Since graduating from STA, I have continued my honor roll “spree” while being enrolled Advance Placement classes. I was also recommended to a program called National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientist Congress in Boston, Massachusetts, where I will witness hands-on surgery and converse with great men and women in the medical field.
STArry Night 2018
Our annual STArry Night benefit was held on April 14, 2018! This benefit is not only a wonderful opportunity to support STA’s extraordinary students and teachers, but it is also a wonderful opportunity to connect with old friends and other STA alumni! STA alumni Caleb Davis ’16 & Ivvy Hicks ’16 came this year to emcee the event! They did an outstanding job!
125th Anniversary Gala 2012
STA honored its founders, the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa at our 125th Anniversary Gala by presenting them with the National Catholic Education Association’s Certificate of Commendation recognizing their continued devotion and service in the ministry of Catholic education.