Students turn faith into action


Today was the last day of school for seniors at Roger Bacon. And as departing students do, they had mayhem on their minds.

"It’s always a dangerous day," said school President Tom Burke. But these teens are so well-behaved, "They ask permission before they do pranks." He’s not kidding.

"They wanted to place random watermelons all over the school," but Tom decided no good could come from that.

A lot of good has come from other student deeds, however, and those were recognized as the Bacon community gathered this morning for its 2018 Awards in Holiness and Learning. That is, of course, the mission statement of the school: "In Sanctitate et Doctrina". Obviously, they take it seriously.

During the program dozens of kids – not just the usual high-achievers – were honored with plaques, certificates or applause because they are generous and compassionate, not to mention smart.

Project leaders Tyra Jones, Alanee Wright, and Lily Petrey

Everyone helps

But before that, Principal Steve Schad had an announcement. "Is Fr. Mark [Hudak] here?" he asked the audience at the Carol Dauwe Fine Arts Center. There was no sign of faculty member Mark. "Today is the 26th anniversary of his being a friar," Steve said. "When you have an opportunity, if you find him today, I want 480 congratulations" directed his way. That’s the whole school. But Steve expects no less.

Last week, for example, Bacon was part of the faith-based GO Local campaign to beautify neighborhoods and help those less fortunate improve their property. All the students plus the entire faculty and staff showed up to work throughout the neighborhood in St. Bernard. Read the Catholic Telegraph story.

This morning after a couple scholarships were announced, Mark arrived and was greeted with a standing ovation. Then it was back to business. If it seemed almost every student was called forward for one reason or another, that was the plan. At this inclusive event there were ovations for honor society students, artists, those who excel in Latin, science, math and technology. Scholarships honored the memories of people like Joe Corcoran, longtime Athletic Director, and Bacon grads Maria Olberding, tragically killed while running, and Patrick Wolterman, a firefighter who died in the line of duty.

Outreach Director Roger Lopez was introduced to announce service awards, but students spoke for themselves, telling how volunteering changed their lives. Ava Caldwell said she learned "the true meaning of service" during a mission trip to Louisiana. "The people of New Orleans helped me find my light," she said, "and I hope you can find yours, too."

Service superstars

Project leaders recapped the first-ever St. Francis Day of Giving (to create a St. Francis of Assisi Scholarship Fund), the Hairless Heroes campaign (to conquer childhood cancer), and the Laptop Revolution (collecting computers for orphans in Mexico).

Reps for Bacon Buddies, founded by the late friar Conrad Rebmann, described their work with kids at Holy Family, St. Clement and St. Francis Seraph Elementary schools. Teens from each class outlined Service Days working at soup kitchens, visiting the elderly and studying issues like immigration, homelessness, violence, drugs and hunger.

In all, they logged an impressive 5,655 hours of community service. Junior Tori White, one of the school’s top volunteers, gave 514 hours to Friars Club last year. "I started there as a coach as a freshman and fell in love with the kids," she said.

Her family congratulates volunteer Tori White, who logged 514 hours with Friars Club.

Roger thanked his Community Outreach Board "for putting up with me, all my emails and text messages, and knowing how to spot when I’m stressed." Presenting the Br. Conrad Rebmann Service Award, he noted the passing of its namesake. "Our Lord took him home this year," Roger said of Conrad, who died March 12. "This award is presented to an outstanding student of service who has followed in his footsteps." The ovation for recipient Danielle Fiore was loud and long.

As the program ended, President Burke warned visiting adults of the stampede that would ensue when students were dismissed.

In other words, they may be exceptional, but they’re still teen-agers.