List of 20 news stories.

  • Four SFHS students were named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists. Congratulations!

    4 Students Named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

    Congratulations to SFHS students Emily B., Madelyn H., Philip L., and Connor S. who were named semifinalists in the 68th annual National Merit Scholarship Program! These academically talented seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for approximately 7,250 National Merit Scholarships offered next spring. Finalists will be announced in February. Winners will be announced in the spring through early summer of 2023.
    The nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants on the 2021 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test in each state. The number of semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state's percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.
    To become a finalist, the semifinalist and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the semifinalist's academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT® or ACT® scores that confirm the student's earlier performance on the qualifying test.
    Finalists will be notified in February and National Merit Scholarship winners will then be selected. Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.
    Types of National Merit Scholarships
    Three types of National Merit Scholarships are offered in spring 2023.
    • Every finalist competes for one of 2,500 National Merit® $2,500 Scholarships awarded on a state-representational basis.
    • About 950 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 180 corporations and business organizations for finalists who meet their specified criteria.
    • 160 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 3,800 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.
    National Merit Scholarship winners of 2023 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join nearly 368,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.
    NMSC, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 340 business organizations and higher education institutions that share NMSC's goals of honoring the nation's scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.
    Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.
  • SFHS sophomore and cheerleader Ainsley B.

    SFHS Cheerleader to Compete with Team USA in Chile

    SFHS sophomore and cheerleader Ainsley B. is competing as a member of the U.S. National Team and USA Cheer at the Pan American and Copa Cheerleading Championship in Santiago, Chile, next week! At this competition, the world's best cheerleaders gather to compete for gold.  Please join us in congratulating Ainsley and in prayer for her safe travels!

    For more information or to watch the competition live, visit
  • Sam A. '23, who earned a perfect score on his ACT this year.

    Sam A. '23 Earns Perfect ACT Score

    Sam A. '23 falls into a small category of people who can claim this big achievement: he earned a perfect score on his ACT this year.
    Sam, 17, of Campton Hills, said there are no secrets and no shortcuts to earning the perfect score. He took online practice tests and is enrolled in several honors classes.
    “All of St. Francis’ classes have helped me a lot,” he said. “I knew almost everything on the test already so I didn’t have to study as much as I would have.”
    In 2021, only 0.3% of all ACT test-takers earned a perfect score. Another statistic we’d like to see: how many families have two children with a perfect score? Sam’s brother, SFHS alum John A. ‘21, also earned a perfect score.
    On the day of the test, Sam said he felt well-prepared and motivated.
    “I had some coffee and mentally prepared myself,” he said. “When I walked out, I was pretty sure I got a 36. I couldn’t think of a question I would have gotten wrong.”
    Just in case, Sam braced himself before looking at his score – but a wave of relief rushed over him when I saw the news: 36. To celebrate, he went to his favorite restaurant in Geneva for dinner with his parents. He also cut his hair. A year prior to the test, he said he would forego a haircut until the perfect score dream became a reality. He admitted "it was time for a haircut" at the end.
    Sam has a few schools in mind for college, namely Georgetown University (where his brother John is now a sophomore), The University of Chicago, and Washington University in St. Louis. He plans to major in economics and has long-term goals of serving as a CEO of a company or starting his own business.
    Sam said he was drawn to SFHS because of the other students who attend and the intensity of the academics.
    “It’s a great community of students – no matter what you’re interested in, you can find a friend group to be a part of,” he said.
    In the past five years, SFHS has had five students earn a perfect ACT score, one perfect ACT Superscore, and one perfect SAT score.
  • Ella Johnson '19, pictured here in her senior year at SFHS.

    Lymphoma Awareness Volleyball Game Honors ’19 Alumna

    Ella Johnson ’19 has always loved volleyball. She began playing at 10 years old and continued through middle school at St. John the Baptist in Winfield. At St. Francis High School, she played her freshman and sophomore years, then decided to switch to the manager role her junior and senior years for both boys and girls volleyball. After graduation, she went to her top college pick, Purdue University, where she is scheduled to graduate this December as an animal science major. She’s served as the volleyball manager there, too.

    Ella’s story sounds like the perfect coming-of-age tale, and her cheerful disposition suggests the same. But this spring, Ella received news that shook her world: she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects the body’s immune system. She is currently undergoing (and responding well to) chemotherapy.

    In her honor, SFHS Girls Volleyball will host Mother McAuley at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 14, during a very special game dedicated to Lymphoma Awareness. Raffle baskets, T-shirts, a 50/50 raffle, and baked goods will be available at the game to benefit the cause.

    “It’s not a good wake-up call but the awareness is important,” Ella said, who plans on giving a speech at the game. “It’s a good thing to know about - especially the importance of catching it early.”

    Ella said she remembers starting to feel sick in September of last year, with what just seemed like “the college flu.” Trips to urgent care helped alleviate her symptoms but a persistent cough remained for months and was eventually accompanied by debilitating headaches. When she started experiencing shortness of breath on a simple walk to her car, doctors sent her to the emergency room for X-rays.

    It was then they discovered a mass in her chest that was about the same size as her heart. It came back as Stage 2 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and she is now in the midst of six months of chemotherapy. Remarkably, Ella is continuing her studies at Purdue via online classes while living at home. She also took the opportunity to dye her hair purple a few weeks ago.

    “I’ve never been able to do that, with school and college headshots, so this was my chance,” she said. A few days ago, when it began to fall out, her brother helped her shave it.

    “The biggest thing I’ve been struggling with is I’m 21 years old with cancer. That’s not supposed to happen,” she said. “I go to chemo, and everyone is my great-grandparents’ age.”

    She received some good news from doctors recently: her tumor has shrunk significantly since beginning treatment and is no longer growing.

    Ella, who grew up in Wheaton, said she chose SFHS because she wanted a small-school feel. “I wanted to be in a place where everyone knows your name, and the teachers know your name,” she said. Her SFHS teachers have reached out to her since hearing of the news to offer comfort and prayers.

    Ella’s mother, Melissa Mitchell Johnson ‘90, is also an SFHS alumna.
    EVENT DETAILS: SFHS Volleyball Lymphoma Awareness Night
    SFHS Girls Volleyball hosts Mother McAuley
    6:00 p.m. Wednesday, September 14
    Raffle baskets, T-shirts, a 50/50 raffle, and baked goods will be available at the game to benefit the Lymphoma Awareness
  • SFHS recipients of the 2022-23 MIEE distinction (pictured from top left): Elizabeth Brand, World Language; Matthew Ernst, English/Business Office; Kim Fermoyle, Science; Kathleen Lembas, Math; Tim Martens, IT; Mary McCarthy, Math; Jessica Roulo, World Language; Madison Wall, Math

    SFHS Teachers & Staff Receive MIEE Recognition

    Last week, eight members of the SFHS community were recognized as Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts (MIEEs), educators who are passionate about teaching and learning, who inspire students with creative thinking, and who work in a truly collaborative spirit to share their learning with the world. Congratulations to our outstanding SFHS educators for receiving this distinguished honor!

    Our eight SFHS recipients of the 2022-23 MIEE distinction are:
    • Elizabeth Brand, World Language
    • Matthew Ernst, English/Business Office
    • Kim Fermoyle, Science
    • Kathleen Lembas, Math
    • Tim Martens, IT
    • Mary McCarthy, Math
    • Jessica Roulo, World Language
    • Madison Wall, Math
    In addition, Tim Martens, Technology Integration Specialist at SFHS, was named an MIE Fellow for the Central Team in the Midwest region of the United States!

    Microsoft distinguishes only 33 MIEEs as Fellows in the United States. Their role is to provide support for other MIEEs in their region, collaborate with other schools and leaders, empower others, and amplify the MIEE community. Congrats, Tim!
  • The 22-23 SFHS Girls Tennis Team

    Girls Tennis Posts Record Numbers with Team-Family Atmosphere

    Read our feature story on SFHS girls tennis below ... and don't miss this special event Friday, August 26!

    “Tennis Under the Lights” 3:45 to 10 p.m. Friday, August 26, SFHS will play against Batavia High School at SFHS. There will be neon glow paint, a taco truck, the Little Red Donut Truck, Kona Ice Truck, and a performance by the SFHS Rock Band.

    Girls Tennis Posts Record Numbers with Team-Family Atmosphere - Special Feature Story

    You can feel the energy as you’re walking toward the courts. Banners hang on the fences reading slogans like “Defend This House” and “Play Like a Spartan Today.” Music with a kinetic beat plays from speakers set out on the lawn. The man leading the group, Coach Tom Castronovo, is there early – ready to greet his team for their annual picture day and varsity dinner.
    As Castronovo excitedly talks about the year ahead, a player walks up to ask him for a pen, and his attention shifts fully to this new mission. The players come first, and you can tell they feel comfortable approaching their coach and asking for help – even for the small things. As the girls arrive one by one, each of them says hi or sneaks in a high-five before joining the other girls.

    Castronovo, who has served as St. Francis High School’s boys and girls tennis coach for 6 years (12 seasons), has a philosophy of inclusion, positivity, and camaraderie to set the tone of the team. His contagious enthusiasm has led to record numbers before the 22-23 season even started: 78 girls are registered. That’s compared to 28 players in his first year.
    “That's not only a record here, but we’re one of the largest tennis programs in the state of any size school - public or private,” he said. He admits he was wondering where they would land after 21 seniors graduated last year. As a pleasant surprise, 41 new players, including 20 freshmen, signed up.
    While the size of the team is partially due to it being a no-cut program, Castronovo said the real success is the girls’ interest and subsequent desire to improve their game. After his first year coaching with tryouts, he encouraged those who were cut to take lessons and try out the next year.
    “They never come back,” he said. “It crushes them to be cut. When we don’t cut them, they get match experience and there’s no substitute for that. You learn quickly when you’re looking at another girl across the court.”

    Not to go unmentioned is the coaching team of Mark Sawko, Chris Garcia, and Barb Rueth. Together, they’ve all learned the balance of managing such a large group: everyone makes the team but making varsity is an earned spot.
    For the annual varsity dinner on August 18, Castronovo and his fellow coaches arranged a surprise celebrity guest, Vania King – she was 2010 Wimbledon Doubles Champion, 2010 U.S. Open Doubles Champion, and ranked No. 3 in the world that year. King has since started her own nonprofit, Serving Up Hope, and shared a message about the importance of giving back with the girls at the dinner. They were right on track: earlier that day they held a food and supplies drive for Operation Support Our Troops, organized by players Nina O. '23 and Cate B. '24.
    Another special event is happening this upcoming Friday, August 26, when the team will play “Tennis Under the Lights” from 3:45 to 10 p.m. against Batavia High School at SFHS. There will be neon glow paint, a taco truck, the Little Red Donut Truck, Kona Ice Truck, and a performance by the SFHS Rock Band.
    It’s special events like these that make it more than just a team. Senior Monica S. ’23 has been on the team since her freshman year.

    “I look forward to the memories, things like picture day and everyone coming together make it really fun,” she said. “It’s not just a team – we’re a family.”

    Sophomore Mia D. ‘25 said she joined her freshman year to make friends and pick up a fall sport.

    “Since it starts before school it gives you a chance to meet people,” she said. “Now we’re all friends and we all support each other.”

    Amber M. ’25 echoed Mia’s comments. “There are so many girls involved but we all get to know each other really well,” she said.

    Castronovo summed it up like this: “We simply want to give every high school girl an opportunity to belong, to learn a new skill, and to be part of a team experience. We provide our girls with a significant added positive dimension to the high school experience by being a part of something bigger than themselves.”
  • Freshmen students had their orientation on August 15.

    SFHS Celebrates First Week of School

    It was a great first week of school at St. Francis High School, with Freshman Orientation on August 15 and the start of the year kicking off for all grade levels on August 16. We're looking forward to an awesome year together!
  • Curriculum Night - August 25, 2022

    REMINDER: Curriculum Night is Thursday, August 25. The event begins promptly at 6:30 p.m. in your oldest student’s Homeroom. The event will end around 8:30 p.m.
    Parents have the opportunity to meet their student’s teachers, walk their daily class schedule, meet other parents and purchase Spartanwear. All students received a schedule form for parents to bring with them to use during the evening. In lieu of the paper schedule, please bring your cell phone to access your student’s schedule in MySFHS.
    Please note: this is a very popular event and parking is at a premium. Carpooling is strongly suggested.
  • A collection of photos from the 2022 Liturgy Commencement held May 22, 2022.

    Liturgy Commencement Celebrates Class of '22

    St. Francis High School held its 2022 Commencement Liturgy for 180 graduating seniors on Sunday, May 22, 2022, in the school's Spyglass Gymnasium. 

    Families and guests were welcomed amidst the music of the student orchestra, choir, and band. Presiding over the liturgy were Father Jim Murphy and Father John Honiotes, who gave the homily. Delivering messages were President Dr. Betsy V. Ackerson, 2022 Valedictorian Emery Elizabeth Carlson, and Salutatorian London Mei Ling Brown.

    “What a joyous occasion for us all to get together,” Dr. Ackerson said. “Today we celebrate and give thanks to God for the past 4 years we’ve walked together.”

    Valedictorian Emery Carlson’s speech was organized around advice she received from her teachers, family, and fellow classmates.

    “Anyone can teach us something valuable … so it is our responsibility to always be willing to listen and learn. My hope is that we can all go to college and beyond willing to learn from anything and anyone,” she said.

    Congratulations to the St. Francis High School Class of 2022!
  • March with us in the Memorial Day Parade!

    Calling all past, current, and future band members - join SFHS as we march in the Wheaton Memorial Day Parade! The parade is from 9:15-11:15 a.m. on Monday, May 30. Learn more and sign up here.
  • SFHS alum McKenzie Burns ’14 visited the school May 6 to teach seniors the importance of LinkedIn.

    Alum Teaches Seniors to 'Link In'

    On Friday, May 6, seniors spent some time during their business class/study hall with SFHS alum McKenzie Burns ’14 on the importance of LinkedIn. She highlighted what to include on their profiles and how they should use the platform to connect with others as they grow and enhance their professional careers.

    Students set up their profiles using their school picture and McKenzie assisted them with the appropriate content for each section. All students also added St. Francis High School to their education sections to ensure they stay connected with their classmates’ professional trajectories in the years to come.

    McKenzie was asked to come present to the seniors after serving as a Spartan Alumni Mentor earlier this year and as part of our initiative to teach future alums how to network. McKenzie currently serves as the Marketing and Events Manager at CFE Media and Technology in Downers Grove. Thank you for sharing your expertise with our students, McKenzie!

    To follow SFHS on LinkedIn, visit our page.
  • SFHS Choir Named State Champions

    For its third year, the St. Francis High School Choir was named IHSA State Choral Competition Champions! Under the direction of Nina Schroeder, more than 40 students sang more than 67 songs at the competition – and all students scored a superior or excellent rating! In a twist on tradition, choir students did a march IN on Tuesday to celebrate. Watch the video on our Facebook page here.
  • Semester One Honor Roll

    St. Francis High School is proud to announce and congratulate students for their outstanding achievements during the first semester of the 2021-2022 school year. Students who achieved a GPA of 4.0 or better in the second semester made the “A” honor roll.* Students who achieved a GPA between 3.0 and 3.99 made the “B” honor roll.* View the complete list of honor roll students here.

    *Honor Roll is computed on the basis of courses taken at St. Francis High School. A failure in any course for that grading period or on a semester exam makes a student ineligible for the Honor Roll.
  • SFHS Alumni at the Olympics

    St. Francis High School celebrates alumni competing in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games. Three Spartan alumnae; Erin Virtue '01, Kelsey Robinson '10, and Sze En Tan '19, set their sights on Olympic gold. Both Erin and Kelsey are part of the USA Women's Volleyball Olympic Team. Erin serves as the team's Offensive Coordinator, while Kelsey-already an Olympic medalist-is an athlete on the team.
    In catching up with SFHS alumni for the summer issue of Focus Magazine, Erin and Kelsey discussed how their time at St. Francis High School played an integral role in course of their lives.
    “St. Francis provided the necessary building blocks to help me be more than just an athlete. While I train for my second Olympics, I also have written a cookbook, developed a photography brand, and written for travel & lifestyle magazines. St. Francis gave me the foundation to be well rounded and the skills to follow all my passions.” says Kelsey.
    Erin adds. “As I reflect on my career in volleyball, I often think about my time at St. Francis, working with Mr. Lynch. One HUGE lesson he taught me was that connection with each teammate and attacker would make all the difference in running an effective offense. He advised me to walk over to each attacker, give them a high-five, and tell them the play
    that they would be running. This lesson is something that I bring to my job every single day. I am now the Offensive Coordinator for our USA Volleyball Olympic Team, and our setters are taught this very same lesson - they are setting
    ‘people’ not just a system. That personal connection is massive in volleyball, and in life. I am so grateful for my time at St. Francis and all the lessons learned. Thank you, Mr. Lynch for that early schooling.”
    SFHS alumna and current Stanford University sophomore, Sze En Tan’19 is representing Singapore in the artistic gymnastic competition. She is the 2016 and 2018 Singapore national champion and was named Senior International Athlete of the Year at the 2020 Singapore Gymnastics Awards.
    Also worth noting, alumnus, Jeff Jendryk ‘14 was selected as an alternate for the USA Men’s Volleyball Olympic Team. Jeff is currently an athlete on the USA Men's National Volleyball Team.
    The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games take place Friday, July 23 – Sunday, August 8, 2021. Tune into your local NBC station for primetime coverage or watch the games streaming on, NBC Sports, and Peacock.
  • SFHS Theatre Presents “All Shook Up”

    St. Francis High School Theatre camps present "All Shook Up." Loosely based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, “All Shook Up” is known as a hip-swiveling, lip-curling musical fantasy featuring such classics as “Teddy Bear,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Hound Dog,” and “Jailhouse Rock.”
    Directed by St. Francis High School alumna, Jackie Martin ’11, the summer musical production was part of a long list of summer camp offerings at St. Francis High School. For the past fourteen summers, St. Francis High School's Summer Musical Camp has helped students advance their theatrical skills through acting, singing, and dancing. This year, the cast and crew comprised of nearly 80 students entering grades 7-12 from a variety of local schools.
    "We chose All Shook Up for this summer musical because it is a light-hearted comedy." said Jackie Martin, Summer Musical Camp Director. "We also were excited to introduce another time period to students (1950's) and knew that they would enjoy the costumes and mannerisms of the time. Packed with songs by Elvis Presley, this musical encourages audiences to take risks, challenge the status quo, and fall in love. This story also highlights the importance of having supportive relationships that help us reach our dreams."
    "All Shook Up" was featured ten years earlier at St Francis High School as the 2011 Spring Musical. In celebration of the ten year anniversary, many of the original cast members from the 2011 show-which included Director, Jackie Martin and Assistant Director/Producer, Sami Ramos-came back to SFHS to attend a performance and offer their support.
    "My favorite part about directing this summer was spending time with the students and enjoying the return of live summer theatre at St. Francis." adds Jackie. "I am so thankful for the opportunity to work with all of these talented students!"
    The wealth of student talent stretched beyond performance as many played an integral role in the show's production. Under the direction of Summer Musical Stage Crew Director, Brandon Lewis, students learned and assisted in theatrical stage crew basics; set design, building, painting, and decoration, lighting, sound design, prop design, and costuming. Additionally, students gained hands-on experience as part of the summer musical running crew which coordinated backstage work during tech rehearsals and each performance.
    The St. Francis High School summer musical production of “All Shook Up” was held July 16-18, 2021.
  • Semester Two Honor Roll

    St. Francis High School is proud to announce and congratulate students for their outstanding achievements during the second semester of the 2020-2021 school year. Students who achieved a GPA of 4.0 or better in the second semester made the “A” honor roll.* Students who achieved a GPA between 3.0 and 3.99 made the “B” honor roll.* View the complete list of honor roll students here.

    *Honor Roll is computed on the basis of courses taken at St. Francis High School. A failure in any course for that grading period or on a semester exam makes a student ineligible for the Honor Roll.
  • SFHS Alumna Headed to The CrossFit Games

    St. Francis High School congratulates alumna MaryKay Dreisilker '08 (pictured second from left) along with her CrossFit teammates Dan Bullock, Cooper Wise, and Elisa Schauer (Team Omnia), on earning a spot to compete at the CrossFit Games. MaryKay and team hope to receive the title of "Fittest Team on Earth" at the games in Madison, Wisconsin, July 27-August 1.
    On June 6, Team Omnia won the Granite Games, a North American qualifier for the CrossFit Games. Last year, MaryKay earned an individual spot in the CrossFit Games. However, due to the pandemic, her spot was taken away. Competing in the CrossFit Games is an impressive feat as only the top 40 men, 40 women, 240 masters athletes, 80 teenage athletes, and 40 teams from around the world make it to this level.
    St. Francis High School celebrates MaryKay and Team Omnia. We look forward to reporting how the team does at the CrossFit Games later this summer.
  • SFHS Alumna To Compete at Jr PGA Championship

    During the IL Junior PGA Girls Qualifier at Elgin Country Club on Monday June 3, St. Francis High School alumna, Katherine Lemke '21 earned the 2nd of two qualifying spots to compete at the upcoming Jr PGA Girls Championship. In the highly competitive match, Katherine won a 4-way sudden death playoff that went 4 holes.
    The Junior PGA Girls Championship will be held July 27-30 at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, KY.
  • 2021 Art Show Award Recipients

    Thursday, April 15, 2021 St. Francis High School hosted its annual Art Show. The “Finding Your Way Through Art” exhibit was held in-person this year, allowing guests to view student artwork created from all levels of art: AP, Art 4, Art 3, Art 2, Visual Art, Studio Art, Digital Art and Communications Design.
    The Art Show was juried by local artists and the following ribbons awarded.
    First: Maeve McGinn '24
    Second: Maeve McGinn '24
    Third: Julia Bukowski '24
    First: Sophia Cairo '24
    Second: Meghan Suess '24
    Third: Brian Zulauf '21
    First: Alondra Zepeda '21
    Second: Jovanna Cordero '22
    Third: Roseanne Mendoza '23
    First: Alex Mustafa '22
    Second: Chelsea Brown '21
    Third: Allie Ludovice '21
    First: Maddi Donlevy '21
    Second: Alyssa Coladipietro '21
    Third: Thomas Riepe '21
    First: Olivia Hojnicki '21
    Second: Allie Ludovice '21
    Third: Mary Szalek '21
    AP ART
    First: Hailey Marczak '21
    Second: Katherine Lemke '21
    Third: Mary Szalek '21
  • May Students of the Month

    Each month St. Francis High School faculty recognize students for their progressive, impressive, and/or expressive classwork and commitment to their education. We are pleased to announce the May Student of the Month recipients:
    Business & Technology: Rahee M. '21
    English: Ava S. '22
    Math:  Owen L. '23
    Performing & Visual Arts: Mary S. '21
    P.E. & Health: Sam K. '21
    Religion: Ella D. '22
    Science: Elise W. 23
    Social Studies: Isabella Z. '23
    World Languages: Joey C. '22
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