"I Am St. Francis"
The Current Parent Perspective: Seven Questions for John & Deanna Grivetti and Eric & Patty Hansen
1. What grade school did your children attend?
Mr. and Mrs. Grivetti: St. Pius X in Lombard
Mr. and Mrs. Hansen: Bednarcik Junior High
2. Describe the process of selecting SFHS with your children.
Mr. and Mrs. Grivetti: With our eldest, Elizabeth, we toured four Catholic high schools and had her participate in school visits and several summer camps at each. We were committed to continuing our children’s education in a Catholic setting, as we feel the religious and moral teachings are more important than ever in our current social environment.
We were first introduced to SFHS through the summer band camp and were very impressed with Mr. Mamminga and the program there. We were also impressed with many other aspects of SFHS, including the academic focus (especially liked the science wing), the spectacular performing arts programs, and the extracurricular opportunities (and the flexibility granted to participate in them). SFHS has an inviting atmosphere, not too big, but of the right size to provide a significant amount of unique learning opportunities both inside and outside the classroom.
While Sarah and Leah visited all of the same schools that Elizabeth did, they wanted the same wonderful experience they could see that Elizabeth was having.
Mr. and Mrs. Hansen: We were first introduced to St. Francis through our family and some volleyball friends. We were also interested because we wanted our kids to have the best opportunity to prepare them for college and felt a more personal environment that would challenge them would best fill that need. After our initial inquiries, our first experience was when our oldest child, Cole, attended a volleyball camp with Mike Lynch. He absolutely loved the camp and Coach Lynch, which solidified that St. Francis would be on the list of schools we considered. Being that we wanted to look at several options outside of the public high school, and after some additional research on other schools in the area, we had him shadow at both St. Francis and one other private school. We had also let him know (as we have done with all our children) that the decision was ultimately up to him and where he felt most comfortable. After Cole shadowed at both schools, he quickly eliminated the other private school from the options. From there, it was down to St. Francis and our public high school. This was a tough decision for Cole as he was going to be the only student from his junior high going to St. Francis and had some good friends he would be leaving behind. We talked about the decision for several weeks and shared our opinion that he should go where he felt most at home. Obviously, he chose St. Francis and could not be happier with his decision. We also went through a similar process with our middle child Ella, laying out all her options, but ultimately leaving the decision up to her. Again, it was a tough choice, possibly even tougher than Cole's being Cole at least knew some kids from football and volleyball, whereas Ella wasn't going to know anyone except her brother. But the importance of going to school with her brother coupled with her seeing the positive experience Cole has had, and her comfort level after shadowing led her to choose St. Francis. She also couldn't be happier with her selection and has already developed some great friendships.
3. What do you consider to be some of the most important characteristics of a high school community and how does SFHS measure up?
Mr. and Mrs. Grivetti: Dedicated, involved and caring faculty and staff. The teachers need to be committed to providing a nurturing and safe environment that still challenges the students academically, holds them accountable, and yet still allows them room to grow intellectually and spiritually. SFHS is blessed with a great team of professionals and has surpassed all the expectations that we had on that aspect for our girls’ experience. Our girls’ have greatly appreciated the learning experience their teachers provide.
Mr. and Mrs. Hansen: Some of the most important characteristics of a high school community and certainly things that factored into our children choosing St. Francis are:
- Being challenged academically, but also having teachers that have the bandwidth to connect with the students on an individual basis. This is one of the greatest benefits we have seen at St. Francis.
- Being able to build strong, enduring friendships built on like moral qualities and supportive relationships. This has made a huge impact on both Cole and Ella, especially being that they came to Francis without any of their junior high relationships. Watching them build these relationships and enjoy the benefits of the lifelong friendships they have built has been perhaps the most satisfying outcome of our experience.
- Enjoying coming to school. High school can be a tough time for kids...especially in today's society and with all the things they are exposed to. The culture at St. Francis and the support the kids receive both from their friends and the staff make even the tougher times easier to handle. As an example, during the COVID pandemic, our kids truly missed being at the school every day and couldn't wait to get back to in-person classes with their peers and teachers. We think this is the ultimate testament to what St. Francis has built.
4. What has been most surprising about your SFHS experience as a parent?
Mr. and Mrs. Grivetti: The amazing experiences that the many extracurricular opportunities available to SFHS students have provided our daughters. In particular, Coach Crain has created a supportive and yet challenging culture for the girl’s golf team. Having been involved in sports throughout our lives, neither of us have seen a better environment for the girls to grow and improve, supported by their teammates and coach. We also enjoy the incredible performing arts programs – band, choir and drama.
Mr. and Mrs. Hansen: The community between the individual families, as well as the faculty has been the most pleasant surprise as St. Francis parents. Regardless of your background...weather you came from a public school, or what your religious beliefs are, etc. you will always have a home at St. Francis. The student involvement is like nothing we have ever seen and the way they support each other no matter the activity is truly inspiring. They like nothing more than to celebrate each other.
5. How has your child navigated the transition from the traditional classroom (pre-March 2020) setting to the Hybrid School Setting this fall?
Mr. and Mrs. Grivetti: SFHS is blessed to be a Microsoft Showcase School. Our daughters are using the same collaborative tools that John uses at his firm to stay connected on the days that they are not in person. They are working just as hard as in the traditional environment, and the teachers are holding them accountable. The environment is significantly better than we are hearing from our friends at other schools. We just wish our daughters would keep their home day “work” environment a bit neater.
Mr. and Mrs. Hansen: The transition from the traditional classroom to the Hybrid Setting has been as positive as it can be in this situation. Cole and Ella would clearly like to be back in the classrooms with their friends and teachers full time, but the school has really done a great job in making do with circumstances that are out of everyone's control. Although they aren't able to be in the classrooms full-time, the learning experience and academic expectations haven't skipped a beat. We believe this is largely due to the infrastructure and tools that were already in place to help enhance the students’ academic experience pre-pandemic but also should commend the administration and faculty for all of the extra effort they have put into making it all work. We would also add that Dean Holleman's TikToks through this difficult time have certainly succeeded in bringing a smile to all of our faces.
6. What advice do you have to families with children in grammar/middle school beginning to consider high schools?
Mr. and Mrs. Grivetti: Do your homework. If you research the schools and participate in visits and showcases, you will be able to make a more informed choice. SFHS is a strong choice when you consider all the variables.
One item not to worry about at SFHS – it does not matter if your child does not have a lot of friends heading there. SFHS draws students from all over the western suburbs, and it is an inviting place where quick friendships can be made, particularly if you participate in extracurricular activities.
Mr. and Mrs. Hansen: Our advice would be to start by doing your research and looking at all of the options available to you. Our positive experience is centered around the fact that we found a home in St. Francis that was the right fit for our family and our values. Finally, we would say, that when it comes down to it, it's your children that need to flourish in what can be a tough time in a kid’s life and that you should listen to their opinion and ultimately let the final choice be their own.
7. What one word encapsulates your experience at SFHS?
Mr. and Mrs. Grivetti: Gratitude
Mr. and Mrs. Hansen: Family