January 2020

"Holy wisdom confounds Satan and all his wickednesses."
St. Francis of Assisi

From the Desk of Mr. Castellano:


Since our return from Christmas vacation, students have been involved in getting advisement for courses for next year. Pre-registration is Sunday, 2 February; it starts at 10:00 a.m. for current 11th-graders and 12:00 noon for current 9th- and 10th-graders. Course registration will take place from 4-6 February. Students will pre-register and register for their classes using their Power School accounts. Once students have selected their classes, we will send an e-mail with the list of classes they selected to all students, parents, and guardians. This e-mail will be for verification purposes only; we will not consider any changes until May.

Campus Ministry

It was a busy month in Campus Ministry as we prepared and hosted our annual Peacemaker Week. In keeping with the Franciscan value "be living instruments of peace," students were invited to consider ways they can be peacemakers in our world, a world so in need of peace and justice. On Tuesday , January 21, we hosted a school-wide prayer service, at which Fr. Ralph addressed the significance of the three-day weekend we had. It was more than just taking a day off; it was in acknowledgment of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, who used his voice and Christian values to work for peace. Dr. King continues to serve as a model for us as we consider those cast aside in our society.

On Wednesday, we hosted Victoria O'Keefe, Campus Minister for Social Justice at St. John's University, who spoke to many of our juniors and seniors about homelessness in New York City. She gave an interactive and moving talk about how difficult it can be to get by in our big city. On Thursday, Brother Joe Bach, OSF, gave a compelling and eye-opening presentation about his trip to the southern border of the United States. He shared personal accounts of his interactions with immigrants seeking to be liberated from their difficult and dangerous lives in their home countries. Students were able to engage with him and ask many questions about policy and his personal experiences and opinions.

On Friday, Father Ralph hosted Eucharistic Adoration in light of the annual March for Life in Washington, DC. Students of all grade levels came to the chapel to pray alongside Fr. Ralph as he reflected on the innate goodness in each human life, made in the image and likeness of God, and the importance of honoring all life from conception to natural death. He also led students to pray through the intercession of Mary, our Blessed Mother, and St. Joseph, who are incredible model of love and patience as members of the Holy Family.

The biggest lesson our students learned by the end of Peacemaker Week is to be people of mercy who are willing to work for justice. Our world is in need of people who promote peace in gaining education, speaking to others well, and treating everyone with dignity and respect. As we begin this new school year and journey toward Lent, we pray that we may continue to be a community of compassion.

Career and Alumni Day

On January 8, St. Francis Prep alumni gathered in the auditorium to share their experiences with our students. Fifteen former Prep students, both professional and college level, were able to give Prep students insight into their career paths and college journeys. Students were eager to ask questions at the end of each session regarding the college process and about specific careers. In addition, the alumni gave advice on the importance of networking and internship opportunities. Everyone agreed that memories of St. Francis Prep were precious and that they would last a lifetime.


January was a special month for Prep’s Music department. On the 17th, we presented our annual “Concert for Beginner Students.” The evening was headlined by our String Orchestra and Junior Band. The majority of these students only began playing last September, and this concert gave them the opportunity to share their growth over that time.

The concert also featured our beginner classes for Strings, Woodwind, Brass, and Percussion. For these students, it was their first opportunity ever to perform. Next year, they have the opportunity to move up to our String Orchestra, Junior Band, and Percussion Ensemble.

Prep’s Music department was, for the second year in a row, recognized by Music for All’s Advocacy in Action, a nation-wide organization that recognizes best practices in Music Education. This year, Prep was recognized for the inclusiveness of our Music program in that there is a place for everyone regardless of level. The submission was titled, “St. Francis Prep Has Music for Everyone.” Additionally, we were recognized for our Music Department Promo Video (https://youtu.be/ofrLhr21tkg), which was produced and directed by Prep alumna, Michelle Kawka, ‘95.

Our next major performance, our Jazz and Pop concert, is coming up on March 20th. It features our Jazz Band, Honors Percussion Ensemble, Chamber Choir, and Chamber Orchestra. We'll also be welcoming the Jazz Band from Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy. The show starts at 7:45PM. General admission tickets are available only at the door for $5.

Hope to see you there!


Winners and Honorable Mentions in Tablet’s Keep Christ in Christmas Art Contest.

Over the past few years, students from our school have participated in the Keep Christ in Christmas Art Contest. The organizers of the contest, through the Tablet newspaper, received more than 800 entries from schools, parishes, and homes throughout Brooklyn and Queens. This year, our Art Department is proud to announce sophomores Jaiyin Hao and Ashley Wakie won second and third place. Not only will their artwork been displayed in Februarys edition of the Tablet newspaper; they also received a certificate and a prize. They were awarded these items on Wednesday, January 22, 2020, during a ceremony held at the Knights of Columbus in Brooklyn. We also had two Honorable Mentions for Brandon DiMaggio and Athena Koutsothanasis for their amazing work. We are very proud of all their accomplishments!

Field Trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with A.P. Art History

Ms. Shmerykowsky

On January 22, 2020, the Advanced Placement Art History class visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. We recently finished learning about the Greek and Roman civilizations and thought it best to see their history come to life with a visit to the museum. Our tour was entitled “Ancient Greece and Rome: Art of Heroic Ideals.” The students learned how the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome used visual art and mythology to understand concepts like beauty, death, and heroism. As they traveled through the Ancient Greek and Roman Wings, students were mesmerized to see sculptures, paintings, and ancient artifacts from so many years ago. Some of the pieces they saw were examples from our lecture; students were amazed how their perceptions of the art work changed when they had the chance to see everything in person instead of on a Smart Board! Afterwards, the students were allowed to explore the museum to see a variety of other art historical topics we are currently covering, such as Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic, and Early Renaissance. They also spent time drawing in the Roman and Greek Wing. To observe such beautiful classical sculptures while drawing is an experience not many people have. Overall, the students had a wonderful experience at the Metropolitan Museum. For most of them, this was their first visit. This experience for the students not only brought the art to life but also gave them a chance to see amazing examples of the past right in front of them. This gives them a more tangible way to prepare for the Advanced Placement Exam and gain more appreciation of the past!

Science Research

This year, 5 seniors from the Science Research Program were selected to compete as semi-finalists in the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, which will take place on February 9th at York College. Tina Chang, Sabrina Chen, Fiorella Delgao, Kevin Edwin, and Bryan Herrera were all selected. We wish them the best as they move on to the next round of competition!


Thank you to Mrs. Istrico, Chairperson of the Science department, for inviting the SFP Dance Class to further explore muscle groups with the Anatomage board donated by New York-Presbyterian Hospital. What a great way to end the semester with our SFP H period dance class. It is important for dancers to explore the dancer body anatomically and have a deeper understanding of how the muscle groups work to gain knowledge in preventive dance injury. We learned an important point that a Stress reaction can lead to a stress fracture.

Other Career choices where dance meets science are in the fields of Dance Therapy and Physical Therapy.

Prestigious colleges, such as Manhattanville College, Drexel University, Sarah Lawrence, and The Boston Conservatory at Berkeley (Ms. Mejia’s Alma Mater), offer a Dance Therapy degree.

The SFP dance class also offers a creative way for students to express themselves through dance movement. The students learn the art of choreography and study Dance History. The semester ends with a Showcase dance performance in the Brother Ralph Clifford Auditorium. All are welcome to attend the student performance.

English Department News

On Wednesday, January 8, the English Dept. held its 12th Annual Poetry Out Loud Competition (the largest recitation competition in the U.S.).

Sophomore Ruth Zhang came in 3rd place, 9th-grader Elsa Kolenovic came in 2nd place, and for the second year in row, senior Nicole Kardum came in 1st. Nicole and Elsa proudly and brilliantly represented Prep at the New York Regionals at the Walt Whitman Birthplace and Museum on January 22nd.

(Prep has had 5 NYC winners go on to the State Regionals to compete – more than any other high school in New York!)


The St. Francis Prep Annual Report is our salute to the loyal alumni, parents, students, faculty, staff, and friends whose generosity and commitment to our mission have helped the Prep in many wonderful ways this past fiscal year: September 1, 2018, and August 31, 2019.

Watch for this publication in the coming days. Alumni, parents, and friends may add their name to the SFP e-mail distribution list by going to alumni.sfponline.org and registering there.

Pictured on the front cover: A few of the many individuals who help “fuel” our school’s ongoing Capital Improvement and Modernization process and inspire excellence at St. Francis Prep. They are pictured at various alumni events.

Pictured clockwise from top: 1. 2019 Hall of Fame Inductees (l-r): Tom Prendergast ‘59, Karen Haag ‘80, Marty Shannon ’80, and Bob Waegelein ‘78. 2. Faculty and Staff members at the Ninth Annual SFP Walk-a-thon 3. Dom Vulpis ‘74, Patrick McLaughlin ’73, and JoAnn Wagner H’10 at The Annual June Golf Classic Dinner. 4. Members of the 35th Anniversary Class of 1984 celebrate at the Annual Spring Reunion.

Varsity boys swimming

Senior night January 23, 2020, at Queens college


Moderator: Ms. Gambino, Coaches Domenica Cinquemani, Mrs. Finn, Danny Finn

Boys Track

On Saturday, January 18, the boys freshman indoor track and field team won the Brooklyn-Queens championship by one point over Bishop Loughlin. The team was led by Amare Williams, who won the 300 meters title and was runner-up in the 800 meter run. Demetrios Xidias won the 55 meter dash and placed second in the 400.

The sophomore team placed second as it was led by Alek Micich, who was named athlete of the meet for his 1st place performances in the High Jump and Triple Jump.

On Sunday, January 26, the boys varsity track and field team won the Brooklyn-Queens championship at the 168th St. Armory. The team was led by double winner Diego Llanos in the 2 mile and mile. Shnyder Germain won the 600 meter run. The team showed depth by placing two relays in the top three in both the 1600 meter and 800 meter relays. The combined efforts of the jumpers and shot putters sealed the win.


Of the 250,000 cheerleaders who tried out for All-American, among the 1000 who were carefully selected were St. Francis Prep’s Brooke Miraglia, Nicole Kardum, Angelica Pallas, Ginger Chin, and Milena Velez. They traveled to Europe over the break to walk and perform in the London New Year’s Day Parade, which was broadcast internationally on live television. Being selected as an All-American Cheerleader is an honor given to select individuals who have exemplified leadership, technique, and skill. With the possession of these qualities, they were able to represent the United States in the 2020 London New Year’s Day Parade.

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