The 280 members of Fenwick High School’s self-proclaimed “G.O.A.T. Class” assembled this past Friday evening at the UIC Forum for the Catholic school’s 86th commencement ceremony. “Their composite ACT score of 27.3 is the highest in our school’s storied history,” reported Father Richard Peddicord, O.P., Fenwick’s president. In mid-May, teachers and underclassmen began to see a flurry of two-sided business cards littering the hallways like so many pieces of large confetti. On one side the cards read, “Class of 2017” in ornate script typeface under the Fenwick shield logo, and on the other side, simply: “G.O.A.T.” Some 10,000 of the cards were printed.
“Needless to say,” Peddicord said with a grin, “the faculty, staff and administration all are very proud of this class and its members’ impressive achievements. Perhaps it is Fenwick’s Greatest of All Time, but that is a topic for debate, of course.”
Richard Borsch, Fenwick associate principal and long-time director of student services, added: “Twenty-five of our seniors have been recognized in the National Merit Program. Seven were finalists and another 18 who were commended.” Highlights among the class’s other notable accomplishments:
- 98 Fenwick seniors are Illinois State Scholars (35% of class).
- 175 are Presidential Scholars (63% of class).
- Fenwick has seven Evans Scholars this year – more than any other high school in the United States, according to the Western Golf Association.
In a two-way GPA tie, Elmhurst resident Jackson Haeflinger and Oak Park resident John Pollard are the Fenwick salutatorians for 2017, while Riverside resident Jack Lulich and Elmhurst resident Garrett Mulcahy are co-valedictorians. “Beyond their grade point averages, we are so proud of these four, versatile young people for everything else they have accomplished while here at Fenwick,” Borsch said, “and I don’t just mean academically as Illinois State and Presidential scholars, members of the National Honor Society or, as in one’s case, a Math Team Captain.”
Among the four stellar students are an Eagle Scout, student mentors, writing tutors, retreat leaders and a counselor for special-needs children, Borsch pointed out; also a varsity golfer, a football and rugby player, a swimmer, a volleyball player and a wrestler; and members of the TEAMS (Tests of Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics and Science) team that placed first in the state of Illinois and, for its division, first in the nation! “They truly personify Fenwick’s four pillars of Dominican Spirituality, which are Prayer, Preaching, Community and Study,” he noted.
The student commencement speaker, elected by his classmates, was Purdue University-bound math and science whiz Mulcahy. The Math and WYSE (Worldwide Youth in Science & Engineering) team leader is the recipient of Purdue’s prestigious, all-inclusive Beering Scholarship.
Hollywood, Berwyn and Scholarships
The guest speaker addressing graduates was alumnus Mick Betancourt (Fenwick Class of 1992), who sold his first television series to CBS at the age of 30. The Friars were proud to welcome home the humorous Los Angeles-based screenwriter, comedian, actor, producer and director. Betancourt is best known for his scripts written for popular TV shows Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and The Mob Doctor. On his Twitter page, he describes himself as “a storyteller on screens, stages and pages. My body is in L.A. but my soul is in Chicago.”
He shared a deeply personal story of how he was virtually homeless, living alone in Berwyn for almost two years between the ages of 12 and 14. “Fenwick High School saved my life,” an emotional Betancourt related, urging graduates never to stop asking themselves, “What if?” Most recently he served as co-executive producer of Shots Fired, a 10-part drama series that debuted on the FOX network this past March. He also is co-executive producer/writer of “The Purge” television series on NBCUniversal’s USA and Syfy cable TV networks.
Watch Mick Betancourt's Commencement Speech.
Principal Peter Groom concluded by noting that “200 members of Fenwick’s Class of 2017 have been awarded 590 scholarships from 139 universities and foundations. Monetarily, that translates to 70% of the class receiving academic recognition in excess of $40 million. This is their day to celebrate four years of diligent studies and time management. We congratulate each one of them and officially welcome them to the Fenwick Alumni Family.”
So where are these new Fenwick alumni going to college for the 2017-18 academic year? “Friar Nation’s” latest class will spread to 32 states, Washington, D.C., Scotland and Wales. Notably, Will Flaherty and Kyle Gruszka have been accepted by the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. A breakdown of the Top 21 schools receiving Friars:
University of Illinois - Urbana/Champaign (34)
Marquette University (15)
University of Notre Dame (12)
University of Iowa (10)
Indiana University (9)
University of Wisconsin - Madison (8)
DePaul University (7)
Miami University - Ohio (7)
St. Louis University (7)
Purdue University (6)
University of Illinois at Chicago - UIC (6)
DePauw University (4)
University of Alabama (4)
University of Michigan (4)
Villanova University (4)
Georgetown University (3)
Northwestern University (3)
Santa Clara University (3)
Tulane University (3)
University of Southern California (3)
University of St. Thomas (3)
Fenwick’s 2017 graduates will attend a total of 112 institutions of higher learning, including: American University, Boston College, Boston University, Catholic University of America, University of Chicago, Clemson University, College of William and Mary, Fordham, Gonzaga, Johns Hopkins, Lehigh, NYU, Penn State, Providence, Richmond, University of St. Andrews, University of South Wales, Vanderbilt, Washington University in St. Louis and Yale.