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Making Connections: Navigating the Kennedy Event Calendar

Fred Compton is the Director of Advancement for Kennedy Catholic High School and if that makes him sound like a drum major leading a parade, there are certainly way worse metaphors for what he does.

“Advancement” at Kennedy is an umbrella term that feels like it includes just about everything except academics and sports. Fundraising, the Golf Classic, the President’s Dinner, reunions, the Auction, public relations, marketing, press relations, alumni relations, social media – anything that moves the needle and “gets the word out” is advancement.

Fred-Compton, Kennedy Catholic's Director of Advancement

Fred-Compton, Kennedy Catholic’s Director of Advancement

On this particular day, Compton is working to get the word out about the annual Golf Classic. The former information technology project manager has been strategizing with school technologist and teacher, Mr. Jacob Bergmeier and Events Coordinator, Virginia Vettoretti on an improved marking plan that includes new graphics, flyers, emails, and social media postings, all needing to sail out the door immediately if Kennedy friends, family and alumni are going to be notified in time.

“The Golf Classic is fun! The people who come just love a day out on the course,” Compton said. “Most of the attendees are male, so you get that whole thing of guys razzing each other, guys having a good time at other’s expense. It’s just fun!”

The biggest challenge for Kennedy Catholic High School, as it is with any perpetually under-funded organization, is getting friends and family to take out their check books. But in Kennedy’s case, the fundraising efforts may be uniquely hampered by some old misconceptions about where the money comes from.

“We are not subsidized by the Archdiocese anymore, short of the fact that they are our landlord. They own the property and the building, but we are responsible for everything else,” Compton explained. “There are generations of alumni who have never been asked to support the school because, at that time, the need didn’t exist.”

It surely exists now, and reaching those alumni, engaging them, educating them, has become Job One for Compton, Advancement Associate Gina Marie Cantarella, and the aforementioned Ms. Vettoretti who make up the entirety of the Advancement Department team. In fact, one of Kennedy Catholic’s overall main goals, as determined in the wake of its recent Middle States Association accreditation, is to improve alumni connections with the school. Kennedy has set as a goal to carve deeper and more enduring connections with its former students, and Compton has a few ideas on the topic.

“One of the things we hope to make happen is a connection with alumni if they want to be moderators for clubs. For example, let’s just say it’s a cooking club, and there’s an alumnus who now owns a restaurant. Maybe that alumnus could be a moderator, and welcome that club into his or her restaurant,” Compton suggests. “If alumni have something they are passionate about, that’s really important to them, that they want to share back with students who have a like interest – that’s a connection just waiting to be made.”

The Golf Classic, held at Centennial Golf Club in Carmel, is already a huge alumni magnet. It’s also the traditional kick-off fundraising event of the school year. The roster of events has been fairly stable the past few years, and Compton, with Ms. Vettoretti, spend a better than fair amount of time making sure each event continues to pull its weight. After all, it costs money to raise money.

What makes an event successful? It needs to bring in desperately needed funds to the school, sure, but Compton believes an event’s success is also measured by how large a segment of the Kennedy community it engages. By either yardstick, the Annual Auction is Kennedy Eventdom’s Big Kahuna.

Up until last year, the problem with this big event was just a bit too much engagement. Attendees had to juggle time spent mingling with time spending money at the actual auction. The more they mingled, the less they bought.

How to keep guests sipping and bidding at the same time? As it does with so many modern dilemmas, Kennedy threw some technology at it and fixed it.

“This past year, one of the things we tried new was online bidding,” Compton explained. “We register your mobile phone, and you can actually bid from it while you are enjoying the night. You’ll be notified when you have been outbid, instead of constantly having to refer back to a paper list and see where you stand.

“It was very successful. We really saw an increase in the amount of money we earned from the silent auction, but more importantly the people who attended absolutely enjoyed it. Plus, we had people who were able to participate in the event who couldn’t attend, who could still monitor from their remote location.”

Innovative use of interactive technologies has been a recurring theme in the Advancement Department under Compton’s guidance. He has become deeply invested in electronic marketing and is in the process of doing away with those lux formal invitations many parents and alumni have come to expect in the run-ups to big Kennedy gatherings.

“We find that most people will respond just as well to an electronic invite as they would paper,” Compton observed. “So let’s save that money for the school.”

Like, maybe, for a Kennedy Catholic community fitness center…?

“There is some talk about an athletic center,” he acknowledged. “Converting some area in the convent to be a fitness area that not just athletes but the whole community could use for the improvement of health.”

The last big initiative – lights for the artificial turf field – was a success, and everyone is looking forward to Kennedy “Friday Night Lights” beginning this football season.

The next big initiative is a bit less tangible but no less significant.

“I think the biggest challenge we have this year is building alumni relations, establishing an actual alumni organization together with some actual leadership,” Compton told The Gael. “Get a team of people together to really start fostering that alumni awareness and alumni connection – that’s our next biggest challenge.”

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From the Stage to the Seminary: By Katie ’17 and Maggie ’17 Kennon


From the stage to the seminary, Michael, “Mickey,” Connolly has had experience on the field playing football, on the stage as an actor, but finally found his calling on the altar. However, the Kennedy Catholic graduate from the class of 2010 has not always known or accepted God’s plan for him. In this article, Mickey shares his journey that led him to accept God’s call to the priesthood.


Since Mickey is a KCHS alumnus, we asked him what his favorite part of Kennedy was. Having been a thespian, Mickey shared he loved performing in Kennedy musicals. 

Father Michael Connolly

I honestly loved everything about being at Kennedy. I felt like I was part of a family; I really felt at home in school. The absolute best part for me, though, was performing in the school musicals. I learned so much through Kennedy’s musical theatre program. I learned about singing, acting and dancing. I also learned about myself. I found performing to be a real passion of mine, and I gained so much confidence from my experience with theatre at Kennedy. I also learned that a person can’t be defined by any one thing. I didn’t audition for the school musical in my freshman year because I was on the football team and had the mistaken notion that a person couldn’t be involved in sports and the arts. The next year, though, after having seen how amazing the show was freshman year (Seussical the Musical) and how much fun my friends all had putting it on, I had to try. So, I auditioned for Footloose and had the time of my life! That experience gave me the confidence to branch out, and I started performing at Yorktown Stage as well as a few other places. Despite my freshman-year fears, a lot of my teammates came to the school shows and were very supportive! I will never forget performing in Footloose, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and Fiddler on the Roof when I was at Kennedy.


We asked Mickey when and how he realized he was being called to be a priest.

Mickey as he was called in high school, was a member of the football and track teams.

For as long as I can remember, I have had a sense that God might be calling me to become a priest. I have been very fortunate to grow up with just about all the right elements in place for me to listen for God’s voice telling me what He is calling me to be. My parents have a beautiful marriage, an excellent example of what it means to give your life completely for someone else. I have always had amazing parish priests who have shown me what it means for a man to give his life completely for the Church. I have also grown up with two incredibly supportive brothers. My brother John has had a very special influence on my faith, let alone my discernment of the call to priesthood. My brother John has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. He has had to suffer so much throughout his life, but he has done it with the utmost humility and joy. He has really shown me a glimpse of the suffering of Jesus, endured joyfully and with love. So, all the pieces have been in place for me to ask God, “What do you want me to do?” He has shown me in various ways over the years that the answer is priesthood. I have not always been faithful to Him, though. Many times, I have strayed from the close, personal relationship He so desires to have with each of us. I have, at many times, sought happiness and fulfillment in worldly things, my own plans, ignoring God’s plan. Eventually, though, in my junior year in college, I just felt too empty, too lonely to continue living so selfishly. God mercifully called out to me again and set me back on the right path. I really felt His love completely fill me up, and I vowed I would live for Him again and stop living for myself. He showed me that He was still calling me to be a priest, and I entered college seminary that year! I am now at the end of my third year at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, about to begin my final year of seminary formation.


Because Mickey mentioned that his family inspired and encouraged him to enter the seminary, we asked him to tell us more about them.

Michael, pictured with his parents at his college graduation from Fordham University

I have such a wonderful family. My mom and dad have been married for thirty years. They are a beautiful example of the gift of marriage in a current social climate which is very hostile to marriage or really, any kind of commitment. I have two brothers, John and Brian. John is the oldest. As I mentioned before, he was born with cerebral palsy. He has always been and continues to be a great inspiration to me. Brian is the youngest. He has also been a huge inspiration to me. Not only did he earn a college scholarship to play football at Bucknell University, but his perseverance through his career ending shoulder injury has taught me a great deal about patience and fortitude. My brothers are my best friends!



We wanted to know if there was anyone who influenced or inspired Mickey more than others. He told us about Father Dunn, who, like Mickey’s brother John, is wheelchair-bound.

Michael, pictured with Father Dunn

So many people have inspired me, but the biggest influence I have had is a priest named Fr. Dunn. Fr. Dunn was at my home parish, St. Augustine’s in Ossining, for eleven years. He has always been the most joyful priest I know. As a kid, I was always so attracted to and inspired by Fr. Dunn’s preaching. Fr. Dunn is a master at preaching an incredibly intelligent, spiritually enriching homily which is also bursting with his own unique sense of humor. Fr. Dunn taught me that it is possible to preach an edifying homily using references to The Simpsons! Fr. Dunn has always been there for me. He has been a spiritual father and a true friend. He has always supported me in discerning my vocation without ever making me feel pressured to consider priesthood. Furthermore, despite his Multiple Sclerosis rendering him wheelchair-bound, Fr. Dunn’s enduring joy continues to inspire me to accept whatever cross God gives me with humility and humor. Fr. Dunn continues to be my biggest priestly inspiration and one of my best friends.



On the flip side, we wondered if there was anyone who tried to influence Mickey not to become a priest.

Thanks be to God, no! No one has tried to dissuade me from pursuing the priesthood.


Next, we wanted to know what Mickey felt now that he has entered the seminary. What really interested us was what was Mickey’s favorite part of the seminary.

Michael, pictured with his brothers

I have been really grateful for the relationships I have developed since entering seminary. I have made some really great friendships with other seminarians, priests, and parishioners in different parishes. Ultimately, the best part, is that they have all helped me to grow in my relationship with Jesus.





After learning his favorite part of the seminary, we were intrigued as to Mickey’s least favorite part of the seminary, so we asked Mickey what he has found to be the most challenging aspect of becoming a priest.

Being patient! It has been so exciting to be in formation for the priesthood. With each year in seminary I am getting more and more excited to be ordained and get out there in a parish as a priest. It has been very difficult to be patient as I go through the formation process. Some very wise priests have been helping me to slow down and accept every day, appreciating every moment of the process as the gift it is!


Knowing that it can’t be easy to dedicate your life to service of God and others, we asked Mickey if he ever regretted his decision to become a priest.

Not once! Seminary formation is not easy, but I have not had a single regret about entering. I truly believe that God is calling me to be a priest, and I am so grateful. I have never been more joyful than I have since I entered seminary.


Even though we just established that Mickey, since entering the seminary, never considered becoming anything other than a priest, we were still interested to know what he thinks he would be doing now if he hadn’t entered the seminary.

Teaching at Kennedy!…assuming Fr. Vaillancourt would hire me, of course! I would be a teacher. I’m not sure where exactly, but, before seminary, I was working towards a Master of Science in Education degree at Fordham University. I would have loved to teach at the elementary level, or be a Spanish or music teacher at the high school level. God-willing, as a priest, I can do a little of all of that!






We are very grateful and appreciative to Mickey for giving such thoughtful responses to our questions, but we felt we would be remiss if we did not ask him for advice for anyone discerning the priesthood.

Be open to whatever surprises God will throw your way! Discernment of one’s vocation is a journey, especially discernment of the priesthood. God will surprise you! You will learn so much about yourself on the way. Be open to it, and let go of any expectations you have of how it should go. I’m working on this myself- it’s easier said than done! But God is always there to help us.


Mickey told us he is in his fourth and final year at St. Joseph’s, so his journey from the seminary to the priesthood is almost finished. Being parishioners and altar servers at the same parish as Mickey, we are lucky enough to be able to see his faith and devotion to his calling almost every week at Mass. Being so devoted to Christ, Mickey is an inspiration to everyone. We are all excited to learn where God will send him next year after his graduation and ordination into the priesthood!

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Nick Morgante, Class of `13, transfers to MIT

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Alumna Danielle Asaro Breaks 5th Marist Record

Trying to fight off a cold and cough Thursday night Danielle was considering not competing at The Boston University Valentine Invitational Meet on Friday, Feb. 13.  However, the BU Valentine UnknownInvitational is the biggest event of the season with approximately 50 schools attending from as far north as Ottawa, Canada to as far south as Florida State and Danielle did not want to miss it. Furthermore, BU has one of the best tracks around.  With only two meets left to the indoor season Danielle was determined to run.

And so she did.  After a disappointing 60m result she collected herself and set out with determination in the 200 meter.  With the usual advice and encouragement from Coach Dad, “remember you’re the Bolt” and “Run your ass off” (hey good advice), and a reminder to remember what Coach Elliott said, its about turnovers, she was off.

Getting off to a lightning fast start, Danielle kept pouring on the speed around the turn and down the straightaway accelerating to the finish line to win her heat and cross the line in 25.68 seconds. Another Marist school record had fallen as women’s team captain Danielle Asaro shattered the old 200-meter school record of 26.02 set by Chrissy McDevitt in 2007.  Danielle’s time was .57 seconds faster than her previous indoor personal best.  Danielle now holds five school records.

Story by Danielle’s father, Dan Asaro

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Turkey Trot and Turkey Bowl – All are Welcome

All are invited to join the Kennedy Catholic Alumni who are hosting a 5K Turkey Trot around the Kennedy Catholic property and the annual Turkey Bowl on Friday, November 28, 2014.

  • 10 a.m. “Day-Of” Registration for 5K Turkey Trot. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged. Signup below. 
  • 10:30 a.m. (we welcome all comers) 5K Turkey Trot
  • 12:30 p.m. Kennedy Alumni touch football game (all are welcome)
  • Food, drinks and full BBQ
  • School Store will be open!
  • $10 suggested donation and all proceeds go to the new track
Click here to sign up for the Turkey Trot  (you will  need to create an account)
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Kennedy Alumna, Leah Greene, Athlete of the Week – SUNY Geneseo

From SUNY Geneseo Website:

Name: Leah Greene
Class: First-year
Hometown: Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.
High School: John F. Kennedy Catholic
Sport: Women’s Soccer
Major: Pre-Biology

Greene recorded a hat trick in the Knights’ 5-0 victory at New Paltz, last Friday. In addition to tallying the team’s first three goals of the match, two in the first period and one in the second, Greene was also credited with an assist. On Saturday, Greene scored her fourth goal of the weekend to lead Geneseo to a 2-0 victory at Oneonta.

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Kennedy Homecoming – Go Gaels!

Homecoming Festivities 2014

Let’s Show Our School Spirit!

This coming weekend is Fall Homecoming 2014 at Kennedy Catholic.  Here’s a quick list of what’s on tap for students during the next couple of days:

Thursday, September 18th – Dress Down Day – Free of Charge!

Friday, September 19th – Homeroom Olympics & Pep Rally

Friday, September 19th – Varsity Field Hockey Game / Boys Varsity Soccer Game
Please come cheer on the Kennedy Catholic Varsity Boys Soccer Team vs Mount St. Michael at 4:00pm and the Girls Field Hockey team as they face off against Chapin at 4:30 p.m.  Go Gaels!
Saturday, September 20th – Homecoming Football Game
The Kennedy Catholic Varsity football team will kick off against Nazareth at 1:30 PM.  Come cheer on the Gaels and show your school pride!

Homecoming Dance @ 7:00 PM
The annual Homecoming Dance (for current students only) will conclude the day’s festivities from 7-to-10 p.m.  Join fellow classmates for an enjoyable evening! Tickets are $10 each, payable at the door.

As a reminder, no students are permitted to leave once they have checked into the dance, unless they are leaving campus for the evening.  For those students requiring parental transportation, please make sure your ride is ready promptly at 10 p.m.

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Kennedy Alumna, Anni Abbruzzese, NECC Rookie of the Week

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Lesley University freshman Anni Abbruzzese (Croton on Hudson, N.Y.) has been named New England Collegiate Conference Women’s Volleyball Rookie of the Week. NECC Assistant Commissioner for Communications, Roger Crosley, made the announcement this morning in the conference Weekly Report. Abbruzzese has powered the Lesley offense as she led the team to a perfect 4-0 week, including picking up a pair of wins at a tri-match with St. Joseph’s College (Me.) and Mt. Ida College this past Saturday.

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Kennedy Volleyball Alumnae Continue to Impress in College

We are proud of the success of our Lady Gaels as they continue their passion for the game.  Please see the following links for college news on Anni Abbruzzese, Caroline Erb, Cat Purdy and Natalie Candarelli.


Gaels Remember Anne Marie Murphy ’78 on Dec. 11 with gift to Murphy Family Fund

The Gaels will remember Sandy Hook hero Anne Marie Murphy ’78 on Dec. 11 with a Dress-Down Day collection in memory of its fallen alumna.