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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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Second Kennedy Catholic College Fair Bigger, Even More Diverse

The Kennedy Catholic Guidance Department threw its second college fair of the 2016-17 school year this Tuesday, and the response was enormous. With a nearly 250 percent increase in the number of colleges attending over the first fair, the event blew out of the previous confines of The Commons and into the gym to accommodate the more than 50 colleges in attendance.

Kamal Kornegay, Associate Director of Undergraduate Admission for Monmouth University

Kamal Kornegay, Associate Director of Undergraduate Admission for Monmouth University

Kamal Kornegay, Associate Director of Undergraduate Admission for Monmouth University, was there, and praised the event’s organization:

“I think (Kennedy Director of Guidance) Christine (Gerrity) does a great job of getting everybody together, it’s very well prepared, well-coordinated. I think that every school has some good characteristics but when they are properly prepared that makes for a great event for us, and I think Christine does a great job with that.”

The attending colleges were a diverse mix included Vaughn College of Aeronautics, Penn State and a large selection of SUNY schools. The Guidance Department typically goes out of its way to understand the students’ career interests, and books colleges accordingly.

As Julia Feeney’17 explains: “I want to work in fashion so (Mrs. Gerrity) worked to bring in schools that would specifically benefit me — which was very nice of her to do. It helped me get a lot of stats on schools and weed out where it was worth the trip and where it wasn’t so that I’m not going all the way across the country to see a school that is not really for me.”

The great diversity in the schools is a boon to those who are not quite sure of their path, as well. Sabrina Rehfeld ’17 is still undecided about her major and appreciates the wide selection:

“I’m still undecided but Mrs. Gerrity does a great job of bringing in schools that have so many majors,” she said. “She really works with you on finding the right school that is open to offering what you want to do later in college.”

Kennedy Seniors Sabrina Rehfeld, Erin Sullivan & Julia Feeney

l. to r. Sabrina Rehfeld ’17, Erin Sullivan ’17, Julia Feeney ’17

Attendance at the college fairs that Kennedy Catholic holds several times a year is mandatory for all sophomores, juniors and seniors. Erin Sullivan ’17 credits her three years of college fair attendance for helping her decide upon her major:

“I didn’t decide what I wanted to study until recently so going to all these schools and meeting their admissions counselors and talking to them about things they want to see or what types of students are at their college helped me to narrow down my choices and find out what would be good for me.”

Kamal Kornegay says the fairs help colleges make up their minds, as well:

“It helps by enabling us to meet some great individuals from their sophomore year up to their senior year who are just great assets to universities.”

Kennedy Catholic Director of Guidance Mrs. Christine Gerrity

Kennedy Catholic Director of Guidance Mrs. Christine Gerrity

As Mrs. Gerrity explained, the whole process of students getting to meet with the reps of the colleges they may end up attending over a three year period is part of the ulterior motives-laden Master Plan:

“Our seniors have actually applied to many, many schools already at this point in the season. They were able to engage with a lot of representatives who have their applications on file. They are able to connect with the college reps, and in some cases the reps they are speaking with may end actually reading their applications again — another value added aspect for the Kennedy students.”

The third and final college fair of this school year is scheduled for the spring, and Mrs. Gerrity promised it will be “even bigger.”

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The 13th Annual Golf Outing: By Julia Feeney ’17

The 2016 Kennedy Catholic Golf Classic - Images captured by Jacob Bergmeier (2016) Download full-resolution images at KennedyCatholic.Pixieset.com

Members of the Student Government with Fred Compton, Director of Advancement

The 13th annual KCHS golf classic was a total success. With 96 people in attendance, many of whom are Kennedy Catholic alumni, there were a lot of laughs and whole lot of golf. While interviewing alumni they all looked back very fondly on their times at Kennedy, and past golf outings. Two of the more entertaining alumni in attendance where the Beyrer brothers. During his time at Kennedy, Brendan Beyrer was the captain of the 1993 (8-1) “Bowl Winning” football team. Brendan’s brother, Daniel Beyrer, started the Kennedy Lacrosse program. The two look back on their years at Kennedy very fondly and have been to all 13 golf outings. The brothers also asked me to give a plug to their other favorite Kennedy alumni event, the Turkey Bowl held the day after Thanksgiving at Kennedy. As I spent the day speaking to many alumni in attendance, I noticed they all remember Kennedy Catholic affectionately, especially their experiences as Kennedy athletes. Also, they use the Golf Outing as a miniature high school reunion with old friends they made in school. Most continued on to say that Kennedy has positively affected their live in countless ways since graduating. What came up the most in my interviews was the fact that Kennedy Catholic gave them a moral compass that they have stuck by since graduation. By far, the coolest person in attendance was John Viniello who went all out for the “golf look” wearing bright pink pants, without a doubt winning the best dressed of the day. He and his brother Mario, who was also at the Golf outing, are former Kennedy coaches/teachers. John coached the very successful Kennedy cross country team and Mario coached the basketball team. When asked if he had a favorite memory from his time as a Kennedy coach, John talked about when his team won the Eastern State Championship, and Mario talked about when his basketball team, the last seed in a tournament, beat the first seed. In one of their games, they even got to play the now famous Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Golfers spent the day on the beautiful course at Centennial in Carmel, NY

Golfers spent the day on the beautiful course at Centennial in Carmel, NY

This year’s golf outing’s fundraising is going to (for the most part) lights for the turf field, but the monies raised in the golf games go to the Kennedy Golf team. The golf games were one of the new activities at this year’s golf outing. The games included a Flop Shot Wall, A Marshmallow Long Drive and Snag Golf. To win Sang Golf you had to successfully hit John DelPriore with a tennis ball, this seemed to be the favorite game this year, especially for the student golfers. Another one of the new activities at this year’s golf outing was the new golfer clinic. Our very own Mrs. Boston participated in the class. When asked about it afterwards, she said that the class was fun, informative and definitely something she’d recommend to a friend. And, although she’s not quite ready to compete in the next PGA tournament, she has become quite the accomplished putter.

 

Most of the guests’ talents were far from Tiger Woods skill and were happy to admit it, but never the less, a good time was had by everyone. As I drove around the course talking to people, I saw nothing but smiles, and heard nothing but laughter. One guest, Mrs. Young would also like for our readers to know that “It was a top 10 day! The weather was spectacular… we all had a blast. Everyone should give the Golf Outing a whirl.”


To see more images of the golf outing, visit our gallery of images


 

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Nick DiGrandi Meets Pope Francis

Following up from a previous post, Senior Nick DiGrandi had the opportunity to meet Pope Francis while His Holiness was in New York City. Nick was one of 12 students chosen to meet Pope Francis. After the meeting, Nick was one of three (of the 12) students to meet Anderson Cooper for an interview.

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View Nick’s interview with Anderson Cooper below:

http://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2015/09/25/students-who-met-pope-francis-ac-intv.cnn

 

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Senior Nick DiGrandi to meet Pope Francis

Nick-DiGrandiCongratulations to Nick DiGrandi (pictured 5th from the right) who will meet Pope Francis this week while he is visiting New York City. Nick is one of 12 students in the Archdiocese who will have the opportunity to briefly speak with His Holiness when he comes to the area.

Via CBS

Via FOX

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2016 National Merit Semi-Finalist

Kenendy Catholic student, Sara Skelton, has been named a Semi-Finalists in the 2016 National Merit Scholarship Program. Congratulations to Sarah on this amazing accomplishment!

National-Merit-2016Press Release from NMSC:  Today officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) announced the names of approximately 16,000 Semifinalists in the 61th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth about $33 million that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship® award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. About 90 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and more than half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar® title.

 

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The Curtain has Closed on the Sound of Music

The curtain has closed for this year’s musical production, The sound of Music. The show starred senior, Tucker Clair and sophomore, Kelsey Baron and the show was directed by Kennedy dance teacher, Dana Merritt. The Sound of Music is based on the true story of the Von Trapp family, who escaped Austria during the German invasion in the 1940’s. English teacher, Mrs. Morris had a cameo along with Set Director and Spanish teacher, Mr. Tieber. Mrs Morris bid on and won a walk-on role in the production at our November Kennedy Catholic Auction. Although the final act has come to a close, you can view images taken by our yearbook company by clicking the image below.
Sound-of-Music-Gallery

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Spring 2015 Art Show

Henry David Thoreau once said: “This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” Kennedy artist certainly have very creative imaginations as you can see from their captivating creations. The Spring 2015 Art Show began at the end of last week and runs until tomorrow. Below you will see some Instagrams we shared last week and you can see a gallery of images taken by Mr. Fred Compton, the Director of Advancement, of the display. Amazing work everyone!

Kennedy Art Show 2015 – watercolor and pen by Rose Gagné

A photo posted by Kennedy Catholic (@kennedycatholic) on

Kennedy Art Show 2015 – art by TS A photo posted by Kennedy Catholic (@kennedycatholic) on

Kennedy Art Show 2015 – art by Tyler Silverio

A photo posted by Kennedy Catholic (@kennedycatholic) on

Kennedy Art Show 2015 – art by Rose Gangne

A photo posted by Kennedy Catholic (@kennedycatholic) on

Kennedy Art Show 2015 – art by Alexandra Delbello

A photo posted by Kennedy Catholic (@kennedycatholic) on

Kennedy Art Show 2015 – art by (unreadable)

A photo posted by Kennedy Catholic (@kennedycatholic) on

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2 Kennedy Students Earn National Merit Finalists Status

Two Kennedy Catholic students,Tucker Clair ’15, and Susanna Cohen ’15  have been risen to the top as Finalists in the 2015 National Merit Scholarship Program. Congratulations to both students as they move on in the process.

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Share the Love – School Supplies for Angola children

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, KCHS will be collecting school supplies for children in Angola in conjunction with our Lady of Fatima Parish in Yonkers.  The children are in need of school supplies of all types.  Please consider donating pencils, pens, erasers, crayons, markers or any item that you choose to share with children less fortunate than we are.  Student Government will collect donations each Friday during homeroom through March 27th.