Saint Joan of Arc School continues to provide a strong Catholic education in the western suburbs today. As an alumnus of our school, you are living proof that a solid educational, moral, and spiritual foundation in the elementary school years is crucial to the development of our future.
Whether you were with us 5 years ago or 75, we value you and want to hear from our alumni! You are our history, and an important part of our school family today. There is much we would like to share with you about what is going on at Saint Joan of Arc today and invite you to personally come back to visit us.
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We heard from a number of recent high school graduates, who are members of the SJA Class of 2015.
We are very proud of ALL of our St. Joan of Arc grade school graduates! Here are some of their stories…
Zachary Littell – St. Francis High School, Wheaton
During high school, Zack was on both first and second honor rolls, and was Math Student of the Month. He also participated in boys’ volleyball, choir, student government and Kairos, and volunteered for Loaves & Fishes, as well as Feed My Starving Children.
Zack says his Catholic faith has helped him to become an honest person. “Throughout high school, there were many times and situations that tested my integrity. I had to decide what kind of person I wanted to be and relied on my faith to work through those situations. I decided that honesty was important, and even though it was hard and I had to suffer many consequences, I tried my best to be truthful, maintain my integrity, and act in a Christian way. As Mr. Gormley taught us, I tried to find Jesus in everyone, including myself.”
Best SJA experience: “I have many good memories from my 9 years at SJA. From silliness in first grade, bantering between students and Mrs. Raymond in 5th grade, to Action News in 8th grade. The things that I remember most are the everyday interactions between students, teachers, and classmates.”
Zack said that Mrs. Svitak was his favorite teacher, having helped start his journey into the field of math. He is a strong math student and excels in understanding math concepts better than most.
What advice would Zack give current SJA students? “Have as much fun at SJA as you can. Don’t sweat the small stuff, because most of the time, those things don’t really matter.”
In the fall, Zack will attend Illinois State University, majoring in Actuarial Science. He received the ISA Risk Management scholarship and is also a Redbird Scholarship recipient.
Matthew Kickel – Benet Academy, Lisle
While at Benet, Matt was on the football team for four years (3 years on varsity), basketball for two years, and was in the Law Club for four years, eventually serving as President. He received the Illinois State Scholar award and is a National Merit Commended student.
When asked how his faith has helped him through his teen years, Matt responded, “My Catholic faith has helped me through my high school years by showing me that God is everywhere, and that discipline and a little prayer can get you through almost any test.”
His best SJA memory was winning the football championship against St. Joe’s. “Winning that game was such a sweet feeling that I doubt I’ll ever forget it”.
His favorite teacher was Mr. Gormley, “because he spoke to the students as young men and women, rather than as a parent speaking to his children. He respected us and we respected him. Mr. Gormley also seemed to have a ‘direct line’ to Jesus!”
What advice would he have for current St. Joan of Arc students? “The best advice that I can give the students is to take school seriously, study and do your homework, but also balance your life and join a club or try out for a sports team. Life’s short, just do it!”
In the fall, Matt will attend Arizona State University to study Innovations in Society and Computer Engineering. He is also a walk-on to the ASU football team. Go Sun Devils!!
Julia Briggs – Montini High School, Lombard
Julia was very involved in extracurricular activities during high school. She played volleyball, was a student ambassador, and was in student government for four years. She was in the National Honor Society for two years, a Lasallian youth leader for three years, and a Peer Minister and Kairos Leader for a year. She delivered gifts to military families during the holidays, organized many service opportunities for Montini students as a Peer Minister, and coached numerous summer volleyball camps.
When asked how her faith has helped through her teenage years, Julia replied, “My Catholic faith has definitely helped me keep in line with my morals and ideals. I’m very blessed to have had such a firm faith foundation at SJA and had Montini to keep my faith strong. I am very excited to be attending a Catholic university and to continue to strengthen my faith even further.”
Best SJA experience/memory? Julia loved the fun ice cream socials and Catholic Schools Week, which had a different “theme” for each day!
Favorite SJA teacher? “Mr. Gormley was an amazing teacher who taught us not only about the Catholic faith itself, but also
how to live out that faith in our everyday lives. He has had a huge impact on my life and is one of the biggest reasons my faith is so strong today.”
Advice for current SJA students? “Enjoy your time at St. Joan! I made so many amazing memories and great friends at SJA that will always have a special place in my heart. St. Joan of Arc is such a wonderful place, so make the most of your time there, because it goes by way too quickly!” Julia plans to attend Loyola University- Chicago in the fall to study marketing.
Grace Rehayem – Naperville North High School, Naperville
During her high school years, Grace kept very busy with Theatre productions (3 years), Show choir (2 years), Acapella (2 years), Junior State of America (2 years), IMPACT Youth Ministry- Teen Leader (4 years), and working part-time as a server at Brookdale Senior Living (2 years). Her accomplishments in school included eight semesters on the 4.0 Honor Roll, NNHS Outstanding Foreign Language Student Award recipient (2016 & 2017), NNHS Outstanding English Student Award recipient (2016, 2018, & 2019), Illinois State Scholar, and AP credits in English and History.
She participated in the National Honor Society, which gave her the opportunity to volunteer at events such as resales, school functions, and Feed My Starving Children. Through these experiences, she was able to positively impact the community and affect change on a local level.
Grace also volunteered at Camp Greene Wood, a Girl Scout camp, as a counselor in training. She assisted unit counselors in planning and carrying out activities for the campers, making sure they truly enjoyed their experience. This participation was especially meaningful, because Grace had attended the camp herself for many years, having never missed a summer there.
Advice to high school students: “Find volunteer opportunities that fit your passions, and avoid completing service projects merely to use them on a resume.”
Best SJA experience/memory? “I will always remember the night of my Confirmation, in which I felt closer to God than ever before. As my forehead was marked with Chrism oil, I felt that the Holy Spirit was infused within me. I was shrouded in peace, and wanted the feeling to stay with me forever. Although I was only 14 years old at the time, I felt like an older member of the church, ready to embrace the responsibilities of being a Catholic.”
Best SJA teacher and why? “I think so highly of the educators at SJA, that it is difficult to choose simply one. However, Mrs. Kenney, my fourth grade teacher, has certainly left a positive impact on my life. She enriched my love of literature by giving us freedom with book selections and assigning thought-provoking projects. Because of her, I will forget neither prepositions, nor my immense self-worth. Her care for each of her students was always abundantly clear. When I become an educator, I hope to provide the same type of engagement in my classes.
Advice for current SJA students: “My advice to SJA students is to avoid comparing yourself to those around you, as this often steals away your joy. There will always be someone smarter than you, prettier than you, or more talented than you. HOWEVER, given the unique combination of your personality and abilities, you have the power to affect great change in the world. Keep working hard, and never forget the inherent value you have as a child of God.”
Grace plans to attend the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana in the fall and major in English Education. She would like to teach high school English in the future.
Have a story to tell or share? Please send information about “awesome alumni” to Kim Clements at or fill out the form below and submit.
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