Chicago Heights, IL–(ENEWSPF)– Marian Catholic High School prides itself on the fact that nearly 100 percent of its students voluntarily participate in service to others. For the Alumni Association Hall of Fame Class of 2008, service is a hallmark of the entire class of inductees.
Whether it’s service to or representing Marian Catholic, service in spreading the word about the excellence of Marian Catholic, or helping out others in the neighborhood and community, this group is one that should make the entire Marian Catholic family proud.
Headed by Alumnus of the Year Camille (Zarantonello) Blachowicz ’62, the Class of 2008 Hall of Famers will be honored at the annual dinner on February 21 at Olympia Fields Country Club. More information and reservations are available by calling the Advancement Office at 708-755-6579.
With a group that has so much to offer, let’s meet the 2008 Alumni Association Hall of Famers.
Camille (Zarantonello) Blachowicz ’62, Alumnus of the Year
Alumnus of the Year Blachowicz sets the standard for all educators at Marian and beyond. The Professor of Education and Director of Reading Program at National-Louis University has been named Outstanding Educator of the Year (2002) and is also a member of the International Reading Association Hall of Fame.
"Success really takes hard work, creativity and a lot of luck," explained Blachowicz, who has authored several books on literacy and education. "I’m not sure of the percentages there- they all feed in. With respect to Marian, I think the women teachers were incredibly empowering to the female students.
"They offered the same sense of support that I felt from my family, who also provided me with the means to have 16 years of Catholic education and also a sense that we could do anything we put our minds to. I have always thought of my high school classmates as some of the brightest, funniest and verbally quickest group of people I have ever met. Having the ‘Marian Experience’ was a golden one for me.”
Blachowicz has had her research supported by grants from several foundations and associations, while she’s frequently welcomed as a speaker for local, national and international education conferences. For Blachowicz and her family, the education route was always a natural one.
"My two brothers (Joe ’67, Matt ’73) and I all went to Marian, as did my cousin who is now a faculty member there," Blachowicz said. "I certainly feel we share the academic legacy; we all have advanced degrees and all have gone into teaching or have done some teaching. Marian was a disciplined place and, when I was there, I felt the faculty and school were committed to educating all of us.
"We also have the same sense of being responsible for others and for giving back, which was a real part of the Marian ethos."
Lisa (Boyd) Piekarski ’87, Athlete of the Year
In a new millennium, it’s very common for Marian female athletes to earn college scholarships in their sport. However, Lisa Boyd Piekarski ’87 did so in an era that nearly made her a pioneer in such ventures.
A member of Marian’s Sweet 16 IHSA volleyball qualifier in 1985, Boyd ultimately earned a full scholarship to the University of Wisconsin . At Madison , she enjoyed a successful volleyball career and earned a bachelor’s degree in Finance, Investment & Banking, and Risk Management & Insurance.
"My Marian teachers and the administration were very supportive of me during the recruiting and school selection process," Boyd recalled. "Academically, Marian had a strong influence on me. One example is a mandatory Study Skills class. The class showed us techniques for studying and retaining information that I used in college. I would not have been able to graduate on the Business School ‘s Dean’s list had I not taken this class.
"Probably the most profound influence on me was a class I took at Marian called Religion in Service. The experience left me thankful for the life I had and showed me how helping others can be rewarding. The experience still influences my family life and career today. Also, I try to instill in my children the desire to help others."
After spending time to raise children Kyle (age 10), Drew (7) and Trevor (5) along with husband Tim, Piekarski has resumed her career at Marcus Capital, LLC, where she does equity investment research and portfolio management.
In part because of her training at Marian and managing a demanding athletic career, Piekarski successfully manages the roles of career and outstanding wife and mother.
"I believe the secret to my success is being very goal-oriented and taking a team approach to whatever situation arises," Piekarski explained. "I view a team approach as working with others toward a common goal, giving 110 percent no matter what the situation and remaining very committed to your goal even when you are feeling discouraged."
Colin Egglesfield ’91, Fine Arts Distinguished Achievement
Colin Egglesfield ’91 is no stranger to most, as he plays "Josh Madden" daily on popular Soap Opera All My Children. Additionally, Egglesfield owns his own clothing company, "Shout Out!" where he gains the opportunity to work as a designer and model as well.
"Being on All My Children has been a great job because it allowed me to live my dream of being a working actor in my favorite city, New York ," explained Egglesfield, who graduated from the University of Iowa before starting off his modeling career in places like Milan , Paris , London and Tokyo .
"I’m able to participate in numerous charity fund-raising opportunities on a regular basis, which gives me a great feeling knowing that I’m contributing to help make some people’s lives a little bit better. Marian prepared me for college life by introducing me to the means and knowledge necessary to succeed academically and vocationally, but also instilled in me the importance of being a morally and socially responsible person."
Whether through service or on the screen, Egglesfield has had significant experience in the public eye in a young career. Prior to his role on All My Children, Egglesfield made appearances in the likes of Law and Order: SVU, Leap of Faith, Lost in Oz, Charmed, Nip/Tuck, Gilmore Girls and movies "Must Love Dogs" and “Beautiful Dreamer."
While Egglesfield has been lucky to experience so much, he warns Marian students that it doesn’t all come by chance.
"Create your own luck," said the avid runner who has raised money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Team for Kids and the Lance Armstrong Cancer Foundation through marathons. "What I’ve learned is that it’s not necessarily the best or most talented person who gets the job, it’s the one who stuck it out the longest when things got difficult.
"My experience at Marian was one of incredible discovery. I felt a sense of pride not only with what I was learning and able to accomplish, but with the feeling that I belonged to and was part of continuing Marian’s reputation of academic and athletic excellence. In the classroom, my teachers prepared me for the rigorous demands of college and the workplace, and what I learned from my coaches and athletics was the vision to set my sights on a goal the discipline and persistence to achieve my dreams."
James and Anita Jackson, Spirit of Marian
James and Anita Jackson are extremely pleased with the foundation four of their children gained from Marian Catholic, as it fits right in the example they set as Marian parents. Extremely involved with the Athletic Booster Club and Mothers Club, the Jacksons provided brilliant insight and support to both groups during their formative years.
“Marian Catholic reinforced the basic principles we conveyed to our children,” said Anita Jackson, who watched James ’87, Marta ’91, Edward ’93 and April ’93 graduate from Marian. "It helped keep them grounded in faith and emphasized the value and rewards of fair play, perseverance and loyalty."
Jim’s strong support for the Boosters – and for the track and football teams was memorable. “Jim and Anita were interested participants in many of the organizing activities that set the direction of MCHS for the 90’s and into the millennium,” Athletic Director Dave Mattio ’66 praised. “Volunteerism, participation and ownership were a constant thread with their commitment to MCHS. The recognition is truly deserved.”
In the meantime, Anita made her mark on the Mothers Club,creating manuals still used today as models for Mothers Club Events, and leading as club president with a gracious inclusion. Later, as a Marian Catholic High School Board member, Anita participated in the long range plan and Partnership 2000, which eventually left Marian with its West Gym and band room.
The owners of DeSoto LLC (manufacturing and processing of specialty chemicals) set an early example at Marian for a cooperation of students, faculty and parents within the Dominican tradition.When the DeSoto plant moved, the Jacksons gifted office furniture to Marian. "It was the first ‘new’ furniture in years and the first conference room furniture we ever had," recalled President Sr. M. Paul McCaughey ’67."We were thrilled and,with good stewardship, much of it is still in use."
Jim and Anita Jackson typify the spirit of many Marian parents and, for them, Marian returned the favor. In their words,"Marian provided a solid atmosphere that supported parental involvement in the educational process."
Joe Dee, Lifetime Achievement Award
While Joe Dee has never carried the moniker of “teacher,” his involvement as coach, administrator, volunteer, chairperson, father and grandfather have made him a teacher to hundreds, perhaps thousands.
Following his son Jim into the Marian Hall of Fame (Spirit of Marian, 2002), Dee has been coaching, officiating and organizing for other people virtually since his playing days ended at Thornton Junior College (football) and the University of Illinois (baseball). Along with wife of 46 years Bernice, Dee has sent sons Jim ‘80, Tom ‘81, Tim ’85 and John ’88 through Marian. Grandson Matt ’07 has begun the next generation at Marian, followed by Meaghan ’09 and more of his 13 grandchildren are on the way.
“Marian has played a big part in raising our four sons,” explained Dee, a former Marian Booster Club officer. “I am proud to say they are good husbands and fathers, and are all involved in their churches and communities. It takes more than being a parent to raise a child and Marian definitely has been a big influence in their development.
“The impact that Marian has is evident to me every day by its graduates. The Christian values they have learned here help them become good leaders at home, at work, as well as in the community.”
Primarily through involvement of his sons, Joe Dee has coached at St. Joseph and St. Agnes in Chicago Heights , Olympia Terrace, the Chicago Heights Park District, Catholic Grammar School football and Small Fry Basketball. The Eucharistic Minister for 39 years has also been an Illinois High School Association official for 24 years in three sports, working state championship football games in 2004 and 2007.
“I am honored and surprised to receive this honor, because what I have done in my life is just what I was taught growing up,” Dee said. “That’s to use the gifts I’ve been given to help others. Having gone through 12 years of Catholic education, I learned that volunteering was very important. To receive this honor from such a prestigious institution as Marian is humbling.”