List of 10 news stories.

  • SAINT MARK’S HIGH SCHOOL HONORED WITH BEST PRIVATE SCHOOL AWARD

    Mrs. Denise Blum
    It’s a repeat for the Spartans.  Saint Mark’s High School was voted Best Private School… again!
    This is the second year in a row that the Spartan Community has been honored with this prestigious title.  In 2020, Saint Mark’s was recognized as Best Private School by the Readers’ Choice Awards, which included a statewide competition.  In 2021, the awards were rebranded as First State Favorites and broken into county competitions.

    The First State Favorites Awards celebrate and recognize the very best our community has to offer.  In March, members of the community were asked to nominate their favorite private schools.  The five schools earning the most nominations advanced to the final voting round, which took place in May, and Saint Mark’s came out on top. 

    “We are grateful that the community is seeing all of the positive and encouraging events that are happening at Saint Mark’s,” said Principal Diane Casey.  “It is a school that is following its mission of spreading the good news and making ‘all things possible’ for families looking for a Catholic education.  We will continue to do our part in supporting our strong spiritual, academic, and co-curricular athletics and activities programs.  It's a great time to be a Spartan!”

    The award is a fitting reflection of the explosive growth the school has experienced recently.  Enrollment numbers are up a whopping 40% in the past two years due, in part, to a renewed vision coupled with bold initiatives brought about by new school leadership.

    “Two years ago we, as a community, celebrated our 50th anniversary and pledged to chart a bold vision for the future,” said school President Tom Fertal.  “Our administration, board, faculty, staff, students, parents, benefactors and friends have rallied around this vision and have worked passionately to bring it to fruition. Still, despite our success, as we are just now emerging into a post-COVID period, we like to say that we are just getting started.”

    He continued, “We are grateful to all of our constituents and to all who helped us to retain this most fitting recognition. Go Spartans!”
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  • SAINT MARK’S GIRLS TRACK & FIELD TEAM EARNS TOP HONORS

    Mrs. Denise Blum
    Spartans Named Coach of the Year, Assistant Coach of the Year and Athlete of the Year
     
    It’s time to make room in the trophy case at Saint Mark’s.

    After a whirlwind season that culminated in an exciting state championship win, the Saint Mark’s Girls Track & Field Team has come out on top, yet again.  Head Coach Mike DiGennaro was recently named Delaware Outdoor Track & Field Girls’ Coach of the Year.  Assistant Coach Rashaun Davis was named Delaware Outdoor Track & Field Girls’ Assistant Coach of the Year.  State Champ Tiffany Herrera was named Delaware Outdoor Track & Field Athlete of the Year.

    This is actually the second time DiGennaro has been recognized as Coach of the Year.  The first time was in 2019 for cross country.  “Earning the Coach of the Year award is certainly a tremendous honor.  I am very lucky to have an extremely dedicated coaching staff, and our success this season was a total team effort,” he said.  “The athletes made coaching a lot of fun. They set out with the goal of winning a state championship, and they stayed motivated all the way to the end."

    He continued, "I am so blessed to be able to work alongside Coach Davis.  He and I have shared this vision for many years.  It was rewarding to see it play out.  He went above and beyond with the jumpers and sprinters this year, and it showed in their results.  I’m also so proud of Tiffany.  She did everything we asked her to do this spring to help the team win, and she is so deserving of this award."

    Davis, who’s been with the Spartan Track & Field program for 10 years, was a unanimous pick for the selection committee.  “I am incredibly humbled by this award.  To be unanimously voted Assistant Coach of the Year was a great honor,” he said.  “This was a special season and I am so proud to have been a part of this historic team.  Coach DiGennaro and I have been talking about winning a state championship for almost a decade now.  So, for it all to come together the way that it did was truly amazing.  And for both of us to be recognized for our efforts is a moment that we will share forever.”

    For Herrera, a junior at Saint Mark’s, this honor is the latest in a long list of impressive accolades she collected this past school year.  In addition to being named Athlete of the Year, she is a state champ several times over, winning the 1600M and 3200M this past spring.  She is also the reigning Division II Girls Cross Country State Champ, was named the 2020-21 Gatorade Delaware Girls Cross Country Player of the Year and was the recipient of the William L. Gerow award, crowing her MVP of the 2020 cross country season. 

    Herrera graciously credits much of her success to DiGennaro and Davis.  “Being named Athlete of the Year for outdoor track means so much to me because not only did I get an award, but Coach DiGennaro and Coach Davis did also. They are both the reason I am the athlete I am and I am so grateful for them,” she said.


    President Tom Fertal has high praise for this impressive group of Spartans.  “The recognition of Coach DiGennaro, Coach Davis, and Miss Herrera are most certainly well deserved.  Each of them, in their relentless pursuit of excellence, embody the Spartan Spirit and represent all that is best in high school athletics.  Our community is ever so proud of them,” he said.

     
     
     
     

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
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  • SLAM DUNK FOR THE SPARTANS

    Mrs. Denise Blum
    Saint Mark’s High School Welcomes New Head Coach for Boys Varsity Basketball Team

    Saint Mark’s High School is pleased to announce that Lonnie Wright has been hired as Head Coach for the Boys Varsity Basketball Team. 

    Wright comes to Spartan Nation with over 25 years of combined experience coaching both basketball and baseball.  “I am looking forward to working with our players to develop their skills to compete at a high level,” he said.  “I want to build a winning tradition and create an environment where my players will be successful both academically and athletically.”

    While Wright’s goals include, of course, a run at the state championship, his immediate focus will be on developing his players both on and off the court.  “I’ll be teaching them how to fight through adversity and how to work as a team to accomplish a common goal,” he said. 

    “I have this saying everywhere, even on my t-shirts, and we apply this to sports and to life… ‘Be phenomenal or be forgotten,’” he said.

    School President Tom Fertal is confident the Spartans will be phenomenal under Wright’s direction.  “Upon meeting Coach Wright, I was impressed with his philosophy of excellence – that he expects it and fosters it both on and off of the court.  He has a firm and encouraging grasp of the concept of student-athlete,” he said.

    Athletic Director Matt Smith is looking forward to a new era in Spartan basketball.  “We welcome Coach Wright to the Saint Mark's Community.  We are excited about his guidance and competitive spirit,” he said. 

    To catch Coach Wright’s team in action during the upcoming season, check www.spartanssports.com for a full schedule of games.
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  • Saint Mark’s High School Welcomes New Director of Fine and Performing Arts

    Mrs. Denise Blum
    Industry Veteran Jeff Braconnier Joins Spartan Staff
     
     
    Saint Mark’s High School is pleased to welcome Jeff Braconnier as the new Director of Fine and Performing Arts.  
     
    Braconnier is an industry veteran, touting 14 years of experience and having directed more than 60 student theater productions.  He is the Founder and Director of the Catholic Community Choir, a community vocal and theatre program which has served thousands of students from across the Delaware Valley area including parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware since 2007.  Braconnier is the former Choral Director at Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield, Pennsylvania and has served as a parish youth minister, as well as a liturgical musician.  He produced and directed musical entertainment for the 2015 World Meeting of Families Youth Congress and served as Master of Ceremonies for Archbishop’s Christmas Benefit for Children for five consecutive years.  In 2015, he was awarded The Community Impact Award by The Catholic Foundation of Greater Philadelphia. 
     
    Braconnier has big plans for the Spartan Fine and Performing Arts program, including developing and managing a year-round array of art shows, theatre productions, music festivals and summer camps.  One of his many goals is to integrate the local community into his FPA programs by including not only Saint Mark’s students but also local elementary school students, alumni and partnering FPA organizations.  Braconnier will also be teaching choral classes during the school day.
     
    Principal Tom Fertal is enthusiastic about welcoming Braconnier to the Spartan staff.  “Mr. Braconnier will have an immediate and significant impact on Fine and Performing Arts Programs here at Saint Mark’s.  His creativity, passion and dedication will move us swiftly towards fulfilling our goal of being the school of choice for FPA students in the region.”
     
    Braconnier is ready to hit the ground running.  “I am humbled and honored by the opportunity to join the Saint Mark’s team.  I look forward to working with Mr. Fertal, Mrs. Casey, and the entire Spartan community in the continued renewal currently underway at Saint Mark’s.  I cannot wait to meet the students and greater community and to get started!”

     
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  • Faculty/Staff College Decision Day Video

    Ms. Jaclyn Tatnall
    Saturday, May 1 is the National College Decision Day. To celebrate with our seniors, Faculty and Staff will wear their college gear on Friday, too. Enjoy the Faculty College Video.
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  • Play Written by Saint Mark's Senior To Be Performed On Stage At Delaware Theatre Company

    Mrs. Denise Blum
    Move over, Arthur Miller. Delaney Burnham, a senior at Saint Mark's High School, was recently named a finalist in the Delaware Theatre Company's 2020-2021 Delaware Young Playwrights Festival. Her play, Stressed Out, will be performed on the DTC stage in March.
     
    Burnham was among sixty-two students from 11 different schools to submit an entry. She will participate in a series of virtual workshops with DTC artists who will help her to refine her work. Burnham's play will be staged and performed for a small, socially distant audience, then shared online for the public to enjoy virtually.
     
    Stressed Out is the story of a teenage boy who misses a month of school due to being overwhelmed and vents to a friend about his heavy workload. The script was partially inspired by some of Burnham's own personal experiences. “At the time I was working on my college essay, as well as preparing an audition for college applications, and transferred some of the stress I felt onto the character,” she said. “I also gained inspiration after hearing how different people handle the stress that school can cause. Some people can handle it well while others cannot.”
     
    Burnham's win is not surprising as she is no stranger to the performing arts. She has been involved with the Saint Mark's Theater Program for four years, working both on stage as an actor and behind the scenes as part of the stage crew. She plans to pursue a career in the arts as an audio engineer and hopes to work on sound design for movies and video games.
     
    Saint Mark's Senior Owen Kanienberg also submitted an entry into the Festival and was recognized for the merit of his work with an Honorable Mention. His play, Returning Home, is about a senior in high school who reunites with his brother and is subsequently encouraged to follow his dreams of a career in the theater.
     
    Anne Marie Eanes, Saint Mark's English Department Chair, helped to guide both Burnham and Kanienberg through the creative process. “I was so excited that Delaney’s play was chosen as a winner and that Owen’s play received an honorable mention commendation in this year’s Delaware Young Playwrights Festival,” she said. “I am thrilled that everyone will be able to witness Delaney’s play come to life on the Delaware Theatre Company’s stage in March.
    Whether I am permitted to sit in the theatre to watch the production or will be watching a taped performance via Zoom, I will be so excited and proud of Delaney’s accomplishment.”
     
    Principal Tom Fertal echoed the sentiment. “As a school committed to the fine and performing arts, we are so very proud of Delaney! As we continue to expand our offerings and bring talented FPA students to Saint Mark’s through our merit scholarship program, we will expect great things from our students, and Delaney has certainly set the bar high for them.”
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  • Saint Mark's High School is voted BEST PRIVATE SCHOOL IN DELAWARE

    Mrs. Denise Blum
    Thank you, Delaware!
     
    The votes are in and the celebration has begun. Saint Mark's High School has received the Readers' Choice award for BEST PRIVATE SCHOOL IN DELAWARE.
     
    “We are grateful to the community, as this honor validates our vision of serving as the premier center for education and ministry in Delaware,” said Principal Tom Fertal.
     
    The Readers' Choice Awards celebrate and recognize the best our community has to offer. Nominations were held in August. Members of the community-at-large were asked to nominate their favorite private schools. The five schools receiving the most nominations advanced to the voting round, which took place in October. Saint Mark's High School received more votes than any other private school in the state.
     
    “We are excited and honored that the community is seeing what we have felt all along. Saint Mark's has fantastic students, faculty and staff who make this a great school, as well as a home away from home,” said Diane Casey, Assistant Principal of Student Affairs. “We thank everyone who took time to vote.”
     
    The award is a fitting reflection of the school's upward trajectory. Enrollment numbers have been skyrocketing, with a 57% increase in freshman enrollment and a 20% increase in overall school enrollment.
     
    “It is quite clear that the good news of Saint Mark’s High School is reaching a wide number of people in the region. The Saint Mark’s community has a history of excellence in the past and a vision to continue that excellence in the future,” said Francis Corrigan, Assistant Principal for Mission and Academics.
     
    Plans for a school-wide celebration are in the works. “We look forward to celebrating with our students as they are the reason for our success,” said Fertal.
     
    There's been a lot to celebrate at Saint Mark's over the past few weeks. The girls volleyball team won its 11th state championship last weekend. Junior Tiffany Herrera took first place at the Division II Girls Cross Country State Championship, while the girls cross country team took an impressive second place overall.
     
    There's never been a better time to be a Spartan. “We encourage families to discover why Saint Mark’s is The Place to Be,” said Fertal.
     
    For more information about Saint Mark's High School, visit www.stmarkshs.net.
     
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  • Undefeated Saint Mark's Wins Volleyball State Championship

    Mrs. Denise Blum
    It was the perfect end to the perfect season. With a record of 15-0, Saint Mark's Volleyball iced the cake with a 3-0 sweep of Padua in the state championship match this past weekend.
     
    The undefeated Spartans won in three sets, with scores of 25-18, 25-17 and 27-25. This is the Spartans' 11th volleyball state championship and the school's 102nd state championship overall.
     
    “The entire community celebrates with our newly crowned state champion volleyball team! These young ladies showed tenacity, passion, teamwork and incredible character throughout the season. They truly exemplify what it means to be Spartan Strong,” said Principal Tom Fertal.
     
    Head Coach Nancy Griskowitz has been leading the program at Saint Mark's for 23 years. “I am so proud of each and every player on this team. What they accomplished during this strange and unusual season is just amazing! Every day they worked so hard to bring home the championship. The incredible team chemistry these special young ladies shared was extraordinary and significantly contributed to their undefeated state championship season,” she said.
     
    Team Captain Samantha Gerhart played a huge role in the victory. “This year I have been so lucky to have been able to play my senior season with such an amazing team,” she said. “Despite the uncertainty of our season, we continued to practice and work hard everyday. This year especially, due to Covid, we had to rely on each other more than ever. Due to the lack of our student section and fans in the stands, we had to learn to bring our own energy to the court and thrive off of each other. Everyone, on and off the court, played a vital role in not only earning a state championship title but also in having an incredible, undefeated season.”
     
    With only four seniors graduating off the team this year, the Spartan team is young and will be looking for a repeat during next year's state tournament. Gerhart, who will be graduating in the spring, is beaming with pride. “I am beyond proud of this team, especially the seniors (Kyla Dow, Madison Znacko, and Caroline Detrick), and the fantastic season we have had this year. I also cannot wait to see what the returning Spartans (Brooke Dow, Faith Dowling, Nicole Dimiris, Chiara Grott, Sarah Hessler, Mya Lewis, Angelina Mendez, Katie Sonchen, Julia Yurkovich) accomplish next season. The future of Saint Mark’s volleyball looks very bright and while I am sad to go, I will cherish each moment I had with my best friends on the court. Go Spartans!”
     
    For additional information about Saint Mark’s High School, visit www.stmarkshs.net.
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  • SAINT MARK’S VOLLEYBALL HEAD COACH NAMED CO-COACH OF THE YEAR

    Mrs. Denise Blum
    The good news just keeps coming in for Saint Mark's Volleyball. Head Coach Nancy Griskowitz has just been named Co-Coach of the Year by the Delaware Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association. The honor comes just days after the Spartan team cinched the state championship on their home court in a 3-0 sweep.
     
    Griskowitz is extremely honored and humbled by the award. “Seeing the team reach their goal Saturday night and seeing the joy on their faces as they celebrated winning the state championship meant the world to me. As a coach, what more can you ask for? An undefeated championship season for a very special team.”
     
    Griskowitz has been Head Coach of the Saint Mark's Volleyball program for 23 years. Prior to that, she was Assistant Coach for nine years. She helped to lead the Spartans to four undefeated seasons and 10 of their 11 state championship wins (eight as Head Coach).
     
    Team Captain Samantha Gerhart is excited for Griskowitz and believes the honor is well-deserved. “One of the reasons I looked forward to the new season and practice every day was because Nancy was able to keep practices focused yet fun. Her dedication to the team and school largely impacted our success. The time and energy she committed to the team made us want to work hard,” she said. “Our undefeated record and state championship title this season just scratches the surface of what Nancy Griskowitz has achieved during her time as Saint Mark’s Volleyball Head Coach. I am grateful and honored to have been coached by Nancy during my four years at Saint Mark’s. Her belief in me has made me the player I am today and I hope all future Spartans will feel the same impact as I did.”
     
    Sophomore outside hitter Julia Yurkovich wholeheartedly concurs. “Nancy played a huge role in our success in our undefeated season with her ability to keep us grounded and focused on the game at hand and not overlooking any of our opponents, no matter their record. She was able to keep us on track at each practice and made us the determined team we came to be.”
     
    Athletic Director Matt Smith is proud to have Griskowitz on his coaching staff. “Nancy has a sound value system that prepares her players for success on and off the court,” he said.
     
    Principal Tom Fertal perhaps sums it up best. “Coach Griskowitz represents all that is best about high school athletics. She inspires her players to work diligently and to pursue excellence on and off the court. This recognition is certainly well-deserved.”
     
    To catch Saint Mark's Volleyball in action next season, visit www.spartanssports.com for a listing of their full schedule.
     
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  • *SAINT MARK’S RUNNER WINS CROSS COUNTRY STATE CHAMPIONSHIP

    Mrs. Denise Blum
    The Spartans have a new state champion!
     
    Tiffany Herrera, a junior at Saint Mark's High School, took first place in the Division II High School Cross Country State Championship. She crossed the finish line in front of 115 other runners, from 15 different area high schools, with an impressive time of 18:51. And, if that wasn't enough... she ran 40 seconds faster than the Division I Champion!
     
    Herrera is the first ever female state championship cross country runner in Saint Mark's history. She broke her own school record for the Killens Pond course (18:53), which she had established last season at the state meet.
     
    “Representing Saint Mark's makes me so happy because our community here is like no other. We are one big family that supports and cares for each other and I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else,” she said.
     
    Herrera has had the state championship in her sights for quite some time. “At the end of indoor track last year, when I found out spring track wouldn’t be happening due to the pandemic, I tried to look at it in a bright way and started taking my training more seriously,” she said. “My goals for this cross country season were to set a personal record and to win States. During all of quarantine and summer, on all my runs, I would just keep visualizing myself finishing first at the state meet and our team bringing home a trophy.”
     
    Herrera has been building toward this success for years. As a freshman, she took third place at States and was named 1st Team All State. In her sophomore year, she placed second at States and was, again, named 1st Team All State. Her junior year has been a whirlwind of accomplishments and accolades. In addition to her recent state championship win, she had an undefeated season, was Catholic Conference Champion and was the #1 ranked female runner in the state of Delaware. To top it all off, she is the fastest female runner in Saint Mark's history (18:07 set at Bellevue), breaking the previous record by a whopping 20 seconds.
     
    Herrera's coach, Michael DiGennaro, who happens to be the 2019-2020 Delaware Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year, is beaming with pride. "Tiffany is extremely coachable and is willing to do whatever is necessary to be great. From the moment she stepped foot on campus, she has led this team with the competitive spark that has made us contenders at the state level for the last three seasons. She simply asked what it would take to be a champion, and then she spent an entire summer and fall focused on that one goal. We are all very proud of her accomplishment as our first ever state champion!"
     
    Principal Tom Fertal is impressed by Herrera's grit and determination. “As a Spartan family we are so very proud of Tiffany. Her tenacity is a testimony to her own character and to the dedication and support of her teammates and coaches. At Saint Mark’s we seek to inspire all students to pursue excellence. Mission accomplished Tiffany!”
     
    To make things even more exciting, Herrera wasn't the only Spartan bringing home a victory last weekend. The Saint Mark's Girls Cross Country team took an impressive second place overall in the state championships. The team is made up of Herrera, her twin sister Stephanie, Natalie Donaldson, Kaileigh Brady, Kelly Barker, Hannah Heredia, Jordan Ormsby and Marissa Cirillo.
     
    DiGennaro can't stop smiling. "Over the last three years we have shared some unbelievable moments as a program, and our future continues to look bright. What we love about the group is that they know how to work extremely hard, but they can have fun and make it entertaining at the same time.”
     
    While the cross country season has ended, Herrera's training is far from over. “Now, since cross country is over, I’m focusing on track. My goals are to hopefully go under five minutes for the mile. Also, I would love it if I could get another state champ title and that our team places well at the state meet,” she said. “Next year, for cross country, my biggest goal would be to keep lowering my 5K time and finally bring home a first place team trophy.”
     
    “After high school, I would love to run at a Division 1 school. I want to take my running career as far as it can go. My ultimate goal would be to have a chance to run in the Pan American Games or the Olympics. It’s been a dream of mine forever,” she said.
     
    Herrera graciously shares her victory with all those who have supported her along the way. “At practices I always try my best, but I am not anything without my family, teammates and coaches. They motivate and push me to be the best athlete and person I can be.”
     
    “Coach DiGennaro, Coach Katelyn and Coach Hannah are the best coaches I could ask for. I’ve never met more supportive, caring people. They also know how to keep the sport fun,” she said. “My parents and twin sister play a big part in my training. I just want to make them proud.”
     
    To catch a glimpse of the Spartan runners in action, check www.spartanssports.com for a listing of upcoming meets.
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