St. Pius X Connections Winter 2016

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The SPX Foundation Nathan Barkocy’s Story

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WINTER | 2016

CONNECTIONS Saint Pius X High School 5301 St. Joseph’s Dr. NW Albuquerque, NM 87120-1712 (505) 831-8400 A d m i n i s t r at i o n Principal Dr. Barbara Rothweiler Assistant Principal - Academics Barbara Neff Ducaj ’79 Assistant Principal - Instruction Orlando Rodriguez Business Manager Donna Perl Chaplain Fr. Chike Uba Director of Marketing and Enrollment Jeff Turcotte Director of Activities Mike Mares ’05 Director of Athletics Jim Cook ’83 Director of Community Service Alicia Eiler ’83 Director of Technology Jose Samora A D V A N C E M E NT O F F I C E

St. Pius X Connections is published by the St. Pius X High School Advancement Office. The mission of St. Pius X Connections is to provide alumni and friends of SPX with news, information, and inspiration regarding the school and each other.

Barbara M. Rothweiler, PhD Principal





The Pius Impact...................................... 2 The St. Pius X High School Foundation works to ensure that as many qualified students as possible can receive the outstanding Catholic, college-prep education that SPX provides, regardless of their financial situation.




Editor Melissa W. Sais

Blessings to you in 2017! Sincerely,


Annual Programs and Events Manager Jean Marie Skipp ’87

These and all the stories in this issue highlight the deep connections we share as members of the St. Pius X High School family. As you consider your end-of-year donations, we hope you’ll remember our outstanding students poised to become tomorrow’s leaders. They need your support. You will find an envelope on page 6 that will make mailing your gift simple. For more information, contact the Advancement Office at (505) 831-8406.


Alumni Relations and Planned Giving Manager Jennifer Maldonado ’91

You’ll also read about the St. Pius X High School Foundation and its board of passionate volunteers focused on raising the funds that strengthen our school. The foundation’s primary work provides for student tuition assistance so that Catholic education is accessible to all students of all faiths. As tuition only covers a portion of the actual cost of a St. Pius X education, every student benefits from the generous donations the foundation receives from our loyal alumni; dedicated parents, faculty and staff; and devoted alumni parents, grandparents and friends. Foundation Board President Eddie Castoria remembers his own family’s struggle to cover tuition in the 1960s and says, “I would love now to help parents worry less about the cost of the education and plan more for the excellence of it.”


Director Bobby Wallace

This issue of St. Pius X Connections features two stories that shine the light on the extraordinary place that is St. Pius X High School. You’ll read about Nathan Barkocy, an SPX junior who suffered a life-altering bike crash, and how the entire St. Pius X community of current students, faculty and staff, families and alumni joined together in prayer and support to see Nathan and his family through those dark days. That same community continues its support as Nathan finds his new normal and a greater purpose among the friends and teachers who have been with him every step of the way. As Nathan’s mother, Marybeth, commented: “Pius is an amazing family.”







P rin c ip a l







t h e






f r o m

Dear Friends,




Nathan Barkocy: A Lesson in Faith......... 6 Nathan Barkocy’s tragic cycling accident mobilized the St. Pius X community. Still recovering from a traumatic brain injury, the experience has deepened his faith despite new challenges in his life.

D e p a r t m ent S

Around Campus...................................... 1 SPX Sports............................................ 11 Alumni Notes........................................ 12 In Memory............................................ 12

tion The SPX FoundaStory Nathan Barkoc


Eddie Castoria ’64 and Joe DeBlassie, leaders of the St. Pius X High School Foundation Board, greet Nathan Barkocy on campus. Eddie and Joe work to ensure that inspiring students like Nathan have the benefits of a rich and rewarding academic and spiritual life at SPX.

AroundCampus Sartans Volunteer Abroad

Seniors Victoria Moreno and Jewel Yoko Kentilitisca spent the summer volunteering in in Panama and Nicaragua respectively with the Amigos de las Americas program.

Seniors Jewel Yoko Kentilitisca and Victoria Moreno pushed the boundaries of language, country and comfort over the summer through the Amigos de las Americas program. From June 28 through Aug. 13, Kentilitisca led children’s camps in Spanish and helped with community projects in Nicaragua, while Moreno also led camps, built a house and planted trees for a reforestation project in Panama with the volunteer abroad program for high school and college students. The two lived with host families and were fully immersed in the language and culture of their communities. “It has taught me to be open to a lot of new experiences as well as to be happier with life,” Kentilitisca says. “I learned that language isn’t a barrier if you don’t make it a barrier, and I learned to be self-sustaining because I got sick in Nicaragua and I had to take care of myself.” “I see myself being involved in different countries and being about to use my future job for good,” Moreno says of the experience. “And I know now that I am able to be responsible for myself and I can experience new things in life without fear.” Moreno and Kentilitisca spent eight months training for the program and raising the funds that would cover their expenses. They volunteered locally with organizations serving Hispanic immigrant families so they could prepare for immersion in a Spanish-speaking community. “It has broadened my perspective of the world and has taught me more lessons than what I could have learned in a traditional classroom,” Kentilitisca says.

Valdez Embraces Politics, Art Senior Skyler Valdez capitalized on opportunities this summer that stretched her talents from transportation planning to award-winning art. Valdez was one of just 15 rising seniors across the country selected to attend Caminos al Futuro, a fully-funded summer scholarship program at the George Washington University focused on exploring the political and social circumstances of Latinos in the United States. During her three weeks in Washington, D.C., Valdez created a project proposal to address how transportation access affects underprivileged youth in New Mexico and how improvements to it could provide better access to extracurricular activities. “While in D.C I met a (representative) for the Department of Transportation who is currently helping me to jump start my nonprofit to address youth transportation needs back here in New Mexico,” Valdez says. “If all goes well I will be returning to D.C. next summer to attend a conference with the Department and report on results of the project.” Valdez met senators and representatives and toured the Capitol while laying the groundwork for her project. She plans to present her idea to the City of Albuquerque before year’s end. “I was interested in learning more about my ethnic background in the context of a political setting,” she says. “By the time I left I knew a lot more about the Hispanic community’s influence and place in the political world.” Valdez returned home just in time to make the trip to Santa Fe for the 2016 Traditional Spanish Market July 25-31 where she won the St. Francis Cathedral Basilica Youth Award for excellence in religious artwork for her retablo of La Virgen Maria. A self-taught acrylic artist, Valdez has been working with a mentor, retablo artist Marie Luna, to learn the tradition and skills of retablo art for the past year and a half. She created and sold 15 pieces for her first Spanish Market. Archbishop John C. Wester awarded the 2016 St. Francis Cathedral Basilica Youth Award for excellence in religious artwork to senior Skyler Valdez. St. Pius X Connections • WINTER 2016


The SPX Foundation’ J

oe DeBlassie, president-elect of the St. Pius X High School Foundation Board of Directors, has come full circle. In the automotive and the real estate businesses, DeBlassie suffered a deep financial crisis during the Great Recession of 2008, putting his children’s St. Pius X education in serious jeopardy. The foundation granted funds to preserve the final months of the senior year of his daughter Marysa ’09, but DeBlassie had to pull his son Joseph ’12 from St. Pius X after his freshman year. Joseph spent his first few months as a sophomore at Cibola High School. His experience there was not positive, but DeBlassie didn’t see a way around it. “We just didn’t have the money,” DeBlassie says. “But a few weeks into his sophomore year, we came to Pius for an event. He saw his friends out in front of the school waiting for their rides, and he shot straight towards them. At that moment I knew I had to do something to get him back to Pius.” DeBlassie approached the school to see what could be done to get his son back where he belonged. Joseph received aid from the foundation that made it possible to resume his St. Pius X education. His sister Julia ’14 followed him to St. Pius X the next year, also with assistance from the foundation, telling her father at the time that it was her dream come true to go to St. Pius X. “The St. Pius X High School Foundation and its donors pulled through for my son and my daughters,” DeBlassie says. Marysa is now a bilingual speech pathologist, and Joseph and Julia are students in the UNM Anderson School of

Management. His youngest son, Dominic, is in his sophomore year at St. Pius, and DeBlassie has joined the foundation board. “Now I’m in a different position and it’s time to give back,” DeBlassie says. “I’m passionate about seeing to the well-being of kids at this school. Our economy still hasn’t recovered and there are lots of kids out there who need our help.”

I would love now to help parents worry less about the cost of the education and plan more for the excellence of it. Eddie Castoria ’64 St. Pius X High School has just two sources of revenue: tuition and private contributions. Contributions to the foundation support tuition assistance for individual students at an average of $3,500 a year to help with 2016-2017 tuition of $12,100. Private support also helps the school keep its tuition as affordable as possible, a tuition that is about $10,000 less than comparable Albuquerque private schools. Foundation Board President Eddie Castoria ’64 says the board’s vision is to ensure that as many qualified students as possible can receive the outstanding college-prep education that St. Pius X provides, regardless of their financial situation. “Despite giving nearly $2 million in scholarship funds and

CLASS OF ‘66 The St. Pius X Class of 1966 celebrated its 50th reunion in September and was honored at the Homecoming football game halftime with a presentation of the class photo composite. The reunion also included a welcome party and ’60s Sock Hop on the St. Pius X campus, golf, a Mass, a dinner and dance, and a brunch. Pictured members of the Class of ’66 are, standing from left, Chas Slimowicz, Ann Grummer Sims, Tom Sims, John Casey, Bill Wellborn, Dave Devoti, Mike Murphy, and presenting the composite Chuck Reynolds ’64. Kneeling are Carolyn Campbell Slimowicz, Phyllis Schubert, and Jaynee Fontecchio Spradling. 2

St. Pius X Connections • WINTER 2016

’s Impact

Passionate Leaders Advance Mission of Support

financial assistance to the school in the past eight years alone, we’re not yet meeting that goal,” Castoria says. “With the great energy of our new board members, I truly believe we will.” Castoria says one of the Board’s greatest challenges is to inform families and alumni that the foundation is the source of the majority of the tuition assistance provided, “Until three years ago, I had no clue that Pius had a charitable foundation,” Castoria says. “Once I found that out, I could not wait to become involved and to help in any way I could.” Castoria remembers tuition in the 1960s of $50 a month, which was a struggle for his parents to afford. “There were things they did without so we could get that education; it was a real challenge for my family,” he says. “Having watched my parents struggle with whether they could afford to send me to St. Pius, I would love now to help parents worry less about the cost of the education and plan more for the excellence of it.” Castoria says his family benefitted deeply from that excellence. His brother Louie ’72 is a successful attorney in San Francisco. His sister Linda ’65 retired from Stanford University and is a nationally recognized educational consultant. Castoria is semi-retired from a career that included business executive, attorney, local government administrator and Army officer. “All of that flows from St. Pius,” Castoria says. “Three kids from the same family have all had eminently successful careers and lives based on a truly wonderful family and the benefits of the education we received at St. Pius.” “There are a lot of fine students out there who cannot afford a St. Pius education,” DeBlassie adds. “But they need it from a spiritual point of view and an educational point of view. We need to help get these kids into a good position – a position like the Class of 2016, which had top-notch universities knocking on their doors and offering $11.5 million in scholarship money to them.” DeBlassie, Castoria and their board are working to generate a significant increase in support from alumni who can remember the grounding they received at St. Pius X. “We operate with a sense of insight, belief and passionate execution to raise money and to look after that money so that we can bring kids to Pius regardless of their financial situation,” DeBlassie says. “We appeal to St. Pius grads to reach out to today’s kids – tomorrow’s leaders – and contribute to a cause greater than themselves.”

Joe DeBlassie (left) and Eddie Castoria (right) are passionate about nurturing the potential of students like Nathan Barkocy (center). The two and their fellow members of the St. Pius X High School Foundation Board are working to expand the depth and the reach of the foundation through increased contributions from loyal alumni; dedicated parents, faculty and staff; and devoted alumni parents, grandparents and friends.

Can you give? Make your difference in the lives of St. Pius X students today in three ways: 1. Make your online donation at under the “Support” tab. 2. Mail your donation using the envelope on page 6. 3. Contact Bobby Wallace, director of advancement, at 505-831-8423. St. Pius X Connections • WINTER 2016


SPXFoundation St. Pius X High School Foundation Contributions for Fiscal Year Ending 2016 A warm thank you to the generous contributors to St. Pius X High School. Through your gifts students are impacted at multiple levels. From financial aid to fine arts to athletics and clubs, the education and experience of every student is touched by your generous giving.

Your Generous Contributions $229,639


Annual Giving


30% 19

Your Contributions at Work $57,618 Foundation









Financial Aid


Athletics & Clubs

6% $29,859 Fine Arts

Sartan Royalty

Can you help? Y

St. Pius X High School crowned seniors Lauren Giannini and Gabriel Calvo 2016 Homecoming Queen and King during halftime of the football game against Lovington on Sept. 24. The Sartans won the game 51-0. 4

St. Pius X Connections • WINTER 2016

our generosity makes a tremendous difference in the lives of students, and there are so many ways you can contribute to their success. Here are just some ways you can help: • Give to the St. Pius X High School Annual Fund • Start an endowment • Remember St. Pius X in your estate plan • Make gifts of real estate, vehicles, stocks and life insurance Your generous contributions make a difference! Contact Bobby Wallace, director of advancement, at or (505) 831-8423 for more information.

Making a Difference The St. Pius X High School Foundation Board strives to make a difference in the lives of students. With just two sources of income – tuition and private contributions – St. Pius X relies on the professional skills and insights of its board members to assist in meeting the current and future financial needs of the school. Edward Steven “Eddie” Castoria ’64, M.A., J.D., is president of the St. Pius X High School Foundation Board of Directors, and chair of the Foundation Grants Committee. He is semi-retired from a career that includes business CEO, attorney, counseling psychologist, government program manager and Army officer. He is a decorated Vietnam Veteran. Joseph DeBlassie Sr., MBA, is married to Cynthia DeBlassie. They have four children, Marysa ’09, Joseph II ’12, Julia ’14 and Dominic, a sophomore at SPX. Joseph is currently the president-elect of the St. Pius X High School Foundation. As branch general manager of ThermoFluids, he brings expertise in management, marketing and finance to the foundation. Lonny Hurley ’77 is married to Barbara Hurley ’77. They have two children who graduated from St. Pius X, Kurt ’07, an attorney in Dallas, and Kim ’09, a forensic scientist in Nashville. Lonny has been a pharmaceutical representative for 32 years. All of the couple’s siblings graduated from SPX and they are hoping to create a Class of ’77/Eddie Leute Endowment for their 40-year reunion.

Shannon Kawane is the father of two St. Pius X Students. He is the manager of two nuclear research reactors at Sandia National Laboratories. A 24-year Navy veteran, his experience includes being the captain of a nuclear ballistic missile submarine and chief nuclear weapons inspector for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Kara Kupper ’88 is an assistant district attorney in the Second Judicial District for the State of New Mexico. Joseph Menicucci ’98 is a business insurance and bond agent with Berger Briggs Real Estate & Insurance, Inc. Christina Owens ’93 is a contract auditor with the City of Albuquerque.

Edward Steven “Eddie” Castoria

Shannon Kawane

Lonny Hurley

Joseph DeBlassie Sr.

Robert (Bobby) Wallace

Can you volunteer? The St. Pius X High School Foundation Board is seeking members who can add their professional skills and insights to the efforts to raise and oversee funds benefitting the students of St. Pius X. Contact Bobby Wallace at 505-831-8423 or to learn more.

Chris Skipp ’86 is regional manager at Planet Fitness. He is the husband of Jean Marie Skipp ’87 and the father of Nikalus Skipp ’18 and Madeline Skipp ’20. Robert (Bobby) Wallace is the director of advancement at St. Pius X High School. He joined SPX in 2016 with 16 years of advancement experience with a New Mexico non-profit serving at-risk youth. He brings his accomplishments in fundraising and donor relations with a passion for helping students to assist the St. Pius X High School Foundation Board.


The Freshman Class of 1956

In our Summer 2016 issue’s list of “60 Things We Love About St. Pius,” we mistakenly published two photos labeled as the Freshman Class of 1956. Many readers called the mistake to our attention and we discovered that these photos were of the second class of freshmen at St. Pius. Here now we present the Class of 1960 during their senior year; many of them are members of that very first class of St. Pius X ninth graders in 1956, a class that holds a special place in our hearts for paving the way. St. Pius X Connections • WINTER 2016


Nathan Barkocy Nathan Barkocy is a walking

miracle. From his physical recovery to his joyful attitude, God’s fingerprints are all over him. “God has changed the worst thing that’s ever happened to me to a blessing,”

Nathan and his new Cannondale bike.

says Nathan, a junior at St. Pius X High School. “Although it’s really hard learning to walk and talk and eat again, and school is ridiculously hard, I’m so blessed to be alive.” Nathan, a top competitive youth cyclist, carries a photo on his phone of the car that hit him at 50 mph on Jan. 23 at Coors and Los Padillas SW while he was on a training ride with his coach and teammate. The car’s windshield is shattered in two places marking where his shoulder and hip collided with glass; the bumper 6

St. Pius X Connections • WINTER 2016

hangs where it was ripped away by his bike and body. The crash sent him flying over 50 feet and slammed his helmeted head to the ground. The first responders dropped him off at UNM hospital and thought he was gone. The officer at the scene reported the accident as a fatality. The nurses doubted he would make it through the night. However, almost immediately the St. Pius X High School community was mobilized for prayer and support. Texts went out from Deacon Rene Greivel to his campus ministry team. The word spread and by later that night the entire school knew that Nathan needed its prayers. And pray they did. For months, Monday Masses were offered and the Rosary was prayed daily at school for Nathan. In honor of his favorite NFL team, every tree on campus and along Coors Boulevard in front of St. Pius X was tied with a Denver Bronco orange ribbon. Every student, faculty and staff member tied an orange ribbon to their I.D. lanyard. TEAM NATHAN signs hung from every wall of the school. All reminders to pray for Nathan.

There’s a reason I’m alive. Nathan Barkocy

“Father Chike (St. Pius X chaplain) told us, ‘The doctors have spoken, the nurses have spoken, but God hasn’t spoken yet and that is what really matters,’” says

After Trauma, Nathan’s dad, Deacon Kevin Barkocy ’85, St. Pius X theology and science teacher. Nathan’s mom, Marybeth Barkocy ’85 says St. Pius X alumni accompanied her to the hospital after the call and organized and prepared meals to bring to the hospital for the family for the next month. Prayers from an alumni network spread throughout the world went up. Students poured into the ICU waiting area every day to offer their support. In a coma for nearly two weeks, Nathan slowly awoke communicating only in Spanish. St. Pius X Spanish teacher Verna Helland came in to translate for him.

We’ve asked each other: “Do you believe God has a plan?” Seeing Nathan’s faith grow, we know He does. Kevin Barkocy

“Pius is an amazing family,” Marybeth says. “It’s not just a school, it’s a family.” Alicia Eiler ’83, St. Pius X community service coordinator, established a GoFundMe page that to date has raised almost $64,000 in donations toward Nathan’s medical expenses. Eiler also contacted the Denver Broncos, who sent Nathan a football autographed by the team in support of his recovery. At the annual St. Pius X-Albuquerque Academy rivalry basketball game, both teams’ fans came dressed in orange in love and support for Nathan. The SPX Dorados Dance Team hosted a Super Bowl party at the hospital where friends and family gathered to watch Nathan’s Broncos win. His closest friends held Winter Ball in the ICU lobby and brought him a drum pad and drum sticks so he could start keeping the beat again. The band and choir

A Lesson in Faith composed and performed music especially for him. The prayers and support were working. Although paralyzed on his left side, Nathan was alive and improving. In February he left UNM for Denver’s Craig Hospital, a neuro-rehabilitation facility specializing in traumatic brain injury. His memory of the entire experience begins at Craig, where he relearned to walk, talk and eat. Post traumatic amnesia took away all traces of the accident and even his memories of the month before the crash. He barely remembers Christmas. One thing he does remember clearly though is a vision of heaven and his guardian angels from early in his recovery. A vision that inspires him today. “I’m alive, why be sad or mad,” he says. “There’s a reason I’m alive.” While rehabilitating at Craig, Nathan spent time with his sister, Brianna Barkocy ’15, a student at Regis University in Denver. “I got to learn to live again with my sister,” he says. Friends from St. Pius made the drive to Colorado to visit him at the hospital. “As parents we were rejoicing and crying within seconds of each other,” Kevin says. “Every milestone he met, we were so grateful for, but it was so painful at the same time.” Also while at Craig, Nathan’s family began to read him the hundreds of letters that he had received from the student body at St. Pius X, a stack sent from each teacher at the school. While Kevin had held vigil at the hospital during the days following the accident, fellow science and theology faculty completed his lesson plans and graded his classes’ assignments. Later, when he returned to the classroom but was traveling to Denver every weekend, theology teacher Scott Howard ’85, his son Jack and student Evan Smith spent

weekends mowing his lawn and raking up leaves. Administrators and counselors strategized Nathan’s return to school and how to accommodate his needs. “People did amazing things,” Kevin says. Nathan returned to Albuquerque in April and continued physical, occupational, speech, and cognitive therapy, and his miraculous progress inspires all who meet him. He made appearances at St. Pius, and in May, he got back on the Sarto the Winged Lion wore his orange Team Nathan t-shirt to the bike path. basketball game against Academy. Fans of both teams wore orange He had to settle for riding in support of Nathan. a recumbent bike, a threewheeled bike than a year out, Nathan is working hard to with a reclined seat, but he was happy to find his new normal. In August Nathan be riding again. returned to St. Pius X as a junior, Then a routine MRI showed determined to graduate with his class. something that it shouldn’t normally have He had spent the summer with SPX the ability to detect – an aneurysm in teachers including Barbara Ducaj ’79 and Nathan’s brain, which could have led to a Charla Smith ’89 as his tutors to make up sudden stroke. A surgery in June to treat some of his lost semester. the aneurysm could have been a major “Even though he has exceeded setback in Nathan’s recovery. “Instead it expectations in so many ways, there are still was just a little speed bump,” Kevin says. challenges,” Marybeth says. “It has changed our lives forever.” Pius is an amazing family. The math that came so easy to him before is hard. “I can do the content, It’s not just a school, but memory is a problem,” he says. it’s a family. “Homework is fine, tests are hard.” Despite Marybeth Barkocy the challenge, he’s still taking honors classes with the teachers who tutored him through “We faced grief and fear, but a lot of the summer. people were put in the exact right place at Along with graduating with his class the exact right time,” Kevin adds. “It’s all and relearning how to play the guitar for divinely inspired.” his youth group, he also wanted to cycle Recovery from a traumatic brain injury typically takes three to five years, but less continued on page 8 St. Pius X Connections • WINTER 2016


By September’s Homecoming Week, Nathan Barkocy (center) had stepped back into the SPX Drum Line.

again. “My goal was to ride a regular bike by myself,” he says, now proudly displaying the new bright blue bike provided to him by Cannondale, the bike company that sponsors his cycling team. As part of his recovery, he coaches and rides with an adaptive cycling team of kids on recumbent bikes, hand bikes and in wheelchairs. “It’s terrifying,” Kevin admits, even though Nathan now sticks to bike paths rather than the open road and always rides with a companion. He’s also working on his behind-thewheel practice hours to earn his driver’s license and speaking to driver’s education

classes about the dangers of distracted driving and respect for cyclists. The 56-year-old driver who hit Nathan was charged with careless driving Marybeth, Kevin and Nathan Barkocy display in their home the “Team Nathan” banner signed by students and families shortly and has a trial set for January. after Nathan’s bike crash, a reminder of the caring support of the Nathan has regained his St. Pius X High School community. ability to play in the drumline in the St. Pius band “I can receive the Eucharist every day!” he under Keith Jordan, and he has returned to says, eyes alight and smiling. “All of it has his activities on the SPX Campus Ministry deepened my faith so much.” team and his Prince of Peace youth group. “We’ve asked each other: Do you He speaks about his faith and the impact believe God has a plan?” says Kevin about the accident has had on it at school and conversations with Marybeth. “Seeing church, and he works to make it to daily Nathan’s faith grow, we know He does.” Mass multiple times a week.

Save the Date Hig su X h



e X Sa r t a n Op

St. Pius X Connections • WINTER 2016




St. Pi

60 X

16th Annual Sartan Open Friday, May 5, 2017 Los Altos Golf Course For more information regarding sponsorships or to register your team, please call Jennifer Maldonado ’91 at 831-8437. Online registration will open on January 16, 2017.

Sock Hop

Ringing the 1963 Victory Bell

’60s Alumni Mass

St. Pius X High School continued its celebration of 60 years by honoring the students of the 1960s during the month of September. More than 60 alumni attended an SPX student Mass on Sept. 16 that honored deceased classmates of the 1960s. Among those attending was Joe Abbin ’60, the very first graduate of St. Pius X High School. Members of the Class of 1963 Wayne Glass, Cheryl John , Gloria O’Dowd, Russell Morris and Ron O’Dowd and rang the ’63 Victory Bell after Mass. On Sept. 23, more than 100 alumni of the ’60s, put on their poodle skirts and dancing shoes to attend the first ever Alumni Sock Hop Social in the Auxiliary Gym on campus. Pictured from the Class of 1964 are Susan Sherwood Parr, Eddie Castoria, Joe McGuire, Chuck Reynolds, Richard Royman, Jorja Armijo Brasher and Lynne Peckinpaugh.The Sock Hop was hosted by the SPX Alumni Council and the Sophomore Class. The Decade of the 1970s celebrated in October with a traditional Coach Tybor Slideshow. The alumni were honored before the slideshow at the SPX volleyball game. The ’80s alumni celebrated their decade in November with a Mass and a basketball game. Look for the 2000s to celebrate in January and the 1990s to mark their decade in February.

Joe Abbin ’60 St. Pius X Connections • WINTER 2016


Seniors Capitalize on Summer Opportunities St. Pius X High School students “Cuba is just opening up to use the experience and confidence Americans, and it was such a unique gained through their SPX education experience to visit a nation that was, to launch extraordinary summer to a large extent, isolated and not learning excursions. The St. Pius X Americanized,” says Marena, one Annual Fund supports the structure of 11 teens selected for the trip. “I that allows them to stretch their wings. learned that growing up in a different Senior Tim Tran attended the culture and country does not inhibit National Student Leader Conference our ability to connect with someone in Washington, D.C., to learn about Tim Tran Gabriel Calvo Marena Trujillo else in a very fundamental way.” leadership and conflicts within Each day students like Tim, Gabriel and national security. His summer included meeting Senior Gabriel Calvo secured a summer Marena benefit from generous gifts made the director of the Department of Homeland congressional internship with the district office to the St. Pius X Annual Fund and gain the Security, participating in crises simulations and of Congresswoman Michelle Lujan-Grisham. confidence to take on new challenges. The fund visiting the Pentagon. “Through assisting with day-to-day activities, is made up of hundreds of donations from loyal “I wanted to see the correlation between I learned the role of a congressional district alumni; dedicated parents, faculty, and staff; national security and jobs,” Tim says. “I learned office in the community,” Gabriel says. and devoted alumni parents, grandparents and about personality types and that everyone leads Senior Marena Trujillo calls her summer friends. Every gift of every size impacts the in their own way. I also learned what it is like to educational trip to Cuba through the New Mexico Human Rights Project “an amazing experience.” St. Pius X experience for our students. be in a critical situation.”

Have the stories of St. Pius inspired you to give? With your support, young people receive a solid academic and spiritual foundation from which they launch with confidence. Please make your contribution today in the envelope on page 6 or online at under “Support.”



of faculty members hold advanced degrees

280 Students

participating in Fine Arts including music, drama and art programs Student-Teacher ratio


15 AP classes offered

45 Catholic parishes represented


St. Pius X Connections • WINTER 2016


of SPX graduates attend college

Recent acceptances include: Arizona State University Benedictine College Carnegie Mellon University Cornell University Fordham University Marquette University Princeton University St. Mary’s College of California Stanford University Texas A&M U.S. Air Force Academy Vanderbilt University University of Notre Dame Yale University


Community Service Hours Performed by the Class of



Students recognized by the National Hispanic Recognition Program and the National Merit Scholarship Program over the past four years

577 24


Athletic Teams including the 2016 Volleyball State Champions and the 2015-2016 Girls Soccer, Girls Water Polo, and Boys Golf State Champions

$11.45 Million

Scholarships Awarded to the Class of 2016

36 teachers with more than 10 years of experience at SPX


of students receive financial aid

SPXSports SPX Wins State Volleyball Championship

The top-seeded SPX Volleyball team defeated number 10 seed Goddard in straight sets to win the Class 5A State Championship on Nov. 12. “The Sartans’ depth and versatility made attacking them extremely problematic all year,” the Albuquerque Journal reported. The team finished with a 21-2 overall record, an 8-0 district record, and were District 5-5A regular season and tournament champions. Julianna Zamora led the Sartans with 11 kills in the final and was named District 5-5A Player of the Year. Named First Team All-District were Zamora, Allie Lackner, Kayla Griego and Nicole Peery. Earning Second Team All-District honors were Gabriella Maxson and Haley Rizek. Sartan coach Jeanne Fairchild ’05 was named District 5-5A Coach of the Year. Volleyball last won a state championship in 2012. Top-seeded Girls Soccer took State Runner-Up in the Class 5A State Championship Nov. 5, suffering a 1-0 loss to number 2 seed Albuquerque Academy in overtime. “St. Pius was denied the apparent winning goal early in the overtime period when leading scorer Tatiana Limon was ruled offsides on a breakaway,” the Albuquerque Journal reported. Coach David Sullivan Jr. ’02 “disputed the call to no avail, and the Chargers were given a reprieve.” The Sartans finished with an overall record of 17-5-1 and were District 5-5A Champions with a record of 8-0. Limon earned District Player of the Year honors. Named First Team All-District were Limon, Victoria Sanchez, Carleigh Garcia, Makayla Saenz, Dominique Giannini and Miranda Hart. Second Team All-District honors went to Kori Tellez and Esperanza Chavez; and Honorable Mention went to Kassandra Ascevez.

St. Pius X High School fall athletes made history this year as every 2016 fall sport earned District 5-5A Championships for SPX, our first ever district-championship sweep!

Boys Soccer finished State Runner-Up in the Class 5A State Championship with a 2-0 loss to top-seeded Albuquerque Academy on Nov. 5. The sixth-seeded Sartans finished 14-9-1 and earned the District 5-5A Championship. Senior Andres Torres was named District 5-5A Player of the Year. Named First Team All-District were Torres, Julian Garcia, Alex Nana, Wylie Trujillo, David Sanchez and Jaren Rodriguez. Earning Second Team All-District honors was Adam Armijo. Sartan Coach A.J. Herrera ’99 was named District Coach of the Year. For the first time ever, both Boys and Girls Cross Country teams won District Championship titles at the meet held on the SPX campus. Jacque Pinon was the individual district champ for the second straight year and had four other Lady Sartans join her on the all-district team: Lauren Giannini, Mya Martinez-Metzgar, Sophia Gonzales and Bryanna Trujillo. Junior Bryan Martinez led the boys championship team, placing fourth. The boys also had five on the all-district team: Martinez, Sam Apodaca, Chad Nathe, Santiago Montoya and Neal Bitsie. At State the boys had their best finish in 12 years, placing fifth. Senior Sam Apodaca was the top Sartan, placing 23rd. The girls placed sixth, with Pinon placing 11th to lead the Lady Sartans. Pinon also made the All-Metro Team at the October XC Championships. Football entered the State Championship Playoffs as a number 2 seed as Connections went to press and were set to play Farmington on Nov. 18. The Sartans won the District 5-5A Championship and were 9-1 going into the State Playoffs.

St. Pius X Connections • WINTER 2016


AlumniNotes 1990s Adam Harrington ’96 received an Albuquerque Business First C-Suite award for his leadership excellence as CFO of HB Construction, a general contractor based in Albuquerque. The University of New Mexico School of Engineering awarded Jason W. Harrington ’93 its 2016 Young Alumni Award. Harrington is president and CEO of HB Construction and is a graduate of the UNM department of civil engineering with a bachelor’s degree in construction management.

2000s Ryan Zonski ’09 married Olivia Baca ’10 on June 18, 2016, at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Albuquerque. Stephanie Chavez ’10 was crowned Miss New Mexico 2016 in June. She represented the state at the Miss America Pageant in September. Chavez’s platform in promoting literacy is titled “Stephanie’s Ponytail: How I Learned to Read – Children’s Literacy.”

In Memory Angela Barbara Sedillo Aragon ’88, age 46 of Albuquerque, died July 12, 2016. Her survivors include her father, Manny M. Aragon and wife, Barbara; her mother Rosina Sedillo-Sena and husband Jack; her brother Gregory Aragon ’86; her step-sister, Valerie Sanchez, and step-brother, John Sena. Anna Claire Benakis, age 83 of T or C, died Oct. 6, 2016. She is survived by her two sons, David ’78 (Yvette ’77) and Gus ’76 and five grand children. Allan Wehrle ’60, age 74, died June 9, 2016. He called many places home, but retained a special love for Albuquerque. He is survived by his wife of 38 years Janet, daughters Eva and Sarah, and his sister Ann (Wehrle) Robison ’64. Henrietta Berger of Albuquerque died Sept. 13, 2016. Her survivors include sons Guy Berger, Eric Berger, and Greg Berger, and seven grandchildren including, Diana ’02, Peter ’05, Kylee ’10, and Charlie ’12. 12

St. Pius X Connections • WINTER 2016

Jeanne Fairchild ’05, Lobo volleyball All-American in 2008 and St. Pius X High School volleyball coach since 2014, was inducted into the University of New Mexico’s Hall of Honor in October. Fairchild, who graduated from UNM with a degree in interpersonal communication in 2009, was the Mountain West Conference’s Player of the Year as a senior and still ranks third all-time with the Lobos in kills. The 6-foot-2 hitter played professionally in Puerto Rico and Croatia. She led the Sartans to state championships in 2002 and 2003. Sharon Marie Sullivan ’10 was listed as second author in the June 2016 issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS) for her paper, “An Extreme Annual Precipitation Anomaly in the Preradiosonde Era.” BAMS covers the development of the atmospheric, oceanic and related sciences in research and education. This article stemmed from her work on an honors thesis about the wettest year in New Mexico climatological history, the year 1941, while she was

Wilfred John Brennan, age 96 of Albuquerque, died Oct. 3, 2016. He is survived by his sister, Rosemary Glennon; seven children, John Brennan, Barbie Brennan, Alice Myers, Fred Brennan ’70, Tim Brennan ’72, Jane Brennan ’77, and Maureen Brennan ’81; 17 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren including Brian Brennan ’79, Kerry Brennan ’82, Patrick Brennan ’85, Aubrey Brennan ’97, David Doyle III ’02, Christopher Brennan ’04, Jennifer Doyle ’04, Collin Brennan ’05, Ryan Brennan ’06, Kaelan Brennan ’10, Eric Doyle ’11, and Brennan Doyle ’12. Theresa Bump of Albuquerque died June 28, 2016. She is survived by her four sons, David ’80, Greg ’81, Mike ’83 (wife Julie ’83), and Tom ’85; and eight grandchildren. Retired United States Navy Captain, Dr. James Joseph Calderone, Jim, age 82 of Albuquerque, died Aug. 19, 2016. He is survived by his loving wife of 58 years, Mary Lou; eight children, Dominic ’76, Jim ’77, Theresa Farmer ’78, Marti McHolland ’80, Gina Balliet, Camille Reyes

an undergraduate at the University of New Mexico. Sullivan will graduate in December 2016 with a master’s degree in atmospheric science from the University of Wyoming. Sullivan was interviewed and her research was cited in an Albuquerque Journal story in September on the state’s wettest year. Sartan alumnae and New Mexico State University women’s soccer players Samantha Alfonso ’15, Gabby Campbell ’13, Alex Otero ’15 and Dominique Rivera ’15 traveled to the University of New Mexico on Sept. 16, 2016, to take on the Lobos. The current St. Pius varsity girls’ soccer team hosted a tailgate before the game and attended to cheer on the former Sartans. The Aggies fell to the Lobos 2-0.

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(Ed ’82), Christina Carter and Tony; and 18 grandchildren including E.J. ’12 and Ray ’14. Tom Dodge ’67 died on Jan. 4, 2015. David L. Doyle, age 82 of Albuquerque, died June 3, 2016. He is survived by sons, David L. Doyle Jr. ’80, Carm Sciarrotta ’73, Phil Sciarrotta ’69; 11 grandchildren including David L. Doyle III ’02, Jennifer Doyle ’04, Brennan A. Doyle ’12, Eric Doyle ’11, and one great-grandchild. Teena Duffey, age 68 of Albuquerque, died July 27, 2016. She is survived by her husband of 29 years former St. Pius X High School Coach Bill Duffey ’66; mother, Bonnie “Nan” Worsham; daughter, Bonnie Mullane Smith ’87; son, James Burdge; and four grandchildren including Grant Smith ’19. Theresa Pierette Gelinas, age 75 of Albuquerque, died Aug. 28, 2016. She is survived by her husband of 55 years, Allen R. Gelinas, MD; four sons Michel ’80, Claude ’81, Marc, and Joel ’88; and 14 grandchildren including Alexandra ’02.

AlumniNotes Song of the Year Winner

Scientist Honored

Country music singer-songwriter Angelo Gallegos ’06, known professionally as Joe Mark Angelo, won the New Mexico Music Awards 2016 Best Country Song of the Year with his song “Where To Go From Here.” “I love being a full-time musician,” Gallegos says. “Not too many people get to say, ‘I get paid to play guitar.’” Gallegos’s original music follows the traditional, honky-tonk country music sound, but he also sings and plays the popular new country format. “It’s never any secret that I would prefer to remain traditional, but I’ve got to keep up to date if I want to keep working,” he says. His primary band “Hard Livin’” follows the new country four-piece format. His secondary band “The Country Drifters” follows the traditional five-piece format. Gallegos says St. Pius had a deeper impact on him that he anticipated. “The hard work and discipline I received from there really gave me the necessary tools to accomplish any goal to which I set my mind,” he says. “Mrs. Charla Smith, my junior year English teacher, is the one who pushed me the most to really focus on my writing skills, to create something from nothing. And I’m one of the blessed to have had Phil Zuber as my senior year English teacher, who took my writing skills to the next level.” Joe Mark Angelo & Hard Livin’ are currently working on a debut album due out in 2017 with singles including “Where To Go From Here,” Wait a Minute, Wait a Moment,” and “A Girl Who Got the Boy.” Catch them at places like Route 66 Casino and Buffalo Thunder Resort.

For Mark Gurule ’81 using forensic science to uncover potential fraud is all in a day’s work – work that recently amounted to the recovery of millions of dollars owed to the United States. A forensic scientist with the Southwest Regional Science Center in Houston, Texas, Gurule works for the Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, where he uses his skills in organic chemistry and biology to protect the nation’s borders while facilitating legitimate international trade. “Every day a new national issue comes across my desk, and I must develop strategy to solve the puzzle,” says Gurule. Two years ago, Gurule provided a six-hour deposition at the United States Court of International Trade to defend the Customs Bureau’s position and his laboratory work on chemical test results at the heart of a major tariff classification change. In May the court ruled for the U.S. and the classification change leading to an increase in duty rate from 3.7% to 6.5% of the chemical’s value, amounting to millions of dollars owed to the United States. For the work in the laboratory coupled with the testimony, Gurule received the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection Commissioner’s award at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Gurule earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of Albuquerque. He went on to earn a master’s degree in toxicology at the University of New Mexico. He worked in medical research before joining the U.S. Customs Bureau. Gurule credits St. Pius with teaching him the value of exploration, along with providing a foundation in writing that has been vitally important. “Over the years I have learned that writing is the most important skill a person can develop to advance in any career,” he says. “All the education in the world is meaningless unless you can communicate verbally and in writing.”

Cecelia Ann Gutierrez, age 89 of Albuquerque, died July 27, 2016. Her survivors include her husband of 73 years, Eloy; her children, Linda ’67, Eloy ’70, Teresa ’74, Patty ’74, Don ’76, and Tim ’79; sixteen grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren including Bryan R. Lucero ’94, Damon A. Lucero ’99, Nathan Lucero ’02, Melissa Gutierrez ’99, Dominic Gutierrez ’02, Dylan Gutierrez ’12, Genevieve Gutierrez ’03, Mike Mares ’05, Ryan A. Kelly ’07, T. Mark Kelly ’04, Michelle Gutierrez ’05, and Timothy Gutierrez ’09.

numerous grandchildren, including Erin Rose Howard ’14 and Jack Howard ’17.

Emiliano Herrera Sr. of Albuquerque died Aug. 3, 2016. He is survived by his children, Emiliano Herrera II, Serjio Herrera, Armando Herrera and Irma Sanchez ’71; sixteen grandchildren; twentythree great-grandchildren; and three great-greatgrandchildren including Emiliano Herrera ’01, Jose Herrera ’88, Miguel Herrera ’93, Josefina Herrera ’00, Julio Herrera ’90, M. Angelica Herrera ’91 and Maria T. Herrera ’98.

Charles Russell Kessler, age 93 of Albuquerque, died Oct. 9, 2016. He is survived by his daughter Becky Dominguez ’73 and husband Max ’72; and grandsons Max C. ’99 and Joe Dominguez ’09. He was preceded in death by his wife Marcella and daughter Mary Beth Kessler ’68.

Rita Marie Howard, age 83 of Albuquerque, died Oct. 15, 2016. She is survived by her seven children: Debbie, Denise, John, Kelly, Steve ’83, Scott ’85 and wife Natalie ’87, and Marci; and

Jo Melvin, age 97 of Albuquerque, died Sept. 11, 2016. She is preceded in death by her husband of 62 years, James Melvin; her son, Paul Melvin; daughter, Cecilia Melvin ’70, and

Marcella (Binkert) Kerrigan, age 89 of Albuquerque, died Aug. 13, 2016. She was preceded in death by her brother, Donald Binkert; daughter, Mary Theresa ’66; and grandsons Patrick Kerrigan and Landon Allen. Her survivors include children Carol (Kerrigan) O’Brien, Patrick Kerrigan ’68, John Kerrigan, Daniel Kerrigan, and “adopted” son Bok Sowell; 11 grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild.

Elizabeth “Liz” Martinez died Oct. 5, 2016. She is the mother of Phyllis Martinez ’75.

her granddaughter, Cassandra Melvin. She is survived by her children Thomas L. Melvin and Nancy Ulibarri; four grandchildren; nine greatgrandchildren; and four great-great-grandchildren. Betty Will Othmer, age 96 of Albuquerque, died July 20, 2016. She was preceded in death by her husband, Richard Othmer; her son, Craig Othmer ’62; and her granddaughter, Barbara Sheehi. Betty is survived by her three daughters, Margaret Rouse ’71, Mary Othmer ’72 and Dorothy Sheehi ’74, five grandchildren including Eric Myre ’10 and Alan Myre ’11, and one great-granddaughter. Leslie Edward Smithson ’77, age 57 of Kennesaw, Ga., died Oct. 29, 2016. While preparing for the Decade of the ’60s Mass in September, organizers became aware that four St. Pius X alumni were killed in Vietnam: Stephen Jennings ’62, Jim Hicks ’63, Gary Gadziala ’65 and Marty Fanning ’66. These four men were specifically remembered during the prayers of the faithful at the Mass and included in the school prayer book along with all the other deceased alumni from the ’60s. St. Pius X Connections • WINTER 2016


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S AT U R D AY, F E B R UA R Y 2 5 , 2 0 1 7 • H O T E L A L B U Q U E R Q U E AT O L D T O W N

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Celebrating Our Past, Inspiring Our Future S T. P I U S X H I G H S C H O O L 2 0 1 7 A N N UA L G A L A