Fenwick has been a Catholic institution preparing students from all over the Chicagoland area for almost ninety years, and in nine decades it has undergone many changes and has grown into one of the top high schools in the area. All those years ago, Fenwick was quite different from what is it now; there were no girls in the school, there were many more clergymen teaching, and even the building itself looked different. Back then, there was no auditorium, no West Wing, and certainly no air conditioning.
That was a long time ago, and there is no one here that remembers exactly what Fenwick was like during its first few years. Fortunately, Fenwick still holds on to a few members of the staff who have dedicated large portions of their lives as teachers, and they have witnessed some of the most memorable turning points in Fenwick’s history. Through their testimony, it is possible to catch a glimpse of Fenwick from years ago, and in hearing their stories, one hears the story of Fenwick through the ages.
Fenwick teachers are known for their long lasting dedication to their teaching careers, so it is not uncommon to hear about teachers who have been teaching at Fenwick for twenty years or more. There are a few teachers, however, who stand out in that list for the longevity of their careers. Among those honored few are Mr. Roger Finnell, Mr. Andrew Arellano, and Mr. Robert Arscott. They are widely known, and praised, throughout the school since all Fenwick students will have had at least one of them in class by the time they graduate.
Mr. Finnell has dedicated the majority of his life as a math teacher at Fenwick. He began working at Fenwick back in 1963, and in the 55 years since then, he has taught nearly every single math course offered at Fenwick.
Mr. Finnell has also been the coach of the State Math Team ever since the competition started 38 years ago. He also directs and produces BFG productions, and he enjoys working with such talented students outside of class. Mr. Finnell was also the moderator of Student Council at Fenwick for many years. He fondly remembers the time he hired Otis Day and The Knights to play at a mixer, and 1100 students packed into the old gym to hear them play “Shout!”
Throughout the years, Mr. Finnell has been actively involved in the Fenwick community, and he believes that most of the change and growth that Fenwick has gone through has been beneficial. He commented, “The striving for excellence has not changed. The ability of the average students is definitely higher, especially since we went coed, which I was a very early supporter of.” Mr. Finnell’s dedication and service to Fenwick is greatly appreciated and will never be forgotten.
While Mr. Finnell has a few years on him, Mr. Arellano still boasts an impressive 46 years of teaching. When he started in 1972, Mr. Finnell and Mr. Borsch were already valued members of the Fenwick staff, and Mr. John Quinn was a student in his first class. In the years since then, Mr. Arellano has taught freshman and sophomore English classes, summer school courses, and most notably, sophomore Speech. Mr. Arellano’s Speech class is considered by many students and alumni to be one of the most helpful courses at Fenwick, and his method of teaching public speaking is so highly valued that every sophomore is required to take his semester-long class.
Since every student must take his class, Mr. Arellano has had the pleasure of teaching over 35 members of the current faculty and staff, and most of those alumni remember his class fondly. Many of his former students who did not come back to teach have also been highly successful, and Mr. Arellano recalls one of his best experiences working at Fenwick has been, “to witness what my men and women are doing to improve themselves, the lives of their families, our nation, and the church.” A large portion of his former students would relate that the experience and advice they received in his classes has greatly influenced their success in their careers.
Over the years, Mr. Arellano has seen Fenwick evolve into an impressive institution that thoroughly prepares students for life after graduation. Some of the major changes he has witnessed have been the decision to go coed, the addition of the Link onto the old building, the establishment of the Expressive Arts Department, and the introduction of Theology and Civics requirements. Since he started working at Fenwick there have been more students, more classrooms, more athletic teams, more diversity, more female teachers, and more air conditioning in the building. Throughout his years of teaching, Mr. Arellano has been greatly admired by both his students and fellow teachers, and the impact he has on his students helps them lead great and successful lives.
Along with Mr. Finnell and Mr. Arellano, Mr. Arscott has dedicated a large part of his life teaching at Fenwick. When he started teaching at Fenwick in 1978, Mr. Finnell was the chairperson of the Math Department, and the two of them likely have the longest careers of any math teachers in Fenwick’s history. Mr. Arscott has taught all levels of math, but his favorite class to teach is BC Calculus. As he says, “BC stands for Best Class,” and one of his best Fenwick experiences was when everyone in his AP BC Calculus earned a 5 on the AP test in 2005 and 2007.
Mr. Arscott has had the opportunity to teach multiple teachers who went to Fenwick, including Ms. Timmons, Mr. Roche, Ms. Carraher, Mr. Schoeph, Mr. Richied, Mr. Holmberg, and Mr. Thies. To all of his former students, teachers or otherwise, his intense passion for math and teaching is obvious. Mr. Arscott is a man who loves his job and truly cares about his students. His love of teaching is what has kept him at Fenwick for 39 years. Though he thought about retiring last year, he decided to keep doing what he loves for at least one more year, and the students in his classes this year are truly lucky for that.
Through the years that Mr. Arscott has taught at Fenwick, he witnessed the transition from all boys to coed, and he has seen the school evolve with technology. He has seen the number of students grow, and he has seen the building grow as well, with the addition of the new building. As a dedicated and passionate member of the Fenwick faculty, Mr. Arscott has been admired for many years, and his accomplishments, and those of his students, will be remembered for years to come.
Fenwick has changed tremendously since it first opened its doors in 1929, and it has grown even more since Mr. Finnell started teaching. Throughout the years, both students and faculty have come and gone, but through all the changes, some things have stayed the same. Mr. Finnell can still be found where he was thirty years ago in room 32. Mr. Arellano can still be found giving sophomore advice on public speaking. Mr. Arscott can still be found giving out “cookie” problems to his Calculus students. Change can be good, but sometimes it is better to have some things stay the same.