The Wick

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Ninety Years of Excellence

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Ninety years ago today, ballpoint pens weren’t invented to help us with our schoolwork, nor the electric guitars that we hear at Banua, not even the parking meters that we struggle to find every morning, but even back in that primitive age, Fenwick existed. There are ninety years of history that our community doesn’t know hidden between her walls.

Fenwick High School came to existence when Cardinal Mundelein offered an invitation to the Dominicans of St. Joseph Province in 1927 to build and staff a new high school in the Archdiocese of Chicago. That high school’s doors opened for the first time on September 9, 1929, and began the era of Fenwick.

What began with 200 students is now 1,200. At first an all-boys college preparatory school, Fenwick now educates both sex, following suit of Nazareth Academy and St. Ignatius. This change would not have become a reality if it weren’t for the efforts of Mr. Finnell, Mr. Quinn, Mr. Polka, and Mr. Arellano.

“In pursuing that change, women are going to be part of Fenwick’s future. And you look at where they are today, and what they’ve done, and its extraordinary,” Quinn reflects. Women from Fenwick fill all professional fields. Female Friars are in the Peace Corp; they’re actresses, doctors, diplomats, and teachers— notably Ms. Timmons and Ms. Carraher.

Teachers like these are the reason Fenwick has been so successful. Mr. Finnell, a Fenwick alumn himself, has coached the Math Team to many consecutive state wins in multiple divisions. He has been in charge of 82 theater productions and produced 100, and even led to the creation of Banua (previously called the Senior Talent Review) which just celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. Mr. Finnell also coordinated the London trip for 33 years.

Regarding a specific favorite memory, he says, “There isn’t just one I can discern from all my time at Fenwick; I’ve taught brilliant students on the Math Team here and there, I’ve produced many shows and seen all 50 productions of Banua; but each year is different, and all of them are special to me in one way or another.”

The athletic program has been continuously successful in just about every sport. The athletes have always done their best, and have worn the shield with pride. Fenwick has had tremendous success in aquatic sports (water polo and swimming), basketball, hockey, and so many more. The originally meager options for sports have expanded yearly into the inclusive representation of sports teams that are presently available.

A legacy isn’t defined by a moment nor snapshot, rather, it’s defined by the people who have achieved the incredible. This school’s history of excellence ranges from governor to astronaut, to Pulitzer Prize winners, leading up to the present accomplishments of Fenwick Friars.

On teaching through the years at Fenwick, Mr. Quinn says that “The biggest difference is tradition. There were different traditions, there isn’t any difference in the quality of education or expectations of students; It has always been always extremely high.”

Undoubtedly, the reputation for excellence that Fenwick has earned through these 9 decades will continue for years to come.

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Ninety Years of Excellence