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Dear Saint Patrick – Joseph Guerra ‘22

Dear Saint Patrick,

It was four years ago when I had to decide where I wanted to start the next chapter of my life. I had thought that I was going to stay in the CPS Selective Enrollment System and go to Lane Tech or another CPS school, but I was wrong. I shadowed at 5900 W. Belmont in 7th and 8th grade and had fallen in love with the environment. The feeling of walking those halls and interacting with your brothers every day was something that I wanted to be a part of for the next four years of my life. I decided on going to St. Pat’s at the end of 8th grade and was ecstatic about starting this new journey with my friends. It was August of 2018 and this time I was walking into St. Pat’s as a Shamrock. I was excited to be a part of the Shamrock community and wanted to get involved in every way possible.

For the next four years, I participated in Shamrock Football, Ice Hockey, and Wrestling. Shamrock Football taught me what true blue-collar football looked like and the definition of Brotherhood. Coach Guerra and Coach Rago helped me become a better man. The hockey team and coaches have helped me succeed in my athletics as well as academics. The wrestling team gave me a new sport to love and taught me never to quit. Coach Tom, Coach Hawk, and Coach Peters changed my life forever. I will never forget when I scored a touchdown in a freshman football game against St. Viator with Coach Waters as the ref. My team was happy for me and it showed me that there are people who have my back. I will never forget Coach Fabs always talking about Texas Tech running four verts down the field and I will most certainly never forget seeing Coach Guerra in his old, white, grandpa shoes. I will never forget my first pin in wrestling. Mr. Redmon told me to stop being scared and to just shoot my double leg. He ended up being right and I pinned the kid in 13 seconds. My teammates that I have met through football, hockey, and wrestling are going to be my best friends for the rest of my life. I look at all of the coaches that I have had as mentors. I am thankful to all my coaches and teammates for making me feel accepted and welcomed in the Shamrock community. I loved being involved in the Stud Section and screaming in the front row for all my brothers when I was not on the field, on the mat, or on the ice. The energy at 5900 W. Belmont is hard to describe, it is #uncommon. The building at the corner of Belmont and Austin is special.

Saint Patrick High School has not only helped me excel as an athlete, but also as a student. The teachers that have guided me through the last four years have prepared me for college in every way possible. In the classroom, I have been able to maintain First Honors throughout my time at St. Pat’s while being enrolled in multiple AP and Honors classes. Mrs. Fiorante has been my math teacher since freshman year and helped me fall more in love with mathematics. She is an outstanding teacher and kind to everyone. Her passion for teaching shows in the classroom. Everything I have learned from Honors Advanced Algebra to AP Calculus has been directly from Mrs. Fiorante and her amazing explanations, lectures, and notes. If you ask me about Mrs. Fiorante I will tell you that she loves purple, adores trig, and likes me more than her son, Bobby. Mrs. Fiorante is the epitome of excellence.

My first language was Spanish, and I never had the opportunity to learn it in school because I had taken eight years of Chinese in elementary school. St. Pat’s allowed me to learn and improve my Spanish, which I never had the chance to do in school. Ms. McBride has taught me things about Spanish that I didn’t know despite being a native speaker. She has helped me thrive in my respective language and taught me what it means to be Shamrock. The only time I had her as a teacher was at the start of my senior year, but she has been a part of my journey since the beginning. She is an extraordinary teacher and is constantly helping every student in all of her classes. Her positive attitude is contagious to all of her students, and she never fails to make me smile every day. She will never say no and help you no matter what. My Spanish has expanded tremendously thanks to her. She has taught me everything about verb conjugations, vocabulary, and culture. Ms. McBride was not only a teacher in my eyes, but she was also a leader. In and out of the classroom she bleeds green and gold no matter where she is. Ms. McBride is the main reason why I enjoyed coming to school every day over the last four years.

I’m beyond blessed to have had these two people mentor me throughout my high school career and help me grow academically. If you were to ask me why I extol these two people so much, my answer would be simple. They are the best of the best in their respective fields. They want the best for their students and will always help someone in need.

My number one recommendation to all future students is to get involved. I can’t stress this enough because I wish I had been involved since freshman and sophomore year, but I’m glad I decided to be a part of 5900 W. Belmont in the end. I participated in the Spanish Club, Mental Health Club, Spikeball Club, Ice Hockey, Football, Wrestling, and Intramural Leadership Council.

Kairos is another thing I was involved in at St. Pat’s, and it was arguably the most important. Kairos is a senior retreat that portrays true Brotherhood. It is the utmost important thing to experience at St. Pat’s. Even though it is extremely confidential, everyone who has gone can tell you that it teaches you to never judge a book by its cover and always look out for your brothers here at St. Pat’s. It is the greatest form of Brotherhood at 5900 W. Belmont. The Kairos retreat coordinators are the backbone of this program and without them, I honestly would not be the man I am today. Thank you once again to Ms. McBride and Mr. Raho for choosing me as a Kairos leader.

Thank you, St Pat’s, for giving me unforgettable memories, wisdom, and life lessons I will never forget. I am excited to attend the University of Arizona in the fall and am glad that I will be starting a new chapter in my life. It is hard to believe that I will not be walking these halls anymore and not able to see the people I love most, but I will always remember the years 2018-2022 because of the building on the corner of Belmont and Austin. Thank you, Saint Patrick High School.

Love,

Joseph Guerra ‘22

To read the other Dear Saint Patrick letters from the Class of 2022, click here.

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5900 West Belmont Avenue, Chicago, IL 60634