When McQuaid held its graduation ceremony on June 4, the Bene Merenti Award, the traditional honor for meritorious service was presented to four members of the McQuaid Jesuit community who have given twenty years of dedication to students, faculty, staff, and parents.
Ms. Norma Nesmith, can be described most accurately with the word “GENUINE.” A member of the facilities department, Ms. Nesmith’s presence and impact has reached far beyond McQuaid’s physical plant. A devoted member of the McQuaid Jesuit family, Ms. Nesmith’s daily presence at McQuaid is one of warmth, kindness, and generosity. At the end of the school day, when classes have ended and many students and adults are heading home or off to athletics and extracurricular activities, Ms. Nesmith arrives home to 1800 South Clinton where her care for our students, our staff and our campus begins each day with happiness, diligence, commitment, and strength. A “people person,” it is common to find Ms. Nesmith engaging in warm conversations with people as she tirelessly works her way through the school, making certain that when students, faculty, and staff arrive the following morning, they will begin their day in a bright and clean building that conveys a simple message of “Welcome to your school for the start of a new day.” Never too busy to lend a hand, Ms. Nesmith has helped hundreds of students, who after school may have found themselves locked out of a classroom in which they left their books, misplaced their belongings and needed help finding them so their parents did not get upset with them, needed direction as to where to go to find something, or simply just needed a smiling face to brighten their day. Ms. Nesmith has been a wonderful presence in our daily lives, and her strong sense of family extends beyond McQuaid Jesuit. Whether spending precious time with her Godchildren, Treasure and Tobias, traveling, or relaxing with family and friends, or enjoying time at the casino with her best friend in the world, HER MOTHER, Ms. Nesmith is a daily testimony to what it means to be devoted to family, and she is, indeed, a blessing to our McQuaid Jesuit family. When asked to describe Ms. Nesmith, McQuaid colleagues used the words “Honest,” “Loveable,” “Devoted,” “Kind,” “100 % FABULOUS,” and “AMAZING.” “She will give you the shirt off her back.” A woman who embodies the ideals of Jesuit education and Christian life, and who lives in a manner that inspires and brings joy to anyone who meets her, for twenty years of service, we present the Bene Merenti Award to Ms. Norma Nesmith.
Mr. Jeff Grifa’s arrival to McQuaid Jesuit was initially one of uncertainty. Although with degrees and strong experience in psychology and counseling, Mr. Grifa shared that “I didn’t think I would get hired, because I felt like I was in a confessional during my interview with Fr. Wroblewski.” Well, evidently Mr. Grifa ‘confessed’ that day to being a devoted counselor and gentleman of conscience, competence, and compassion, as Fr. Wroblewski saw to it, that Mr. Grifa would quickly join the McQuaid Jesuit family and begin immediately as a school counselor for eleventh graders, indeed a critical year in the life of a high school student’s journey. Mr. Grifa immediately became a formative presence in student life. A former football player, Mr. Grifa also became “Coach Grifa,” to hundreds of student-athletes over the years. His expertise in coaching has spanned from working with wide receivers and defensive backs to training future individual and team sectional champions in long jump, triple jump, high jump, shot put, discuss and 400 meter hurdles. Additionally, as the coordinator of Services for Students with Disabilities, Mr. Grifa devoted himself to this labor of love and helped guide and support the students of McQuaid in academic and social success, while raising awareness and support of student needs and challenges. Simultaneously, he spearheaded a paramount undertaking and helped to lead the school counseling department through a reorganization and shift that changed the department’s way of proceeding and ultimately benefited the McQuaid Jesuit students and their individual experiences. As the Director of Guidance and College Placement from 2008 to 2010, Mr. Grifa once again led the department through a transition that continued to help the school evaluate, reflect, discern, and grow, ultimately strengthening the lynchpin fabric of McQuaid Jesuit that school and college counselors represent. A lifelong learner, Mr. Grifa enrolled at Boston College’s Advanced Institute for Jesuit Studies. He literally walked in the footsteps of St. Ignatius of Loyola, while studying abroad and following St. Ignatius’s journey from Spain to Rome, thus deepening his love for and understanding of the history, spirituality, and leadership models and methods of the Society of Jesus. Most recently, his experience culminated in his participation in the Spiritual Exercises after which he humbly stated, “I identified the four characteristics and personal values that guide me in my work and give me something to strive for each day.” As a school counselor, a college counselor, a coach, a retreat leader, and a service immersion trip leader, and as a devoted husband to Abby and father to Daxton and Stellan, it is indeed with honesty, humility, compassion, and courage that Mr. Grifa begins and ends each day and has mentored the young men of McQuaid Jesuit. Though Mr. Grifa has received numerous accolades over his career as a counselor, a coach, a competitor, a rookie of the year, a musician, and an outdoorsman, it is today’s recognition for twenty years of service, that we present the Bene Merenti Award to Mr. Jeff Grifa.
Mr. Bill Hochadel P, ’19, ’22 came to 1800 South Clinton and immediately became omnipresent in student life. His commitment to excellence in all that he undertakes is evident, as he has been a leader and mentor for the young gentlemen of McQuaid Jesuit in and out of the classroom, through student activities, and through so many aspects of school life. Indeed, Mr. Hochadel has been a steadying and driving presence in the science department, teaching Advanced Placement Biology, creating and teaching the courses of Forensic Science, Anatomy, and Physiology, serving as chair of the science department for many years, leading the design of the new science labs and classrooms in the Wegman STEM Center, and creating and moderating multiple clubs devoted specifically to science and medicine. When asked about his years at McQuaid Jesuit, Mr. Hochadel spoke of the great joy and pride that he has felt seeing so many former students pursuing careers in science and medicine. To say that Mr. Hochadel has been a direct source of positive impact and mentorship for his students is, plainly, an understatement. Mr. Hochadel has devoted his career to leading and supporting students to find achievement and success beyond what they initially imagined possible for themselves. A master teacher, Mr. Hochadel has challenged students to “raise the bar” and go beyond what seems possible. As a moderator and retreat leader, Mr. Hochadel has helped students to learn, reflect, discern, and grow as young men for and with others. He restructured McQuaid Jesuit’s student government, strengthening the leadership opportunities for students, and incorporating service and community engagement. A “renaissance man,” Mr. Hochadel has been immersed in student life through his participation in student retreats, pep rallies, Masses, and assemblies, at the helm of student government, executive council, and the science department, as the creator and moderator of the quilting club, as the inspiration behind and the creator of “Purple Thursdays,” and of course as the stalwart “Impenetrable Wall” for fifteen years as the goalie of the faculty floor hockey team on “Z” days. Living by the maxim that no challenge is too great, and no job is too small, Mr. Hochadel has been a living example of selflessness and devotion. A golfer and golf enthusiast, Mr. Hochadel has been a mainstay, alongside his father as members of the staff and stewards of Oak Hill Country Club, sharing smiles and memories with so many McQuaid Jesuit “alums” over the years. Yet, amidst all the achievements, accolades, and memories, Mr. Hochadel is very honest to speak of who and what he is most proud: The handshakes and hugs shared with his sons Jacob and Zachary, when Mr. Hochadel presented them with their McQuaid Jesuit diplomas. For twenty years of service, we present the Bene Merenti Award to Mr. Bill Hochadel.
Though having lived in California, Tennessee, New York, and Hong Kong, Mr. Scott Simkins’ path led him to Rochester, where he brought with him his degrees and experience in Computer Science, Biology, and Chemistry, and joined McQuaid Jesuit as a webmaster and a member of the computer science department. Since that time, Mr. Simkins has been at the vanguard of growing the department, including most recently helping to spearhead the design of and transition into the school’s new state of the art Wegman Center for Science and Technology. During his time at McQuaid Jesuit, Mr. Simkins has been one of the founding teachers of McQuaid’s engineering department, chaired the computer science department, taught across all grade levels, redesigned the school’s website initiating the first pull-down menus and rotating front page pictures, and ushered the growth of department course offerings from five to thirteen, including the creation and instruction of the courses: Animations, Architectural Design and Drafting, Computer Game Design, Introduction to Engineering Design, Introduction to Image Editing, Technology/Engineering Seminar, and Web Programming. Yet, his reach and impact have extended far beyond the classroom. Mr. Simkins has served as moderator for the Computer Club, Curling Club, Game Design Club and Middleman Messenger, coached JV tennis, chaperoned school trips and events, and led multiple service trips to western Massachusetts and Ecuador. A proud father and devoted husband, Mr. Simkins has had three sons walk the halls of McQuaid Jesuit. Whether curling, skiing, snowboarding, running, gardening, reading, watching movies, playing board or video games, playing golf and tennis, or traveling to fifteen countries over the years, Mr. Simkins cherishes the precious times he has enjoyed with his family and friends, including finishing the Chicago Marathon in 2012. A man for and with others, for twenty years of service, we present the Bene Merenti Award to Mr. Scott Simkins.