Saint Viator High School turned the tables on its longtime play-by-play announcer, bringing him out from behind the microphone, and honoring him front and center at its annual Night of the Lion gala.
A capacity crowd of nearly 450 people gathered Saturday at the Schaumburg Renaissance Hotel and gave Jim Bristol of Arlington Heights a heartfelt standing ovation.
"We're here to honor someone who is special to us all," said Fr. Corey Brost, C.S.V., president. "He truly personifies what it means to be a Lion for life."
Bristol graduated from Saint Viator in 1973, and for the last 17 years has announced its varsity football and basketball games.
But his impact goes beyond athletics. Bristol played important roles behind the scenes, including serving as president of the board of trustees and on the development, finance and advancement committees, as well as president of the alumni association.
"He is dedicated to the spirit of Saint Viator," said Fr. Charles Bolser, CSV, former president, "and making it come alive with others."
Bristol thanked the selection committee and the school's advancement department that had organized the dinner. He described the Viatorian priests and brothers as role models, who helped shape his future.
"They had an impact on my life at a time when I needed someone and I will be forever grateful," Bristol said.
Guests at the dinner included parents, alumni, trustees, faculty and staff, as well as members of the Viatorian Community. Together, they celebrated the school's impact on current students as well as young alumni.
Brost pointed to Matt Letke of Arlington Heights, Class of 2011, who is studying in London and working for a member of Parliament, as well as Connor Romenesko of Barrington, also of the Class of 2011, who is spending a semester in South Africa studying environmental racism and societal reconstruction after Apartheid.
"I know neither of these young men as freshmen, dreamt they would be where they are as we gather here tonight," Brost said. "But our commitment to our young people only begins during high school."
"At graduation we send them into the world as well-rounded, intellectually curious, critically thinking young men and women grounded in Catholic and Viatorian values," he added.
Current students, Annie Nagle of Elk Grove Village and Matthew Beiswenger of Fox River Grove, described their experiences to the crowd.
"Saint Viator has become a defining moment in my life and set a standard for my future," Nagle said.
Beiswenger, is the 13th member of his extended family to attend the school, and he knew to immerse himself in activities, both inside and outside of the classroom.
"Both Annie and I have truly invested ourselves in all the school has to offer," Beiswenger said. "We've found a community of caring faculty and Viatorians, who care about students who go there every day."
The testimonials and honors all added up to a night of celebration for guests, who bid generously on oral auction items and during a direct paddle raise for tuition assistance.
"There aren't too many nights like this," Bristol said to the crowd. "I appreciate it. Thank you."
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