If the academic program is the “brain” and the spiritual life program is the “soul” and the athletic and activities programs are the “body” of the residential life environment, then it is not an exaggeration to say that the emphasis of community is the “heart” of St. Lawrence.
The type of community that is created at St. Lawrence is how our school differs from a typical high school. Students are placed into fraternities comprising of around between ten to twelve students that are also balanced on grade, culture, and compatibility. The core of the fraternity is the seniors and the freshmen they sponsor. Every freshman has a senior sponsor. Each new upperclassman has a sponsor from his own grade. Through the school year, fraternities sit together in chapel, lead prayer for the entire community, participate in liturgical ministries for mass together, and compete in social events together such as Winter Carnival and Field Day.
The overall student body at St. Lawrence is made up of students from many different ethnic and cultural backgrounds from all across the world. To grow in understanding of what it means to be a ‘Son of Calvary’ but also incorporating many of our individual customs from each ancestry, students participate in many traditions and activities through the school year, many of which are listed below.
On orientation evening, there is an all-school party in the refectory to welcome all students, especially those new to St. Lawrence. Upperclassmen present a skit, returning students renew old friendships, and new students begin to build bonds that will last a lifetime.
On Labor Day evening, the school sponsors an outdoor cookout and picnic. Sports and outdoor activities take place all afternoon and during the cookout.
Parent Weekend is celebrated in mid-September and provides an opportunity for the families of students to meet one another and to become better acquainted with the administration and teaching staff. Its purpose is to strengthen the school’s partnership with parents and to enhance seminary relationships. It consists of a full day of events, presentations and activities for all and concludes with Mass on Sunday.
While the cross country team is often on the road to compete with other schools throughout the area, each season St. Lawrence Seminary High School hosts one major tournament which is a showcase event for many cross country runners throughout Wisconsin. The Hilltopper Invitational is held every year in mid-September.
More than 500 runners gather to tackle the school’s grueling course of hills and steep inclines. Many runners can be seen struggling to make it to the top of “Big Bertha,” the main hill that connects the upper campus to the soccer fields below. This is no small accomplishment. Besides the colorful uniformed runners many families and fans are present to witness the Hilltopper Invitational.
As part of the Hilltopper, each year St. Lawrence hosts a Fun Run for all runners to enjoy. The Fun Run at the end of the meet is open to anyone who has kept himself or herself in good enough shape to take on the well-worn path of the high school athletes. Many former high school runners come back to the Hill annually to relive some of their high school memories of the Hilltopper, including many St. Lawrence alumni.
The Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi
Each year, the St. Lawrence Seminary community celebrates the feast of St. Francis with the “Transitus” Service on October 3rd. This service remembers the passing of St. Francis from this life to eternal life. On the Feast of St. Francis, October 4th, a special liturgy is held and a banquet follows with the entire student body, faculty and staff of the school.
At the end of October, the Student Council sponsors a Spirit Week that includes various competitive contests among the classes. Students dress in different and exciting attire each day, according to the theme of the day. The week also includes Halloween activities such as pumpkin carving and “trick or treating” among the faculty.
October 24 celebrates and honors Fr. Bonaventure Frey and Fr. Francis Haas, the founders of St. Lawrence Seminary and of the Capuchin order in the United States. The day includes a special liturgical celebration and banquet.
Once or twice a year, the Student Council sponsors a Talent Night. All presentations are subject to tryouts and a dress rehearsal is held in the afternoon. The competition is judged by the students, faculty and staff. Prizes are awarded.
Before our students go home on Tuesday for the Thanksgiving break, the school comes together as a community and celebrates the Thanksgiving holiday. The day includes a special table prayer and meal.
St. Nicholas’ Day
During the night of 5-6 December, prior to St. Nicholas’ day, the Student Council prepares an individual treat for each student. Students leave their shoes by their beds in the hope of receiving a gift. By this time the Advent season is in full swing at the school. Optional evening masses every day, the Angel Tree Project, caroling in the local area and class parties also contribute to the tradition.
Our Lady of Guadalupe
On December 12 the school celebrates the Apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas. Hispanic parents from the Chicago-Indiana Parents Guild come to the seminary and make and serve the students a traditional Mexican feast. The mass is dedicated to Our Lady and is celebrated in English and Spanish.
The night before Christmas Break, a celebration takes place that includes a table prayer and banquet. The celebration concludes with an evening band and choir Christmas Concert, a party in the refectory and special evening prayer.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day
The contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are celebrated in this school-wide event.
Catholic Schools Week
The students join together in recognizing the importance of Catholic schools in our educational system. Events occur throughout the week, and a day is set aside to honor the faculty and staff with an appreciation banquet. Some students attend a mass with representative students from all area Catholic schools and the school has a special mass to commemorate the week.
Since the early 1970’s St. Lawrence has hosted this January event that allows the students to celebrate the joys of winter in Wisconsin. Traditionally, this event starts with morning prayer dedicated to Our Lady of the Snows. Many outdoor and indoor events take place.
Asian Lunar New Year Celebration (Tét/Seollal): This is a celebration of the Vietnamese and Korean New Year. The celebration includes a Vietnamese and Korean meal and dragon dance.
Cultural Heritage Festival
This evening celebrates the richness of the cultural heritage of the students. Students prepare their favorite ethnic foods to share with other members of the St. Lawrence community.
Field Day occurs on one of the last Wednesdays in May. The day includes track and field events by fraternities, a staff vs. student softball game, tower shower, cookout, and student entertainment. The faculty, staff and student body all have the opportunity to enjoy the interaction that the day provides. This event has been celebrated since 1907.