Past Featured Alumni

Julie Ganey

After graduating from St. Pius, Julie moved to Chicago to attend The Theatre School at DePaul University, and she has been living and working in the Windy City ever since. As a professional actor, she has performed with many Chicago theatres, and she spent a couple of decades doing improvisational comedy all over the U.S. with the award-winning ensemble Wavelength. Julie has also written three original solo plays, The Half-Life of Magic, Love Thy Neighbor...till it hurts, and Good Enough, which have been produced in Chicago and throughout the Midwest.

"These days, I'm what you would call "multi-disciplinary," which simply means that I do lots of different things that involve theatre, storytelling, writing and improvisation. What I've learned is that when people make art together or share their stories with each other, all sorts of barriers dissolve between individuals and groups. So, I work on storytelling projects with folks from all walks of life where they craft their own experiences into stories that are shared with an audience. Everyone, every person, has a story to tell, and when we approach our stories with care and artistry, the experience can be transformative for tellers and audience alike."

Julie is an adjunct professor at The Theatre School at DePaul, and a long-time teaching artist at the Goodman Theatre and 2nd Story. She is a tenacious advocate of arts education in schools, and she has collaborated with participants of all ages to make theatre projects that center social justice issues. She has designed original programming for organizations such as Northwestern Law School, the Illinois Holocaust Museum, and American Girl Place. She is a member of the performing arts unions, SAG-AFTRA and Actor's Equity, and is currently co-authoring a book on solo performance, which will be published by Northwestern University Press in 2024.

"When I talk with people now about my years at St. Pius, I can't quite convey how special they were. The school was a place where we could ask questions and argue points and disagree with each other, at a time in our lives when we were figuring out how to live in the world. I didn't just get an excellent education at St. Pius; I was taught by teachers and staff who cared deeply about us and modelled how to take our values out into the world to care for other people - all kinds of people.

When I say that everything I needed to know I learned at St. Pius, I'm only exaggerating a little. I learned the importance of knowing what is going on in the world from Mr. Navratil. A pragmatic, useful Catholic theology from Mr. Overberg. Patience from Mr. McCreary and Barb Charboneau; kindness and a can-do attitude from Ms. Greaving. And I learned how, as a teacher, to bring my full self to the classroom from Mr. Taylor. Though, obviously, I will never be cool the way he was."

Julie and her husband, Brad, have one daughter, who attends Washington University.

Adam Mattingly '06

Adam Mattingly still considers the time he spent at St. Pius as some of the best years of his life. He grew up significantly, forged lifelong friendships, and created enduring memories. From the numerous social events at St. Pius to the senior Spanish trip led by Mrs. Finazzo, Adam looks back on it all fondly and remains grateful for attending and later graduating from St. Pius in 2006.

He pursued higher education at Mizzou, earning a business degree in marketing in 2009. Despite envisioning a corporate desk job, his path diverged when he briefly worked with a financial company before establishing his own LLC and venturing into house flipping. In 2019, he expanded his business by acquiring an apartment complex and has since focused on growing his presence in the real estate industry.

The introduction to endurance sports and triathlon can be credited to a close childhood friend and fellow St. Pius X alum, Scott Wensler. In 2020, Scott attempted to recruit Adam into the world of triathlons as he prepared for his first full Ironman. At first, Adam dismissed the idea, deeming it unappealing. However, as he followed Scott's training and witnessed his journey through the Ironman races, he became inspired and decided, "I want to do this. I want to be an Ironman," without fully grasping the challenge ahead.

In 2021, Adam registered for Ironman Florida, embarking on his Ironman journey with 11 months to prepare and little knowledge of where to start. He participated in local St. Louis races, an Olympic-distance event in Louisville, a half Ironman in Des Moines, and finally, the 140.6-mile full Ironman in Florida. The moment he crossed the finish line, he experienced an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and heard announcer Mike Riley declare, "Adam Mattingly, you ARE an Ironman!" From that point on, he was hooked.

The following year, Adam's involvement in endurance sports reached new heights. He commenced the season at the USA Triathlon Multisport National Championships in Irving, Texas, competing in the Standard Duathlon. In a remarkable achievement, he secured the third-place podium spot in the 35-39 age group and accepted an invitation to join Team USA, preparing to represent his country at the Multisport World Championships in Townsville, Australia, in 2024.

His journey in Ironman racing continued, marked by the challenges typical of long-distance endurance races. Despite facing various setbacks in races in Tulsa and Coeur D'Alene, Adam achieved his ultimate goal for the year, earning a coveted slot to compete at the Ironman World Championship in Nice, France, which took place on September 10th. It marks his 4th Ironman finish. He is forever grateful for the experience and honored he was afforded the opportunity to have been a participant.

Caroline Barnes '17

Caroline Barnes '17 graduated from Saint Louis University School of Law this past May with a Juris Doctorate degree. At the young age of 23, Caroline's dedication and hard work allowed her to earn her degree early, thanks to over 30 college credits she obtained while attending St. Pius X. Currently, she is diligently preparing for the July Bar Exam, aiming to become a successful lawyer.

Caroline's experience at St. Pius X had a profound impact on shaping her future. Taking Ms. Wencker's dual credit American History class provided her with invaluable skills that proved essential in law school. Through this class, Caroline learned to swiftly comprehend and apply complex concepts, a proficiency that has greatly benefitted her throughout her academic and professional journey.

Reflecting on her own journey, Caroline offers valuable advice to current students: take advantage of as many college credit courses as possible. These courses not only provide an opportunity to save time but also prove to be a wise financial investment. Caroline's personal experience attests to the advantages of earning college credits during high school, highlighting the significant benefits it can offer to students looking to expedite their academic and professional growth.

Gene Slavit '73

After graduation, he took his four years of Latin training from St. Pius X to the University of Missouri where he received a bachelor’s degree in Classical Studies. He took the Christian values he learned in high school to a Bible college and received a bachelor’s degree in Theology. He met his wife, Sherry, there, and moved to Australia for two years of adventures (including his first full marathon). Since that time, he has lived in Ohio, New York, Guam, California, Washington, Maine, Colorado, and Idaho. While in Guam, he visited Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Taiwan, Israel, and the “local islands” (Saipan, Rota, Tinian, Yap, Palau, Majuro, Pohnpei, Truk, and Kosrae). Gene says the greatest joy of each place was getting to know the wonderful people who lived there.

He and Sherry have one son, Elijah, who is stationed (with his wife, Aimee, and their two-year-old daughter, Florence) at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington. He lives just across the state border in Post Falls, Idaho. He teaches at local schools (still sharing the Latin), works with Sherry on adult and children’s books, helps with Special Olympics and other events, enjoys the outdoors (I’ll be running a full marathon at the end of May), and staying in touch with friends. He is so blessed to have his wonderful Mom to talk to on the phone or visit in St. Louis. She is a delight and a gem, as are his brothers and sisters. He thanks St. Pius X for establishing a strong foundation that he can build upon.

Daniel Thompson '85

Daniel Thompson, St. Pius X Class of 1985, joined the Army at 17 years of age in October of 1984. He graduated Airborne School at the age of 33 and is active with the 82nd Airborne Association, Tampa Chapter (one of the largest national veterans groups in the US) and currently doing Parachute jumps with The Phantom Brigade, Zephyrhills FL.

The “Phantom Brigade'' has their own website & youtube channel. Daniel jumps with his two great friends he calls his brothers, Retired Army Major, Martin Small & Retired Airforce Major, Darryl McDonal. He cannot speak highly enough about these two men and fellow jumpers. He is also active in Veterans issues, protecting and helping veterans with their disability claims and navigating the Department of Veterans Administration.

If it was not for growing up in Festus, my parents’ decision and having the opportunity to attend St. Pius X, I know my life would not have turned out the way it has. I credit the Christian/Catholic education I received at St. Pius X for molding me into the adult that I am today. GOD-FAMILY-COUNTRY 

Tim Hammett '88

Tim entered St. Pius X in the fall of 1985. His time at St. Pius X provided some of the best moments of his teenage years. The St. Pius X culture fostered growth and allowed him to participate in a variety of activities. He played sports, was involved in clubs and served in leadership roles. He says that he learned a foundation of skills that he still uses today. One of the things that he appreciates most about St. Pius X is that he met friends that he has grown even closer to over the last 35 years. 

After graduating from St. Pius X in 1988, Tim earned a B.S. Degree in Personal Finance from the University of Missouri-Columbia. For the last 30 years he has worked in the Wealth Management Industry. He has grown a financial planning practice and eventually launched an independent firm in 2014. God has blessed him with incredible team members in his firm, Visionary Wealth Advisors. He is very fortunate to work with clients and team members, growing value based relationships, which Visionary Wealth Advisors believes to be the core of all relationships. 

On a personal level, he married his wonderful wife Ami and have been blessed with three beautiful children, Luke, Drew and Rachel. He continues the tradition of Catholic education in his own family. Looking back on his time at St. Pius X he feels that foundation has helped him become the person he is today. 

Tora Wolk '13

I started at St. Pius X as a junior rather than a freshman. I left the public school system after being bullied to the point where I did not want to attend school. The goal, when I began at St. Pius X, was to come out of my shell by the time senior year rolled around. This school got me out of my shell in the first month. I had teachers who saw how far behind I was and came in before school and stayed after to teach me. I had friends that pulled lunch tables together so we could all sit and talk. This school changed my life so much that without it I know without a doubt, I would have never finished high school or gone on to college. With the support of my parents, friends, and teachers at St. Pius I can thank them for how far along I came in life. For people who knew me then, or even now, no surprise I was voted most talkative of my class.

As a high school student at St. Pius X, I had my life figured out for the most part. I knew I was going to go to college and major in film. I knew I was going to be successful in the field because of my determination and my eagerness to learn. I was set to attend Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri to get a Bachelor of Arts in Digital Cinematography with an emphasis on writing and directing. I graduated from the university in 2017 and also obtained a minor in history. 

I had an incredible job offer that I accepted in 2018 with Disney World. After almost 8 months with the company, I realized that it was not the avenue I wanted and needed a quick out. I returned back to Festus, MO with the hopes of finding something else in life I was passionate about. I began to pursue personal training. 

In 2020, God had different plans for me yet again. I met two men at my place of work where I struck up a conversation with them about the military and how it is something I have always considered. I knew it wasn’t an option because of reconstructive surgery on my knee in 2014 and a prior broken bone in the same leg. Four months later, I swore into the Missouri Army National Guard. I left a few months later for Basic Combat Training and my Advanced Individual Training. I returned home in July 2021 and have been on active duty with them since October of 2021. I have found something I absolutely love and I’m passionate about. No one ever said it would be easy. We just have to trust the twists and turns thrown in the road at us. 

Jordanne Mickley '17

Jordanne was selected to represent Missouri Baptist University when receiving the Mission in Action Award. The Mission in Action Award recognizes a student who has set an example by living out the mission and core values of Missouri Baptist University. She was honored to speak at chapel in front of the Missouri Baptist University faculty, staff, and student body. The faculty and staff in the School of Education nominated her for the award because of her passion for teaching, her work as a Student Fellow, and the hard work she put into every assignment. They also considered her commitment to working with children and adults with disabilities at Helping Hands and Horses since 2014. Currently, she is working as a paraprofessional at Windsor High School as she finishes up her degree in cross-categorical special education K-12. She works with high school students who have disabilities and are learning functional skills to help them get jobs in the future and live independently. She recently accepted a position teaching an autism classroom at Festus Elementary School for next school year. She has continued volunteering at Helping Hands and Horses which is where her passion for working with children with disabilities began in 2014. In October she got engaged to her best friend, Noah Decker, and she is so excited for their future together. Her favorite memory of being at St. Pius was her senior year basketball season when she broke two three point records. She also loved getting to help start the connection between St. Pius and Helping Hands and Horses with Mrs. Schoemehl and Borgia House. It was a lot of fun for her to bring a horse to school and talk to the students about the important work that is done at Helping Hands and Horses. 

Ryan Loveless '19

After graduating from St. Pius X in 2019 Ryan continued his education at Lindenwood University where he is on the Shotgun Sports Team. This past November, his hobbies hunting and fishing helped him to achieve earning a spot on the Missouri State Trap Team. He started last May traveling the country competing in numerous state events shooting over 12,000 clay targets through the end of August. He finished on top of the Second Team Junior Gold taking 11th place out of 25 overall. He is on the Amateur Trapshooting Association’s 2022 All American Team. During his time at St. Pius his best memories are the days that he had Mr. Taylor’s film class right after leaving Mr. Kainz’s English class. Ryan enjoyed his time at St. Pius X and is excited to continue competing next year in Trapshooting events.

Madalyn Michael '18 and Mallory Stoll '18

Madalyn Michael and Mallory Stoll met at Saint Joseph Imperial in 2nd grade and became inseparable best friends. They both attended St. Pius X for high school, where they pushed each other academically and their friendship continued to grow. As their friendship grew they shared many memories such as homecoming, prom, and rooting for each other at volleyball games and dance competitions. Throughout their time at St. Pius X, Madalyn and Mallory also both challenged each other by taking honors and college credit courses- ultimately allowing them to graduate in just 3 years. They each graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia in May 2021 with a Bachelor's degree (Madalyn's degree in Health Science- Speech and Language Studies, Mallory's in Health Science- Pre-Professional). Madalyn is now continuing her education at Mizzou pursuing a Master's degree in Speech Pathology, and Mallory is attending the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy at a satellite location in Columbia. Aside from their studies, they enjoy being roommates at their new apartment, going to their favorite coffee shops to study, grabbing dinner or ice cream, and both working as Graduate and Doctorate Teaching Assistants for professors in the School of Health Professions.

Brian Westrich '76

The Alumni Association is excited to introduce the new Vice President of the Alumni Association,Brian Westrich. After graduating from St. Pius in 1976, Brian earned a mining engineering degree from the University of Missouri – Rolla (now Missouri S&T). When the coal industry took a nosedive in the mid-80s, Brian went back to school, and earned a journalism degree from SIU – Edwardsville. He then worked in the corporate communications field and retired in 2019.

Brian, an avid supporter of Catholic education, greatly enjoyed his time at St. Pius and previously served on the St. Pius X School Board. He’s a parishioner at St. David’s Catholic Church in Arnold, where he lectors and serves on its Parish Transformation Team.

Brian and his wife Mary Ann have two children and one grandchild. Their son graduated from St. Pius X in 2010. Brian and Mary Ann love traveling, most especially to visit their daughter’s family in Las Vegas. In his spare time, Brian enjoys fishing for bass or trout whenever and wherever possible.

Andrew Held '92

Andy believes he came by it honestly as his father was also very involved in the community. One of his passions is building business and tourism in the Jefferson County community. To serve this passion, Andy is a board member of the Jefferson County Growth Association. He has had the pleasure to be one of the creators of the Bottleneck Bridge Ride which is a large cycling event that brings cyclists into Festus to ride to local wineries and breweries in the county. Annually this event brings over 500 cyclists and their families and friends to experience the beauty and amazing countryside that Jefferson County offers. His family is his priority. He has been married to Jenny for 21 years and they have two boys, Drew and Keaton. Keaton is a freshman and Drew is a senior at StPX. They enjoy regular vacations to Disney World and traveling when they can between baseball games and kids activities.

His interests are personal and professional development, cycling, outdoor activities and jeep rides. In addition to the Jefferson County Growth Association, Andy also serves on the Get Healthy DeSoto Board, Jefferson Franklin Workforce Development Board, and is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

His experience at SPX helped him in many ways. The faith based education helped build the foundation of his faith and its importance. This was key for his personal and professional development in the business world especially working for a faith based organization, Mercy. He reflects that the climb up a professional ladder comes with many challenges but as you proceed with higher education, special credentials etc. there is a great satisfaction and comfort knowing what you are doing is rooted in faith. Andy admits that he was not by any stretch an ideal student at Pius as he didn't have strong study habits when he started, but by graduation he had acquired study habits and discipline that have been with him since. He owes all of that to the faculty and staff that showed great compassion, interest in helping each student find their path and most of all patience. All those traits and habits that he thought would not be in his personal portfolio he still uses to develop himself personally and professionally.

The most enjoyable part of St. Pius was the inclusion into sports, groups and being part of a family. He has many great friends and relationships that have remained strong since high school.

One of his favorite experiences of SPX was his Junior retreat. “This was a great experience that helped many of us in our class become closer. A unique couple of days to develop relationships and reflection into what we have to be thankful for.

A quote that he wants to share, that he wishes he would have heard in high school, "intentionally put yourself in places that are uncomfortable." Whether it's in public speaking, taking on a task you're unsure of... take the leap, step out of your comfort zone. You will surprise yourself with what you can do.”

Drew Jordan '01

Webster Graduate Wins Pulitzer Prize for New York Times Coverage of Conflict in Syria

May. 22, 2020


School of Communications alumnus Drew Jordan won a Pulitzer Prize this year as part of the New York Times' Visual Investigations Team

     NEW YORK - When started working as a motion designer for the New York Times, he never thought he’d end up winning one of the highest honors in the journalism industry, but he did. After working with a team of journalists on two ground-breaking stories that proved that Russia was engaging in shadow warfare in Syria, he, along with the whole team, was awarded the coveted Pulitzer Prize. His award was announced in May.

      Jordan, who graduated from St. Pius X High School in 2001 attended Webster University from 2001 - 2005 majoring in photography.  Since graduating he has worn many different career hats before landing at the New York Times doing visual effects. “I started off in commercial photography and photo illustration after leaving Webster, then got into video journalism, design, and animation during grad school,” he said.

      But through all of his careers, he said that the most important thing to him has always been to keep a focus on helping inform others. “Whether as a journalist, occasional instructor, or creative director, it’s always been important to me to educate othersthrough stories,” he said. And all the skills he’s learned helps him do that at his current job. “To work on a team that investigates and researches cutting edge stories feels like I've taken a career full of acquired tools and finally found one box to put them all in.”

      Winning the Pulitzerwas very surreal, according to Jordan. “As a motion designer it is very hard to imagine a path that would lead to this,” he said. “As a motion designer who is also a journalist, it is certainly a goal or dream but not something that is often connected to video. Our team has been making such strides in this form of open source investigation over the past few years that at a certain point it felt that the potential for this sort of recognition was there, but ultimately no one does the work with awards in mind.”

      Jordan said that he was with his wife and 7-month-old daughter when he found out that he and his team had won the Pulitzer. “I think we were inside watching a movie on a Sunday. In the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of New York City, with an infant, pretty much everything is hot lava outside of our building. So, to have such mind-blowing news was a welcome ecstatic feeling to share with my family and coworkers,” he said. “My wife threw me a surprise Zoom party where a ton of my family and friends were hanging out. So that was unique and special.”

     His life returned to normal quickly, he said. “As soon as the team got back to work on new stories a few days later it was like, ‘ok, well let’s get back to it.’  I think the adrenaline gets replaced by a deeper pride feeling that you just kind of keep and sit with. Like, ‘well, no matter what happens in my career from now on, I have this,’” he said.

“It feels like an amazing self-validation for sticking out the rough times,” Jordan continued. “The team, with the groundbreaking reporting that they do, would undoubtedly be making just as stellar work had I never started at the Times. But this certainly reminds me that the level of work I'm contributing to our team is only from years of learning, pushing, and seeing it through.”

“As far as next steps, who knows?” Jordan said. “I’ve always loved telling stories, the creative process, and trying to learn, so I suppose whatever involves those three. I’m just excited to see where all of this takes me next. I’d love to direct a bit more in the future, spend more time with my daughter, and instruct at some point.”

      Jordan said that there are many things graduating students can do to achieve similar successes in their careers. “Be varied, be interested in anything and everything,” he said. “Don't beat yourself up. Ever. As long as you’re trying to learn and working on it, there is progress even when you don't see it. Don’t think about every project or piece you make as a steppingstone in your career but rather worry about the process and learning as much as you can all the time.”

      Jordan continued, “Be averse to saying no to projects unless it goes against your core values or morals. You will find jobs or assignments that bring knowledge you didn't know you needed until years later. Some assignments you didn't think you’d ever take on will lead to new interests, clients, hobbies, and friends.”

      Jordan also shared a couple things that he said he wished he’d been told that he had to figure out on his own. “Treat the path more like a series of plateaus than a constant uphill climb that has a ‘peak.’ You will learn and grow and then stall, and that's ok, because eventually you'll practice and build your skills until you break through and keep climbing to the next plateau,” he said. “And fake it till you make it is a myth. We are all faking it all the time because we are just learning as the assignment or job needs us to. You aren't faking anything by learning on the go.”

“Lastly, don't make awards your goals. Make new skills and seeing pieces through from imagination to creation your goals."

The groundbreaking news stories about Russia bombing Syrian hospitals and Russia bombing Syrian civilians that Jordan and his team worked on are available for viewing on YouTube.

Tom Tanner '70

Tom Tanner graduated from St. Pius X High School in May of 1970.  He went on to earn his BS in Computer Science from the University of Missouri-Rolla and an MBA from Southern Illinois University.  He resides in Santa Clara, California with his wife of 26+ years.  He has two accomplished children along with 2 horses, 2 mini-Aussie dogs and 1 cat.  Newly retired from the senior project manager for integration of technical service operations  for Cisco Systems, Tom fills his time cycling, hiking and volunteering for the Red Cross.  

Volunteering with the Red Cross has been a family tradition going back to WWII.  Tom is close to donating a total of 6 gallons of Blood to the Red Cross.  In addition to donating blood Tom serves as a Red Cross Responder.  Tom has supported 14 national disasters.  Usually with less than 24 hrs notice, he is off to volunteer for up to 2 weeks with the Red Cross at a disaster like a hurricane, flood, tornadoes or forest fires.   This usually counts as his ‘vacation’ from working at Cisco, the internet company.  He’s done about 20 deployments since first going to help on Hurricane Katrina relief in New Orleans in 2005.   He’s been to NYC, Baton Rouge, Birmingham, central Washington state, California wine country, red woods and Silicon Valley, and Missouri (Springfield, St. Louis).  Sometimes he has worked in or managed an evacuation shelter.  For Hurricane Katrina their shelter housed 1200 people and he served food, cleaned up and was the computer ‘geek’ helping people enroll with FEMA.  For the wildfires near Redding, California in May 2018 he ran the shelter for 50 people in a local high school and 200+ who stayed in their cars/campers in the parking lot.  Sometimes he helps coordinate disaster delivery through local/national partners like United Way, Southern Baptists, Catholic Charities, local churches, unions, and groups.  He is often deployed in a county or city emergency operation center coordinating disaster response as the Red Cross liaison to that local government.   For the floods in Missouri in May 2017, first he was in Springfield assisting local groups then drove to St Louis to supervise the team working with partner groups there.

He was also on the County of Santa Clara Planning Commission as a Planning Commissioner (including Chair) for 8 years. He enjoyed making land use decisions, standards, policy and assisting in shaping how the county was developed.  He helped to preserve open space and limit sprall.

Tom enjoyed his friendships from St. Pius X High School that has lasted over 50 years.  His favorite teachers were Mrs. Grace Day (chemistry) and Mr. Voss (Latin).  He appreciates the great scholastic preparation and rigor that prepared him well for college. The religious training also gave him a solid base for his life to build from.

Phillip Klahs '04

Iowa State University in Ames recently awarded Phillip Klahs '04 a 2019-2020 Brown Graduate Fellowship. Klahs is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology at Iowa State. His research focuses on the grass flower and the aerodynamics of wind pollination. Klahs majored in biology and mathematics at Westminster ('12) before earning a Master of Science degree in biological sciences at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN, in 2014.

He received the Brown Fellowship at Iowa State University to support his research on the evolution of flower morphology in the grass family (Poaceae). The fellowship recognizes promising research in the fields of agriculture, science, and space science. His research measures the influence of shape variation in grass flowers on their aerodynamics

He enjoys his current project very much. It occurs in a wonderful intersection of space science and agriculture, and highlighting this interdisciplinary aspect of a macroevolution focused dissertation helped him receive the Brown Fellowship. The research also has elements of classical botany, biomechanics, and a heavy dose of art.

He really fell in love with the grass family first. His master’s degree at East Tennessee State University included a floristic survey of a 2000-acre park in the Appalachian Mountains, and he quickly realized that grasses were often overlooked because they are difficult to identify. He embraced the challenge and discovered there were more questions surrounding this extremely important angiosperm family, and so after leaving Tennessee, he came to ISU to focus on Poaceae. It was not until after he started at ISU that he settled on the question of wind pollination and the evolution of flower architecture.

He was born in Howell, Michigan. He lived in Bloomsdale, Missouri, while attending Westminster College. He attended high school at Father Gabriel Richard in Ann Arbor, Michigan, as a freshman and sophomore and finished his final two years of high school at St. Pius X.

He is also involved in The American Society of Plant Taxonomists, Botanical Society of America, Iowa Native Plant Society, and Tennessee Native Plant Society.

He resides in Ames, IA with his wife Sarah (Knapp '08) Klahs and daughter Penelope, 1.

Claire Reed

“My high school experience surrounded me with teachers, coaches, and friends who believed in me. Having those kinds of people around me has allowed me to say "yes" to going beyond what I expected from myself and opened my world to something quite different than I ever planned.” 

Claire pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary and Special Education at Benedictine College. Upon graduation, she accepted a job as a special education teacher in the Lower Kuskokwim School District in Bethel, Alaska, where she has been for the last two years. Bethel is the hub community for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in southwest Alaska. This growing community has a larger population than Claire’s hometown, DeSoto, MO. For the 30+ village communities on the delta, Bethel is the only source for healthcare and travel beyond the region.  The majority of the population is made up of indigenous Yupik people. Despite the transient nature of many in Bethel, subsistence lifestyle characteristics of the Yupik culture are still present and important to the livelihood of most-- hunting, fishing, gathering berries, etc. 

The native Yupik language is hurting. “Many surrounding villages are better able to preserve the language as they don't have quite as much Western influence as Bethel does,” Claire said. Alongside the many subjects Claire teaches, she has also had to pick up speech/language and provide aid where needed. Many students in the region have severe articulation errors as well as language delays due in part to the quiet nature of the culture.

Claire spent most of the first year teaching reading, math, social skills, and learning non-verbal communication that is highly used in the Yupik culture. In most school districts, they struggle to find Speech Language Pathologists that are willing to move to Bethel. Teacher retention is a serious issue in a lot of places across the country, but in Bethel it is magnified. 

For a multitude of reasons, teachers don’t have a tendency to stay in rural Alaska very long, which has deeply affected the students outlook on education. In her first few months, Claire had to prove to the families of her students and coworkers that she was there to stay. She made it known that her heart was in it and that she “didn't take this job to try to come in and "save" them or to have an Instagram-worthy adventure.”

Claire described why she chose to live and work in Bethel:   

“It goes deeper than those things or the issue of teacher retention will only continue to climb. It is not easy to be far from family and friends back in the Lower 48, but my students and the opportunity to learn from a community whose culture is vastly different than my own is worth the distance for now.”

Kyle Klahs ’10

Kyle graduated Summa Cum Laude with the class of 2010.  He was involved in Football and Basketball. He is the younger brother of Phil Klahs (’08) older brother of Sawyer (’12), Lilly (’15), Abby (’17), Luke (’19) and Keagon (’21).

Kyle went to Westm

inster College in Fulton, MO and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.A. majoring in Biology, minoring in Psychology.  He was selected for the Still Scholar Program at the beginning of my Junior year of undergrad, which meant he was accepted at ATSU-KCOM with the stipulation to keep a high GPA, a set number of physician shadowing hours and other involvement the remainder of his undergrad. Kyle immediately applied for and received admittance into the United States Army Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army. He completed his Basic Officer Leadership Course (BOLC) after the first year of medical school.  He was able to come back to STL for his third and fourth year to do clinical rotations at Des Peres Hospital (Now St. Luke’s at Des Peres). Last summer he spent three months auditioning for Orthopedic Surgery at Army hospitals across the country. Kyle found out in December he was matched to one of the twenty Orthopedic Surgery slots the Army offers in El Paso, TX at the combined program William Beaumont Army Medical Center/Texas Tech University of Health Sciences. He was promoted to Captain upon his medical school graduation and began a five-year residency in Orthopedic Surgery that started in June. 

There will be five St. Pius X Alumni going through ATSU-KCOM in 6 years. Leslie (Wilson '09) Davis graduated from ATSU-KCOM last year and is currently doing her Pediatric Residency at Cardinal Glennon. Emily Govro (’09) will graduate next year from ATSU-KCOM. Tom Argana (’13) will begin this year, and Lilly Klahs (’15) was accepted into the Still Scholar program and will begin next year!

Jennifer Johnson Cano, '02

Jennifer Johnson Cano

“When I got here I loved to sing and make music, but not in front of people. It was Mr. McCreary who encouraged me to sing solos, sing at Mass and in state competitions.  And I never got a 1 rating in those competitions! I guess the lesson is to keep trying.” (On how her interest in music grew while at St. Pius X.)

Ms. Cano has now made over 100 appearances at The Metropolitan Opera in roles ranging from Hansel in Hansel and Gretel to Emilia in Otello and from Meg Page in Falstaff to Wellgunde in Das Rheingold. She has also recently sung with the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, and the London Symphony Orchestra. The New York Times has cheered, “Dramatic intelligence and imagination suffused every note of Ms. Johnson Cano’s performance. Endowed with an attention-grabbing dark mezzo, its depths bracing like strong coffee, she seems to thrive in the role of a storyteller.” Opera News has called her “a mesmerizing actress… she allows emotion to propel her voice into glorious moments.” The Boston Globe praised “her voice is radiant and intense… the effect was devastating.”

Before her rise to international opera renown, she called St. Louis home, growing up in Festus, MO. While attending St. Pius X High School, she participated in OTSL’s Spring Training Vocal camp, part of the Monsanto Artists-in-Training program. Later, as a music student at Webster University, she spent summers as an usher OTSL before ultimately auditioning for the company’s highly selective Gerdine Young Artist (GYA) program. In 2008, after winning The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions while an OTSL GYA, Ms. Cano stepped in for another singer to take on the role of Nicklausse in The Tales of Hoffman at the last minute, which earned her rave reviews from local and national press. In June, she will make her title role debut in her hometown in Gluck’s ravishing and romantic Orfeo & Euridice.

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