St. Xavier High School benefactors and supporters gathered for the annual President's Dinner on Tuesday, May 2. Fr. Tim Howe SJ thanked guests and led the evening of honors and awards.
As guests arrived they were greeted by the melodic tones of the St. Xavier Jazz Band.
Mr. Adam Bohan nSJ began the dinner with a prayer and guests enjoyed dinner music provided by the Strings Ensemble.
The choral group Ensemble X performed the National Anthem and then delighted guests with the musical performance of the song "Joshua."
The theme of the evening was celebrating the culture of champions at St. Xavier High School. Guests were inspired by a video narrated by faculty member Paul Reiselman that featured seniors who excelled in multiple areas, including academics, arts, athletics and community service, during their time at St. X thus creating a culture of champions.
St. X Board Chair Mrs. Ann Berger addressed guests giving them a brief report on the presidential search and thanked all those in attendance for their dedication to the students of St. Xavier High School.
Faculty and staff members Mr. Michael P. Meyer and Mrs. Janet M. Reder were recognized for their 25 years of dedicated service to the St. Xavier community.
St. Xavier High School board members Mr. Michael N. Schuster, Mr. Michael G. Stenger '79 and Rev. William L. Verbryke SJ '71 were honored and thanked for their service.
The evening ended with two very special award presentations. Mr. John V. Ravenna '87 was honored as the 2017 Magis Award winner and Mr. Joseph H. Dillhoff, Jr. '50 received the 2017 Insignis Award.
Mr. John V. Ravenna '87, Magis Award winner, is the son of Ruth and Paul Ravenna. He married his wife Eunice 22 years ago. He has long term mentoring relationships with Malcolm Varner ’01 and Antonio Andrews ’08, who are significant members of his family. John’s 10-year old son, Ray ’25, has had the gift of being raised at St. X with exposure to fine arts and social justice.
Professionally, John had been mentored by and collaborated with many people, but credits Myron Kilgore, Rod Hinton, Rosemary Schuermann, Richard Grote and David O’Toole as playing significant roles in his development. John is grateful for the remarkably supportive relationship he has had with three school presidents: Fr. Bill Verbryke, Fr. Walter Deye and Fr. Tim Howe.
After St. X, John went to Boston College on a football scholarship where he completed his BA in English and a Masters of Education Administration. After completing his graduate degree, he spent a year as a volunteer teacher with the Marist Brothers in New York City. Later, he completed the course work for a Masters in Theology at Xavier University.
John returned to St. X in 1994 as Community Service Director working with students as each joined the long Jesuit tradition of Men for Others and leading service projects and mission trips. It was during that time that he received permission to start Team X-cel that worked in depth with students at the Boys and Girls Clubs to academically and socially prepare them for more rigorous high schools. He also began to experiment with a conditional admissions program, giving talented students from challenging backgrounds an opportunity to earn their way into St. X during the summer. Magis Summer school is now in its’ 16th year and has been a pathway for many successful students to gain entry to St. X.
In 2001 John changed roles with the creation of the Retention Program. Its primary focus is to support first generation college-bound students to academically and socially succeed at St. X. It is the brother program for the Companion Scholars Program.
In 2008 John became the Director of Student Enrichment Programs. He focused his energies on broader issues of diversity and inclusion; leading the Hands Across Campus Program, Parents Across Cultures, and partnered with teachers to enhance their curriculum. It was during this time that the Healy Society and the Diversity Counsel came into existence.
Over the past four years his role has changed again to the Director of Multicultural Initiatives: Some of the highlights of this new role include creating the video X-Changes: Celebrating 50 Years of Diversity, founding the Multicultural Competency Workshop for faculty and staff, and hosting the National Jesuit Student Diversity Conference. St. X is now a diverse community with a 15% multicultural student body, including the Class of 2020 having a total of 20% multicultural students!
Outside of John’s role focused on diversity and inclusion, he had been a member of OHSAA Reading Committee, Financial Aid Committee, Boys Hope Girls Hope Program Committee, coached for 14 years, founding member of Christian Life Communities and led five Kairos retreats.
As the 2017 Insignis Award winner, Mr. Joseph H. Dillhoff, Jr. '50 joins past recipients recognized for service and the ability to give of themselves in love to the greater service of God.
Joe married Philomena Picciano on June 25, 1955. They raised five children, Joe ’75 (deceased), and four daughters, Mary Beth Nielsen, Cathy Sarky, Barb Rohs and Susie Denison. He and Phil are the proud grandparents of twelve – Seven boys (Joe Dillhoff, Nick, Steve, and Joe Sarky, David ’17 and Tommy ’21 Denison, and Alex Nielsen ’20) and five girls (Katie Mann, Carly, Maggie and Gracie Rohs, and Annie Denison.)
After graduating from St. Xavier, Joe continued his Jesuit education at Xavier University and graduated in 1954. He earned a
Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. He also received an ROTC commission and served in the Army from 1954 to 1956. He finished his career in the Army as a Captain in Military Intelligence.
In 1956, Joe began a long career selling property and casualty insurance with The Joseph T. Dillhoff Insurance Agency, known today as Kneflin, Dillhoff, Hils and Kruse. During the next 43 years, Joe enjoyed solving clients’ insurance needs and making life-long friends. In 1969, one of Joe’s clients asked him to be an investor and join the board of directors of OKI Supply, a regional welding and safety wholesaler. Joe later became the chairman of the board and under Joe’s leadership, OKI Supply grew from a regional distributor to a leader in the industry with 15 distribution centers across the United States. In 1990, OKI Supply acquired its largest competitor, Bering Sales becoming OKI-Bering. During the next 20 years, OKI-Bering would grow internationally with operations in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Dubai. In 2013, OKI-Bering was sold to Essendant, Inc. (FKA United Stationers, Inc.)
Joe was a board member of Thrift Savings & Loan. He was Chairman of the loan committee, making mortgage loans to families in the Cincinnati area. He served from 1958 to 1992 when Thrift Savings and Loan merged with Provident Bank.
Joe also served on various boards at St. Ursula and Xavier University.
Joe and Phil have an endowed scholarship “The Joseph H. & Philomena Dillhoff Scholarship” to assist young men who academically qualify for St. Xavier but can’t afford full tuition.
Joe and Phil are also founding members of St. Bartholomew Church in Springfield Township.
Since retirement, Joe enjoys spending time with family and friends in Cincinnati and Naples as well as hosting the Summer St. X Alumni President’s Mass and Breakfast in Harbor Springs, MI.
The evening concluded with a note of thanks from Fr. Howe to all in attendance for their support not only financially, but through prayer and volunteer service as well.